(Apr 16th to 22nd)

Format: Triple

The monkeys sang sorrowfully to each other as they hunted for dry roosts in the fearn-wreathed trees, and the last puff of the day-wind brought from the unseen villages the scent of damp wood-smoke, hot cakes, dripping undergrowth, and rotting pine-cones. That is the true smell of the Himalayas, and if once it creeps into the blood of a man, that man will at the last, fogetting all else, return to the hills to die.


This is from the introduction to “Namgay Doola”, in Life’s Handicap.

The narrator visits a small Himalayan kingdom on the road to Tibet, where he encounters Namgay Doola and his family of wild red-headed children who are a sore trial to the authorities,. He realises that they are half Irish, descended from an Irish soldier, Tim Doolan, long ago. Aware of the family’s ancestral instincts, he advises the King to make Namgay Doola the commander of his army, but to deny him land, for he would never pay taxes for it.

Immediately below him the hillside fell away, clean and cleared for fifteen hundred feet, to where a little village of stone-walled houses, with roofs of beaten earth, clung to the steep tilt. All round it tiny terraced fields lay out like aprons of patchwork on the knees of the mountain, and cows no bigger than beetles grazed between the smooth stone circles of the threshing-floors. Looking across the valley the eye was deceived by the size of things, and could not at first realise that what seemed to be low scrub, on the opposite mountain-flank, was in truth a forest of hundred-foot pines.


This is from “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat” in The Second Jungle Book.

Sir Purun Dass, a distinguished senior administrator, at the height of his achievements, has decided to abandon power and the esteem of other men, and become a wandering mendicant, living on people’s charity. He is walking deep into the hills, where he will find a place where he can end his wanderings and meditate at peace upon the meaning of things.

Kashima is bounded on all sides by the rock-tipped circle of the Dosehri Hills. In Spring it is ablaze with roses; in Summer the roses die and the hot winds blow from the hills; in Autumn, the white mists from the swamps cover the place as with water, and in Winter the frosts nip everything young and tender to earth-level. There is but one view in Kashima – a stretch of perfectly flat pasture and plough-land, running up to the grey-blue scrub of the Dosehri Hills…


This is from “A Wayside Comedy” in Under the Deodars, within Wee Willie Winkie.

The narrator is setting the scene for a tragic tale of love and jealousy among a small group of British people, trapped by their own feelings in a small claustrophobic station in the hills, a ‘prison’ as Rudyard Kipling called it.