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Chapter 6


When the ceremony of plighting troth was over, the beadle spread
before the 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 and tenor sang responses to one another, and
the priest turning round pointed the bridal pair to the pink silk
rug. Though both had often heard a great deal about the saying
that the one who steps first on the rug will be the head of the
house, neither Levin nor Kitty were capable of recollecting it,
as they took the few steps towards it. They did not hear the
loud remarks and disputes that followed, some maintaining he had
stepped on first, and others that both had stepped on together.

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

They prayed: "Endow them with continence and fruitfulness, and
vouchsafe that 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 this cause a man shall leave father and
mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they two shall be one
flesh," and that "this is a great mystery"; they prayed that God
would make them fruitful and bless them, like Isaac and Rebecca,
Joseph, Moses and Zipporah, and that they might look upon their
children's children. "That's all splendid," thought Kitty,
catching the words, "all that's just as it should be," and a
smile of happiness, unconsciously reflected in everyone who
looked at her, beamed on her radiant face.

"Put it on quite," voices were heard urging when the priest had
put on the wedding crowns and Shtcherbatsky, his hand shaking in
its three-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 her face, and unconsciously her feeling infected him. He too,
like her felt glad and happy.

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

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

Taking the crowns off their heads the priest read the last prayer
and congratulated the young people. Levin looked at Kitty, and
he had never before seen her look as she did. She was charming
with the new radiance of happiness in her face. Levin longed to
say something to her, but he did not know whether it was all
over. The priest got him out of his difficulty. 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,
and with a new strange sense of closeness, walked out of the
church. He did not believe, he could not believe, that it was
true. It was only when their wondering and timid eyes met that
he believed in it, because he felt that they were one.

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



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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