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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

endeavour to avoid human beings. Their bodies are entirely covered
with shaggy hair; they are smaller in size than men and women of
our race; whilst their faces seem to be a cross between the likeness
of a chimpanzee and a human being. Our native historical traditions
have long spoken of this queer race, but it is nowadays very difficult
to track down any specimens.

"Still talking of animals, I must tell you how I once ran a race
with an elephant! Several of us formed a party to go out big game
hunting. We were mounted on elephants, and whilst crossing a river
one of the mounts dashed out of the water, tried to shake its rider,
off its back on to its tusks, and to kill him. No argument is of any
avail with a maddened elephant, so its frightened rider fled to
another mount and was taken on its back for protection. We got
away as quickly as we could and left the rebel creature to itself.
Unfortunately we had to pass through the same spot later in, the
day during our return journey in order to reach our camp. There
we found the mad elephant waiting for us! It dashed at our party
and caught hold of the leg cf one man by winding its trunk around
it. In a moment he was dragged off the back of his mount and waved
about in the air as though he were a flag* The man, thinking he was
going to be dashed to death, shrieked aloud with terror, so loudly,
in fact, that even the mad animal seemed to become a little frightened
and let go its hold of its victim. The man fell to the ground but
remained uninjured. He immediately dashed between the feet of
another elephant and got away to safety. Baulked of its prey, the
infuriated creature became angrier than ever and charged into our
party, dashing directly towards me. Here was a clear case for
illustrating your proverb that discretion is often the better part of
valour! I leapt down from the back of my mount to the ground
and fled away into the jungle thickets. The mad elephant rushed
after me, its trunk waving furiously in the air* I ran as I had never
ran before,, The perspiration streamed down me. At one moment I
felt its hot breath against my neck. Knowing that I could have no
possible defence against it, I put all m/ strength and all my reserves
of wind into escape. I literally flew over the ground and escaped.'*

I return to the night meal with appetite whetted by the keen
mountain air and realize, with Roman Cicero, that hunger is
indeed the best sauce. The food is then always attractive, whilst
even ordinary tinned fare seems fresh and flavoursome.

The three days which follow see a fresh journey to other points
of this region. Thus throughout the Prince's timely visit I become
better acquainted with my own neighbourhood and obtain a little
needed exercise for my body. We travel along narrow mountain-
side ledges with precipices below, which form die only paths avail-
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