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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

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of a falling leaf. The panther awakes just when I am about to pass
its leafy lair.

This time there is nothing to do but stand stock still and await
events. The creature raises its cat-like head, then its beautiful furry
body stands upright, and it peers questioningly at me with evil*
looking yellow-green fiery eyes. ! return its gaze just as questioningly.

My pulse thumps away a good deal faster than normal. I am
not a brave he-man, with an overplus of physical courage and robust
vigour. All I can command is a little inward stillness. So I call up my
reserves of that under-valued quality, which, somehow, brings me
perhaps the same result as courage.

Perceiving that I have detected it, the panther's expression
changes into one of rage. It opens its jaws slightly in irritation and
the bared teeth show defiance. The ears are turned back close to the
head. Then with an angry snarl which sounds like a hoarse human
cough, the muscular body rises arch-like and leaps headlong to the
farther side of the tree and lands with a heavy crash in the tangled
growth of underwood. My last glimpse is of a long, black-
tipped twitching tail and then the panther disappears into the

There are other animals in Tehri State which neither love nor
are loved by man. The black bear is common enough, whilst the
leopard roams hither and thither, the wild boar leaves its ravages,
whilst the tiger has now confined itself to certain tracts. But as a
rule they keep themselves quiet by daytime and stir forth only with
the coming of darkness. Then one hears occasionally queer sounds,
ominous growls, whilst lying in bed at night, evidence of some
prowling creature which has deserted its lair in the forest or ravine
and is investigating the possibilities of this region. Once I flash my
torchlight upon the face of a small bear which comes grunting round
my bungalow and peeps through the glass panel of the rear bedroom

On the mountain slopes there are large herds of wild stags, wild
spotted deer, and of that curious creature, the goat-antelope—
simple, innocent, shy and likeable creatures which are well behaved
until forced to fight for their lives with the wilder species. Then
their powerful antlers come into play and sometimes they render
good account of themselves. A single panther will pursue a herd of
wild deer who moan their fright until the last moment, when the
necessity of defence calls up fresh courage.

^The barking-deer is here, too—a beautiful, slender-legged

The black Himalayan bear is an unpleasant creature to meet
suddenly. Its temper at the moment is generally the deciding factor