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Anna Karenina 259


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step on the carpet," said Countess Nordston, coming up. "Youre a nice person!" she said to Levin. "Arent you frightened, eh?" said Marya Dmitrievna, an old aunt. "Are you cold? Youre pale. Stop a minute, stoop down," said Kittys sister, Madame Lvova, and with her plump, handsome arms she smilingly set straight the flowers on her head. Dolly came up, tried to say something, but could not speak, cried, and then laughed unnaturally. Kitty looked at all of them with the same absent eyes as Levin. Meanwhile the officiating clergy had got into their vestments, and the priest and deacon came out to the lectern, which stood in the forepart of the church. The priest turned to Levin saying something. Levin did not hear what the priest said. "Take the brides hand and lead her up," the best man said to Levin. It was a long while before Levin could make out what was expected of him. For a long time they tried to set him right and made him begin again--because he kept taking Kitty by the wrong arm or with the wrong arm--till he understood at last that what he had to do was, without changing his position, to take her right hand in his right hand. When at last he had taken the brides hand in the correct way, the priest walked a few paces in front of them and stopped at the lectern. The crowd of friends and relations moved after them, with a buzz of talk and a rustle of skirts. Someone stooped down and pulled out the brides train. The church became so still that the drops of wax could be heard falling from the candles. The little old priest in his ecclesiastical cap, with his long silvery-gray locks of hair parted behind his ears, was fumbling with something at the lectern, putting out his little old hands from under the heavy silver vestment with the gold cross on the back of it. Stepan Arkadyevitch approached him cautiously, whispered something, and making a sign to Levin, walked back again. The priest lighted two candles, wreathed with flowers, and holding them sideways so that the wax dropped slowly from them he turned, facing the bridal pair. The priest was the same old man that had confessed Levin. He looked with weary and melancholy eyes at the bride and bridegroom, sighed, and putting his right hand out from his vestment, blessed the bridegroom with it, and also with a shade of solicitous tenderness laid the crossed fingers on the bowed head of Kitty. Then he gave them the candles, and taking the censer, moved slowly away from them. "Can it be true?" thought Levin, and he looked round at his bride. Looking down at her he saw her face in profile, and from the scarcely perceptible quiver of her lips and eyelashes he knew she was aware of his eyes upon her. She did not look round, but the high scalloped collar, that reached her little pink ear, trembled faintly. He saw that a sigh was held back in her throat, and the little hand in the long glove shook as it held the candle. All the fuss of the shirt, of being late, all the talk of friends and relations, their annoyance, his ludicrous position--all suddenly passed away and he was filled with joy and dread. The handsome, stately head-deacon wearing a silver robe and his curly locks standing out at each side of his head, stepped smartly forward, and lifting his stole on two fingers, stood opposite the priest. "Blessed be the name of the Lord," the solemn syllables rang out slowly one after another, setting the air quivering with waves of sound. "Blessed is the name of our God, from the beginning, is now, and ever shall be," the little old priest answered in a submissive, piping voice, still fingering something at the lectern. And the full chorus of the unseen choir rose up, filling the whole church, from the windows to the vaulted roof, with broad waves of melody. It grew stronger, rested for an instant, and slowly died away. They prayed, as they always do, for peace from on high and for salvation, for the Holy Synod, and for the Tsar; they prayed, too, for the servants of God, Konstantin and Ekaterina, now plighting their troth. "Vouchsafe to them love made perfect, peace and help, O Lord, we beseech Thee," the whole church seemed to breathe with the voice of the head deacon. Levin heard the words, and they impressed

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