The shudder, the stumble, the swerve ere the star-stabbing bowsprit emerges
The orderly clouds of the Trades and the ridged roaring sapphire thereunder
Unheralded cliff-lurking flaws and the head-sails low-volleying thunder?
His Sea in no wonder the same his Sea and the same in each wonder His Sea that his being fulfils?
So and no otherwise so and no otherwise hill-men desire their hills!
The Sea and the Hills.
Who goes to the hills goes to his mother.
They had crossed the Siwaliks and the half-tropical Doon, left Mussoorie behind them, and headed north along the narrow hill-roads. Day after day they struck deeper into the huddled mountains, and day after day Kim watched the lama return to a mans strength. Among the terraces of the Doon he had leaned on the boys shoulder, ready to profit by wayside halts. Under the great ramp to Mussoorie he drew himself together as an old hunter faces a well-remembered bank, and where he should have sunk exhausted swung his long draperies about him, drew a deep double-lungful of the diamond air, and walked as only a hillman can. Kim, plains-bred and plains-fed, sweated and panted astonished. This is my country, said the lama. Beside Such-zen, this is flatter than a rice-field; and with steady, driving strokes from the loins he strode upwards. But it was on the steep downhill marches, three thousand feet in three hours, that he went utterly away from Kim, whose back ached with holding back, and whose big toe was nigh cut off by his grass sandal-string. Through the speckled shadow of the great deodar-forests; through oak feathered and plumed with ferns; birch, ilex, rhododendron, and pine, out on to the bare hillsides slippery sunburnt grass, and back into the woodlands coolth again, till oak gave way to bamboo and palm of the valley, the lama swung untiring.
Glancing back in the twilight at the huge ridges behind him and the faint, thin line of the road whereby they had come, he would lay out, with a hillmans generous breadth of vision, fresh marches for the morrow; or, halting in the neck of some uplifted pass that gave on Spiti and Kulu, would stretch out his hands yearningly towards the high snows of the horizon. In the dawns they flared windy-red above stark blue, as Kedarnath and Badrinath kings of that wilderness took the first sunlight. All day long they lay like molten silver under the sun, and at evening put on their jewels again. At first they breathed temperately upon the travellers, winds good to meet when one crawled over some gigantic hogs-back; but in a few days, at a height of nine or ten thousand feet, those breezes bit; and Kim kindly allowed a village of hillmen to acquire merit by giving him a rough blanket-coat. The lama was mildly surprised that anyone should object to the knife-edged breezes which had cut the years off his shoulders.
These are but the lower hills, chela. There is no cold till we come to the true Hills.
Air and water are good, and the people are devout enough, but the food is very bad, Kim growled; and we walk as though we were mad or English. It freezes at night, too.
A little, maybe; but only enough to make old bones rejoice in the sun. We must not always delight in soft beds and rich food.
We might at least keep to the road.
Kim had all a plainsmans affection for the well-trodden track, not six feet wide, that snaked among the mountains; but the lama, being Tibetan, could not refrain from short cuts over spurs and the rims of gravel- strewn slopes. As he explained to his limping disciple, a man bred among mountains can prophesy the course of a mountain-road, and though low-lying clouds might be a hindrance to a short-cutting stranger, they made no earthly difference to a thoughtful man. Thus, after long hours of what would be reckoned very fair mountaineering in civilized countries, they would pant over a saddle-back, sidle past a few landslips, and drop through forest at an angle of forty-five on to the road again. Along their track lay the villages of the hill-folk mud and earth huts, timbers now and then rudely carved with an axe clinging like swallows nests against the steeps, huddled on tiny flats half-way down a three-thousand-foot glissade; jammed
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