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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"


and the other part freely dotted with small trees. That hillock does
not attract me either.

I proceed to the edge of the bluff overlooking what I had thought
last night to be a gorge lying behind the bungalow. I peer down and
discover that it is really an immense natural basin of terrifying
depth. To slither over the side into vacancy is an easy matter. Yet
it is singularly beautiful. I feel pleased that my new home should
overlook a scene of such grandeur. The declivity is covered with
thick deodar forest almost down to the bottom. It is the meeting*
place of two dark Scotch-looking glens, whose precipitous sides here
widen out to form a circular valley large enough to hold a great
peak, should Nature, in a whimsical fit, decide to drop one here-
abouts. Thick dark-green forests alternate with brown and purple
stretches of bare "granite scattered upon its sides. Ridge upon ridge
rises in magnificent parallel terraced formation along the eastern
side, like gigantic battlements built to repel intrusive man, while
tangled hillocks and scarped spurs, more thinly afforested, form the
western boundary. Gazing down into the deep and vast gorge-like
hollow and letting my eyes rest on its wild rugged slopes, I realize
that I need not search farther. Somewhere around this mountain-
ringed bowl I shall surely find the ideal spot for my meditations.

A few strokes with a woodman's kmTe and I convert a fallen
five-feet piece of pine into a stout and excellent Alpine hill-stick.
The secret lies in sharpening the end, not into an exact point, but
into the shape of a .boat-keel. Then the final phase of my quest is

Making my way with slow caution up a hillock on the western
side, for the climbing of its slippery slope requires a little care, and
then clambering over some rocks stuck into its precipitous face, I
gradually round the hollow, and pass through a clump of mossy
sycamores. The aromatic odour of some mint growing by the way-
side reaches me. I halt, bend down and inhale more of this pleasant
air. At last I attain the summit. Here, to my astonishment, I find the
place freely carpeted with dead autumn leaves. How have they got
here? Has some Himalayan whirlwind blown them hundreds of
feet into the air and then deliberately deposited them here?

At any rate, these leaves provide a magnificent natural carpet
for the hill-top, one which is as comfortable as a thickly woven, hand-
made Mirzapur, and certainly not a whit less artistic. An odd
cowslip and a few tiny violets flourish into decorative existence
among the leaves.

I know that I need travel no farther. The gods have led me to
this perfect retreat The Hindus, like the Tibetans, firmly believe
that the Himalayas are the secret abodes of the gods, as well as of