Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/125

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parably greater influence and weight in her domestic life than women have in the West. Her removal from public life, and her habit of doing man's heavy work, give her greater weight and power in her domestic life.

A Cossack, who considers it indecent to speak kindly or leisurely with his wife in the presence of strangers, involuntarily feels her superiority when he is left with her without witnesses. The whole house, all the property, all the farm, is acquired by her, and is maintained by her labour and care. Although he is firmly convinced that work is disgraceful for a Cossack, and becoming only to a Nogáy labourer and to a woman, he feels vaguely that everything he uses and calls his own is the result of this labour, and that it lies in the power of woman, of his mother and his wife, whom he regards as his slave, to deprive him of everything which he uses.

Besides this, the continuous heavy man's labour, and the cares that are put into her hands, have given the Grebén woman an unusually independent and manly character, and have developed to an astonishing degree her physical strength, sound common sense, determination, and firmness of character. The women are generally more intelligent, more developed and beautiful than the men. The beauty of a Grebén woman is particularly striking by its combination of the purest type of the Caucasian face with the broad and powerful build of the northern woman.

The Cossack women wear the Caucasian garb: the Tartar shirt, half-coat, and foot-gear; but they wrap their heads with a kerchief in the Russian fashion. The foppishness, cleanliness, and elegance of their attire, and the arrangement of their cabins, constitute a habit and necessity of their lives. In regard to men, the women, and especially the maidens, enjoy absolute freedom.

The village of Novomlín has been considered to be the root of the Grebén Cossacks. Here, more than elsewhere,