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A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
I think, and for breakfast, but here again each to his taste, as the
French proverb runs. These are my preferences however.
And now I must sit down to another cup of the "nectar of the
gods", as some Oriental person called it, coupled with a slice of toast,
and let its delicious warmth flow through my body, lighten my
brain, and cheer my heart the while a fragrant aroma ascends from
the crinkled leaves.
Early one morning there comes the ominous threatening sound
of a deep distant rumble, which approaches and develops into
angry roars of thunder. The noise is the herald of the monsoon
deluge and the presage of India's greatest climatic change.
A cold blast begins to blow through my open window. The
arrival of the expected seasonal guest is quite sudden. Five minutes
ago I glance up from the table at which I am sitting to view the
brilliant sunny scene outside. The green lawn is dappled with
light and shade, the chaotic mass of mountains looks pleasant and
peaceful, the dark-blue forest-covered ridges smile in the warm rays,
and the white-robed summits make a picture of primitive beauty.
Gratified, I bend my head again to the page which I am reading.
Now I hear the threatening invasion, and glance up again.
The sun has gone. The heavens murmur in prediction. I am aston-
ished to see a vast legion of white fluffy mists appear, as from
nowhere, and come scurrying along the valleys towards the house.
Above them in the sky a gloomy mass of cumulus heavy thundei>
clouds hang over the peaks and begin to hide the highest ones under
their black canopy.
The dark opaque mists move between the ranges like a squadron
of aeroplanes. They blot out from view everything they pass until
the whole of the lower landscape is covered with the dense milky
vapour, like the full-veiled face of a strictly orthodox Muhammedan
I can still see along the ridge-tops until a chill wind which roars
like an express train arises and drives the dark clouds before it.
The gale causes them to come in my direction. As it brushes past
the branches of the forest trees I hear the swaying of a thousand
slim trunk-tops. It sweeps around the room and its sudden coolness
cuts my body like a knife, forcing me to slip a thick sweater beneath
my thin jacket.
The mists float higher and soon the house is islanded in a white
sea. In ten minutes the whole world is blotted out, and the Hima-
layan mountains turned, as by a magician's wand, into impenetrable