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Building a House - Studies Interrupted

A hand laid upon his shoulder made him start; he raised his head - his father was behind him. Paul threw himself into his arms at once, sobbing.

"Come, Paul, my boy, calm yourself,"said M. de Gan delau to him."We are living in a time of trials; who knows what are reserved for us? For us, indeed, they have scarcely begun. Think how much suffering there is in France now ! What are our anxieties and griefs compared with the anguish suffered by others ! Reserve your tears; perhaps you will have only too frequent occa sion for them. We need not be in a hurry to despond. I observed you going in this direction, and followed you, anticipating your melancholy feelings. But, after all, what is there to grieve over? Nothing, or only a trifle. Set to work again courageously, alone, since our friend has been obliged to quit us to fulfil a sacred duty. He will return; you have learned to love and esteem him more : prove to him that you are worthy of the affection he has exhibited to you by showing him some thoroughly good work when he comes back.

"Certainly he would be touched by your grief, of which his absence is to a great extent the cause; be assured that he would be still more touched to see that you had scrupulously followed his last instructions, and that his presence is not the only inducement to make you like work." Father and son regained the house. The counsels of M. de Gandelau, and the pains he took to give Paul a glimpse of brighter days, had by degrees restored to him, if not gaiety, at least tranquillity of mind and the desire to do his best. M. de Gandelau most dreaded for his son a feeling of despondency - that vague and sterile sadness on which youth sometimes loves to feed, and which enervates the most gifted minds.

He therefore entered Paul's room, and taking up Vitru vius, which had been left on the table, began to look through it. M. de Gandelau was, a good scholar, though he never made a parade of his acquirements. They were a possession he reserved for himself. Familiar with the classics, he could read the text of Vitruvius, if not explain it architecturally in all its parts."Stay,"said he to Paul,"here is a chapter which must be interesting, and which may teach you many things; it is Chapter VIII.: De generibus structure et earum qualitatibus, mods* s ac locis. How would you translate this title?" "Of the kinds of constructions, and their qualities, accord ing to customs and Paul.

"Yes, that is the translation. But on looking through this chapter, I see that masonry only is considered; the author, in making use of the word structura, seems to me to have wished only to treat of constructions of brick or stone. It would be better, doubtless, to render the passage thus : Of the different kinds of masonry, and the properties of this structure according to local usages and circumstances.

"Well, set to work to translate this eighth chapter. I see that the author has described the kinds of masonry whose use he recommends on such or such occasions. You will therefore have to illustrate your translation by sketches. Come ! take courage, and imagine your cousin

at hand ready to rectify your mistakes." Paul therefore set himself to work, endeavouring to embody in sketches each of Vitruvius's descriptions. This gave him no little trouble, of course; many words were new to him, and the dictionary helped him only very imperfectly when it was necessary to know their exact sense. Nevertheless, by degrees the work acquired a charm for him. To further his comprehension of the author he tried to recall to mind buildings he had seen; he remembered some instructions given by Eugene; and put on paper, to the best of his ability, opposite the trans lation, sketches tolerably drawn, if they were not the true expression of the descriptions -in the original.

Thus, during the end of the month of December an d the commencement of January, he succeeded in translating a dozen chapters which his father selected for him, giving illustrations of the text. This gave him a great desire to become acquainted with the buildings existing in his author's times, and he examined attentively a set of en gravings by Piranesi descriptive of ancient Rome, and which his father possessed. M. de Gandelau had advised Paul to write down the questions which his reading suggested to him, so as to submit them to Eugene on his return.

Thus the days passed rapidly away : and although sad ness and anxiety darkened every hour, yet, as M. de Gandelau was incessantly occupied in relieving the misery around him and organizing the struggle against the in vaders, while Paul was working with energy and seeing his results accumulating, and Madame de Gandelau had organized a workroom in which the women of the village were engaged in providing linen for our unfortunate and destitute soldiers, when the evening arrived, the mem bers of the family could still assemble with that feeling of secret joy which duty accomplished procures. Towards the close of January the inmates of the chateau learned from the newspapers that an armistice had been signed. Though this news announced the end of the struggle, it presaged the commencement of the severest humiliations. It produced, therefore, a sad, rather than consolatory im pression.

A few days afterwards Eugene returned to the chateau. It need not be said that he was welcomed with open arms, and that Paul especially manifested his joy. They talked of resuming the works. The last letters of Madame Marie announced that she would be home again towards the end of the following winter. These letters, filled as they were with expressions of the anxiety - the anguish - felt by the writer in her absence from France, said nothing of the future house. If then it could be finished, the surprise would be complete. While Eugene was enjoying the rest he so much needed, he looked through and revised Paurs translation, and corrected his sketches. A fair copy was made of the whole; and the first days of March drew on when it was decided to recommence the works.

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paul, gandelau, days, eugene and set