Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/129

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and the Cossack women, in their coloured half-coats, were mingling with them. One could hear their shrill chatter, their merry laugh, and their screams, interrupted by the lowing of the cattle.

Here, a Cossack, in accoutrements and on horseback, who had received his leave from the cordon, rode up to a cabin and, bending down, tapped at the window; and, in reply to the tap, appeared the beautiful head of a young Cossack woman, and one might hear tender words of affection. There, a broad-cheeked, tattered Nogáy labourer, having arrived with reeds from the steppe, turned the squeaking cart into the captain's clean, broad yard, threw down the yoke from the oxen, who shook their heads, and passed a few Tartar words with the master.

Near the puddle, which occupied nearly the whole street, and where people had been walking so many years, a barefooted Cossack woman, clinging close to the fences, made her way with a bundle of firewood on her back, raising her shirt high above her white feet. A Cossack, returning from the hunt, cried out to her, "Lift it higher, shameless one," and aimed his gun at her. The Cossack woman let her shirt fall, and dropped her wood.

An old Cossack, with rolled-up trousers, and gray bosom exposed, returning from his sport, carried on his shoulder a basket with quivering silvery trout; to make a short cut, he climbed across his neighbour's broken fence, and pulled off his coat, which was caught upon it. There, a woman was dragging a dry bough, and the strokes of an axe could be heard around the corner. Young Cossack children screamed, spinning their tops wherever they could find an even spot. Women climbed over fences, to save walking around corners. From all the chimneys rose the smoke from dung-chips. In every yard could be heard an increased bustle, preceding the quiet of the night.

Mother Ulítka, the wife of the ensign and schoolmaster, went, like the rest, to the gate of her house, waiting for