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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

CHAPTER SEVEN

Reflections Upon the Future of Tibet—Sir Francis Toungkusbanfs
Experiences—Destiny of Orient and Occident.

EARLY this morning the sky is a heavenly Wedgwood blue, as
cleai as the sky of Italy, delicately silvered white by regular streamers
of mottled chalky cloud. It is on these clear days that one sees the
precipitous massifs of the Himalayas at their best. Every detail of
the glorious landscape becomes lit up by the slanting rays of the
young sun, while the vivid light turns the great glaciers of ice into
gigantic prisms, which reflect back the loveliest fiery welter of
colourings.

From west to east one's eye travels along the formidable horizon
of jagged peaks and wavy snowfields, a view of such purity and
magnificence as to arouse and satisfy the profoundest aesthetic sense.
Indeed, the austere purity of the snows would rebuke any intruder
who brings a worldly breath with him. The metallic grey crevasses
which streak the glaciers and the black islands of rock which pro-
trude through the snows give the needed contrast, and the sky
offers a perfect blue background to the entire iridescent scene.

I think, by way of contrast, of the green paddyfields in South
India which I know so well, of the picturesque coconut groves, of
the dusty plains.

I can scarcely gaze out of my back door without feeling a
rapturous uplift and exquisite enlivenment. These pyramidal
summits which thrust themselves so majestically above the long
white ridge must make the. most town-stupefied man a Nature-
worshipper. They are so grand, so numerous and so resplendent
Dawn, with its pallors, and sunset, with its purples, create pictures
that can be -vatched a thousand times without any sense of mono-
tony. What though these shining slopes of the Himalaya are often
blizzard-swept and avalanche-marked? Their faces possess a
perfect beauty. They are the most exquisite productions of the
Grand Architect and the Master Builder.

And yet how jealously these giant ranges of grey ice and bare
snow defend the barren black plateau which lies behind, the immense
magnitude of their perspective! At fifteen thousand feet it is the roof
of the world. Tibet has lain secure under the fortress-like barrier
of the Himalayas for centuries. It seems as if Nature has deliberately

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