(Notes edited by
Alan Underwood and John Radcliffe)
|notes on the text|
The world of the pack-animals, with the human narrator hearing everything, lacks the secrecy and magic of the jungle. The story is memorable only for the finale, which in its context amounts to a mighty peroration on Kipling's great theme of obedience-without which you cannot run an empire, conduct an orchestra, control the traffic, perform a surgical operation, etc., etc. Politics apart, this is the verbal music to which the reader, coming to it as the epilogue of the first Jungle Book, cannot but thrill.
"But are the beasts as wise as the men?" said the chief.
"They obey, as the men do. Mule, horse, elephant, or bullock, he obeys his driver, and the driver his sergeant, and the sergeant his lieutenant, and the lieutenant his captain, and the captain his major, and the major his colonel, and the colonel his brigadier commanding three regiments, and the brigadier his general, who obeys the Viceroy, who is the servant of the Empress. Thus it is done."
"Would it were so in Afghanistan!" said the chief; "for there we obey only our own wills."
"And for that reason," said the native officer, twirling his moustache, "your Amir whom you do not obey must come here and take orders from our Viceroy."