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
“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.