grand master addressed him. He told him that he must try never to stain the whiteness of that apron, which symbolised strength and purity. Then of the unexplained spade he told him to toil with it at clearing his heart from vice, and with forbearing patience smoothing the way in the heart of his neighbour. Then of the first pair of gloves he said that he could not know yet their significance, but must treasure them; of the second pair he said that he must put them on at meetings; and finally of the third pair—they were women’s gloves—he said:

“Dear brother, and these woman’s gloves are destined for you too. Give them to the woman whom you shall honour beyond all others. That gift will be a pledge of your purity of heart to her whom you select as a worthy helpmeet in masonry.” After a brief pause, he added: “But beware, dear brother, that these gloves never deck hands that are impure.”

While the grand master uttered the last words it seemed to Pierre that he was embarrassed. Pierre was even more embarrassed; he blushed to the point of tears, as children blush, looking about him uneasily, and an awkward silence followed.

This silence was broken by one of the brothers who, leading Pierre to the rug, began reading out of a manuscript book the interpretation of all the figures delineated upon it: the sun, the moon, the hammer, the balance, the spade, the rough stone and the shaped stone, the past, the three windows, etc. Then Pierre was shown his appointed place, he was shown the signs of the lodge, told the password, and at last permitted to sit down. The grand master began reading the exhortation. The exhortation was very long, and Pierre in his joy, his emotion, and his embarrassment was hardly in a condition to understand what was read. He only grasped the last words of the exhortation, which stuck in his memory.

“In our temples we know of no distinctions,” read the grand master, “but those between virtue and vice. Beware of making any difference that may transgress against equality. Fly to the succour of a brother whoever he may be, exhort him that goeth astray, lift up him that falleth, and cherish not malice nor hatred against a brother. Be thou friendly and courteous. Kindle in all hearts the fire of virtue. Share thy happiness with thy neighbour, and never will envy trouble that pure bliss. Forgive thy enemy, revenge not thyself on him but by doing him good. Fulfilling in this wise the highest law, thou wilt regain traces of the ancient grandeur thou hadst lost,” he concluded, and getting up he embraced Pierre and kissed him.

Pierre looked round with tears of joy in his eyes, not knowing how to answer the congratulations and greetings from acquaintances with which he was surrounded. He did not recognise any acquaintances; in all these men he saw only brothers, and he burned with impatience to get to work with them. The grand master tapped with his hammer, all sat down in their places, and one began reading a sermon on the necessity of meekness.

The grand master proposed that the last duty be performed, and the great dignitary whose duty it was to collect the alms began making the round of all the brothers. Pierre would have liked to give to the list of alms all the money he had in the world, but he feared thereby to sin by pride, and only wrote down the same sum as the others.

The sitting was over, and it seemed to Pierre on returning home that he had come back from a long journey on which he had spent dozens of years, and had become utterly changed, and had renounced his old habits and manner of life.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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