Author: F. Marion Crawford
Release Date: March, 2004 [EBook #5227] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on June 9, 2002] [Date last updated: July 24, 2005]
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*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK, Sant’ Ilario ***
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AUTHOR OF “MR. ISAACS,” “DR. CLAUDIUS,” “ZOROASTER,” “A TALE OF A LONELY PARISH,” ETC.
Two years of service in the Zouaves had wrought a change in Anastase Gouache, the painter. He was still a light man, nervously built, with small hands and feet, and a delicate face; but constant exposure to the weather had browned his skin, and a life of unceasing activity had strengthened his sinews and hardened his compact frame. The clustering black curls were closely cropped, too, while the delicate dark moustache had slightly thickened. He had grown to be a very soldierly young fellow, straight and alert, quick of hand and eye, inured to that perpetual readiness which is the first characteristic of the good soldier, whether in peace or war. The dreamy look that was so often in his face in the days when he sat upon a high stool painting the portrait of Donna Tullia Mayer, had given place to an expression of wide-awake curiosity in the world’s doings.
Anastase was an artist by nature and no amount of military service could crush the chief aspirations of his intelligence. He had not abandoned work since he had joined the Zouaves, for his hours of leisure from duty were passed in his studio. But the change in his outward appearance was connected with a similar development in his character. He himself sometimes wondered how he could have ever taken any interest in the half-hearted political fumbling which Donna Tullia, Ugo Del Ferice, and others of their set used to dignify by the name of conspiracy. It seemed to him that his ideas must at that time have been deplorably confused and lamentably unsettled. He sometimes took out the old sketch of Madame Mayer’s portrait, and setting it upon his easel, tried to realise and bring back those times when she had sat for him. He could recall Del Ferice’s mock heroics, Donna Tullia’s ill-expressed invectives, and his own half-sarcastic sympathy in the liberal movement; but