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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.

CHAPTER V.

The wounded soldier.

The fervor and heat of the mid-day atmosphere had been intense, but a most delightfully refreshing sea breeze had sprung up at last, and after fanning its way across the Gulf Stream, was dallying now with the palms and orange trees that so gracefully surrounded the marble statue of Ferdinand, in the midst of the Plaza, and ruffling the marble basin of water that bubbles forth from the graceful basin at its base.  Light puffs of it, too, found their way into the invitingly open windows of the governor’s palace, into an apartment which was improved by General Harero.  Often pausing at the window to breathe in of the delightful atmosphere for a moment, he would again resume his irregular walk and seemingly absorbed in a dreamy frame of mind, quite unconscious of the outward world about him.  At last he spoke, though only communing with himself, yet quite aloud: 

“Strange, very strange, that this Captain Bezan should seem to stand so much in my way.  Curse his luck, the old don and his daughter feel under infinite obligations to him already, and well they may, as to the matter of that.  If it was not for the girl’s extraordinary stock of pride, we should have her falling in love with this young gallant directly, and there would be an end to all my hopes and fancies.  He’s low enough, now, however, so my valet just told me, and ten to one, if his physician knows his case, as he pretends, he’ll make a die of it.  He is a gallant fellow, that’s a fact, and brave as he is gallant.  I may as well own the fact that’s what makes me hate him so!  But he should not have crossed my path, and served to blight my hopes, there’s the rub.  I like the man well enough as a soldier, hang it.  I’d like half the army to be just like him-they’d be invincible; but he has crossed my interest, ay, my love; and if he does get up again and crosses me with Isabella Gonzales, why then-well, no matter, there are ways enough to remove the obstacle from my path.

“By the way,” he continued, after crossing and re-crossing the room a few times, “what a riddle this Isabella Gonzales is; I wonder if she has got any heart at all.  Here am I, who have gone scathless through the courts of beauty these many years, actually caught-surprised at last; for I do love the girl; and yet how archly she teazes me!  Sometimes I think within myself that I am about to win the goal, when drop goes the curtain, and she’s as far away as ever.  How queenly she looks, nevertheless.  I had much rather be refused by such a woman, to my own mortification, than to succeed with almost any other, if only for the pleasure of looking into those eyes, and reading in silent language her poetical and ethereal beauty-I might be happy but for this fellow, this Captain Bezan; he troubles me.  Though there’s no danger of her loving him, yet he seems to stand in my way, and to divert her fancy.  Thank Heaven, she’s too proud to love one so humble.”

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