Let him be accepted." And then came Akela's deep bay, crying: "Look well--look well, O Wolves!"
At last they all went down the hill for the dead bull, and only Akela, Bagheera, Baloo, and Mowgli's own wolves were left.
"It was well done," said Akela. "Men and their cubs are very wise.
Shere Khan was always crossing his path in the jungle, for as Akela grew older and feebler the lame tiger had come to be great friends with the younger wolves of the Pack, who followed him for scraps, a thing Akela would never have allowed if he had dared to push his authority to the proper bounds.
But remember, Akela is very old, and soon the day comes when he cannot kill his buck, and then he will be leader no more.
It is in my heart that when Akela misses his next kill--and at each hunt it costs him more to pin the buck--the Pack will turn against him and against thee.
Then there were wicked, bitter howls from the young wolves: "Akela! Akela!
Akela the Lone Wolf lay by the side of his rock as a sign that the leadership of the Pack was open, and Shere Khan with his following of scrap-fed wolves walked to and fro openly being flattered.
There was a long hush, for no single wolf cared to fight Akela to the death.
Akela lifted his head again and said, "He has eaten our food.
"He is our brother in all but blood," Akela went on, "and ye would kill him here!
Akela, the grim old wolf who had never asked for mercy in his life, gave one piteous look at Mowgli as the boy stood all naked, his long black hair tossing over his shoulders in the light of the blazing branch that made the shadows jump and quiver.
"I knew men would follow," said Akela triumphantly.
Who drove the knife at me for thinking he might be Man?" said Akela, as the four wolves turned back sullenly and dropped to heel.
You will remember that Mowgli had left the village with the heavy weight of Shere Khan's raw hide on his shoulders, while Akela and Gray Brother trotted behind, so that the triple trail was very clearly marked.