A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
he does not believe in hiding under a bushel; it is like a loud-
speaker, with the consequence that every animal, every bird ,and
every insect on the mountain, must know where he is domiciled.
He, too, hops around the ground at times with opened beak, although
uninvited, in an awkward and amusing series of flops and jumps,
pecking jerkily at the crumbs. His large beak, his mournful black
feathers, his suspicious yet curious glances as he solemnly watches
me tap the typewriter keys, his harsh croaks, will all print them-
selves on my memory for after years. If the robin is the pretty little
singing-girl of my court, then the crow is the unofficial fool and
Just before dusk every evening, and with the oncoming end of the
violet sunset, a whistling thrush appears upon the stony patch which
does duty as a stage for my bird companions and treats me to an
excellent performance. It whistles as well as any schoolboy equipped
with an instrument, and certainly far more musically.
Again, hi contrast to the crow's harsh croak is the gentle, soft
cooing of a pair of turtle-doves, with brown mottled plumage, who
come quite close to me and watch my movements with great
curiosity. I watch them too, did they but know it, for I am interested
to see how loving they are towards one another, never going out of
each other's sight, nor permitting much more than a few yards ever
to come between them.
A fourth companion I never see, but hear. It is a cicad. The
insect inhabits the 'crow's tree, albeit much lower down, and its
shrill chirp whirrs at fixed intervals like a rattle.
Strangest of my comrades is a tame housefly. Its favourite roost
is on one of my thumb-nails. There it is content to pass its happy
half hours in playful exploration. At suitable intervals I place some
sugar in my hand and the fly clings to the food, no matter how I
twist and turn my hand when writing. When I tire of supporting it
on my thumbnail I transfer it to the other hand, where it remains
An unwelcome visitor is the horse-fly, a huge and vicious fly of
incredible size. I discover its existence one day when it pokes its
pointed barb through my shirt and administers a sharp sting which
remains to irritate the skin for a long time. But I do not think any
horse-fly will venture to do that a second time!
Grasshoppers, too, dance comically around the place.
There are other visitors here, belonging to the animal and insect
world, both pleasant and unpleasant, both tame and wild, but they
come tonly occasionally and pass on like the strangers they are.
Most unexpected, however, is the cah I receive one afternoon when
eating lunch. I hear stealthy footsteps behind me, creeping closer