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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

CHAPTER THREE

A Meditation on British Rule in India and on Political Strife—Necessity
of Spiritualizing Politics—The Control of Thoughts—A Secret of Con-
centration.

LATE in the afternoon I return up the steep gradient to my sanctuary.
The hill-stick serves its purpose well even if it is not so perfect as a
regular mountaineer's staff with iron-pointed tip. I pick out a spot
where I may sit down and think quietly, as a prelude to the inner
stillness which I hope to invoke with the eventide.

I take my seat close to the very edge of the cliff, for thence one
can look down into the great tree-girt valley and see most of its
sublime grandeur. The place suggests cloistral peace. If serenity
can be attained anywhere on earth, this is indeed one region among
the few. This unspoilt border State, where the ancient Hindu gods
have walked, seems quite apart from the rest of India.

My gaze comes to rest at last upon the curving brarches of a
lofty deodar, whoSe aged trunk is heavily covered with brownish-
green dank moss and with long tufts of ragged lichen like a beard.
It grows but a few feet away from and below my seat, and leans
forward at a slight angle from the cliff-side. The sunbeams filter
through its foliage. There is not very regular symmetrical growth
of the branches, as with pine-trees, and the clustered needles which
form the foliage droop sadly towards the ground. Nevertheless
there is quite an air of faded aristocracy about the old dark tree,
while its leaves still waft the peculiar fragrance which betrays its
primal relationship with the Syrian cedar. I remember that the
Mogul Emperors used the wood of deodar trees to heat the water
for their baths, and for the baths of their harem favourites, because
of its unusual scent. Two tiny mountain flowers kiss the venerable
foot of the deodar with their fresh young petals. Most spiritual of all
trees, legend makes the deodar the favourite of the gods.

I fancy that we shall get to know each other well, this tall graceful
deodar and myself, and even attain an intimacy of firm friendship
which my inevitable departure one day shall be unable to break.
At any rate, we must henceforth companion each other for a long
time, for such are the dictates of destiny. I shall whisper my heart-
hidden secrets to you, O patriarchal deodar, and tell of those
vanished joys and terrible tribulations which a man can never
commit to public gaze, writer though he be. And you too shall speak
32