- Father Wolf
- Mother Wolf
- Tabaqui (the Jackal)
- Shere Khan (tiger)
The scene opens in the Seeonee Hills. It’s seven o’clock, a sunny evening, in the middle of the jungle. The Moon is yet to rise and with no stars to brighten the sky, utter darkness surrounds the forest.
Narrator: Father Wolf wakes up from his day’s rest, releases and spreads out his paws one after the other to make himself ready for the hunt. Mother Wolf with her big grey nose drops her four tumbling, squealing cubs into the mouth of the cave where they all live.
Father Wolf: Augrh! It is time to hunt again. (Moves down to spring downhill, where he notices a little shadow with a bushy tail at the entrance and whines).
Tabaqui (the Jackal): Good Luck go with you, O chief of the Wolves. And good luck and strong white teeth go with noble children that they may never forget the hungry in this world.
Father Wolf: (In a stiff tone) Enter, then, and look, but there is no food here.
Tabaqui: For a wolf it may not be enough, but for so mean a person as myself a dry bone is a good feast.
All thanks for this good meal (licking his lips).
(Looks at the Father and Mother Wolf who seem to be uncomfortable)
How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so young too!
(Sits still, rejoicing in the mischief that he had made. In a spiteful tone he says) Shere Khan, the Big one has shifted his hunting grounds. He has told me that he will hunt among these hills for the next moon.
Narrator: Shere Khan was the tiger who lived near the Waingunga River, twenty miles away.
Father Wolf: (Angrily) He has no right to come here! By the law of the Jungle he has no right to change his quarters without due warning. If he comes here, he will frighten every head of game within ten miles and I – I have to kill for two, these days.
Mother Wolf: (Quietly) His mother did not call him Lungri (the Lame One) for nothing. He has been lame in one foot from his birth. That is why he has only killed cattle. Now the villagers of the Waingunga are angry with him, and he has come here to make our villagers angry. They will scour the jungle for him when he is far away, and we and our children must run when the grass is set on fire. Indeed, we are grateful to Shere Khan!
Tabaqui: (Quietly) I go. You can hear Shere Khan below in the forest.
Narrator: Father Wolf listened and below in the valley that ran down a little river he heard the dry, angry, whine of a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the jungle knows it.
Father Wolf: The fool! To begin a night’s work with that noise! Does he think that our bucks are like his fat Waingunga bullocks?
Mother Wolf: Hush! It is neither bullock nor buck he hunts tonight. It is Man.
Narrator: The whine had changed to a sort of humming purr that seemed to come from every quarter of the compass. It was the noise that bewilders woodcutters and gypsies sleeping in the open, and makes them run sometimes into the very mouth of the tiger.
Father Wolf: Man! (Showing all his white teeth.) Hah! Are there not enough beetles that he must eat Man, and on our ground too!
Narrator: The law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for this is that Man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of men on elephants with guns and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenceless of all living things, and it is true – that Man-eaters become mangy and lose their teeth. The purr grew louder, and ended in the full-throated howl.
Shere Khan: Aaarrh!
Narrator: Then there was a howl – an untigerish howl – from Shere Khan.
Mother Wolf: He has missed.
Father Wolf: What is it? [Runs out a few paces and hears Shere Khan muttering and mumbling as he tumbles about in the scrub.] The fool has had no more sense than to jump at a woodcutter’s campfire, and has burned his feet. [With a grunt]. Tabaqui is with him.
Mother Wolf: Something is coming uphill. [Twitching one ear] Get ready!
Narrator: The bushes rustled a little in the forest and Father Wolf dropped with his haunches under him, ready for his leap. Then, if you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful thing in the world – the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight into the air for four or five feet, landing almost where he left ground.
Father Wolf: Man! (Snaps) A Man’s cub. Look!
Narrator: Directly in front of him, holding on by a low branch, stood a naked baby who could just walk – as soft and as dimpled a little atom as ever came to a wolf’s cave at night. He looked up into Father Wolf’s face and laughed.
Mother Wolf: Is that a Man’s cub? I have never seen one. Bring it here.
Narrator: A wolf accustomed to moving his own cubs can, if necessary, eat an egg without breaking it, and though Father Wolf’s jaws closed right on the child’s back not a tooth even scratched the skin as he laid it down among the cubs.
Mother Wolf: (In a soft tone) How little! How naked, and – how bold!
Narrator: The baby was pushing his way between the cubs to get close to the warm hide.
Mother Wolf: So this is a man’s cub. Now, was there a wolf that could boast of a Man’s cub among her children?
Father Wolf: I have heard now and again of such a thing, but never in our Pack or in my time. But see, he looks up and is not afraid.
Narrator: The moonlight was blocked out of the mouth of the cave, for Shere Khan’s great square head and shoulders were thrust into the entrance. Tabaqui behind him, was squeaking.
Tabaqui: My Lord, my Lord, it went in here!
Father Wolf: Shere Khan does us great honour, (angrily) what does he need?
Shere Khan: My quarry. A Man’s cub went this way. Its parents have run off. Give it to me.
Narrator: Shere Khan had jumped at a woodcutter’s campfire, as Father Wolf had said, and was furious from the pain of his burned feet. But Father Wolf knew that the mouth of the cave was too narrow for a tiger to come in by. Even where he was, Shere Khan’s shoulders and forepaws were cramped for want of room as a Man’s cub would be if he tried to fight in a barrel.
Father Wolf: The Wolves are a free people. They take orders from the Head of the Pack, and not from any striped cattle-killer. The Man’s cub is ours – to hunt if we choose.
Shere Khan: What talk is this of choosing? It is I, Shere Khan, who speaks!
Narrator: The tiger’s roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere Khan.
Mother Wolf: And it is I, Raksha, ‘The Demon’, who answers. The Man’s cub is mine. He shall live to run with the Pack and to hunt with the Pack; and in the end, he shall hunt you!
Narrator: Father Wolf looked on amazed. He had almost forgotten the days when he won Mother Wolf in a fair fight from five other wolves, when she ran in the Pack and was not called 'The Demon' for compliment’s sake. Shere Khan might have faced Father Wolf, but he could not stand up against Mother Wolf, for he knew that where he was she had all the advantage of the ground, and would fight to the death. So backed out of the cave mouth growling, and when he was clear he shouted.
Shere Khan: Each dog barks in his own yard! We will see what the Pack will say to this fostering of man-cubs. The man-cub is mine and will come to me in the end!
Narrator: Mother Wolf threw herself down panting among the cubs, and Father Wolf said to her gravely.
Father Wolf: Shere Khan speaks this much truth. The cub must be shown to the Pack. Will you still keep him, Mother?
Mother Wolf: Keep him! (She gasps) He came naked, by night, alone and very hungry; yet he was not afraid! Look, he has pushed one of my babes to one side already. And that lame butcher would have killed him and would have run off to the Waingunga while the villagers here hunted through all our lairs in revenge! Keep him? Assuredly I will keep him.
Lie still, little frog. O you Mowgli – for Mowgli the Frog I will call you – the time will come when you will hunt Shere Khan as he has hunted you.
The story does not end here. It continues with many more episodes such as the acceptance of Mowgli by the Pack of Wolves, the friendship between Bagheera and Mowgli, Mowghli’s adventurous trips in the jungle with Baloo (the bear), the fight between Mowgli and the Monkey’s gang etc. Eventually Mowgli is forced to leave the jungle and he goes to live in the village. Later, he decides to return to the jungle and live there.
~ Adapted from Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book"
Learn the story of Mowgli the Man's Cub through the video
The Story of Mowgli*
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-3 English Standard-6. The Jungle Book. (pp 116 - 121). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.
The Story of Mowgli*: East Ryde Scouts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4CZ3U0zjvs&t=2s