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War And Peace 207

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War And Peace

Pierre, in a childlike, hesitating voice. "I thank you. I agree with all you have said. But do not suppose me to be so bad. With my whole soul I wish to be what you would have me be, but I have never had help from anyone.... But it is I, above all, who am to blame for everything. Help me, teach me, and perhaps I may..." Pierre could not go on. He gulped and turned away. The Mason remained silent for a long time, evidently considering. "Help comes from God alone," he said, "but such measure of help as our Order can bestow it will render you, my dear sir. You are going to Petersburg. Hand this to Count Willarski" (he took out his notebook and wrote a few words on a large sheet of paper folded in four). "Allow me to give you a piece of advice. When you reach the capital, first of all devote some time to solitude and self-examination and do not resume your former way of life. And now I wish you a good journey, my dear sir," he added, seeing that his servant had entered... "and success." The traveler was Joseph Alexeevich Bazdeev, as Pierre saw from the postmasters book. Bazdeev had been one of the best-known Freemasons and Martinists, even in Novikovs time. For a long while after he had gone, Pierre did not go to bed or order horses but paced up and down the room, pondering over his vicious past, and with a rapturous sense of beginning anew pictured to himself the blissful, irreproachable, virtuous future that seemed to him so easy. It seemed to him that he had been vicious only because he had somehow forgotten how good it is to be virtuous. Not a trace of his former doubts remained in his soul. He firmly believed in the possibility of the brotherhood of men united in the aim of supporting one another in the path of virtue, and that is how Freemasonry presented itself to him. CHAPTER III On reaching Petersburg Pierre did not let anyone know of his arrival, he went nowhere and spent whole days in reading Thomas a Kempis, whose book had been sent him by someone unknown. One thing he continually realized as he read that book: the joy, hitherto unknown to him, of believing in the possibility of attaining perfection, and in the possibility of active brotherly love among men, which Joseph Alexeevich had revealed to him. A week after his arrival, the young Polish count, Willarski, whom Pierre had known slightly in Petersburg society, came into his room one evening in the official and ceremonious manner in which Dolokhovs second had called on him, and, having closed the door behind him and satisfied himself that there was nobody else in the room, addressed Pierre. "I have come to you with a message and an offer, Count," he said without sitting down. "A person of very high standing in our Brotherhood has made application for you to be received into our Order before the usual term and has proposed to me to be your sponsor. I consider it a sacred duty to fulfill that persons wishes. Do you wish to enter the Brotherhood of Freemasons under my sponsorship?" The cold, austere tone of this man, whom he had almost always before met at balls, amiably smiling in the society of the most brilliant women, surprised Pierre. "Yes, I do wish it," said he. Willarski bowed his head. "One more question, Count," he said, "which I beg you to answer in all sincerity--not as a future Mason but as an honest man: have you renounced your former convictions--do you believe in God?" Pierre considered. "Yes... yes, I believe in God," he said. "In that case..." began Willarski, but Pierre interrupted him. "Yes, I do believe in God," he repeated. "In that case we can go," said Willarski. "My carriage is at your service." Willarski was silent throughout the drive. To Pierres inquiries as to what he must do and how he should answer, Willarski only replied that brothers more worthy than he would test him and that Pierre had only to tell the truth. Having entered the courtyard of a large house where the Lodge had its headquarters, and having ascended a dark staircase, they entered a small well-lit anteroom where they took off their cloaks without the aid of a servant. From there they passed into another room. A man in strange attire appeared at the door. Willarski, stepping toward him, said something to him in French in an undertone and then went up to a

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