Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/49

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

MILITARY SERVICE

27

the happiest state of mind he started with his brother from Kazan to Saratoff in their own coach. At the latter place they embarked, with their carriage, on a large boat and, sometimes sailing, sometimes rowing, they arrived at Astrakhan. Thence by coach to Kizliar—the place where Nicolas Tolstoy was quartered. This was the journey that was afterwards so picturesquely described by Tolstoy in his novel, "The Cossacks."

Very soon the battery in which Nicolas Tolstoy was serving was transferred to the fortified camp, Stary-Yurt, this detachment being destined to protect from Circassian raids the newly-erected sanatorium at the hot, strong, mineral springs. The camp was situated at the foot of the mountain, beside the springs, and on the slopes of the mountain the houses of the Circassian village Stary-Yurt were picturesquely spread out. In a letter to his aunt Tatiana, Leo Tolstoy describes this beautiful spot in the mountains:

"This is a large mountain of piled-up rocks. Some of these in their fall have formed grottos; some are still hanging high in the air. In many places streams of hot water are rushing down noisily. The white steam from this boiling water envelops and obscures, in the morning especially, the upper part of the rocks. The water is so hot