the door, and Mademoiselle Linon vanished from Levin's eyes, and a joyful terror came over him at the nearness of his happiness. Mademoiselle Linon was in great haste, and, leaving him, went out at the other door. Directly she had gone out, swift, swift light steps sounded on the parquet, and his bliss, his life, his own self - what was best in himself, what he had so long sought and longed for - was quickly, so quickly approaching him. She did not walk, but seemed, by some unseen force, to float toward him.

He saw nothing but her clear, truthful eyes, frightened by the same bliss of love that flooded his heart. Those eyes were shining nearer and nearer, blinding him with their light of love. She stopped close to him, touching him. Her hands rose and dropped on his shoulders.

She had done all she could - she had run up to him and given herself up entirely, shy and happy. He put his arms round her, and pressed his lips to her mouth, which sought his kiss.

She too had not slept all night, and had been expecting him all the morning.

Her mother and father had consented without demur, and were happy in her happiness. She had been waiting for him. She wanted to be the first to tell him her happiness and his. She had got ready to see him alone, and had been delighted at the idea, and had been shy and ashamed, and did not know herself what she was to do. She had heard his steps and voice, and had waited at the door for Mademoiselle Linon to go. Mademoiselle Linon had gone away. Without thinking, without asking herself how and what, she had gone up to him, and did as she was doing.

`Let us go to mamma!' she said, taking him by the hand. For a long while he could say nothing, not so much because he was afraid of desecrating the loftiness of his emotion by a word, as that every time he tried to say something, instead of words he felt that tears of happiness were welling up. He took her hand and kissed it.

`Can it be true?' he said at last in a choked voice. `I can't believe you love me, dear!'

She smiled at that `dear,' and at the timidity with which he glanced at her.

`Yes!' she said significantly, deliberately. `I am so happy!'

Without letting go his hand, she went into the drawing room. The Princess, seeing them, breathed quickly, and immediately began to cry, and then immediately began to laugh, and, with a vigorous step Levin had not expected, ran up to him, and hugging his head, kissed him, wetting his cheeks with her tears.

`So it is all settled! I am glad. Love her. I am glad... Kitty!'

`You've not been long settling things,' said the old Prince, trying to seem unmoved; but Levin noticed that his eyes were wet when he turned to him. `I've long - always - wished for this!' said the Prince, taking Levin by the arm and drawing him toward himself. `Even when this little featherhead fancied...'

`Papa!' shrieked Kitty, and shut his mouth with her hands.

`Well, I won't!' he said. `I'm very, very... plea... Oh, what a fool I am....'

He embraced Kitty, kissed her face, her hand, her face again, and made the sign of the cross over her.

And there came over Levin a new feeling of love for this man, the old Prince, till then so little known to him, when he saw how slowly and tenderly Kitty kissed his muscular hand.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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