Ten years he lived in this place, withdrawn from all human companionship, watching the rains fall forever upon the yellow slopes of the mountains. Now he is dead and I have failed, who wanted so much to understand him. Death is beyond all comprehension.

His house faced south-west, the direction whence come the autumn storms . The glaciers that carved the valley left a wide rock half-sunk in the hillside and this he used for his porch. Through the whicking of the wipers I would see him huddled there, as my little Citroen struggled asthmatically along the winding roads. At first I thought him a spur of rock, bent into anthropomorphism by a freak of erosion, so constant was his vigil; used him, in fact, as a landmark for several years before being corrected by a laughing valley man.

He never spoke. Whether he was mute or not I don’t know. Certainly he never tried to speak, never tried to communicate. He ignored everything except the rain with an unconscious royal dignity. I have sat beside him these four years, and have learned less and less to talk, to watch merely the sweeping progress of the rain across the valley…