Okay, we're going back to immediately where the first tale left off. Got it? Good. Onward.
Mowgli leaves Mother Wolf's cave and heads down to the village.
The villagers are initially afraid of Mowgli, but one woman, Messua, thinks that Mowgli looks just like her son, who was taken by a tiger.
She takes him and feeds him, and he learns to speak the language of men—he's still not comfortable sleeping under a roof, though, so he sleeps outside.
One night, Grey Brother (Mother Wolf's eldest) comes up to him and tells him that Shere Khan swears to return.
Mowgli's, like, um, remember you guys kicked me out of the Pack? Why should I care?
Grey Brother tells him that it's highly likely the men will kick him out of their pack, too, so keep that in mind.
Mowgli struggles learning the ways of men, and considers killing the kids who make fun of him, but "it was unsportsmanlike to kill little naked cubs" (5.23).
At night, all the men gather around and tell wild tales about the jungle. Mowgli laughs because he knows all these stories are made-up superstitions, especially the one about the ghost tiger.
Buldeo, the village hunter, gets all up in Mowgli's face and is like, oh yeah, well, if he's so real, why don't you go hunt him down?
The headman says that Mowgli should help herd buffalo to temper his impertinence, and Mowgli is happy to be with buffalo instead of men.
While the buffalo graze, Mowgli gossips with Grey Brother, who says that Shere Khan has come back and means to kill Mowgli. Mowgli is like, bring it on.
Grey Brother agrees to tell Mowgli when Shere Khan plans on making his pounce.
Finally, the day arrives, but Mowgli has a plan: He will ride Rama, the largest buffalo, and with the help of Grey Brother and Akela (the cast-out wolf leader), they will surround Shere Khan—who is sleeping in the ravine—with the herd of buffalo and trample him. They must have gotten this plan from Scar.
They surround him, and Shere Khan is squished by buffalo.
Mowgli decides to skin him, but skinning a ten-foot tiger is tough, and while he's trying to peel that off, Buldeo the hunter shows up and acts like the tiger's pelt belongs to him.
Mowgli's like, you gotta be kidding me, and he summons Akela over as though the old wolf is his familiar.
Buldeo thinks this is some sort of sorcery, and he runs back to the village.
That night, Mowgli returns the buffalo to the village. To repay him, the villagers chuck rocks at him and call him names like "Sorcerer!" and "Jungle-demon!" (5.89). Thanks, guys.
Buldeo shoots at Mowgli, and when he hits a buffalo instead, he knows it's not because he's a terrible shot but instead that Mowgli just came out of the matrix or something and can move bullets in the air.
Mowgli says goodbye to Messua, who believes that he has avenged her son's death, and heads back to the jungle with the wolves.
He wears the hide of Shere Khan and presents himself to the Pack at Council Rock.
The wolves are impressed with Mowgli's feat, and they want Akela to lead them again; they are sick of lawlessness.
Bagheera says, "That may not be. […] Ye fought for freedom, and it is yours. Eat it, O Wolves" (5.111). In other words, you can't have your freedom and a leader too. You're all crazy.
Mowgli leaves the wolves behind and decides to live by himself in the jungle.
We're told that "years afterwards he became a man and married. But that is a story for grown-ups" (5.114). Got to keep that G rating, kiddos.