Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/54

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

30

THE LIFE OF TOLSTOY

Caucasus, disappeared, never to return. 'Now it has begun,' some solemn voice seemed to whisper to him. The distant line of the Terek, and the villages, and the people—all that appeared to him now in a serious light. He looked up at the sky—and remembered the mountains. He looked upon himself and his companion, John—again the mountains. There two Cossacks rode on horseback, their rifles, in cases, evenly moving on their backs, their horses intermingling their brown and grey legs—and again the mountains. . . . Beyond the Terek the smoke of a village was rising up—and the mountains? . . . The sun rose and gleamed in the waters of the Terek, appearing through the reeds—and the mountains. . . . From the Cossack village came a peasant cart. Women—handsome young women—moved about—but the mountains . . . The Abreks[1] are scouring the steppes, and I travel without fear of them. I have a rifle and strength and youth—and the mountains!"

So enchanting were the mountains to Leo Tolstoy in his approach to Stary-Yurt.

  1. "Abreks" were young Circasaians who were waging a sacred war against the Russian invaders. Their bravery was even recognised by their enemies, and the Russian poets Pushkin and Lermontoff sang their exploits.—Translator.