"You are not going to ride back again in this state,"said the mayor;"you are in a bath of perspiration, and your pony is white with foam. Rest a little, and drink a glass of wine." It would have been discourteous not to comply, for the mayor had brought a basket of petit yin de Saumur. They drank the health of the future occupants, and the prosperity of the house, so that Paul lost a good hour. At last he was able to retrace his road to the chateau, at the same rate as before. But on reaching the edge of the plateau he saw the chaise at a distance, going towards the house. He made a detour; so as to join the party from the rear, and reached them just as the new domain was coming in sight.
"Look !"said his sister;"there's a horseman in a great heat. Where does he come from? Is it he who is direct ing the whole plot?" "Certainly,"replied her mother."Look !" They were in fact just beginning to see the outlines of Paul's house, with its slated roof glistening in the rays of the sun. There was silence, and, it must be confessed, a little emotion.
"I had my suspicions about it,"said Madame Marie, kissing her mother and father."And so during your pain ful experiences of last year you were thinking of us so much as to have realized that project of a house which I thought was only a fancy? And Paul !" "Paul,"replied M. de Gandelau,"has had his share in the work, and has contributed substantially to the success of the project. If he ever becomes an architect you will have been the first cause of it." "And you, dear friend,"said Madame de Gandelau to her son-in-law, who was kissing her hand tenderly,"you say nothing l" "M. de Gandelau had written to me about it, and I was in the secret. Marie can tell you whether I have kept it or not." "So we were betrayed, my poor Paul,"exclaimed his mother.
"M. de Gandelau wished to know whether settling in this neighbourhood would not disconcert our plans for the future. I replied to him that, on the contrary, it would further and that the only cause which had hindered my building a house here after our marriage was the fear of distressing you, and making you suppose that we did not attach to your maternal hospitality the value it most justly claims. Marie wishes to reside here a great part of the year; she is known and beloved in this her native place; nothing could be more agreeable to her than to follow your example - near to you, almost under your eyes - without giving you the trouble which a per manent residence in your house would have occasioned. I
had no need to consult her, for I knew that you were realizing a dream which she was secretly cherishing, with out hoping for its speedy realization." "All is then for the best,"resumed Madame de Gande lau, looking at her husband, for she was thinking of what she had said to him one evening, two years before.
The faMily were received with vivats in front of the entrance steps. Previous to entering the building, they went rotind it; and when they came to the group of master-workmen and foremen, Paul introduced them to his sister, saying that it was owing to their zeal, and their desire to see her soon settled in the neighbourhood, that the completion of the work in less than two years, was owing. Paul's compliment (which was neatly turned), but more particularly the courteous bearing of his sister, who asked each what he had done, inquired about their families, and expressed to them her wish to employ them often, gained her the heart of these good people, who for the most part had known her as a child.
Madame Marie wanted to see everything. At each step exclamations of joy were uttered, and Paul was embraced twenty times by his"client."Monsieur N - had taken possession of Eugene, who, we need scarcely say, was warmly congratulated.
M. Durosay did not fail to express his admiration every moment, and was incessantly repeating,"It is a charming feudal manor-house !" "But, why, my dear sir,"said Madame Marie, at last quite weary of the phrase,"Why do you call it a manor house,' and ' feudal '? I have neither manor nor vassals, and I have no wish to possess any. Call it a house, built for me by those who love me, and which will always be open to our friends, and always accessible to those who may need our help." We may be sure that Paul's resolution to become an architect was strengthened by what he felt on this occasion.
Let us hope that his career may be as successful as that of the house whose history is here recorded.