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The Visit to the Building


The building was beginning to assume a definite shape; the plan was becoming visible above the ground. About twenty masons and stonecutters, four carpenters and their helpers, enlivened this quarter of the neighbourhood. Carts filled with bricks sand and lime, were coming in. Two timber-sawyers were cutting up trunks of trees into planks; a small movable forge had been lighted under the shelter of a clump of trees, and was used for repairing tools, with the prospect of being called into requisition for forging iron straps, cramps, bands, and lintel bars. A beautiful autumnal sun was shedding a warm but subdued light on the busy scene. This spectacle succeeded in effacing from Paul's mind the gloomy impression left by his father's words. Under this aspect work did not seem to him invested with that harsh and rugged form which had at first somewhat scared our holiday pupil. Paul proceeded therefore to follow his cousin over the ground as an at tentive clerk of works (Fig. 35), listening with great care to his observations.

"Here is a stone, Master Branchu,"said Eugene,"which must not be put in; it has a flaw, and as it would be a lintel, it must be rejected." "But, sir, the flaw doesn't go far." "Far or not, I disallow it, - do you understand? Paul, you will take care that it be not laid.... Observe this little chink that is barely visible; strike the stone with this hammer on both sides. Just so; the ring of the stone is dull on this side; well, that proves to you that it is not sound, and with the help of the frost this piece on the right side will separate from its neighbour.... Here are some bricks that you will not let them use : see how cracked they are; these white spots too... they are particles of lime stone which the fire has converted into lime. When the damp acts upon them these particles of lime swell and burst the brick. You must take care before allowing bricks to be used to have them well moistened. Those which contain portions of lime will fall to pieces and so will not be used." "But, my good sir,"said Branchu,"it isn't my fault; the bricks are not my business."

"No; but it is your business to send back those that are defective to the brickmaker, and not to pay him for them, since you have undertaken to get them supplied; that will teach him to clear his ground thoroughly of bits of limestone. There is some sand with clay in it, see how it sticks to one's fingers ! Master Branchu, I must have none but good coarse sand; you know well where that is to be got. This has been taken from the edge of the pit; it is good for nothing but to be put in the haunches of the cellar vaults for filling up; do not allow it to be used in the mortar - you understand, Paul ! Mortar requires well granu lated clean sand, the grains of which do not adhere to each other; and observe, - before using it have a few bucketfuls of water thrown on the heap. Take care, too, that the mortar is not mixed on the ground, but on a wood plat form. You have done so hitherto, that is quite right; but take care that it is never made in any other way; if you are in a hurry for it, and one platform is not enough, have two. Be very careful too, Paul, to see that the stones are all well bedded in mortar." "Oh ! you needn't trouble yourself, sir, I never do otherwise." "Yes, I know very well, that for basements and hard stone this is pretty sure to be attended to; but higher up your workmen are very apt to lay the stones on wedges and run the beds with liquid mortar, which is easier. Be very careful about this, Paul. All the stones ought to be laid ovet their place, on thick wedges, leaving a void of two and a half to three inches; the mortar ought to be spread below over the whole surface, and be about three quarters of an inch thick; then take away the four wedges, and the stone settling down on the mortar, it must be struck with a great wooden beetle till the joint is only three-eighths of an inch everywhere, and the surplus mortar is pressed out all round - " "Here are some hollow beds, Master Branchu; you must have them re-dressed." "What is a hollow bed?"said Paul to his cousin, in a whisper.

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mortar, stone, paul, care and lime