" I wish I could give you fellows an idea of the glorious scenery of that pass. All the lower slopes of the mountains, with a southern exposure towards Dhurmsala, were either bare spurs of the most vivid green, varied with the colours of the rocks, or clothed with magnificent forests of oaks and rhododendrons. Those, again, to the north were clad in the more sombre-coloured garments of pine, cedar, and fir. Above the region of trees, where the widowed mountain rose desolate and grand till it culminated in peaks, precipices, and glaciers, the great seams and clefts of the range were mostly filled with snow, hiding the torrents which, somewhat lower, broke away and flashed roaring down the mountain. These gorges, however, were but mere intersections of the great upland slopes, which were strewn with huge boulders of granite the debris from the peaks and precipices above among which the most beautiful flowers, ferns, lichens, and grasses, in infinite variety, and including many much prized in England, gemmed the rich verdure, and mingled with masses of bracken and wild rhubarb, ' wasting their sweetness on the desert air/ Above all, the clouds beat up against the peaks, and were held there in check by the snow.
"It is only those who have seen such who can fully appreciate the ruggedness, the desolate, secluded wildness and grandeur, of the lone mountain scenery unstained, uncontaminated by the feeble efforts of man, and showing in its vast and solitary glory the all-powerful impress of the hand of Nature in her sternest mood. No sound to break the silence save the dull murmur of some distant cascade, the wild cry of the moonal, some call from the forests below, or the occasional crash of a fallen mass of rock.
"Such is the great spur of the Himalayas which separates the Burnaor valley from the Punjaub. In front, and far beyond, towers in unsullied grandeur, to the height of five-and-twenty thousand feet the lofty cone of ' Manimais,' and other peaks of the range of perpetual snow, the accumulations of a thousand centuries.
" Away behind lie the lower hills of the Kohistan, connecting the mountains with the great Punjaub plain, the latter nearly hidden from view in the hazy mist of heat and distance.
" Dwarfed into insignificance, and from that height undiscernible as elevations of considerable altitude, these hills are themselves full of a soft and gentle beauty, but one naturally wanting in the sublimity of the loftier Himaleh, or, to call the range by its more ancient and classical name, Imaus or Himodhi the latter meaning the receptacle of snow.
" I am somewhat prolix over my description, but these mountain-memories almost stir me into eloquence. The very thought of them acts like their own pure, fresh air, and sends a thrill of gladness through the pulses. It is something to feel that one has visited such scenes and derived an exquisite pleasure from contemplating them. A man who has done so may with truth say, ' I would that my tongue could utter all the thoughts that arise in me.' However, I must hurry on to my story, and not weary you with digressive remarks.
" It was not the right season for shikaring in that part of the world, but I tried to combine a little sport with the enjoyment I derived from the scenery and the real difficulties of my travels. When staying in the caves on the Punjaub side of the mountains, I got a few of those glorious birds, the ' moonal,' or blue pheasant, which at this season resorts to the desolate mountain slopes above the line which marks the region of trees. I had obtained these by stalking, and very difficult work it was. When once over the pass and again in contact with the habitations of men, I tried several times for bears, but without success. I believe myself that those animals were not at this season to be driven, having deserted the open forest and taken to caves, whence they defied persecution.
" However, the country was quite new to me, and the men, being but poor shikarees, were unable to show any bears, though doubtless many were about.
" I had managed to bag a goorul, or Himalayan chamois, and knocked over three mountain goats, called, I believe, ' burrel,' all of which had fallen over precipices, when one evening I found myself encamped at a little village far up the mountains and the highest inhabited spot near a pass by which I proposed to recross the range. Since I had been in the valley— or more properly speaking, gorge of the Ravee—I had been but very little troubled with the rain, which was incessant on the other side, and had been able to get along without a certainty of being continually wet through.
" I was smoking a cheroot that evening after my exceedingly frugal meal, and being clad in a warm greatcoat, was enjoying the scenery and freshness of the mountain air outside my tent, when my attention was attracted to a black object scuttling along high up on the slope of the mountain opposite. My glass soon showed me that my impressions were correct, and that it was a bear. It was far too distant, and the hour too late, to think of my then attempting a closer acquaintance; but I pointed it out to the man who, in default of a better, did duty as my shikaree, and he informed the head man of the little mountain village. This functionary a queer little fellow, quite destitute of the usual good looks of his race told me he thought he could show me either that bear or some other on the following morning, and I went to bed impressed with the confidence of his statement.
" I slept at night, not with the perturbed, unsatisfactory sleep of the plains, but with the entire, vigorous, refreshing sleep of the mountains, and awoke, as might be expected in that splendid climate and unluxurious mode of life, with the physique in proper order and the nerves soundly braced, a circumstance which that day proved of service. Had the villagers not been able to bring me any khubber of game it was my intention that day to continue my march, for I was running short of money. My tea had for some days been exhausted, and I had only a very small quantity of brandy left, though I confined myself to one hot jorum after dinner the only alcoholic liquid I drank in the course of the twenty-four hours. While at breakfast, some men came in to say that they had marked down a bear into a wooded glen, and that they believed it to be the same I had seen on the preceding evening.