Quotes Elephants

December 4th to 10th


‘Ould Obstructionist was screamin’ like all possist whin I came up, an’ I heard forty million men up the Tangi shoutin’, “He knows him!” Thin the big thrunk came round me an’ I was nigh fainting wid weakness. “Are you well, Malachi?” I sez, givin’ him the name he answered to in the lines. “Malachi, my son, are you well?” sez I, “for I am not.” At that he thrumpeted again till the Pass rang to ut, an’ the other elephints tuk it up. Thin I got a little strength back. “Down, Malachi,” I sez, “an’ put me up, but touch me tendher for I am not good.” He was on his knees in a minut an’ he slung me up as gentle as a girl. “Go on now, my son,” I sez. “You’re blockin’ the road.” He fetched wan more joyous toot, an’ swung grand out av the head av the Tangi.


This is from “Mt Lord the Elephant” coollected in Many Inventions  (1893).

An army corps on the march in the Tangi Pass is blocked because one of their elephants is refusing to cross over a bridge. His driver says that the elephant wants to see his friend before going on, and there is a frantic search for anyone that might know him. Mulvaney, in his hospital bed, claims to know an elephant, is brought out, and greets his old sparring-partner. He is hoisted onto the elephant’s back, and the corps marches on, with much relief.

Mulvaney and the elephant are recalling a time whenMulvaney. on his way to jail encountered the elephant, who is also a delinquent, mastered him, and the two made friends.

The morning of the eleventh day dawned, and there returned no Deesa, Moti Guj was loosed from his ropes for the daily stint. He swung clear, looked round, shrugged his shoulders, and began to walk away, as one having business elsewhere.

“Hi! ho! Come back you!” shouted Chihun. “Come back and put me on your neck, misborn mountain! Return, splendor of the hillsides! Adornment of all India, heave to, or I’ll bang every toe off your forefoot!”

Moti Guj gurgled gently, but did not obey. Chihun ran after him with a rope and caught him up. Moti Guj put his ears forward, and Chihun knew what that meant, though he tried to carry it off with high words.


Thus is from “Moti Guj, Mutineer”, collected in Lifde’s Handicap (1891)

Moti Guj is a magnificent and powerful elephant, who works clearing forest land for planting coffee. He is owned by a dissipated mahout, Deesa, to whom he is devoted.

One day Deesa asks for leave to go off on a drunken binge, and the planter allows him ten days off, provided Moti Guj will work while he is away. Deesa tells the elephant that for ten days he must work for Chihun, another mahout, and departs. To the planter’s surprise Moti Guj works well – for ten days.

However, on the eleventh day he refuses to do his daily stint, and wanders around the camp looking for Deesa and generally causing trouble. At dawn the following day Deesa returns, has a joyous reunion with Moti Guj, and – to the planter’s astonishment – they get back to work clearing stumps.

They heard, as the last burdened family filed through the gate, a crash of falling beams and thatch behind the walls. They saw a shiny, snaky black trunk lifted for an instant, scattering sodden thatch. It disappeared, and there was another crash, followed by a squeal. Hathi had been plucking off the roofs of the huts as you pluck water-lilies, and a rebounding beam had pricked him. He needed only this to unchain his full strength, for of all things in the Jungle the wild elephant enraged is the most wantonly destructive. He kicked backward at a mud wall that crumbled at the stroke, and, crumbling, melted to yellow mud under the torrent of rain.


This is rrom “Letting in the Jungle!” in The Second Jungle Book (1895).

Mowg;i had been adopted by a woman, Messua, who had treated him kindly. Back with the wolves he is telling of his adventures when they scent the village hunter Buldeo approaching. He sits down to rest and tells some passing charcoal burners that the villagers plan to torture and kill Messua and her husband.

Then, in one of the most implacable passages in Kipling’s writings, Mowgli visits retribution on the villagers, whom he sees as idle, senseless, cruel, and cowardly. He claims the help of Hathi the wild elephant and his sons, and they destroy the village.