There is a sharp dividing line between youth and manhood. Sometimes we cross it early, and sometimes late, but we do not know that we are passing from one life to another as we step across the boundary. The world seems to us the same for a while, as we knew it yesterday and shall know it to-morrow. Suddenly, we look back and start with astonishment when we see the past, which we thought so near, already vanishing in the distance, shapeless, confused, and estranged from our present selves. Then, we know that we are men, and acknowledge, with something like a sigh, that we have put away childish things.
When Gouache put on the gray jacket, the red sash and the yellow gaiters, he became a man and speedily forgot Donna Tullia and her errors, and for some time afterwards he did not care to recall them. When he tried to remember the scenes at the studio in the Via San Basilio, they seemed very far away. One thing alone constantly reminded him disagreeably of the past, and that was his unfortunate failure to catch Del Ferice when the latter had escaped from Rome in the disguise of a mendicant friar. Anastase had never been able to understand how he had missed the fugitive. It had soon become known that Del Ferice had escaped by the very pass which Gouache was patrolling, and the young Zouave had felt the bitterest mortification in losing so valuable and so easy a prey. He often thought of it and promised himself that he would visit his anger on Del Ferice if he ever got a chance; but Del Ferice was out of reach of his vengeance, and Donna Tullia Mayer had not returned to Rome since the previous year. It had been rumoured of late that she had at last fulfilled the engagement contracted some time earlier, and had consented to be called the Contessa Del Ferice; this piece of news, however, was not yet fully confirmed. Gouache had heard the gossip, and had immediately made a lively sketch on the back of a half-finished picture, representing Donna Tullia, in her bridal dress, leaning upon the arm of Del Ferice, who was arrayed in a capuchin’s cowl, and underneath, with his brush, he scrawled a legend, “Finis coronat opus.”