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 bride's 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 trains. Someone stooped down and straightened out the bride's train. The church became so still that the drops of wax could be heard falling from the candles.

The little old priest in his calotte, 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 Arkadyevich approached him cautiously, whispered something, and, giving a wink at 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 who had confessed Levin. He looked with weary and melancholy eyes at the bride and bridegroom, sighed, and, putting his right hand out from under his vestment, blessed the bridegroom with it, and also, with a shade of solicitous tenderness, laid his 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 protodeacon 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, as now, and forever and aye,' 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 Czar; 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 protodeacon.

Levin heard the words, and they impressed him. `How did they guess that it is help, just help that one wants?' he thought, recalling all his fears and doubts of late. `What do I know? what can I do in this fearful business,' he thought, `without help? Yes, it is help I want now.'

When the deacon had finished the liturgical prayer, the priest turned to the bridal pair with his book: `Eternal God, who joinest together in love them that were separate,' he read in a gentle, piping voice, `who hast ordained the union of holy wedlock that cannot be set asunder, Thou who didst bless Isaac and Rebecca

  By PanEris using Melati.

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