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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

A Visit of a Jfcpalese Prince—A Qjieer Experience with a Fakir and a
Spirit—We Explore a Beautiful River Valley—An Adventure with a Mad
Elephant—Buddhism in Nepal—Krishna and Buddha Compared.

WHEN we last met I told Prince Mussooree Shum Shere Jung
Bahadur Rana, of Nepal, of my intention to go into the recesses of
the Himalaya Mountains upon a spiritual and inward adventure.
My bright friend lightly responded with the wish that he could
escape the whirl of pleasure and duty for a brief time and accompany
me thither, as if such a trip were a half-hour matter. To which I
jokingly replied: "Anyway, Prince Mussooree, come and have a
cup of tea with me there one day." And thus we both laughed off
this trifle.

I hear nothing further of the Prince until today, when, totally
unannounced and quite unexpectedly, he arrives! Accompanied
by a couple of servants and ambling up the trail on a handsome
brown horse, he appears in my solitary domain.

"So you have come for that cup of tea!" I remark, when the
first astonishment of this sudden incursion departs and yields to the
hospitable emotion with which every man should greet a friend.

But the Prince denies my natural inference and declares that he .
has little partiality for tea; he will drink anything eise but not tea.
Unfortunately it is impossible for me to offer him, in this refuge from
civilization, anything else—except water. Excellent, he declares, he
will drink water 1 However, the rigid traditions of his caste demand
that his own servant provide the drink out of the supply they cany.

And whilst he sips the colourless fluid I muse over the pheno-
menon of a man who goes into the mountains to play the hermit,
who expects not a single visitor but succeeds in having quite a few*
Under the law of averages I may hope to have another ten visitors
during the balance of my sojourn here! Thus it is amply proved
that in this twentieth century nobody can become a Robinson
Crusoe. Whether he maroon himself on an unfrequented Pacific
Island or perch himself on a wild mountain top, the world will
track him down and invade his solitude. If there is no other means
of approach, aeroplanes will nose their way into his retreat!

Nevertheless I am not a churl. I am grateful for these visits.
Fate has been kind enough to send none but those who are welcome
indeed. My visitors have stimulated my own intellect and given me

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