J.C. Molony, I.C.S., was a district collector in Madras Presidency.
I was strolling with my dogs on the hill, when I stumbled upon an ashram, a hermitage set in a cleft of rocks and overhung by trees. Water bubbled from a spring and gathered in a stone basin. I spied the hermit within, my dogs spied him too; and in a second three of them were all over him, while the fourth plunged with a splash into the coolness of the stone basin. I looked for a tempest of anger; hurriedly I prepared the best apology that I could think of on the spur of the moment. There emerged a tall, lean ascetic, smiling at me and my yelping companions. “You like dogs?” he said. “I love them myself, but I have sent them away from the summer heat. Why should not a dog like clean, cool water? No harm is caused by the dog jumping in the basin. Ten minutes after she is gone, the basin will have emptied itself and filled itself afresh.” So we sat together on the parapet of the ashram and looked down on the hot, dusty, town far below.
When I reached my camp one of my dogs was missing. In the evening arrived the holy man leading the truant on a string. “He came Backto me, and I should have liked to keep him,” he said, “but why should I steal him from you?”^ As I write these lines, the fields before my eyes are white with frost; but my thoughts travel Backto the kindly recluse on the sun-baked hill. You have learned that man adds naught to his own sanctity by affected disdain of God’s dumb creatures.