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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/128

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It was one of those peculiar evenings which one finds only in the Caucasus. The sun had set behind the mountains, but it was still light. The evening glow embraced one-third of the heaven, and the dull white masses of the mountains stood out sharply in the light of the setting sun. The air was rarefied, immovable, and replete with echoes. A shadow, several versts in length, fell from the mountains upon the steppe. In the steppe, beyond the river, along the roads, everything was quiet.

Now and then appeared a few men on horseback: those were Cossacks from the cordon, or Chechéns from their village, who looked with surprise and curiosity at the passengers in the vehicle, and tried to make out who those bad people could be. As the evening, so the people, in dread of each other, clung to the habitations, and only beasts and birds, not fearing man, freely roamed over this wilderness. From the gardens hastened, with merry chatter, before sundown, the Cossack women who had been tying up the wicker fences. And the gardens grew as deserted as the surroundings; but the village became particularly animated.

On all sides the people moved on foot, on horseback, and in squeaky wooden carts to the village. The girls, with shirts tucked up, and with stick in hand, were running, prattling merrily, to the gate, to meet the cattle that were crowding together in a cloud of dust and gnats which they had brought with them from the steppe. The well-fed cows and buffaloes scattered along the streets,