ON REACHING PETERSBURG, Pierre let no one know of his arrival, went out to see nobody, and spent whole days in reading Thomas à Kempis, a book which had been sent him, he did not know from whom. One thing, and one thing only, Pierre thoroughly understood in reading that book; he understood what he had hitherto known nothing of, all the bliss of believing in the possibility of attaining perfection, and in the possibility of brotherly and active love between men, revealed to him by Osip Alexyevitch. A week after his arrival, the young Polish count, Villarsky, whom Pierre knew very slightly in Petersburg society, came one evening into his room with the same official and ceremonious air with which Dolohovs second had called on him. Closing the door behind him, and assuring himself that there was nobody in the room but Pierre, he addressed him:
I have come to you with a message and a suggestion, count, he said to him, not sitting down. A personage of very high standing in our brotherhood has been interceding for you to be admitted into our brotherhood before the usual term, and has asked me to be your sponsor. I regard it as a sacred duty to carry out that persons wishes. Do you wish under my sponsorship to enter the brotherhood of freemasons?
Pierre was impressed by the cold and austere tone of this man, whom he had almost always seen before at balls wearing an agreeable smile, in the society of the most brilliant women.
Yes, I do wish it, said Pierre.
Villarsky bent his head.
One more question, count, he said, to which I beg you, not as a future mason, but as an honest man (galant homme) to answer me in all sincerity: have you renounced your former convictions? do you believe in God?
Pierre thought a moment.
Yes yes, I do believe in God, he said.
In that case Villarsky was beginning, but Pierre interrupted him.
Yes, I believe in God, he said once more.
In that case, we can go, said Villarsky. My carriage is at your disposal.
Throughout the drive Villarsky was silent. In answer to Pierres inquiries, what he would have to do, and how he would have to answer, Villarsky simply said that brothers, more worthy than he, would prove him, and that Pierre need do nothing but tell the truth.
They drove in at the gates of a large house, where the lodge had its quarters, and, passing up a dark staircase, entered a small, lighted ante-room, where they took off their overcoats without the assistance of servants. From the ante-room they walked into another room. A man in strange attire appeared at the door. Villarsky, going in to meet him, said something to him in French in a low voice, and went up to a small cupboard, where Pierre noticed garments unlike any he had seen before. Taking a handkerchief from the cupboard, Villarsky put it over Pierres eyes and tied it in a knot behind, catching his hair painfully in the knot. Then he drew him towards himself, kissed him, and taking him by the hand led him away somewhere. Pierre had been hurt by his hair being pulled in the knot: he puckered up his face from the pain, and smiled with vague shame. His huge figure with his arms hanging at his sides, and his face puckered up and smiling, moved after Villarsky with timid and uncertain steps.
After leading him for about ten steps, Villarsky stopped.
Whatever happens to you, said he, you must endure all with good courage if you are firmly resolved to enter our brotherhood. (Pierre answered affirmatively by an inclination of his head.) When you hear a
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