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VI.

The male population of the village pass their time in expeditions and in cordons, or posts, as the Cossacks call them.

This very Lukáshka the "Saver," of whom the two old women had been speaking, was stationed that evening in a watch-tower of the Nízhne-Protók post. This Nízhne-Protók post is situated on the bank of the Térek. Leaning on the balustrade of the tower, he blinked and looked into the distance beyond the Térek, or upon his Cossack companions below him, and from time to time he chatted with them.

The sun was already approaching the snow-covered range which glistened white above the fleecy clouds. The clouds were billowing at the bases of the mountains, and assumed ever darker shades. The air was bathed in evening transparency. A fresh breeze blew from the wild overgrown forest; but near the post it was still warm.

The voices of the Cossacks at conversation rang clearer, and reëchoed in the air. The swift, cinnamon-coloured Térek stood out, with all its moving mass, more sharply from its immovable banks. It was beginning to fall, and here and there the wet sand looked dark brown on the shore and in the shallows.

On the opposite shore, right across from the cordon, there was nothing but a wilderness: only low desert reeds stretched over a vast expanse as far as the mountains. A little on one side, the clay houses, flat roofs, and funnel-shaped chimneys of a Chechén village could be seen on

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