Open main menu

Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/115

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
97
THE COSSACKS

drivers, and inspectors seemed to him to be simple creatures with whom he could make simple jokes, and chat, without stopping to consider to what class of society they belonged. They all belonged to the human race, which was unconsciously dear to Olénin, and they all were friendly to him.

As far back as the Land of the Don Army his sleigh had been exchanged for a cart, and beyond Stavrópol it grew so warm that Olénin travelled without a fur coat. It was spring, an unexpected, joyous spring for Olénin.

At night they could not leave the villages, and they said that in the evening it was dangerous to travel; Vanyúsha shuddered, and a loaded gun lay in the stage vehicle. Olénin felt happier still. At one station, the inspector told of a terrible murder that had lately happened on the road. They now and then met armed men.

"That is where it begins!" Olénin said to himself, and waited for the sight of the snow-capped mountains, about which he had been told so much. Once, toward evening, a Nogáy driver pointed with his whip at the mountains beyond the clouds. Olénin eagerly looked at them, but it was misty, and the clouds half-concealed the mountains. Olénin saw something gray, white, and fleecy, and, however much he tried, he could not find anything attractive in the view of the mountains, of which he had read and heard so much. He concluded that the mountains and the clouds looked precisely alike, and that the special beauty of the snow-capped mountains, of which he had been told so much, was just such a fiction as Bach's music, and the love for a woman, in neither of which he believed, and he ceased waiting for the mountains.

But on the following day, early in the morning, he was awakened by the dampness in his vehicle, and he indifferently turned his eyes to the right. It was a very clear morning. Suddenly he saw, some twenty