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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/320

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294
THE COSSACKS

Olénin, finding it difficult to direct the Cossacks' attention to himself.

"We are going out to catch some abréks. They are sitting on the sand-dunes. We shall ride out at once, but we have not enough people with us."

The Cossacks, continuing to shout and to get ready, passed along the street. It occurred to Olénin that it would not be well if he did not go with them; besides, he thought he would return soon. He dressed himself, loaded his gun, jumped on his horse, which had been half-saddled by Vanyúsha, and caught up with the Cossacks as they were leaving the village. The Cossacks were standing around in a circle, hurrying to be off; they were pouring some red wine into a wooden bowl from a cask that had just been brought there, and, passing it around, were drinking for a propitious expedition. Among them was also a young foppish ensign, who happened to be in the village, and who had assumed the command of the nine Cossacks present. The Cossacks who had gathered there were of the rank and file, and though the ensign had the appearance of the leader of the expedition, they all obeyed only Lukáshka.

The Cossacks did not pay the least attention to Olénin. When they had all mounted their horses and started off, and Olénin, riding up to the ensign, began to inquire about the affair, the ensign, who usually was kindly disposed, looked down upon him from the height of his magnificence. With great difficulty Olénin managed to get some information from him. A patrol, which had been sent out to look for abréks, had discovered some mountaineers about eight versts from the village, on the dunes. The abréks were entrenched in a ditch, and threatened that they would not be taken alive. The under-officer, who was on the patrol with two more Cossacks, remained behind to keep watch on them, and had sent one of the Cossacks to the village to get reënforcement.