Chapter 4

`They've come!' `Here he is!' `Which one?' `Rather young, eh?' `Why, my dear soul, she looks more dead than alive!' were the comments in the crowd, when Levin, meeting his bride in the entrance, walked with her into the church.

Stepan Arkadyevich told his wife the cause of the delay, and the guests were whispering it with smiles to one another. Levin saw nothing and no one; he did not take his eyes off his bride.

Everyone said she had lost her looks dreadfully of late, and was not nearly as pretty on her wedding day as usual; but Levin did not think so. He looked at her hair done up high, with the long white veil and white flowers and the high, scalloped de Medici collar, that in such a maidenly fashion hid her long neck at the sides and only showed it in front, and her strikingly slender figure, and it seemed to him that she looked better than ever - not because these flowers, this veil, this gown from Paris added anything to her beauty; but because, in spite of the elaborate sumptuousness of her attire, the expression of her sweet face, of her eyes, of her lips was still her own characteristic expression of guileless truthfulness.

`I was beginning to think you meant to run away,' she said, and smiled to him.

What happened to me is so stupid I'm ashamed to speak of it!' he said, reddening, and he was obliged to turn to Sergei Ivanovich, who came up to him.

`This is a pretty story of yours about the shirt!' said Sergei Ivanovich, shaking his head and smiling.

`Yes, yes!' answered Levin, without an idea of what they were talking about.

`Now, Kostia, you have to decide,' said Stepan Arkadyevich with an air of mock dismay, `a weighty question. You are at this moment just in the humor to appreciate all its gravity. They ask me, are they to light the candles that have been lighted before or candles that have never been lighted? It's a matter of ten roubles,' he added, relaxing his lips into a smile. `I have decided, but I was afraid you might not agree.'

Levin saw it was a joke, but he could not smile.

`Well, how's it to be then - unused or used candles? - that is the question.'

`Yes, yes, unused ones.'

`Oh, I'm very glad. The question's decided!' said Stepan Arkadyevich, smiling. `How silly men become, though, in this situation,' he said to Chirikov, when Levin, after looking absently at him, had moved back to his bride.

`Kitty, mind you're the first to step on the carpet,' said Countess Nordstone, coming up. `You're a fine person!' she said to Levin.

`Aren't you frightened, eh?' said Marya Dmitrievna, an old aunt.

`Are you cold? You're pale. Stop a minute, stoop down,' said Kitty's sister, Madame Lvova, and with her plump, pretty hands she smilingly set straight the flowers on her head.

Dolly came up, tried to say something, but could not speak, cried, and then laughed naturally.

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 porch of the church. The priest turned to Levin saying something. Levin did not hear what the priest said.

`Take the bride's hand and lead her up,' the best man said to Levin.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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