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Freimaurer 1
Initiation

aus: Krieg und Frieden (online nur englisch verf├╝gbar, ich war zu faul, den deutschen
Text abzutippen, mehr zu
russischen Freimaurern )

"One more question, Count," he said, "which 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 Pierre's 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 small wardrobe in which Pierre noticed garments such as he had never
seen before. Having taken a kerchief from the cupboard, Willarski
bound Pierre's eyes with it and tied it in a knot behind, catching
some hairs painfully in the knot. Then he drew his face down, kissed
him, and taking him by the hand led him forward. The hairs tied in the
knot hurt Pierre and there were lines of pain on his face and a
shamefaced smile. His huge figure, with arms hanging down and with a
puckered, though smiling face, moved after Willarski with uncertain,
timid steps.

Having led him about ten paces, Willarski stopped.

"Whatever happens to you," he said, "you must bear it all manfully
if you have firmly resolved to join our Brotherhood." (Pierre nodded
affirmatively.) "When you hear a knock at the door, you will uncover
your eyes," added Willarski. "I wish you courage and success," and,
pressing Pierre's hand, he went out.

Left alone, Pierre went on smiling in the same way. Once or twice he
shrugged his and raised his hand to the kerchief, as if wishing to
take it off, but let it drop again. The five minutes spent with his
eyes bandaged seemed to him an hour. His arms felt numb, his legs
almost gave way, it seemed to him that he was tired out. He
experienced a variety of most complex sensations. He felt afraid of
what would happen to him and still more afraid of showing his fear. He
felt curious to know what was going to happen and what would be
revealed to him; but most of all, he felt joyful that the moment had
come when he would at last start on that path of regeneration and on
the actively virtuous life of which he had been dreaming since he
met Joseph Alexeevich. Loud knocks were heard at the door. Pierre took
the bandage off his eyes and glanced around him. The room was in black
darkness, only a small lamp was burning inside something white. Pierre
went nearer and saw that the lamp stood on a black table on which
lay an open book. The book was the Gospel, and the white thing with
the lamp inside was a human skull with its cavities and teeth. After
reading the first words of the Gospel: "In the beginning was the
Word and the Word was with God," Pierre went round the table and saw a
large open box filled with something. It was a coffin with bones
inside. He was not at all surprised by what he saw. Hoping to enter on
an entirely new life quite unlike the old one, he expected
everything to be unusual, even more unusual than what he was seeing. A
skull, a coffin, the Gospel- it seemed to him that he had expected all
this and even more. Trying to stimulate his emotions he looked around.
"God, death, love, the brotherhood of man," he kept saying to himself,
associating these words with vague yet joyful ideas. The door opened
and someone came in.

By the dim light, to which Pierre had already become accustomed,
he saw rather short man. Having evidently come from the light into the
darkness, the man paused, then moved with cautious steps toward the
table and placed on it his small leather-gloved hands.

This short man had on a white leather apron which covered his
chest and part of his legs; he had on a kind of necklace above which
rose a high white ruffle, outlining his rather long face which was lit
up from below.

"For what have you come hither?" asked the newcomer, turning in
Pierre's direction at a slight rustle made by the latter. "Why have
you, who do not believe in the truth of the light and who have not
seen the light, come here? What do you seek from us? Wisdom, virtue,
enlightenment?"

At the moment the door opened and the stranger came in, Pierre
felt a sense of awe and veneration such as he had experienced in his
boyhood at confession; he felt himself in the presence of one socially
a complete stranger, yet nearer to him through the brotherhood of man.
With bated breath and beating heart he moved toward the Rhetor (by
which name the brother who prepared a seeker for entrance into the
Brotherhood was known). Drawing nearer, he recognized in the Rhetor
a man he knew, Smolyaninov, and it mortified him to think that the
newcomer was an acquaintance- he wished him simply a brother and a
virtuous instructor. For a long time he could not utter a word, so
that the Rhetor had to repeat his question.

"Yes... I... I... desire regeneration," Pierre uttered with
difficulty.

"Very well," said Smolyaninov, and went on at once: "Have you any
idea of the means by which our holy Order will help you to reach
your aim?" said he quietly and quickly.

"I... hope... for guidance... help... in regeneration," said Pierre,
with a trembling voice and some difficulty in utterance due to his
excitement and to being unaccustomed to speak of abstract matters in
Russian.

"What is your conception of Freemasonry?"

"I imagine that Freemasonry is the fraternity and equality of men
who have virtuous aims," said Pierre, feeling ashamed of the
inadequacy of his words for the solemnity of the moment, as he
spoke. "I imagine..."

"Good!" said the Rhetor quickly, apparently satisfied with this
answer. "Have you sought for means of attaining your aim in religion?"

"No, I considered it erroneous and did not follow it," said
Pierre, so softly that the Rhetor did not hear him and asked him
what he was saying. "I have been an atheist," answered Pierre.

"You are seeking for truth in order to follow its laws in your life,
therefore you seek wisdom and virtue. Is that not so?" said the
Rhetor, after a moment's pause.

"Yes, yes," assented Pierre.

The Rhetor cleared his throat, crossed his gloved hands on his
breast, and began to speak.

"Now I must disclose to you the chief aim of our Order," he said,
"and if this aim coincides with yours, you may enter our Brotherhood
with profit. The first and chief object of our Order, the foundation
on which it rests and which no human power can destroy, is the
preservation and handing on to posterity of a certain important
mystery... which has come down to us from the remotest ages, even from
the first man- a mystery on which perhaps the fate of mankind depends.
But since this mystery is of such a nature that nobody can know or use
it unless he be prepared by long and diligent self-purification, not
everyone can hope to attain it quickly. Hence we have a secondary aim,
that of preparing our members as much as possible to reform their
hearts, to purify and enlighten their minds, by means handed on to
us by tradition from those who have striven to attain this mystery,
and thereby to render them capable of receiving it.

"By purifying and regenerating our members we try, thirdly, to
improve the whole human race, offering it in our members an example of
piety and virtue, and thereby try with all our might to combat the
evil which sways the world. Think this over and I will come to you
again."

"To combat the evil which sways the world..." Pierre repeated, and a
mental image of his future activity in this direction rose in his
mind. He imagined men such as he had himself been a fortnight ago, and
he addressed an edifying exhortation to them. He imagined to himself
vicious and unfortunate people whom he would assist by word and
deed, imagined oppressors whose victims he would rescue. Of the
three objects mentioned by the Rhetor, this last, that of improving
mankind, especially appealed to Pierre. The important mystery
mentioned by the Rhetor, though it aroused his curiosity, did not seem
to him essential, and the second aim, that of purifying and
regenerating himself, did not much interest him because at that moment
he felt with delight that he was already perfectly cured of his former
faults and was ready for all that was good.