These are the Four that are never content, that have never
been filled since the Dews began--
Jacala's mouth, and the glut of the Kite, and the hands of
the Ape, and the Eyes of Man.
KAA, the big Rock Python, had changed his skin for perhaps the two-hundredth* time since his birth; and Mowgli, who never forgot that he owed his life to Kaa for a night's work at Cold Lairs,* which you may perhaps remember, went to congratulate him. Skin-changing always makes a snake moody and depressed till the new skin begins to shine and look beautiful. Kaa never made fun of Mowgli any more, but accepted him, as the other jungle People did, for the Master of the Jungle, and brought him all the news that a python of his size would naturally hear. What Kaa did not know about the Middle jungle, as they call it, -- the life that runs close to the earth or under it, the boulder, burrow, and the tree-bole life,-- might have been written upon the smallest of his scales.
That afternoon Mowgli was sitting in the circle of Kaa's great coils, fingering the flaked and broken old skin that lay all looped and twisted among the rocks just as Kaa had left it. Kaa had very courteously packed himself under Mowgli's broad, bare shoulders, so that the boy was really resting in a living arm-chair.
'Even to the scales of the eyes it is perfect,' said Mowgli, under his breath, playing with the old skin. 'Strange to see the covering of one's own head at one's own feet!'
'Ay, but I lack feet,' said Kaa; 'and since this is the custom of all my people, I do not find it strange. Does thy skin never feel old and harsh?'
'Then go I and wash, Flathead; but, it is true, in the great heats I have wished I could slough my skin without pain, and run skinless.'