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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 164 pages of information about The Heart's Secret; Or, the Fortunes of a Soldier.

“From wooing a fair and most beautiful maid,” said the soldier, most honestly; though perhaps he told the truth as being the thing least likely to be believed by the other.

“Fie, fie, Bezan.  You in love, man?  A soldier to marry?  By our lady, what folly!  Don’t you remember the proverb?  ’Men dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake.’”

“May I wake in that state with her I love ere a twelvemonth,” said Lorenzo Bezan, smiling at his comrade’s sally and earnestness.

“Are you serious, captain?” asked the other, now trying to half believe him.

“Never more so in my life, I assure you,” was the reply.

“And who is the lady, pray?  Come, relieve your conscience, and confess.”

“Ah, there I am silent; her name is not for vulgar ears,” said the young soldier, smiling, and with really too much respect to refer lightly to Isabella Gonzales.

CHAPTER IV.

Cuban banditti.

It was one of those beautiful but almost oppressively hot afternoons that so ripen the fruits, and so try the patience of the inhabitants of the tropics, that we would have the patient reader follow us on the main road between Alquezar and Guiness.  It is as level as a parlor floor, and the tall foliage, mostly composed of the lofty palm, renders the route shaded and agreeable.  Every vegetable and plant are so peculiarly significant of the low latitudes, that we must pause for a moment to notice them.

The tall, stately palm, the king of the tropical forest, with its tufted head, like a bunch of ostrich feathers, bending its majestic form here and there over the verdant and luxuriant undergrowth, the mahogany tree, the stout lignumvit‘, the banana, the fragrant and beautiful orange and lemon, and the long, impregnable hedge of the dagger aloe, all go to show us that we are in the sunny clime of the tropics.

The fragrance, too, of the atmosphere!  How soft to the senses!  This gentle zephyr that only ruffles the white blossoms of the lime hedges, is off yonder coffee plantation that lies now like a field of clear snow, in its fragrant milk-white blossoms; and what a bewitching mingling of heliotrope and wild honeysuckle is combined in the air! how the gaudy plumed parrot pauses on his perch beneath the branches of the plantain tree, to inhale the sweets of the hour; while the chirps of the pedoreva and indigo birds are mingled in vocal praise that fortune has cast their lot in so lovely a clime.  O, believe us, you should see and feel the belongings of this beautiful isle, to appreciate how nearly it approaches to your early ideas of fairy land.

But, alas! how often do man’s coarser disposition and baser nature belie the soft and beautiful characteristics of nature about him; how often, how very often, is the still, heavenly influence that reigns in fragrant flowers and bubbling streams, marred and desecrated by the harshness and violence engendered by human passions!

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