One warm evening Father Wolf woke from his day's rest. Mother Wolf lay beside her four babies. The moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they lived. "Time to go," said Father Wolf. Just as he was going to leave, a little animal with a long tail ran in.
"Good luck to you," it said. "Have you got a bone for a hungry beggar?"
It was Tabaqui, the little jungle dog. The wolves all hate Tabaqui. He is a beggar and a thief.
"Come and look," said Father Wolf, "but there is no food here."
"There is no food for a wolf, perhaps," said Tabaqui. "But for a poor person like me, a dry bone is as good as a feast." He found a bone at the back of the cave and began to eat. "All thanks for this good meal," said Tabaqui. "How beautiful your children are!"
Now Tabaqui knew that it was unlucky to say that. It pleased him to make Father and Mother Wolf uncomfortable.
"Shere Khan has changed his hunting grounds," said Tabaqui. "He is coming to hunt in these hills for the mext month."
Shere Khan was the tiger. He lived near the Waingunga River, twenty miles away. Father Wolf was angry.
"He must not do that!" he said. "This is our hunting ground. Why can't he hunt in his own place?"
"He is slow," said Mother Wolf. "He has had a bad foot all his life. That is why he only kills cows. Now the village people of the Waingunga are angry with him. So he has come here to steal cows from our village people. Men will hunt for him in the Jungle, and that will be bad for us. They will start hunting us, too. We have a lot to thank Shere Khan for, Tabaqui!" She meant a lot of trouble, and she was not pleased.
Rudyard Kipling was an Englishman who lived and worked in India about hundred years ago. His stories about Indian village life, and about the animals of the jungle, are loved all over the world.
Rudyard Kipling: The Jungle Book. Oxford Progressive English Readers; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992
Grade 2 (2,100 headwords)