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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/118

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The whole part of the Térek line, along which the Grebén Cossack villages are located, is about eighty versts long, and bears a uniform character, both as to topography and population. The Térek, which divides the Cossacks from the mountaineers, flows turbidly and rapidly, but now broadly and calmly, continually depositing the grayish sand on the low, reed-covered right bank, and washing away the steep, but not high, left shore with its roots of century oaks, rotting plane-trees, and young underbrush.

On the right bank are situated peaceful, but still restless, native villages; on the left bank lie the Cossack villages, at half a verst from the river, and at the distance of from seven to eight versts from each other. In former days the greater number of these villages were on the very shore; but the Térek deflected every year more and more to the north of the mountains, and undermined them, so that now only weed-grown old town locations, gardens, pear-trees, plum-trees and poplars, intertwined with blackberry-bushes and wild-growing grape-vines, may be seen in those places. Nobody lives there, and in the sand may be noticed the tracks of deer, boars, hares, and pheasants, who have taken a liking to these spots.

From Cossack village to village runs a road as straight as an arrow, cut through the woods. Along the road are placed cordons in which Cossacks are located; between the cordons sentinels are stationed in watch-towers. Only