Followed a sudden natural reaction.
`Now am I alone - all alone,' he thought. `In all India is no one so alone as I! If I die today, who shall bring the news - and to whom? If I live and God is good, there will be a price upon my head, for I am a Son of the Charm - I, Kim.'
A very few white people, but many Asiatics, can throw themselves into a mazement as it were by repeating their own names over and over again to themselves, letting the mind go free upon speculation as to what is called personal identity. When one grows older, the power, usually, departs, but while it lasts it may descend upon a man at any moment.
`Who is Kim - Kim - Kim?'
He squatted in a corner of the clanging waiting-room, rapt from all other thoughts; hands folded in lap, and pupils contracted to pin-points. In a minute - in another half-second - he felt he would arrive at the solution of the tremendous puzzle; but here, as always happens, his mind dropped away from those heights with a rush of a wounded bird, and passing his hand before his eyes, he shook his head.
A long-haired Hindu bairagi [holy man], who had just bought a ticket, halted before him at that moment and stared intently.
`I also have lost it,' he said sadly. `It is one of the Gates to the Way, but for me it has been shut many years.'
`What is the talk?' said Kim, abashed.
`Thou wast wondering there in thy spirit what manner of thing thy soul might be. The seizure came of a sudden. I know. Who should know but I? Whither goest thou?'
`Toward Kashi [Benares].'
`There are no Gods there. I have proved them. I go to Prayag [Allahabad] for the fifth time - seeking the Road to Enlightenment. Of what faith art thou?'
`I too am a Seeker,' said Kim, using one of the lama's pet words. `Though' - he forgot his Northern dress for the moment - `though Allah alone knoweth what I seek.'
The old fellow slipped the bairagi's crutch under his armpit and sat down on a patch of ruddy leopard's skin as Kim rose at the call for the Benares train.
`Go in hope, little brother,' he said. `It is a long road to the feet of the One; but thither do we all travel.'
Kim did not feel so lonely after this, and ere he had sat out twenty miles in the crowded compartment, was cheering his neighbours with a string of most wonderful yarns about his own and his master's magical gifts.
Benares struck him as a peculiarly filthy city, though it was pleasant to find how his cloth was respected. At least one-third of the population prays eternally to some group or other of the many million deities,
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