The Law of the Jungle

Now the Law of the Jungle lays down that if there is any dispute as to the right of a cub to be accepted by the Pack, he must be spoken for by at least two members of the Pack who are not his father and mother.

“Who speaks for this cub?” said Akela. “Among the Free People, who speaks?” There was no answer, and Mother Wolf got ready for what she knew would be her last fight, if things came to fighting.

Then the only other creature who is allowed at the Pack Council—Baloo, the sleepy brown bear who teaches the wolf cubs the Law of the Jungle; old Baloo, who can come and go where he pleases because he eats only nuts and roots and honey—rose up on his hind quarters and grunted.

“The man’s cub—the man’s cub?” he said. “I speak for the man’s cub. There is no harm in a man’s cub. I have no gift of words, but I speak the truth. Let him run with the Pack, and be entered with the others. I myself will teach him.”

“We need yet another,” said Akela. “Baloo has spoken, and he is our teacher for the young cubs. Who speaks besides Baloo?”

A black shadow dropped down into the circle. It was Bagheera, the Black Panther, inky black all over, but with the panther markings showing up in certain lights like the pattern of watered silk. Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down.


“O Akela, and ye, the Free People,” he purred, “I have no right in your assembly; but the Law of the Jungle says that if there is a doubt which is not a killing matter in regard to a new cub, the life of that cub may be bought at a price. And the Law does not say who may or may not pay that price. Am I right?”

“Good! good!” said the young wolves, who are always hungry. “Listen to Bagheera. The cub can be bought for a price. It is the Law.”

“Knowing that I have no right to speak here, I ask your leave.”

“Speak then,” cried twenty voices.


The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling (1894); Kindle $2.99, Paperback 8.95.

Please to note that Baloo shows up at the beginning of the book and is not a goofball.

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