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Down the steep, plashy path they poured all together … down and down till the deer’s feet clicked and stumbled on the wall of a threshing-floor, and he snorted because he smelt Man. Now they were at the head of the one crooked village street, and the Bhagat beat with his crutch on the barred windows of the blacksmith’s house, as his torch blazed up in the shelter of the eaves. ‘Up and out!’ cried Purun Bhagat; ‘The hill falls! The hill is falling! Up and out, oh, you within!’


This is from “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat” in The Second Jungle Book. The highly educated and successful Prime-Minister of a native State, at the peak of his career, has cast aside all possessions, taken a staff and begging bowl, and become a wandering holy man. He settles in a deserted shrine above a mountain village, and for many years he lives there, fed by the devoted villagers, making friends with the deer and monkeys round about, and pondering on the meaning of existence.

Then one night he is awakened by the wild creatures, and sees that the mountain is falling. He hastens down the hillside in the icy rain, wakes the sleeping villagers, and urges them up to high ground across the valley. They are just in time before a massive landslip destroys the village.