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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

Two large black scorpions have wandered into my bedroom
within the week. They are queer unpleasant fellows, not quite so
lively at this high altitude as their yellow Egyptian cousins, perhaps,
and far less common, but quite capable of administering a vicious
sting with their poison tails.

If Nature sends me some varied visitors, destiny to my surprise
sends a companion. True I had hoped for complete solitude, but
solitude d deux may not be altogether bad if the other is a pleasant
person, and so the newcomer turns out to be. I can see at a glance
that she will respect my hours when I wish to be alone, this lady, and
yet sing entertainingly during the hours when I can tolerate com-
pany. I could do worse, when my wandering feet shall one day come
to rest, than make my permanent home address in the Himalayas
with her.

The passing visitor who has stayed as a permanent companion
is a warm-breasted little robin which hops sedately around my
bungalow and then alights on the nearest bush to take several peeps
at me, the while I sit outside in the sunshine and write my letters and
enter up my journal—that record of passing scenes and surrounding
sights, of a few interviews and many meditations, in which I put my
heart under a microscope and report what has come to me, what I
have beheld in the shining hours of ecstasy, as some celestial journalist
might report them, to keep as a recollection for later years.

It has won a corner of my heart, and for its sake I keep a pocket
full of biscuit-crumbs in waiting readiness. When its confidence is
assured and it gets over its fear of humanity it accepts my proffered
invitation and hops down and approaches nearer and nearer, until I
reward its wide-open mouth with a generous measure of its para-
disiac food. Each time I see the lovely reddish-gold colouring of its
underbreast I feel a trifle happier, a trifle gayer, as though Nature
has sent a silent message bidding me be of good cheer. I love my
dear robin and I hope it will not leave me. It has its habitat in a
newly built nest under the roof of my bungalow, when it is not
flitting among the boughs.

But, by way of contrast, there is another inhabitant of this
region. He is a vociferous crow which lives on the very top of the
forest fir tree overhanging my patch of grassy and stony ridge. With
every gusty breeze he is in danger of losing his foothold on the tree-
top, to which he insists on clinging; the violent efforts he makes to
retain his balance are indeed comical. Once he disappeared for a
time longer than his wont, so I went off in quest of the truant. I
found him near my sanctuary, amongst a batch of other crows who
were gathered in grave assembly, apparently discussing state
matters in their croaking voices. He has a hoarse throaty voice which

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