I have to remind the Reader that it struck me immediately when I arrived here what shabby clothes were worn by the Behins. Every article of dress was torn in one or two places, so that they shivered at the slightest breeze and in addition they hung different objects from them-stones, dead beetles, toothpicks, bones, etc.
Although I did not understand the aim of the latter, their beggarly rags did in spite of all my disgust arouse my sympathy. I thought with a certain resentment towards the Hins who — as I then believed — clad them so parsimoniously, grudging the hapless creatures even a thread. With anguish I thought of the time when my own good and clean clothes would be worn-out and I myself would dress like a beggar.
For the time being I wore my clothes among them with the proud and pleasant awareness of being well-to-do. I truly,. felt like a celebrated film star after whom all eyes turned and heads wagged together.
This sensation, however, soon began to make me feel uneasy since it was followed by the pangs of conscience which would be felt by anyone of the more decent sort when his wealth is followed by the envious gaze of the have-nots.
I pondered a lot as to how this shabbiness — to which Zemoeki was no exception-could be remedied. At his knees and buttocks gaped large holes.
At one stage I made mention of my feelings of pity and spoke with sympathy of the poor ragged masses.
Zemoeki nodded approvingly, stating that the betiks also did everything to clothe the masses. The problem, however, was very serious because people regrettably could not put on more clothes — as they had very few.
I felt somewhat perplexed and announced that the fact that there were not enough clothes proved in itself that they would be able to put on more, but he replied that it proved precisely that they could not put on more. To enable the masses to receive clothes, it was necessary that they have many clothes first, because anyone who had only a few clothes was a poor man. This was an incontestable and fundamental economic law calculated by people cleverer than us in the Nourishing and Life-Giving Office.
But he did admit that many people went about in poor clothes and added, "And you can't go about in these ridiculous clothes any more either."
I had not expected such a reply. Zemoeki, however, explained that in such clothes I might at the most stay at home, but as a beratnu I could not go among the people in them as these are only worn by very poor people and even they only wore them when doing dirty work.
I did not want to believe my ears, but he said it a second time and definitely wanted me to rend my clothes.
I was convinced that he spoke only out of envy, and thanked him airily saying that an undamaged garment was suitable for me. But Zemoeki suggested very seriously and with great goodwill that I should not make a fool of myself; a beratnu had to take care to appear in good clothes.
To this I said that my clothes were good because they were undamaged and he kept on asserting the contrary: the rent garment was better for it was kipu and was worn for this very reason by many more people.
Of course I did not give in; I stated my views of the kipu superciliously even with a degree of mockery, at which Zemoeki looked me up and down contemptuously and left with a shrug of his shoulders.
I thought I had already settled the matter with this, but a few days later I was called upon again from a much more serious angle.
That is, my own betik warned me that I should try to rip my clothes as a beratnu was required to comply with the reasonable rules and not to go about looking like an idiot.
Again I was forced to realize that there was no field of life in which one could cut oneself off from their madness. They came after one and compelled one.
Now my bread was already at stake and though I did it with an aching heart, I was obliged to ruin my clothes.
Thus I looked for days for what was a truly kipu-like garment, but I saw almost as many fashions of tearing as there were Behins living in the settlement. Finally I managed to perceive that the majority of people had rent the cloth on the left of the chest and over the right buttock, hanging a swallow's feather and a may-beetle on their collar.
So with deep sighs, I myself tore my good clothes, my only comfort being in the knowledge that I had at least ensured my bread and my position among them in this way.
However, when I stepped before Zemoeki in my kipu clothes, to my greatest surprise he burst into laughter.
"Oh, you poor bivak, how could you spoil your clothes so terribly?"
My breath failed me and I could only stammeringly falter out that a few days ago it had been he himself who had told me that I had to do so and I hoped I had not fallen victim to a practical joke.
At this he laughed even more and said it seemed I understood nothing about the kipu. This, in fact was not kipu for already everybody wore their clothes like that.
It was in this manner that I learned that kipu was neither that worn by everybody nor that worn by nobody. Even that which had been kipu the day before was no longer kipu the following day!
I should have liked to know therefore what the kipu was!
Having thus ruined my clothes I grumbled in a homicidal mood for a few days and gave vent to my imagination by thinking by what exquisite tortures I would have killed Zemoeki had fate delivered him into my hands.
After a few days I was sitting on a bench when Zemoeki and Zeremble happened to come along and with a warm pricc- prucc settled by me.
I said a few polite words about the weather to which they responded in a bored tone. The conversation suddenly shifted to the way in which a chair was to be made thorny.
I soon dropped out of the conversation and had to feel that beside them I was but a bivak on sufferance.
For a while I listened awkwardly but in the end I asked why the chair actually had to be made thorny.
"Because it's the kipu," they replied.
"But what is the kipu?" I asked and decided that now I would not let myself be put off but would press the matter with reason and logic until they became confused.
"Kipu is what is pleasant," they replied in the most natural tone in the world.
Then I demanded to have it explained what was pleasant for them, to which they responded briefly, "what is kipu."
I was forced to admit that they could never be confused. Their minds were so free of the inhibitions of logic which would draw the rein before a mistake and establish a connection between the heard word and the functioning of the brain.
I still demanded that they should tell me what the point was in making the chair thorny. They, however, responded with another question.
"Well, perhaps it is all the same to you whether you sit on a thorny or a plain chair?"
"No. It's better to sit on a plain chair."
Zemoeki was greatly amused by this, he gave me a jovial thump on the back and remarked that I was a funny boy, I should only take care not to disclose my bivak ways to others as well.
This was already more than I could bear. What actually prevented me from really and truly giving my opinion was that in the meantime an excellent idea of vengeance had occurred to me.
Thanking them very much for their tuition I went home and secretly fastened some dozens of wooden thorns on the chair and the next day I watched for an opportunity to have Zemoeki sit on it. For the sake of effect, I even intended to push him into it in front of witnesses.
Fate came to my assistance as I found Zemoeki and Zeremble together again in the yard. Zeremble was just relating the adventures he had endured among the kemons when he had been a square-drawer.
I have to mention that this, too, was a Behin occupation which was paid well. The square-drawer stole through to the kemons and there he surreptitiously drew squares on the walls or drew diameters into the circles, by which he "outraged" the circle. This ranked among the most respectable occupations with the konas. The betik took hold of the nose of a square-drawer differently, and those who had drawn particularly many squares on the kemon walls and had been beaten up particularly often by the kemons, were even allowed to tie a yellow band on their left arm.
It goes without saying that among the kemons the same occupation existed for the most mean and dishonest one that could be imagined, but they esteemed the circle-drawers who scribbled circles on the walls among the konas and drew diameters into the squares.
So, Zeremble was just relating such an adventure of his when he knocked the kemon who had noticed him off. his feet, and when he was lying on the ground he drew a square also on his back and took to his heels.
"I fancy," he said laughing, "how the kemons received him when he recovered and staggered home not knowing that a triumphant square was blazing on his back!"
Zemoeki and I listened to him with awe. Zemoeki was respectfully repeating "Well I never!" but meanwhile he whispered to me that not a word should be believed, all this was but empty bragging.
In short, after the narration of these adventures I cordially invited both of them to my room, which they accepted. Jovially discoursing we walked homewards.
At home I waited until Zemoeki stepped in front of the thorny chair, then suddenly pushed him into the kipu.
He shouted in pain and I asked him with thunderous laughter how he liked to sit in the kipu.
Zemoeki jumped up, cast a glance at the chair and, to my greatest surprise, it was now he who began to laugh.
"Oh, you bivak, you bivak!" He was choking with laughter. "Of course, it does prick if it is, not kipu! Look!"
He turned to Zeremble. "According to him, this is kipu!" Zeremble looked at it, and now both of them laughed. The walls rocked and the delight in mischief froze on my lips.
"But why?" I asked dumbfounded.
"Why? Don't you see that these thorns are colourless? They are to be painted, my friend, in a kipu manner!"
"And will they not prick then?"
"How should they? The real kipu doesn't prick. The real kipu rocks because it is colourful ! But, oh, why should I even try to explain to an unintelligent bivak!"
I decidedly did not know where I was and they roared with laughter. A sharp reply hovered about my lips but suddenly it occurred to me that by painting perhaps they meant something different from me, something that would make the thorns blunt, and therefore more comfortable. Cautiously I asked, "And how am I to paint them?"
Zemoeki assumed a bumptious air.
"Well, listen to me. These ones on the edges are to be red, and the middle ones blue."
"Well, what nonsense!" I exclaimed with deep conviction.
"That's it!" exclaimed Zeremble. "You are getting more feeling for the kipu."
I did not know what to say. For a moment I thought he had recovered his wits.
"It is indeed nonsense," he continued, "because the outside ones are to be painted blue, and the middle ones red."
I realized that there was nothing to be done and drew aside. They entered into a heated debate. They quoted the kipu masters, and after five minutes they fell upon each other, thoroughly tearing and pummelling each other. Two of Zemoeki's teeth were knocked out. Zeremble's face swelled like a loaf, and though in the meantime they battered my "kipu" chair to pieces on each other's head, lacerated my bed-cover to shreds and kicked in the door of my wardrobe, I can still claim that since I had been among them these were certainly my first pleasant minutes.
My pleasant mood, however, did not last very long. No sooner was I alone than anxiety took possession of me when I thought about the fact that once perhaps I myself might be the suffering hero of such a kipu-debate and if people wellversed in kipu matters were given such a thorough dressing down, what would they perpetrate on me, a poor bivak?
Thus I decided to study the kipu, however barbaric a custom it might be. I already knew that it was aimless and stupid but I still believed at least in the existence of the system.
I set about my studies by trying to meet the masters of the kipu. However, I was not bold enough to inquire, but solved the problem by flattering them and braising their works speaking in general terms which — as I experienced — was a very efficient method and opened the gates of friendship. They would not laugh at anyone who praised even if (according to them) he uttered stupidities.
But without exception each of them began to explain the kipu by stating that the kipu was not what the other was doing. The chair was not to be mutilated and whittled in the way that someone else did it as that was not kipu.
And indeed each of them concocted his own form of kipu and each of them defined the essence of the kipu differently, as if the debate had been revolving around something outside them such as, say, the evolution of the species or the grouping of electrons. But the kipu was created by themselves, and the most hair-raising. feature was that while they were fully aware of the development of the species and the grouping of electrons they had not a single definite and commonly accepted view of their own fantasies. If they had to concoct anything at all, would it not have been easier to concoct only one?
I guessed even at that stage that I would never understand the laws of the kipu, for there simply were none. What I was still not able to understand is on what basis they could continue to debate it all day long.
The Behins' other rules of life, too, were a profusion of fancies, non-existent in reality, but they were at least rules, whereas the rules of the kipu were known to nobody and yet they still had to be followed. That is, the kipu meant not only things which did not exist: they did not even know in what way they did not exist. As if it had been created so that they would be able to pick a quarrel with anyone who had learned all their topsy-turvy rules. The most apposite way I can express it is that the kipu is accumulated idiocy.
Perhaps it goes without saying that in this second-degree cloudiness of their mind they not only failed to realize in its terrible reality, but regarded the kipu as a manifestation of human intellect of the highest order and were very proud of it.
And if in the course of any kipu-debate somebody had said that the construction of a comfortable chair, the discovery of the serum against tuberculosis, or the mending of a leaky roof were more important than all this, they would have called him an uneducated and feeble-minded bivak.
They were seriously convinced that the kipu was the main aim and content of life and the creative sciences were only good for maintaining life for the pleasures of the kipu.
This disease embittered all fields of life, and also made it impossible for technology, therapeutics and other useful sciences to be effective.
In spoons, for instance, they bored small holes, so that half of the soup leaked out. The right angles of the door handle were straightened out, so that they could only be opened by gripping them with both hands. They walled up windows with big unshapely stones at random so that hardly any room remained to let in sunshine, and the remaining surface of the glass was smeared with grease of different colours.
However, they spoiled not only objects but also all the expedient functions of life. If a Behin proceeded on his way by jumping once and spinning himself round at every fifth step, he took this, too, as a kind of kipu. At such times many of them also emitted a confused, drawling, inarticulate howl. And finally, for communication, if they did not use the words whose meaning covered the things they wanted to relate but a jumbled jabber which had nothing to do with the subject matter, this was also termed kipu.
But the majority of my Readers are certainly from the ranks of the educated, non-expert public who peruse the book of my travels principally for a description of exotic lands to augment their ethnographic and geological knowledge as required by general culture, while they are less interested in dry neuropathological analyses.
Thus instead of using my modest psychiatric knowledge to show off unnecessarily by analysing the kipu I feel it would be better for me to attempt a description of symptoms, which is likely to be of more interest to the non-expert public, and in particular what kind of chairs were deemed kipu by the individual masters.
I need hardly say that the kipu was different among the kona and among the kemon. These they called "specific" kipus. Not as if the others had been uniform, but purely so that it should have a name. Zemoeki once related contemptuously that the kemons blunted the points of the thorns.
According to me this betrayed a mental disorder of a milder degree but Zemoeki deeply despised this procedure.
"Have you seen a kemon chair yet?" he asked vehemently. "Well then, look at it! They practically take the edge off the kipu! A dull thorn can only be created by a dull lung. There was even such a kemon thorn-master who painted the thorns crimson! Just as I say: crim-son!" and at each syllable he poked with his finger at my chest. "Well then imagine a chair with nothing but crimson thorns! And this is kipu for them! Well, what do you say to that?"
Of course I tried to be shocked which in this case did not cost me too much extra effort.
I have already mentioned that most of them drove sharp cones into the chair, but here, too, opinions differed. One drove them into the back, the other asserted that they had to be driven into the seat. There was one who fretted the arm of the chair so that it could not be gripped, the other nailed knotted strings on the seat, so that it was impossible to sit on because of the kinks.
And there was yet a further group — who said the chair was good if it was plain.
But do not think, oh my Reader, that they had become wiser and wanted to make a normal chair without kinks, cones and thorns. Oh, far from it! For them plainness meant that they sawed the back off the chair. There were some who removed the seat and others who removed the legs, which according to them were only "complications" and "mannerism". There were those who said that it was still not sufficiently plain and that perfect kipu could only be achieved by discarding every part of the chair. One of these masters proudly showed his room which was completely empty, and replied to the question of the amazed visitor, "A white chair in the white air."
These two groups were, however, in agreement upon one principle — that the chair is for itself, and whoever made a chair for sitting on like an animal was a bivak.
"A chair is a chair; is a chair," they used to say airily.
On the other hand it was my general experience that behind completely crazy principles there was still more sanity than behind the seemingly sounder ones, as the Reader will immediately see.
There was namely a third group which said that the chair was not after all for itself, but so that one could sit on it comfortably and therefore we should not put knotted strings on the seat.
It sounds. perfectly normal, doesn't it? And now I ask the Reader to hold tight.
For these people, who called themselves superstringists, came from this fully proper premise to the conclusion that the kink was not to be knotted on the string but in the air!
"Because," as they said, "the kipu has nothing to do with articles for personal use. The kipu is one thing and the chair is another; therefore the kipu must be made completely independent from the chair, so that it should manifest itself in its absolute purity."
These people stood out in the squares, turned their eyes upwards in ecstasy and all day along performed movements with their hands as if they were knotting kinks. And the crowd looked at them with awe, many swore that they saw the kinks. Those who did not see, were called bivak, backward, by those who asserted that these kinks surpassed all previous ones. However, there were a few who laughed at the whole thing, declaring it an arrogant and senseless hocus-pocus and accused the superstringists of being decadent. But lest the Reader should again fall into error. I hasten to remark that they were on the other hand stringists, who held that the kink was valid after all only if it was knotted on a string and sank into our buttocks when we were on the chair.
Similar disappointments hit me more than once. Such an event was, for example, when a kipu master told me in a very serious tone, "Those whom you see here blustering around the kipu are all madmen and swindlers. The chair is for sitting on, and it is good if it is comfortable. Kinks and thorns are not appropriate to it as they are not appropriate to the air."
I was stupefied. And when he mentioned that the Behins called him bivak for his views, I fell about his neck almost in tears. A warm conversation developed, down we dressed together the whole bedlam, until suddenly he said, "What is most kipu is what is expedient, because the kipu is expediency itself."
It was then that a strange feeling of dissonance commenced to take possession of me. Uneasily I asked, "But if there is no kipu independently of expediency then why is the name kipu needed?"
"Because the kipu exists and it is congenital in man."
"But if it is expediency itself," I contradicted, "what would be the point in stating: 'What is houndest is what is dog'?"
"Kipu is, and it must be," he replied stubbornly. "I suggest that you should read a lot and you will understand that it is necessary, as it is the highest manifestation of human spirit, which makes life life. Without kipu we could not live."
I even asked twice, but it came to light that he did indeed say kipu. Not vitamins and not protein. These, perhaps, took it for gospel truth that without kipu they would have perished of scurvy or beriberi!
His words had the effect of a cold shower and with a polite scratching of the posterior I hastened to take leave. However, he did not scratch me back but stated that the whole ketni was idiocy. Now was the time for the purifying revolution to give a new and freer ketni to the world, when people do not scratch each other's posteriors like idiots but say quite briefly "reason vake!" and rub their forehead with their thumb.
Again the nightmares from which I had wanted to awaken came into my mind but I was only able to awaken into another, still more nightmarish dream.
These unfortunates have been doing nothing else for centuries but struggling with the incubus dreamed up by themselves, awakening from one nightmare into the next, from one suffering to the next, which differs from the former only in its appearance, but they are never able to shake off the shackles of the dream. Lunatics who have strayed and will never be able to be men.
Now let the Reader imagine my situation among such people, who, accordingly, did not know themselves the meaning of the words they had concocted from thin air, which they interpreted in a thousand ways and at the same time talked about them as if existing reality were concerned. This strange decisiveness with which they spoke about their fantasies even perplexes one, as they harangue with such ease and 'passion that a sane man would think that they spoke of something and it is he who feels ashamed for not knowing all this, he stammers for a moment and then decides to learn. I, too, had this feeling at the beginning, and it took me a long time to realize that there was indeed no sense in all this, and an unconfused schoolchild knew much more than those who held the knowledge of concocted monomanias an indispensable prerequisite for being educated.
It can be imagined what I felt in a society where two times two was said to be five, then three, then, in accordance with all kinds of rules, one, then something else and yet again something else, but never four. Poor common sense tries to follow it lest it should be ostracized, but it cannot manage it because it knows only one rule, the natural truth, which can be calculated on the fingers, but the utterance of which in these surroundings is a crime, and, what the term is at any one moment can never be known for sure.
Such an unfortunate feels in eternal uncertainty for, strive as he might, it is impossible for him to learn the most important rule: to forget mathematics.
More than once I asked Zemoeki for some guidance from which I could at least conclude as to how kipu was to be understood, why it was at all and what it was good for, as there had to be an explanation if not of its rules then at least of its existence. He, however, dismissed me with a wave of his hand.
"The kipu is an instinct, born with the man. Whoever is born without it, is a bivak, to whom it is no use explaining it anyway."
(Although I have made the observation once already, I repeat that it is not true; the Behinic disease is not hereditary. I can definitely state, on the basis of my own experiences that children of four or five, whose instincts, that is whose senses of heat, hunger, thirst, etc. were perfectly sound, displayed no kind of attraction towards the thorny chair, for example. They did not show any reaction when seeing the kinks, while at the same time they reached with visible pleasure for bread and butter, and in cold weather seated themselves beside the stove. Of the Behinic disease the child inherits only the susceptibility to it, which develops to a disease after a lengthy infection during the years spent in the skoro and the Behin society.)
Thus all I could establish about the kipu was that each group interpreted its rules in a different way; I talked even to one person who said' that the kipu was the Behin himself. I have also to mention the oddity that many things had something to do with the kipu which had nothing to do with it even according to them.
Please don't be shocked. I have reckoned with the possibility that the confusion in my words will make the Reader distrustful of me. But this kind of crazy fancy is so tangled that it can only be defined in a confused way. Perhaps I can illustrate this with an example.
Zemoeki related that on one occasion he had bought a chair at a high price which he had found kipu and the name of a kipu master was also indicated on it. (I have to remark that the Behins — as the Reader may already guess from the foregoing — not only failed to knock those who spoiled chairs on the head, but even exerted themselves that their chairs should also be spoiled and even paid for the damages made by the kipu masters.)
Well, it turned out that Zemoeki's chair had not been spoiled by this kipu master; his name had only been forged on it. At this Zemoeki took the seller to the betik who punished him heavily for deception!
So, I already knew that of the kipu virtually everyone held a different view. But Zemoeki had inspected the chair previously, hadn't he? So if we could speak of at least an individual feeling for the kipu he should definitely have known whether the kipuness of the chair was worth the price. And still he was not indignant because it was not kipu enough but because it had been made by a Behin of another name!
Thus at that time I found it probable that even the name belonged to the kipu. I asked how the name of the kipu should sound, and what system of thorns should be inscribed with what kind of name, so that I should not be punished but he laughed at me and called me a bivak, so I do not know even today whether the sound of the name, the sequence of its characters or the number of its syllables influenced the kipuness of the chair.
I am afraid that I am overburdening on the patience of the educated and sober Reader in Great Britain beyond measure by describing this disease which, fortunately, rages in exotic continents so far from Europe that my compatriots need not be at all afraid of its effects. I must finally mention that the kipu — illness spoiled not only objects but speech as well.
Once I have already mentioned that if someone did not use for communication the words whose meaning conveyed what he wanted to say but a confused jumble instead, this, too, was named kipu.
The Reader, of course, will ask how the Behin speech, which was but a heap of chimeras anyway, could be further distorted.
Well, while their normal speech sounded as if they were talking of something, the aim of kipu speech was not to impart anything.
Those who spoke like that were called mufruks and, needless to say, the Behins did not strike them dead, just as they failed to do so with the kipu masters; they even enjoyed common respect, their half-baked jabberings were printed, and they also received money for them.
The heaps of words printed on paper they called "breath" to distinguish them from "normal" writings. Why precisely "breath," we shall see immediately.
Zemoeki and Zeremble were once reading the "breath" of such a mufruk in which he compared a woman's breast to artichokes cooked in milk, to mallow root, and to butterfly-bilevs, in brief to any such things as long as it had nothing to do with a woman's breast. This last had a particular success as it was farthest not only from a woman's breast, but also from reality, considering that a butterfly did not have bilevs.
The Reader cannot even imagine how seriously they talked about it, racking their brains as to which was most similar to a woman's breast. Finally, I with my poor sound mind wanted to help them and said, "A woman's breast is perhaps most similar to the breast of another woman."
They looked at each other, then burst into a guffaw saying that there was no sense in that, it did not say anything as — it was indeed so.
That is, there was no sense in anything that said what was reality!
"Then why do you say things of which you yourselves are convinced that they are in contradiction with reality?"
"Because that is the only way it is kipu."
I had no idea how it was possible to debate and rack one's brains for hours about something just to invent finally something which was no answer at all to the problem. If it was kipu, then I had no idea what the kipu was needed for at all. I even told them that the sound mind classified all this as rubbish.
"Oh, you bivak," they said. "It is breath, it is not for the brain, but for the lungs!"
What else could I have replied but that only oxygen was for the lungs, words were perceived by the cells of our brain; but I referred in vain to my medical qualification obtained at Oxford University, it was they who laughed at me, called me a bivak again, and then announced that I did not know anything about the quivering of the lungs, so I should hold my tongue and try to learn, for I was as stupid as a lungless Hin.
(Perhaps I need not say that even the Hins breathe by lungs just like every other man. It is stark madness to suppose a man living without lungs.)
Thus one would have been prepared to accept that the kipu speech was what was not true, which was not for the mind but for the lungs. But they were not consistent in this either. That is, the most wonderful and for a European the most fantastic thing was that if someone succeeded in concocting an unreal and senseless combination of words, they still did not say that it was kipu because it was not true, because it had no sense, but exclaimed: "How true it is, or: "What profound words!"
Zemoeki warmly suggested that if I wanted to develop my .lungs I should read the breath of the mufruk which they read.
It is very interesting that whenever I had to deny a sound truth they always referred me to books. I must explain why.
In Great Britain, books are for increasing our knowledge and feeding our minds while with the Behins they serve a very peculiar purpose-to dull the brain, and make people believe the opposite of things which would be self-evident without book truths. To be ashamed of eating, and to respect the boeto and the bilevs would no more have become rooted without the books than without the skoro.
Still, I myself began to study this mufruk with interest and by degrees I learned.
While he still lived among the Hins this man had wanted to become a doctor. As soon as he was twenty years of age he became conspicuous through his abnormalities. He tore off strips of electric insulating tape and stuck them on his clothes, even on his hair. He broke every third tooth of a comb, stuck the mutilated comb into a handful of glazier's putty and having stuffed the whole bundle into a shoe he set it on the table. Above his bath-tub there hung from the ceiling a wide-necked blue glass jar which he had carried home from the laboratory. (It would have been called theft with us but in the free economy of the Hins I cannot use this word.) In this glass jar there was a ball-bearing, some dried orange-peel and a dead lizard.
He regularly washed his handkerchief in the soup-tureen and drank petroleum.
This much would have been enough to have him carried, bound hand and foot, for urgent curative treatment, but the Hins, who interfere with the individual life only in the most exceptional cases, did not react to such "mild" symptoms; partly because they were not harmful to the public, and partly because they believed that they had some purpose.
They began to take the medical student's monomanias seriously only when his acts began to disturb others in their work, and he became a public danger.
It happened one evening when he stopped a woman on the seashore and began to explain that in moonbeams there was protein and vitamin which satisfied and nourished people.
The woman heard him out and replied that she was not from the institute for food inspection and wanted to leave.
However, the mufruk did not let her.
"This doesn't concern food inspection," he said impetuously and continued to explain the beam-vitamin. He even affirmed that the moonbeam contained the nourishing materials only in the presence of the woman.
"Then perhaps you should report it to the optical or the radiological institute," the woman answered and wanted to set off.
However, the mufruk grasped her, loudly asserted that all this did concern the woman and was already detailing that the scent of the mignonette lifted one from the earth, and that when the moon rose, objects changed their material being.
The woman, who was convinced that the human word was based on something, finally stopped, made notes of the mufruk's words and she herself reported them to the institutes concerned.
There, with Hin thoroughness, they examined the moonbeam, but even in the presence of a female body they were unable to find vitamins in it. They weighed a man on a precision balance to a thousandth of a milligramme then placed a mignonette beside him, but, of course, no decrease in weight could' be detected. Research work into the material composition. of objects was similarly fruitless.
As he had not presented himself at the institute, they notified the medical faculty of the university of the results, where they summoned him and asked him to expound his experiences in greater detail.
For an answer he began to speak about the cooperation of a man's organs possessing an independent existence which was actually a colour that was becoming darker and darker throughout life eventually becoming completely black by the time of death. That the human voice had a taste: that of the baby was mildly sourish, the man's salty, and the woman's mildly orange-flavoured.
And when they asked him to speak to the point he replied, "I was speaking about it the whole time."
As the situation was no longer doubtful they took him to the Behin settlement where his condition became more and more grave, and he grew to be more and more respected among the Behins.
This was the person whose writings I had to study.
His books dealt partly with the boeto, and partly with spirituality taken by women.
Of the boeto he stated that it was a scent-tree which threw its roots into the lungs, on its branches the kona climbed upwards, above it the shadow of the sun rustled and below black fleas barked.
Elsewhere he declared that the cooperation of organs was an arch between birth and death, at the top of which the yearning of lungs made music, and it was nothing other than a crescent suspended on the threads of spirituality taken by women, and below in an enormous dish black milk ran high. (Sic!)
This had already somewhat overstepped the bounds of my patience. Angrily I pushed the book before Zemoeki asking him what he had to say to it. He read it and went into a veritable ecstasy.
"Wonderful!" he exclaimed. "How sharply he sees life and reality! 'It is suspended on the threads of spirituality taken by women'! Wonderful!"
In amazement he almost fell from his chair.
So did I.
But I have not yet reached the end of the mufruk's story.
Once there appeared a book by him with the title "The Life of Man", both the form and contents of which were considerably different from the earlier works. Among other things, he asserted that a mother's milk was white, those who climbed mountains grew tired and old men were feeble.
Zemoeki and Zeremble read it many times and conferred together at length about its "meaning". They guessed for hours, but, rack their brains as they might, they could not come to a decision. Finally they stated that the mufruk's breaths were lately becoming more and more confused.
It was my opinion that the breath had a very obvious meaning, which I told them with no hesitation-they, however, hushed me in disgust.
At the same time a host of young Behins declared that they did understand the mufruk, and whoever did not was a bivak and his mind had decayed with age.
However, my earlier experiences made me cautious and I did not dare to voice my sympathy. I suspected that behind' the statements which sounded normal still more crazy obsessions were crouching.
And indeed I was not disappointed in my supposition. Each of them guessed a different meaning behind the statements about mother's milk, the climbing of mountains and old men, but what it was I have never found out and they did not disclose it either. They only mysteriously announced that it was for the lungs and could not be told in words.
If, for example, such a youth caught sight of a thorny chair, he exclaimed, "Sure, sure, it is hard to climb a mountain!"
If some of them rent their garments in a different way, this, too, was explained by, "Well, a mother's milk is white!" As to what connection there was between these things the Reader should not ask me. With the Behin it is not necessary for there to be a logical connection between the words.
The matter thus far sounds comic enough. The reason I am dealing with it at such length will come to light only now.
Once Zemoeki met the mufruk and asked him what the proper meaning of the breath was.
And then a surprising thing happened.
Normality had in the meantime returned to the mufruk, of which the Behins did not know. To the question he replied, "That which is in it."
For a brief moment Zemoeki gaped in confusion. As he told me later, at that time he did not yet think anything wrong, and also behind the latter words, he looked for some "meaning", but then, in shame, he enquired further.
"How is it to be understood, for example, that a mother's milk is white?"
"Because it is indeed white," the mufruk said, "as it is hard to climb a mountain, and old men are feeble. But why do you ask? It is known by everybody!"
Zemoeki caught his breath, then hurriedly said good-bye and the next day he related the whole thing to Zeremble.
They racked their brains about the answer, but finally came to the conclusion that there was something wrong. Thus they set forth and ran to the young people and reported the case to them.
They received the announcement with an awful hullabaloo and said it was a mean slander. They almost lynched Zemoeki and Zeremble, finally seizing and carrying them to the mufruk himself.
Here they reported on the matter requesting that the mufruk himself should deliver judgement on these shady characters and pronounce upon his breaths.
It was then that the catastrophe happened.
The unfortunate mufruk foolishly repeated his assertions and referring to his medical practice gained among the Hins wanted to prove that mother's milk was indeed white and old men were indeed feeble!
At this the crowd burst into the very devil of a row, hurling his books at his head, demanding their money back and bellowing that if he had lost his mind he should not take a pen in his hand!
The worship of losing the logical way of thinking reminded me in some respects of a superstition of the dark Middle Ages when they respected epilepsy as a sacred trance and called it morbus sacer, holy illness.
But how much more sane was Europe even in the Middle Ages, compared with the Behins, which in addition to all its superstitions, knew very well that epilepsy was sickness and did not for a moment sink so deep as to admire the high-order manifestation of pure reason in it.
But I think that enough is as good as a feast. Merely describing the kipu has made me quite dizzy. Now let the Reader, who in sane Europe has not even heard of all this, imagine what it meant for me to endure it!