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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/116

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98
THE COSSACKS

steps from him, as he thought at first, pure white masses, with their delicate contours and the fantastic and sharply defined outline of their summits, against the distant sky. And when he became aware of the great distance between him and the mountains and the sky, and of the immensity of the mountains, and when he felt the immeasurableness of that beauty, he was frightened, thinking that it was a vision, a dream. He shook himself, in order to be rid of his sleep. The mountains remained the same.

"What is this? What is it?" he asked the driver.

"The mountains," the Nogáy answered, with indifference.

"I myself have been looking at them for a long time," said Vanyúsha. "It is beautiful! They will not believe it at home!"

In the rapid motion of the vehicle over the even road, the mountains seemed to be running along the horizon, gleaming in the rising sun with their rosy summits. At first the mountains only surprised Olénin, but later they gave him pleasure. And later, as he gazed longer at this chain of snow-capped mountains, which were not connected with other black mountains, but rose directly from the steppe, he began by degrees to understand their full beauty, and to "feel" the mountains.

From that moment, everything he saw, everything he thought, everything he felt, assumed for him a new, severely majestic character, that of the mountains. All the Moscow reminiscences, his shame and remorse, all the trite dreams of the Caucasus, everything disappeared, and never returned again. "Now it has begun," a solemn voice said to him. And the road, and the distant line of the Térek, and the villages, and the people, all that appeared to him no longer a trifling matter.

He looked at the sky, and he thought of the mountains. He looked at himself, and at Vanyúsha,—and again the mountains. There, two Cossacks rode by, and