"Baveno. Italy. From X--Mad. N - ,Hotel de--. Paul wants to build a house here for Marie. Send programme." Twenty hours afterwards the following telegram reached the chateau : "X - . From Baveno. To M. de Gandelau. Arrived this morning - all well. Paul has an excellent idea. Ground floor - entrance-hall, drawing-room, dining-room, pantry, kitchen not underground, billiard-room, study. First floor - two large bedrooms, two dressing-rooms; baths; small bedroom, dressing-room; linen-room, closets, attic bedrooms; cupboards plenty; staircase not break-neck. MARIE N." Without doubting for a moment that his sister had taken in earnest the despatch addressed to her, and had replied accordingly, Paul set himself resolutely to work, and, in stalled in Eugene's room, and making the best of his skill in drawing, endeavoured to realize on paper the programme given above. The difficulties of this undertaking were however serious enough to make it necessary to tell M. Paul twice that breakfast was on the table. The afternoon passed rapidly away, and on assembling for dinner, Paul presented a fine sheet of paper fairly covered with plans and elevations. • "A creditable piece of work,"said M. de Gandelau unrolling it;"but your cousin is coming to-morrow, and he will be able to criticize your plan better than I can." All the night Paul was in a state of excitement. He dreamed of a palace rising under his direction. But there was always some defect in his building. There were no windows; the staircase was only a shaky ladder, and his sister Marie would not venture to mount it. In one place the ceilings were so low that you could not stand upright; elsewhere they were of terrific height. Old Branchu was laughing and shaking the walls with his hand to show they were not firm. The chimney smoked horribly, and his little sister was impetuously demanding a room for her doll.
Paul had looked at his plan again as soon as he got up, and it appeared to him much less satisfactory than it had done the night before; in fact, he blushed at the thought of showing it to his cousin, who was coming to breakfast; he was hesitating, and thinking of destroying the painful labour of a whole day.
"Father, I think my cousin will laugh at me if I show him my drawing." "My dear boy,"replied M. de Gandelau,"when we have done what we can, i.e., the best we can, we must not shrink from criticism, which is the only means of ascertaining the insufficiency of our knowledge and supplying its defects. You would be very silly if you thought you could become an architect in a single morning; but if after having made an effort to express an idea which you think good, either in drawing or otherwise, you should hesitate to submit your essay to some one more skilful than yourself, for fear of eliciting more criticism than applause - it would not be modesty, but a very reprehensible vanity, for it would deprive you of advice which cannot fail to be useful to you, at your age especially." When his cousin was come it was nevertheless necessary for M. de Gandelau to tell his son to bring his attempt, to induce our architectural tyro to unrol again the paper he had covered the day before with such painfully elaborate designs.
"Well, my young cousin,"said the visitor,"so you want to become an architect. Take care ! all is not couleur de rose in that profession,-as it would appear on your paper." In a few words Eugene was informed of what was in tended.
"Very good ! Here is the drawing-room and the en trance-hall. I don't quite understand the staircase, but that is a matter of detail. And the elevations? But it's a palace ! - columns, balustrades ! Well, we can set to work at once." "Could we, cousin? Suppose we tell Master Branchu; he is at work close by." "A little patience - this is• only a sketch. How about the definitive plans; and the estimates; and the details of execution? We must go methodically to work. You must know, cousin, that the more rapidly we want a building erected, the more desirable it is that everything should be perfectly arranged beforehand. Remember the trouble your neighbour, Count - has had, who has been beginning his chateau again and again every spring for six years, without being able to get it finished, because he could not indicate all that he wanted at first, and his architect had not the courage to insist upon adopting a well-planned design once for all; and because he has listened to all the whims, or rather to all the officious advice which friends of the family did not fail to offer, one respecting the size of the rooms, another about the placing of the staircases, a third on the style and decoration. We have only a year before us, we must therefore not begin till we are certain of not taking false steps; besides, your sister must approve the plan. Let us consider a little; and first let us come to an understanding about the means of construction you decide to adopt. As we are in a hurry we have hardly a choice; we cannot think of building the house with worked stone from top to bot tom; that would take too long, and cost too much. We must adopt a method of construction that is simple, and can be rapidly executed. Does that meet your ideas? You introduce columns in your front; for what purpose? If they form a portico, they will make the rooms dark and gloomy; if they are attached to the walls, they are of no use here. And this balustrade on the upper cornices - what does that mean? Do you suppose your lady sister will walk among the gutters? That is for the service of the cats, I suppose. And please to explain this : on the plan I observe that from the entrance-hall you have to go through the dining-room to reach the drawing-room. But if visitors come while you are at table, you will have to ask them to wait at the door, or invite them to see you and your friends eat.
"And so the kitchen opens on the billiard-room. Come, we must go a little more deeply into the matter; shall we set to work to do so? Between us we shall perhaps get through the business a little faster, and you will give me ideas; for you know your elder sister's tastes and habits better than I do. You will thus be able to supplement the scantiness of the programme given us. Think about it, and early to-morrow morning we will proceed to work out our plan."