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Chapter 13
Who hath desired the Sea - the immense and contemptuous surges?
The shudder, the stumble, the swerve ere the star-stabbing bowsprit merges -
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 man's strength.
Among the terraces of the Doon he had leaned on the boy's 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 hillman's 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 Kedar- nath 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 hog's-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.'