BUILDING A HOUSE - THE HOUSE-WARMING.
Matters had been proceeding according to arrangement; the painters' work, begun' at the commencement of Feb ruary, in fine weather, was finished in April, and likewise all the accessories. M. de Gandelau, who had returned to his estate at the end of January, had caused the small park round the house to be planted, and had ordered the most indispensable furniture, wishing to leave his daughter to make choice herself of those articles which would express her own particular taste.
Madame Marie had announced April as the time of her return, and subsequently May. In the correspondence between her mother and herself nothing had been said about the house since the war. Madame Marie had pro bably not regarded as serious what had been written to her respecting it; and the disastrous events of the years 1870 and 1871 seemed to have made all parties forget the project.
Paul had set his heart on a surprise, and had entreated Madame de Gandelau to say nothing about the house to her daughter. And we may be sure that Madame de Gandelau had readily acquiesced in his wish.
They therefore wrote to Madame Marie that the family would not assemble at the chateau till Whitsuntide, and that as her father had some journeys in prospect in the interior, she need not hurry herself about returning to France before that date. Madame de Gandelau received, on the 8th of May, a letter informing her that her daughter and her husband would reach the station nearest to the chateau on the morning of the 19th, Whit Sunday.
Great was Paul's joy when he received the news. He would be able to be at home and enjoy his sister's sur prise, for he had been sadly afraid she might come while he was at the Lyceum. That would have been a dread ful disappointment to him. So he worked harder than ever during the days between that and Whitsuntide ! He had set his heart on giving pleasure to all at home by carrying off one of the highest prizes.
The holidays impatiently waited for, at length arrived. M. de Gandelau, on account of the distance, and Paul's satisfactory progress, had obtained permission for his son to return on Saturday morning. Paul therefore reached
the chateau at noon, after more than seven months' absence. We need not state that Eugene had been invited to this family fête. Paul would hardly take time to eat his breakfast, he was so impatient to see the house.
"Don't be in such a hurry,"his mother said more than once."The house Won't run away." During breakfast, his father put one or two questions to him respecting his studies; but Paul gave only short answers, and then returned to the subject of the house, overwhelming his cousin with inquiries.
"And the woodwork, is that a success? And the paint ing? What colour is the drawing-room? And the plumber --has he put the cresting on the roof that he promised?" "You are going to see all that directly, and before night you will have plenty of time to examine everything in detail. A little patience ! Patience is the very first virtue of an architect." The aspect of the new house was much changed since Paul's departure. The ground had been cleared and neatly gravelled. The borders exhibited their spring attire; and as some old trees had been left standing in the neigh bourhood of the house, it had quite the look of a place already occupied. Paul could not help jumping for joy on seeing how charming and picturesque the building was. On turning down into the valley, he began to run, eager for a nearer view, and Eugene reached the steps only a few minutes after him. Paul had seen neither the shelter at the entrance, nor the conservatory opening into the billiard-room. The lead-work was not quite finished when he left, and the vanes and cresting were not put up. The dormer windows were not surmounted by their finials. The casements were just put in, but not glazed. These last additions are like the bordering round a draw ing, or the frame inclosing a picture; to unpractised eyes the last accessory seems to put every part in its proper place, clears the whole, and gives it the unity that seemed to be wanting.