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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT  IN   THE  HIMALAYAS

able, or climb peaks which are scarped and striated masses of
subdued brown rock, or descend through thick forests into deep
ravines. Overhead, vultures wing their straight flight across the
ever-changing sky. These vultures soar very high and then glide
for phenomenal distances with outstretched motionless wings. Not
once do they flap their wings in a few miles or more, but move
steadily forward on their horizontal routes at high speeds. One
beholds them amazed and wonders how it is done.

Many parts of these tangled ridges which lie all around us are
too rocky to possess vegetation, while others are dense with green
growths and clothed with forests upon every side. Yet even the brown
drabness of the barren rocks is broken here and there by solitary
wild mountain flowers, nearly all with heads and petals so tiny as to
appear like units of a Japanese miniature garden. Dainty white
marguerites and yellow, pink and white daisies peep into the air
upon the slenderest of stems; occasional forget-me-nots grow in the
crevices between stones and make me stop to gaze at their haunting
colourings; a single miniature marigold flaunts its yellow beauty
amongst the green moss on the inner side of a rock-cut trail; a
species of the Himalayan wild raspberry bush unavailingly yet
often tempts us with its unripe vermilion fruit; pink-veined wood
anemones stud the forest floors; exquisitely small-petalled violets
are here, too, and even the English yellow primrose finds a fitful
existence.

At the prelude to dusk, when the green peaks become purple
shadowed, the bare tracks are flushed with rose, and when the
dying sun turns the snow ranges into gold-tipped crests a heightened
peace becomes the reigning king of Himalaya. In this serene, town-
free silence, where no car syren hoots, no tram clangs, no omnibus
rattles and no human crowd rushes, the days disappear into yester-
days with a gentle imperceptible effortless ease. Here, and as far as
the distant line where earth and sky meet, if anywhere, a man can
know what contentment means and enjoy a true tranquillity.

Another bright afternoon arrives. The mid-day sun pours its
vertical rays upon the earth. The drone of questing bees resounds
through the air. Jackdaws, tiny- wagtails, torn-tits and other birds
hop and chirrup about among the moss-covered monarchs of
the forest. Except for these delightful sounds of Nature, there is an
enchanted stillness in the atmosphere. One cannot believe that life
is anything but good and kind and quiet. Yet, far away to the north,
Europe rages with strain and tension and fear; a similar distance

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