Anna karenina, p.129
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       Anna Karenina, p.129

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 5

  In the church there was all Moscow, all the friends and relations; andduring the ceremony of plighting troth, in the brilliantly lightedchurch, there was an incessant flow of discreetly subdued talk in thecircle of gaily dressed women and girls, and men in white ties,frockcoats, and uniforms. The talk was principally kept up by the men,while the women were absorbed in watching every detail of the ceremony,which always means so much to them.

  In the little group nearest to the bride were her two sisters: Dolly,and the other one, the self-possessed beauty, Madame Lvova, who had justarrived from abroad.

  "Why is it Marie's in lilac, as bad as black, at a wedding?" said MadameKorsunskaya.

  "With her complexion, it's the one salvation," responded MadameTrubetskaya. "I wonder why they had the wedding in the evening? It'slike shop-people..."

  "So much prettier. I was married in the evening too..." answered MadameKorsunskaya, and she sighed, remembering how charming she had been thatday, and how absurdly in love her husband was, and how different it allwas now.

  "They say if anyone's best man more than ten times, he'll never bemarried. I wanted to be for the tenth time, but the post was taken,"said Count Siniavin to the pretty Princess Tcharskaya, who had designson him.

  Princess Tcharskaya only answered with a smile. She looked at Kitty,thinking how and when she would stand with Count Siniavin in Kitty'splace, and how she would remind him then of his joke today.

  Shtcherbatsky told the old maid of honor, Madame Nikolaeva, that hemeant to put the crown on Kitty's chignon for luck.

  "She ought not to have worn a chignon," answered Madame Nikolaeva, whohad long ago made up her mind that if the elderly widower she wasangling for married her, the wedding should be of the simplest. "I don'tlike such grandeur."

  Sergey Ivanovitch was talking to Darya Dmitrievna, jestingly assuringher that the custom of going away after the wedding was becoming commonbecause newly married people always felt a little ashamed of themselves.

  "Your brother may feel proud of himself. She's a marvel of sweetness. Ibelieve you're envious."

  "Oh, I've got over that, Darya Dmitrievna," he answered, and amelancholy and serious expression suddenly came over his face.

  Stepan Arkadyevitch was telling his sister-in-law his joke aboutdivorce.

  "The wreath wants setting straight," she answered, not hearing him.

  "What a pity she's lost her looks so," Countess Nordston said to MadameLvova. "Still he's not worth her little finger, is he?"

  "Oh, I like him so--not because he's my future _beau-frere_," answeredMadame Lvova. "And how well he's behaving! It's so difficult, too, tolook well in such a position, not to be ridiculous. And he's notridiculous, and not affected; one can see he's moved."

  "You expected it, I suppose?"

  "Almost. She always cared for him."

  "Well, we shall see which of them will step on the rug first. I warnedKitty."

  "It will make no difference," said Madame Lvova; "we're all obedientwives; it's in our family."

  "Oh, I stepped on the rug before Vassily on purpose. And you, Dolly?"

  Dolly stood beside them; she heard them, but she did not answer. She wasdeeply moved. The tears stood in her eyes, and she could not have spokenwithout crying. She was rejoicing over Kitty and Levin; going back inthought to her own wedding, she glanced at the radiant figure of StepanArkadyevitch, forgot all the present, and remembered only her owninnocent love. She recalled not herself only, but all her women-friendsand acquaintances. She thought of them on the one day of their triumph,when they had stood like Kitty under the wedding crown, with love andhope and dread in their hearts, renouncing the past, and steppingforward into the mysterious future. Among the brides that came back toher memory, she thought too of her darling Anna, of whose proposeddivorce she had just been hearing. And she had stood just as innocent inorange flowers and bridal veil. And now? "It's terribly strange," shesaid to herself. It was not merely the sisters, the women-friends andfemale relations of the bride who were following every detail of theceremony. Women who were quite strangers, mere spectators, were watchingit excitedly, holding their breath, in fear of losing a single movementor expression of the bride and bridegroom, and angrily not answering,often not hearing, the remarks of the callous men, who kept makingjoking or irrelevant observations.

  "Why has she been crying? Is she being married against her will?"

  "Against her will to a fine fellow like that? A prince, isn't he?"

  "Is that her sister in the white satin? Just listen how the deacon boomsout, 'And fearing her husband.'"

  "Are the choristers from Tchudovo?"

  "No, from the Synod."

  "I asked the footman. He says he's going to take her home to his countryplace at once. Awfully rich, they say. That's why she's being married tohim."

  "No, they're a well-matched pair."

  "I say, Marya Vassilievna, you were making out those fly-away crinolineswere not being worn. Just look at her in the puce dress--an ambassador'swife they say she is--how her skirt bounces out from side to side!"

  "What a pretty dear the bride is--like a lamb decked with flowers! Well,say what you will, we women feel for our sister."

  Such were the comments in the crowd of gazing women who had succeeded inslipping in at the church doors.

 

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