A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
thing .worthwhile, when I shall have climbed the Himalaya of the
soul and reached its white summit. And if that ever happens 1 fear
the leading men of the town will not then want to meet me!
There are still others whom I would have liked to meet again,
but, alas, time will not tarry. I dare net dally on my northward way.
For 1 have a goal, an objective, one too which is of the highest
importance to me.
And so now I am sitting in the saddle astride a sturdy ash-grey
mountain pony, listening to the chime of its jingling harness-bells
and moving at walking pace up the steep slippery trails that are
leading me into the rarefied air of the Himalayan1 ridges. It would
be untrue to say that both of us are not tired and will not welcome
the final halt when it comes, nor that the string of coolie-porters
who are moving half a mile or so behind me in single file under the
leadership of my servant, bearing baggage and provisions, will
not be glad to take their agreed pay and last dismissal. Even the
pony has developed an unfortunate and unpleasant habit of wander-
ing stupidly to the extreme outside edge of the narrow trail, where a
dangerous, sparsely timbered ravine of three thousand feet depth
awaits it like a yawning abyss; on the inner side, the path leads
against the perpendicular face of the ridge out of which it is carved.
It would be extremely easy for the animal to go down the fearfully
abrupt slope infinitely faster than it came up, and finally measure
its length upon the ground. The idea of sliding all the way down to
the ravine bottom does not make much appeal to me. The feeling
remains and returns that I must check my steed firmly. I therefore
pull frequently at the left rein, but the obstinate pony just as fre-
quently makes for the precipice's edge the whilst I sway in the
saddle! I cannot see what attractive bait lures it towards utter
destruction, but I have no intention of sharing its impending fete
down that precipitous glen.
Why it should want to forsake its subsolar existence at the prime
of life I do not really know, but this afternoon it deliberately dangled
its right foreleg into space over the precipice edge, with the result
that it slipped and stumbled, sending me to the ground with a thud,
a bruised hip and painfully dislocated shoulder. I thought that the
time had now arrived for the two of us to have a serious, heart-to-
heart talk and I endeavoured to point out to the melancholy creature
the obvious error of its ways in skirting precipices so obstinately.
1 Pronounced Himm^ahT-ym (accent on second syllable). The word means "Abode