Journey to Kars

I hoped to find Raevsky in Tiflis, but learning that his regiment was already on the march, I decided to ask Count Paskevich’s permission to come to the army. I spent around two weeks in Tiflis and became acquainted with the local society.

I waited patiently for my fate to be decided. At last I received a note from Raevsky. He wrote that I should make haste to Kars, because in a few days the troops were to go further on. I left the next day.

I went on horseback, changing horses at the Cossack outposts. The earth around me was scorched by the heat. From a distance the Georgian villages looked to me like beautiful gardens, but, on riding up to them, I saw a few poor saklias overshaded by dusty poplars. The sun went down, but the air was still stifling:

Torrid nights!

Foreign stars! . . .

The moon shone; all was still; only the trot of my horse rang out in the night’s silence. I rode for a long time without meeting any signs of habitation. At last I saw a solitary saklia. I started knocking at the door. The owner came out. I asked for water, first in Russian, then in Tatar. He did not understand me. Amazing nonchalance! Twenty miles from Tiflis and on the road to Persia and Turkey, he did not know a word of Russian or of Tatar.

Having spent the night at a Cossack outpost, I headed further on at dawn. The road went through mountains and forests. I met some traveling Tatars; there were several women among them. They were on horseback, wrapped in chadras; all you could see were their eyes and heels.

I started going up Bezobdal, the mountain that separates Georgia from ancient Armenia. A wide road, overshaded by trees, winds around the mountain. On the summit of Bezobdal I rode through a small gorge, apparently called the Wolf Gate, and found myself on the natural border of Georgia. Before me were new mountains, a new horizon; below me spread fertile green wheatfields. I looked back once more at scorched Georgia and started down the gently sloping mountain to the fresh plains of Armenia. With indescribable pleasure I noticed that the heat suddenly became less intense: the climate was different.

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