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Building a House - Order in Finishing the Work

At the end of September the joiners' work was con siderably advanced, and the roofing quite finished, so that soon the painting alone would remain to occupy attention. The memoranda were in due order, so that the accounts could be readily made out.

Meantime, M. de Gandelau was thinking of sending his son back to the Lyceum at the end of the vacation; it was necessary for him to complete his studies; and though R 2 this year had not been lost to Paul, he was still too young to begin to study architecture, supposing he intended to adopt that profession. The question was therefore brought forward one evening towards the end of September, en famille. Eugene remarked, and with reason, that Paul had learned all he could in works on this small scale; that if he were to remain longer in the country he would see the painters prepare the grounds and put on the successive coats of paint, but this could not be of much use to him. Besides, as Madame Marie was not to return till the spring, it was desirable to allow the building to dry before pro ceeding with the interior decorations and upholstery.

The idea of returning to college was not very agree able to Paul after a year of this active life, passed as it was almost entirely in the open air; but reflection taught him that it would not be right to do otherwise. Moreover, Monsieur and Madame de Gandelau had business to attend to in Paris, and would pass a part of the winter there.

It was therefore decided that Eugene should remain during the time required for getting the work finished, so that no risks should be incurred in the winter, and that Paul should set out with his parents at the beginning of October.

The painting would not be begun till after the severe frosts. Eugene undertook to have this operation superin tended, and to visit the works himself during his stay at Chateauroux, where business of some importance required his presence towards the end of the winter.

All being thus arranged, Paul, with a somewhat heavy heart, quitted his beloved house on the znd of October, and returned to the Lyceum. Most of his comrades, like himself, had passed nearly the whole year away from Paris, and their studies had been suspended; but very few had employed their time usefully. So when Paul related what he had done during these twelve months, many laughed at him, and some did not believe him; but from that time forward he was called by no other name than Monsieur l'Architecte.

During this year he had made some advance in learning to reason, in reflecting before he spoke, and in listening patiently to those who knew more than himself, so he found his old companions rather shallow and trifling. On the occasion of a holiday he made. a remark to this effect to his father, with a certain mixture of vanity and regret. M. de Gandelau guessed his mood of mind, and did not let slip this occasion of correcting the reprehensible side of his thoughts.

"It is possible,"said he,"that your companions have not had the good fortune you have enjoyed of finding some one to take the trouble to set them to active work, and Nach them something of the practical side of life.

But it would be foolish in you, and decidedly hurtful to your mind and character, to despise those who are less informed than yourself in regard to a single branch of knowledge. Who knows whether in other 'matters they have not acquired a superiority you do not appreciate? It should not be our object in the world (and the Lyceum is a little world not unlike the great one, to shut ourselves up in our own knowledge and thus flatter our vanity, but to discover that of others and endeavour to profit by it. It should not be our object to shine by our knowledge, or fancied knowledge, and so occasion envy on the part of the foolish, and a smile on that of people of sense, but to elicit the knowledge possessed by others. This course of conduct secures us a double advantage : we avoid mak ing enemies, and we increase our store of knowledge.

"It is not at all surprising that your companions know less than you about the building of a house; but you must allow that your knowledge of the matter is but small; and perhaps on other subjects they have more correct and com plete ideas than you have. It would have been ridiculous to conceal from your companions the nature of your occu pations during your stay in the country; but why should you make much of it? If any of them who has a par ticular desire for information should put questions to you about it, and if you see that he is really interested in your answers, satisfy his desire; but in the presence of people who care nothing about the matter, be reserved, or else you will get laughed at. There is a vulgar phrase which exactly expresses this fact. We say : people are fond of"trotting out"those who are vain of their knowledge, that is, they get them to talk, not to satisfy a legitimate curiosity, but to make fun of them. Bear this in mind, for it is true in the Lyceum as well as everywhere else.

"If your mind is really more developed than that of your comrades, there is an easy way of making the fact apparent to all, that is, by acquiring more rapidly than they do the instruction equally offered to all. Get to the top of all your classes, and nobody will laugh at you; but all will observe that this year, which has been a sterile one to so many others, has been really a fruitful one to you." Paul took the hint, and when he returned to the Lyceum he left off talking about architecture, and gave his mind to the work before him. Consequently, he proved that his mind had been developed, and on New Year's Day brought home most satisfactory testimonials of progress.

The nickname his schoolfellows had bestowed on him, however, still stuck to him.

"Ah, well !"he would say to himself, when they called him M. l'Architecte;"I shall make good their words; for I am resolved to become an architect in earnest."

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knowledge, paul, mind, lyceum and companions