`Well, we shall see which of them will step on the rug first. I warned Kitty.'

`It will make no difference,' said Madame Lvova, `we're all obedient wives; it's in our family.'

`Oh, I stepped on the rug before Vassilii on purpose. And you, Dolly?'

Dolly stood beside them; she heard them, but she did not answer. She was deeply moved. The tears stood in her eyes, and she could not have spoken without crying. She was rejoicing over Kitty and Levin; going back in thought to her own wedding, she glanced at the radiant figure of Stepan Arkadyevich, forgot all the present, and remembered only her own innocent love. She recalled not herself only, but all her women friends and acquaintances. She thought of them on the one day of their triumph, when they had stood like Kitty under the wedding crown, with love and hope and dread in their hearts, renouncing the past, and stepping forward into the mysterious future. Among the brides that came back to her memory, she thought too of her darling Anna, of whose proposed divorce she had just been hearing. And she had stood just as innocent, in orange blossoms and bridal veil. And now? `It's terribly strange,' she said to herself.

It was not merely the sisters, the women friends, and the female relations of the bride, who were following every detail of the ceremony. Women who were quite strangers, mere spectators, were watching it excitedly, holding their breath, in fear of losing a single movement or expression of the bride and bridegroom, and angrily not answering, often not hearing, the remarks of the callous men, who kept making joking or irrelevant observations.

`Why has she been crying? Is she being married against her will?'

`Against her will - to a fine fellow like that? A Prince, isn't he?'

`Is that her sister in the white satin? Just listen how the deacon booms out, ``and obey!''

`Are the choristers from the church of the Miracle?'

`No - from the Synodal school.'

`I'm told - he's going to take her home to his country place at once. I asked the footman. Awfully rich, they say. That's why she's being married to him.'

`No - they're a well-matched pair.'

`I say, Marya Vassilyevna, you claimed those flyaway crinolines were not being worn. Just look at her in the puce dress - an ambassador's wife, they say she is - see, how her skirt bounces!... So and so!'

`What a pretty dear the bride is - like a lamb decked with flowers! Well, say what you will, we women feel for our sister.'

Such were the comments in the crowd of gazing women who had succeeded in slipping in at the church doors.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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