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flood and rush of the sunlit air dazzled him. He squatted by the white wall, the mind rummaging among the incidents of the long dooli journey, the lama's weaknesses, and now that the stimulus of talk was removed, his own great self-pity, of which, like the sick, he had great store. The unnerved brain edged away from all the outside, as a raw horse, once rowelled, sidles from the spur. It was enough, amply enough, that the spoil of the kilta was away — off his hands — out of his possession. He tried to think of the lama, — to wonder why he had tumbled into a brook, — but the bigness of the world, seen between the forecourt gates, swept linked thought aside. Then he looked upon the trees and the broad fields, with the thatched huts hidden among crops — looked with strange eyes unable to take up the size and proportion and use of things — stared for a still half-hour. All that while he felt, though he could not put it into words, that his soul was out of gear with its surroundings — a cog-wheel unconnected with any machinery, just like the idle cog-wheel of a cheap Beheea sugar-crusher laid by in a corner. The breezes fanned over him, the parrots shrieked at him, the noises of the populated house behind — squabbles, orders, and reproofs — hit on dead ears.
'I am Kim. I am Kim; and what is Kim?' His soul repeated it again and again.
He did not want to cry, — had never felt less like
1 He crossed his hands on his lap and smiled, as a man who has won salvation for himself and his beloved."
crying in his life, — but of a sudden easy, stupid tears trickled down his nose, and with almost an audible click he felt the wheels of his being lock up anew on the world without. Things that rode meaningless on his eyeball an instant before slid into proper proportion. Koads were meant to be walked upon, houses to be lived m, cattle to be driven, fields to be tilled, and men and women to be talked to. They were all real and true — solidly planted upon the feet — perfectly comprehensible — clay of his clay, neither more nor less. He shook himself like a dog with a flea in his ear, and rambled out of the gate. Said the Sahiba, to whom watchful eyes reported this move: ' Let him go. I have done my share. Mother Earth must do the rest. When the Holy One comes back from meditation, tell him.'
There stood an empty bullock-cart on a little knoll half a mile away, with a young banian tree behind — a look-out, as it were, above some new-ploughed levels; and his eyelids, bathed in soft air, grew heavy as he neared it. The ground was good clean dust — no new herbage that, living, is half-way to death already, but the hopeful dust that holds the seed of all life. Kim felt it between his toes, patted it with his palms, and, joint by joint, sighing luxuriously, laid him down full length along in the shadow of the woodenpinned cart. And Mother Earth was as faithful as the Sahiba. She breathed through him to restore the poise he had lost lying so long on a cot cut off from her good currents. His head lay powerless upon her breast, and his opened hands surrendered to her strength. The races who shoe their feet with iron and the skins of dead animals, who pack boards and concrete between themselves and the clay of their fashioning, do not understand, except when they go camping, how Earth, that gives all the fevers, can also take them away. The many-rooted tree above him, and even the dead man-handled wood beside him, knew what he sought, as he himself did not know. Hour upon hour he lay deeper than sleep. Towards evening, when the dust of returning kine made all the horizons smoke, came the lama and Mahbub Ali, both afoot, walking cautiously, for the house had told them where he had gone.
'Allah! What a fool's trick to play in open country,' muttered the horse-dealer. 'He could be shot a hundred times — but this is not the Border.'
'And,' said the lama, repeating a many-times-told tale, 'never was such a chela. Temperate, kindly, wise, of ungrudging disposition, a merry heart upon the road, never forgetting, learned, truthful, courteous. Great is his reward!'
'I know the boy — as I have said.'
'And he was all those things?'
'Some of them — but I have not yet found a Red