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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

Such is this unfortunate man's narrative. It proves plainly
what every mountaineer in these parts knows, that bears do not
desire to kill a man but will make for him on sight merely to maim
and disfigure him tor life.

The toll of deaths from wild beasts and poisonous reptiles may
be fairly heavy in India, although it is chiefly among cattle, but I do
not think that it is any worse, on a percentage of population, than
the toll of deaths from motor-car accidents in the West. The average
occidental does not realize that nowadays the automobile has
become no less dangerous to him than the tiger and the cobra is to
the average Indian. In India, where some parts are so infested that
snakes and scorpions may sleep behind almost every stone and
wild beasts may have their haunts in every patch of jungle or forest,
the Western accident and mortality figures can hardly have been
exceeded so far as human beings are concerned, although the
figure of depredations among cattle must certainly be larger. The
truth is that fewer forest beasts will attack a human being who does
not hunt them than we think, so long as they can prey on other
animals, whilst fewer snakes will bite him unless he accidentally
treads on them or touches them, when they bite through fear that
they are being attacked, than we believe. In short, the danger of
crossing a motor-infested road in the cities of America and Europe
is now about equal to the danger of crossing a savage-beast-ridden
forest in India!