- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
200

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
200
Presidenfs house after this fleeting glimpse into the
life of the mountains.
Before wc went to bed wc sat as usual on the
balcony in front of the house and drank a glass
of tea. It was a still night, and the air felt almost
chilly after the fierce heat of the day. On the other
side of the street the dark tree-tops lay over the
garden, a rustle went once through the leaves like
a yearning sigh ; high above us was the deep black
dome, the stars thick-strewn in all the glory of the
south. Inland above the plain rose the wonder
world of the Caucasus with its scattered a-uls and
the thousands of restless human lives cooped within
the mighty mountains. All was wrapped peacefully
in care-free dreams under the cloak of night.
It is, as wc said, a hard and grinding life in the
bare valleys. Indeed, it is hard to imagine one
much more grinding, for the very earth that is to
be tilled must be carried up and fenced round
with stones if it is not to disappear. It might be
thought that the people had struggle enough in
wresting a bare livelihood from this overpowering
world of theirs ; but for all that these tribes have
always lived at war with one another and with
foes from outside. Fighting was their joy. They are
like eagles that strike at anyone coming near their
eyry, and go far off to win their prey; bold and
tough warriors they are beyond compare, but often
hard and cruel.
The song of Khochbar of Ghedatl1 may be
1 English translation by J. F. Baddeley, op. eit., pp. 484-5. Ghedatl
was an Avar district near the Avarian Koisu: and south ofthe khanate.

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