Anna karenina, p.127
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       Anna Karenina, p.127

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 3

  A crowd of people, principally women, was thronging round the churchlighted up for the wedding. Those who had not succeeded in getting intothe main entrance were crowding about the windows, pushing, wrangling,and peeping through the gratings.

  More than twenty carriages had already been drawn up in ranks along thestreet by the police. A police officer, regardless of the frost, stoodat the entrance, gorgeous in his uniform. More carriages werecontinually driving up, and ladies wearing flowers and carrying theirtrains, and men taking off their helmets or black hats kept walking intothe church. Inside the church both lusters were already lighted, and allthe candles before the holy pictures. The gilt on the red ground of theholy picture-stand, and the gilt relief on the pictures, and the silverof the lusters and candlesticks, and the stones of the floor, and therugs, and the banners above in the choir, and the steps of the altar,and the old blackened books, and the cassocks and surplices--all wereflooded with light. On the right side of the warm church, in the crowdof frock coats and white ties, uniforms and broadcloth, velvet, satin,hair and flowers, bare shoulders and arms and long gloves, there wasdiscreet but lively conversation that echoed strangely in the highcupola. Every time there was heard the creak of the opened door theconversation in the crowd died away, and everybody looked roundexpecting to see the bride and bridegroom come in. But the door hadopened more than ten times, and each time it was either a belated guestor guests, who joined the circle of the invited on the right, or aspectator, who had eluded or softened the police officer, and went tojoin the crowd of outsiders on the left. Both the guests and the outsidepublic had by now passed through all the phases of anticipation.

  At first they imagined that the bride and bridegroom would arriveimmediately, and attached no importance at all to their being late. Thenthey began to look more and more often towards the door, and to talk ofwhether anything could have happened. Then the long delay began to bepositively discomforting, and relations and guests tried to look as ifthey were not thinking of the bridegroom but were engrossed inconversation.

  The head deacon, as though to remind them of the value of his time,coughed impatiently, making the window-panes quiver in their frames. Inthe choir the bored choristers could be heard trying their voices andblowing their noses. The priest was continually sending first the beadleand then the deacon to find out whether the bridegroom had not come,more and more often he went himself, in a lilac vestment and anembroidered sash, to the side door, expecting to see the bridegroom. Atlast one of the ladies, glancing at her watch, said, "It really isstrange, though!" and all the guests became uneasy and began loudlyexpressing their wonder and dissatisfaction. One of the bridegroom'sbest men went to find out what had happened. Kitty meanwhile had longago been quite ready, and in her white dress and long veil and wreath oforange blossoms she was standing in the drawing-room of theShtcherbatskys' house with her sister, Madame Lvova, who was herbridal-mother. She was looking out of the window, and had been for overhalf an hour anxiously expecting to hear from the best man that herbridegroom was at the church.

  Levin meanwhile, in his trousers, but without his coat and waistcoat,was walking to and fro in his room at the hotel, continually putting hishead out of the door and looking up and down the corridor. But in thecorridor there was no sign of the person he was looking for and he cameback in despair, and frantically waving his hands addressed StepanArkadyevitch, who was smoking serenely.

  "Was ever a man in such a fearful fool's position?" he said.

  "Yes, it is stupid," Stepan Arkadyevitch assented, smiling soothingly."But don't worry, it'll be brought directly."

  "No, what is to be done!" said Levin, with smothered fury. "And thesefools of open waistcoats! Out of the question!" he said, looking at thecrumpled front of his shirt. "And what if the things have been taken onto the railway station!" he roared in desperation.

  "Then you must put on mine."

  "I ought to have done so long ago, if at all."

  "It's not nice to look ridiculous.... Wait a bit! it will _come round_."

  The point was that when Levin asked for his evening suit, Kouzma, hisold servant, had brought him the coat, waistcoat, and everything thatwas wanted.

  "But the shirt!" cried Levin.

  "You've got a shirt on," Kouzma answered, with a placid smile.

  Kouzma had not thought of leaving out a clean shirt, and on receivinginstructions to pack up everything and send it round to theShtcherbatskys' house, from which the young people were to set out thesame evening, he had done so, packing everything but the dress suit. Theshirt worn since the morning was crumpled and out of the question withthe fashionable open waistcoat. It was a long way to send to theShtcherbatskys'. They sent out to buy a shirt. The servant came back;everything was shut up--it was Sunday. They sent to StepanArkadyevitch's and brought a shirt--it was impossibly wide and short.They sent finally to the Shtcherbatskys' to unpack the things. Thebridegroom was expected at the church while he was pacing up and downhis room like a wild beast in a cage, peeping out into the corridor, andwith horror and despair recalling what absurd things he had said toKitty and what she might be thinking now.

  At last the guilty Kouzma flew panting into the room with the shirt.

  "Only just in time. They were just lifting it into the van," saidKouzma.

  Three minutes later Levin ran full speed into the corridor, not lookingat his watch for fear of aggravating his sufferings.

  "You won't help matters like this," said Stepan Arkadyevitch with asmile, hurrying with more deliberation after him. "It will come round,it will come round ... I tell you."

 
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