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Chapter 14
My brother kneels (so saith Kabir)
To stone and brass in heathen wise,
But in my brother's voice I hear
My own unanswered agonies.
His God is as his Fates assign -
His prayer is all the world's - and mine.
The Prayer.
At moonrise the cautious coolies got under way. The lama, refreshed by his sleep and the
spirit, needed no more than Kim's shoulder to bear him along - a silent, swift-striding
man. They held the shale- sprinkled grass for an hour, swept round the shoulder of an
immortal cliff, and climbed into a new country entirely blocked off from all sight of
Chini valley. A huge pasture-ground ran up fan-shaped to the living snow. At its base
was perhaps half an acre of flat land, on which stood a few soil and timber huts. Behind
them - for, hill- fashion, they were perched on the edge of all things - the ground fell
sheer two thousand feet to Shamlegh-midden, where never yet man has set foot.
The men made no motion to divide the plunder till they had seen the lama bedded down
in the best room of the place, with Kim shampooing his feet, Mohammedan-fashion.
'We will send food, ' said the Ao-chung man, 'and the red- topped kilta. By dawn there
will be none to give evidence, one way or the other. If anything is not needed in the kilta
- see here!'
He pointed through the window - opening into space that was filled with moonlight
reflected from the snow - and threw out an empty whisky-bottle.
'No need to listen for the fall. This is the world's end,' he said, and went out. The lama
looked forth, a hand on either sill, with eyes that shone like yellow opals. From the
enormous pit before him white peaks lifted themselves yearning to the moonlight. The
rest was as the darkness of interstellar space.
'These,' he said slowly, 'are indeed my Hills. Thus should a man abide, perched above the
world, separated from delights, considering vast matters.'
'Yes; if he has a chela to prepare tea for him, and to fold a blanket for his head, and to
chase out calving cows.'
A smoky lamp burned in a niche, but the full moonlight beat it down; and by the mixed
light, stooping above the food-bag and cups, Kim moved like a tall ghost.
'Ai! But now I have let the blood cool, my head still beats and drums, and there is a cord
round the back of my neck.'
'No wonder. It was a strong blow. May he who dealt it -'