Modern Classics Just So Storiesby Rudyard Kipling, Peter Levi (Foreword by)
Initially written for his own "best beloved," Just So Stories was published in 1902. It has been a favorite for the past/i>
One of the world's greatest storytellers weaves together an unforgettable collection of animal tales, including how the camel got its hump, how the leopard got its spots, and how even a butterfly stamping his leg can change a man's life.
Initially written for his own "best beloved," Just So Stories was published in 1902. It has been a favorite for the past century and is certain to be cherished by generations to come.
"They sing in my head even now . . . What a wonderful storyteller/poet he was." Michael Morpurgo, author, War Horse
"The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling have always held a fascination for me, and doubtless sparked off my love of India." HRH The Prince of Wales
- Penguin UK
- Publication date:
Read an Excerpt
How The Whale
Got His Throat
In the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a Whale,, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel. All the fishes he could find in all the sea he ate with his mouth so! Till at last there was only one small fish left in all the sea, and he was a small 'Stute Fish, and he swam a little behind the Whale's right ear, so as to be out of harm's way. Then the Whale stood up on his tail and said, I'm hungry." And the small 'Stute Fish said in a small 'stute voice, "Noble and generous Cetacean, have you ever tasted Man?"
'No, said the Whale. "What is it like?"
"Nice," said the small 'Stute Fish. "Nice but nubbly."
"Then fetch me some, said the Whale, and he made the sea froth up with his tail.
"One at a time is enough,"' said the 'Stute Fish. "If you swim to latitude Fifty North, longitude Forty West (that is Magic), you will find, sitting on a raft, in the middle of the sea, with nothing on but a pair of blue canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you must not forget the suspenders, Best Beloved), and a jackknife, one shipwrecked Mariner, who, it is only fair to tell you, is a man of infinite-resource-and-sagacity."
So the Whale swam and swam to latitude Fifty North, longitude Forty West, as fast as he could swim, and on a raft, in the middle of the sea, with nothing to wear except a pair of blue canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you mustparticularly remember the suspenders Best Beloved), and a jackknife, he found one single, solitary shipwrecked Mariner, trailing his toes in the water. (He had his Mummy's leave to paddle, or else he would never have done it) because he was a man of infinite -resource- and-sagacity.)
Then the Whale opened his mouth back and back and back till it nearly touched his tail, and he swallowed the shipwrecked Mariner, and the raft he was sitting on, and his blue canvas breeches, and the suspenders (which you must not forget), and the jackknife He swallowed them all down into his warm, dark, inside cupboards, and then he smacked his lips so, and turned round three times on his tail.
But as soon as the Mariner, who was a man of infinite -resource- and- sagacity, found himself truly inside the Whale's warm, dark, inside cupboards, he stumpedand he jumped and he thumped and he bumped, and he pranced and he danced, and he banged and he clanged, and he hit and he bit, and he leaped and he creeped, and he prowled and he howled, and he hopped and he dropped, and he cried and he sighed, and he crawled and he bawled) and he stepped and he lepped, and he danced hornpipes where he shouldn't, and the Whale felt most unhappy indeed. (Have you forgotten the suspenders?)
So he said to the 'Stute Fish, This man is very nubbly, and besides he is making me hiccough. What shall I do? "
"Tell him to come out," said the 'Stute Fish.
So the Whale called down his own throat to the shipwrecked Mariner, "Come out and behave yourself. I've got the hiccoughs."
"Nay, nay!" said the Mariner. "Not so, but far otherwise. Take me to my natal-shore and the white-cliffs-of-Albion, and I'll think about it." And he began to dance more than ever.
"You had better take him home," said the 'Stute Fish to the Whale. "I ought to have warned you that he is a man of infinite-resource-and-sagacity."
So the Whale swam and swam and swam, with both flippers and his tail, as hard as he could for the hiccoughs; and at last he saw the Mariner's natal-shore and the white - cliffs - of-Albion, and he rushed halfway up the beach, and opened his mouth wide and wide and wide, and said, "Change here for Winchester, Ashuelot, Nashua,) Keene.) and stations on the Fitchburg Road"; and just as he said "Fitch" the Mariner walked out of his mouth. But while the Whale had been swimming, the Mariner, who was indeed a person of infinite-resource- and- sagacity, had taken his jackknife and cut up the raft into a little square grating all running crisscross, and he had tied it firm with his suspenders (now you know why you were not to forget the suspenders!), and he dragged that grating good and tight into the Whale's throat, and there it stuck! Then he recited the following Sloka, which, as you have not heard it, I will now proceed to relate
By means of a grating I have stopped your ating.
For the Mariner he was also an Hi-ber-ni-an. And he stepped out on the shingle, and went home to his Mother, who had given him leave to trail his toes in the water; and he married and lived happily ever afterward. So did the Whale. But from that day on, the grating in his throat, which he could neither cough up nor swallow down, prevented him eating anything except very, very small fish; and that is the reason why whales nowadays never eat men or boys or little girls.
The small 'Stute Fish went and hid himself in the mud under the Doorsills of the Equator. He was afraid that the Whale might be angry with him.
The Sailor took the jackknife home. He was wearing the blue canvas breeches when he walked out on the shingle. The suspenders were left behind, you see, to tie the grating with; and that is the end of that tale.
Meet the Author
RUDYARD KIPLING was born in Bombay in India in 1865 to British parents, and brought up by a Portuguese 'ayah' (nanny) and an Indian servant, who would entertain him with fabulous stories and Indian nursery rhymes. He was sent back to England when he was seven years old, and lived in a boarding house with a couple who were cruelly strict. Fortunately he returned to India at the age of sixteen, to work as the assistant editor of a newspaper in Lahore. He began publishing stories and poems and eventually had great success with his book Plain Tales from the Hills. After his marriage Kipling settled in America, and it was here that he wrote The Jungle Book. He then moved with his family to England, where he wrote Just So Stories for his daughter Josephine who later tragically died of pneumonia. Rudyard Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907 and died on January 18, 1936.
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