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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A  HERMIT   IN  THE  HIMALAYAS

sky. I think for a moment of the dreary fogs of London, but I find
these here are clean by comparison and not sulphurous in odour.

Then the storm rolls over my head to the accompaniment of
thunder and lightning. The grey clouds break eventually into
showers of thick sleet. Sheets of lightning descend upon an earth
about to be bombarded by three months of tempest. The elements
are in a fury and the heavens are rent asunder, The monsoon hurtles
its millions of large raindrops from the sky with the speed of a
flying machine and amid the roaring noise of a gunfire attack. It
avenges its long absence with incredible ferocity.

The terrific downpours which now gush out of the skies in such
quantities possess no parallel in temperate Europe. If the energy
with which they mercilessly pelt the mountains along the whole
length of the Himalayas could be harnessed mechanically and
turned into electrical units, the vast breadth and length ' ..
India could be put on an electrically run basis.

For several hours the tempestuous winds drive these torrents of
water. The rain is like a solid wall encircling the building. Lightning,
at first spasmodic, increases until it becomes almost continuous;
Amid the raging tornado outside, the resounding crashes of thunder
well nigh cause the ground to shake with concussion.

With the approach of dusk the rains resume their duty. At night
I lie in bed listening to the pouring waters or watching the play of
lightning upon the walls. Yes, the monsoon season has started and
henceforth one thing may unfailingly be expected—rain.

In a few days the square of green lawn which surrounds the
house has become a muddy morass. One's feet sink into the^mixture
of water and earth which hides under the fair face of the grass.

I am not sorry, though. The dry parched ground of the plains
will swallow all this wetness greedily and the crops of poor peasants
will be assured.

It is this excessive monsoon moisture, too, which jackets most of
the storm-tossed Himalayan forest trees with mosses, creepers and
ferns.

Yet the weather has its brief fickle moods like a sick and sulky
old man. On many a day during this season Himalaya is exposed to
great extremes-of temperature, from the arctic to the tropical. There
are evenings so chilly that I have to hustle into winter clothing in
order not to begin shivering with cold, although it is but midsummer.
But there are also occasional bright rifts which interrupt the mon-
soon, when for two or three hours the sun leads the mists away,
turning them into dreams that have vanished. It generously beams
upon and warms this mountain world and then I bask in the shining
satisfying rays. These halcyon moments in the pine-scented air
184