ON the day of the wedding, according to the Russian custom (the princess and Darya Alexandrovna insisted on strictly keeping all the customs), Levin did not see his betrothed, and dined at his hotel with three bachelor friends, casually brought together at his rooms. These were Sergey Ivanovitch, Katavasov, a university friend, now professor of natural science, whom Levin had met in the street and insisted on taking home with him, and Tchirikov, his best man, a Moscow conciliation-board judge, Levins companion in his bear-hunts. The dinner was a very merry one: Sergey Ivanovitch was in his happiest mood, and was much amused by Katavasovs originality. Katavasov, feeling his originality was appreciated and understood, made the most of it. Tchirikov always gave a lively and good-humoured support to conversation of any sort.
See, now, said Katavasov, drawling his words from a habit acquired in the lecture-room, what a capable fellow was our friend Konstantin Dmitritch. Im not speaking of present company, for hes absent. At the time he left the university he was fond of science, took an interest in humanity; now one-half of his abilities is devoted to deceiving himself, and the other to justifying the deceit.
Oh no, Im not an enemy of matrimony. Im in favour of division of labour. People who can do nothing else ought to rear people while the rest work for their happiness and enlightenment. Thats how I look at it. To muddle up two trades is the error of the amateur; Im not one of their number.
Oh, well, the windows open. Lets start off this instant to Tver! Theres a big she-bear; one can go right up to the lair. Seriously, lets go by the five oclock! And here let them do what they like, said Tchirikov smiling.
No; if so, I should have felt a little, apart from my feeling (he could not say love before them) and happiness, a certain regret at losing my freedom On the contrary, I am glad at the very loss of my freedom.
Awful! Its a hopeless case! said Katavasov. Well, lets drink to his recovery, or wish that a hundredth part of his dreams may be realisedand that would be happiness such as never has been seen on earth!
But do I know her ideas, her wishes, her feelings? some voice suddenly whispered to him. The smile died away from his face, and he grew thoughtful. And suddenly a strange feeling came upon him. There came over him a dread and doubtdoubt of everything.
What if she does not love me? What if shes marrying me simply to be married? What if she doesnt see herself what shes doing? he asked himself. She may come to her senses, and only when she is being married realise that she does not and cannot love me. And strange, most evil thoughts of her began to come to him. He was jealous of Vronsky, as he had been a year ago, as though the evening he had seen her with Vronsky had been yesterday. He suspected she had not told him everything.
He jumped up quickly. No, this cant go on! he said to himself in despair. Ill go to her; Ill ask her; Ill say for the last time: we are free, and hadnt we better stay so? Anythings better than endless misery, disgrace, unfaithfulness! With despair in his heart and bitter anger against all men, against himself, against her, he went out of the hotel and drove to her house.
He found her in one of the back-rooms. She was sitting on a chest and making some arrangements with her maid, sorting over heaps of dresses of different colours, spread on the backs of chairs and on the floor.
Ah! she cried, seeing him, and beaming with delight. Kostya! Konstantin Dmitritch! (These latter days she used these names almost alternately.) I didnt expect you! Im going through my wardrobe to see whats for whom
You can go, Dunyasha, Ill call you presently, said Kitty. Kostya, whats the matter? she asked, definitely adopting this familiar name as soon as the maid had gone out. She noticed his strange face, agitated and gloomy, and a panic came over her.
Kitty! Im in torture. I cant suffer alone, he said with despair in his voice, standing before her and looking imploringly into her eyes. He saw already from her loving, truthful face, that nothing could come of what he had meant to say, but yet he wanted her to reassure him herself. Ive come to say that theres still time. This can all be stopped and set right.
What I have said a thousand times over, and cant help thinking that Im not worthy of you. You couldnt consent to marry me. Think a little. Youve made a mistake. Think it over thoroughly. You cant love me. If better say so, he said, not looking at her. I shall be wretched. Let people say what they like; anythings better than misery Far better now while theres still time.
Youre out of your mind! she cried, turning crimson with vexation. But his face was so piteous, that she restrained her vexation, and flinging some clothes off an armchair, she sat down beside him. What are you thinking? tell me all.
When the princess came into the room five minutes later, she found them completely reconciled. Kitty had not simply assured him that she loved him, but had gone so farin answer to his question, what she loved him foras to explain what for. She told him that she loved him because she understood him completely, because she knew what he would like, and because everything he liked was good. And this seemed to him perfectly clear. When the princess came to them, they were sitting side by side on the chest, sorting the dresses and disputing over Kittys wanting to give Dunyasha the brown dress she had been wearing when Levin proposed to her, while he insisted that that dress must never be given away, but Dunyasha must have the blue one.
Levin, guilty and shamefaced, but pacified, went back to his hotel. His brother, Darya Alexandrovna, and Stepan Arkadyevitch, all in full dress, were waiting for him to bless him with the holy picture. There was no time to lose. Darya Alexandrovna had to drive home again to fetch her curled and pomaded son, who was to carry the holy pictures after the bride. Then a carriage had to be sent for the best man, and another that would take Sergey Ivanovitch away would have to be sent back. Altogether there were a great many most complicated matters to be considered and arranged. One thing was unmistakable, that there must be no delay, as it was already half-past six.
Nothing special happened at the ceremony of benediction with the holy picture. Stepan Arkadyevitch stood in a comically solemn pose beside his wife, took the holy picture, and telling Levin to bow down to the ground, he blessed him with his kindly, ironical smile, and kissed him three times; Darya Alexandrovna did the same, and immediately was in a hurry to get off, and again plunged into the intricate question of the destinations of the various carriages.