Quotes Reptiles

October 2nd to 9h


A yellow-and-brown streak glided from the purple rustling stems to the bank, stretched its neck to the water, drank, sand lay still – a big cobra, with fixed, lidless yes.

‘I have no stick – I have no stick,’ said Kim. ‘I will get me one and break his back.’

‘Why? He is on the Wheel as we are- a life ascending or descending- very far from deliverance. Great evil must the soul have done that is cast into this shape.’



This is from the third chapter of Kim.

The boy and the Lama has been walking across fertile fields, across streams, In search of the ;River of the Arrow’ of Buddhist scripture.

When they encounter a cobra, Kin reacts with horror and wants to kill it. ,But the lama walks past unconcerned. In his eyes the snake is a fellow creature, to be recognised and respected.

Then he noted with the tail of his eye that a length of mud-bank to his left – half the mud-bank in fact – was moving slowly into the water. It floated slowly across the tank, a long welt of filth and slime. Nothing came out of the hole between the fig-tree roots, but the mud-bank grounded under the ledge almost at Tarvin’s feet, and opened horny eyelids, heavy with green slime.


This is from the twelfth Chapter of The Naulahka, the novel jointly written by Kipling and Wolcott Balestier. Nicolas Tarvin, an American adventurer, is in India on the trail of a priceless jewel. He has been told to seek it it in the Gau-Mukh, “The Cow’s Mouth”, a spring of water in a sacred pool, deep in a ruined city.

Here, after a night rude across wild country, he finds the spot, down slippery stone steps, where water tricles into a trough through the shapeless lips of a stone figure, guarded by a huge crocodile.

Kipling’s description here echoes his own horror, in a similar place in the ruined city of Chitor, which he wrote off in Letters of Marque XI.

Mowgli was sitting in the circle of Kaa’s great coils, fingering the flaked and broken old skin that lay all looped and twisted on the rocks just as Kaa had left it …

‘Even to the scales of the eyes it is perfect,’ said Mowgli, under his breath, playing with the old skin. ‘Strange to see the covering of one’s head at one’s own feet.’


This is from the opening passage of “The King’s Ankus”” in the Second Jungfe Book.

After Kaa, the great python,  has changed his skin he takes Mowglu to a ruined city where among heaps of treasure, guarded by an ancient cobra, they find a jewelled ankus, an elephant-goad. They take it, despite the protests of its guardian, who insists that ‘It is is Death’.

MowgIi shows the ankus to Bagheera, but soon tires of carrying it and throws it away. Later, when hunting together, they find that the priceless object had been found, and that six men had been killed for it. It was indeed ‘Death’.