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As they start climbing the foothills of the Himalayas, the lama could not be happier; he feels like he is on his own turf at last.
Kim, meanwhile, is hungry, cold, and tired—definitely off his game.
Still, as Kim keeps climbing and keeps breathing all this fresh mountain air, he gets stronger.
The Babu follows them on the road—he seems to know this whole area very well.
Finally they reach a valley in the middle of high mountains, damp with streams that flow into the river Sutluj.
As Kim and the lama spend the night in the valley, the Babu races on ahead to meet the two Europeans (one French and one Russian).
They want someone local to help get them to Simla, and the Babu offers to guide them.
The Babu also puts on a convincing display of hating the English, which the two European guys buy completely.
As the Babu leads these two foreigners and their coolies (which is a racist term meaning cheap, unskilled workers; these are the guys carrying the baggage, so we will call them bearers), he finds Kim and the lama on the road.
He secretly signals Kim that these two guys are The Guys, the ones they've been looking for.
The Babu also invites the two men to look at the lama's drawing of the Great Wheel of existence.
The lama starts explaining about the Buddhist model of human existence—the Russian quickly says that he can't understand the lama, but he wants to buy his drawing.
The lama refuses, and the Russian reaches out as though he is going to grab the drawing.
Wow, Stuff Gets Serious Really Fast
The Russian hits the lama right in the face, and Kim leaps at him.
All the bearers run off into the hills ASAP—they know that it's super bad luck to hit a holy man, and they don't want to be around when the gods start throwing lightning bolts.
The Babu jumps on Kim as though he is defending the Russian guy, but really, he's warning Kim to run after the bearers and get their papers.
A shot hits a rock near Kim as he runs, so Kim pulls out the gun he got from Mahbub Ali and shoots back.
He and the lama find cover behind some trees.
The bearers all want to shoot the two Europeans in revenge for the act of sacrilege they have just seen (since, again, hitting a holy man = very bad luck).
The lama orders the bearers not to kill anybody, but confesses to Kim that he was tempted to shoot the men and he feels deeply shaken by his moral weakness.
He sinks to the ground, partly thanks to his injury, but also because of his disappointment in himself.
The bearers decide to divide up the European men's loot.
Kim steps in and says that they shouldn't take the bag full of books and instruments—it's got magic tools that only Kim can handle safely.
Meanwhile, the Babu accompanies the two Europeans.
He keeps telling them they have no choice now but to sneak from village to village until they can get to a city.
Their luggage is long gone, and they will be in so much trouble if they contact the Kings—after all, hitting a holy man is the worst thing you can do around here.
The Babu's strong words convince the Europeans, who immediately fall to fighting with each other.
And the whole threat of the Russian spies falls apart.