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The villagers had no heart to make fires in the fields that night, so Hathi and his three sons went gleaning among what was left; and where Hathi gleans there is no need to follow. The men decided to live on their stored seed-corn until the rains had fallen, and then to take work as servants till they could catch up with the lost year; but as the grain-dealer was thinking of his well-filled crates of corn, and the prices he would levy at the sale of it, Hathi’s sharp tusks were picking out the corner of his mud-house, and smashing open the big wicker chest, leeped with cow-dung, where the precious stuff lay.


This is from “Letting in the Jungle”, in The Second Jungle Book.

Mowgli hears that Messua and her husband are accused of being witches by the villagers. He goes there hot foot, and finds them bound and wounded in their hut. Furious at the sight and smell of his foster-mother’s blood, he releases them and sends them through the jungle to a neighbouring town, where they will be safe.

Then, in one of the most implacable passages in Kipling’s writings, Mowgli visits retribution on the villagers, who 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 and its livelihood without killing its people. The deer and the pig spoil the crops around it, the elephants break the roofs and scatter the stored seed-corn, and the eaters of flesh terrify the villagers until they flee. ‘By the end of the Rains there was the roaring Jungle in full blast on the spot that had been under plough not six months before.’