Anna karenina, p.130
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       Anna Karenina, p.130

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 6

  When the ceremony of plighting troth was over, the beadle spread beforethe lectern in the middle of the church a piece of pink silken stuff,the choir sang a complicated and elaborate psalm, in which the bass andtenor sang responses to one another, and the priest turning roundpointed the bridal pair to the pink silk rug. Though both had oftenheard a great deal about the saying that the one who steps first on therug will be the head of the house, neither Levin nor Kitty were capableof recollecting it, as they took the few steps towards it. They did nothear the loud remarks and disputes that followed, some maintaining hehad stepped on first, and others that both had stepped on together.

  After the customary questions, whether they desired to enter uponmatrimony, and whether they were pledged to anyone else, and theiranswers, which sounded strange to themselves, a new ceremony began.Kitty listened to the words of the prayer, trying to make out theirmeaning, but she could not. The feeling of triumph and radiant happinessflooded her soul more and more as the ceremony went on, and deprived herof all power of attention.

  They prayed: "Endow them with continence and fruitfulness, and vouchsafethat their hearts may rejoice looking upon their sons and daughters."They alluded to God's creation of a wife from Adam's rib "and for thiscause a man shall leave father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, andthey two shall be one flesh," and that "this is a great mystery"; theyprayed that God would make them fruitful and bless them, like Isaac andRebecca, Joseph, Moses and Zipporah, and that they might look upon theirchildren's children. "That's all splendid," thought Kitty, catching thewords, "all that's just as it should be," and a smile of happiness,unconsciously reflected in everyone who looked at her, beamed on herradiant face.

  "Put it on quite," voices were heard urging when the priest had put onthe wedding crowns and Shtcherbatsky, his hand shaking in itsthree-button glove, held the crown high above her head.

  "Put it on!" she whispered, smiling.

  Levin looked round at her, and was struck by the joyful radiance on herface, and unconsciously her feeling infected him. He too, like her feltglad and happy.

  They enjoyed hearing the epistle read, and the roll of the head deacon'svoice at the last verse, awaited with such impatience by the outsidepublic. They enjoyed drinking out of the shallow cup of warm red wineand water, and they were still more pleased when the priest, flingingback his stole and taking both their hands in his, led them round thelectern to the accompaniment of bass voices chanting "Glory to God."

  Shtcherbatsky and Tchirikov, supporting the crowns and stumbling overthe bride's train, smiling too and seeming delighted at something, wereat one moment left behind, at the next treading on the bridal pair asthe priest came to a halt. The spark of joy kindled in Kitty seemed tohave infected everyone in the church. It seemed to Levin that the priestand the deacon too wanted to smile just as he did.

  Taking the crowns off their heads the priest read the last prayer andcongratulated the young people. Levin looked at Kitty, and he had neverbefore seen her look as she did. She was charming with the new radianceof happiness in her face. Levin longed to say something to her, but hedid not know whether it was all over. The priest got him out of hisdifficulty. He smiled his kindly smile and said gently, "Kiss your wife,and you kiss your husband," and took the candles out of their hands.

  Levin kissed her smiling lips with timid care, gave her his arm, andwith a new strange sense of closeness, walked out of the church. He didnot believe, he could not believe, that it was true. It was only whentheir wondering and timid eyes met that he believed in it, because hefelt that they were one.

  After supper, the same night, the young people left for the country.

 

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