Monarch of those lofty hills towers the tall peak of Elbrus, called by the natives "the great spirit of the mountains." Farther east Kasbek lifts its lofty summit, and at a lower level the whole jagged line, "the thousand-peaked Caucasus," rises into view. Below these a lower range, dark with forests, marks its outline on the snowy summits beyond.

The snowy Kochtan-Taou rolled past, yet through, them; Kasbek superbly thundered; hosts of lesser summits sang in the dawn and whispered to the stars. And longing sank away impossible. "My boy, my boy, could you only have been with me...!" broke his voice across the splendid dream, bringing me back to the choking, dingy room I had forgotten. It was like a cry a cry of passionate yearning.

If in the course of his ascent he had kept his eyes pretty steadily fixed upon the magnificent summits far off white with snows, but nearer blue with the ice which has led the Tartars to give to them the name of Ialbus or ice-mane; if lower down he had gazed with admiration at the oaks which for two centuries had grasped with their roots and overspread with their branches the rocks in situations to which upon the Alps and the Pyrenees only climbs the pine; and if higher up he had not passed by unnoticed even the lowly pink and rose of the mountains, blooming along the snow-line, but even there sought out by the bee and the butterfly of Apollo; how would he be overwhelmed with the sublimity of the scene on finding himself in the dread company of Kasbek and the hundred other peaks which are his vassals!

There he would sit gazing at the snows red with the declining rays, and at the rocks glowing in the reflected purple of the clouds, until the valley and the glens connected with it were quite dark with the gathering twilight gazing where far off to the westward the snow-clad peaks were still burning brightly as with altar fires that reached to heaven gazing where blazed longest of all the top of Kasbek, until from its expiring spark the evening planet seemed to catch the light with which it flamed out in the sky above it, while gradually the lower mountains faded on the sight, and only the heavens and the highest peaks were bathed in the mild light of night.

Near at hand are seen one or two heights which are clad with perpetual snows; while westward, far away beyond the lower highlands, the view is terminated by the white form of Mt. Kasbek. The internal aspect of the aoul is less pleasing. Most of the streets are steep and crooked, though the scattered position of the dwellings in others, affords some sites both open and level.

On reaching the snow-line of the Kasbek, at farthest, the progress of the hunters would be arrested. On their way hither they would have occasionally brought down a fallow deer or a fat bear, besides pheasants and the wild hens of the mountains, hares, and large grey squirrels.

Further north from this sunny Colchian strand rose the peak of Kasbek, gaunt and desolate pyramid of iron, "sloping through five great zones of climate," whence the ghost of Prometheus still gazed down from his "vast frozen precipice" upon a world his courage would redeem.

Next, is seen the no less solitary top of Kasbek, situated further eastward, and its snows tinged by the first red rays of the morning. Then, the whole line of summits, "the thousand peaked," rises to view; and finally, a lower range covered with forests, and hence called the Black Mountains, draws its dark and irregular outline against the higher snows beyond.

For while the ark of Noah is said to have grounded on the top of Mount Elbrus before reaching its final resting-place on the neighboring Ararat, it was on Kasbek that Prometheus was chained to a rock for having stolen the fire of the gods and given it to mortals.

In leaving, however, to his successors the legacy of his boundless ambition, he pointed with his dying hand to the peaks of Elbrus and Kasbek; and ever since his race, extending itself on all sides, has not ceased to press onward in this pathway to ward the rising of the sun. Especially within the last quarter of a century has Russia occupied herself in earnest with the conquest of the Caucasus.