Puran Dass dropped, fainting by his side, for the chill of the rain and that fierce climb were killing him. But first, he called to the scattered torches ahead, "Stay and count your numbers"; then, whispering to the deer as he saw the lights gather in a cluster: "Please, Brother, please stay with me. Please stay till I go!"
There was a sigh in the air that grew to a mutter, and a mutter that grew to a roar, and a roar that passed all sense of hearing, and the hillside on which the villagers stood was hit in the darkness, and rocked to the blow. Then a note as steady, deep, and true as the deep C of the organ drowned everything for perhaps five minutes, while the very roots of the pines quivered to it. It died away, and the sound of the rain falling on miles of hard ground and grass changed to the muffled drum of water on soft earth. That told its own tale.
Not a villager - not even the priest - was bold enough to speak to the Bhagat who had saved their lives. They crouched under the pines and waited till the day. When it came, they looked across the valley and saw that what had been forest, terraced field and grazing ground was one raw, red smear with a few trees flung head-down. That red ran high up the hill of their refuge, damming back the little river, which had begun to spread into a brick-colored lake. Of the village, of the road to the shrine, of the shrine itself, and the forest behind, there was no trace. For one mile in width and two thousand feet in sheer depth, the mountainside had come away bodily, planed clean from head to heel.
And the villagers, one by one, crept through the wood to pray before their Holy Man. They saw the barasingh standing over him, who fled when they came near, and they heard the langurs wailing in the branches, and Sona moaning up the hill; but their Bhagat was dead, sitting cross-legged, his back against a tree, his crutch under his armpit, and his face turned to the northeast.
The priest said: "Behold a miracle for in this very attitude must all Sannyasis be buried! Therefore, where he is now we will build the temple to our Holy Man."
They built the temple before a year was ended - a little stone and earth
shrine - and they called the hill the Bhagat's hill, and they worship
there with lights and flowers to this day. But they do not know that the
saint of their worship is His Excellency, the late Sir Puran Dass, Knight
Commander of the Indian Empire, Ph.D., L.L.D., once Prime Minister of
the most progressive and enlightened State of India and distinguished
honorary member of more learned and scientific societies than will ever
do any good in this world or the next.
THE DIRGE OF HIS MONKEY FRIENDS