About a monk/hermits contact to spacepeople in the highland of Tibet - more than hundred years ago - they overseeing critical planets like earth and gave a lot of interesting information….Rampa came as a yong monk to this old hermit that had been selected from "the overseers" to bring this information because of his extreme memory. The overseers foresaw that Rampa would bring this information out to the world many years later.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
I, the author, state that this book is absolutely true. Some people who are bogged down in materialism may prefer to consider it as fiction. The choice is yours -believe or disbelieve according to your state of evolution. I am NOT prepared to discuss the matter or to answer questions about it. This book, and ALL my books, are TRUE! Lobsang Rampa.
OUTSIDE the sun was shining. Vividly it illumined the trees, threw black shadows behind the jutting rocks, and sent a myriad glinting points from the blue, blue lake. Here, though, in the cool recesses of the old hermit's cave, the light was filtered by overhanging fronds and came greenly, soothingly, to tired eyes strained by exposure to the glaring sun.
The young man bowed respectfully to the thin' hermit sitting erect on a time-smoothed boulder. 'I have come to you for instruction, Venerable One,' he said in a low voice.
'Be seated,' commanded the elder. The young monk in the brick-red robe bowed again and sat cross legged on the hard-packed earth a few feet from his senior.
The old hermit kept silent, seemingly gazing into an infinity of pasts through eyeless sockets. Long long years before, as a young lama, he had been set upon by Chinese officials in Lhasa and cruelly blinded for not revealing State secrets which he did not possess. Tortured, maimed and blinded, he had wandered embittered and disillusioned away from the city. Moving by night he walked on, almost insane with pain and shock he avoided human company. Thinking, always thinking.
Climbing ever upwards, living on the sparse grass or any herbs he could find, led to water for drinking by the tinkle of mountain streams, he kept a tenuous hold on the spark of life. Slowly his worst hurts healed, his eyeless sockets no longer dripped. But ever he climbed upwards, away from mankind which tortured insanely and without reason. The air became thin. No longer were there tree branches which could be peeled and eaten for food. No longer could he just reach out and pluck grasses. Now he had to crawl on hands and knees, reeling, stretching, hoping to get enough to stave off the worst pangs of starvation.
The air became colder, the bite of the wind keener, but still he plodded on, upwards, ever upwards as if driven by some inner compulsion. Weeks before, at the outset of his journey, he had found a stout branch which he had used as a stave with which to pick his path. Now, his questing stick struck solidly against a barrier and his probing could find no way through it.
The young monk(Rampa use this expression - it was himself as a young monk) looked intently at the old man. No sign of movement. Was he all right, the young man wondered, and then consoled himself with the thought that the "Ancient Venerables" lived in the world of the past and never hurried for anyone. He gazed curiously around the bare cave. Bare indeed it was. At one side a yellowed pile of straw - his bed. Close to it a bowl. Over a projecting finger of rock a tattered saffron robe drooped mournfully as if conscious of its sun-bleached state. And nothing more. Nothing.
The ancient man reflected on his past, thought of the pain of being tortured, maimed, and blinded. When HE was as young as the young man sitting before him.
In a frenzy of frustration his staff struck out at the strange barrier before him. Vainly he strove to see through eyeless sockets. At last, exhausted by the intensity of his emotions, he collapsed at the foot of the mysterious barrier. The thin air seeped through his solitary garment, slowly robbing the starved body of heat and life.
Long moments passed. Then came the clatter of shod feet striding across the rocky ground. Muttered words in an incomprehensible tongue, and the limp body was lifted and carried away. There came a metallic CLANG! and a waiting vulture, feeling cheated of his meal, soared into clumsy flight.
The old man started; all THAT was long ago. Now he had to give instruction to the young fellow before him so like HE had been oh, how many years was it? Sixty? Seventy? Or more? No matter, that was behind, lost in the mists of time. What were the years of a man's life when he knew of the years of the world?
Time seemed to stand still. Even the faint wind, which had been rustling through the leaves, ceased its whisper. There was an air of almost eerie expectancy as the young monk waited for the old hermit to speak. At last, when the strain was becoming almost unbearable to the younger man, the Venerable One spoke.
'You have been sent to me,' he said, 'because you have a great task in Life and I have to acquaint you with my own knowledge so that you are in some measure made aware of your destiny.' He faced in the direction of the young monk who squirmed with embarrassment. It WAS difficult, he thought, dealing with blind people; they 'look' without seeing but one had the feeling that they saw all! A most difficult state of affairs.
The dry, scarce-used voice resumed: 'When I was young I had many experiences, painful experiences. I left our great city of Lhasa and wandered blind in the wilderness. Starving, ill, and unconscious, I was taken - I know not where - and instructed in preparation for this day. When my knowledge has been passed to you my life's work is ended and I can go in peace to the Heavenly Fields.' So saying, a' beatific glow suffused the sunken, parchment-like cheeks and he unconsciously twirled his Prayer Wheel the faster.
Outside, the slow shadows crawled across the ground. The wind grew in strength and twisted bone-dry dust into little swirls. Somewhere a bird called an urgent warning. Almost imperceptibly the light of day waned, as the shadows grew even longer. In the cave, now decidedly dark, the young monk tightly clasped his body in the hope of staving off the rumbles of increasing hunger. Hunger. Learning and hunger, he thought, they always go together. Hunger and learning. A fleeting smile crossed the hermifs face. 'Ah!' he exclaimed, 'so the information is correct The Young Man is hungry. The Young Man rattles like an empty drum. My informant told me it would be so. AND provided the cure.' Slowly, painfully, and creaking with age, he rose to his feet and tottered to a so far unseen part of the cave. Re-appearing, he handed the young monk a small package. 'From your Honourable Guide,' he explained, 'he said it would make your studies the sweeter.'
Sweetcakes, sweetcakes from India as a relief from the eternal barley or tsampa. And a little goats' milk as a change from water and more water. 'No, no!' exclaimed the old hermit as he was invited to partake of the food. 'I appreciate the needs of the young - and especially of one who will be going out into the wide world beyond the mountains. Eat, and enjoy it. I, an unworthy person, try in my humble way to follow the gracious Lord Buddha and live on the metaphorical grain of mustard seed. But you, eat and sleep, for I feel the night is upon us.' So saying he turned and moved into the well-concealed inner portion of the cave.
The young man moved to the mouth of the cave, now a greyish oval against the blackness of the interior. The high mountain peaks were hard black cut-outs against the purpling of space beyond. Suddenly there was a growing silvery effulgence of light as the full moon was displayed by the passing of a solitary black cloud, displayed as though the hand of a god had drawn back the curtains of night that labouring mankind should see the 'Queen of the Sky'.
But the young monk did not stay long, his repast was meagre indeed and would have been wholly unacceptable to a Western youth. Soon he returned to the cave and, scraping a depression in the soft sand for his hip, fell soundly asleep.
The first faint streaks of light found him stirring uneasily. Awakening with a rush he leaped to his feet and gazed guiltily around. At that moment the old hermit walked feebly into the main part of the cave. 'Oh, Venerable One,' exclaimed the young monk nervously, 'I overslept and did not attend the midnight service!' Then he felt foolish as he realized where he was. (He was used to the midnight service in the monastery. R.Ř.rem.)
'Have no fear, young man,' smiled the hermit, 'we have no services here. Man, when evolved, can have his "service" within himself, anywhere, at any time, without having to be herded and congregate like mindless yaks. But make your tsampa, have your meal, for today I have much to tell you and you must remember all.' So saying, he wandered slowly out into the lightening day.
An hour later the young man was sitting before the elder, listening to a story that was as enthralling as it was strange. A story that was the foundation of all religions, all fairy tales, and all legends upon the World. A story that has been suppressed by power-jealous priests and 'scientists' since the first tribal days.
Probing fingers of the sun filtered gently through the foliage at the mouth of the cave and glinted brightly from the metallic ores embedded in the rock. The air warmed slightly and a faint haze appeared on the surface of the lake. A few birds chattered noisily as they set about the never-ending task of finding enough food in the sparse land. High overhead a solitary vulture soared on a rising current of air, rising and falling with outspread, motionless wings as his sharp sharp eyes searched the barren terrain in search of the dead or dying. Satisfied that there was nothing for him here he swooped sideways with a cross squawk and set off for more profitable sites.
The old hermit sat erect and motionless, his emaciated figure barely covered by the remnants of the golden robe. 'Golden' no longer, but sunbleached to a wretched tan with yellow bands where the folds had in part diminished the fading by the sunlight The skin was taut across his high, sharp cheekbones, and of that waxen, whitish pallor so common to the unsighted. His feet were bare and his possessions few indeed, a bowl, a Prayer Wheel, and just a spare robe as tattered as the other. Nothing more, nothing more in the whole world.
The young monk sitting before him pondered the matter. The more a man's spirituality the less his worldly possessions. The great Abbots with their Cloth of Gold, their riches and their ample food, THEY were always fighting for political power and living for the moment while giving lip-service to the Scriptures.
'Young man,' the old voice broke in, 'my time is almost at an end. I have to pass on my knowledge to you and then my spirit will be free to go to the Heavenly Fields. You are he who will pass on this knowledge to others, so listen and store the whole within your memory and FAIL NOT.'
'Learn this, study that!' thought the young monk, 'life is nothing but hard work now. No kites, no stilts, no-' But the hermit went on, 'You know how I was treated by the Chinese, you know I wandered in the wilderness and came at last to a great wonder. A miracle befell me for an inner compulsion led me until I fell unconscious at the very portals of the Shrine of Wisdom. I will tell you. My knowledge shall be yours even as it was shown to me, for, sightless, I saw all.'
The young monk nodded his head, forgetting that the old man could not see him, then, remembering, he said, 'I am listening, Venerable Master, and I have been trained to remember all.' So saying, he bowed and then sat back, waiting.
The old man smiled his satisfaction and continued, 'The first thing I remember was of lying very comfortably on a soft bed. Of course, I was young then, much like you are now, and I thought I had been transported to the Heavenly Fields. But I could not see and I knew That if this had been the other side of Life, sight would have been mine again. So I lay there and waited. Before long very quiet footsteps approached and stopped by my side. I lay still, not knowing what to expect. "Ah!" said a voice, which seemed to be in some way different from our voices. "Ah! So you have regained consciousness. Do you feel well?"
'What a stupid question, I thought, how can I feel well as I am starving to death. Starving? But I no longer felt hungry. I DID feel well, VERY well. Cautiously I moved my fingers, felt my arms and they were not sticks any longer. I had filled out and was normal again except that I still had no eyes. "Yes, yes I DO feel well, thank you for asking," I replied. The Voice said, "We would have restored your sight, but your eyes were removed so we could not do so. Rest awhile and we will talk with you in detail."
'I rested; I had no choice. Soon I dropped off to sleep. How long I slept I have no way of knowing, but sweet chimes eventually aroused me, chimes sweeter and more mellow than the finest gongs, better than the most ancient silver bells, more sonorous than temple trumpets. I sat up and stared round as if I could force sight into my eyeless sockets. A gentle arm slid around my shoulders and a voice said, "Rise and come with me. I will lead you."'
The young monk sat fascinated, wondering why things like that did not happen to him, little knowing that eventually they WOULD! 'Please continue, Venerable Master, please continue,' he cried. The old hermit smiled his gratification at his listener's interest and went on.
'I was led into what was evidently a large room and in which there were a number of people - I could hear the murmur of their breath and the rustle of their garments. My Guide said, "Sit here," and a strange device was pushed under me. Expecting to sit on the ground as all sensible persons do, I nearly knocked one end through to the other.'
The old hermit paused for a moment and a dry chuckle escaped him as he recalled that bygone scene. 'I felt it carefully,' he continued, 'and it seemed soft yet firm. It was supported on four legs and at the rear there was an obstruction which held my back. At first my conclusion was that they deemed me too weak to sit up unaided, then I detected signs of suppressed amusement, so it appeared that this was the manner of seating for these people. I felt strange and most unsafe sitting up in such a fashion, and I freely confess that I hung on grimly to the padded platform.'
The young monk tried to imagine a sitting platform. WHY should there be such things? WHY did people have to invent useless items? No, he decided, the ground was good enough for him; safer, no risk of falling, and who was so weak that he had to have his back supported? But the old man was speaking again - his lungs were certainly working well, thought the young man!
'"You wonder about us" the Voice said to me, "you wonder who we are, why you feel so welL Sit more easily for we have much to tell you and much to show you."
'"Most Illustrious One," I expostulated, "I am blind, my eyes were removed, yet you say you have much to show me, how can this be?" "Rest at peace," said the Voice, "for all will become clear to you with time and patience." The backs of my legs were beginning to ache, dangling in such a strange position, so I drew them up and tried to sit in the Lotus position on that little wooden platform supported on the four legs and with the strange obstructing thing at the back. So seated I felt more at ease, although there was certainly the fear that, not seeing, I might topple off to I knew not where.
"We are the Gardeners of the Earth," said the' Voice. "We travel in universes putting people and animals on many different worlds. You Earthlings have your legends about us, you refer to us as the Gods of the Sky, you talk of our flaming chariots. Now we are to give you information as to the origin of Life on Earth so that you can pass on the knowledge to one who shall come after and shall go into the world and write of these things, for it is time that people knew the Truth of their Gods before we initiate the second stage."
"'But there is some mistake," I cried in great dismay, "I am but a poor monk who climbed to this high place I know not why."
'"We, by our science, sent for you," murmured the Voice, "you have been chosen for this because of your exceptional memory which we shall even strengthen. We know all about you and that is why you are here."'
Outside the cave, in the now brilliant light of day, a bird's note rose sharply and shrilly in sudden alarm. A shriek of avian outrage, and the clucking diminished as the bird fled the spot precipitately. The ancient hermit raised his head a moment and said, 'It is nothing, probably a highflying bird scored a hit!' The young monk found it painful to be distracted from this tale of a bygone age, an age which, strangely enough, he found not difficult to visualize. By the placid waters of the lake the willows nodded in somnolence disturbed only by vagrant breezes, which stirred the leaves and made them mutter in protest at the invasion of their rest. By now the early shafts of sunlight had left the entrance of the cave and here it was cool, with green-tinted light. The old hermit stirred slightly, rearranged his tattered robe and continued.
'I was frightened, very frightened. What did I know of these Gardeners of the Earth? I was not a gardener. I knew nothing of plants or universes either. I wanted no part of it. So thinking I put my legs over the edge of the platform-seat and rose to my feet. Gentle but very firm hands pushed me back so that I was again sitting in that foolish manner with my legs hanging straight down and my back pressed against something behind me. "The plant does not dictate to the Gardener," murmured a voice. "Here you have been brought and here you will learn."
'Around me, as I sat dazed but resentful, there commenced a considerable discussion in an unknown tongue. Voices. Voices. Some high and thin as though coming from the throats of dwarfs. Some deep, resonant, sonorous, or like unto the bull of the yak at mating time bellowing forth across a landscape. Whatever they were, I thought, they boded ill for me, a reluctant subject, an unwilling captive. I listened in some awe as the incomprehensible discussion went on. Thin pipings, deep roaring, like a trumpet blast in a canyon. What manner of people were these, I wondered, COULD human throats have such a range of tones, overtones and semitones? Where was I? Perhaps I was worse off than even in the hands of the Chinese. Oh! For sight. For eyes to see that which now was denied me. Would the mystery vanish under the light of sight? But no, as I was to find later, the mystery would deepen! So I sat reluctant and very afraid. The tortures I had undergone in Chinese hands had rather unmanned me, made me feel that I could bear no more, no more at all. Better the Nine Dragons should come and consume me now than that I should have to endure the Unknown. So - I sat, for there was naught else to do.
'Raised voices made me fear for my safety. Had I sight I would have made a desperate effort to escape, but one without eyes is particularly helpless, one is completely at the mercy of others, at the mercy of EVERYTHING. The stone that trips, the closed door, the unknown looms ever before one, menacing, oppressive and ever fearsome. The uproar rose to a crescendo. Voices shrilled in the highest registers, voices roared like the booming of fighting bulls. I feared violence, blows which would come to me through my eternal darkness. Tightly I gripped the edge of my seat, then hastily released my hold as it occurred to me that a blow could knock me off with little harm if I gave to it - yet if I held o the impact would be the greater.
'"Fear not," said the now-familiar Voice, "this is just a Council Meeting. No harm will come to you. We are just discussing how best to indoctrinate you."
"'Exalted One," I replied in some confusion, "I am surprised indeed to find that such Great Ones bandy words even as the lowest yak herders in our hills!" An amused chuckle greeted my comment. My audience, it appeared, was not ill-pleased with my perhaps foolish forthrightness.
"'Always remember this," he replied, "No matter how high one goes, there is always argument, disagreement. Always one has an opinion which differs from the one held by others. One has to discuss, to argue, and to forcefully uphold one's own opinion or one becomes a mere slave, an automaton, ever-ready to accept the dictates of another. Free discussion is always regarded by the non-comprehending onlooker as the prelude to physical violence." He patted my shoulder reassuringly and continued, "Here we have people from not merely many races, but from many worlds. Some are from your own solar system, some are from galaxies far beyond. Some, to you, would appear as thin dwarfs while others are truly giants of more than six times the stature of the smallest." I heard his footsteps receding as he moved to join the main group.
'Other galaxies? What was all this? What WERE "other galaxies"? Giants, well, like most people I had heard of them in fairy tales. Dwarfs, now some of those had appeared in side shows from time to time. I shook my head, it was all beyond me. He had said that I would not be harmed, that it was merely a discussion. But not even the Indian traders who came to the City of Lhasa made such hootings and trumpetings and roarings. I decided to sit still and await developments. After all, there was nothing else I could do!'
In the cool dimness of the hermit's cave the young monk sat absorbed, enthralled by this tale of strange beings. But not so enthralled that internal rumblings had gone unnoticed. Food, urgent food, that was the important matter now. The old hermit suddenly ceased to speak and murmured, 'Yes, we must have a break. Prepare your meal, I will return.' So saying he rose to his feet and slowly moved to his inner recess.
The young monk hurried out into the open. For a moment he stood staring out across the landscape, then made his way to the lakeside where the fine sand, as brown as earth, gleamed invitingly. From the front of his robe he took his wooden bowl and dipped it into the water. A swirl and a flick and it was washed. Taking a little bag of ground barley from his robe he poured a meagre amount into the bowl and judiciously poured in lake water from his cupped hand. Gloomily he contemplated the mess. No butter here, no tea either. Ground barley mixed into a stiff paste with water. Food! Into the bowl he dipped his finger and stirred and stirred until the consistency was just right, then, with two fingers from his right hand, he spooned out the mess and slowly and unenthusiastically ate it.
Finished at last, he rinsed the bowl in the lake water and then took a handful of fine sand. Energetically he scoured the bowl inside and out before rinsing it again and returning it still wet to the front of his robe. Kneeling on the ground, he spread the lower half of his robe and scooped sand on to it until he could lift no more. Lurching to his feet, he staggered back to the cave. Just inside he dumped the sand and returned to the open for a fallen branch with many small twigs. In the cave he carefully swept the hard-packed sandy earth floor before sprinkling over it a thick layer of fresh sand. One load was not sufficient; seven loads it took before he was satisfied and could sit with a clear conscience on his rolled and tattered yak-wool blanket.
He was no fashion plate for any country. His red robe was his solitary garment. Threadbare and thin in places almost to transparency it was no protection against the bitter winds. No sandals, no underwear. Nothing but the solitary robe which was doffed at night when he rolled himself in his one blanket. Of equipment he had but the bowl, the minute barley bag, and an old and battered Charm Box, long since discarded by another, in which he kept a simple talisman. He did not own a Prayer Wheel. That was for the more affluent; he and others like him had to make do with the public ones in the temples. His skull was shaven and scarred by the Marks of Manhood, burn marks where he had endured the candles of incense burning down on his head to test his devotion to meditation wherein he should have been immune to pain and to the smell of burning flesh.
The old hermit slowly appeared. Even to the inexperienced gaze of the younger man he was visibly failing. With a gasp he settled himself and croaked, 'My time is approaching, but I cannot leave until I have given you all the knowledge that is mine. Here are special and very potent herbal drops given to me by your very famous Guide for just such an occasion; should I collapse, and you fear for my life, force six drops into my mouth and I shall revive. I am forbidden to leave my body until I have finished my task.' He fumbled in his robes and produced a little stone bottle, which the younger monk took with the greatest care. 'Now we will continue,' said the old man. 'You can eat when I am tired and have to rest awhile. Now LISTEN, and take the greatest care to remember. Let not your attention wander for this is worth more than my life and worth more than yours. It is knowledge to be preserved and passed on when the time is ripe.'
After resting for some moments he appeared to regain strength, and a little colour crept back to his cheeks. Settling himself rather more comfortably, he said, 'You will have remembered all I have told you so far. Let us, then, continue. The discussion was prolonged and - in my opinion - very heated, but eventually the babble of conversation ended. There was much shuffling of many feet, then footsteps, small light footsteps like that of a bird tripping along to a grub. Heavy footsteps, ponderous as the lumbering walk of a heavily laden yak. Footsteps which puzzled me profoundly for some of them seemed to be not made by humans such as I knew. But my thoughts on the matter of footsteps were suddenly ended. A hand grasped me by the arm and a voice said, "Come with us." Another hand grasped my other arm and I was led up a path which to my bare feet felt as though it were metal. The blind develop other senses; I sensed that we were traversing some sort of metal tube, although how that could be, I could not possibly imagine.'
The old man stopped as though to picture again in his mind that unforgettable experience, then he continued, 'Soon we reached a more spacious area as I could determine by the changed echoes. There was a metallic sliding sound in front of me, and one of the men leading me spoke in a very respectful voice to someone obviously very superior to him. What was said I have no means of knowing, for it was said in a peculiar language, a language of pipings and chirps. In answer to what was evidently an order, I was pushed forward and the metallic substance slid shut with a soft thunk behind me. I stood there feeling the gaze of someone staring hard. There was a rustle of fabric and the creak of what I imagined to be a seat similar to that which had seated me. Then a thin and bony hand took my right hand and led me forward.'
The hermit paused briefly and chuckled. 'Can you imagine my feelings? I was in a living miracle, I knew not what was before me and had to trust without hesitation those who led me. This person at last spoke to me in my own language9 "Sit here," he said, at the same time pushing me gently down. I gasped with horror and fright, I felt as though falling into a bed of feathers. Then the seat, or whatever it was, gripped me most intimately where I was not used to being gripped. At the sides there were struts, or arms, presumably designed to prevent one from falling off if one slept through the strange softness. The person facing me seemed most amused at my reactions; I could tell from an ill-suppressed laugh, but many people seem to derive amusement from the plight of those who cannot see.
"'You feel strange and afraid," said the voice of the person opposite me. That definitely was an understatement! "Be not alarmed;' he continued, "for you will not be harmed in any way. Our tests show that you have a most eidetic memory, so you are going to have information - which you will never forget - and which you will much later pass on to another who will come your way." It all seemed mysterious and very frightening in spite of the assurances. I said nothing but sat quietly and waited for the next remarks, which were not long in coming.
"'You are going to see," continued the voice, "all the past, the birth of your world, the origin of gods, and why chariots flame across the sky to your great concern." "Respected Sir!" I aimed, 'you used the word 'see', but my eyes have been removed, I am blind, I have no sight at all." There was a muttered exclamation indicative of exasperation and the rejoinder with some asperity. "We know all about you, more than you will ever know. Your eyes have been removed, but the optic nerve is still there. With our science we can connect to the optic nerve and you will see what we want you to see."
'"Will that mean that I shall permanently have sight again?" I asked.
'"No, it will not," came the reply. "We are using you for a purpose. To permanently give you sight would be to let you loose upon this world with a device far in advance of this world's science and that is not permitted. Now, enough talk, I will summon my assistants."
'Soon there came a respectful knock followed by the metallic sliding noise. There was a conversation; evidently two people had entered. I felt my seat moving and tried to jump up. To my horror I felt that I was completely restrained. I could not move, not even so much as a finger. Fully conscious I was moved along in this strange seat which appeared to slide easily in any direction. We moved along passageways where the echoes gave me many strange impressions. Eventually there came a sharp turn to the seat and most remarkable odours assailed my twitching nostrils. We stopped at a muttered command and hands grasped me by the legs and under the shoulders Easily I was lifted straight up, to the side, and down. I was alarmed, terrified would be a more correct word. That terror increased when a tight band was placed around my right arm just above the elbow. The pressure increased so that it felt as though my arm was swelling. Then came a prick to my left ankle and a most extraordinary sensation as if something was being slid inside me. A further command was given and at my temples I felt two ice-cold discs. There was a buzz as of a bee droning in the distance, and I felt my consciousness fading away.
'Bright flashes of flame flickered across my vision. Streaks of green, red, purple, all colours. Then I screamed; I had no vision, I must therefore be in the Land of the Devils and they were preparing torments for me. A sharp stab of pain just pinprick, really - and my terror subsided. I just did not care any more! A voice spoke to me in my own language, saying, "Be not afraid, we are not going to hurt you. We are now adjusting so that you will see. What colour do you see now?" So I forgot my fear while I said when I saw red, when I saw green, and all other colours. Then I yelled with astonishment; I could see, but that which I could see was so strange that I could scarce comprehend any of it.
'But how does one describe the indescribable? How does one endeavour to picture a scene to another when in one's language there are no words, which are appropriate, when there are no concepts which might fit the case? Here in our Tibet we are well provided with words and phrases devoted to gods and devils, but when one comes to dealing with the works of gods or devils, I don't know which, what can one do, what can one say, how can one picture? I can only say that I saw. But my sight was not in the location of my body, and with my sight I could see myself. It was a most unnerving experience, an experience which I never want to repeat. But let me start at the be-ginning.
'One of the voices had asked me to say when I saw red, to say when I saw green and other colours, and then there was this terrific experience, this white, stupendous flash, and I found that I was gazing, for that is the only word which seems appropriate, at a scene entirely alien to everything I had known. I was reclining, half lying, half sitting, propped up on what seemed to be a metallic platform. It seemed to be supported on one solitary pillar, and I was for a moment very afraid that the hole device would topple over, and me with it. The general atmosphere was of such cleanliness that I had never known. of some shiny material, were spotless, they were a very pleasant, very soothing. About this strange was a very large room indeed according to my there were massive pieces of equipment, which I just cannot tell you about because there are no words which would way convey their strangeness to you. "But the people in that room - ah, that gave me a stupendous hat gave me a shock that almost set me off raving and, and then I thought perhaps this is just a distortion caused by some trick of this artificial vision, which they had given - no, lent - to me. There was a man standing by the side of some machine. I judged that he was about twice the height of our biggest proctors. I should say he was about fourteen feet high, and he had the most extraordinary conical shaped head, a head which went up almost like the small end of an egg. He was completely hairless, and he was immense. He seemed to be clad in some kind of greenish robe - they were all covered in green cloth, by the way - which reached from his neck right down to his ankles, and, extraordinary thought, covered the arms as far as the wrists. I was horrified to look at the hands and find that there was a sort of skin over them. As I gazed from one to the other, they all had this strange coating on the hands, and I wondered what the religious significance of that could be, or did they think that I was unclean and they might catch something from me?
'My gaze wandered from this giant; there were two whom I should judge by their contours to be female. One was very dark, and one was very light. One had a type of kinky hair, while the other had a straight sort of white hair. But I never have been experienced in the matter of females, and so that is a subject which we should not discuss, nor should it interest you.
'The two females were gazing at me, and then one moved her hand in the direction at which I had not yet looked. There I saw a most extraordinary thing, a dwarf, a gnome, a very very small body, a body like that of a five-year-old child, I thought. But the head, ah, the head was immense, a great dome of a skull, hairless, too, not a trace of hair anywhere in sight on this one. The chin was small, very small indeed, and the mouth was not a mouth the same as we have, but seemed to be more of a triangular orifice. The nose was slight, not a protuberance so much as a ridge. This was obviously the most important person because the others looked with such deferential respect in his direction.
'But then this female moved her hand again, and a voice from a person whom I had not before noticed spoke in my own language saying, "Look forward, do you see yourself?" With that the speaker came into my range of vision, he seemed to be the most normal, he seemed to be - well, I should say that dressed up he could appear as a trader, perhaps an Indian trader, so you know how normal he was. He walked forward and pointed to some very shiny substance. I gazed at it, at least I suppose I did, but my sight was outside of my body. I had no eyes, so where had they put the thing, which was seeing for me? And then I saw, on a little platform attached to this strange metal bench on which I reclined, I saw a form of box. I was on the point of wondering how I could see the thing if it was that with which I was seeing, when it occurred to me that the thing in front, the shiny thing, was some form of reflector; the most normal man moved that reflector slightly, altered its angle or tilt, and then I did shout with horror and consternation because I saw myself lying upon the platform. I had seen myself before my eyes were taken from me. At times when I had gone to the water's edge and gone to drink I had seen my reflection in the placid stream, and so I could recognize myself. But here, in this reflecting surface, I saw an emaciated figure looking almost at the point of death. There was a band around an arm, and a band around an ankle. Strange tubes came from those bands to where I saw not. But a tube protruded from a nostril, and that went to some transparent bottle, tied to a metal rod beside me.
'But the head, the head! That I can hardly recollect and stay calm. From the head just above the forehead, protruded a number of pieces of metal with what seemed to be strings coming from those protrusions. The strings led mainly to the box, which I had seen on the small metal platform beside me. I imagined that it was an extension of my optic nerve going to that black box, but I looked with increasing horror, and went to tear the things from me, and found I still could not move, I could not move at all, not a finger. I could just lie there and gaze at this strange thing that was happening to me.
'The normal looking man put his hand out towards the black box, and had I been able to move I would have flinched violently. I thought he was poking his fingers in my sight, the illusion was so complete, but instead he moved the box a little and I had a different view. I could see around the back of the platform on which I rested, I could see two other people there. They looked fairly normal; one was white, the other was yellow, as yellow as a Mongolian. They were just standing looking at me, not winking, not taking any notice of me. They seemed rather bored with the whole affair, and I remember thinking then that if they were in my place they certainly would not have been bored. The voice spoke again, saying, "Well, this, for a short time, is your sight. These tubes will feed you, there are other tubes which will drain you and attend to other functions. For the present you will not be able to move for we fear that if we do permit you to move you may, in frenzy, injure yourself. For your own protection you are immobilized. But fear not, no ill will befall you. When we have finished you will be returned to some other part of Tibet with your health improved, and you will be normal except that still you will have no eyes. You will understand that you could not go about carrying this black box." He smiled slightly in my direction, and stepped backwards out of the range of my vision.
'People moved about, checking various things. There were a number of strange circular things like little windows covered with the finest glass. But behind the glass there seemed to be nothing of importance except a little pointer which moved or pointed at certain strange marks. It all meant nothing to me. I gave it a cursory glance, but it was so completely beyond my comprehension that I dismissed the affair as something beyond my understanding.
'Time passed, and I lay there feeling neither refreshed nor tired, but almost in a state of stasis, rather without feeling. Certainly I was not suffering, certainly I was not so worried now. I seemed to feel a subtle change in my body chemistry, and then at the fringe of vision of this black box I saw that one person was turning various protrusions which came from a lot of glass tubings all fitted to a metal frame. As the person turned these protrusions the little things behind the small glass windows made different pointings. The smallest man, whom I had regarded as a dwarf, but who, it seemed, was the one in charge, said something. And then into my range of vision came the one who spoke to me in my own language, telling me that now they would put me to sleep for a time so that I should be refreshed, and when I had had nourishment and sleep they would show me what it was that they had to show me.
'Barely had he finished speaking when my consciousness went again, as though switched off. Later I was to find that that indeed was the case; they had a device whereby instant and harmless unconsciousness could be induced at the flick of a finger.
'How long I slept, or was unconscious, I have no means of knowing, it could have been an hour, or even a day. My waking was as instantaneous as had been my sleeping; one instant I was unconscious, the next instant I was wide awake. To my profound regret my new sight was not in operation. I was as blind as before. Strange sounds assailed my ears, the clink of metal against metal, the tinkle of glass then swift footsteps receding. Came the sliding, metallic sound and all was quiet for a few moments. I lay there thinking, marvelling at the strange events which had brought such turmoil to my life. Just as apprehension and anxiety were welling strongly within me, there came a distraction.
'clacketty footsteps, short and staccato, came to my hearing. Two sets of them accompanied by the distant murmur of voices. The sound increased, and turned into my room. Again the metallic sliding, and the two females, for thus I determined them to be, came towards me still talking in their high nervous tones - both talking at the same time, or so it appeared to me. They stopped one on each side of me, then horror of horrors, they whipped away my solitary covering. There was not a thing I could do about it. Powerless, motionless I lay there at the mercy of these females. Naked, naked as the day when I was born. Naked before the gaze of these unknown women. Me, a monk who knew nothing of women, who -let me confess it freely -was terrified of women.'
The old hermit stopped. The young monk stared at him in horror thinking of the terrible indignity of such an event. Upon the hermit's forehead a film of perspiration bedewed the tight skin as he relived the ghastly time. With shaking hands he reached Out for his bowl which contained water. Taking a few sips, he set the bowl carefully back beside him.
'But worse was to follow,' he faltered hesitatingly, 'the young females rolled me on my side and forced a tube into an unmentionable portion of my body. Liquid entered me and I felt I would burst. Then, without any ceremony at all I was lifted and a very cold container was placed below my nether regions. I must in modesty refrain from describing what happened next in front of those females. But that was merely a start; they washed my naked body all over and showed a most shameless familiarity with the private parts of the male body. I grew hot all over and was covered with the utmost confusion. Sharp rods of metal were pushed into me and the tube from my nostrils was snatched out and a fresh one forced roughly in. Then a cloth was drawn over me from my neck to below my feet. Still they were not finished; there came a painful tearing at my scalp and many inexplicable things happened before a very sticky, irritating substance was plastered on. All the while the young females chattered away and giggled as though devils had stolen their brains.
'After much time there came again the metallic slither and heavier footsteps approached, whereat the chatter of the females ceased. The Voice in my own language greeted me, "And how are you now?"
'"Terrible!" I replied with feeling. "Your females stripped me naked and abused my body in a manner too shocking to credit." He appeared to derive intense amusement from my remarks. In fact, to be quite candid, he HOOTED with laughter which did nothing to soothe my feelings.
"'We had to have you washed," he said, "we had to have your body cleaned of waste and we had to feed you by the same method. Then the various tubes and electric connections had to be replaced with sterilized ones. The incision in your skull had to be inspected and redressed. There will be only faint scars when you leave here.
The old hermit bent forward towards the young monk. 'See,' he said, 'here upon my head there are the five scars.' The young monk rose to his feet and gazed with profound interest at the hermit's skull. Yes, the marks were there, each about two inches long, each still showing as a dead-white depression. How fearsome, the young man thought, to have to undergo such an experience at the hands of females. Involuntarily he shuddered, and sat down abruptly as though fearing an attack from the rear!
The hermit continued, 'I was not mollified by such an assurance, instead, I asked, "But why was I so abused by females? Are there no men if such treatment was imperative?"
'My captor, for so I regarded him, laughed anew and replied, "My dear man, do not be so stupidly prudish. Your nude body as such - meant nothing to them. Here we all go naked most of the time when we are off duty. The body is the Temple of the Overself and so is pure. Those who are prudish have prurient thoughts. As for the women attending to you, that was their duty, they are nurses and have been trained in such work."
"'But why cannot I move?" I asked, "and why am I not permitted to see? This is TORTURE!"
"'You cannot move," he said, "because you might pull out the electrodes and injure yourself. Or you might injure our equipment We are not permitting you to become too accustomed to sight again because when you leave here you will once more be blind and the more you use sight here the more you will forget the senses, tactile senses, which the blind develop. It would be torture if we gave you sight until you left, for then you would be helpless. You are here not for your pleasure, but to hear and see and be a repository of knowledge for another who will come along and who will take that knowledge from you. Normally this knowledge would be written, but we fear to start another of those 'Sacred Book or Writings' furors. From the knowledge you absorb, and later pass on, this WILL be written. In the meantime, remember you are here for OUR purpose, not yours."'
In the cave all was still; the old hermit paused before saying, 'Let me pause for the nonce. I must rest awhile. You must draw water and clean the cave. Barley has to be ground.'
Some pages forward:
…the young monk picked up the can and walked out of the cave and down to the lakeside. Carefully he scoured the can inside and out. Carefully he scoured the old hermit's bowl as well as his own. Filling the can with water he carried it in his left hand and dragged along a very substantial branch with his right. A solitary vulture came swooping down to see what was happening. Landing heavily, it hopped a few steps then flapped into the air again with a shriek of anger at having been fooled. Further up to the left an over-gorged vulture was vainly trying to get into the air. It ran, leaped, and energetically beat the air with flailing wings, but it had eaten too much. Finally giving up, it tucked its head beneath a wing in shame and went to sleep while waiting for Nature to reduce its weight. The young monk chucked to think that even vultures could eat too much, and he wondered wistfully what it would be like to have even the opportunity of eating too much. He had never had enough, like most monks, he always felt hungry to some degree.
But the tea had to be made, Time did not stand still. Putting the can in the fire to heat the water, he passed into the cave to get the tea, the butter, borax and sugar. The old hermit sat waiting expectantly.
But - one cannot sit drinking tea for too long when the fires of life are burning low and when an aged man's vitality slowly ebbs. Soon the old hermit settled himself anew while the young monk was tending the fire, the 'Old One's' precious fire after more than sixty years without, years of cold, years of utter self-denial, years of hunger and privation, which only Death could end. Years when the otherwise complete futility of existence as a hermit was softened by the knowledge that there was, after all, a TASK! The young monk came back into the cave smelling of fresh wood smoke. Quickly he seated himself before his senior who said:
"In that far-off Place so long ago, I was resting on the strange metal platform. The man my captor was making clear to me that I was there not for my pleasure but for theirs, to 'be a Repository of Knowledge,' said the old man.
'I said, "but how can I take an intelligent interest if I am merely, held captive, an unwilling un-co-operative captive who has not the vaguest idea of what it is all about or where he is? How CAN I take an interest when you regard me as less than the dust? I have been handled worse than we handle a dead body which is to be fed to the vultures. We show respect to the dead and to the living; you treat me as excreta which has to be thrown on a field with as little ceremony as possible. And yet you claim to be civilized, whatever that means!"
'The man was obviously shaken, and not a little impressed by my outburst. I heard him pacing the room. Forward, a scrape of feet as he turned around. Backwards and then forwards again Suddenly he stopped beside me and said: "I will consult my superior." Rapidly he moved away and obviously picked' up some hard object. It went whirr whirr whirr, and then hrrr hrrr. A sharp metallic click and a staccato sound came from it Speech, I judged. The man with me spoke at length, making' the same sort of peculiar sounds. Clearly there was a discussion which went on for some few minutes. Click, clang, came from the machine, and the man came back to me.
'"First I am going to show you this room," he said, "I am going to tell you about us, what we are, what we are doing, and I am going to attempt to enlist your aid by understanding. First, here is sight."
'Light came to me, sight came to me. A most peculiar sight too; I was looking up at the underside of the man's chin, looking up his nostrils. The sight of the hairs in the nostrils amused me greatly for some reason, and I began to laugh. He bent down and one of his eyes filled the whole of my vision. "Oh!" he exclaimed, "someone has tipped up the box." The world whirled about me, my stomach churned and I felt nausea and vertigo. "Oh! Sorry," said the man, "I should have switched off before rotating the box. Never mind, you will feel better in a moment or so. These things happen!"
'Now I could see myself. A horrid experience it was, to see my body lying so pale and wan and with so many tubes and attachments coming from it. It was a shock indeed to see myself and see that my eyelids were tight-closed. I was lying on what appeared to be a thin sheet of metal supported on just one pillar. Attached to the pillar foot were a number of pedals, while standing by me was a rod, which held glass bottles, filled with coloured fluids. These were in some way connected to me. The man said, "You are upon an operating table. With these pedal?' - he touched them - "we can put you in any desired position." He stepped on one and the table swung around. He touched another and the 'table tilted until I feared that I might fall. Another, and the table rose until I could see right under it. A most uncanny experience which caused the strangest sensations in my stomach.
'The walls obviously were of metal of a most, pleasant green colour. Never before had I seen such fine material, smooth, without blemish and clearly some special form of joining must have been employed for there was no sign even of where walls, floor and ceiling ended or commenced. The walls "flowed", as one might say, into the floor or into the ceiling. No sharp corners, not a single sharp edge. Then a section of the wall slid aside with that metallic rumble I had come to know. A strange, head looked through, looked around briefly and as abruptly withdrew. The wall slid shut.
'On the wall in front of me there was an array of little windows, some of them about the size of a large man's palm. Behind them pointers stood at certain red or black marks. Some larger rectangular windows attracted my interest; an almost mystical blue glow emanated from them. Strange spots of light jiggled and danced in some incomprehensible pattern, while at yet another window a brown-red line wavered up and down in strangely rhythmical forms, almost like the dance of a serpent thought. The man - I will call him my Captor - smiled at my interest. "All these instruments indicate you," he said, "and here are indicated nine waves from your brain. Nine separate sine waves with the output from your brain electricity superimposed upon them. They show you are of superior mentality. They show you have truly remarkable ability to memorize, hence your suitability for this task."
'Very gently turning the sight-box, he pointed to some strange glassware which previously had been beyond my range, of vision. "These," he explained, "continually feed you through your veins and drain off waste from your blood; These others drain off other waste products from your body. We are now in the process of improving your general health so that you will be fit enough to withstand the undeniable shock of all that we are going to show you. Shock there will be, because no matter that you consider yourself to be an educated priest, compared to us you are the lowest and most ignorant savage, and what to us is commonplace, to you it will be miracles beyond belief almost, and a first introduction to our science causes severe psychic shock. Yet this must be risked and there IS a risk although we make every effort to minimize it."
'He laughed, and said, "In your temple services you make much ado about the sounds of the body - oh yes! I know all about your services - but have you REALLY heard body sounds? Listen!" Turning, he moved to the wall and pressed a shining white knob. Immediately from a lot of small holes came sounds which I recognized as the body, sounds. Smiling, he twisted another knob, and the sounds increased and filled the whole room. Throb, throb, went the heart sounds in such volume that the glassware behind me rattled in sympathy. A touch of the knob again, and the heart sounds went, and there came the gurgle of fluids in the body, but as loud as a mountain stream rushing across a stony bed in its anxiety to get to the sea so very far away. There came the sigh of gases like a storm rushing through leaves and branches of mighty trees. Flops and splashes as though great boulders were being toppled into some deep deep lake. "Your body," he said. '4Your body sounds. We know EVERYTHING about your body."
"'But, Unhonoured Captor," I said, "THIS is no marvel, THIS is no miracle. We poor ignorant savages here in Tibet can do as well as that We too can magnify sound, not so vastly, agreed, but we can still do it. We can also release' the soul from the body - and bring it back."
'"Can you?" He looked at me with a quizzical expression on his face, and said, "You do not scare easily, eh? You think of us as enemies, as captors, eh?"
'"Sir!" I replied, "you have shown me no frendship yet, you have shown me no reason why I should trust you or co-operate with you. You keep me a paralysed captive as some wasps keep their captives. There are those among you who appear to me to be devils; we have pictures of such and we revile them as nightmare creatures from some hellish world. Yet here they are con-sorts of yours."
'"Appearances can be misleading," he replied. "Some of these are the kindest of people. Others, with saintly mien, would stoop to any low act that occurred to their perverted minds. Yet you, You - like all savage people, are led astray by the outward appearances of a person."
""Sir!" was my response, "I have yet to decide upon which side your interests lie, good or evil. If they be good, and I be convinced, then and then only will I co-operate. Otherwise I will use any means I can to circumvent your aims, no matter the cost to me."
'"But surely," was his somewhat cross rejoinder, "you will agree that we saved your life when you were starving and ill?"
'I put on my gloomiest expression as I answered, "Saved my life - for WHAT? I was on my way to the Heavenly Fields, you dragged me back. Nothing you can do now will be so unkind. What is life to a blind man? How can one who is blind study? Food, how shall I get food now? No! There was no kindness in prolonging my life; you even stated before that I am not here for my pleasure but for YOUR purpose. Where is the kindness in that? You have me trussed up here and I have been the sport of your females. Good? And where is all this good you mention?"
'He stood looking at me, hands on his hips. "Yes," he said at last, "from your point we have not been kind, have we? Perhaps I can convince you, though, and then you WILL be useful indeed." He turned and walked to the wall. This time I saw what he did. He stood facing a square filled with small holes and then pushed a black dot. A light shone above the holed-square and grew into a luminous mist. There, to my stupefaction, a face and head formed in living colours. My captor spoke at length in that strange, outlandish tongue and then stopped.
To my petrified amazement, the head swivelled in my direction, and bushy eyebrows were raised. Then a small grim smile appeared at the corners of the mouth. There was a barked terse sentence, and the light faded. The mist swirled and seemed to be sucked into the wall. My captor turned to me with every sign of satisfaction on his face. "Right, my friend," he said, "you have proved that you are a strong character, a very tough man with whom to deal. Now I have permission to show you that which no other member of your world has seen."
'He turned to the wall again and stabbed the black spot. The mist formed again with this time the head of a young female. My captor spoke to her, obviously giving orders. She nodded her head, stared curiously in my direction, and faded away.
'"Now we will have to wait a few moments," said my captor. "I am having a special device brought in and I am going to show you places on your world. Cities of the world. Have you any choice where you would like to see?"
"'I have no knowledge of the world,"' I replied. "I have not travelled."
"'Yes, but surely you have heard of SOME city," he expostulated.
''well, yes," was my answer, "I have heard of Kalimpong."
"'Kalimpong, eli? A small Indian border settlement; can't you think of some better place? How about Berlin, London, Paris, or Cairo? Surely you want to see something better than Kaiimpong?"
'"But, sir," I replied, "I have no interest in those places you mentioned. The names convey nothing to me except that I have heard traders discuss such places, but it means nothing to me, nor am I interested. Nor if I saw picture of these places could I say if it were true or not. If this wonderful contraption of yours can do what you say it can do - then show me Lhasa. Show me Phari. Show me the Western Gate, the Cathedral, the Potala. I know those and will be aware if your device is true or some clever trick."
'He looked at me with a most peculiar expression on his face; he appeared to be in a state of stupefaction. Then he pulled himself together with a visible jerk and exclaimed: "Taught my business by an unlettered savage, eh? And the fellow is right too. There is something in this native cunning after all. Of COURSE he has to have a frame of reference otherwise he will be not at all impressed. Well! Well!"
'The sliding panel was abruptly jerked aside and four men appeared guiding a very large box which seemed to be floating on air. The box must have been of considerable weight because although it appeared to float without weight it took much effort to start it moving, or to change its direction, or to stop it. Gradually the box was edged into' the room where I lay. For a time I was fearful that they were going to upset my table as they pushed and pulled. One man bumped into the eye box and the resulting gyrations left me for a time sick and dizzy. But at last, after much discussion, the box was placed against a wall directly in line with my sight. Three of the men withdrew and shut the panel behind them.
'The fourth man and my captor engaged in animated discussion with much waving of hands and gesticulations. At last my captor turned to me and said, "He says that we cannot bring in Lhasa because it is too close, we have to be further away so that we can focus."
'I said nothing, took no notice at all, and after a short wait my captor said, "Would you like to see Berlin? Bombay? Calcutta?"
'My reply was, "No, I would not, they are too far away for me!"
'He turned back to the other man and a quite acrimonious argument followed. The other man looked as if he wanted to weep; he waved his hands in utter frustration and in desperation dropped to his knees in front of the box. The front slid off and I saw what appeared to be just a large window - and nothing more. Then the man took some bits of metal from his clothing and crawled to the back of the strange box. Strange lights shone in the window, swirls of meaningless colours formed. The picture wavered, flowed, and eddied. There was an instant when shadows formed which MIGHT have been the Potala, but again, it might equally have been smoke.
'The man crawled out from the rear of the box, mumbled something, and hurried from the room. My captor, looking very displeased, said, "We are so close to Lhasa that we cannot focus. It is like trying to see through a telescope when one is closer than that instrument will focus. It works well at a distance, but close up NO telescope will focus. We have the same trouble here. Is that clear to you?"
'"Sir," I replied, "you talk of things I do not understand. What is this telescope you mention? I have never seen one. You say that Lhasa is too close; I say it is a very long walk for a very long time. How can it be too close?"
'An agonized expression shone on my captor's face; he clutched his hair and for a moment I thought hewould dance on the floor. Then he calmed himself with an effort and said, "When you had your eyes, did you ever bring something so close to them that you could not see the object clearly? So close 'that your eyes could not focus? THAT is what I mean, WE CANNOT FOCUS AT THIS SHORT RANGE!!!"
'I LOOKED at him, or at least felt as though I looked at him, because it is a most difficult experience that a man can undergo to have his head in one place and his sight many feet away, coming from a distant place. Anyway, I looked at him and I thought, what marvel can this be? The man says that he can show me cities on the other side of the world yet he cannot show,, me my own country. So I said to him, "Sir, will you put something in front of the sight box so that I may judge of this matter of focus for myself?"
'He nodded his head in instant agreement, and cast round for a moment as though wondering what to do. Then he took from the bottom of my table a translucent sheet of something upon which there were very strange markings, markings such as I had never seen before. Obviously it was meant to be writing, but he turned over what appeared to be a few sheets and then he came to something which apparently satisfied him immensely because he gave a pleased smile. He held the thing behind his back as he approached my sight box.
'"Well now, my friend!" he exclaimed, "let us see what we can do to convince you." He slid something in front of my sight box, very close it was, and to my astonishment all I could see were blurs, nothing was clear. There was a difference, part was a white blur, part was a black blur, but it meant nothing to me, nothing at all. He smiled at my expression I could not see him smile but I could "hear" him smile; when one is blind - one has different senses. I could hear his face and muscles creak, and as he had smiled often before I knew that those creaks meant that he was smiling now.
'"Ah," he said, "getting home to you at last, am I? Now, watch carefully. Tell me when you can see what this is." Very slowly he pulled the obscuring sheet backwards, gradually it came clear to me, and I saw with considerable astonishment that it was a picture of me. I do not profess to know how this picture was produced, but it actually showed me lying on the table looking at the men who were carrying in the black box. My jaw dropped open in profound amazement. I must have looked like a real country yokel, certainly I felt one, I felt the heat rising and my cheeks were burning with embarrassment. There I was, done up with all those things sticking out of me, there I was watching the four men manoeuvre that box, and the look of astonishment on my face in the picture really did get home to me.
'"All right," said my captor, "obviously you get the point To drive it home let us go through it again." Slowly he held the picture so that I could see it, and moved it closer to the eye box. Slowly it got unclear until I could see a whitish blackish blur, and nothing more. He whipped it away and then I could see the rest of the room again. He stood back a few paces and said, "You cannot read this, of course, but look. Here are printed words. You can see them clearly?"
'"I can see them clearly, sir," I responded, "I can see them very clearly indeed."
'So then he brought the thing closer to my eye box, and again there was that blurring of vision. "Now," he said, "you will appreciate our problem. We have a machine or device, call it what you will, which is a very much greater counterpart of this eye box we are using on you, but the principle would be utterly beyond you. It is such, however, that we can with it see all around this world but we cannot see anything which is fifty miles away. Fifty miles away is too close just the same as when I brought this a few inches from your eye box you could not see it. I will show you Kalimpong." With that he turned aside and did something to some knobs which were upon the wall.
'The lights in the room dimmed, they were not extinguished, but they dimmed so that the light was akin to that which follows immediately the setting of the sun beyond the Himalayas. A cool dimness where the Moon has not yet risen, and where the Sun has not yet withdrawn all its light. He turned to the back of the big box and his hands moved over something that I could not see. Immediately lights glowed in the box. Quite slowly scenery formed. The high peaks of the Himalayas, and upon a trail a caravan of traders. They crossed a little wooden bridge beneath which a rushing torrent threatened to engulf them should they but slip. They reached the other side and they followed a trail through rough pasture land.
'For some minutes we watched them, and the view was that which a bird would obtain, a view as though one of the Gods of the Sky were holding the eye box and gently floating across the still barren terrain. My captor moved his hands again and there was an absolute blur of motion, something came' into sight and went by. My captor moved his hands in the opposite direction, the picture steadied, but - no, it was not a picture, it was the actual thing. This was not a picture, this was reality, this was truth. This was looking down through a hole in the sky.
'Below I saw the houses of Kalimpong', I saw the streets thronged with traders, I saw lamaseries with yellow robed lamas and red robed monks wandering about. It was all very strange. I had some difficulty in locating places because I had been to Kalimpong only once, and that was when a young boy, and I had seen Kalimpong from foot level, from the level of a small boy standing. Now I was seeing it - well, I suppose I was seeing it from the air as the birds see it.
'My captor was watching me intently. He moved certain things and the image or landscape, or whatever one is to call such a marvellous thing, blurred into speed and steadied again. "Here," said the man, "is the Ganges which, as you know, is the' Sacred River of India."
'I knew a lot about the Ganges. Sometimes traders from India would bring magazines with pictures in them. We could not read a single word of writing in those magazines but the pictures, - ah! That was different. Here before' me, unmistakably, was the actual River Ganges.' Then to my quite stupefied surprise it dawned on me that I was hearing as well as seeing. I could hear the Hindus chanting, and then I saw why. They had a body laid out on a terrace by the water's edge and they were sprinkling the body with the Holy Water of the River Ganges before conveying it to the burning ghats.
'The river was crowded, it seemed absolutely amazing that there could be so many people in the world, let alone in a river. Females were disrobing in a most shameless manner on the banks, but so were the men. I felt myself going hot all over at such a display. But then I thought of their Temples, the terraced Temples, the Grottos, and the Colonnades, and I looked and I was amazed. This was reality indeed, and I began to be confused.
'My captor - for I must still remember, he was my captor - my captor, then, moved something and there was a blur of motion. He peered into that window intently, and then the blurring stopped with quite a jerk. "Berlin," he said. Well, I knew Berlin was a city somewhere in the Western world, but all this was so strange that really it didn't convey much to me. I looked down and thought that perhaps it was the novel viewpoint, which was distorting everything. Here there were tall buildings, remarkably uniform in size and shape. I had never seen so much glass in my life, there were glass windows everywhere. And then on what seemed to be a very hard roadway there were two metal rods set into the road' itself. They were shiny and they were absolutely uniform in their distance apart. I just could not understand it.
'Around a corner and into my range of vision walked two horses, one behind the other, and, I hardly expect you to believe this, hut they were drawing what appeared to be a metal box on wheels. The horses walked between the metal bars and the wheels of the metal box actually rode along those bars. The box had windows, windows all the way around, and peering in I could see people, people inside the box, people being drawn along. Right in front of my sight (I almost said "right in front of my eyes" so accustomed was I now to this sight box) the device drew to a halt. People got out of the box and others got in. A man went to the front, in front of the first horse, and poked about in the ground with another rod. Then he got back into the metal box and drove off, and the box then turned to the left, off the main set of rods on to another.
'I was so amazed at this that I couldn't look at anything else, I had no time for anything else. Just this strange metal box on wheels carrying people. But then I looked at the sides of the road where there were people. Men were there in remarkably tight clothing. They had garments on their legs which seemed very very narrow, and outlined the exact contours of the legs. And on the head of each man there appeared the most remark-able bowl shaped thing, upside down, and with a narrow rim around it. It caused me some amusement because they did look peculiar,' but then I looked at the females.
'I had never seen anything like it. Some of these females were almost uncovered at the top of their body, but the lower part of the body was absolutely wrapped in what seemed to be a black tent. They seemed to have no legs, one could not even see their feet. With one hand they clutched the side of this black tent thing, apparently in an effort to keep the bottom from dragging in the dust.
'I looked some more, I looked at the buildings, and some of those buildings were truly noble edifices. Down the street, a very wide street, came a body of men. They had music coming from the first lot of men. There was much shiny, and I wondered if it was gold and silver instruments they had, but as they came nearer I saw that the instruments were of brass and some were just metal. These were all big men with red faces, and they were all dressed in some martial uniform. I burst out laughing at the strutting way in which they were walking. They were bringing their knees right up so the upper limb was quite horizontal.
'My captor smiled at' me and said, "Yes, it's a very strange march indeed, but that is the German goosestep which the German army use on ceremonial occasions." My captor moved his hands again, once more there was this blurring, once more the things behind the window of the box dissolved into forming mist, then stopped and solidified. "Russia," said my captor, "the Land of the Czars, Moscow."
'I looked, and snow was upon the land. Here, too, they had strange vehicles, vehicles such as I had never imagined. There was a horse harnessed to what appeared to be a large platform fitted with seats. That large platform was raised several inches from the ground by things which looked like flat metal strips. The horse drew this contraption along, and as it moved it left depressions in the snow.
'Everyone was wearing fur and their breath was coming like frozen steam from their mouths and nostrils. They looked quite blue with the cold. But I looked about at some of the buildings, thinking how different they were from the ones I had seen before. They were strange, they were great walls standing up, and beyond the walls rooftops were bulbous, almost like onions upside down with their roots projecting up into the sky. "The Palace of the Czar," said my captor.
'A glint of water caught my sight, and I thought of our own Happy River which I had n6t seen for so long. "That is the Moscow River," said my captor. "It is a very important river indeed." Upon it there rode strange vessels made of wood and with great sails hanging from poles. There was little wind about so the sails were hanging flaccid, and men had other poles with flattened ends, which they moved so that the flat ends dipped in the river, and so propelled the craft.
'But all this - well, I did not see the point of it, so I said to the man, "Sir, I have seen undoubted marvels, no doubt it would interest many, but what is the point of it, what are you trying to prove to me?"
'A sudden thought occurred to me. Something had been nagging at the back of my mind for the last several hours, something, which now leaped into my consciousness with insistent clarity. "Sir, captor!" I exclaimed. "Who are you? Are you God?"
'He looked at me rather pensively as if he were nonplussed by what was obviously an unexpected question. He fingered his chin, ruffled his hair, and shrugged his shoulders slightly. Then he replied, "You would not understand. There are some things which cannot be comprehended unless one has reached a certain stage. Let me answer you by asking you a question. If you were in a lamasery and one of your duties was to look after a herd of yaks, would you answer a yak who asked you what you were?"
'I thought about it, and then I said, "Well, sir, certainly I should not expect a yak to ask me such a question, but if he did ask me such a question I should regard it as proof that he was an intelligent yak, and I should go to some trouble to try to explain to him what I was. You ask me, sir, what I would do about a yak who asked me a question, and I reply to you that I would answer that yak to the best of my ability. In the conditions which you mention I would say that I was a monk and that I had been appointed to look after those yaks, and that I was doing my best for those yaks, and I regarded them as my brothers and my sisters although we were in different forms. I would explain to the yak that we monks believed in re-incarnation, I would explain that we each came down to this Earth to do our appointed task and to learn our appointed lessons so that in the Heavenly Fields we could prepare to journey onto even higher things."
"'Well spoken, monk, well spoken," said my captor. "I regret exceedingly that it takes one of the lower orders to give me a sense of perspective. Yes, you are right, you have amazed me greatly, monk, by the perception you have shown and, I must say, 'by your intransigence because you have been rather firmer than I should be if I should be so unfortunate as to be placed in comparable circumstances."
'I felt bold now, so I said, "You refer to me as one of the lower orders. Before that you referred to me as a savage, uncivilized, uncultured, knowing nothing. You laughed at me when I admitted the truth that I knew nothing of great cities in this world. But, sir, I told you the truth, I told you the truth, I admitted my ignorance, but I am seeking to lighten that ignorance and you are not helping me. I ask you again, sir; you have made me captive entirely against my will, you have engaged in great liberties with my body, the Temple of my Soul, you have indulged in some most remarkable events, apparently designed to impress me. I might be more impressed, sir, if you answered my question, because I know what I want to know. I ask you again - who are you?'
'For some time he just stood there, looking embarrassed. And then he said, "In your terminology there are no words, no concepts which would enable me to explain the position. Before a subject can be discussed a first requisite is that both sides, both parties, shall understand the same terms, shall be able to agree on certain precepts. For the moment let me just tell you that I am one who can be likened to the medical lamas of your Chakpori. I am charged with the responsibility of looking after your physical body and' preparing you so that you can be filled with knowledge, when I am satisfied that you are ready to receive that knowledge. Until you are filled with this knowledge, then any discussion on who I am or what I am would be point-less. Just accept for the moment that what we are doing is for the good of others, and that although you may be highly incensed at what you consider to be liberties we are taking with you, yet after, when you know our purpose, when you know what we are, and you know what you and your people are, you will change your opinion." With that he switched off my sight and I heard him leave the room. I was again in the dark night of blindness, and again alone with my thoughts.
'The dark night of blindness is a dark night indeed. When I had been blinded, when my eyes had been gouged out, gouged out by the filthy fingers of the Chinese, I had known agony, and even with my eyes removed I had seen, or seemed to see, bright flashes, swirling lights without shape or form. That had subsided throughout subsequent days, but now I had been told that a device had been tapped in to my optic nerve and I could indeed believe it, I had every reason to believe it. My captor had switched off my sight, but an after-memory of it remained. Again I was experiencing that peculiar contradictory sensation of numbness and tingling in the head. It might seem absurd to talk of feeling numb and tingling at the same time, but that is how I felt, and I was left with my numb-tingling, and all the swirling lights.
'For a time I lay there considering all that had happened to me. The thought occurred to me that perhaps I was dead, or mad and all these things were but a figment of a mind leaving the conscious world. My training as a priest came to my rescue. I used age-old discipline to re-orientate my thoughts. I STOPPED REASON and so permitted my Overself to take over. No imagination this, this was the REAL thing; I was being used by Higher Powers for Higher Purposes. My fright and panic subsided. Composure returned to me and for some time I ticked over in my mind in rhythm to the beating of my heart. Could I have behaved differently, I wondered. Had I exercised all caution in my approach to new concepts? Would the Great Thirteenth have acted otherwise if He had been in a similar position? My conscience was clear. My duty was plain. I must continue to act as a good Tibetan Priest and all would be well. Peace suffused me, a feeling of well-being enveloped me like a warm yak-wool blanket protecting against the cold. Somehow, sometime, I drifted off into a dreamless, untroubled sleep.
'The world was shifting. Everything seemed to be rising and falling. A strong sensation of motion and then a metallic CLANG woke me abruptly from my slumber. I was moving, my table was moving. There came the musical chink and tinkle of all the glassware being moved as well. As I remembered, all those' things had been attached to the table. Now everything was on the move. Voices surrounded me. High voices, low voices. Discussing me, I feared. But what strange voices, so different from anything I had known. There was movement of my table, but silent movement. No sliding, no grating. Merely a floating. This, I thought, must be how a feather feels when it is blown upon the wind. Then the table motion changed direction. Obviously I was being guided down a corridor. Soon we entered what was clearly a large hall The echoes gave a resonance of distance, considerable distance A final rather sickening swaying sweep, and my table clanged down upon what my experience told me was a ROCK floor, but how could this be? How could I suddenly be in what my senses told me was a cave? My curiosity was soon set at rest, or was it whetted? I have never been sure.
'There was a continual babble of talk, all in a language quite unknown to me. With the clanging of my metal table upon the rock floor, a hand touched my shoulder and the voice of my captor said, "Now we will give you sight, you should be sufficiently rested by now." There was a scraping and a click. Colours whirled around me, lights flashed, grew dim, and settled down to a pattern. Not a pattern that I understood, not a pattern that conveyed anything to me. I lay there wondering what it was all about. There was an expectant silence. I could FEEL people looking at me. Then a short, sharp, barked question. My captor's footsteps coming swiftly towards me. "Can you not see?" he asked.
"'I see a curious pattern," I replied, "I see that which has no meaning for me, a pattern of wavy lines, of swaying colours and flashing lights. That is all I see." He muttered something and hurried away. There was a muted talk and the sound of metallic objects being touched together. Lights flickered and colours flared. Everything whirled in a mad ecstasy of alien patterns, steadied, and I saw.
'Here was a vast cavern some two hundred or more feet high. Its length and breadth were beyond my computation for they faded into dim darkness far beyond my range of vision. The place was huge and it contained what I could only liken to an amphitheatre, the seats of which were filled by - what shall I call them? - creatures which could only have come from a catalogue of gods and devils. Yet strange as these things were, an even stranger object hung poised in the centre of the arena. A globe which I perceived to be the world hung before me, slowly rotating while from afar a light shone upon it as the light from the sun shone upon this Earth.
'There was now a hushed silence. The strange creatures stared at me. I stared back at them although I felt small and wholly insignificant before this mighty throng. Here were small men and women, seemingly perfect in every detail and of god-like mien. Radiating an aura of purity and calm. Others there were who also were manlike but with a curious, quite incredible bird head complete with scales or feathers (I could not at all distinguish which) and with hands which, although human in shape, still had astounding scales and claws. Also there were giants. Immense creatures who loomed like statues and overshadowed their more diminutive companions. These were undeniably human, yet of such size as to overwhelm one's comprehension. Men and women, or male and female. And others who could have been either, or neither. They sat and stared at me until I grew uncomfortable under their steady gaze.
'To one side sat a god like creature stern visaged and erect. In gorgeous, living colours he sat calmly regal like a god in his heaven. Then he spoke, again in an unknown tongue. My captor hurried forward and bent over me. "I shall put these things in your ears," he gaid, "and then you will understand every word which is said here. Do not be afraid." He grasped the upper edge of my right ear and pulled it upwards with one hand. With the other he inserted some small device into the ear orifice. Then he leaned over further and did the same to my left ear. He twisted a small knob attached to a box beside my neck and I heard sound. It dawned upon me that I could understand the strange tongue, which formerly had been incomprehensible. There was no time to wonder at this marvel, I had perforce to listen to the voices around me, voices which I now under-stood.
'Voices which I now understood, a language which I now understood. Yes, but the grandeur of the concepts was far above my limited imagination. I was a poor priest from what had been described as "the terrain of savages" and my comprehension was not sufficient to enable me to perceive the meaning of that which I now heard and had thought to be intelligible. My captor observed that I was having difficulties and hastened again towards me. "What is it?" he whispered.
"'I am too ill educated to understand the meanings of any except the simpler words," I whispered back. "The things which I heard have no meaning at all for me; I cannot COMPREHEND such lofty thoughts." With a very worried expression on his face, he hesitantly walked to a large official - clad in gorgeous clothes - who stood near the Throne of the Great One. There was a whispered conversation, then the two walked slowly towards me.
'I tried to follow the talk going on about me, but succeeded not at all. My captor leaned over me and whispered; "Explain to the Adjutant your difficulty."
"'Adjutant?" I said to him, "I do not even know what the word means." Never before had I felt so inadequate, so ignorant, so utterly frustrated. Never before had I felt so out of my depth. The Adjutant person smiled down at me and said, "Do you understand what I am saying to you?"
'"I do indeed, Sir," was my reply, "but I am utterly ignorant of the whole matter of the Great One's talk. I cannot COMPREHEND the subject, the CONCEPTS are beyond me." He nodded his head and replied: "Our automatic translator obviously is to blame, it is not fitted to your metabolism nor to your bra in pattern. No matter, the Surgeon-General, whom we believe you refer to as your captor, will deal with the matter and will prepare you for the next session. This is a trifling delay and I will explain it to the Admiral."
'He nodded amiably to me and strode off to the Great One. Admiral? What was an Admiral, I wondered. What was an Adjutant? The terms had no meaning at all for me. I composed myself to await developments. The one referred to as the Adjutant reached the Great One and spoke quietly to him. It all appeared very unhurried, very tranquil. The Great One nodded his head, and the Adjutant beckoned to the one who was called Surgeon-General, or my captor. He went forward, and there was an animated discussion. At last my captor put his right hand to his head in the strange gesture which I had noticed, turned towards me, and walked briskly to me at the same time making motions apparently to someone beyond my range of vision.
'The talk continued. There had been no interruption. A large man was on his feet and I had the impression that he was discussing something about food supplies. A strange female jumped to her feet and made some sort of answer. It appeared to be a strong protest at something which the man had said. Then with face red - with anger? - she sat down abruptly. The man continued unperturbed. My captor reached me and muttered, "You have disgraced me, I SAID you were an ignorant savage." Crossly he wrenched the things from my ears. With a quick sweep of his hand he did something which instantly deprived me of sight again. There was the rising sensation, and I felt my table moving away from that huge cave. Not at all carefully my table and equipment was pushed along a corridor, there came metallic squeaks, and clangs, a sudden change of direction, and an unpleasant feeling of falling. With quite a bang my table hit the floor and I guessed that I was again in the metal room from whence I came. Curt voices, the rustle of cloth and the shuffle of feet. The slither of the sliding metal door, and I was 'left alone again with my thoughts. What was it all about? WHO was the Admiral? WHAT was the Adjutant? And WHY was my captor called Surgeon-General? What WAS this place? The whole thing was far, far beyond me. I lay there with burning cheeks, feeling hot all over. I was mortified almost beyond endurance that I had comprehended so very very little. Quite definitely I had acted like an ignorant savage - they must have thought as I would have thought if I had regarded a yak as a sentient person and had so addressed him but without result. Perspiration broke out all over me as I contemplated how I had brought shame to my priestly caste by my sheer inability to understand; I felt TERRIBLE!
'There I lay, enmeshed in my misery, prey to the darkest and most ignoble thoughts, full of the deep suspicion that we ALL, were savages to these 'unknown people. I lay there - and sweated.
'The door screeched open and giggling and chattering uproar filled the room. Those unmentionable females again. With great elan they ripped off my single sheet once again leaving me as naked as a new-born baby. Without ceremony I was rolled on to my side, a cold sheet of something clammy was slid under my length, and violently I was rolled back to the other side. There was a sharp YANK as the edge of the sheet was pulled further under me - for a moment I feared that I would be precipitated off the table. Female hands grasped me and urgently scoured me with sharp, stinging solutions. Roughly I was rubbed dry with what felt to be old sacking. The most intimate portions of my body were prodded and poked and strange implements were introduced.
'Time dragged on; I was goaded almost beyond endurance but there was naught that I could do. Most thoroughly had I been immobilized against just such a contingency. But then began' such an assault upon me that' at first I feared I was being tortured. Females gripped my arms and legs and twisted them and bent them at all angles. Hard hands dug into the muscles of my body and kneaded me as though I were but a mass of dough. Knuckles made depressions in my organs and I was left gasping for air. My legs were wrenched far apart and the unceasingly chattering females drew long woollen sleeves over my feet, up my legs, and near unto my thighs. I was lifted by the back of my neck so that I was bent forward from the waist, some form of garment was thrust around my upper body and appeared to be tied over my chest and abdomen.
'A strange, evil-smelling foam impinged upon my scalp and instantly a rattling buzz sounded. The source of the buzz touched me and made even my teeth rattle - the few I had remaining after the Chinese had knocked most of them out There was a shearing sensation that reminded me of yaks being shorn of their wool. A rough wipe, so rough that I felt the skin must surely peel, and another form of mist landed upon, my defenceless head. The door slithered again, and there came the sound of male voices. One I recognized, that of my captor. He came to me, and using my own language, said, "We are going to expose your brain, there is nothing to worry about We are going to put electrodes right into your--" The words had no meaning for me except to indicate that I was in for another bad time and that I cbuld do nothing at all about it
'Strange odours pervaded the air. The chattering females fell silent All talk ceased. Metal clanged against metal. There came the gurgle of fluids and I felt a sudden sharp prick in my upper left arm. Violently my nose was grasped and some strange tubular device was rammed up my nostrils, and down my throat Around my sknll I felt a succession of sharp pricks which instantly gave way to numbness. There came a high-pitched whine and a most horrid machine touched my skull and crawled all around it. It was sawing off the top of my head! The terrible, grinding pulsation penetrated every atom of my being; I had the impression that every bone in my whole body was 'vibrating in protest. At last, as I could well feel, the whole of the top of my head was cut off with the exception of a small flap of flesh which left my skull hinged at that point By now I was in a state of terror, a strange form of terror, because although I WAS terrified, yet I determined that death itself would not make me murmur.
'Indescribable sensations now assailed me. Without any obvious reason I suddenly uttered a long-drawn out, "Ahhhhahhhhahhhh." Then my fingers began violently to twitch. A stinging in my nostrils made it imperative that I sneeze violently - but I could not sneeze. But worse was to follow. Suddenly there stood before me my maternal grandfather. He was clad in the dress of a government official. He was 'speaking to me with a kind smile on his face. I looked at him - then the impact came to me; I did NOT look at him. I had no eyes! What magic was this? At my amazed exclamation, during which the apparition of my grandfather vanished, my captor moved to my side. "What is it?" he queried. I told him. "Oh, that's NOTHING!" he exclaimed. "We are merely stimulating certain centres of your brain that you may comprehend the more easily. We see that you have ability, but you have been sunk in the sloth and stupor of superstition and: will not permit yourself to open your mind. We are doing it for you."
'A female screwed the small ear devices into my ear orifices and for her roughness she might well have been screwing tent pegs into hard soil. There was a click and I could understand the outlandish language. I could COMPREHEND too. Words like cortex, medulla oblongata, psychosomatic, and other terms were now clear to me in their meanings and implications. My basic intelligence quotient was being enhanced - and I knew what it all meant. But it was an ordeal. It was exhausting. Time seemed to stand still. People appeared to walk round endlessly. Their idle chatter was unceasing. The whole affair became entirely boring. I longed to be out and away, out from this place of strange odours, from this place where the top of tny head had been cut off like the top of a hard boiled egg. Not that I had ever seen a hard boiled egg, that was for the traders and those who had money, not for poor priests who lived on tsampa.
'From time to time people would address remarks to me, questions, how was I? Did I have pain? Did I think I saw something? What colour did I imagine I saw? My captor stood beside me awhile and told me that various centres were being stimulated and that I should, during the course of the treatment, experience sensation which could frighten me. Frighten me? I had been frightened the whole time, I told him. He laughed at that and casually remarked that as a result of the treatment I was now having I should have to live as a solitary hermit the whole of a long life because of the increased perceptions I should have. Never would anyone live with me, he said, until almost at the end of my life a young man would come to take all the knowledge I had and to carry it on and eventually place it before an unbelieving world.
'At last, after what appeared to be an eternity, my bony skull cap was replaced. Strange metal clips were pushed in to join the two halves together. A strip of cloth was wound round and round my head, and all departed save one female who sat beside me. From the rustle of paper it was evident that she was reading instead of paying attention to her duties. There came the soft plop of a book falling and then rhythmic snores from the female. I decided that I too would sleep!'