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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

CHAPTER ONE

The Philosophy of Friendship—On Pony-back in the, Himalayas—My
Bungalow on a Mountain-lop.

THE last lap of my journey will soon be over. After weeks of fitful
travelling since I left the torrid triangular patch of South India,
tonight I shall take to my bed with the pleasant consciousness that it
will probably be a long time before the roll of brown blankets and
white sheets is strapped up in its canvas covering again.

Not that the journey itself has not proved a welcome change.
Even the gradual fall of the thermometer helps the sun-baked body,
while the extensive panoramic succession of pictures and places stirs
even the curiosity of the jaded intellect. There is a sense of freedom, a
zest of relief, for a weary European who arrives here after the
suffocating plains, where the summer heat lies like a shimmering
paH.

Best of all, one has had the pleasure of meeting old friends and
making new ones. It is true that a man who bases his friendships on
spiritual affinity, rather than on the ties of self-interest or of worldly
associations, cannot hope to count many, for the dictates of the
Overself must be obeyed and the different degrees of understanding
—as well, I often find, of misunderstanding—themselves erect
unscaleable barriers between those whom God hath not joined
together in the pleasure of friendship.

When I reflect now over the variety of some of the external
appearances beneath which I found this affinity during the present
journey, I am astonished at the possibilities with which life presents
us once we begin to walk in the shoes of the Overself, however
intermittently and however weakly.

A bespectacled merchant in costly silks whose shop fate has set
in a crowded Bazaar; a shrewdly intellectual assistant editor of a
newspaper who talks politics and economics while I sip an iced
drink; an illiterate workman who labours from dawn till night
throughout the week for a meagre wage, and whose tragic poverty
illustrates for me the truth that those who have perspired in the
battle of life, but never bled, do not really know what it means;
a middle-aged noble-minded Maharajah who belongs to the
Victorian epoch in his earnest regard for moral restraints and in his
melancholy observations upon the decadence which is fast over-
taking today's younger generation; a young English headmaster

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