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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.

“You would flatter me, sir page.”

“By our lady, no!”

“Where last thou heard of me, then?”

“Far distant from here, lady.”

“You speak and look like one who has travelled a long way,” said Isabella.

“I have.”

“Do you live far from here, then?” asked Ruez, much interested in the stranger.

“Yes,” was the reply.  “Lady, I may call on you again,” continued the page, “but for the present, adieu.”

Turning suddenly away, the stranger walked leisurely towards the head of the broad stairs that led from the Plato to the street below, and descended them.

At the same moment, Lorenzo Bezan, on his way to Isabella Gonzales, had just reached the foot of the stairs, when hearing quick steps behind him, he turned his head just in time to see the form of the page thrown quickly between the uplifted arm of the same dark figure which he had before met here, and himself-and the point of a gleaming dagger, that must else have entered his own body, found a sheath in that of the young stranger, who had thus probably saved his life.  More on the alert than he had been before for danger, Lorenzo Bezan’s sword was in his hand in an instant, and its keen blade pierced to the very heart of the assassin, who fell to rise no more.

Such, alas, seemed to be the fate of the page who had so gallantly risked, and probably lost, his own life, to protect that of the lieutenant-governor.

“Alas, poor youth,” said Lorenzo Bezan, “why didst thou peril thy life to save me from that wound?  Canst thou speak, and tell me who thou art, and what I shall do for thee?”

“Yes, in a few moments; bear me to Don Gonzales’s house, quickly, for I bleed very fast!”

Lorenzo Bezan’s first thought, on observing the state of the case, was to obtain surgical aid at once, and preferring to do this himself to trusting to the strange rabble about him, he turned his steps towards the main barracks, where he expected to find his friendly surgeon whom he had despatched to serve General Harero.  He found his trusty professional man, and hastily despatched him to the house of Don Gonzales, bidding him exercise his best skill for one who had just received a wound intended for his own body.

We, too, will follow the surgeon to the bedside of the wounded page, where a surprise awaited all assembled there, and which will be described in another chapter.

CHAPTER XVIII.

The disguise.

With the assistance of some passers-by, the wounded page was borne, as he had desired, to Don Gonzales’s house, while, in accordance with an order from Lorenzo Bezan, the now lifeless body of the jailor, for he it was who had attempted the life of the lieutenant-governor, was borne away to the barrack yard.  At the door of Don Gonzales’s house the page was met by Ruez and Isabella; and those who held the wounded boy, hastily telling of his hurt, and the manner in which it was received, carried him, as directed by Isabella, to her brother’s room, and a surgeon was at once sent for.

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