Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/49

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This intoxication of the heart flows on, unchecked. Olenin, the hero, who has come to the Caucasus, as Tolstoy came, to steep himself in nature, in the life of adventure, becomes enamoured of a young Cossack girl, and abandons himself to the medley of his contradictory aspirations. At one moment he believes that "happiness is to live for others, to sacrifice oneself," at another, that "self-sacrifice is only stupidity"; finally he is inclined to believe, with Erochta, the old Cossack, that "everything is precious. God has made everything for the delight of man. Nothing is a sin. To amuse oneself with a handsome girl is not a sin: it is only health." But what need to think at all? It is enough to live. Life is all good, all happiness; life is all-powerful and universal; life is God. An ardent naturalism uplifts and consumes his soul. Lost in the forest, amidst "the wildness of the woods, the multitude of birds and animals, the clouds of midges in the dusky green, in the warm, fragrant air, amidst the little runlets of water which trickle everywhere beneath the boughs"; a few paces from the ambushes of the enemy, Olenin is "seized suddenly by such a sense of causeless happiness that in obedience to childish habit he crossed himself and began to give thanks to somebody." Like a Hindu fakir, he rejoices to tell himself that he is alone and lost in this maelstrom of aspiring life: that myriads of invisible beings, hidden on every hand, are that moment hunting him to death; that these thousands of little insects humming around him are calling: