Chapter 12

IN THE EVENING Prince Andrey and Pierre got into the coach and drove to Bleak Hills. Prince Andrey watched Pierre and broke the silence from time to time with speeches that showed he was in a good humour.

Pointing to the fields, he told him of the improvements he was making in the management of his land.

Pierre preserved a gloomy silence, replying only by monosyllables, and apparently plunged in his own thoughts.

Pierre was reflecting that Prince Andrey was unhappy, that he was in error, that he did not know the true light, and that he ought to come to his aid; enlighten him and lift him up. But as soon as he began to deliberate on what he would say, he foresaw that Prince Andrey with one word, one argument, would annihilate everything in his doctrine; and he was afraid to begin, afraid of exposing his most cherished and holiest ideas to possible ridicule.

“No, what makes you think so?” Pierre began all at once, lowering his head and looking like a butting bull; “what makes you think so? You ought not to think so.”

“Think so, about what?” asked Prince Andrey in surprise.

“About life. About the destination of man. It can’t be so. I used to think like that, and I have been saved, do you know by what?—freemasonry. No, you must not smile. Freemasonry is not a religious sect, nor mere ceremonial rites, as I used to suppose; freemasonry is the best, the only expression of the highest, eternal aspects of humanity.” And he began expounding to Prince Andrey freemasonry, as he understood it.

He said that freemasonry is the teaching of Christianity, freed from its political and religious fetters; the teaching of equality, fraternity, and love.

“Our holy brotherhood is the only thing that has real meaning in life; all the rest is a dream,” said Pierre. “You understand, my dear fellow, that outside this brotherhood all is filled with lying and falsehood, and I agree with you that there’s nothing left for an intelligent and good-hearted man but, like you, to get through his life, only trying not to hurt others. But make our fundamental convictions your own, enter into our brotherhood, give yourself up to us, let us guide you, and you will at once feel yourself, as I felt, a part of a vast, unseen chain, the origin of which is lost in the skies,” said Pierre, looking straight before him.

Prince Andrey listened to Pierre’s words in silence. Several times he did not catch words from the noise of the wheels, and he asked Pierre to repeat what he had missed. From the peculiar light that glowed in Prince Andrey’s eyes, and from his silence, Pierre saw that his words were not in vain, that Prince Andrey would not interrupt him nor laugh at what he said.

They reached a river that had overflowed its banks, and had to cross it by a ferry. While the coach and horses waited they crossed on the ferry. Prince Andrey with his elbow on the rail gazed mutely over the stretch of water shining in the setting sun.

“Well, what do you think about it?” asked Pierre. “Why are you silent?”

“What do I think? I have heard what you say. That’s all right,” said Prince Andrey. “But you say, enter into our brotherhood, and we will show you the object of life and the destination of man, and the laws that govern the universe. But who are we?—men? How do you know it all? Why is it I alone don’t see what you see? You see on earth the dominion of good and truth, but I don’t see it.”

Pierre interrupted him. “Do you believe in a future life?” he asked.

“In a future life?” repeated Prince Andrey.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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