Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/56

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46
IVAN'S HORIZON WIDENS.

not at least a considerable substratum of truth—the story of the beautiful lady who could transform herself into a white dove. The rest he understood very partially.

After a journey of many days, a happy change came over the spirit of what had almost seemed to Ivan a long and dismal dream. The dreary expanse of sandy waste was succeeded by a green, fertile, well-cultivated plain, diversified by the gentle slope of wooded hills and the gleam of a winding river.

At last, one evening, they reached the summit of a lofty eminence. Petrovitch, who was on foot leading the horse, turned suddenly to Ivan, and said in a tone of solemnity, "Take off thy cap, Ivan Barrinka, take off thy cap, and thank God for thy first sight of holy Moscow!"

Any traveller might have thanked God for the beauty of that sight. Dome and cupola, minaret and tower, shone beneath them in the evening sunshine, giving back its rays with dazzling brightness from their gilded tops; and some there were which flamed like balls of fire suspended in the air. The brightest and most varied of colours—green, purple, crimson, blue—relieved and diversified the gleaming gold of the cupolas and the burnished lead of the roofs, which looked like silver. Beyond the bewildering glories of the Kremlin, whose feet were kissed by the bright waters of the winding Moskva, the great city stretched away into the distance. To the eye there was no limit: streets and squares and gardens, gardens and streets and squares; here a castle, there a blooming terrace; yonder a painted gateway, everywhere light and colour, and shining metallic surfaces that reflected the sun. "Forty times forty churches" pointed upwards with their "silent fingers," as if to remind the dwellers in that city of palaces of the yet fairer city which is eternal in the heavens, even the new Jerusalem, with its streets of gold and gates of pearl.

Ivan crossed himself. "Beautiful! beautiful!" he mur-