It was decided that Paul and Stanislaus should be amongst the latter number. At once Bilinski set out with the two to get a house. In the Platz Kiemark, a fashionable quarter of the town, there was a splendid mansion, belonging to a Lutheran noble, the Senator Kimberker.
It took Paul's fancy immensely. On inquiry, they found that Kimberker used less than half of the house, for it was a huge building with many rooms, and that he was more than willing to rent the unused rooms to the young Poles. Stanislaus felt a little ill at ease over living with a Lutheran. But Bilinski and Paul pooh- poohed at his fears, and had their own way in the matter.
So in a few days they moved in, and fitted up a couple of the vacant rooms. Stanislaus was to live more than two years in this house, two years filled with a great deal of annoyance and pain, and yet blessed in wonderful ways. His difficulties began almost at once, and they were no slight difficulties. Of course, he and Paul went daily for classes to the Jesuits' house, and met daily the few boys who continued their studies in Vienna. But the old companionship, the old life of the boys in common, was gone. Only two or three of his best friends remained, and these were scattered through the city. He saw them for a little while after classes, he might now and then go out with them on a holiday. But for the most part he was thrown back upon the company of his tutor and his elder brother.
Both Paul and Bilinski liked a good time." They were far removed from the authority of home. Bilinski, who was in charge, was only a few years older than Paul; and whilst a good fellow in the main, was little able, or perhaps little willing, to put much check upon him.
And Paul was a pretty gay blade. Rough, boisterous, wild in manner, he picked companions like himself. Kimberker' 5 house soon became a noisy place. There were dinners at which the wine went round very freely, plenty of cards and dice, now and then brawling quarrels. It did not suit Stanislaus at all. He was too much of a gentleman, and too good, to act unpleasantly or resent the rough company that Paul brought home. But he could not mix freely with them, he did not like their talk or their manners, and he slipped quietly away from their noisy gatherings as soon as he decently could.
And so he was left alone; and lonesomeness for a boy of fourteen is a very unpleasant thing. He still did well in his classes, but he was no book-worm. When he had done his duty in study, the books had no further claim upon him, and no attraction in themselves. And yet he kept up his wonderful brightness and cheeriness all the time; so that Bilinski often wondered at him. And it was worth wondering at, for there is nothing, as everybody knows, which sooner breaks down one's spirits and brings on the blue devils than being left alone, without friends and companionship.
How did he do it? The fact is, he refused to be alone. As his friends in Vienna left him, he simply turned more to his friends in heaven. And heaven came down to him. Any old vacant room in the big, half-empty house was his chapel. And through the long, lonely days, often through great part of the night, he prayed.
If you could have seen him pray! Imagine any good-hearted boy who has been away from home for a long stretch, say a couple of years, and who comes back and meets father, mother, brothers, sisters. He may not say much, but he LOOKS a good deal, and he feels more than any words can say. That is the way Stanislaus prayed. He just turned to God and his Mother in heaven, with all his love in his eyes and immense happiness in his heart. And if he spoke, or said things to them in his mind, he could speak simply, like a little child, because no one else would hear him and he would not need be shy or bashful.
If you could have seen him pray, you would never think, as so many do, that praying is a gloomy business. His face was lit up, his eyes bright, his whole body spoke of peace and courage and joy. He kept thinking so much about heaven that he seemed to live there in advance. Everybody knows how, when the school year is nearly over and vacations are at hand, there is a joyful atmosphere about the days. Lessons do not seem so hard, though they really are just the same old lessons. Classes seem to have more life and spirit in them. Boys are in better temper. Every detail of work and play is colored by expectation, as if the relief of vacation were already foretasted. Stanislaus looked forward just that way to the Great Vacation, to going Home forever. He knew that even the longest life. ends soon, that all its difficulties and troubles pass away and eternity begins; and he felt so light-hearted looking ahead to that eternity that nothing happening here could sadden him - except sin, and he kept away from that.
Paul and his boisterous fellows thought that Paul's younger brother was a queer chap. But they liked him, just the same, because he was always pleasant and smiling. He never said a word to them about their conduct. But when they talked to him, he naturally spoke of the things he was always thinking about. And they did not like that. Such talk tended to stir up their consciences, even to frighten them. And they did not want their con-sciences stirred up. You can often see that. You may have noticed in yourself that, if you are not living as you ought to live, any word about God or death or heaven or our Blessed Lady irritates you, makes you feel horribly uncomfortable. And so Stanislaus became a puzzle to them, because they would not see. And little by little they left him alone, or only spoke to him to tease him or make fun of him.