After successfully defying the tiger, Shere Khan, saving Akela, and leaving the wolf pack at the Council Rock (see “Mowgli’s Brothers”), Mowgli sets out ‘to meet those mysterious things that are called men’. He trots some twenty miles to a village in a country that he does not know, where he is taken in. He is accepted by Messua, a woman who thinks that he has a look of her lost little son who was taken by a tiger years ago. He takes command of the boys who drive the village buffalo herd out to their grazing grounds every day, riding Rama, the great herd bull.
Gray Brother, the eldest of Mother Wolf’s cubs, stays nearbye and warns Mowgli when Shere Khan comes after him. The tiger is sleeping, deep in a ravine, and they plan to use the buffaloes to kill him. Akela and Gray Brother divide the herd into two; the cows block the foot of the ravine while they stampede the bulls down into it, trampling the tiger to death. Mowgli takes Shere Khan’s skin to spread on the Council Rock. The remnants of the wolf pack want Akela to take charge again and Mowgli to stay, but he goes off to hunt alone with Gray Brother and the other three brothers. The last sentences hint at “In the Rukh” (Many Inventions – 1893) ‘But that is a story for grown-ups’.
Mark Paffard (p. 94) notes that:
“Tiger! Tiger!” narrates the uninhibited revenge that Mowgli takes on Shere Khan, but it too points a moral – the tiger is destroyed by his own sloth and arrogance.
©F A Underwood and John Radcliffe 2008 All rights reserved