Sage and sea -- communing

From "Reminiscences of Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Andreev," translated by Katherine Mansfield, Leonard Woolf, and S. S. Kotolinsky, 1968, Humanities Press.m

I once saw him (Leo Tolstoy) as, perhaps, no one has ever seen him. I was walking over to him at Gaspra along the coast and behind Yessupov's estate, on the shore among the stones, I saw his smallish angular figure in a grey, crumpled, ragged suit and crumpled hat. He was sitting with his head on his hands, the wind blowing the silvery hairs of his beard through his fingers; he was looking into the distance out to sea, and the little greenish waves rolled up obediently to his feet and fondled them as though they were telling something about themselves to the old magician. It was a day of sun and cloud, and the shadows of the clouds glided over the stones, and with the stones the old man grew now bright and now dark. The boulders were large, riven by cracks, and covered with smelly seaweed; there had been a high tide. He, too, seemed to me like an old stone come to life, who knows all the beginnings and the ends of things, who considers when and what will be the end of the stones, of the grasses of the earth, of the waters of the sea, and of the whole universe from the pebble to the sun. And the sea is part of his soul, and everything around him comes from him, out of him. In the musing motionlessness of the old man I felt something fateful, magical, something which went down into the darkness beneath him and stretched up like a search-light, into the blue emptiness above the earth. . . . In my soul there was joy and fear, and then everything blended in one happy thought: "I am not an orphan on the earth as long as this man lives on it."

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