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Title: The Vale of Cedars
Author: Aguilar, Grace, 1816-1847
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Vale of Cedars" ***


Team



THE VALE OF CEDARS;

or, The Martyr

BY GRACE AGUILAR,

AUTHOR OF "HOME INFLUENCE," "WOMAN'S FRIENDSHIP," ETC.

1851



  "The wild dove hath her nest--the fox her cave--
  Mankind their country--Israel but the grave."

  BYRON.



MEMOIR OF GRACE AGUILAR.


Grace Aguilar was born at Hackney, June 2nd, 1816. She was the eldest
child, and only daughter of Emanuel Aguilar, one of those merchants
descended from the Jews of Spain, who, almost within the memory of
man, fled from persecution in that country, and sought and found an
asylum in England.

The delicate frame and feeble health observable in Grace Aguilar
throughout her life, displayed itself from infancy; from the age
of three years, she was almost constantly under the care of some
physician, and, by their advice, annually spending the summer months
by the sea, in the hope of rousing and strengthening a naturally
fragile constitution. This want of physical energy was, however, in
direct contrast to her mental powers, which developed early, and
readily. She learned to read with scarcely any trouble, and when once
that knowledge was gained, her answer when asked what she would like
for a present, was invariably "A book," which, was read, re-read,
and preserved with a care remarkable in so young a child. With the
exception of eighteen months passed at school, her mother was her sole
instructress, and both parents took equal delight in directing her
studies, and facilitating her personal inspection of all that was
curious and interesting in the various counties of England to which
they resorted for her health.

From the early age of seven she commenced keeping a journal, which was
continued with scarce any intermission throughout her life. In 1825
she visited Oxford, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Worcester, Ross, and Bath,
and though at that time but nine years old, her father took her to
Gloucester and Worcester cathedrals, and also to see a porcelain and
pin manufactory, &c., the attention and interest she displayed on
these occasions, affording convincing proof that her mind was alive
to appreciate and enjoy what was thus presented to her observation.
Before she had completed her twelfth year she ventured to try her
powers in composition, and wrote a little drama, called Gustavus Vasa,
never published, and only here recorded as being the first germ of
what was afterwards to become the ruling passion.

In September, 1828, the family went to reside in Devonshire for the
health of Mr. Aguilar, and there a strong admiration for the beauties
and wonders of nature manifested itself: she constantly collected
shells, stones, seaweed, mosses, &c., in her daily rambles; and not
satisfied with admiring their beauty, sedulously procured whatever
little catechisms or other books on those subjects she could purchase,
or borrow, eagerly endeavoring by their study, to increase her
knowledge of their nature and properties.

When she had attained the age of fourteen, her father commenced a
regular course of instruction for his child, by reading aloud, while
she was employed in drawing, needlework, &c. History was selected,
that being the study which now most interested her, and the first work
chosen was Josephus.

It was while spending a short time at Tavistock, in 1830, that the
beauty of the surrounding scenery led her to express her thoughts in
verse. Several small pieces soon followed her first essay, and she
became extremely fond of this new exercise and enjoyment of her
opening powers, yet her mind was so well regulated, that she never
permitted herself to indulge in original composition until her duties,
and her studies, were all performed.

Grace Aguilar was extremely fond of music; she had learned the piano
from infancy, and in 1831 commenced the harp. She sang pleasingly,
preferring English songs, and invariably selecting them for the beauty
or sentiment of the words; she was also passionately fond of dancing,
and her cheerful lively manners in the society of her young friends,
would scarcely have led any to imagine how deeply she felt and
pondered upon the serious and solemn subjects which afterwards formed
the labor of her life. She seemed to enjoy all, to enter into all, but
a keen observer would detect the hold that sacred and holy principle
ever exercised over her lightest act, and gayest hour. A sense of duty
was apparent in the merest trifle, and her following out of the divine
command of obedience to parents, was only equalled by the unbounded
affection she felt for them. A wish was once expressed by her mother
that she should not waltz, and no solicitation could afterwards tempt
her. Her mother also required her to read sermons, and study religion
and the Bible regularly; this was readily submitted to, first as a
task, but afterwards with much delight; for evidence of which we
cannot do better than quote her own words in one of her religious
works.

"This formed into a habit, and persevered in for a life, would in
time, and without labor or weariness, give the comfort and the
knowledge that we seek; each year it would become lighter, and more
blest, each year we should discover something we knew not before, and
in the valley of the shadow of death, feel to our heart's core that
the Lord our God is Truth."--_Women of Israel_, Vol. II, page 43.

Nor did Grace Aguilar only study religion for her own personal
observance and profit. She embraced its _principles_ (the principles
of all creeds) in a widely extended and truly liberal sense. She
carried her practice of its holy and benevolent precepts into every
minutiae of her daily life, doing all the good her limited means would
allow, finding time, in the midst of her own studies, and most
varied and continual occupations, to work for, and instruct her poor
neighbors in the country, and while steadily venerating and adhering
to her own faith, neither inquiring nor heeding the religious opinions
of the needy whom she succored or consoled. To be permitted to help
and comfort, she considered a privilege and a pleasure; she left the
rest to God; and thus bestowing and receiving blessings and smiles
from all who had the opportunity of knowing her, her young life flowed
on, in an almost uninterrupted stream of enjoyment, until she had
completed her nineteenth year.

Alas! the scene was soon to change, and trials awaited that spirit
which, in the midst of sunshine, had so beautifully striven to prepare
itself a shelter from the storm. The two brothers of Miss Aguilar,
whom she tenderly loved, left the paternal roof to be placed far from
their family at school. Her mother's health necessitated a painful and
dangerous operation, and from that time for several years, alternate
hopes and fears through long and dreary watchings beside the sick bed
of that beloved mother, became the portion of her gifted child. But
even this depressing and arduous change in the duties of her existence
did not suspend her literary pursuits and labors. She profited by all
the intervals she could command, and wrote the tale of the "Martyr,"
the "Spirit of Judaism," and "Israel Defended;" the latter translated
from the French, at the earnest request of a friend, and printed only
for private circulation. The "Magic Wreath," a little poetical work,
and the first our authoress ever published, dedicated to the Right
Honorable the Countess of Munster, also appeared about this time.

In the Spring of 1835, Grace Aguilar was attacked with measles, and
never afterwards recovered her previous state of health, suffering
at intervals with such exhausting feelings of weakness, as to become
without any visible disease really alarming.

The medical attendants recommended entire rest of mind and body; she
visited the sea, and seemed a little revived, but anxieties were
gathering around her horizon, to which it became evidently impossible
her ardent and active mind could remain passive or indifferent, and
which recalled every feeling, every energy of her impressible nature
into action. Her elder brother, who had long chosen music as his
profession, was sent to Germany to pursue his studies; the younger
determined upon entering the sea service. The excitement of these
changes, and the parting with both, was highly injurious to their
affectionate sister, and her delight a few months after, at welcoming
the sailor boy returned from his first voyage, with all his tales of
danger and adventure, and his keen enjoyment of the path of life he
had chosen, together with her struggles to do her utmost to share his
walks and companionship, contributed yet more to impair her inadequate
strength.

The second parting was scarcely over ere her father, who had long
shown symptoms of failing health, became the victim of consumption. He
breathed his last in her arms, and the daughter, while sorrowing over
all she had lost, roused herself once more to the utmost, feeling that
she was the sole comforter beside her remaining parent. Soon after,
when her brother again returned, finding the death of his father, he
resolved not to make his third voyage as a midshipman, but endeavor
to procure some employment sufficiently lucrative to prevent his
remaining a burthen upon his widowed mother. Long and anxiously did he
pursue this object, his sister, whose acquaintance with literary and
talented persons had greatly increased, using all her energy and
influence in his behalf, and concentrating all the enthusiastic
feelings of her nature in inspiring him with patience, comfort, and
hope, as often as they failed him under his repeated disappointments.
At length his application was taken up by a powerful friend, for her
sake, and she had the happiness of succeeding, and saw him depart
at the very summit of his wishes. Repose, which had been so long
necessary, seemed now at hand; but her nerves had been too long and
too repeatedly overstrung, and when this task was done, the worn and
weary spirit could sustain no more, and sank under the labor that had
been imposed upon it.

Severe illness followed, and though it yielded after a time to skilful
remedies and tender care, her excessive languor and severe headaches,
continued to give her family and friends great uneasiness.

During all these demands upon her time, her thoughts, and her health,
however, the ruling passion neither slumbered nor slept. She completed
the Jewish Faith, and also prepared Home Influence for the press,
though very unfit to have taxed her powers so far. Her medical
attendant became urgent for total change of air and scene, and again
strongly interdicted _all_ mental exertion--a trip to Frankfort, to
visit her elder brother, was therefore decided on. In June, 1847, she
set out, and bore the journey without suffering nearly so much as
might have been expected. Her hopes were nigh, her spirits raised--the
novelty and interest of her first travels on the Continent gave her
for a very transient period a gleam, as it were, of strength. For a
week or two she appeared to rally, then again every exertion became
too much for her, every stimulating remedy to exhaust her. She
was ordered from Frankfort to try the baths and mineral waters of
Schwalbach, but without success. After a stay of six weeks, and
persevering with exemplary patience in the treatment prescribed, she
was one night seized with alarming convulsive spasms, so terrible that
her family removed her next morning with all speed back to Frankfort,
to the house of a family of most kind friends, where every attention
and care was lavishly bestowed.

In vain. She took to her bed the very day of her arrival, and never
rose from it again; she became daily weaker, and in three weeks from
that time her sufferings ceased for ever. She was perfectly conscious
to within less than two hours before her death, and took an
affectionate leave of her mother and brother. Speech had been a
matter of difficulty for some time previous, her throat being greatly
affected by her malady; but she had, in consequence, learned to use
her fingers in the manner of the deaf and dumb, and almost the last
time they moved, it was to spell upon them feebly, "Though He slay me,
yet will I trust in Him."

She was buried in the cemetery of Frankfort, one side of which is set
apart for the people of her faith. The stone which marks the spot
bears upon it a butterfly and five stars, emblematic of the soul in
heaven, and beneath appears the inscription--

    "Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise
    her in the gates."--Prov. ch. xxxi, v. 31.

And thus, 16th September, 1847, at the early age of thirty-one, Grace
Aguilar was laid to rest--the bowl was broken, the silver cord was
loosed. Her life was short and checkered with pain and anxiety,
but she strove hard to make it useful and valuable, by employing
diligently and faithfully the talents with which she had been endowed.
Nor did the serious view with which she ever regarded earthly
existence, induce her to neglect or despise any occasion of enjoyment,
advantage, or sociality which presented itself. Her heart was ever
open to receive, her hand to give.

Inasmuch as she succeeded to the satisfaction of her fellow beings,
let them be grateful; inasmuch as she failed, let those who perceive
it deny her not the meed of praise, for her endeavor to open the path
she believed would lead mankind to practical virtue and happiness, and
strive to carry out the pure philanthropic principles by which she was
actuated, and which she so earnestly endeavored to diffuse.

OCTOBER, 1849.



THE VALE OF CEDARS;

OR,

THE MARTYR.



CHAPTER I.

  "They had met, and they had parted;
  Time had closed o'er each again,
  Leaving lone the weary hearted
  Mournfully to wear his chain."--MS.


A deliciously cool, still evening, had succeeded the intense heat of a
Spanish summer day, throwing rich shadows and rosy gleams on a wild,
rude mountain pass in central Spain. Massive crags and gigantic trees
seemed to contest dominion over the path, if path it could be called;
where the traveller, if he would persist in going onwards, could only
make his way by sometimes scrambling over rocks, whose close approach
from opposite sides presented a mere fissure covered with flowers and
brushwood, through which the slimmest figure would fail to penetrate;
sometimes wading through rushing and brawling streams, whose rapid
currents bore many a jagged branch and craggy fragment along with
them; sometimes threading the intricacies of a dense forest,
recognizing the huge pine, the sweet acorn oak, the cork tree,
interspersed with others of lesser growth, but of equally wild
perplexing luxuriance. On either side--at times so close that two
could not walk abreast, at others so divided that forests and streams
intervened--arose mountain walls seeming to reach the very heavens,
their base covered with trees and foliage, which gradually thinning,
left their dark heads totally barren, coming out in clear relief
against the deep blue sky.

That this pass led to any inhabited district was little probable, for
it grew wilder and wilder, appearing to lead to the very heart of the
Sierra Toledo--a huge ridge traversing Spain. By human foot it had
evidently been seldom trod; yet on this particular evening a traveller
there wended his solitary way. His figure was slight to boyishness,
but of fair proportion, and of such graceful agility of movement,
that the obstacles in his path, which to others of stouter mould and
heavier step might have been of serious inconvenience, appeared by him
as unnoticed as unfelt. The deep plume of his broad-rimmed hat could
not conceal the deep blue restless eyes, the delicate complexion, and
rich brown clustering hair; the varying expression of features, which
if not regularly handsome, were bright with intelligence and
truth, and betraying like a crystal mirror every impulse of the
heart--characteristics both of feature and disposition wholly
dissimilar to the sons of Spain.

His physiognomy told truth. Arthur Stanley was, as his name implied,
an Englishman of noble family; one of the many whom the disastrous
wars of the Roses had rendered voluntary exiles. His father and four
brothers had fallen in battle at Margaret's side. Himself and a twin
brother, when scarcely fifteen, were taken prisoners at Tewkesbury,
and for three years left to languish in prison. Wishing to conciliate
the still powerful family of Stanley, Edward offered the youths
liberty and honor if they would swear allegiance to himself. They
refused peremptorily; and with a refinement of cruelty more like
Richard of Gloucester than himself, Edward ordered one to the block,
the other to perpetual imprisonment. They drew lots, and Edwin Stanley
perished. Arthur, after an interval, succeeded in effecting his
escape, and fled from England, lingered in Provence a few months,
and then unable to bear an inactive life, hastened to the Court
of Arragon; to the heir apparent of which, he bore letters of
introduction, from men of rank and influence, and speedily
distinguished himself in the wars then agitating Spain. The character
of the Spaniards--impenetrable and haughty reserve--occasioned, in
general, prejudice and dislike towards all foreigners. But powerful
as was their pride, so was their generosity; and the young and lonely
stranger, who had thrown himself so trustingly and frankly on their
friendship, was universally received with kindness and regard. In men
of lower natures, indeed, prejudice still lingered; but this was
of little matter; Arthur speedily took his place among the noblest
chivalry of Spain; devoted to the interests of the King of Sicily, but
still glorying in the name and feeling of an Englishman, he resolved,
in his young enthusiasm, to make his country honored in himself.

He had been five years in Spain, and was now four and twenty; but
few would have imagined him that age, so frank and free and full of
thoughtless mirth and hasty impulse was his character. These last
fifteen months, however, a shadow seemed to have fallen over him, not
deep enough to create remark, but _felt_ by himself. His feelings,
always ardent, had been all excited, and were all concentrated, on a
subject so wrapt in mystery, that the wish to solve it engrossed his
whole being. Except when engaged in the weary stratagem, the rapid
march, and actual conflict, necessary for Ferdinand's interest, but
one thought, composed of many, occupied his mind, and in solitude so
distractingly, that he could never rest; he would traverse the country
for miles, conscious indeed of what he _sought_, but perfectly
unconscious where he _went_.

It was in one of these moods he had entered the pass we have
described, rejoicing in its difficulties, but not thinking where it
led, or what place he sought, when a huge crag suddenly rising almost
perpendicularly before him, effectually roused him from his trance.
Outlet there was none. All around him towered mountains, reaching
to the skies. The path was so winding, that, as he looked round
bewildered, he could not even imagine how he came there. To retrace
his steps, seemed quite as difficult as to proceed. The sun too had
declined, or was effectually concealed by the towering rocks, for
sudden darkness seemed around him. There was but one way, and Stanley
prepared to scale the precipitous crag before him with more eagerness
than he would a beaten path. He threw off his cloak, folded it in
the smallest possible compass, and secured it like a knapsack to his
shoulders, slung his sword over his neck, and, with a vigorous spring,
which conquered several paces of slippery rock at once, commenced the
ascent. Some brushwood, and one or two stunted trees, gave him now
and then a hold for his hands; and occasional ledges in the rock, a
resting for his foot; but still one false step, one failing nerve, and
he must have fallen backwards and been dashed to pieces; but to Arthur
the danger was his safety. Where he was going, indeed he knew not. He
could see no further than the summit of the crag, which appeared like
a line against the sky; but any bewilderment were preferable to the
strange stagnation towards outward objects, which had enwrapped him
ten minutes before.

Panting, breathless, almost exhausted, he reached the summit, and
before him yawned a chasm, dark, fathomless, as if nature in some wild
convulsion had rent the rock asunder. The level ground on which
he stood was barely four feet square; behind him sloped the most
precipitous side of the crag, devoid of tree or bush, and slippery
from the constant moisture that formed a deep black pool at its base.
Stanley hazarded but one glance behind, then looked steadily forward,
till his eye seemed accustomed to the width of the chasm, which did
not exceed three feet. He fixed his hold firmly on a blasted trunk
growing within the chasm; It shook--gave way--another moment and he
would have been lost; but in that moment he loosed his hold, clasped
both hands above his head, and successfully made the leap--aware only
of the immense effort by the exhaustion which followed compelling him
to sink down on the grass, deprived even of energy to look around him.

So marvellous was the change of scenery on which his eyes unclosed,
that he started to his feet, bewildered. A gradual hill, partly
covered with rich meadow grass, and partly with corn, diversified
with foliage, sloped downwards, leading by an easy descent to a small
valley, where orange and lime trees, the pine and chestnut, palm and
cedar, grew in beautiful luxuriance. On the left was a small dwelling,
almost hidden in trees. Directly beneath him a natural fountain threw
its sparkling showers on beds of sweet-scented and gayly-colored
flowers. The hand of man had very evidently aided nature in forming
the wild yet chaste beauty of the scene; and Arthur bounded down the
slope, disturbing a few tame sheep and goats on his way, determined on
discovering the genius of the place.

No living object was visible, however; and with his usual reckless
spirit, he resolved on exploring further, ere he demanded the
hospitality of the dwelling. A narrow path led into a thicker wood,
and in the very heart of its shade stood a small edifice, the nature
of which Arthur vainly endeavored to understand. It was square, and
formed of solid blocks of cedar; neither carving nor imagery of any
kind adorned it; yet it had evidently been built with skill and care.
There was neither tower nor bell, the usual accompaniments of a
chapel, which Stanley had at first imagined it; and he stood gazing
on it more and more bewildered. At that moment, a female voice of
singular and thrilling beauty sounded from within. It was evidently
a hymn she chanted, for the strain was slow and solemn, but though
_words_ were distinctly intelligible, their language was entirely
unknown. The young man listened at first, conscious only of increasing
wonderment, which was quickly succeeded by a thrill of hope, so
strange, so engrossing, that he stood, outwardly indeed as if turned
to stone; inwardly, with every pulse so throbbing that to move or
speak was impossible. The voice ceased; and in another minute a door,
so skilfully constructed as when closed to be invisible in the solid
wall, opened noiselessly; and a female figure stood before him.



CHAPTER II.

  "Farewell! though in that sound be years
  Of blighted hopes and fruitless tears--
  Though the soul vibrate to its knell
  Of joys departed--yet farewell."

  MRS. HEMANS.


To attempt description of either face or form would be useless. The
exquisite proportions of the rounded figure, the very perfection of
each feature, the delicate clearness of the complexion--brunette when
brought in close contact with the Saxon, blonde when compared with the
Spaniard--all attractions in themselves, were literally forgotten, or
at least unheeded, beneath the spell which dwelt in the _expression_
of her countenance. Truth, purity, holiness, something scarcely of
this nether world, yet blended indescribably with all a woman's
nature, had rested there, attracting the most unobservant, and
riveting all whose own hearts contained a spark of the same lofty
attributes. Her dress, too, was peculiar--a full loose petticoat of
dark blue silk, reaching only to the ankle, and so displaying the
beautifully-shaped foot; a jacket of pale yellow, the texture seeming
of the finest woven wool, reaching to the throat; with sleeves tight
on the shoulders, but falling in wide folds as low as the wrist, and
so with every movement displaying the round soft arm beneath. An
antique brooch of curiously wrought silver confined the jacket at the
throat. The collar, made either to stand up or fall, was this evening
unclosed and thrown black, its silver fringe gleaming through the
clustering tresses that fell in all their native richness and raven
blackness over her shoulders, parted and braided on her brow, so as to
heighten the chaste and classic expression of her features.

On a stranger that beautiful vision must have burst with bewildering
power: to Arthur Stanley she united _memory_ with _being_, the _past_
with the _present_, with such an intensity of emotion, that for a few
minutes his very breath was impeded. She turned, without seeing him,
in a contrary direction; and the movement roused him.

"Marie!" he passionately exclaimed, flinging himself directly in her
path, and startling her so painfully, that though there was a strong
and visible effort at self-control, she must have fallen had he not
caught her in his arms. There was an effort to break from his hold, a
murmured exclamation, in which terror, astonishment, and yet joy, were
painfully mingled, and then the heroine gave place to the woman, for
her head sunk on his shoulder and she burst into tears.

Time passed. Nearly an hour from that strange meeting, and still they
were together; but no joy, nor even hope was on the countenance of
either. At first, Arthur had alluded to their hours of happy yet
unconfessed affection, when both had felt, intuitively, that they were
all in all to each other, though not a syllable of love had passed
their lips; on the sweet memories of those blissful hours, so brief,
so fleeting, but still Marie wept: the memory seemed anguish more than
joy. And then he spoke of returned affection, as avowed by her, when
his fond words had called it forth; and shuddered at the recollection
that that hour of acknowledged and mutual love, had proved the signal
of their separation. He referred again to her agonized words, that a
union was impossible, that she dared not wed him; it was sin even
to love him; that in the tumultuary, yet delicious emotions she had
experienced, she had forgotten, utterly forgotten in what it must
end--the agony of desolation for herself, and, if he so loved her, for
Stanley also--and again he conjured her to explain their meaning. They
had been separated, after that fearful interview, by a hasty summons
for him to rejoin his camp; and when he returned, she had vanished.
He could not trace either her or the friend with whom she had been
staying. Don Albert had indeed said, his wife had gone to one of the
southern cities, and his young guest returned to her father's home;
but where that home was, Don Albert had so effectually evaded, that
neither direct questionings nor wary caution could obtain reply. But
he had found her now; they had met once more, and oh, why need they
part again? Why might he not seek her father, and beseech his blessing
and consent?

His words were eloquent, his tone impassioned, and hard indeed the
struggle they occasioned. But Marie wavered not in the repetition
of the same miserable truth, under the impression of which they
had separated before. She conjured him to leave her, to forget the
existence of this hidden valley, for danger threatened her father and
herself if it was discovered. So painful was her evident terror, that
Arthur pledged his honor never to reveal it, declaring that to
retrace the path by which he had discovered it, was even to himself
impossible. But still he urged her, what was this fatal secret? Why
was it sin to love him? Was she the betrothed of another? and the
large drops starting to the young man's brow denoted the agony of the
question.

"No, Arthur, no," was the instant rejoinder: "I never could love,
never could be another's, this trial is hard enough, but it is all I
have to bear. I am not called upon to give my hand to another, while
my heart is solely thine."

"Then wherefore join that harsh word 'sin,' with such pure love, my
Marie? Why send me from you wretched and most lonely, when no human
power divides us?"

"No human power!--alas! alas!--a father's curse--an offended
God--these are too awful to encounter, Arthur. Oh do not try me more;
leave me to my fate, called down by my own weakness, dearest Arthur.
If you indeed love me, tempt me not by such fond words; they do but
render duty harder. Oh, wherefore have you loved me!"

But such suffering tone, such broken words, were not likely to check
young Stanley's solicitations. Again and again he urged her, at least
to say what fatal secret so divided them; did he but know it, it
might be all removed. Marie listened to him for several minutes, with
averted head and in unbroken silence; and when she did look on him
again, he started at her marble paleness and the convulsive quivering
of her lips, which for above a minute prevented the utterance of a
word.

"Be it so," she said at length; "you shall know this impassable
barrier. You are too honorable to reveal it. Alas! it is not that fear
which restrained me; my own weakness which shrinks from being to thee
as to other men, were the truth once known, an object of aversion and
of scorn."

"Aversion! scorn! Marie, thou ravest," impetuously exclaimed Stanley;
"torture me not by these dark words: the worst cannot be more
suffering."

But when the words were said, when with blanched lips and cheeks, and
yet unfaltering tone, Marie revealed the secret which was to separate
them for ever, Arthur staggered back, relinquishing the hands he had
so fondly clasped, casting on her one look in which love and aversion
were strangely and fearfully blended, and then burying his face in his
hands, his whole frame shook as with some sudden and irrepressible
anguish.

"Thou knowest all, now," continued Marie, after a pause, and she stood
before him with arms folded on her bosom, and an expression of meek
humility struggling with misery on her beautiful features. "Señor
Stanley, I need not now implore you to leave me; that look was
sufficient, say but you forgive the deception I have been compelled to
practise--and--and forget me. Remember what I am, and you will soon
cease to love."

"Never, never!" replied Stanley, as with passionate agony he flung
himself before her. "Come with me to my own bright land; who shall
know what thou art there? Marie, my own beloved, be mine. What to me
is race or blood? I see but the Marie I have loved, I shall ever love.
Come with me. Edward has made overtures of peace if I would return to
England. For thy sake I will live beneath his sway; be but mine, and
oh, we shall be happy yet."

"And my father," gasped the unhappy girl, for the generous nature of
Arthur's love rendered her trial almost too severe. "Wilt thou protect
him too? wilt thou for my sake forget what he is, and be to him a
son?" He turned from her with a stifled groan. "Thou canst not--I knew
it--oh bless thee for thy generous love; but tempt me no more, Arthur;
it cannot be; I dare not be thy bride."

"And yet thou speakest of love. 'Tis false, thou canst not love me,"
and Stanley sprung to his feet disappointed, wounded, till he scarce
knew what he said. "I would give up Spain and her monarch's love for
thee. I would live in slavery beneath a tyrant's rule to give thee a
home of love. I would forget, trample on, annihilate the prejudices
of a life, unite the pure blood of Stanley with the darkened torrent
running through thy veins, forget thy race, descent, all but thine own
sweet self. I would do this, all this for love of thee. And for
me, what wilt thou do?--reject me, bid me leave thee--and yet thou
speakest of love: 'tis false, thou lovest another better!"

"Ay!" replied Marie, in a tone which startled him, "ay, thou hast
rightly spoken; thy words have recalled what in this deep agony I had
well nigh forgotten. There is a love, a duty stronger than that I bear
to thee. I would resign all else, but not my father's God."

The words were few and simple; but the tone in which they were spoken
recalled Arthur's better nature, and banished hope at once. A pause
ensued, broken only by the young man's hurried tread, as he traversed
the little platform in the vain struggle for calmness. On him this
blow had fallen wholly unprepared; Marie had faced it from the moment
they had parted fifteen months before, and her only prayer had been (a
fearful one for a young and loving heart), that Stanley would forget
her, and they might never meet again. But this was not to be; and
though she had believed herself prepared, one look on his face, one
sound of his voice had proved how vain had been her dream.

"I will obey thee, Marie," Stanley said, at length, pausing before
her. "I will leave thee now, but not--not for ever. No, no; if indeed
thou lovest me time will not change thee, if thou hast one sacred tie,
when nature severs that, and thou art alone on earth, thou shalt be
mine, whatever be thy race."

"Hope it not, ask it not! Oh, Arthur, better thou shouldst hate me, as
thy people do my race: I cannot bear such gentle words," faltered poor
Marie, as her head sunk for a minute on his bosom, and the pent-up
tears burst forth. "But this is folly," she continued, forcing back
the choking sob, and breaking from his passionate embrace. "There is
danger alike for my father and thee, if thou tarriest longer. Not that
way," she added, as his eye glanced inquiringly towards the hill by
which he had descended; "there is another and an easier path; follow
me--thou wilt not betray it?"

"Never!" was the solemn rejoinder, and not a word more passed between
them. He followed her through what seemed to be an endless maze, and
paused before a towering rock, which, smooth and perpendicular as a
wall built by man, ran round the vale and seemed to reach to heaven.
Pushing aside the thick brushwood, Marie stood beside the rock, and by
some invisible movement, a low door flew open and disclosed a winding
staircase.

"Thou wilt trust me, Arthur?"

"Ay, unto death," he answered, springing after her up the rugged
stair. Narrow loopholes, almost concealed without by trees and
brushwood, dimly lighted the staircase, as also a low, narrow passage,
which branched off in zig-zag windings at the top, and terminated, as
their woody path had done, in a solid wall. But again an invisible
door flew open, closing behind them; and after walking about a hundred
yards through prickly shrubs and entangled brushwood that obscured his
sight, Marie paused, and Arthur gazed round bewildered. A seemingly
boundless plain stretched for miles around him, its green level
only diversified by rocks scattered about in huge masses and wild
confusion, as if hurled in fury from some giant's hand. The rock
whence he had issued was completely invisible. He looked around again
and again, but only to bewilder himself yet more.

"The way looks more dreary than it is. Keep to the left: though it
seems the less trodden path thou wilt find there a shelter for the
night, and to-morrow's sun will soon guide thee to a frontier town;
thy road will be easy then. Night is falling so fast now, thou hadst
best not linger, Arthur."

But he did linger, till once more he had drawn from her a confession
of her love, that none other could take his place, even while she
conjured him never to seek her again--and so they parted. Five minutes
more, and there was not a vestige of a human form on the wide-extended
plain.



CHAPTER III.

  "Now History unfolds her ample page,
  Rich with the spoils of Time."


Clearly to comprehend the internal condition of Spain at the period
of our narrative (1479)--a condition which, though apparently purely
national, had influence over every domestic hearth--it is necessary to
glance back a few years. The various petty Sovereignties into which
Spain had been divided never permitted any lengthened period of peace;
but these had at length merged into two great kingdoms, under the
names of Arragon and Castile. The _form_ of both governments was
monarchical; but the _genius_ of the former was purely republican,
and the power of the sovereign so circumscribed by the Junta, the
Justicia, and the Holy Brotherhood, that the vices or follies of the
monarch were of less consequence, in a national point of view, in
Arragon, than in any other kingdom. It was not so with Castile. From
the death of Henry the Third, in 1404, a series of foreign and civil
disasters had plunged the kingdom in a state of anarchy and misery.
John the Second had some virtues as an individual, but none as a king;
and his son Henry, who succeeded him in 1450, had neither the one nor
the other. Governed as his father had been, entirely by favorites,
the discontent of all classes of his subjects rapidly increased; the
people were disgusted and furious at the extravagance of the monarch's
minion; the nobles, fired at his insolence; and an utter contempt of
the king, increased the virulence of the popular ferment. Unmindful of
the disgrace attendant on his divorce from Blanche of Navarre, Henry
sought and obtained the hand of Joanna, Princess of Portugal, whose
ambition and unprincipled intrigues heightened the ill-favor with
which he was already regarded. The court of Castile, once so famous
for chastity and honor, sank to the lowest ebb of infamy, the shadow
of which, seeming to extend over the whole land, affected nobles and
people with its baleful influence. All law was at an end: the people,
even while they murmured against the King, followed his evil example;
and history shrinks from the scenes of debauchery and licentiousness,
robbery and murder, which desecrated the land. But this state of
things could not last long, while there still remained some noble
hearts amongst the Castilians. Five years after their marriage, the
Queen was said to have given birth to a daughter, whom Henry declared
should be his successor, in lieu of his young brother Alfonso (John's
son, by a second wife, Isabella of Portugal). This child the nobles
refused to receive, believing and declaring that she was not Henry's
daughter, and arrogated to themselves the right of trying and passing
sentence on their Sovereign, who, by his weak, flagitious conduct had,
they unanimously declared, forfeited all right even to the present
possession of the crown.

The confederates, who were the very highest and noblest officers of
the realm, assembled at Avita, and with a solemnity and pomp which
gave the whole ceremony an imposing character of reality, dethroned
King Henry in effigy, and proclaimed the youthful Alfonso sovereign in
his stead. All present swore fealty, but no actual good followed: the
flame of civil discord was re-lighted, and raged with yet greater
fury; continuing even after the sudden and mysterious death of the
young prince, whose extraordinary talent, amiability, and firmness,
though only fourteen, gave rise to the rumor that he had actually been
put to death by his own party, who beheld in his rising genius the
utter destruction of their own turbulence and pride. Be this as
it may, his death occasioned no cessation of hostilities, the
confederates carrying on the war in the name of his sister, the
Infanta Isabella. Her youth and sex had pointed her out as one not
likely to interfere or check the projects of popular ambition, and
therefore the very fittest to bring forward as an excuse for their
revolt. With every appearance of humility and deference, they offered
her the crown; but the proudest and boldest shrank back abashed,
before the flashing eye and proud majesty of demeanor with which she
answered, "The crown is not yours to bestow; it is held by Henry,
according to the laws alike of God and man; and till his death, you
have no right to bestow, nor I to receive it."

But though firm in this resolution, Isabella did not refuse to
coincide in their plans for securing her succession. To this measure
Henry himself consented, thus appearing tacitly to acknowledge the
truth of the reports that Joanna was a surreptitious child, and for
a brief period Castile was delivered from the horrors of war. Once
declared heiress of Castile and Leon, Isabella's hand was sought by
many noble suitors, and her choice fell on Ferdinand, the young
King of Sicily, and heir-apparent to the crown of Arragon. Love was
Isabella's incentive. Prudence, and a true patriotic ambition, urged
the Archbishop of Toledo not only to ratify the choice, but to smooth
every difficulty in their way; he saw at once the glory which might
accrue to Spain by this peaceful union of two rival thrones. Every
possible and impossible obstacle was privately thrown by Henry to
prevent this union, even while he gave publicly his consent; his
prejudice against Ferdinand being immovable and deadly. But the
manoeuvres of the Archbishop were more skilful than those of the King.
The royal lovers--for such they really were--were secretly united
at Valladolid, to reach which place in safety Ferdinand had been
compelled to travel in disguise, and attended only by four cavaliers;
and at that period so straitened were the circumstances of the Prince
and Princess, who afterwards possessed the boundless treasures of the
new world, that they were actually compelled to borrow money to defray
the expenses of their wedding!

The moment Henry became aware of this marriage, the civil struggle
recommenced. In vain the firm, yet pacific Archbishop of Toledo
recalled the consent he had given, and proved that the union not only
secured the after-glory of Spain, but Henry's present undisturbed
possession of his throne. Urged on by his wife, and his intriguing
favorite, the Marquis of Villena, who was for ever changing sides, he
published a manifesto, in which he declared on oath that he believed
Joanna to be his daughter, and proclaimed her heiress of Castile.
Ferdinand and Isabella instantly raised an array, regardless of the
forces of Portugal (to whose monarch Joanna had been betrothed), who
were rapidly advancing to the assistance of Henry. Ere, however, war
had regularly commenced, a brief respite was obtained by the death of
Henry, and instantly and unanimously Isabella was proclaimed Queen of
Leon and Castile. Peace, however, was not instantly regained; the King
of Portugal married Joanna, and resolved on defending her rights. Some
skirmishing took place, and at length a long-sustained conflict near
Fero decided the point--Ferdinand and the Castilians were victorious;
the King of Portugal made an honorable retreat to his own frontiers,
and the Marquis of Villena, the head of the malcontents, and by many
supposed to be the real father of Joanna, submitted to Isabella. Peace
thus dawned for Castile; but it was not till three years afterwards,
when Ferdinand had triumphed over the enemies of Arragon, and
succeeded his father as Sovereign of that kingdom, that any vigorous
measures could be taken for the restoration of internal order.

The petty Sovereignties of the Peninsular, with the sole exception of
the mountainous district of Navarre, and the Moorish territories in
the south, were now all united; and it was the sagacious ambition of
Ferdinand and Isabella to render Spain as important in the scale of
kingdoms as any other European territory; and to do this, they knew,
demanded as firm a control over their own subjects, as the subjection
of still harassing foes.

Above a century had elapsed since Spain had been exposed to the sway
of weak or evil kings, and all the consequent miseries of misrule and
war. Rapine, outrage, and murder had become so frequent and unchecked,
as frequently to interrupt commerce, by preventing all communication
between one place and another. The people acknowledged no law but
their own passions. The nobles were so engrossed with hatred of each
other, and universal contempt of their late sovereign, with personal
ambition and general discontent, that they had little time or leisure
to attend to any but their own interest. But a very brief interval
convinced both nobles and people that a new era was dawning for them.
In the short period of eighteen months, the wise administration of
Isabella and Ferdinand, had effected a sufficient change to startle
all ranks into the conviction that their best interests lay in prompt
obedience, and in exerting themselves in their several spheres, to
second the sovereign's will. The chivalric qualities of Ferdinand, his
undoubted wisdom and unwavering firmness, excited both love and fear;
while devotion itself is not too strong a term to express the national
feeling entertained toward Isabella. Her sweet, womanly gentleness,
blended as it was with the dignity of the sovereign; her ready
sympathy in all that concerned her people--for the lowest of her
subjects; doing justice, even if it were the proud noble who injured,
and the serf that suffered--all was so strange, yet fraught with such
national repose, that her influence every year increased; while every
emotion of chivalry found exercise, and yet rest in the heart of the
aristocracy for their Queen; her simple word would be obeyed, on the
instant, by men who would have paused, and weighed, and reasoned,
if any other--even Ferdinand himself--had spoken. Isabella knew her
power; and if ever sovereign used it for the good, the happiness of
her people, that proud glory was her own.

In spite of the miserable condition of the people during the civil
struggles, the wealth of Spain had not decreased. It was protected
and increased by a class of people whose low and despised estate was,
probably, their safeguard--these were the Jews, who for many centuries
had, both publicly and secretly, resided in Spain. There were many
classes of this people in the land, scattered alike over Castile,
Leon, Arragon, Navarre, and also in the Moorish territories; some
there were confined to the mystic learning and profound studies of the
schools, whence they sent many deeply learned men to other countries,
where their worth and wisdom gained them yet greater regard than they
received in Spain: others were low and degraded in outward seeming,
yet literally holding and guiding the financial and commercial
interests of the kingdom;--whose position was of the lowest--scorned
and hated by the very people who yet employed them, and exposed to
insult from every class; the third, and by far the largest body of
Spanish Jews, were those who, Israelites in secret, were so completely
Catholic in seeming, that the court, the camp, the council, even the
monasteries themselves, counted them amongst them. And this had been
the case for years--we should say for centuries--and yet so inviolable
was the faith pledged to each other, so awful the dangers around them,
were even suspicion excited, that the fatal secret never transpired;
offices of state, as well as distinctions of honor, were frequently
conferred on men who, had their faith or race been suspected, would
have been regarded as the scum of the earth, and sentenced to torture
and death, for daring to pass for what they were not. At the period
of which we write, the fatal enemy to the secret Jews of more modern
times, known as the Holy Office, did not exist; but a secret and
terrible tribunal there was, whose power and extent were unknown to
the Sovereigns of the land.

The Inquisition is generally supposed to have been founded by
Ferdinand and Isabella, about the year 1480 or '82; but a deeper
research informs us that it had been introduced into Spain several
centuries earlier, and obtained great influence in Arragon. Confiding
in the protection of the papal see, the Inquisitors set no bounds to
their ferocity: secret informations, imprisonments, tortures, midnight
assassinations, marked their proceedings; but they overreached
themselves. All Spain, setting aside petty rivalships, rose up against
them. All who should give them encouragement or assistance were
declared traitors to their country; the very lives of the Inquisitors
and their families were, in the first burst of fury, endangered; but
after a time, imagining they had sunk into harmless insignificance,
their oppressors desisted in their efforts against them, and
were guilty of the unpardonable error of not exterminating them
entirely.[A]

[Footnote A: Stockdale's History of the Inquisition.]

According to the popular belief, the dreaded tribunal slept, and so
soundly, they feared not, imagined not its awakening. They little
knew that its subterranean halls were established near almost all the
principal cities, and that its engines were often at work, even in the
palaces of kings. Many a family wept the loss of a beloved member,
they knew not, guessed not how--for those who once entered those fatal
walls were never permitted to depart; so secret were their measures,
that even the existence of this fearful mockery of justice and
Religion was not known, or at that time it would have been wholly
eradicated. Superstition had not then gained the ascendency which in
after years so tarnished the glory of Spain, and opened the wide gates
to the ruin and debasement under which she labors now. The fierce
wars and revolutions ravaging the land had given too many, and too
favorable opportunities for the exercise of this secret power; but
still, regard for their own safety prevented the more public display
of their office, as ambition prompted. The vigorous proceedings of
Ferdinand and Isabella rendered them yet more wary; and little did the
Sovereigns suspect that in their very courts this fatal power held
sway. The existence of this tribunal naturally increased the dangers
environing the Israelites who were daring enough to live amongst
the Catholics as one of them; but of this particular danger they
themselves were not generally aware, and their extraordinary skill
in the concealment of their faith (to every item of which they yet
adhered) baffled, except in a very few instances, even these ministers
of darkness.



CHAPTER IV.

  "In war did never lion rage more fierce--
  In peace was never gentle lamb more mild,
  Than was that young and princely gentleman."

  SHAKSPEARE.


The wars ravaging Spain had nursed many a gallant warrior, and given
ample opportunities for the possession and display of those chivalric
qualities without which, in that age, no manly character was
considered perfect. The armies of Ferdinand and Isabella counted some
of the noblest names and most valiant knights of Christendom. The
Spanish chivalry had always been famous, and when once organized under
a leader of such capacity and firmness as Ferdinand; when the notice
and regard of the Queen they idolized could only be obtained by manly
virtue as well as the warrior's ardor, a new spirit seemed to wake
within them; petty rivalships and jealousies were laid aside, all they
sought was to become distinguished; and never had chivalry shone with
so pure and glorious a lustre in the court of Spain as then, when,
invisibly and unconsciously, it verged on its decline.

It was amongst all this blaze of chivalry that Arthur Stanley had had
ample opportunity to raise, in his own person, the martial glory of
his own still much loved and deeply regretted land. Ferdinand had
honored him with so large a portion of his coveted regard, that
no petty feelings on the part of the Spaniards, because he was a
stranger, could interfere with his advancement; his friends, however,
were mostly among the Arragonese; to Isabella, and the Castilians, he
was only known as a valiant young warrior, and a marked favorite of
the king. There was one person, however, whom the civil contentions of
Spain had so brought forward, that his name was never spoken, either
in council, court, or camp, palace or hut--by monarch or captive,
soldier or citizen--without a burst of such warm and passionate
attachment that it was almost strange how any single individual, and
comparatively speaking, in a private station, could so have won the
hearts of thousands. Yet it had been gradually that this pre-eminence
had been attained--gradually, and entirely by the worth of its
object. At the early age of sixteen, and as page to Gonzalos de
Lara, Ferdinand Morales had witnessed with all the enthusiasm of
a peculiarly ardent, though outwardly quiet nature, the exciting
proceedings at Avila. His youth, his dignified mien, his earnestness,
perhaps even his striking beauty, attracted the immediate attention of
the young Alfonso, and a bond of union of reciprocal affection from
that hour linked the youths together. It is useless arguing on the
folly and frivolity of such rapid attachments; there are those with
whom one day will be sufficient, not only to awaken, but to rivet,
those mysterious sympathies which are the undying links of friendship;
and others again, with whom we may associate intimately for
months--nay, years--and yet feel we have not one thought in common,
nor formed one link to sever which is pain.

During Alfonso's brief career, Ferdinand Morales displayed personal
qualities, and a wisdom and faithfulness in his cause, well deserving
not only the prince's love, but the confidence of all those who were
really Alfonso's friends. His deep grief and ill-concealed indignation
at the prince's mysteriously sudden death might, for the time, have
obtained him enemies, and endangered his own life; but the favor
of Isabella, whom it was then the policy of the confederates to
conciliate in all things possible, protected and advanced him. The
love borne by the Infanta for her young brother surpassed even the
tenderest affection of such relatives; all who had loved and served
him were dear to her; and at a time when so much of treachery and
insidious policy lurked around her, even in the garb of seeming
devotion to her cause, the unwavering fidelity and straightforward
conduct of Morales, combined as it was with his deep affection for
Alfonso, permitted her whole mind to rest on him, secure not only of
his faithfulness, but of vigilance which would discover and counteract
every evil scheming of seeming friends. Her constantly chosen
messenger to Ferdinand, he became known and trusted by both that
prince and his native subjects. His wealth, which, seemed exhaustless,
independent of his preferments, was ever at the service of either
Isabella or her betrothed; he it was from whom the necessary means for
her private nuptials were borrowed. At that scene he was, of course,
present, and, at his own desire, escorted Ferdinand back to his own
domains--an honorable but most dangerous office, performed with his
usual unwavering fidelity and skill. That one so faithful in adversity
should advance from post to post as soon as dawning prosperity
permitted Isabella and Ferdinand to reward merit as well as to evince
gratitude, was not surprising; but no royal favor, no coveted honors,
no extended power, could alter one tittle of his single-hearted
truth--his unrestrained intercourse with and interest in his equals,
were they of the church, court, or camp--his gentle and unassuming
manner to his inferiors. It was these things that made him so
universally beloved. The coldest natures, if thrown in contact with
him, unconsciously to themselves kindled into warmth; vice itself
could not meet the glance of that piercing eye without shrinking, for
the moment, in loathing from itself.

Until Isabella and Ferdinand were firmly established on the throne,
and Arragon and Castile united, there had been little leisure amongst
their warriors to think of domestic ties, otherwise it might perhaps
have been noticed as somewhat remarkable that Ferdinand Morales
appeared to stand alone; kindred, indeed, he claimed with four or five
of the noblest amongst the Castilians, but he seemed to have no near
relative; and though he mingled courteously, and to some young hearts
far too pleasingly, amongst Isabella's court, it seemed as if he
would never stoop to love. The Queen often jested him on his apparent
insensibility, and entreating him to wed. At first he had smiled away
such words; but two or three months after the commencement of our
tale, he acknowledged that his affections had been for some years
engaged to one living so completely in retirement as to be unknown to
all; he had but waited till peace had dawned for Spain, and he might
offer her not only his love, but a secure and quiet home. He spoke
in confidence, and Isabella, woman-like, had listened with no little
interest, giving her royal approval of his choice, without knowing
more than his own words revealed; but feeling convinced, she said,
that Ferdinand Morales would never wed one whose birth or lineage
would tarnish his pure Castilian blood, or endanger the holy faith
of which he was so true a member. A red flush might have stained the
cheek of the warrior at these words, but the deep obeisance with
which he had departed from the royal presence concealed the unwonted
emotion. Ere a year from that time elapsed, not only the ancient city
of Segovia, where his large estates lay, but all Castile were thrown
into a most unusual state of excitement by the marriage of the popular
idol, Don Ferdinand Morales, with a young and marvellously lovely
girl, whom few, if any, had ever seen before, and whose very name,
Donna Marie Henriquez, though acknowledged as essentially Castilian,
was yet unfamiliar. The mystery, however, as to who she was, and where
he could have found her, was speedily lost in the universal admiration
of her exceeding and remarkable loveliness, and of the new yet
equally attractive character which, as a devoted husband, Morales
thenceforward displayed. Many had imagined that he was too grave, too
wrapt in his many engrossing duties, alike as statesman and general,
ever to play the lover; and he had seemed resolved that this
impression should remain, and shrunk from the exposure of such sacred
feelings; for none, save Isabella, knew he loved until they saw his
bride.



CHAPTER V.

  "And we have won a bower of refuge now
  In this fresh waste."

  MRS. HEMANS.


The Vale of Cedars, as described in our first chapter, had been
originally the work of a single individual, who had found there a
refuge and concealment from the secret power of the Inquisition, from
whose walls he had almost miraculously escaped: this individual was
Julien Henriquez, the grandfather of Marie. For five years he remained
concealed, working unaided, but successfully, in forming a comfortable
home and concealed retreat, not only for himself but for his family.
Nature herself appeared to have marked the spot as an impenetrable
retreat, and Julien's skill and energy increased and strengthened the
natural barriers. During these five years the secret search for his
person, at first carried on so vigilantly that his enemies supposed
nothing but death could have concealed him, gradually relaxed, and
then subsided altogether. Foes and friends alike believed him dead,
and when he did re-appear in the coarse robe, shrouding cowl, and
hempen belt, of a wandering friar, he traversed the most populous
towns in safety, unrecognized and unsuspected. It was with some
difficulty he found his family, and a matter of no little skill to
convey them, without exciting suspicion by their disappearance, to his
retreat; but all was accomplished at length, and years of domestic
felicity crowned every former effort, and inspired and encouraged
more.

Besides his own immediate family, consisting of his wife, a son,
and daughter, Henriquez had the charge of two nephews and a niece,
children of his sister, whose husband had perished by the arm of the
same secret power from which Henriquez had escaped; their mother had
died of a broken heart, from the fearful mystery of her husband's
fate, and the orphans were to Julien as his own.

As years passed, the Vale of Cedars became not only a safe, but a
luxurious home. Every visit to the world Julien turned to profit, by
the purchase first of necessaries, then of luxuries. The little temple
was erected by the active aid of the young men, and the solemn rites
of their peculiar faith adhered to in security. Small as the family
was, deaths, marriages, and births took place, and feelings and
sympathies were excited, and struggles secretly endured, making that
small spot of earth in very truth a world. The cousins intermarried.
Ferdinand and Josephine left the vale for a more stirring life;
Manuel, Henriquez's own son, and Miriam, his niece, preferred the
quiet of the vale. Julien, his nephew, too, had loved; but his
cousin's love was given to his brother, and he departed, unmurmuringly
indeed, but he dared not yet trust himself to associate calmly with
the object of his love: he had ever been a peculiarly sad and silent
boy; the fate of his father never for an instant seemed to leave his
mind, and he had secretly vowed to avenge him. Love, for a while, had
banished these thoughts; but when that returned in all the misery of
isolation to his own breast, former thoughts regained dominion, and he
tried to conquer the one feeling by the encouragement of the other.
His brother and his wife constantly visited the vale; if at no other
time, almost always at those solemn festivals which generally fell
about the period of the Catholic Easter and Michaelmas; often
accompanied by faithful friends, holding the same mysterious bond of
brotherhood, and to whom the secret of that vale was as precious and
secure as to its natural inmates. Its aged founder had frequently the
happiness of gathering around him from twenty to thirty of his secret
race, and of feeling that his work would benefit friends as well as
offspring. Julien alone never returned to the vale, and his family at
length mourned him as one amongst the dead.

The career of his brother was glorious but brief; he fell fighting
for his country, and his widow and young son returned to the parental
retreat. Though the cousins had married the same day, the son of
Ferdinand was ten years older than his cousin Marie; Manuel and Miriam
having lived twelve years together ere the longed-for treasure was
bestowed. At first, therefore, she had been to the youthful Ferdinand
but as a plaything, to pet and laugh with: he left the vale as page
to his father's companion in arms, Gonzalos de Lara, when Marie was
little more than five years old; but still his love for her and his
home was such that whenever it was possible, he would snatch if it
were but half a day to visit them. Gradually, and to him it seemed
almost strangely, the plaything child changed into the graceful girl,
and then again into the lovely woman; and dearer than ever became his
boyhood's home, though years had snatched away so many of its beloved
inmates, that, at the period of our story, its sole occupants were
Marie and her father.

Had her mother lived, perchance Marie had never been exposed to the
dangers of an introduction to the world. Betrothed, in the secret
hearts of not only her own parents, but of Ferdinand's mother, to her
cousin, if she lived to attain sufficient age, Miriam would not have
thought it so impossible as Manuel did, that the affections of his
child might be sought for by, and given to another, if she mingled
with the world; she would at least have waited till she was
Ferdinand's wedded wife, and then sent her forth secure. But such
subtle fears and feelings are peculiarly _woman's_; not the tenderest,
most devoted father, could of himself have either thought of, or
understood them. He might perhaps have owned their justice had they
been presented to him by the affectionate warnings of an almost
idolized wife; but that voice was hushed, her sweet counsels buried
in the grave; and the fond, proud father, only thought of his child's
brilliant beauty, and how she would be admired and beloved, could she
be but generally known. And so, for her sake, he actually did violence
to his own love for the quiet retirement of the vale, and bore her to
the care of Donna Emilie de Castro; seeing nothing, feeling nothing,
but the admiration she excited, and that she was indeed the loveliest
there. One wish he had, and that was, that his nephew could have been
there likewise; but being engaged at that time on some important
private business for the Queen, Ferdinand did not even know that his
cousin had ever left the vale.

That his child's affections could be excited towards any but those of
her own race was a circumstance so impossible, and moreover a sin so
fearful, that it never entered Manuel's mind: he knew not woman's
nature, dreamed not of its quick impulses, its passionate yearnings,
its susceptibility towards all gentle emotions, or he could not have
so trustingly believed in the power of her peculiar faith and creed
to guard her from the danger. Even his dearest desire that she should
become the wife of her cousin she knew not; for the father shrunk from
revealing it to either his child or nephew, unless Ferdinand loved
and sought her himself. What therefore had she to warn her from the
precipice on which she stood, when new, strange, yet most exquisitely
sweet emotions gradually obtained possession of her heart in her daily
intercourse with Arthur Stanley? What they were indeed she knew not;
the word love was never uttered by either; she only knew that his
presence, his voice, the pressure of his hand, brought with it a
thrilling sensation of intense happiness, such as she had never known,
never imagined before. It was indeed but a brief dream, for when
he spoke, when he besought her to be his, then indeed she woke to
consciousness, not only that she loved, but of the dark and fatal
barrier between them, which no human effort could o'erleap. The
sacrifice of race, of faith, of family, indeed might be made; but to
do this never entered the mind and heart of Marie, so utterly was it
impossible. To her peculiar feelings it was sin enough thus to have
loved.

Manuel Henriquez bore his child back to the vale, little dreaming of
the anguish to which his unguarded love had exposed her. She had ever
been rather a pensive and gentle girl, and therefore that she should
be still serious was no matter of surprise. For fifteen months she
had sought to banish every dream of Arthur, every thought but that in
loving him she had sinned against her God. Time and prayer had in some
measure softened the first acute agony of her feelings; she thought
she was conquering them altogether, when his unexpected appearance
excited every feeling anew. Yet in that harrowing interview still she
had been firm. She had even told him a secret, which it was almost
death to reveal, that he might forget her; for how could he wed with
her? And yet even that barrier he would have passed, and his generous,
his determined love, would linger on her memory spite of every effort
to think of him no more.

It was a fearful struggle, and often and often she yearned to confess
all to her father, whom she loved with no common love; but she knew
too well, not only the grief such tidings would be to him, but what
his judgment must be, and she shrunk in agony from the condemnation
of her feelings by another, constantly as she was condemning them
herself.

Henriquez had been absent from the vale during Stanley's unexpected
visit, and he tarried long enough to excite the alarm, not only of his
child but of their domestics; nor was its cause when explained likely
to ease Marie's anxiety. He had been attacked on the day of his
intended return by a strange sensation of giddiness, followed by
insensibility, which appeared to have weakened him more than he had
thought compatible with so brief an illness. He made light of it, but
still he was uneasy, not that he feared death himself, but that it
might take him from his Marie ere his wishes were accomplished, and
her earthly happiness, as he thought, secured. The first attack was
but the forerunner of others, sometimes very slight and brief, at
others longer and more alarming, rendering Marie more and more
determined to keep her fatal secret from him; for it appeared to her
that any stronger emotion than customary would be followed by those
attacks; and as her love for him seemed to increase in intensity with
the anxiety his precarious health occasioned, so did her dread of
occasioning him aught of grief. But how fruitless are our best and
wisest resolutions! One little hour, and every thought was changed.



CHAPTER VI.

  "Oh! praise me not--
  Look gently on me, or I sink to earth
  Not thus."

  DE CHATILLON.


It was the custom of the inmates of the Vale of Cedars, once in every
year, and generally about the season of Michaelmas, to celebrate a
festival, which ordained the erection of a booth or tent of "branches
of thick trees," in which for seven days every meal was taken, and
greater part of the day (except the time passed in the little Temple)
was spent. Large branches of the palm and cedar, the willow, acacia,
and the oak, cut so as to prevent their withering for the seven days,
formed the walls of the tent; their leaves intermingling over head, so
as to form a shelter, and yet permit the beautiful blue of the heavens
to peep within. Flowers of every shade and scent formed a bordering
within; and bouquets, richly and tastefully arranged, placed in vases
filled with scented earth, hung from the branches forming the roof.
Fruit, too, was there--the purple grape, the ripe red orange, the
paler lemon, the lime, the pomegranate, the citron, all of which the
vale afforded, adorned the board (which for those seven days was
always spread within the tent), intermingled with cakes made by Marie.

This was one of the festivals for which many of the secret race would
visit the vale; but it so happened that, this year, Manuel, his child,
and their retainers, kept it alone--a source of disappointment and
anxiety to the former, whose health was rapidly (but still to his
child almost invisibly) failing. At the close of the solemn fast which
always preceded by five days this festival of rejoicing, he had had
a recurrence of his deathlike fits of insensibility, longer and
more alarming than usual; but he had rallied, and attributed it so
naturally to his long fast, that alarm once more gave place to hope
in the heart of his daughter. Not thus, however, felt her
father--convinced that death could not be long delayed, he but waited
for his nephew's appearance and acknowledged love for his cousin,
at once to give her to him, and prepare her for the worst. Parental
anxiety naturally increased with every hour that passed, and Ferdinand
appeared not.

It was the eve of the Sabbath; one from which in general all earthly
cares and thoughts were banished, giving place to tranquil and
spiritual joy. The father and daughter were alone within their lovely
tent, but both so wrapt in evidently painful thought, that a strange
silence usurped the usual cheerful converse. So unwonted was the
anxious gloom on Manuel's brow, that his child could bear it no
longer, and flinging her arms round his neck, she besought him in the
tenderest accents to confide in her, as he had ever done, since her
mother's death, to tell her what so pained him--might she not remove
it? Henriquez could not resist that fond yet mournful pleading. He
told her, that he felt health was departing, that death seemed ever
hovering near, but that its pain, its care, would all depart, could he
behold his long-cherished wish fulfilled, and his Marie the wife
of Ferdinand, whose every look and tone during his last visit had
betrayed his devoted love.

Marie heard; and her cheek and lips blanched to such ashy whiteness,
that her father in alarm folded her to his breast; and sought to
soothe a grief, which he believed was occasioned merely by the sudden
and fearful thought of his approaching death; and sought to soothe,
by a reference to the endearing love, the cherished tenderness which
would still be hers; how Ferdinand would be to her all, aye more
than all that he had been, and how, with love like his, she would be
happier than she had been yet. Much he said, and he might have said
still more, for it was long ere the startled girl could interrupt him.
But when he conjured her to speak to him, not to look upon his death
so fearfully, the beautiful truth of her nature rose up against the
involuntary deceit. It was not his death which thus appalled her;
alas--alas!--and she hated herself for the fearful thought--she had
almost lost sight of that, in the words which followed. Breaking from
his embrace, she sunk down on her knees before him, and buying her
face upon his hand, in broken accents and with choking sobs, revealed
the whole. How could she do her noble kinsman such fearful wrong as
to wed him, when her whole heart, thoughts, nay, life itself, seemed
wrapt in the memory of another? And that other! Oh! who, what was
he? Once she looked up in her father's face, but so fearful were the
emotions written there--wrath struggling with love, grief, pity,
almost terror--that hastily she withdrew her glance, and remained
kneeling, bent even to the dust, long after the confession had been
poured forth, waiting in fear and anguish for his words.

"Marie, Marie! is it my Marie, my sainted Miriam's, child, who thus
speaks? who hath thus sinned sole representative of a race of ages, in
whose pure thoughts such fearful sin hath never mingled. My child so
to love the stranger as to reject, to scorn her own! Oh God, my God,
why hast thou so forsaken me? Would I had died before!" And the heavy
groan which followed, confirmed the anguish breathed in those broken
words.

"Father!" implored the unhappy girl, clasping his knees in an agony of
supplication, though she raised not her head--"Oh my father! in mercy
do not speak thus! Words of wrath, of reproach, fearful as they are
from thee, yet I can bear them, but not such woe! Oh, think what I
have borne, what I must still bear. If I have sinned, my sin will
bring, nay, it has already brought its own chastisement. Speak to me
but one word of love--or, if it must be, wrath.--but not, not such
accents of despair!"

Her father struggled to reply; but the conflux of strong emotion was
too powerful, and Marie sprung up to support him as he fell. She had
often seen him insensible before, when there appeared no cause for
such attacks; but was it strange that at such a moment she should
feel that _she_ had caused it?--that her sin perchance had killed
her father; he might never wake more to say he forgave, he blessed
her,--or that in those agonized moments of suspense she vowed, if
he might but speak again, that his will should be hers, even did it
demand the annihilation of every former treasured thought! And the vow
seemed heard. Gradually and, it appeared, painfully life returned. His
first action was to clasp her convulsively to his heart; his next, to
put her gently yet firmly from him, and bury his face in his hands,
and weep.

No sight is more terrible, even to an indifferent spectator, than
to behold tears wrung from the eyes of man--and to his child it was
indeed torture. But she controlled the choking anguish--calmly and
firmly she spoke, and gradually the paroxysm subsided.

"That I have sinned in loving a stranger thus, I have long felt," she
said; "and had I been aware of the nature of these feelings, they
should never have gained ascendency. But I awoke too late--my
very being was enchained. Still I may break from these engrossing
thoughts--I would do so--pain shall be welcome, if it may in time
atone for the involuntary sin of loving the stranger, and the yet
more terrible one of grieving thee. Oh, my father, do what thou wilt,
command me as thou wilt--I am henceforth wholly thine."

"And thou wilt wed Ferdinand, my child?"

"Would he still wish it, father, if he knew the whole? And is it
right, is it just, to wed him, and the truth still unrevealed? Oh, if
he do love me, as you say, how can I requite him by deceit?"

"Tell him not, tell him not," replied Henriquez, again fearfully
agitated; "let none other know what has been. What can it do, save to
grieve him beyond thy power to repair? No, no. Once his, and all these
fearful thoughts will pass away, and their sin be blotted out, in thy
true faithfulness to one who loves thee. His wife, and I know that
thou wilt love him, and be true, as if thou hadst never loved
another--"

"Ay, could I not be true, I would not wed," murmured Marie, more to
herself than to her father; "and if suffering indeed, atone for sin,
terribly will it be redeemed. But oh, my father, tell me--I have sworn
to be guided by thee, and in all things I will be--tell me, in wedding
him whom thou hast chosen, do I not still do foul wrong, if not to him
(her voice faltered), unto another, whose love is mine as well?"

"Better for him, as for thee, to wed another, Marie! Would'st thou wed
the stranger, wert thou free?"

She buried her face in his bosom, and murmured, "Never!"

"Then in what can this passion end, but in misery for both? In
constant temptation to perjure thy soul, in forsaking all for him. And
if thou didst, would it bring happiness? My child, thou art absolved,
even had aught of promise passed between you. Knowest thou not that
a maiden of herself hath no power to vow? Her father's will alone
absolves it or confirms. Thou doest him no wrong. Be Ferdinand's
bride, and all shall be forgiven, all forgotten--thou art my child, my
Miriam's child once more!"

He pressed her again fondly to him; but though she made no reply, his
arguments could not convince her. She had indeed told Arthur that she
never could be his, but yet avowed that she loved him; and if he
did meet her as the wife of another, what must he believe her? And
Ferdinand, if he did so love her, that preoccupied heart was indeed a
sad requital. She had, however, that evening but little time to think,
for ere either spoke again, the branches at the entrance of the tent
were hastily pushed aside, and a tall manly form stood upon the
threshold. Marie sprang to her feet with a faint cry--could it be that
the vow of an hour was already called upon to be fulfilled?--but
the intruder attributed her alarm to a different cause, and hastily
flinging off his wrapping mantle and deep plumed morion, he exclaimed,
"What! alarmed by me, my gentle cousin? dearest Marie! am I
forgotten?" And Henriquez, forgetting all of bodily exhaustion, all of
mental suffering, in the deep joy his sudden appearance caused, could
only fold the warrior in his feeble arms, and drooping his head on his
shoulder, sob forth expressively, "My son! my son!"



CHAPTER VII.

  "And thus how oft do life and death
    Twine hand in hand together;
  And the funeral shroud, and bridal wreath,
    How small a space may sever!"

  MS.


One little week did Ferdinand spend within the home of his boyhood;
and in that brief interval the earthly fate of Marie Henriquez was
decided. He had deferred his visit till such peace and prosperity had
dawned for Spain, that he could offer his bride not only a home suited
to his rank, but the comfort of his presence and protection for
an indeterminate time. He had come there purposely to reveal his
long-cherished love; to conjure Marie to bless him with the promise of
her hand; and, if successful, to return, in two short months, for the
celebration of their marriage, according to their own secret rites,
ere the ceremony was performed in the sight of the whole Catholic
world. The intermarriages of first cousins had been so common an
occurrence in his family, that Ferdinand, in spite of some tremblings,
as a lover, had regarded his final union with Marie with almost as
much certainty, and as a thing of course, as his uncle himself.

The effects of that agitating interview between father and daughter
had been visible to Ferdinand; but he attributed it, very naturally,
to the cause privately assigned for it by his kinsman--Marie's first
conviction that her father's days were numbered. He had been greatly
shocked at the change in Henriquez's appearance, and deeply affected
at the solemn and startling earnestness with which he consigned his
child to his care, beseeching him, under all circumstances, to love
and cherish her. His nephew could scarcely understand, then, such
earnest pleadings. Alas! ere his life closed, their cause was clear
enough.

Unconscious that her father and cousin were together, or of the nature
of their conversation, Marie had joined them, unexpectedly, ere the
interview was over. From her father's lips, and in a tone of trembling
agitation, she heard that his long-cherished prayer was granted, and
that she was his nephew's plighted, bride. He joined their hands,
blessed them, and left them alone together, ere she had had power
to utter a single word; and when voice was recalled by the tender,
earnest accents of her cousin, beseeching her to ratify her father's
consent--to say she would learn to love him, if she did not then; that
she would not refuse the devotedness he proffered--what could she
answer? She had so long loved him, venerated him, gloried in his
achievements, his honors, as of an elder and much-loved brother, that,
had she followed the impulse of her nature, she would have thrown
herself as a sister on his neck, and poured forth her tale of sorrow.
But she had sworn to be guided by her father, and he had besought her
to reveal nothing; and therefore she promised to be his, even while
with tears she declared herself unworthy. But such words were of
little meaning to her enraptured lover save to bid him passionately
deny them, and excite his ardent affection more than ever--satisfied
that she could be not indifferent, listening as she did, with such
flushed cheek and glistening eye, to the theme of his life since they
had parted--the favor of the sovereigns, and the station he had won.

During the two months which intervened between Don Ferdinand's
departure and promised return, Marie strained every nerve to face her
destiny, and so meet it with calmness. Had she not loved, it would
have been impossible to feel herself the cherished object of her
cousin's love without returning it, possessing, as he did, alike
inward and outward attraction to win regard. She studiously and
earnestly banished every thought of Arthur as it rose; she prayed only
for strength to be faithful, not only in outward seeming but in inward
thought; that Stanley might never cross her path again, or, if he did,
that his very affections might be estranged from her; that the secret
she had revealed might alone be thought upon, till all of love had
gone. The torture of such prayer, let those who love decide; but it
was the thought of his woe, did he ever know she was another's bride,
that haunted her. Her own suffering it was comparitively easy to bear,
believing as she did, that they were called for by her involuntary
sin: but his--so successfully had she conquered herself; that it was
only when his countenance of reproach would flit before her, that the
groan burst from her heart, and she felt bowed unto the earth.

Infirmity itself seemed conquered in the rejoicing thankfulness with
which Henriquez regarded this fulfilment of his wishes. He appeared
actually to regain strength and energy; his alarming fainting fits had
not recurred since his nephew's visit, and Marie hoped he would
be spared her longer than he believed. He never recurred to her
confession, but lavished on her, if possible, yet more endearing love,
and constantly alluded to the intense happiness which her consent to
be her cousin's bride had given him. Once he left the vale, despite
his precarious health, taking with him his old retainer, Reuben, and
returned, laden with the richest gems and costliest silks, to adorn
his child, on her bridal day, as befitted the bride of Ferdinand.

Time passed: the day specified by Ferdinand rapidly approached. He was
there to meet it--and not alone. Thoughtful of his Marie's feeling, he
had resolved that she should not stand beside the altar without
one female friend; and he brought one, the sight of whom awakened
associations with such overpowering strength, that Marie could only
throw herself upon her bosom, almost convulsed with tears. It was
Donna Emelie de Castro, at whose house she had joined the world; but
her emotion, supposed natural to the agitating ceremony impending,
and her father's precarious health, happily for her, passed without
further notice than sympathy and love.

Henriquez, for once, was indifferent alike to the agitation of Marie,
or the presence of Ferdinand. His glance was fixed on one of a little
group, all of whom, with the exception of this individual, were
familiar to his home and heart. He was clothed as a monk; but his
cowl was thrown back, and his gaze so fixed on Marie that she blushed
beneath it, and turned away.

"Do not turn from me, my child," he said; and Henriquez started at the
voice, it was so fraught with memories of the departed. "Stranger as
I must be, save in name, to thee--thou art none such to me. I seem
to feel thy mother once again before me--and never was sister more
beloved!--Manuel, hast thou, indeed, forgotten Julien?"

Almost ere he ceased to speak, the long separated relatives were
clasped in each, other's arms. The five-and-twenty years, which had
changed the prime of manhood into advancing age, and blanched the hair
of each, had had no power to decrease the strong ties of kindred,
so powerful in their secret race. The agitation and excitement of
Henriquez was so excessive, not only then, but during the few days
intervening before the celebration of the bridal, that Marie, in spite
of the near approach of the dreaded day, could only think of him.

Ferdinand was no exacting lover: his affection for her was so intense,
so true; his confidence in her truth so perfect, that, though he might
at times have fancied that she loved not then with fervor equal to
his own, he was contented to believe that his devotion would in time
create in her as powerful a feeling. He had so watched, so tended her
from infancy: she had so clung to and reverenced him, so opened her
young heart, without one reservation, to his view--so treated him as
her most cherished, most loved friend, that how could he dream she had
aught to conceal, or believe that, did she know there was, she could
have hesitated, one moment, to refuse his hand, preferring even the
misery of so grieving him, to the continued agony of deceit? It was
this perfect confidence, this almost childish trust, so beautiful in
one tried, as he had been, in the ordeal of the world, that wrung
Marie's heart with deepest torture. He believed her other than she
was;--but it was too late--she dared not undeceive him.

The nuptial morning dawned. The party, not more than twelve or
fourteen in all, assembled within the little edifice, whose nature
had so puzzled Arthur. Its interior was as peculiar as its outward
appearance: its walls, of polished cedar, were unadorned with either
carving, pictures, or imagery. In the centre, facing the east, was a
sort of raised table or desk, surrounded by a railing, and covered
with a cloth of the richest and most elaborately worked brocade.
Exactly opposite, and occupying the centre of the eastern wall, was
a sort of lofty chest, or ark; the upper part of which, arched, and
richly painted, with a blue ground, bore in two columns, strange
hieroglyphics in gold: beneath this were portals of polished cedar,
panelled, and marked out with gold, but bearing no device; their
hinges set in gilded pillars, which supported the arch above. Before
these portals were generally drawn curtains, of material rich and
glittering as that upon the reading-desk. But this day not only were
the curtains drawn aside, but the portals themselves flung open, as
the bridal party neared the steps which led to it, and disclosed six
or seven rolls of parchment, folded on silver pins, and filled with
the same strange letters, each clothed in drapery of variously colored
brocade, or velvet, and surmounted by two sets of silver ornaments,
in which the bell and pomegranate were, though small, distinctly
discernible. A superb lamp, of solid silver, was suspended from the
roof; and one of smaller dimensions, but of equally valuable material,
and always kept lighted, hung just before the ark.

Julien Morales, at his own particular request, was to read the
ceremony; and three hours after noon he stood within the portals, on
the highest step; a slab of white marble divided him from the bride
and bridegroom, over whom a canopy was raised, supported by four
silver poles. The luxuriant hair of the bride had been gathered
up, and, save two massive braids, shading her brow and cheek, was
concealed under a head-dress, somewhat resembling an eastern turban,
but well suited to her countenance. Her dress, of the fashion before
described, was all of white--the jacket or bodice richly woven with
gold threads; but so thick a veil enveloped face and form, that
her sweet face was concealed, until, at one particular part of the
mysterious rite (for such, to the Spaniards, this ceremony must have
been), the veil was uplifted for her to taste the sacred wine, and not
allowed to fall again. Neither the bridegroom (agitated himself,
for his was not a nature to think lightly of the nuptial rite), nor
Henriquez (whose excitement was extreme) was conscious of the looks
of alarm, blended with admiration, which the raising of the veil
attracted towards Marie. Lovely she was; but it was the loveliness of
a marble statue, not of life--her very lips were blanched, and every
feature still, indeed; but a stillness of so peculiar an expression,
so inexpressibly, so thrillingly sad, that admiration appeared
indefinably and strangely transformed to pain. The wedding ring was
placed upon her hand--a thin crystal goblet broken by Ferdinand,
on the marble at his feet--and the rites were concluded. An almost
convulsive embrace from her father--the unusual wildness of his voice
and manner, as he blessed, and called her his own precious child, who
this day had placed the seal upon his happiness, and confirmed twenty
years of filial devotedness and love--awoke her from that stagnating
trance. She folded her arms round his neck, and burst into passionate
tears; and there were none, not even Ferdinand, to chide or doubt that
emotion--it was but natural to her character, and the solemn service
of the day.

Gay and joyous was the meal which followed the bridal. No
appurtenances of modern pomp and luxury, indeed, decorated the board:
its only ornaments were the loveliest flowers, arranged in alabaster
vases, and silver baskets filled with blushing fruit. The food was
simple, and the wines not choice; but the guests thought not of mere
sensual enjoyment. In these secret meetings, each felt there was
something holy; richer homes, more gorgeous feasts, were theirs in the
world, whenever they so willed; but such intercourse of brotherhood
seldom occurred, and when it came, was consequently hallowed.

Some time they sat around the board; and so unrestrained, so full of
varied interest was their eager converse, that sunset came unheeded;
and the silver lamps, fed with sweet incense, were placed upon the
table. Julien then arose, and solemnly pronounced the usual blessing,
or rather thanksgiving, after the bridal feast. Marie did not look up
during its continuance; but as it concluded, she arose, and was about
to retire with Donna Emilie, when her eye caught her father, and a cry
of alarm broke from her. The burning flush had given place to a livid
paleness--the glittering of the eye to a fixed and glassy gaze. The
frame was, for a moment, rigid as stone, then fearfully convulsed;
and Reuben, starting forward, caught his master as he fell. There was
something so startling and unusual in the seizure, that even those
accustomed to his periods of insensibility were alarmed; and vain was
every effort of Ferdinand to awaken hope and comfort in the seemingly
frozen spirit of his bride.

Henriquez was conveyed to his room, and every restorative applied; but
even the skill of Julien, well versed as he was in the healing art,
was without effect. More than an hour passed, and still he lay like
death; and no sound, no sob, broke from the torn heart of his hapless
child, who knelt beside his couch; her large dark eyes, distended
to even more than their usual size, fixed upon his face; her hands
clasped round one of his; but had she sought thus to give warmth she
would have failed, for the hand of the living was cold and damp as
that of the seeming dead.

A slight, almost imperceptible flush floated over that livid
cheek--the eyes unclosed, but so quickly closed again that it was more
like the convulsive quivering of the muscle than the effort of the
will; and Marie alone had marked the change.

"Father!" she almost shrieked in agony, "in mercy speak to me
again--say but you forgive--bless--"

"Forgive" feebly repeated the dying man; and the strong feeling of
the father, for a brief interval, conquered even death--"Forgive?--my
beautiful--my own!--the word is meaningless, applied to thee. Art thou
not my Ferdinand's bride, and hast thou not so taken the sting, the
trial even from this dread moment? My precious one!--would I could see
that face once more--but it is dark--all dark--kiss me, my child!"

She threw herself upon his bosom, and covered his cheek with kisses.
He passed his hand feebly over her face, as if the touch could once
more bring her features to his sight; and then extending his left
hand, feebly called--"Ferdinand!"

His nephew caught the withered hand, and kneeling down, pressed it
reverentially and fondly to his lips.

Henriquez's lips moved, but there came no word.

"Doubt me not, my more than father! From boyhood to youth, from youth
to manhood, I have doted on thy child. Shall I love and cherish her
less now, that she has only me? Oh, trust me!--if devotion can give
joy, she will know no grief, that man can avert, again!"

A strange but a beautiful light for a single minute dispersed the
fearful shadow creeping over Henriquez's features.

"My son! my son!--I bless thee--and thou, too, my drooping flower.
Julien! my brother--lay me beside my Miriam. Thou didst not come for
this--but it is well. My children--my friends--send up the hymn of
praise--the avowal of our faith; once more awake the voice of our
fathers!"

He was obeyed; a psalm arose, solemn and sweet, in accents familiar
as their mother tongue, to those who chanted; but had any other been
near, not a syllable would have been intelligible. But the voice which
in general led to such solemn service--so thrilling in its sweetness,
that the most indifferent could not listen to it unmoved--now lay
hushed and mute, powerless even to breathe the sobs that crushed
her heart. And when the psalm ceased, and the prayer for the dying
followed, with one mighty effort Henriquez raised himself, and
clasping his hands, uttered distinctly the last solemn words ever
spoken by his race, and then sunk back--and there was silence.
Minutes, many minutes, rolled by--but Marie moved not. Gently, and
tenderly, Don Ferdinand succeeded in disengaging the convulsive hold
with which she still clasped her parent, and sought to bear her from
that sad and solemn room. Wildly she looked up in his face, and then
on those beloved features, already fixed and gray in death;--with
frantic strength she pushed aside her husband, and sunk down by her
father's side.



CHAPTER VIII.

  "Slight are the outward signs of evil thought:
  Within, within--'twas there the spirit wrought.
  Love shows all changes: hate, ambition, guile,
  Betray no further than the bitter smile."

  BYRON.


Our readers must imagine that nearly a year and a half has elapsed
since the conclusion of our last chapter. During that interval the
outward life of Marie had passed in a calm, even stream; which, could
she have succeeded in entirely banishing thoughts of the past, would
have been unalloyed enjoyment. Her marriage, as we hinted in our
fourth chapter, had been solemnized in public, with all the form and
ceremony of the Catholic Church, and with a splendor incumbent on the
high rank and immense wealth of the bridegroom. In compliance with
Marie's wishes, however, she had not yet been presented to the
Queen; delicate health (which was the fact, for a terrible fever
had succeeded the varied emotions of her wedding day) and her
late bereavement, was her husband's excuse to Isabella for her
non-appearance--an excuse graciously accepted; the rather that the
Queen of Castile was then much engrossed with political changes and
national reforms, than from any failing of interest in Don Ferdinand's
bride.

Changed as was her estate, from her lovely home in the Vale of Cedars,
where she had dwelt as the sole companion of an ailing parent, to the
mistress of a large establishment in one of the most populous cities
of Castile; the idolized wife of the Governor of the town--and, as
such, the object of popular love and veneration, and called upon,
frequently, to exert influence and authority--still Marie did not fail
performing every new duty with a grace and sweetness binding her more
and more closely to the doting heart of her husband. For her inward
self, Marie was calm--nay, at intervals, almost happy. She had neither
prayed nor struggled in vain, and she felt as if her very prayer was
answered in the fact that Arthur Stanley had been appointed to some
high and honorable post in Sicily, and they were not therefore likely
yet to meet again. The wife of such a character as Morales could not
have continued wretched unless perversely resolved so to be. But his
very virtues, while they inspired the deepest reverence towards him,
engendered some degree of fear. Could she really have loved him as--he
believed she did--this feeling would not have had existence; but its
foundation was the constant thought that she was deceiving him--the
remorse, that his fond confidence was so utterly misplaced--the
consciousness, that there was still something to conceal, which, if
discovered, must blight his happiness for ever, and estrange him from
her, were it only for the past deceit. Had his character been less
lofty--his confidence in her less perfect--his very love less fond
and trusting--she could have borne her trial better; but to one true,
ingenuous, open as herself, what could be more terrible than the
unceasing thought that she was acting a part--and to her husband?
Often and often she longed, with an almost irresistible impulse, to
fling herself at his feet, and beseech him not to pierce her heart
with such fond trust; but the impulse was forcibly controlled. What
would such confession avail her now?--or him, save to wound?

Amongst the many Spaniards of noble birth who visited Don Ferdinand's,
was one Don Luis Garcia, whose actual rank and office no one seemed to
know; and yet, in affairs of church or state, camp or council, he was
always so associated, that it was impossible to discover to which of
these he was allied; in fact, there was a mystery around him, which no
one could solve. Notwithstanding his easy--nay, it was by some thought
fascinating manners, his presence generally created a restraint, felt
intuitively by all, yet comprehended by none. That there is such, an
emotion as antipathy mercifully placed within us, often as a warning,
we do most strenuously believe; but we seldom trace and recognize it
as such, till circumstances reveal its truth.

The real character of Don Luis, and the office he held, our future
pages will disclose; suffice it here to state, that there was no
lack of personal attractions or mental graces, to account for the
universal, yet unspoken and unacknowledged dislike which he inspired.
Apparently in the prime of life, he yet seemed to have relinquished
all the pleasures and even the passions of life. Austere, even rigid,
in those acts of piety and personal mortifications enjoined by his
religion--voluntary fasts, privations, nights supposed to be past in
vigil and in penance; occasional rich gifts to patron saints, and
their human followers; an absence of all worldly feeling, even
ambition; some extraordinary deeds of benevolence--all rendered him an
object of actual veneration to the priests and monks with which the
goodly city of Segovia abounded; and even the populace declared him
faultless, as a catholic and a man, even while their inward shuddering
belied the words.

Don Ferdinand Morales alone was untroubled with these contradictory
emotions. Incapable of hypocrisy himself, he could not imagine it
in others: his nature seemed actually too frank and true for the
admission even of a prejudice. Little did he dream that his name,
his wealth, his very favor with the Queen, his influence with her
subjects, had already stamped him, in the breast of the man to whom
his house and heart alike were open, as an object of suspicion and
espial; and that ere a year had passed over his wedded life, these
feelings were ripened, cherished--changed from the mere thought of
persecution, to palpable resolve, by personal and ungovernable hate.

Don Luis had never known love; not even the fleeting fancy, much less
the actual passion, of the sensualist, or the spiritual aspirings of
true affection. Of the last, in fact, he was utterly incapable.
No feeling, with him, was of an evanescent nature: under the cold
austerity of the ordinary man, lay coals of living fire. It mattered
not under what guise excited--hate, revenge, ambition, he was capable
of all. At love, alone, he had ever laughed--exulting in his own
security.

The internal condition of Spain, as we have before said, had been,
until the accession of Isabella and Ferdinand, one of the grossest
license and most fearful immorality. Encouraged in the indulgence of
every passion, by the example of the Court, no dictates of either
religion or morality ever interfered to protect the sanctity of home;
unbridled desires were often the sole cause of murderous assaults; and
these fearful crimes continually passing unpunished, encouraged the
supposition that men's passions were given to be their sole guide,
before which, honor, innocence, and virtue fell powerless.

The vigorous proceedings of Ferdinand and Isabella had already
remedied these terrible abuses. Over the public safety and reform they
had some power; but over the hearts of individuals they had none; and
there were still some with whom past license was far more influencing
than present restraint and legal severity; still some who paused at
no crime so that the gratification of their passions was ensured; and
foremost amongst these, though by his secret office pledged to the
annihilation of all domestic and social ties, as regarded his own
person, was Don Luis Garcia.

For rather more than a year, Don Ferdinand Morales had enjoyed the
society of his young wife uninterruptedly, save by occasional visits,
of brief duration, to Valladolid and Leon, where Isabella alternately
held her court. He was now, however, summoned to attend the
sovereigns, on a visit to Ferdinand's paternal dominions, an office
which would cause his absence for a much longer interval. He obeyed
with extreme reluctance--nor did Marie feel the separation less. There
was, in some measure, a feeling of security in his presence, which,
whenever he was absent, gave place to fearful tremblings as to what
might transpire to shake her faith in her, ere he returned.

Resolved that not the very faintest breath of scandal should touch
_his_ wife, Marie, during the absence of Morales, always kept herself
secluded. This time her retirement was stricter than ever; and great,
then, was her indignation and astonishment, when about a fortnight
before her husband's expected return, and in direct contradiction
to her commands, Don Luis Garcia was admitted to her presence; and
nothing but actual flight, for which she was far too proud and
self-possessed, could have averted the private interview which
followed. The actual words which passed we know not, but, after a very
brief interval of careless converse on the part of Garcia--something
he said earnestly, and in the tones of pitying sympathy, which caused
the cheek and lips of Marie to blanch to marble, and her whole frame
to shiver, and then grow rigid, as if turned to stone. Could it be
that the fatal secret, which she believed was known only to herself
and Arthur, that she had loved another ere she wedded Ferdinand, had
been penetrated by the man towards whom she had ever felt the most
intense abhorrence? and that he dared refer to it as a source of
sympathy--as a proof that he could feel for her more than her
unsuspecting husband? Why was speech so frozen up within her, that she
could not, for the moment, answer, and give him back the lie? But that
silence of deadly terror lasted not long: he had continued to speak;
at first she was unconscious of his change of tone, words, and even
action; but when his actual meaning flashed upon her, voice, strength,
energy returned in such a burst of womanly indignation, womanly
majesty, that Garcia himself, skilled in every art of evil as he was,
quailed beneath it, and felt that he was powerless, save by violence
and revenge.

While that terrible interview lasted, the wife of Morales had not
failed; but when once more alone, the most deadly terror took
possession of her. She had, indeed, so triumphed as to banish Garcia,
defeated, from her presence; but fearful threats of vengeance were in
that interview divulged--allusions to some secret power, over which
he was the head, armed with authority even greater than that of
the sovereign's--mysteriously spoken, but still almost strangely
intelligible, that in her betrayal or her silence lay the safety or
the danger of her husband--all compelled the conviction that her
terror and her indignation at the daring insult must be buried deep in
her own breast; even while the supposition that Don Luis knew all the
past (though how, her wildest imagination could not discover), and
that therefore she was in his power, urged her yet more to a full
confession to her husband. Better if his heart must be wrung by her,
than by a foe; and yet she shrunk in anguish from the task.

She was, however, deceived as to the amount of Garcia's knowledge of
her past life. Accustomed to read human nature under all its varied
phases--employing an unusually acute penetration so to know his
fellows as to enable him, when needed, to create the greatest amount
of misery--he had simply perceived that Marie's love for her husband
was of a different nature to his for her, and that she had some secret
to conceal. On this he had based his words: his suspicions were,
unhappily, confirmed by the still, yet expressive agony they had
occasioned. Baffled, as in some measure he had been, his internal rage
that he should have so quailed before a woman, naturally increased the
whirlwind of contending passions: but schooled by his impenetrable
system of hypocrisy to outward quietness and control, he waited,
certain that circumstances would either of themselves occur, or be so
guided by him as to give him ample means of triumph and revenge.



CHAPTER IX.

  "You would have thought the very windows spake;
  So many greedy looks of young and old
  Through casements darted their desiring eyes."

  SHAKSPEARE.


In an apartment, whose pale, green hangings, embroidered with
richly-colored flowers, and whose furniture and ornaments, all of
delicate material and refined taste, marked it as a meet boudoir for
gentle blood, sat Marie and her husband. She occupied her favorite
seat--a cushion at his feet, and was listening with interest to his
animated history of the Sovereign's welcome to Saragossa, the popular
ferment at their appearance, the good they had accomplished, and would
still accomplish, as their judicious plans matured. It was clear, he
said, that they had resolved the sovereign power should not be merely
nominal, as it had been. By making himself proclaimed and received
as grand master of the three great orders of knighthood--Saint
Iago, Compostella, and Alcantara--the immense influence of those
associations must succumb to, and be guided by, Ferdinand alone; the
power of the nobles would thus be insensibly diminished, and the mass
of the kingdom--the PEOPLE--as a natural consequence, become of more
importance, their position more open to the eyes of the sovereigns,
and their condition, physically and morally, ameliorated and improved.

"I feel and acknowledge this, dearest; though one of the class whose
power must be diminished to accomplish it;" he continued, "I am too
anxious for the internal prosperity of my country to quarrel with any
measures which minds so enlightened as its present sovereigns may deem
requisite. But this is but a grave theme for thee, love. Knowest
thou that her Grace reproached me with not bringing thee to join the
Arragonese festivities? When Donna Emilie spoke of thee, and thy
gentle worth and feminine loveliness, as being such as indeed her
Grace would love, my Sovereign banished me her presence as a disloyal
cavalier for so deserting thee; and when I marked how pale and thin
thou art, I feel that she was right; I should have borne thee with
me."

"Or not have left me. Oh, my husband, leave me not again!" she
replied, with sudden and involuntary emotion, which caused him to
throw his arm round her, and fondly kiss her brow.

"Not for the court, dearest; but that gentle heart must not forget
thou art a warrior's wife, and as such, for his honor's sake, must
sometimes bear the pang of parting. Nay, thou tremblest, and art still
paler! Ere such summons come, thou wilt have learned to know and love
thy Queen, and in her protecting favor find some solace, should I be
called to war."

"War! talk they of war again? I thought all was now at peace?"

"Yes, love, in our sovereign's hereditary dominions; but there can be
no lasting peace while some of the fairest territory of Spain still
dims the supremacy of Castile, and bows down to Moorish masters. It is
towards Grenada King Ferdinand looks, yearning for the day when, all
internal commotions healed, he can head a gallant army to compel
subjection; and sad as it will be to leave thee, sweet, thou wilt
forgive thy soldier if he say, would that the day were come!"

"And will not their present extent of kingdom suffice the sovereigns?
When they recall their former petty domains, and compare them with the
present, is it not enough?"

Morales smiled. "Thou speakest as a very woman, gentle one, to whom
the actual word 'ambition' is unknown. Why, the very cause thou namest
urges our sovereigns to the conquest of these Moors. They are the blot
upon a kingdom otherwise as fair and great as any other European land.
They thirst to raise it in the scale of kingdoms--to send down their
names to posterity, as the founders of the Spanish monarchy--the
builders and supporters of a united throne, and so leave their
children an undivided land. Surely this is a glorious project, one
which every Spanish warrior must rejoice to aid. But fear not a speedy
summons, love; much must be accomplished first. Isabella will visit
this ancient city ere then, and thou wilt learn to love and reverence
her as I do."

"In truth, my husband, thou hast made me loyal as thyself; but say
they not she is severe, determined, stern?"

"To the guilty, yes; even the weak crafty will not stand before her
repelling glance: but what hast thou to fear, my love? Penetrative as
she is, seeming to read the heart through the countenance, she can
read nought in thee save qualities to love. I remember well the eagle
glance she fixed on King Ferdinand's young English favorite, Senor
Stanley, the first time he was presented to her. But she was
satisfied, for he ranks as deservedly high in her favor as in her
husband's. Thou hast heard me speak of this young Englishman, my
Marie?"

Her face was at that moment turned from him, or he might have started
at its sudden flush; but she assented by a sign.

"He was so full of joyousness and mirth, that to us of graver nature
it seemed almost below his dignity as man; and now they tell me he
is changed so mournfully; grave, sad, silent, maturity seems to have
descended upon him ere he has quite passed boyhood; or he has some
secret sorrow, too sacred to be revealed. There is some talk of his
recall from Sicily, he having besought the king for a post of more
active and more dangerous service. Ferdinand loves such daring
spirits, and therefore no doubt will grant his boon. Ha! Alberic, what
is it?" he continued, eagerly, as a page entered, and delivered a
packet secured with floss silk, and sealed with the royal signet,
adding that it had been brought by an officer of the royal guard,
attended by some men at arms. "Give him welcome suited to his rank,
boy: I will but peruse these, and attend him instantly."

The page withdrew, and Don Ferdinand, hastily cutting the silk, was
speedily so engrossed in his despatches, as to forget for the time
even the presence of his wife; and well it was so; for it enabled her
with a strong effort to conquer the deadly sickness Morale's careless
words had caused--the pang of dread accompanying every thought of
Arthur's return to Spain--to still the throbbing pulse and quivering
lip, and, outwardly unmoved, meet his joyous glance once more.

"'Tis as I thought and hoped," he said, with animation: "the
sovereigns hold their court for some months in this city; coeval,
in antiquity, associations, and loyalty, with Valladolid and Leon,
Isabella, with her characteristic thought for all her subjects, has
decided on making it occasionally the seat of empire alternately with
them, and commissions me, under her royal seal, to see the castle
fittingly prepared. Listen, love, what her Grace writes further--'Take
heed, my good lord, and hide not in a casket the brightest gem which
we have heard adorns thy home. We would ourselves judge the value of
thy well-hoarded jewel--not that we doubt its worth; for it would be
strange, indeed, if he who hath ever borne off the laurel wreath from
the competitors for glory, should not in like manner seek and win
the prize of beauty. In simple language, let Donna Marie be in
attendance.' And so thou shalt, love; and by thy gentle virtues and
modest loveliness, add increase of honor to thy husband. Ha! what
says Gonzalo de Lara?" he added, as his eye glanced over another
paper--"'Tumults in Sicily--active measures--Senor Stanley--enough on
which to expend his chivalric ardor, and evince his devotedness to
Ferdinand; but Sicily quieted--supposed the king will still grant
his request--assign him some post about his person, be at hand for
military service against the Moors.' Good! then the war is resolved
on. We must bestir ourselves, dearest, to prepare fit reception for
our royal guests; there is but brief time."

He embraced and left her as he spoke; and for several minutes Marie
remained without the power even to rise from her seat: one pang
conquered, another came. Arthur's recall appeared determined; would
it be so soon that he would join this sovereigns before they reached
Segovia? She dared not think, save to pray, with wild and desperate
fervor, that such might not be.

Magnificent, indeed, were Don Ferdinand's preparations for the banquet
with which he intended to welcome his sovereigns to Segovia. The
castle was to be the seat of their residence, and the actual _locale_
of their court; but it was at his own private dwelling he resolved, by
a sumptuous entertainment, to evince how deeply and reverentially
he felt the favor with which he was regarded by both monarchs, more
especially by Isabella, his native Sovereign.

In the many struggles which were constantly occurring between the
Spaniards and Moors, the former had become acquainted with the light
yet beautiful architecture and varied skill in all the arts peculiar
to the latter, and displayed their improved taste in both public and
private buildings. Morales, in addition to natural taste, possessed
great affluence, which enabled him to evince yet greater splendor in
his establishment than was usual to his countrymen.

There was one octangular room, the large panels forming the walls of
which were painted, each forming a striking picture of the principal
events in the history of Spain, from the descent of Don Palayo, and
the mountaineers of Asturias, who struck the first blow for Spanish
freedom, to the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella. The paintings
were not detached pictures, but drawn and colored on the wall itself,
which had been previously prepared for the reception of the colors by
a curious process, still in use among the Orientals.[A] The colors,
when dry, were rubbed, till the utmost brilliancy was attained; and
this, combined as it was with a freedom and correctness of drawing,
produced an effect as striking then as it would be novel to modern
eyes. One side, divided into three compartments, contained in one a
touching likeness of the young Alfonso. His figure, rather larger than
life, was clothed in armor, which shone as inlaid with gold. His head
was bare, and his bright locks flowed over his shoulders as he wore
them in life. His brilliant eye, his lofty brow, and peculiarly sweet
expression of mouth, had been caught by the limner, and transferred to
his painting in all their original beauty. Round him were grouped
some of the celebrated cavaliers of his party; and the back-ground,
occupied by troops not in regular battalions, but as impelled by some
whelming feeling of national excitement, impossible to be restrained.
Answering to this was a full length of the infanta Isabella I., in
the act of refusing the crown offered by the confederates. The centre
compartment represented the union of Castile and Arragon by the
nuptials of their respective sovereigns in the cathedral church of
Valladolid. Over these pictures were suspended golden lamps, inlaid
with gems; so that, day or night, the effect should remain the same.
Opposite the dais, huge folding-doors opened on an extensive hall,
where the banquets were generally held, and down which Don Ferdinand
intended to range the tables for his guests of lesser rank, leaving
the octangular apartment for the royal tables, and those of the most
distinguished nobles; the one, however, so communicating with the
other, as to appear one lengthened chamber. On the right hand of the
dais, another large door opened on a withdrawing-room, the floor of
which was of marble, curiously tinted; and the walls hung with Genoa
velvet, ruby-colored, and bordered by a wide fringe of gold. Superb
vases of alternate crystal and frosted silver, on pedestals of
alabaster and of aqua-marine, were ranged along the walls, the
delicate beauty of their material and workmanship coming out well
against the rich coloring of the hangings behind. The roof, a lofty
dome, displayed the light Arabesque workmanship, peculiar to Moorish
architecture, as did the form and ornaments of the windows. This
apartment opened into another, much smaller, each side of which,
apparently formed of silver plate, reflected as mirrors every object;
and the pillars supporting the peculiarly light roof of the same
glittering material. Some parts of the extensive gardens Morales
intended to illuminate; and others, for the effect of contrast, to be
left in deepest shadow.

[Footnote A: See Art Union Journal, August, 1845.]

Nothing was omitted which could do honor to the royal guests, or
cast a reproach upon the magnificent hospitality of their hosts. The
preparations were but just completed, when an advance guard arrived at
Segovia with the tidings of the rapid approach of the sovereigns; and
Morales, with a gallant troop of his own retainers, and a procession
of the civil and military officers of Segovia, hastened to meet and
escort them to the town.

With an uncontrollable impulse, Marie had followed the example of
almost every female in Segovia, and, wrapt in her shrouding veil, had
stationed herself, with some attendants at a casement overlooking the
long line of march. The city itself presented one scene of gladsome
bustle and excitment: flags were suspended from every "turret, dome,
and tower," rich tapestries hung over balconies, which were filled
with females of every rank and grade, vying in the richness and
elegance of their apparel, and their coquettish use of the veil and
fan, so as to half-hide and half-display their features, more or less
beautiful--for beautiful as a nation, the Spanish women undoubtedly
are. Bells were ringing from every church; ever and anon came a burst
of warlike music, as detached troops galloped in the town, welcomed
with shouts as the officer at their head was recognized. Even the
priests themselves, with their sober dresses and solemn countenances,
seemed touched with the universal excitement, relaxing into smiles and
hearty greeting with the laymen they encountered. As the hours waned,
popular excitement increased. It was the first visit of Isabella to
the city; and already had her character been displayed in such actions
as to kindle the warmest love towards the woman, in addition to the
enthusiastic loyalty towards the Queen.

At length the rumor rose that the main body was approaching--in little
more than a hour the sovereigns would pass the gates, and excitement
waxed wilder and wilder, and impatience was only restrained by the
interest excited towards the gallant bodies of cavalry, which now in
slow and measured march approached, forming the commencement of a
line, which for three hours continued to pour within the city in one
unbroken strain.

Even Marie herself, pre-occupied as she was in the dread search for
one object, could not glance down on the moving multitude beneath her
without in some degree sharing the enthusiasm of her countrymen. There
were gallant warriors of every age, from the old man to the beardless
youth; chargers, superb in form and rich in decoration; a field of
spears glittering in the broad sunshine, some bearing the light gay
pennoncelle, others absolutely bending beneath the heavy folds of
banners, which the light breeze at times extended so as to display
their curious heraldic bearings, and then sunk heavily around their
staffs. Esquires bearing their masters' shields, whose spotless
fields flung back a hundred-fold the noonday sun--plumes so long and
drooping, as to fall from the gilded crest till they rested on the
shoulder--armor so bright as to dazzle the eyes of the beholders, save
when partly concealed under the magnificent surcoats and mantles,
amongst which the richest velvets, slashed with gold or silver,
distinguished the highest nobles. Pageantry like this mingled with
such stirring sounds as the tramp of the noble horse, curveting,
prancing, rearing, as if disdaining the slow order of march--the
thrilling blast of many trumpets, the long roll, or short, sharp call
of the drum; and the mingled notes of martial instruments, blending
together in wild yet stirring harmony, would be sufficient even
in this prosaic age to bid the heart throb and the cheek burn,
recognizing it, as perhaps we should, merely as the _symbol_, not the
_thing_. What, then, must it have been, when men felt such glittering
pageant and chivalric seeming, the _realities_ of life?

At length came the principal group; the pressure of the crowds
increased, and human hearts so throbbed, that it seemed as if they
could not breathe, save in the stunning shouts, bidding the very
welkin ring. Surrounded by a guard of honor, composed indiscriminately
of Castilians and Arragonese, mounted on a jet black steed, which
pawed the ground, and shook his graceful head, as conscious of his
princely burden, magnificently attired, but in the robes of peace,
with a circlet of gold and gems enwreathing his black velvet cap, his
countenance breathing this day but the kindly emotions of his more
youthful nature, unshadowed by the wile and intrigue of after-years,
King Ferdinand looked the mighty monarch, whose talents raised his
country from obscurity, and bade her stand forth among the first of
European nations. But tumultuary as were the shouts with which he was
recognized, they were faint in comparison to those which burst forth
at sight of the Princess at his side. Isabella had quitted her litter
on re-entering her own dominions, and now rode a cream-colored
charger, which she managed with the grace and dignity of one well
accustomed to the exercise, alike in processions of peace and scenes
of war.

The difference of age between the sovereigns was not perceivable,[A]
for the grave and thoughtful character of Ferdinand gave him rather
the appearance of seniority; while the unusual fairness of Isabella's
complexion, her slight and somewhat small stature, produced on her the
contrary effect. The dark gray eye, the rich brown hair and delicate
skin of the Queen of Castile deprived her, somewhat remarkably, of
all the characteristics of a Spaniard, but, from their very novelty
attracted the admiration of her subjects. Beautiful she was not; but
her charm lay in the variable expression of her features. Peculiarly
and sweetly feminine, infused, as Washington Irving observes, with "a
soft, tender melancholy," as was their general expression, they could
yet so kindle into indignant majesty, so flash with reproach or scorn,
that the very color of the eye became indistinguishable, and the
boldest and the strongest quailed beneath the mighty and the holy
spirit, which they could not but feel, that frail woman form
enshrined.

[Footnote A: Isabella was eight or ten years Ferdinand's senior.]

Round the sovereigns were grouped, in no regular order of march, but
forming a brilliant _cortége_, many of the celebrated characters of
their reign--men, not only of war, but of literature and wisdom, whom
both monarchs gloried in distinguishing above their fellows, seeking
to exalt the honor of their country, not only in extent of dominion,
but by the shining qualities of her sons. It was to this group the
strained gaze of Marie turned, and became riveted on the Queen,
feeling strangely and indefinably a degree of comfort as she gazed; to
explain wherefore, even to herself, was impossible; but she felt as if
she no longer stood alone in the wide world, whose gaze she dreaded;
a new impulse rose within her, urging her, instead of remaining
indifferent, as she thought she should, to seek and win Isabella's
regard. She gazed and gazed, till she could have fancied her
very destiny was in some way connected with the Queen's visit to
Segovia--that some mysterious influences were connecting her,
insignificant as she was, with Isabella's will. She strove with the
baseless vision; but it would gain ground, folding up her whole mind
in its formless imaginings. The sight of her husband, conversing
eagerly with the sovereign, in some degree startled her back to the
present scene. His cheek was flushed with exercise and excitement; his
large dark eyes glittering, and a sunny smile robbing his mouth of
its wonted expression of sternness. On passing his mansion he looked
eagerly up, and with proud and joyous greeting doffed his velvet cap,
and bowed with as earnest reverence as if he had still to _seek_ and
win her. The chivalry of Don Ferdinand Morales was proved, yet more
_after_ marriage than _before_.

It was over: the procession had at length passed: she had scanned
every face and form whose gallant bearing proclaimed him noble; but
Arthur Stanley was not amongst them, and inexpressibly relieved, Marie
Morales sunk down on a low seat, and covering her face with her hands,
lifted up her whole soul in one wild--yet how fervent!--burst of
thanksgiving.



CHAPTER X.

  "Yet was I calm. I knew the time
    My breast would thrill before thy look;
  But now, to tremble were a crime:
    We met, and not a nerve was shook."

  BYRON.


The excitement of the city did not subside with the close of the
procession. The quiet gravity and impressive appearance of age, which
had always marked Segovia, as a city more of the past than present,
gave place to all the bustling animation peculiar to a provincial
residence of royalty. Its central position gave it advantages over
Valladolid, the usual seat of the monarchs of Castile and Leon, to
sovereigns who were seeking the internal peace and prosperity of their
subjects, and were resolved on reforming abuses in every quarter of
their domains. The deputation from the city was graciously received;
their offering--a golden vase filled with precious stones--accepted,
and the seal put to their loyal excitement by receiving from
Isabella's own lips, the glad information that she had decided on
making Segovia her residence for the ensuing year, and that she
trusted the loyalty which the good citizens of Segovia had so warmly
proffered would be proved, by their endeavors in their own households
to reform the abuses which long years of misrule and misery had
engendered. She depended on them, her people, to aid her with heart
and hand, and bade them remember, no individual was so insignificant
as to remove his shoulder from the wheel on plea of uselessness. She
trusted to her citizen subjects to raise the internal glory of her
kingdom, as she did to her nobles to guard their safety, elevate her
chivalry, and by their untarnished honor and stainless valor, present
an invincible front to foreign foes. Isabella knew human nature well;
the citizens returned to their houses bound for ever to her service.

Don Luis Garcia had joined the train of Morales when he set forth to
meet the sovereigns. His extraordinary austerity and semblance of
lowly piety, combined as they were with universal talent, had been so
much noised abroad as to reach the ears of Ferdinand and Isabella; and
Morales, ever eager to promote the interests of a countryman, took
the earliest opportunity of presenting him to them. He was graciously
enough received: but, though neither spoke it, an indefinable feeling
of disappointment took possession of their minds, the wherefore they
knew not. Don Luis had conversed well, both as to the matter and
the manner; but neither Ferdinand nor Isabella felt the smallest
inclination to advance him to any post about themselves. In virtue
of his supposed rank, however, he of course mingled with the courtly
crowd, which on the appointed evening thronged the mansion of Don
Ferdinand.

Tremblingly as Marie looked forward to that evening, she spared no
pains to gratify her husband in the choice of her toilet. Sorrow had
never made her indifferent, and she sought to please him even in the
most trifling occurrences of life. Her beautiful hair still lay in
soft, glossy bands against the delicate cheeks, and was gathered up
behind in a massive plait, forming, as it were, a diadem at the back
of the exquisitely shaped head, from which fell a white veil--rather,
perhaps, a half mantle, as it shaded the shoulders, not the face--of
silver tissue, so delicately woven as to resemble lace, save in its
glittering material. A coronet of diamonds was wreathed in and out
the plait, removing all semblance of heaviness from the headgear, and
completely divesting it of gaudiness. Her robe, of blue brocade, so
closely woven with silver threads as to glisten in the light of a
hundred lamps almost like diamonds, had no ornament save the large
pearls which looped up the loose sleeves above the elbow, buttoned
the bodice or jacket down the front, and richly embroidered the wide
collar, which, thrown back, disclosed the wearer's delicate throat and
beautiful fall of the shoulders, more than her usual attire permitted
to be visible. The tiny white silk slipper, embroidered in pearl, a
collaret and bracelets of the same beautiful ornament, of very large
size, completed her costume.

Not even the presence of royalty could restrain the burst of
undisguised admiration which greeted Marie, as, led forward by her
eager husband, she was presented to the sovereigns, and knelt to do
them homage. Ferdinand himself gazed on her a moment astonished; then
with animated courtesy hastily raised her, and playfully chid the
movement as unmeet from a hostess to her guests.

A strange moisture had risen to the eyes of the Queen as she first
beheld Marie. It might have been that marvellous perfection of face
and form which caused the emotion; for if all perfection, even from
man's hand, is affecting even to tears, what must be the work of God?
It might have been that on that young, sweet face, to the Queen's
mental eye, a dim shadow from the formless realms of the future
hovered--that, stealing from that outward form of loveliness, she
beheld its twin sister, sorrow. Whatever it might have been, kind and
gentle as Isabella's manner ever was, especially to her own sex, to
Marie it was kinder and gentler still.

How false is the charge breathed from man's lips, that woman never
admires woman!--that we are incapable of the lofty feeling of
admiration of our own sex either for beautiful qualities or beauteous
form! There is no object in creation more lovely, more fraught with
intensest interest (if, indeed, we are not so wholly wrapt in the
petty world of self as to have none for such lofty sympathies) than a
young girl standing on the threshold of a new existence; beautiful,
innocent, and true; offspring as yet of joy and hope alone, but
before whom stretches the dim vista of graver years, and the yearning
thoughts, unspoken griefs, and buried feelings, which even in the
happiest career must still be woman's lot. There may be many who can
see no charm and feel no interest in girlhood's beauty: but not in
such is woman's best and holiest nature; and therefore not by such
should she be judged.

"We will not chide thee, Senor, for thy jealous care of this most
precious gem," said Isabella, addressing Don Ferdinand, while her eye
followed Marie, who, re-assured by the Queen's manner, had conquered
her painful timidity, and was receiving and returning with easy grace
and natural dignity the greetings and gallantries of her guests: "she
is too pure, too precious to meet the common eye, or breathe a courtly
atmosphere."

Don Ferdinand's eye glistened. "And yet I fear her not," he rejoined:
"she is as true, as loving, as she is loved and lovely."

"I doubt it not: nay, 'tis the spotless purity of soul breathing in
that sweet face, which I would not behold tainted, by association with
those less pure. No: let her rest within the sanctuary of thy heart
and hearth, Don Ferdinand. We do not command her constant attendance
on our person, as we had intended."

Conscious of the inexpressible relief which this assurance would be to
his wife, Morales eagerly and gratefully expressed his thanks; and the
Queen passed on, rejoicing in the power of so easily conferring joy.

We may not linger on the splendor of this scene, or attempt
description of the varied and picturesque groups filling the gorgeous
suite of rooms, pausing at times to admire the decorations of the
domed chamber, or passing to and fro in the hall of mirrors, gayly
reflected from the walls and pillars. The brilliant appearance of the
extensive gardens; their sudden and dazzling illuminations as night
advanced; their curious temples, and sparkling fountains sending up
sheets of silver in the still air and darkening night, and falling in
myriads of diamonds on innumerable flowers, whose brilliant coloring,
illuminated by small lamps, concealed beneath their foliage, shone
forth like gems; the groups of Moorish slaves, still as statues in
their various attitudes; the wild, barbaric music, startling, yet
delighting all who listened, and causing many an eager warrior to
grasp his sword, longing even at such a moment to exchange that
splendid scene for the clash and stir of war--we must leave all to
the imagination of our readers, and bid them follow us to the banquet
hall, where, summoned by the sound of the gong, the numerous guests
sat down to tables, groaning beneath the profuse hospitality of their
host, and the refined magnificence of the display.

All the warrior stirred the soul of the King, as, on taking his seat
at the dais, he glanced round and beheld the glorious triumphs of his
country so strikingly portrayed. But Isabella saw but one picture,
felt but one thought; and Marie never forgot the look she fixed on the
breathing portrait of Alfonso, nor the tone with which she inquired--

"Hadst thou ever a brother, Marie?"

"Never, royal Madam."

"Then thou canst not enter into the deep love I bore yon princely boy,
nor the feeling that picture brings. Marie, I would cast aside my
crown, descend my throne without one regretful murmur, could I but
hold him to my heart once more, as I did the night he bade me his glad
farewell. It was for ever! Thy husband speaks of him sometimes?"

"Often, often, my gracious liege, till his lip has quivered and his
eye has glistened!"

Isabella pressed her hand, and with even more than her wonted
graciousness, turned to receive from the hand of her host the gemmed
goblet of wine, which, in accordance with established custom, Don
Ferdinand knelt down to present, having first drunk of it himself.

Inspiringly sounded the martial music during the continuance of the
banquet. Brightly sparkled the brimming goblets of the far-famed
Spanish wine. Lightly round the table ran the gay laugh and gayer
jest. Soft and sweet were the whispers of many a gallant cavalier
to his fair companion; for, in compliment to Isabella, the national
reserve of the daughters of Spain was in some degree laid aside and a
free intercourse with their male companions permitted. Each, indeed,
wore the veil, which could be thrown off, forming a mantle behind, or
drawn close to conceal every feature, as coquettish fancy willed; nor
were the large fans wanting, with which the Spanish woman is said to
hold as long and desperate a flirtation as the coquette of other lands
can do with the assistance of voice and eye. Isabella's example had,
however, already created reformation in her female train, and
the national levity and love of intrigue, had in a great degree
diminished.

The animation of the scene was at its height when suddenly the music
ceased, a single gong was heard to sound, and Alberic, the senior
page, brought tidings of the arrival of new guests; and his master,
with native courtesy, hastened down the hall to give them welcome.

Marie had not heard, or, perhaps, had not heeded the interruption
in the music; for, fascinated by the manner and conversation of the
Queen, she had given herself up for the time wholly to its influence,
to the forgetfulness even of her inward self. The sound of many
footsteps and a rejoicing exclamation from the King, excited the
attention at once of Isabella and her hostess. Marie glanced down the
splendid hall; and well was it for her that she was standing behind
the Queen's seat, and somewhat deep in shadow. Momentary as was all
_visible_ emotion, its effect was such as must have caused remark and
wonder had it been perceived: on herself, that casual glance, was as
if she had received some invisibly dealt, yet fearful blow. Her brain
reeled, her eyes swam, a fearful, stunning sound awoke within her
ears, and such failing of bodily power as compelled her, spite of
herself, to grasp the Queen's chair for support. But how mighty--how
marvellous is the power of _will_ and _mind_! In less than a minute
every failing sense was recalled, every slackened nerve restrung, and,
save in the deadly paleness of lip, as well as cheek, not a trace of
that terrible conflict remained.

Aware that it was at a gay banquet he was to meet the King, Arthur
Stanley had arranged his dress with some care. We need only
particularize his sword, which was remarkable for its extreme
simplicity, the hilt being of the basket shape, and instead of being
inlaid with precious stones, as was the general custom of this day,
was composed merely of highly burnished steel. He had received it from
his dying father: and it was his pride to preserve it unsullied, as
it had descended to him. He heeded neither laughter at its uncouth
plainness, nor even the malicious sneer as to the poor Englishman's
incapacity to purchase a handsomer one; rejecting every offer of a
real Toledo, and declaring that he would prove both the strength and
brightness of English steel, so that none should gainsay it.

"Welcome, Don Arthur! welcome, Senor Stanley! By St. Francis, I shall
never learn thy native title, youth!" exclaimed the monarch, frankly,
as he extended his hand, which Stanley knelt to salute. "Returned with
fresher laurels, Stanley? Why, man, thou wilt make us thy debtor in
good earnest!"

"Nay, my gracious liege: that can never be!" replied Stanley,
earnestly. "Grateful I am, indeed, when there is opportunity to evince
fidelity and valor in your Grace's service; but believe me, where so
much has been and is received, not a life's devotion on my part can
remove the impression, that I am the debtor still."

"I believe thee, boy! I do believe thee! I would mistrust myself ere I
mistrusted thee. We will hear of thy doings to-morrow. Enough now to
know we are well satisfied with thy government in Sicily, and trust
our native subject who succeeds thee will do his part as well. Away to
thy seat, and rejoice that thou hast arrived ere this gay scene has
closed. Yet stay: our lovely hostess hath not yet given thee welcome.
Where is the Senora? Isabella, hast thou spirited her hence? She was
here but now."

"Nay, good my Lord: she has vanished unwittingly," replied Isabella,
as she turned towards the spot where Marie had been standing. "Don
Ferdinand, we must entreat thee to recall her!"

"It needs not, royal Madam: I am here:" and Marie stepped forward from
the deep shade of the falling drapery behind the royal seats which
had concealed her, and stood calmly, almost proudly erect beside the
Queen, the full light falling on her face and form. But there was
little need for light to recognize her: the voice was sufficient; and
even the vivid consciousness of where he stood, the hundred curious
eyes upon him, could not restrain the sudden start--the bewildered
look. Could that be Marie? Could that be the wife of Ferdinand
Morales? If she were the one, how could she be the other, when
scarcely eighteen months previous, she had told him that which, if
it were true, must equally prevent her union with Morales as with
himself? In what were they different save in the vast superiority of
wealth and rank? And in the chaos of bewildering emotions, so trustful
was he in the truth of her he loved, that, against the very evidence
of his own senses, he for the moment disbelieved in the identity
of the wife of Morales with the Marie Henriquez of the Cedar Vale.
Perhaps it was well he did so, for it enabled him to still the
tumultuous throbbing of his every pulse as her voice again sounded in
his ear, saying he was welcome, most welcome as her husband's friend,
and to retire without any apparent emotion to his seat.

He had merely bowed reverentially in reply. In any other person the
silence itself would have caused remark: but for the last three years
Stanley's reserve and silence in the company of women had been such,
that a departure from his general rule even in the present case would
have been more noticed than his silence. Thoughts of painful, almost
chaotic bewilderment indeed, so chased each other across his mind as
to render the scene around him indistinct, the many faces and eager
voices like the phantasma of a dream. But the pride of manhood roused
him from the sickening trance, and urged him to enter into the
details, called for by his companions in arms, of the revolt of the
Sicilians, with even more than usual animation.

One timid glance Marie had hazarded towards her husband, and it was
met by such a look and smile of love and pride that she was re-assured
to perform the duties of the evening unfalteringly to the end. Alas!
she little knew that her momentary emotion and that of Arthur had
alike been seen, commented upon, and welcomed with fiend-like glee,
as the connecting link of an until then impalpable plot, by one
individual in that courtly crowd, whose presence, hateful as it was,
she had forgotten in the new and happier thoughts which Isabella's
presence and notice had occasioned.

And who was there, the mere spectator of this glittering pageant,
but would have pronounced that there, at least, all was joy, and
good-will, and trust, and love? Who, even did they acknowledge the
theory that one human heart, unveiled, would disperse this vain dream
of seeming unalloyed enjoyment, would yet have selected the right
individual for the proof, or would not have shrunk back awed and
saddened had the truth been told? Surely it is well for the young,
the hopeful, and the joyous, that in such scenes they see but life's
surface--not its depths.

The festive scene lasted some time longer, nor did it conclude with
the departure of the King and Queen: many still lingered, wandering at
their own will about the rooms and gardens, and dispersing gradually,
as was then the custom, without any set farewell.

Her attendance no longer required by the Queen, and aware that her
presence was not needed by her guests, Marie sought the gardens; her
fevered spirit and aching head yearning to exchange the dazzling
lights and close rooms for the darkness and refreshing breeze of
night. Almost unconsciously she had reached some distance from the
house, and now stood beside a beautiful statue of a-water-nymph,
overlooking a deep still pool, so clear and limpid, that when the moon
cast her light upon it, it shone like a sheet of silver, reflecting
every surrounding object. There were many paths that led to it,
concealed one from the other by gigantic trees and overhanging shrubs.
It was a favorite spot with. Marie, and she now stood leaning against
the statue, quite unconscious that tears were falling faster and
faster from her eyes, and mingling with the waters at her feet.

"Marie!" exclaimed the voice of Stanley at that moment: "Canst thou be
Marie? so false, so--" but his words were checked, for the terror, the
tumult of feeling, while it impelled her to start from him, deprived
her of all power; and a rapid movement on his part alone prevented her
from falling in the deep pool beneath their feet. It was but a moment:
she withdrew herself from his supporting arms, and stood erect before
him, though words she had none.

"Speak to me!" reiterated Arthur, his voice sounding hollow and
changed; "I ask but one word. My very senses seem to play me false,
and mock me with thy outward semblance to one I have so loved. Her
name, too, was Marie; her voice soft and thrilling as thine own:
and yet, yet, I feel that 'tis but semblance--'tis but mockery--the
phantasy of a disordered brain. Speak, in mercy! Say that it is but
semblance--that thou art not the Marie I have so loved."

"It is true--I am that Marie. I have wronged thee most cruelly, most
falsely," she answered, in a tone low and collected indeed, but
expressive of intense suffering. "It is too late now, either to atone
or to explain. Leave me, Senor Stanley: I am another's!"

"Too late to explain? By heaven but thou shalt!" burst fiercely and
wrathfully from Stanley. "Is it not enough, that thou hast changed my
whole nature into gall, made truth itself a lie, purity a meaningless
word, but thou wilt shroud thyself under the specious hood of duty to
another, when, before heaven, thou wast mine alone. Speak!"

"Ay, I will speak--implore thee by the love thou didst once bear me,
Arthur, leave me now! I can hear no more to-night."

"On condition thou wilt see me in private once again. Marie, thou
darest not refuse me this! Thou canst not have so fallen as to give no
reason for this most foul wrong--fancied weak, futile as it may be. We
part now, but we meet again!" And with a strong effort at control he
strode hastily from her.

The moon at that moment breaking from thick clouds, darted her full
light upon the pool, till it shone like an illuminated mirror amidst
the surrounding darkness; and though Arthur had disappeared, its clear
surface distinctly reflected the outline of another closely shrouded
figure. Marie turned in terror, and beheld, gleaming with the triumph
of a fiend, the hated countenance of Don Luis Garcia. One look told
her that he Lad seen all, heard all; but she had no power to speak or
move. Keeping his basilisk gaze fixed on her, he withdrew backwards
into the deep shade till he had entirely disappeared.

Summoning all her energy, Marie fled back towards the house, and at
the moment she reached it, Don Ferdinand crossed the deserted hall.

"Marie, dearest, here and alone? Pale, too, and trembling! In heaven's
name, what hath chanced?"

A moment more, and she would have flung herself at his feet and told
him all--all, and beseeching his forgiveness, conjure him to shield
her from Arthur, from herself; but as she looked up in his face,
and met its beaming animation, its manly reflection of the pure
gratification that evening had bestowed, how could she, how dared she
be the one to dash it with woe? And, overpowered with this fearful
contention of feeling, she threw her arms around him as he bent
tenderly over her, and burying her head in his bosom, burst into
tears.

"Thou art exhausted, mine own love! It has been too exciting, too
wearying a scene for thee. Why, what a poor, weak girl thou art! How
fortunate for thee that thy Queen demands not thy constant attendance,
and that thy husband is not ambitious to behold thee shining in the
court, as thy grace and beauty might! I am too glad to feel thee all,
all my own. Smile on me, love, and then to thy couch. A few hours'
quiet rest, and thou wilt be thyself again." And he bore her himself
with caressing gentleness to her apartment.



CHAPTER XI.

  "Then Roderick from the Douglas broke,
  As flashes flame through sable smoke,
  Kindling its wreaths long, dark, and low.
  To one broad blaze of ruddy glow;
  So the deep anguish of despair
  Burst in fierce jealousy to air."

  SIR WALTER SCOTT.


"Sure, now, Pedro, the poor young Senor cannot be entirely in his
right mind; he does nothing but tramp, tramp, tramp, the whole night
long, and mutters so fiercely to himself, and such dark words, it
would make one tremble were they not belied by His sweet face and sad
smile," was the observation of old Juana Lopez to her husband some ten
days after Arthur Stanley had been domiciled in their dwelling. The
old man muttered something about his being a foreigner from the Wild
Island, where they had all been busy cutting one another's throats,
and what could she expect otherwise?"

"Expect? why that he must have become Spanish born and bred since he
has been in King Ferdinand's service so long, and was such a boy when
he left England."

"Stuff, woman; there's no taking the foreign blood out of him, try as
you will," growled the old man, who in common with many of his class,
was exceedingly annoyed that a foreigner should possess so much of
the King's confidence, and not a little displeased that his dwelling
should have been fixed on for the young officer's quarters. "It would
not have been Isabella, God bless her! to have chosen such a minion;
she tolerates him for Ferdinand's sake; but they will find him out one
day. Saint Iago forbid the evil don't fall first."

"Now that is all prejudice, Viego Pedro, and you know it. Bless his
beautiful face! there is no thought of evil there, I'd stake my
existence. He is tormented in his mind about something, poor youth;
but his eyes are too bright and his smile too sad for any thing evil."

"Hold your foolish tongue: you women think if a man is better looking
than his fellows, he is better in every respect--poor fools as ye are;
but as for this Englisher, with such a white skin and glossy
curls, and blue eyes--why I'd be ashamed to show myself amongst
men--pshaw--the woman's blind."

"Nay, Viego Pedro, prejudice has folded her kerchief round your eyes,
not mine," retorted the old dame; and their war of words concerning
the merits and demerits of their unconscious lodger continued, till
old Pedro grumbled himself off, and his more light-hearted helpmate
busied herself in preparing a tempting meal for her guest, which, to
her great disappointment, shared the fate of many others, and left his
table almost untouched.

To attempt description of Stanley's feelings would be as impossible as
tedious; yet some few words must be said. His peculiarly enthusiastic,
perhaps romantic disposition, had caused him to cling tenaciously to
the memory of Marie, even after the revelation of a secret which to
other men would have seemed to place an impassable barrier between
them. To Arthur, difficulties in pursuit of an object only rendered
its attainment the more intensely desired. Perhaps his hope rested
on the conviction not so much of his own faithful love as on the
unchangeable nature of hers. He might have doubted himself, but to
doubt her was impossible. Conscious himself that, wrong as it might
be, he could sacrifice every thing for her--country, rank, faith
itself, even the prejudice of centuries, every thing but honor--an
ideal stronger in the warrior's mind than even creed--he could not and
would not believe that her secret was to her sacred as his honor to
him, and that she could no more turn renegade from the fidelity which
that secret comprised, than he could from his honor. She had spoken
of but one relation, an aged father; and he felt in his strong
hopefulness, that it was only for that father's sake she had striven
to conquer her love, and had told him they might never wed, and that
when that link was broken he might win her yet.

Loving and believing thus, his anguish in beholding her the wife of
another may be imagined. The more he tried to think, the more confused
and mystifying his thoughts became. Every interview which he had with
her, and more especially that in the Vale of Cedars, was written in
indelible characters on his heart and brain; and while beholding her
as the wife of Morales contradicted their every word, still it could
not blot them from his memory; and he would think, and think, in the
vain search for but one imaginary reason, however faint, however
unsatisfactory, for her conduct, till his brain turned, and his senses
reeled. It was not the mere suffering of unrequited love; it was the
misery of having been deceived; and then, when racked and tortured
by the impossibility of discovering some cause for this deceit, her
secret would flash across him, and the wild thought arise that both he
and Don Ferdinand were victims to the magic and the sorcery, by means
of which alone her hated race could ever make themselves beloved.

Compelled as he was to mingle with the Court as usual, these powerful
emotions were of course always under strong restraint, except when in
the solitude of his own quarters. That when there he should give them
vent, neither conscious of, nor caring for the remarks they excited
from his host and hostess, was not very remarkable; perhaps he was
scarcely aware how powerfully dislike towards Don Ferdinand shared his
thoughts with his vain suggestions as to the cause of Marie's falsity.
The reason for this suddenly aroused dislike he could not indeed
have defined, except that Morales had obtained without difficulty a
treasure, to obtain which he had offered to sacrifice so much. So
fourteen days passed, and though firmly resolved to have one more
interview with Marie, no opportunity had presented itself, nor in fact
could he feel that he had as yet obtained the self-command necessary
for the cold, calm tone which he intended to assume. It happened that
once or twice the King had made Arthur his messenger to Don Ferdinand;
but since the night of the entertainment he had never penetrated
farther than the audience chamber, there performed his mission
briefly, and departed. Traversing the principal street of Segovia one
morning, he was accosted somewhat too courteously, he thought, for
their slight acquaintance, by Don Luis Garcia.

"And whither so early, Senor Stanley?" he inquired so courteously that
it could not give offence, particularly as it followed other queries
of a graceful greeting, and was not put forth abruptly.

"To the mansion of Don Ferdinand Morales," replied the young
Englishman, frankly.

"Indeed! from the King?"

Stanley answered in the affirmative, too deeply engrossed with his own
thoughts, to attend much to his companion, whose interrogations he
would undoubtedly in a more natural mood have felt inclined to resent.

"Don Ferdinand Morales ranks as high in the favor of the people as
of the King--a marvellous conjunction of qualities, is it not, Senor
Stanley?" continued Garcia, after walking by his side some minutes in
silence. "A Monarch's favorite is seldom that of his subjects; but
Morales is unusually deserving. I wonder not at the love he wins."

"Neither Ferdinand nor Isabella bestows favors on the undeserving,"
briefly, almost sternly answered Stanley, with an unconscious change
of tone and manner, which did not escape his companion.

"And he is so singularly fortunate, every thing he touches seems to
turn to gold--an universal idol, possessed too of such wealth and
splendor, and, above all, with such a being to share them with him.
Fortune has marked him favored in all things. Didst ever behold a
creature equal in loveliness to Donna Marie, Senor Stanley?"

A momentary, and to any other but Don Luis, incomprehensible emotion,
passed over the countenance of Stanley at these words; but though
it was instantly recalled, and indifference both in expression of
countenance and voice resumed, it passed not unobserved; and Don Luis,
rejoicing in the pain he saw he was inflicting, continued an eloquent
panegyric on the wife of Morales, the intense love she bore her
husband, and the beautiful unity and harmony of their wedded life,
until they parted within a short distance of the public entrance to
Don Ferdinand's mansion, towards which Stanley turned.

Don Luis looked after his retreating form, and folding his arms in his
mantle, bent down his head, assuming an attitude which to passers-by
expressed the meek humility of his supposed character. There was a
wild gleam of triumph, in his eyes which he knew, and therefore they
were thus bent down, and there were thoughts in his heart which might
thus be worded:--"I have it all, all. Waiting has done better for me
than acting; but now the watch is over, and the coil is laid. There
have been those who, standing on the loftiest pinnacle, have fallen
by a touch to earth; none knew the how or wherefore." And shrouding
himself closer in his wrapping mantle, he walked rapidly on till he
reached a side entrance into the gardens, which stretched for many
acres around Don Ferdinand's mansion. Here again he paused, looked
cautiously around him, then swiftly entered, and softly closed the
door behind him.

Already agitated by the effort to retain calmness during Garcia's
artful words, it was no light matter for Stanley to compose himself
for his interview with Morales. Vain was the gentle courtesy of the
latter, vain his kindly words, vain his confidential reception of the
young Englishman, to remove from Arthur's heart the wild torrent of
passion called forth by Garcia's allusion to Marie's intense love
for her husband. To any one but Morales, his abrupt and unconnected
replies, his strange and uncourteous manners, must have excited
irritation; but Don Ferdinand only saw that the young man was
disturbed and pained, and for this very reason exerted his utmost
kindliness of words and manner to draw him from, himself. They parted
after an interval of about half an hour, Morales to go to the castle
as requested; Arthur to proceed, as he thought, to the environs of the
city. But in vain did he strive with himself. The window of the room
in which he had met Don Ferdinand looked into the garden, and there,
slowly pacing a shaded path, he had recognized the figure of Marie.
The intense desire to speak with her once more, and so have the fatal
mystery solved, became too powerful for control. Every feeling of
honor and delicacy perished before it, and hardly knowing what he did,
he retraced his steps, entered unquestioned, passed through the hall
to the gardens beyond, and in less than ten minutes after he had
parted from her husband, stood in the presence of Marie.



CHAPTER XII.

  "If she be false, oh, then Heaven mock itself!
  I'll not believe it."

  SHAKSPEARE.


Don Ferdinand had scarcely quitted his mansion ere fleet steps
resounded behind him, and turning, he beheld Don Luis Garcia, who
greeted him with such a marked expression, both in voice and face,
of sadness, that Morales involuntarily paused, and with much
commiseration inquired what had chanced.

"Nothing of personal misfortune, my friend; but there are times when
the spirit is tortured by a doubtful duty. To preserve silence is
undoubtedly wrong, and may lead to wrong, yet greater; and yet, to
speak, is so painfully distressing to my peace-loving disposition,
that I am tossed for ever on conflicting impulses, and would gladly be
guided by another."

"If you would be guided by my counsel, my good friend, I must entreat
a clearer statement," replied Morales, half smiling. "You have spoken
so mysteriously, that I cannot even guess your meaning. I cannot
imagine one so straightforward and strong-minded as yourself
hesitating and doubtful as to duty, of whatever nature."

"Not if it concerned myself: but in this case I must either continue
to see wrong done, with the constant dread of its coming to light,
without my interference; or inflict anguish where I would gladly give
but joy; and very probably, in addition, have my tale disbelieved,
and myself condemned, though for that matter, personal pain is of no
consequence, could I but pursue the right."

"But how stands this important case, my good friend?"

"Thus: I have been so unfortunate as to discover that one is false,
whom her doting husband believes most true--that the lover of her
youth has returned, and still holds her imagination chained--that she
meets him in secret, and has appointed another clandestine interview,
from which who may tell the evil that may ensue? I would prevent this
interview--would recall her to her better nature, or put her husband
on his guard: but how dare I do this--how interfere thus closely
between man and wife? Counsel me, my friend, in pity!"

"If you have good foundation for this charge, Don Luis, it is your
duty to speak out," replied Morales, gravely.

"And to whom?"

"To the lawful guardian of this misguided one--her husband."

"But how can I excite his anguish--how turn his present heaven of joy
to a very hell of woe, distrust, suspicion?"

"Does the leech heed his patient's anguish when probing a painful
wound, or cutting away the mortified flesh? His office is not
enviable, but it is necessary, and; if feelingly performed, we love
him not the less. Speak out. Don Luis, openly, frankly, yet gently, to
the apparently injured husband. Do more: counsel him to act as openly,
as gently with his seemingly guilty wife; and that which now appears
so dark, may be proved clear, and joy dawn again for both, by a few
words of mutual explanation. But there must be no mystery on your
part--no either heightening or smoothing what you may have learnt.
Speak out the simple truth; insinuate nought, for that love is
worthless, that husband false to his sacred charge, if he believes in
guilt ere he questions the accused."

Don Luis looked on the open countenance before him for a few minutes
without reply, thinking, not if he should spare him, but if his plans
might not be foiled, did Morales himself act as he had said. But the
pause was not long: never had he read human countenance aright, if
Arthur Stanley were not at that moment with Marie. He laid his hand
on Don Ferdinand's arm, and so peculiar was the expression on his
countenance, so low and plaintively musical the tone in which be
said, "God give you strength, my poor friend," that the rich color
unconsciously forsook the cheek of the hardy warrior, leaving him
pallid as death; and so sharp a thrill passed through his heart, that
it was with difficulty he retained his feet; but Morales was not
merely physically, he was mentally brave. With a powerful, a mighty
effort of will, he called life, energy, courage back, and said,
sternly and unfalteringly, "Don Luis Garcia, again I say, speak out! I
understand you; it is I who am the apparently injured husband. Marie!
Great God of heaven! that man should dare couple her pure name with
ignominy! Marie! my Marie! the seemingly guilty wife! Well, put forth
your tale: I am not the man to shrink from my own words. Speak truth,
and I will hear you; and--and, if I can, not spurn you from me as a
liar! Speak out!"

Don Luis needed not a second bidding: he had remarked, seen, and
heard quite enough the evening of Don Ferdinand's banquet, to require
nothing more than the simple truth, to harrow the heart of his hearer,
even while Morales disbelieved his every word. Speciously, indeed,
he turned his own mere suspicions as to Marie's unhappiness, and her
early love for Arthur, into realities, founded on certain information,
but with this sole exception--he told but the truth. Without moving
a muscle, without change of countenance, or uttering a syllable of
rejoinder, Don Ferdinand listened to Garcia's recital, fixing his
large piercing eye on his face, with a gaze that none but one so
hardened in hypocrisy could have withstood. Once only Morales's
features contracted for a single instant, as convulsed by some spasm.
It was the recollection of Marie's passionate tears, the night of the
festival; and yet she had shed them on _his_ bosom. How could she be
guilty? And the spasm passed.

"I have heard you, Don Luis," he said, so calmly, as Garcia ceased,
that the latter started. "If there be truth in this strange tale, I
thank you for imparting it: if it be false--if you have dared pollute
my ears with one word that has no foundation, cross not my path
again, lest I be tempted to turn and crush you as I would a loathsome
reptile, who in very wantonness has stung me."

He turned from him rapidly, traversed the brief space, and disappeared
within his house. Don Luis looked after him with a low, fiendish
laugh, and plunged once more into the gardens.

"Is the Senora within?" Inquired Don Ferdinand, encountering his
wife's favorite attendant at the entrance of Marie's private suit of
rooms; and though his cheek was somewhat pale, his voice was firm as
usual. The reply was in the negative; the Senora was in the gardens.
"Alone? Why are you not with her as usual, Manuella?"

"I was with her, my Lord; she only dismissed me ten minutes ago."

Without rejoinder, Don Ferdinand turned in the direction she had
pointed out. It was a lovely walk, in the most shaded parts of the
extensive grounds, walled by alternate orange and lemon trees; some
with the blossom, germ, and fruit all on one tree; others full of
the paly fruit; and others, again, as wreathed with snow, from the
profusion of odoriferous flowers. An abrupt curve led to a grassy
plot, from which a sparkling fountain sent up its glistening showers,
before a luxurious bower, which Morales's tender care had formed of
large and healthy slips, cut from the trees of the Vale of Cedars, and
flowery shrubs and variegated moss from the same spot; and there he
had introduced his Marie, calling it by the fond name of "Home!" As he
neared the curve, voices struck on his ear--Marie's and another's. She
was not alone! and that other!--could it be?--nay, it was--there was
neither doubt nor hesitation--it was his--his--against whom Don Luis
had warned him. Was it for this Marie had dismissed her attendant?
It could not be; it was mere accident, and Don Ferdinand tried to go
forward to address them as usual; but the effort even for him was too
much, and he sunk down on a rustic bench near him, and burying his
head in his hands, tried to shut out sight and sound till power and
calmness would return. But though he could close his eyes on all
outward things, he could not deaden hearing; and words reached him
which, while he strove not to hear, seemed to be traced by a dagger's
point upon his heart, and from very physical agony deprived him of
strength to move.

"And thou wilt give me no reason--idle, weak as it must be--thou wilt
refuse me even an excuse for thy perjury?" rung on the still air, in
the excited tones of Arthur Stanley. "Wealth, beauty, power--ay, they
are said to be omnipotent with thy false sex; but little did I dream
that it could be so with thee; and in six short months--nay, less
time, thou couldst conquer love, forget past vows, leap over the
obstacle thou saidst must part us, and wed another! 'Twas short space
to do so much!" And he laughed a bitter, jibing laugh.

"It was short, indeed!" faintly articulated Marie; "but long enough to
bear."

"To bear!" he answered; "nay, what hadst thou to bear? The petted
minion of two mighty sovereigns, the idol of a nation--came, and
sought, and won--how couldst thou resist him? What were my claims to
his--an exile and a foreigner, with nought but my good sword, and a
love so deep, so faithful (his voice softened), that it formed my very
being? But what was love to thee before ambition? Oh, fool, fool that
I was, to believe a woman's tongue--to dream that truth could dwell in
those sweet-sounding words--those tears, that seemed to tell of grief
in parting, bitter as my own--fool, to believe thy specious tale!
There could be no cause to part us, else wherefore art thou Morales's
wife? Thou didst never love me! From the first deceived, thou calledst
forth affection, to triumph in thy power, and wreck the slender joys
left to an exile! And yet I love thee--oh, God, how deeply!"

"Arthur!" answered Marie, and her bloodless lips so quivered, they
could scarcely frame the word--"wrong I have done thee, grievous
wrong; but oh! blast not my memory with injuries I have not inflicted.
Look back; recall our every interview. Had I intended to deceive, to
call forth the holiest feelings of the human heart, to make them a
mock and scorn, to triumph in a power, of whose very existence till
thou breathed love I was unconscious--should I have said our love
was vain--was so utterly hopeless, we could never be other than
strangers--should I have conjured thee to leave--aye, and to forget
me, had I not felt that I loved too well, and trembled for myself yet
more than for thee? Oh, Arthur, Arthur, do not add to the bitterness
of this moment by unjust reproaches! I have injured thee enough by my
ill-fated beauty, and too readily acknowledged love: but more I have
not done. From the first I said that there was a fate around us--thine
I might never be!"

"Then wherefore wed Morales? Is he not as I am, and therefore equally
unmeet mate for thee--if, indeed, thy tale be true? Didst thou not
tell me, when I implored thee to say if thy hand was pledged unto
another, that such misery was spared thee--thou wert free, and free
wouldst remain while thy heart was mine?"

"Ay," faltered Marie, "thou rememberest all too well."

"Then didst thou not deceive? Art thou not as perjured now as I once
believed thee true--as false as thou art lovely? How couldst thou
love, if so soon it was as nought?"

"Then believe me all thou sayest," replied Marie, more
firmly--"believe me thus false and perjured, and forget me, Senor
Stanley; crush even my memory from thy heart, and give not a thought
to one so worthless! Mystery as there was around me when we first met,
there is a double veil around me now, which I may not lift even to
clear myself with thee. Turn thy love into the scorn which my perjury
deserves, and leave me."

"I will not!" burst impetuously from Arthur, as he suddenly flung
himself at her feet. "Marie, I will not leave thee thus; say but that
some unforeseen circumstances, not thine own will, made thee the
wife of this proud Spaniard; say but that neither thy will nor thy
affections were consulted, that no word of thine could give him hope
he was beloved--that thou lovest me still; say but this, and I will
bless thee!"

"Ask it not, Senor Stanley. The duty of a wife would be of itself
sufficient to forbid such words; with me gratitude and reverence
render that duty more sacred still. Wouldst thou indeed sink me so low
as, even as a wife, to cease to respect me? Rise, Senor Stanley! such
posture is unsuited to thee or me; rise, and leave me; we must never
meet alone again."

Almost overpowered with contending emotions, as he was, there was
a dignity, the dignity of truth in that brief appeal, which Arthur
vainly struggled to resist. She had not attempted a single word of
exoneration, and yet his reproaches rushed back into his own heart as
cruel and unjust, and answer he had none. He rose mechanically, and
as he turned aside to conceal the weakness, a deep and fearful
imprecation suddenly broke from him; and raising her head, Marie
beheld her husband.

Every softened feeling fled from Stanley's breast; the passionate
anger which Marie's words had calmed towards herself, now burst fourth
unrestrained towards Morales. His sudden appearance bringing the
conviction that he had played the spy upon their interview, roused
his native irritation almost into madness. His sword flew from its
scabbard, and in fearful passion he exclaimed--"Tyrant and coward! How
durst thou play the spy? Is it not enough that thou hast robbed me of
a treasure whose value thou canst never know? for her love was mine
alone ere thou earnest between us, and by base arts and cruel force
compelled her to be thine. Ha! wouldst thou avoid me? refuse to cross
my sword! Draw, or I will proclaim thee coward in the face of the
whole world!"

With a faint cry, Marie had thrown herself between them; but strength
failed with the effort, and she would have fallen had not Morales
upheld her with his left arm. But she had not fainted; every sense
felt wrung into unnatural acuteness Except to support her, Morales had
made no movement; his tall figure was raised to its fullest height,
and his right arm calmly uplifted as his sole protection against
Arthur. "Put up your sword," he said firmly, and fixing his large dark
eyes upon his irritated adversary, with a gaze far more of sorrow than
of anger, "I will not fight thee. Proclaim me what thou wilt. I fear
neither thy sword nor thee. Go hence, unhappy boy; when this chafed
mood is past, thou wilt repent this rashness, and perchance find it
harder to forgive thyself than I shall to forgive thee. Go; thou art
overwrought. We are not equals now."

Stanley involuntarily dropped the point of his sword. "I obey thee,"
he said, in that deep concentrated tone, which, betrays strong passion
yet more than violent words; "obey thee, because I would not strike an
undefended foe; but we shall meet again in a more fitting place and
season. Till then, hear me, Don Ferdinand! We have hitherto been as
companions in arms, and as friends, absent or together; from this
moment the tie is broken, and for ever. I am thy foe! one who hath
sworn to take thy life, or lose his own. I will compel thee to meet
me! Ay, shouldst thou shun me, to the confines of the world I will
track and find thee. Coward and spy! And yet men think thee noble!"

A bitter laugh of scorn concluded these fatal words. He returned his
sword violently to its sheath; the tread of his armed heel was heard
for a few seconds, and then all was silent.

Morales neither moved nor spoke, and Marie lifted her head to look on
his face in terror. The angry words of Arthur had evidently fallen
either wholly unheeded, or perhaps unheard. There was but one feeling
expressed on those chiseled features, but one thought, but one
conviction; a low, convulsive sob broke from her, and she fainted in
his arms.



CHAPTER XIII.

  "Why, when my life on that one hope, cast,
  Why didst thou chain my future to her past?
  Why not a breath to say she loved before?"

  BULWER.

                  "Oh leave me not! or know
  Before thou goest, the heart that wronged thee so
  But wrongs no more."

  BULWER.


In the first painful moments of awakening sense, Marie was only
conscious of an undefined yet heavy weight on heart and brain; but as
strength returned she started up with a faint cry, and looked wildly
round her. The absence of Morales, the conviction that he had left her
to the care of others, that for the first time he had deserted her
couch of pain, lighted up as by an electric flash the marvellous links
of memory, and the whole of that morning's anguish, every word spoken,
every feeling endured, rushed back upon her with such overwhelming
force as for the moment to deprive her of the little strength she
had regained. Why could she not die? was the despairing thought that
followed. What had she to live for, when it was her ill fate to wreck
the happiness of all who loved her? and yet in that moment of agony
she never seemed to have loved her husband more. It was of him she
thought far more than of Arthur, whose angry words and fatal threat
rung again and again in her ears.

"My Lord had only just left when you recovered consciousness, Senora,"
gently remarked her principal attendant, whose penetration had
discovered the meaning of Marie's imploring look and passive silence,
so far at least that it was Don Ferdinand she sought, and that his
absence pained her. "He tarried till life seemed returning, and then
reluctantly departed for the castle, where he had been summoned, he
said, above an hour before."

"To the castle!" repeated Marie internally. "Ay, he will do his duty,
though his heart be breaking. He will take his place and act his part,
and men will report him calm, wise, collected, active as his wont, and
little dream his wife, his treasured wife, has bowed his lofty spirit
to the dust, and laid low his light of home. Tell me when he returns,"
she said aloud, "and bid all leave me but yourself."

Two hours passed, and Marie lay outwardly still and calm, neither
speaking nor employed. But at the end of that time she started up
hastily, resumed the robe which had been cast aside, and remained
standing, as intently listening to some distant sound. Several minutes
elapsed, and though she had sunk almost unconsciously on the seat
Manuella proffered, it was not till full half an hour that she spoke.

"The Senor has returned," she said calmly; "bid Alberic hither."

The page came, and she quietly inquired if any strangers had entered
with his master.

"No, Senora, he is alone."

"Has he long returned?"

"Almost half an hour, Senora. He went directly to his closet, desiring
that he might not be disturbed."

Ten minutes more, and Marie was standing in her husband's presence,
but unobserved. For the first time in his whole life had her light
step approached him unheard. For two hours he had borne a degree of
mental suffering which would either have crushed or roused any other
man into wildest fury--borne it with such an unflinching spirit, that
in neither look nor manner, nor even tone, had he departed from his
usual self, or given the slightest occasion for remark. But the
privacy of his closet obtained, the mighty will gave way, and the
stormy waves rolled over him, deadening every sense and thought and
feeling, save the one absorbing truth, that he had never been beloved.
Father and child had deceived him; for now every little word, every
trifling occurrence before his marriage in the Vale of Cedars
rushed back on his mind, and Henriquez imploring entreaty under all
circumstances to love and cherish her was explained.

"Ferdinand!" exclaimed a voice almost inarticulate from sobs; and
starting, he beheld his wife kneeling by his side. "Oh! my husband, do
not turn from me, do not hate me. I have none but thee."

He tried to withdraw his hand, but the words, the tone, unmanned him,
and throwing his arm round her, he clasped her convulsively to his
heart, and she felt his slow scalding tears fall one by one, as wrung
from the heart's innermost depths, upon her cheek.

For several minutes there was silence. The strong man's emotion is as
terrible to witness as terrible to feel. Marie was the first to regain
voice; and in low beseeching accents she implored him to listen to
her--to hear ere he condemned.

"Not thus," was his sole reply, as he tried to raise her from her
kneeling posture to the cushion by his side.

"Yes, thus my husband. I will not rise till thou say'st thou canst
forgive; wilt take the loving and the weak back to thy heart, if not
to love as thou hast loved, to strengthen and forgive. I have not
wronged thee. Were I false in word or thought I would not kneel to ask
forgiveness, but crawl to thy feet and die! If thou couldst but know
the many, many times I have longed to confess all; the agony to
receive thy fond caress, thy trusting confidence, and know myself
deceiving; the terror lest thou shouldst discover aught from other
than myself; oh! were it not for thy deep woe, I could bless this
moment, bidding me speak Truth once more!"

"And say thou hast never loved me? Wert true from duty, not from love?
Marie, can I bear this?"

"Yes--for I do love thee. Oh! my husband, I turn to thee alone, under
my God, for rest and peace. If I might not give thee the wild passions
of my youth, when my heart was sought, and won ere I was myself
conscious of the precipice I neared, I cling to thee now alone--I
would be thine alone. Oh, take me to thy heart, and let me lie there.
Ferdinand, Ferdinand! forgive me!--love--save me from myself!"

"Ay, now and ever! Come to my heart, beloved one!" answered her
husband, rousing himself from all of personal suffering to comfort
her; and he drew her to him till her head rested on his bosom. "Now
tell me thy sorrowing tale, to me so wrapt in mystery. Fear not
from me. It is enough thou clingest to me in such sweet guileless
confidence still."

She obeyed him; and the heavy weight of suffering years seemed
lightening as she spoke. From her first meeting Arthur, to that
morning's harrowing interview, every feeling, every incident, every
throb of reproach and dread were revealed with such touching and
childlike truth, that even in his suffering, Morales unconsciously
clasped his wife closer and closer to him, as if her very confidence
and truth, rendered her yet dearer than before, and inexpressibly
soothed at the very moment that they pained. Their interview was long,
but fraught with mutual comfort. Morales had believed, when he entered
his closet that day, that a dense cloud was folded round him, sapping
the very elements of life; but though he still felt as if he had
received some heavy physical blow, the darkness had fled from his
spirit, and light dawned anew for both, beneath the heavenly rays of
openness and Truth.

"And Arthur?" Marie said, as that long commune came to a close; and
she looked up with the fearless gaze of integrity in her husband's
face. "Thou wilt forgive him, Ferdinand? he knew not what he said."

"Trust me, beloved one. I pity and forgive him. He shall learn to love
me, despite himself."

Great was the astonishment and terrible the disappointment of Don Luis
Garcia at the visible failure of one portion of his nefarious schemes.
Though seldom in Don Ferdinand's actual presence, he was perfectly
aware that instead of diminishing, Morales' confidence in and love
for his wife had both increased, and that Marie was happier and more
quietly at rest than she had been since her marriage. But though
baffled, Garcia was not foiled. The calm, haughty dignity which,
whenever they did chance to meet, now characterized Don Ferdinand's
manner towards him; the brief, stern reply, if words were actually
needed; or complete silence, betraying as it did tire utter contempt
and scorn with which his crafty design was regarded, heightened his
every revengeful feeling, and hastened on his plans.

Two or three weeks passed: a calm security and peaceful happiness had
taken the place of storm and dread in Marie's heart. She felt that
it had been a secret consciousness of wrong towards her husband, the
dread of discovery occasioning estrangement, the constant fear of
encountering Stanley, which had weighed on her heart far more than
former feelings; and now that the ordeal was past, that all was known,
and she could meet her husband's eye without one thought concealed;
now that despite of all he could love and cherish, aye, trust her
still, she clung to him with love as pure and fond and true as ever
wife might feel; and her only thought of Stanley was prayer that peace
might also dawn for him. It was pain indeed to feel that the real
reason of her wedding Ferdinand must for ever remain concealed. Could
that have been spoken, one little sentence said, all would have been
explained, and Stanley's bitter feelings soothed.

It was the custom of Ferdinand and Isabella to gather around
them, about once a month, the wisest and the ablest of their
realm--sometimes to hold council on public matters, at others merely
in friendly discussion on various subjects connected with, politics,
the church, or war. In these meetings merit constituted rank, and mind
nobility. They commenced late, and continued several hours through the
night. To one of these meetings Don Ferdinand Morales had received a
summons as usual. As the day neared, he became conscious of a strange,
indefinable sensation taking possession of heart and mind, as
impossible to be explained as to be dismissed. It was as if some
impassable and invisible, but closely-hovering evil were connected
with the day, blinding him--as by a heavy pall--to all beyond. He
succeeded in subduing the ascendency of the sensation, in some
measure, till the day itself; when, as the hours waned, it became more
and more overpowering. As he entered his wife's apartment, to bid her
farewell ere he departed for the castle, it rose almost to suffocation
in his throat, and he put his arm round her as she stood by the
widely-opened casement, and remained by her side several minutes
without speaking.

"Thou art not going to the castle yet, dearest?" she inquired. "Is it
not much earlier than usual?"

"Yes, love; but I shall not ride to-night. I feel so strangely
oppressed, that I think a quiet walk in the night air will recover me
far more effectually than riding."

Marie looked up anxiously in his face. He was very pale, and his hair
was damp with the moisture on his forehead. "Thou art unwell," she
exclaimed; "do not go to-night, dearest Ferdinand,--stay with me. Thy
presence is not so imperatively needed."

He shook his head with a faint smile. "I must go, love, for I have no
excuse to stay away. I wish it were any other night, indeed, for I
would so gladly remain with thee; but the very wish is folly. I never
shrunk from the call of duty before, and cannot imagine what has come
over me to-night; but I would sacrifice much for permission to stay
within. Do not look so alarmed, love, the fresh air will remove this
vague oppression, and give me back myself."

"Fresh air there is none," replied his young wife, "the stillness is
actually awful--not a leaf moves, nor a breeze stirs. It seems too,
more than twilight darkness; as if a heavy storm were brooding."

"It may be; oppression in the air is often the sole cause of
oppression in the mind. I should be almost glad if it came, to explain
this sensation."

"But if thou must go, thou wilt not loiter, Ferdinand."

"Why--fearest thou the storm will harm me, love? Nay, I have
frightened thee into foreboding. Banish it, or I shall be still more
loth to say farewell!"

He kissed her, as if to depart, but still he lingered though neither
spoke; and then, as with an irresistible and passionate impulse, he
clasped her convulsively to his heart, and murmuring hoarsely, "God
for ever and ever bless thee, my own beloved!" released her, and was
gone.

On quitting his mansion and entering the street, the dense weight
of the atmosphere became more and more apparent. The heat was so
oppressive that the streets were actually deserted--even the artisans
had closed their stores; darkness had fallen suddenly, shrouding
the beautiful twilight peculiar to Spain as with a pall. Morales
unconsciously glanced towards the west, where, scarcely half-an-hour
before, the sun had sunk gloriously to rest; and there all was not
black. Resting on the edge of the hill, was a far-spreading crimson
cloud, not the rosy glow of sunset, but the color of blood. So
remarkable was its appearance, that Don Ferdinand paused in
involuntary awe. The blackness closed gradually round it; but
much decreased, and still decreasing in size, it floated
onwards--preserving its blood-red hue, in appalling contrast with
the murky sky. Slowly Morales turned in the direction of the castle,
glancing up at times, and unable to suppress a thrill of supernatural
horror, as he observed this remarkable appearance floating just before
him wherever he turned. Denser and denser became the atmosphere, and
blacker the sky, till he could not see a single yard before him;
thunder growled in the distance, and a few vivid flashes of lightning
momentarily illumined the gloom, but still the cloud remained. Its
course became swifter; but it decreased in size, floating onwards,
till, to Morales' strained gaze, it appeared to remain stationary over
one particularly lonely part of the road, known by the name of the
Calle Soledad, which he was compelled to pass; becoming smaller and
smaller, till, as he reached the spot, it faded into utter darkness,
and all around was black.

That same evening, about an hour before sunset, Arthur Stanley,
overpowered by the heat, and exhausted with some fatiguing military
duties, hastily unbuckled his sword, flung it carelessly from him,
and, drinking off a large goblet of wine, which, as usual, stood ready
for him on his table, threw himself on his couch, and sunk into a
slumber so profound that he scarcely seemed to breathe. How he had
passed the interval which had elapsed since his interview with Marie
and her husband, he scarcely knew himself. His military duties were
performed mechanically, a mission for the king to Toledo successfully
accomplished; but he himself was conscious only of one engrossing
thought, which no cooling and gentler temper had yet come to subdue.
It was a relief to acquit Marie of intentional falsehood--a relief to
have some imaginary object on which to vent bitterness and anger; and
headstrong and violent without control or guide, when his passions
were concerned, he encouraged every angry feeling against Morales,
caring neither to define nor subdue them, till the longing to meet him
in deadly combat, and the how to do so, became the sole and dangerous
occupation of heart and mind.

Stanley's heavy and unnatural sleep had lasted some hours, when he was
suddenly and painfully awakened by so loud and long a peal of thunder
that the very house seemed to rock and shake with the vibration. He
started up on his couch; but darkness was around him so dense that
he could not distinguish a single object. This sleep had been
unrefreshing, and so heavy an oppression rested on his chest, that he
felt as if confined in a close cage of iron. He waved his arms to feel
if he were indeed at liberty. He moved in free air, but the darkness
seemed to suffocate him; and springing up, he groped his way to the
window, and flung it open. Feverish and restless, the very excitement
of the night seemed to urge him forth, thus to disperse the oppressive
weight within. A flash of lightning playing on the polished sheath of
his sword, he secured it to his side, and threw his mantle over his
shoulders. As he did so his hand came in contact with the upper part
of the sheath, from which the hilt should have projected; but, to his
astonishment and alarm, no hilt was there--the sheath was empty.

In vain he racked his memory to ascertain whether he had left his
sword in its scabbard, or had laid the naked blade, as was his custom,
by him while he slept. The more he tried to think the more confused
his thoughts became. His forehead felt circled with burning iron,
his lips were dry and parched, his step faltering as if under the
influence of some potent spell. He called for a light, but his voice
sounded in his own ears thick and unnatural, and no one answered. His
aged hosts had retired to rest an hour before, and though they had
noticed and drew their own conclusions from his agitated movements,
his call was unregarded. In five minutes more they heard him rush from
the house; and anxious as she was to justify all the ways and doings
of her handsome lodger, old Juanna was this night compelled to lean
to her husband's ominously expressed belief, that no one would
voluntarily go forth on such an awful night, save for deeds of evil.

His rapid pace and open path were illumined every alternate minute
with, the vivid lightning, and the very excitement of the storm
partially removed the incomprehensible sensations under which Stanley
labored. He turned in the direction of the castle, perhaps with the
unconfessed hope of meeting some of his companions in arms returning
from the royal meeting, and in their society to shake off the spell
which chained him. As he neared the Calle Soledad the ground suddenly
became slippery, as with some thick fluid, of what nature the dense
darkness prevented his discovering, his foot came in contact with some
heavy substance lying right across his path. He stumbled and fell, and
his dress and hands became literrally dyed with the same hue as the
ground. He started up in terror; a long vivid flash lingering more
than a minute in the air, disclosed the object against which he had
fallen; and paralyzed with horror, pale, ghastly, as if suddenly
turned to stone, he remained. He uttered no word nor cry; but flash
after flash played around him, and still beheld him gazing in
stupefied and motionless horror on the appalling sight before him.



CHAPTER XIV.

  1st MONK.--The storm increases; hark! how dismally
             It sounds along the cloisters!

  BERNARD.--As on I hastened, bearing thus my light,
            Across my path, not fifty paces off,
            I saw a murdered corse, stretched on its back,
            Smeared with new blood, as though but freshly slain.

            JOANNA BAILLIE.


The apartment adjoining the council-room of the castle, and selected
this night as the scene of King Ferdinand's banquet, was at the
commencement of the storm filled with the expected guests. From forty
to fifty were there assembled, chosen indiscriminately from the
Castilians and Arragonese, the first statesmen and bravest warriors
of the age. But the usual animated discussion, the easy converse, and
eager council, had strangely, and almost unconsciously, sunk into a
gloomy depression, so universal and profound, that every effort
to break from it, and resume the general topics of interest, was
fruitless. The King himself was grave almost to melancholy, though
more than once he endeavored to shake it off, and speak as usual. Men
found themselves whispering to each other as if they feared to speak
aloud--as if some impalpable and invisible horror were hovering round
them. It might have been that the raging storm without affected all
within, with a species of awe, to which even the wisest and the
bravest are liable when the Almighty utters His voice in the tempest,
and the utter nothingness of men comes home to the proudest heart.
But there was another cause. One was missing from the council and the
board; the seat of Don Ferdinand Morales was vacant, and unuttered but
absorbing anxiety occupied every mind. It was full two hours, rather
more, from the given hour of meeting; the council itself had been
delayed, and was at length held without him, but so unsatisfactory did
it prove, that many subjects were postponed. They adjourned to the
banquet-room; but the wine circled but slowly, and the King leant back
on his chair, disinclined apparently for either food or drink.

"The storm increases fearfully," observed the aged Duke of Murcia,
a kinsman of the King, as a flash of lightning blazed through the
casements, of such extraordinary length and brilliance, that even the
numerous lustres, with which the room was lighted, looked dark when
it disappeared. It was followed by a peal of thunder, loud as if a
hundred cannons had been discharged above their heads, and causing
several glasses to be shivered on the board. "Unhappy those compelled
to brave it."

"Nay, better out than in," observed another. "There is excitement in
witnessing its fury, and gloom most depressing in listening to it
thus."

"Perchance 'tis the shadow of the coming evil," rejoined Don Felix
d'Estaban. "Old legends say, there is never a storm like this, without
bringing some national evil on its wings."

"Ha! say they so?" demanded the King, suddenly, that his guests
started. "And is there truth in it?"

"The lovers of such marvels would bring your Grace many proofs that,
some calamity always followed such a tempest," replied Don Felix. "It
may or may not be. For my own part, I credit not such things. We are
ourselves the workers of evil--no fatality lurking in storms."

"Fated or casual, if evil has occurred to Don Ferdinand Morales,
monarch and subject will alike have cause to associate this tempest
with national calamity," answered the King, betraying at once the
unspoken, but engrossing subject of his thoughts. "Who saw him last?"

Don Felix d'Estaban replied that he had seen him that day two hours
before sunset.

"And where, my Lord--at home or abroad?"

"In his own mansion, which he said he had not quitted that day," was
the rejoinder.

"And how seemed he? In health as usual?"

"Ay, my liege, save that he complained of a strange oppressiveness,
disinclining him for all exertion."

"Did he allude to the council of to-night?"

"He did, my Lord, rejoicing that he should be compelled to rouse
himself from his most unwonted mood of idleness."

"Then some evil has befallen him," rejoined the King; and the
contraction of his brow denied the calmness, implied by his unmoved
tone. "We have done wrong in losing all this time, Don Alonzo," he
added, turning to the Senor of Aguilar, "give orders that a band of
picked men scour every path leading hence to Morales' mansion: head
them thyself, an thou wilt, we shall the more speedily receive
tidings. Thine eyes have been more fixed on Don Ferdinand's vacant
seat, than on the board this last hour; so hence, and speed thee, man.
It may be he is ill: we have seen men stricken unto death from one
hour to the other. If there be no trace of him in either path, hie
thee to his mansion; but return not without news. Impalpable evil is
ever worse than the tangible and real."

Don Alonzo scarcely waited the conclusion of the King's speech, so
eager was he to depart; and the longing looks cast after him betrayed
how many would have willingly joined him in his search.

"His wife?" repeated the King, in answer to some suggestions of his
kinsman's. "Nay, man; hast thou yet to learn, that Morales' heart
would break ere he would neglect his duty? No: physical incapacity
would alone have sufficient power to keep him from us--no mental ill."

If the effort to continue indifferent conversation had been difficult
before, it now became impossible. The very silence felt ominous. What
evil could have befallen? was asked internally by each individual; but
the vague dread, the undefined horror of something terrible impending,
prevented all reply; and so nearly an hour passed, when, far removed
as was the council-room from the main body of the castle, a confusion
as of the entrance of many feet, and the tumultuary sound of eager
voices, was distinguished, seeming to proceed from the great hall.

"It cannot be Don Alonzo so soon returned," remarked the Duke of
Murcia; but even as he spoke, and before the King had time to make an
impatient sign for silence, so intently was he listening, the Lord of
Aguilar himself re-entered the apartment.

"Saints of heaven!" ejaculated the King, and his exclamation was
echoed involuntarily by all around. The cheek of the warrior, never
known to blanch before, was white as death; his eye haggard and wild;
his step so faltering, that his whole frame reeled. He sunk on the
nearest seat, and, with a shuddering groan, pressed both hands before
his eyes.

"Wine! wine! give him wine!" cried Ferdinand impetuously, pushing a
brimming goblet towards him. "Drink, man, and speak, in Heaven's name.
What frightful object hast thou seen, to bid thee quail, who never
quailed before? Where is Morales? Hast thou found him?"

"Ay," muttered Don Alonzo, evidently struggling to recall his
energies, while the peculiar tone of the single monosyllable caused
every heart to shudder.

"And where is he? Why came he not hither? Why neglect our royal
summons?" continued the King, hurrying question after question with
such an utter disregard of his usual calm, imperturbable cautiousness,
that it betrayed far more than words how much he dreaded the Senor's
reply. "Speak, man; what has detained him?"

"_Death_!" answered the warrior, his suppressed grief and horror
breathing in his hollow voice; and rising, he approached the King's
seat, and kneeling down, said in that low, concentrated tone, which
reaches every ear, though scarce louder than a whisper, "Sire, he is
murdered!"

"Murdered!" reiterated the King, as the word was echoed in all the
various intonations of horror, grief, and indignation from all around;
and he laid his hand heavily on Aguilar's shoulder--"Man, man, how can
this be? Who would dare lift up the assassin's hand against him--him,
the favorite of our subjects as of ourselves? Who had cause of
enmity--of even rivalship with him? Thou art mistaken, man; it
_cannot_ be! Thou art scared with the sight of murder, and no marvel;
but it cannot be Morales thou hast seen."

"Alas! my liege, I too believed it not; but the murdered corpse now
lying in the hall will be too bloody witness of my truth."

The King released his hold, and without a word of rejoinder, strode
from the apartment, and hastily traversing the long galleries, and
many stairs, neither paused nor spoke, till, followed by all his
nobles, he reached the hall. It was filled with soldiers, who, with
loud and furious voices, mingled execrations deep and fearful on
the murderer, with bitter lamentations on the victim. A sudden
and respectful hush acknowledged the presence of the Sovereign;
Ferdinand's brows were darkly knit, his lip compressed, his eyes
flashing sternly over the dense crowd; but he asked no question, nor
relaxed his hasty stride till he stood beside the litter on which,
covered with a mantle, the murdered One was lying. For a single minute
he evidently paused, and his countenance, usually so controlled as
never to betray emotion, visibly worked with some strong feeling,
which seemed to prevent the confirmation of his fears, by the trifling
movement of lifting up the mantle. But at length, and with a hurried
movement, it was cast aside; and there lay that noble form, cold,
rigid in death! The King pushed the long, jetty hair, now clotted with
gore, from the cheek on which it had fallen; and he recognized, too
well, the high, thoughtful brow, now white, cold as marble; the large,
dark eye, whose fixed and glassy stare had so horribly replaced the
bright intelligence, the sparkling lustre so lately there. The
clayey, sluggish white of death was already on his cheek; his lip,
convulsively compressed, and the left hand tightly clenched, as if the
soul had not been thus violently reft from the body, without a strong:
pang of mortal agony. His right hand had stiffened round the hilt
of his unsheathed sword, for the murderous blow had been dealt from
behind, and with such fatal aim, that death must have been almost
instantaneous, and the tight grasp of his sword the mere instinctive
movement of expiring nature. Awe-struck, chilled to the heart, did the
noble friends of the departed gather round him. On the first removal
of the mantle, an irresistible yell of curses on the murderer burst
forth from the soldiery, wrought into fury at thus beholding their
almost idolized commander; but the stern woe on the Sovereign's face
hushed them into silence; and the groan of grief and horror which
escaped involuntarily from Ferdinand's lips, was heard throughout the
hall.

"The murderer?" at length demanded many of the nobles at the same
moment. "Who has dared do this awful deed? Don Alonzo, is there no
clue to his person--no trace of his path?"

"There is trace and clue enough," was the brief and stern reply. "The
murderer is secured!"

"Ha!" exclaimed the King, roused at once; "secured, sayest thou? In
our bitter grief we had well-nigh forgotten justice. Bring forth the
dastardly craven; we would demand the reason of this cowardly blow ere
we condemn him to the death of torture which his crime demands. Let
him confront his victim. Why do you pause, my Lord? Produce the
murderer."

Still Don Alonzo stood irresolute, and a full minute passed ere he
signed to the men who had accompanied him. A figure was instantly led
forward, his arms strongly secured in his own mantle, and his hat so
slouched over his face, that not a feature could be distinguished.
Still there was something in his appearance that struck a cold chill
of doubt to the heart of the King, and in a voice strangely expressive
of emotion, he commanded--"Remove his hat and mantle: we should know
that form."

He was obeyed, for there was no resistance on the part of the
prisoner, whose inner dress was also stained with blood, as were his
hands. His cheek was ashy pale; his eye bloodshot and pale; and his
whole appearance denoting such excessive agitation, that it would have
gone far to condemn him, even had there been no other proof.

"Stanley!" burst from the astonished King, as a wild cry ran round
the hall, and "Death to the ungrateful foreigner!"--"Death to the
base-born Englishman!"--"Tortures and death!" escaped, in every
variety of intonation, from the fierce soldiery, who, regardless even
of their Sovereign's presence, drew closer and closer round, clashing
their weapons, and with difficulty restrained from tearing him to
pieces where he stood.

"He was my foe," muttered the prisoner, almost unconscious of the
import of his words, or how far they would confirm the suspicions
against him. "He robbed me of happiness--he destined me to misery. I
hated him; but I did not murder him. I swore to take his life or lose
my own; but not thus--not thus. Great God! to see him lying there, and
feel it might have been my hand. Men, men! would ye quench hatred,
behold its object stricken before you by a dastard blow like this, and
ye will feel its enormity and horror. I did not slay him; I would
give my life to the murderer's dagger to call him back, and ask his
forgiveness for the thoughts of blood I entertained against him; but I
touched him not--my sword is stainless."

"Thou liest, false traitor!" exclaimed Don Felix, fiercely, and he
held up the hilt and about four inches of a sword, the remainder of
which was still in the body. "Behold the evidence to thy black lie!
My liege, this fragment was found beside the body deluged in gore.
We know the hilt too well to doubt, one moment, the name of its
possessor; there is not another like it throughout Spain. It snapt in
the blow, as if more honorable than its master, it could not survive
so foul a stain. What arm should wield it save his own?"

A universal murmur of execration, acknowledged this convincing
evidence; doubly confirmed, as it seemed to be by the fearful start
and muttered exclamation, on the part of the prisoner the moment it
was produced. The nobles thronged round the King, some entreating him
to sentence the midnight assassin to instant execution; others, to
retain him in severest imprisonment till the proofs of his guilt could
be legally examined, and the whole European World hear of the crime,
and its chastisement; lest they should say that as a foreigner,
justice was refused to him. To this opinion the King leaned.

"Ye counsel well and wisely, my lords," he said. "It shall not be
said, because the murdered was our subject, and the murderer an alien,
that he was condemned without examination of proofs against him, or
being heard in his own defence. Seven suns hence we will ourselves
examine every evidence for or against him, which, your penetration, my
lords, can collect. Till then, Don Felix, the prisoner is your
charge, to be produced when summoned; and now away with the midnight
assassin--he has polluted our presence too long. Away with the base
ingrate, who has thus requited our trust and love; we would look on
him no more."

With, a rapid movement the unfortunate young man broke from the guard,
which, at Don Felix's sign, closed round and sought to drag him from
the hall, and flung himself impetuously at Ferdinand's feet.

"I am no murderer!" he exclaimed, in a tone of such passionate agony,
that to any less prejudiced than those around, it must at least have
raised doubt as to his guilt. "I am not the base ingrate you would
deem me. Condemn me to death an thou wilt, I kneel not to sue for
life; for, dishonored and suspected, I would not accept it were it
offered. Let them bring forward what they will, I am innocent. Here,
before ye all, in presence of the murdered victim, by all held sacred
in Heaven or on Earth, I swear I slew him not! If I am guilty I call
upon the dead himself to rise, and blast me with his gaze!"

Involuntarily every eye turned towards the corpse; for, vague as such
an appeal might seem now, the age was then but barely past, when the
assistance of the murdered was often required in the discovery of the
murderer. Many a brave heart grew chill, and brown cheeks blanched, in
anticipation of the unearthly sign, so fully were they convinced of
Stanley's guilt, but none came. The stagnated blood did not flow forth
again--the eye did not glare with more consciousness than before--the
cold hand did not move to point its finger at the prisoner; and Don
Felix, fearing the effect of Stanley's appeal upon the King, signed to
the guards, who rudely raised and bore him from the hall.

The tumults of these events had naturally spread far and wide over the
castle, reaching the apartments of the Queen who, perceiving the awe
and terror which the raging tempest had excited in her attendants,
though incapable of aught like fear herself, had refrained from
dismissing them as usual. The confusion below seeming to increase with
every moment, naturally excited her surprise; and she commanded one
of her attendants to learn its cause. Already terrified, none seemed
inclined to obey, till a young girl, high spirited, and dauntless
almost as Isabella herself, departed of her own free will, and in a
few minutes returned, pale and trembling, with the dread intelligence,
that Don Ferdinand Morales lay murdered in the hall, and that Arthur
Stanley was his murderer.

Isabella paused not a moment, though the shock was so terrible that
for the minute she became faint and sick, and hastily quitting her
apartments, she entered the great hall at the moment the prisoner was
being borne from it. Stupefied with contending feelings. Ferdinand did
not perceive her entrance. The nobles, drawn together in little knots,
were conversing in low eager tones, or endeavoring to reduce the
tumultuary soldiery to more order; and the Queen moved on unperceived,
till she stood beside the corpse. She neither shrunk from it, nor
paled; but bending over him, murmured in a tone, that from its
startling indication of her unexpected presence, readied the ear of
all--"His poor, _poor_ Marie!"

The effect was electric. Until that moment horror and indignation had
been the predominant feeling; but with those words came the thought
of his young, his beautiful, his treasured wife--the utter, utter
desolation which that fearful death would bring to her; the contrast
between her present position, and that in which they had so lately
beheld her; and there was scarcely a manly spirit there, that did not
feel unwonted moisture gather in his eyes, or his heart swell with an
emotion never felt before.

"Now blessings on thy true woman's heart, my Isabel!" exclaimed the
King, tenderly drawing her from the couch of the dead. "I dare vouch
not one of us, mourning the noble dead, has, till now, cast a thought
upon the living. And who shall breathe these fearful tidings? Who
prepare the unfortunate Marie for the loss awaiting her, and yet tarry
to behold and soothe her anguish?"

"That will I do," replied the Queen, instantly. "None else will
prepare her so gently, so kindly; for none knew her husband's worth so
well, or can mourn his loss more deeply. She shall come hither. And
the murderer," she continued after a brief pause, and the change
was almost startling from the tender sympathy of the Woman to the
indignant majesty of the Queen--"Ferdinand, have they told me true as
to his person--is he secured?"

"Ay," answered the King, briefly and bitterly: and from respect to his
feelings, Isabella asked no more. Orders were issued for the body to
be laid in one of the state apartments; a guard to be stationed at the
entrance of the chamber, and measures taken to keep the events of that
fatal night profoundly secret, lest confusion should be aroused in the
easily excited populace, or her terrible loss too rudely reach the
ears of the most painfully bereaved. These orders were punctually
obeyed.



CHAPTER XV.

  "Yet again methinks
  Some unknown sorrow, ripe in Future's womb,
  Is coming towards me; and my inward soul
  With nothing trembles. At something it grieves
  More than the parting with my lord."

  SHAKSPEARE.


Long did Marie Morales linger where her husband had left her after his
strangely passionate farewell. His tone, his look, his embrace haunted
her almost to pain--all were so unlike his wonted calmness: her full
heart so yearned towards him that she would have given worlds, if she
had had them, to call him to her side once more--to conjure him again
to forgive and assure her of his continued trust--to tell him she was
happy, and asked no other love than his. Why had he left her so early?
when she felt as if she had so much to say--so much to confide. And
then her eye caught the same ominous cloud which had so strangely
riveted Don Ferdinand's gaze, and a sensation of awe stole over her,
retaining her by the casement as by some spell which she vainly strove
to resist; until the forked lightnings began to illumine the murky
gloom, and the thunder rolled awfully along. Determined not to give
way to the heavy depression creeping over her, Marie summoned her
attendants, and strenuously sought to keep up an animated conversation
as they worked. Not expecting to see her husband till the ensuing
morning, she retired to rest at the first partial lull of the storm,
and slept calmly for many hours. A morning of transcendent loveliness
followed the awful horrors of the night. The sun seemed higher in the
heavens than usual, when Marie started from a profound sleep, with a
vague sensation that something terrible had occurred; every pulse
was throbbing, though, her heart felt stagnant within her. For some
minutes she could not frame a distinct thought, and then her husband's
fond farewell flashed back; but what had that to do with gloom?
Ringing a little silver bell beside her, Manuella answered the
summons, and Marie anxiously inquired for Don Ferdinand. Had he
not yet returned? A sensation of sickness--the deadly sickness of
indefinable dread--seemed to stupefy every faculty, as Manuella
answered in the negative, adding, it was much beyond his usual hour.

"Send to the castle, and inquire if aught has detained him," she
exclaimed; hastily rising as she spoke, and commencing a rapid toilet.
She was scarcely attired before Alberic, with a pale cheek and voice
of alarm, brought information that a messenger and litter from the
palace were in the court, bringing the Queen's mandate for the instant
attendance of Donna Marie.

"Oh! lady, dearest lady, let me go with thee," continued the boy,
suddenly clasping her robe and bursting into tears. "My master--my
good, noble master--something horrible has occurred, and they will not
tell me what. Every face I see is full of horror--every voice seems
suppressed--every--"

"Hush!" angrily interposed Manuella, as she beheld Marie's very lips
lose their glowing tint, and her eyes gaze on vacancy. "For God's
sake, still thine impudent tongue; thou'lt kill her with thy
rashness."

"Kill! who is killed?" gasped Marie. "What did he say? Where is my
husband?"

"Detained at the palace, dearest lady," readily answered Manuella.
"This foolish boy is terrified at shadows. My lord is detained, and
her Grace has sent a litter requiring thine attendance. We must haste,
for she wills no delay. Carlotta, my lady's mantilla; quick, girl!
Alberic, go if thou wilt: my Lord may be glad of thee! Ay, go," she
continued some little time afterwards, as her rapid movements speedily
placed her passive, almost senseless mistress, in the litter; and she
caught hold of the page's hand with a sudden change of tone, "go; and
return speedily, in mercy, Alberic. Some horror is impending; better
know it than this terrible suspense."

How long an interval elapsed ere she stood in Isabella's presence,
Marie knew not. The most incongruous thoughts floated, one after
another, through her bewildered brain--most vivid amongst them all,
hers and her husband's fatal secret: had it transpired? Was he
sentenced, and she thus summoned to share his fate? And then, when
partially relieved by the thought, that such a discovery had
never taken place in Spanish annals--why should she dread an
impossibility?--flashed back, clear, ringing, as if that moment
spoken, Stanley's fatal threat; and the cold shuddering of every limb
betrayed the aggravated agony of the thought. With her husband she
could speak of Arthur calmly; to herself she would not even think his
name: not merely lest he should unwittingly deceive again, but that
the recollection of _his_ suffering--and caused by her--ever created
anew, thoughts and feelings which she had vowed unto herself to bury,
and for ever.

Gloom was on every face she encountered in the castle. The very
soldiers, as they saluted her as the wife of their general, appeared
to gaze upon her with rude, yet earnest commiseration; but neither
word nor rumor reached her ear. Several times she essayed to ask of
her husband, but the words died in a soundless quiver on her lip. Yet
if it were what she dreaded, that Stanley had fulfilled his threat,
and they had fought, and one had fallen--why was she thus summoned?
And had not Morales resolved to avoid him; for her sake not to avenge
Arthur's insulting words? And again the thought of their fatal secret
obtained ascendency. Five minutes more, and she stood alone in the
presence of her Sovereign.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was told; and with such deep sympathy, so gently, so cautiously,
that all of rude and stunning shock was averted; but, alas! who could
breathe of consolation at such a moment? Isabella did not attempt it;
but permitted the burst of agony full vent. She had so completely
merged all of dignity, all of the Sovereign into the woman and the
friend, that Marie neither felt nor exercised restraint; and words
mingled with her broken sobs and wild lament, utterly incomprehensible
to the noble heart that heard. The awful nature of Don Ferdinand's
death, Isabella had still in some measure concealed; but it seemed as
if Marie had strangely connected it with violence and blood, and, in
fearful and disjointed words, accused herself as its miserable cause.

"Why did not death come to me?" she reiterated; "why take him, my
husband--my noble husband? Oh, Ferdinand, Ferdinand! to go now, when I
have so learnt to love thee! now, when I looked to years of faithful
devotion to prove how wholly the past was banished--how wholly I was
thine alone! to atone for hours of suffering by years of love! Oh, how
couldst thou leave me friendless--desolate?"

"Not friendless, not desolate, whilst Isabella lives," replied the
Queen, painfully affected, and drawing Marie closer to her, till her
throbbing brow rested on her bosom. "Weep, my poor girl, tears must
flow for a loss like this; and long, long weeks must pass ere we may
hope for resignation; but harrow not thyself by thoughts of more
fearful ill than the reality, my child. Do not look on what might be,
but what has been; on the comfort, the treasure, thou wert to the
beloved one we have lost. How devotedly he loved thee, and thou--"

"And I so treasured, so loved. Oh, gracious Sovereign!" And Marie sunk
down at her feet, clasping her robe in supplication. "Say but I may
see him in life once more; that life still lingers, if it be but to
tell me once more he forgives me. Oh, let me but hear his voice; but
once, only once, and I will be calm--quite calm; I will try to bear
this bitter agony. Only let me see him, hear him speak again. Thou
knowest not, thou canst not know, how my heart yearns for this."

"See him thou shalt, my poor girl, if it will give thee aught of
comfort; but hear him, alas! alas! my child, would that it might be!
Would for Spain and her Sovereign's sake, then how much more for
thine, that voice could be recalled; and life, if but for the briefest
space, return! Alas! the blow was but too well aimed."

"The blow! what blow? How did he die? Who slew him?" gasped Marie; her
look of wild and tearless agony terrifying Isabella, whose last words
had escaped unintentionally. "Speak, speak, in mercy; let me know the
truth?"

"Hast thou not thyself alluded to violence, and wrath, and hatred,
Marie? Answer me, my child; didst thou know any one, regarding the
generous Morales with such feelings? Could there be one to regard him
as his foe?"

Crouching lower and lower at Isabella's feet, her face half burled in
her robe, Marie's reply was scarcely audible; but the Queen's brow
contracted.

"None?" she repeated almost sternly; "wouldst thou deceive at such a
moment? contradict thyself? And yet I am wrong to be thus harsh. Poor
sufferer!" she added, tenderly, as she vainly tried to raise Marie
from the ground; "thou hast all enough to bear; and if, indeed, the
base wretch who has dared thus to trample on the laws alike of God
and man, and stain his own soul with the foul blot of midnight
assassination, be him whom we have secured, thou couldst not know him
as thy husband's foe. It is all mystery--thine own words not least;
but his murder shall be avenged. Ay, had my own kinsman's been the
hand to do the dastard deed."

"Murder! who was his murderer?" repeated Marie, the horror of such a
fate apparently lost in other and more terrible emotion; "who could
have raised his sword against my husband? Said I he had no foe? Had he
not one, and I, oh, God! did not I create that enmity? But he would
not have murdered him; oh, no--no: my liege, my gracious liege, tell
me in mercy--my brain feels reeling--who was the murderer?"

"One thou hast known but little space, poor sufferer," replied the
Queen, soothingly; "one whom of all others we could not suspect of
such a deed. And even now, though appearances are strong against him,
we can scarce believe it; that young foreign favorite of my royal
husband, Arthur Stanley."

"STANLEY!" repeated Marie, in a tone so shrill, so piercing, that the
wild shriek which it formed rung for many and many a day in the ears
of the Queen. And as the word passed her lips she started to her feet,
stood for a second erect, gazing madly on her royal mistress, and
then, without one groan or struggle, dropped perfectly lifeless at her
feet.



CHAPTER XVI.

  List! hear ye, through the still and lonely night,
   The distant hymn of mournful voices roll
  Solemn and low? It is the burial rite;
   How deep its sadness sinks into the soul,
  As slow the passing bell wakes its far ling'ring knoll.

  CHARLES SWAIN.


Spain has often been regarded as an absolute monarchy; an opinion,
no doubt, founded on the absolute measures of her later sovereigns.
Ferdinand and Isabella certainly laid the foundation of the royal
prerogative by the firmness and ability with which they decreased the
power of the nobles, who, until their reign, had been like so many
petty sovereigns, each with his independent state, and preserving his
authority by the sword alone. When Ferdinand and Isabella, however,
united their separate kingdoms under one denomination, neither Castile
nor Arragon could be considered as an absolute monarchy. In Castile,
the people, as representatives of the cities, had, from, early ages,
obtained seats in the Cortes, and so in some measure balanced the
power of the aristocracy. The Cortes, similar to our houses of
parliament, could enact laws, impose taxes, and redress grievances,
often making the condition of granting pecuniary aid to the Sovereign,
his consent to the regulations they had laid down, and refusing the
grant if he demurred. In addition to these privileges of the Cortes
of Castile, the Junta of Arragon could coin money, declare war, and
conclude peace; and what was still more remarkable, they could be
neither prorogued nor dissolved by their Sovereign without their own
consent. Alluding to the Castilians, a few years after the period of
our tale, Robertson says--

    "The principles of liberty seem to have been better understood,
    by the Castilians than by any other people in Europe. They had
    acquired more liberal notions with respect to their own rights
    and privileges. They had formed more bold and generous sentiments
    concerning government, and discovered an extent of political
    knowledge to which the English themselves did not attain till
    nearly a century afterwards."

When we compare this state of things with the misery and anarchy
pervading Castile before the accession of Isabella, we may have
some idea of the influence of her vigorous measures, and personal
character, on the happiness and freedom of her subjects. The laws
indeed existed before, but they wanted the wisdom and moderation of an
enlightened Sovereign, to give them force and power to act.

In the kingdom of Arragon, besides the Junta, or National Assemblage,
there was always a Justizia, or supreme judge, whose power, in some
respects, was even greater than the King's; his person was sacred; he
could remove any of the royal ministers whom he deemed unworthy of the
trust, and was himself responsible to none but the Cortes or Junta by
whom he had been elected. The personal as well as the national rights
of the Arragonese, were also more accurately defined than was usual
in that age: no native of Arragon could be convicted, imprisoned, or
tortured, without fair and legal evidence.[A]

[Footnote A: See History of Spain, by John Bigland.]

Such being the customs of the kingdom of Arragon, the power of the
crown was more limited than Ferdinand's capacious mind and desire
of dominion chose to endure: the Cortes, or nobles, there were
pre-eminent; the people, as the Sovereign, ciphers, save that the
rights of the former were more cared for than the authority of the
latter. But Ferdinand was not merely ambitious; he had ability and
energy, and so gradually were his plans achieved that he encountered
neither rebellion nor dislike. The Cortes found that he frequently and
boldly transacted business of importance without their interference;
intrusted offices of state to men of inferior rank, but whose
abilities were the proof of his discernment; took upon himself the
office of Justizia, and, in conjunction with Isabella, re-established
an institution which had fallen into disuse through the civil wars,
but which was admirably suited for the internal security of their
kingdom by the protection of the peasantry and lower classes: it was
an association of all the cities of Castile and Arragon, known as the
Sainta Hermandad, or Holy Brotherhood, to maintain a strong body of
troops for the protection of travellers, and the seizure of criminals,
who were brought before judges nominated by the confederated cities,
and condemned according to their crime, without any regard to feudal
laws. Against this institution the nobles of both kingdoms were most
violently opposed, regarding it as the complete destroyer, which in
reality it was, of all their feudal privileges, and taking from
them the long possessed right of trying their own fiefs, and the
mischievous facility of concealing their own criminals.

Thus much of history--a digression absolutely necessary for the clear
elucidation of Ferdinand and Isabella's conduct with regard to the
events just narrated. The trial of Arthur Stanley they had resolved
should be conducted with all the formula of justice, the more
especially that the fact of his being a foreigner had prejudiced many
minds against him. Ferdinand himself intended to preside at the trial,
with a select number of peers, to assist in the examination, and
pronounce sentence, or confirm the royal mandate, as he should think
fit. Nor was this an extraordinary resolution. Neither the victim,
nor the supposed criminal, was of a rank which allowed a jury of
an inferior grade. Morales had been fief to Isabella alone; and on
Ferdinand, as Isabella's representative, fell the duty of his avenger.
Arthur Stanley owned no feudal lord in Spain, save, as a matter of
courtesy, the King, whose arms he bore. He was accountable, then,
according to the feudal system, which was not yet entirely extinct,
to Ferdinand alone for his actions, and before him must plead his
innocence, or receive sentence for his crime. As his feudal lord, or
suzerain, Ferdinand might at once have condemned him to death; but
this summary proceeding was effectually prevented by the laws of
Arragon and the office of the Holy Brotherhood; and therefore, in
compliance with their mandates, royal orders were issued that every
evidence for or against the prisoner should be carefully collected
preparatory to the trial. More effectually to do this, the trial was
postponed from seven to fourteen days after the discovery of the
murder.

The excitement which this foul assassination excited in Segovia was so
extreme, that the nobles were compelled to solicit Isabella's personal
interference, in quieting the populace, and permitting the even course
of justice: they had thronged in tumultuary masses round the prison
where Stanley was confined, with wild shouts and imprecations,
demanding his instant surrender to their rage, mingling groans and
lamentations with yells and curses, in the most fearful medley. Old
Pedro, who had been Arthur's host, unwittingly added fuel to the
flame, by exulting in his prophecy that evil would come of Ferdinand's
partiality for the white-faced foreigner; that he had seen it long,
but guessed not how terribly his mutterings would end. By the Queen's
permission, the chamber of state in which the body lay was thrown open
to the eager citizens, who thronged in such crowds to behold the sole
remains of one they had well nigh idolized, that the guards were
compelled to permit the entrance of only a certain number every
day. Here was neither state nor pomp to arrest the attention of the
sight-loving populace: nought of royalty or gorgeous symbols. No; men
came to pay the last tribute of admiring love and sorrow to one who
had ever, noble as he was by birth, made himself one with them,
cheering their sorrows, sharing their joys; treating age, however poor
or lowly, with the reverence springing from the heart, inspiring
youth to deeds of worth and honor, and by his own example, far more
eloquently than by his words, teaching all and every age the duties
demanded by their country and their homes, to their families and
themselves. And this man was snatched from them, not alone by the
ruthless hand of death, but by midnight murder. Was it marvel, the
very grief his loss occasioned should rouse to wildest fury men's
passions against his murderer?

It was the evening of the fifth day after the murder, that with a
degree of splendor and of universal mourning, unrivalled before in the
interment of any subject, the body of Ferdinand Morales was committed
to the tomb. The King himself, divested of all insignia of royalty,
bareheaded, and in a long mourning cloak, headed the train of chief
mourners, which, though they counted no immediate kindred, numbered
twenty or thirty of the highest nobles, both of Arragon and Castile.
The gentlemen, squires, and pages of Morales' own household followed:
and then came on horse and on foot, with arms reversed, and lowered
heads, the gallant troops who had so often followed Morales to
victory, and under him had so ably aided in placing Isabella on her
throne; an immense body of citizens, all in mourning, closed the
procession. Every shop had been closed, every flag half-masted;
and every balcony, by which the body passed, hung with black. The
cathedral church was thronged, and holy and thrilling the service
which consigned dust to dust, and hid for ever from the eyes of his
fellow men, the last decaying remains of one so universally beloved.
The coffin of ebony and silver, partly open, so as to disclose the
face of the corpse, as was customary with Catholic burials of those of
high or priestly rank, and the lower part covered with a superb velvet
pall, rested before the high altar during the chanted service; at the
conclusion of which the coffin was closed, the lid screwed down, and
lowered with slow solemnity into the vault beneath. A requiem, chanted
by above a hundred of the sweetest and richest voices, sounding in
thrilling unison with the deep bass and swelling notes of the organ,
had concluded the solemn rites, and the procession departed as
it came; but for some days the gloom in the city continued; the
realization of the public loss seemed only beginning to be fully felt,
as excitement subsided.

Masses for the soul of the Catholic warrior, were of course sung for
many succeeding days. It was at midnight, a very short time after
this public interment, that a strange group were assembled within the
cathedral vaults, at the very hour that mass for the departed was
being chanted in the church above their heads; it consisted of monks
and travelling friars, accompanied by five or six of the highest
nobility; their persons concealed in coarse mantles and shrouding
hoods; they had borne with them, through the subterranean passages
of the crypt, leading to the vaults, a coffin so exactly similar in
workmanship and inscription to that which contained the remains of
their late companion, that to distinguish the one from the other was
impossible. The real one, moved with awe and solemnity, was conveyed
to a secret recess close to the entrance of the crypt, and replaced
in the vault by the one they had brought with them. As silently, as
voicelessly as they had entered and done their work, so they departed.
The following night, at the same hour, the coffin of Morales, over
which had been nailed a thick black pall, so that neither name,
inscription, nor ornament could be perceived, was conveyed from
Segovia in a covered cart, belonging, it appeared, to the monastery of
St. Francis, situated some leagues southward, and attended by one or
two monks and friars of the same order. The party proceeded leisurely,
travelling more by night than by day, diminishing gradually in number
till, at the entrance of a broad and desolate plain, only four
remained with the cart. Over this plain they hastened, then wound
through a circuitous path concealed in prickly brushwood, and paused
before a huge, misshapen crag, seemingly half buried in the earth: in
this a door, formed of one solid stone, flew back at their touch;
the coffin, taken with reverence from the cart, was borne on their
shoulders through the dark and narrow passage, and down the winding
stair, till they stood in safety in the vale; in the secret entrance
by which they entered, the lock closed as they passed, and was
apparently lost in the solid wall. Three or four awaited them--nobles,
who had craved leave of absence for a brief interval from the court,
and who had come by different paths to the secret retreat (no doubt
already recognized by our readers as the Vale of Cedars), to lay
Morales with his fathers, with the simple form, yet solemn service
peculiar to the burials of their darkly hidden race. The grave was
already dug beside that of Manuel Henriquez; the coffin, resting
during the continuance of a brief prayer and psalm in the little
temple, was then borne to the ground marked out, which, concealed by
a thick hedge of cypress and cedar, lay some little distance from the
temple; for, in their secret race, it was not permitted for the house
destined to the worship of the Most High, to be surrounded by the
homes of the dead. A slow and solemn hymn accompanied the lowering of
the coffin; a prayer in the same unknown language; a brief address,
and the grave was filled up; the noble dead left with his kindred,
kindred alike in blood as faith; and ere the morning rose, the living
had all departed, save the few retainers of the house of Henriquez and
Morales, to whose faithful charge the retreat had been intrusted. No
proud effigy marked those simple graves; the monuments of the dead
were in the hearts of the living. But in the cathedral of Segovia a
lordly monument arose to the memory of Ferdinand Morales, erected,
not indeed for idle pomp, but as a tribute from the gratitude of a
Sovereign--and a nation's love.



CHAPTER XVII.

  ANGELO. We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
  Setting it up to fear the birds of prey;
  And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
  Their perch, and not their terror.

  ESCALUS. Ay, but yet
  Let us be keen, and rather cut a little,
  Than fall and bruise to death.

  SHAKSPEARE.


On the evening preceding the day appointed for the trial, Isabella,
unattended and unannounced, sought her husband's private closet; she
found him poring so intently over maps and plans, which strewed the
tables before him, that she spoke before he perceived her.

"Just come when most wished for, dear wife, and royal liege," was his
courteous address, as he rose and gracefully led her to a seat beside
his own. "See how my plans for the reduction of these heathen Moors
are quietly working; they are divided within themselves, quarrelling
more and more fiercely. Pedro Pas brings me information that the road
to Alhama is well nigh defenceless, and therefore the war should
commence in that quarter. But how is this, love?" he added, after
speaking of his intended measures at some length, and perceiving that
they failed to elicit Isabella's interest as usual. "Thy thoughts are
not with me this evening."

"With thee, my husband, but not with the Moors," replied the Queen,
faintly smiling. "I confess to a pre-occupied mind; but just now my
heart is so filled with sorrowing sympathy, that I can think but
of individuals, not of nations. In the last council, in which the
question of this Moorish war was agitated, our faithful Morales was
the most eloquent. His impassioned oratory so haunted me, as your
Grace spoke, that I can scarcely now believe it hushed for ever, save
for the too painful witness of its truth."

"His lovely wife thou meanest, Isabel? Poor girl! How fares she?"

"As she has been since that long faint, which even I believed was
death; pale, tearless, silent. Even the seeing of her husband's body,
which I permitted, hoping the sight would break that marble calm,
has had no effect, save to increase, if possible, the rigidity of
suffering. It is for her my present errand."

"For her!" replied the King, surprised. "What can I do for her, apart
from thee?"

"I will answer the question by another, Ferdinand. Is it true that she
must appear as evidence against the murderer in to-morrow's trial?"

"Isabella, this must be," answered the King, earnestly. "There seems
to me no alternative; and yet surely this cannot be so repugnant to
her feelings. Would it not be more injustice, both to her, and to the
dead, to withhold any evidence likely to assist in the discovery of
the murderer?"

"But why lay so much stress on her appearance? Is there not sufficient
evidence without her?"

"Not to satisfy me as to Stanley's guilt," replied the King. "I
have heard indeed from Don Luis Garcia quite enough, _if it be true
evidence_, to condemn him. But I like not this Garcia; it is useless
now to examine wherefore. I doubt him so much, that I would not, if
possible, lay any stress upon his words. He has declared on oath that
he saw Stanley draw his sword upon Morales, proclaim aloud his undying
hatred, and swear that he would take his life or lose his own; but
that, if I were not satisfied with this assurance, Donna Marie herself
had been present, had seen and heard all, and could no doubt give a
very efficient reason, in her own beautiful person, for Stanley's
hatred to her husband, as such matters were but too common in Spain.
I checked him with a stern rebuke; for if ever there were a
double-meaning hypocrite, this Don Luis is one. Besides, I cannot
penetrate how he came to be present at this stormy interview. He has
evaded, he thinks successfully, my questions on this head; but if, as
I believe, it was dishonorably obtained, I am the less inclined to
trust either him or his intelligence. If Marie were indeed present,
which he insists she was, her testimony is the most important of any.
If she confirm Don Luis's statement, give the same account of the
interview between her husband and Stanley, and a reason for this
suddenly proclaimed enmity; if she swear that he did utter such
threatening words, I will neither hope nor try to save him; he is
guilty, and must die. But if she deny that he thus spoke; if she
declares on oath that she knew of no cause for, nor of the existence
of any enmity, I care not for other proofs, glaring though they be.
Accident or some atrocious design against him, as an envied foreigner,
may have thrown them together. Let Marie swear that this Garcia has
spoken falsely, and Stanley shall live, were my whole kingdom to
implore his death. In Donna Marie's evidence there can be no deceit;
she can have no wish that Stanley should be saved; as her husband's
supposed murderer, he must be an object of horror and loathing. Still
silent Isabel? Is not her evidence required?"

"It is indeed. And yet I feel that, to demand it, will but increase
the trial already hers."

"As how?" inquired the King, somewhat astonished. "Surely thou canst
not mean--"

"I mean nothing; I know nothing," interrupted Isabella hastily. "I can
give your Grace no reason, save my own feelings. Is there no way to
prevent this public exposure, and yet serve the purpose equally?"

Ferdinand mused. "I can think of none," he said. "Does Marie know of
this summons? and has her anguish sent thee hither? Or is it merely
the pleadings of thine own heart, my Isabel?"

"She does not know it. The summons appeared to me so strange and
needless, I would not let her be informed till I had sought thee."

"But thou seest it is not needless!" answered the King anxiously, for
in the most trifling matter he ever sought her acquiescence.

"Needless it is not, my liege. The life of the young foreigner, who
has thrown himself so confidingly on our protection and friendship,
must not be sacrificed without most convincing proofs of his guilt.
Marie's evidence is indeed important; but would not your Grace's
purpose be equally attained, if that evidence be given to me, her
native Sovereign, in private, without the dread formula which, if
summoned before a court of justice, may have fatal effects on a
mind and frame already so severely tried? In my presence alone the
necessary evidence may be given with equal solemnity, and with less
pain to the poor sufferer herself."

King Ferdinand again paused in thought. "But her words must be on
oath, Isabel. Who will administer that oath?"

"Father Francis, if required. But it will surely be enough if she
swear the truth to me. She cannot deceive me, even if she were so
inclined. I can mark a quivering lip or changing color, which others
might pass unnoticed."

"But how will this secret examination satisfy the friends of the
murdered?" again urged the cautious King. "How will they be satisfied,
if I acquit Stanley from Donna Marie's evidence, and that evidence be
kept from them?"

"Is not the word of their Sovereign enough? If Isabella say so it is,
what noble of Castile would disgrace himself or her by a doubt as to
its truth?" replied the Queen proudly. "Let me clearly understand all
your Grace requires, and leave the rest to me. If Marie corroborates
Garcia's words, why, on his evidence sentence may be pronounced
without her appearance in it at all; but if she deny in the smallest
tittle his report, in my presence they shall confront each other, and
fear not the truth shall be elicited, and, if possible, Stanley saved.
I may be deceived, and Marie not refuse to appear as witness against
him; if so, there needs not my interference. I would but spare her
increase of pain, and bid her desolate heart cling to me as her mother
and her friend. When my subjects look upon me thus, my husband, then,
and then only is Isabella what she would be."

"And do they not already thus regard thee, my own Isabel?" replied the
King, gazing with actual reverence upon her; "and as such, will future
ages reverence thy name. Be it as thou wilt. Let Marie's own feelings
decide the question. She _must_ take part in this trial, either in
public or private; she _must_ speak on oath, for life and death hang
on her words, and her decision must be speedy. It is sunset now, and
ere to-morrow's noon she must have spoken, or be prepared to appear."

Ere Queen Isabella reached her own apartments her plan was formed. Don
Luis's tale had confirmed her suspicions as to the double cause of
Marie's wretchedness; she had herself administered to her while in
that dead faint--herself bent over her, lest the first words of
returning consciousness should betray aught which the sufferer might
wish concealed; but her care had been needless: no word passed those
parched and ashy lips. The frame, indeed, for some days was powerless,
and she acceded eagerly to Isabella's earnest proffer (for it was not
command) to send for her attendants, and occupy a suite of rooms in
the castle, close to her royal mistress, in preference to returning to
her own home; from which, in its desolate grandeur, she shrunk almost
in loathing.

For seven days after her loss she had not quitted her apartment, seen
only by the Queen and her own woman; but after that interval, at
Isabella's gently expressed wish, she joined her, in her private
hours, amongst her most favored attendants; called upon indeed for
nothing save her presence! And little did her pre-occupied mind
imagine how tenderly she was watched, and with what kindly sympathy
her unexpressed thoughts were read.

On the evening in question, Isabella was seated, as was her frequent
custom, in a spacious chamber, surrounded by her female attendants,
with whom she was familiarly conversing, making them friends as well
as subjects, yet so uniting dignity with kindness, that her favor was
far more valued and eagerly sought than had there been no superiority;
yet, still it was more for her perfect womanhood than her rank that
she was so reverenced, so loved. At the farther end of the spacious
chamber were several young girls, daughters of the nobles of Castile
and Arragon, whom Isabella's maternal care for her subjects had
collected around her, that their education might be carried on under
her own eye, and so create for the future nobles of her country, wives
and mothers after her own exalted stamp. They were always encouraged
to converse freely and gayly amongst each other; for thus she learned
their several characters, and guided them accordingly. There was
neither restraint nor heaviness in her presence; for by a word, a
smile, she could prove her interest in their simple pleasures, her
sympathy in their eager youth.

Apart from all, but nearest Isabella, silent and pale, shrouded in the
sable robes of widowhood--that painful garb which, in its voiceless
eloquence of desolation, ever calls for tears, more especially when
it shrouds the young; her beautiful hair, save two thick braids,
concealed under the linen coif--sat Marie, lovely indeed still, but
looking like one

                  "Whose heart was born to break--
  A face on which to gaze, made every feeling ache."

An embroidery frame was before her, "but the flowers grew but slowly
beneath her hand. About an hour after Isabella had joined her
attendants, a light signal was heard at the tapestried door of the
apartment. The Queen was then sitting in a posture of deep meditation;
but she looked up, as a young girl answered the summons, and then
turned towards her Sovereign.

"Well, Catherine?"

"Royal madam, a page, from his Grace the King, craves speech of Donna
Marie."

"Admit him then."

The boy entered, and with a low reverence advanced towards Marie.
She looked up in his face bewildered--a bewilderment which Isabella
perceived changed to a strong expression of mental torture, ere he
ceased to speak.

"Ferdinand, King of Arragon and Castile," he said, "sends, with all
courtesy, his royal greeting to Donna Marie Henriquez Morales, and
forthwith commands her attendance at the solemn trial which is held
to-morrow's noon; by her evidence to confirm or refute the charge
brought against the person of Arthur Stanley, as being and having been
the acknowledged enemy of the deceased Don Ferdinand Morales (God
assoilize his soul!) and as having uttered words of murderous import
in her hearing. Resolved, to the utmost of his power, to do justice to
the living as to avenge the dead, his royal highness is compelled thus
to demand the testimony of Donna Marie, as she alone can confirm or
refute this heavy and most solemn charge."

There was no answer; but it seemed as if the messenger required
none--imagining the royal command all sufficient for obedience--for he
bowed respectfully as he concluded, and withdrew. Marie gazed after
him, and her lip quivered as if she would have spoken--would have
recalled him; but no word came, and she drooped her head on her hands,
pressing her slender fingers strongly on her brow, as thus to bring
back connected thought once more. What had he said? She must appear
against Stanley--she must speak his doom? Why did those fatal words
which must condemn him, ring in her ears, as only that moment spoken?
Her embroidery fell from her lap, and there was no movement to replace
it. How long she thus sat she knew not; but, roused by the Queen's
voice uttering her name, she started, and looked round her. She
was alone with Isabella; who was gazing on her with such unfeigned
commiseration, that, unable to resist the impulse, she darted
forwards, and sinking at her feet, implored--

"Oh, madam--gracious madam! in mercy spare me this!"

The Queen drew her tenderly to her, and said, with evident emotion--

"What am I to spare thee, my poor child? Surely thou wouldst not
withhold aught that can convict thy husband's murderer? Thou wouldst
not in mistaken mercy elude for him the justice of the law?"

"No--no," murmured Marie; "let the murderer die; but not Stanley! Oh,
no--no; he would not lift his hand against my husband. Who says he
slew him? Why do they attach so foul a crime to his unshadowed name?
Let the murderer die; but it is not Arthur: I know it is not. Oh, do
not slay him too!"

Marie knew not the wild entreaty breathing in her words: but the
almost severely penetrating gaze which Isabella had fixed upon her,
recalled her to herself; a crimson flush mounted to cheek and brow,
and, burying her face in the Queen's robe, she continued less wildly--

"Oh, madam, bear with me; I know not what I say. Think I am mad;
but oh, in mercy, ask me no question. Am I not mad, to ask thee to
spare--spare--him they call my husband's murderer? Let him die," and
the wild tone returned, "if he indeed could strike the blow; but oh,
let not my lips pronounce his death-doom! Gracious Sovereign, do not
look upon me thus--I cannot bear that gaze."

"Fear me not, poor sufferer," replied Isabella, mildly; "I will ask no
question--demand nought that will give thee pain to answer--save that
which justice compels me to require. That there is a double cause for
all this wretchedness, I cannot but perceive, and that I suspect its
cause I may not deny; but guilty I will not believe thee, till
thine own words or deeds proclaim it. Look up then, my poor child,
unshrinkingly; I am no dread Sovereign to thee, painful as is the
trial to which I fear I must subject thee. There are charges brought
against young Stanley so startling in their nature, that, much as we
distrust his accuser, justice forbids our passing them unnoticed. On
thy true testimony his Grace the King relies to confirm or refute
them. Thy evidence must convict or save him."

"My evidence!" repeated Marie. "What can they ask of me of such
weight? Save him." she added, a sudden gleam of hope irradiating her
pallid face, like a sunbeam upon snow? "Did your Grace say _I_ could
save him? Oh, speak, in mercy!"

"Calm this emotion then, Marie, and thou shalt know all. It was for
this I called thee hither. Sit thee on the settle at my feet, and
listen to me patiently, if thou canst. 'Tis a harsh word to use to
grief such as thine, my child," she added, caressingly, as she laid
her hand on Marie's drooping head; "and I fear will only nerve thee
for a still harsher trial. Believe me, I would have spared thee if I
could; but all I can do is to bid thee choose the lesser of the two
evils. Mark me well: for the Sovereign of the murdered, the judge of
the murderer, alike speak through me." And clearly and forcibly she
narrated all, with which our readers are already acquainted, through
her interview with the King. She spoke very slowly, as if to give
Marie time to weigh well each sentence. She could not see her
countenance; nay, she purposely refrained from looking at her, lest
she should increase the suffering she was so unwillingly inflicting.
For some minutes she paused as she concluded; then, as neither word
nor sound escaped from Marie, she said, with emphatic earnestness--"If
it will be a lesser trial to give thine evidence on oath to thy
Queen alone, we are here to receive it. Our royal husband--our loyal
subjects--will be satisfied with Isabella's report. Thy words will be
as sacred--thy oath as valid--as if thy testimony were received in
public, thy oath administered by one of the holy fathers, with all the
dread formula of the church. We have repeated all to which thy answers
will be demanded; it remains for thee to decide whether thou wilt
speak before his Grace the King and his assembled junta, or here and
now before thy native Sovereign. Pause ere thou dost answer--there is
time enough."

For a brief interval there was silence. The kind heart of the Queen
throbbed painfully, so completely had her sympathy identified her with
the beautiful being, who had so irresistibly claimed her cherishing
love. But ere she had had time to satisfy herself as to the issue of
the struggle so silently, yet so fearfully at work in her companion,
Marie had arisen, and with dignity and fearlessness, strangely at
variance with the wild agony of her words and manner before, stood
erect before her Sovereign; and when she spoke, her voice was calm and
firm.

"Queen of Spain!" she said. "My kind, gracious Sovereign! Would that
words could speak one-half the love, the devotion, all thy goodness
has inspired; but they seem frozen, all frozen now, and it may be that
I may never even prove them--that it will be my desolate fate, to seem
less and less worthy of an affection I value more than life. Royal
madam! I will appear at to-morrow's trial! Your Grace is startled;
deeming it a resolve as strange as contradictory. Ask not the
wherefore, gracious Sovereign: it is fixed unalterably. I will obey
his Grace's summons. Its unexpected suddenness startled me at first;
but it is over. Oh, madam," she continued--tone, look, and manner
becoming again those of the agitated suppliant, and she sunk once more
at Isabella's feet: "In my wild agony I have forgotten the respect and
deference due from a subject to her Sovereign; I have poured forth my
misery, seemingly as regardless of kindness, as insensible to the wide
distance between us. Oh, forgive me, my gracious Sovereign; and in
token of thy pardon, grant me but one boon!"

"Nought have I to forgive, my suffering child," replied the Queen,
powerfully affected, and passing her arm caressingly round her
kneeling favorite; "what is rank--sovereignty itself--in hours of
sorrow? If I were so tenacious of dignity as thou fearest, I should
have shrunk from that awful presence--affliction from a Father's
hand--in which his children are all equals, Marie. And as for thy
boon: be it what it may, I grant it."

"Thou sayest so now, my liege; but when the hour to grant it comes,
every feeling will revolt against it; even thine, my Sovereign, kind,
generous, as thou art. Oh, Madam, thou wilt hear a strange tale
to-morrow--one so fraught with mystery and marvel, thou wilt refuse to
believe; but when the trial of to-morrow is past, then think on what
I say now: what thou nearest will be TRUE--true as there is a heaven
above us; I swear it! Do not look upon me thus, my Sovereign; I am not
mad--oh, would that I were! Dark, meaningless as my words seem now,
to-morrow they will be distinct and clear enough. And then--then,
if thou hast ever loved me, oh, grant the boon I implore thee now:
whatever thou mayest hear, do not condemn me--do not cast me wholly
from thee. More than ever shall I need thy protecting care. Oh, my
Sovereign--thou who hast taught me so to love thee, in pity love me
still!"

"Strange wayward being," said Isabella, gazing doubtingly on the
imploring face upturned to hers; "towards other than thyself such
mystery would banish love for ever; but I will not doubt thee. Darkly
as thou speakest, still I grant the boon. What can I hear of thee, to
cast thee from me?"

"Thou wilt hear of deceit, my liege," replied Marie, very slowly, and
her eyes fell beneath the Queen's gaze; "thou wilt hear of long years
of deceit and fraud, and many--many tongues will speak their scorn and
condemnation. Then wilt thou grant it--then?"

"Even then," replied Isabella fearlessly; "an thou speakest truth
at last, deceit itself I will forgive. But thou art overwrought and
anxious, and so layest more stress on some trivial fault than even I
would demand. Go to thy own chamber now, and in prayer and meditation
gain strength for to-morrow's trial. Whatever I may hear, so it be not
meditated and unrepented guilt, (which I know it cannot be,) I will
forgive, and love thee still. The holy saints bless and keep thee, my
fair child!"

And as Marie bent to salute the kind hand extended to her, Isabella
drew her towards her, and fondly kissed her cheek. The unexpected
caress, or some other secret feeling, subdued the overwrought energy
at once; and for the first time since her husband's death, Marie burst
into natural tears. But her purpose changed not; though Isabella's
gentle and affectionate soothing rendered it tenfold more painful to
accomplish.



CHAPTER XVIII.

  LEONTES.--These sessions, to our great grief, we pronounce
  Even pushes 'gainst our heart.
      Let us be cleared
  Of being tyrannous, since we openly
  Proceed in justice--which shall have due course,
  Even to the guilt, or the purgation.
  Produce the prisoner!--SHAKSPEARE.


The day of trial dawned, bright, sunny, cloudless, as was usual
in beautiful Spain--a joyous elasticity was in the atmosphere, a
brilliance in the heavens, which thence reflected on the earth, so
painfully contrasted with misery and death, that the bright sky
seemed to strike a double chill on the hearts of those most deeply
interested.

Never had the solemn proceedings of justice created so great an
excitement; not only in Segovia itself, but the towns and villages,
many miles round, sent eager citizens and rustic countrymen to learn
the issue, and report it speedily to those compelled to stay at home.
The universal mourning for Morales was one cause of the popular
excitement; and the supposition of the young foreigner being his
murderer another.

The hall of the castle was crowded at a very early hour, Isabella
having signified not only permission, but her wish that as many of her
citizen subjects as space would admit should be present, to witness
the faithful course of justice. Nearest to the seat destined for the
King, at the upper end of the hall, were ranged several fathers from
an adjoining convent of Franciscans, by whom a special service had
been impressively performed that morning in the cathedral, in which
all who had been summoned to preside at the trial had solemnly joined.

The Monks of St. Francis were celebrated alike for their sterling
piety, great learning, and general benevolence. Their fault, if such
it could be termed in a holy Catholic community, was their rigid
exclusiveness regarding religion; their uncompromising and strict love
for, and adherence to, their own creed; and stern abhorrence towards,
and violent persecution of, all who in the slightest degree departed
from it, or failed to pay it the respect and obedience which they
believed it demanded. At their head was their Sub-Prior, a character
whose influence on the after position of Spain was so great, that we
may not pass it by, without more notice than our tale itself perhaps
would demand. To the world, as to his brethren and superiors, in the
monastery, a stern unbending spirit, a rigid austerity, and unchanging
severity of mental and physical discipline, characterized his whole
bearing and daily conduct. Yet, his severity proceeded not from the
superstition and bigotry of a weak mind or misanthropic feeling.
Though his whole time and thoughts appeared devoted to the interest
of his monastery, and thence to relieving and guiding the poor, and
curbing and decreasing the intemperate follies and licentious conduct
of the laymen, in its immediate neighborhood; yet his extraordinary
knowledge, not merely of human nature, but of the world at large--his
profound and extensive genius, which, in after years was displayed,
in the prosecution of such vast schemes for Spain's advancement, that
they riveted the attention of all Europe upon him--naturally won him
the respect and consideration of Ferdinand and Isabella, whose acute
penetration easily traced the natural man, even through the thick veil
of monkish austerity. They cherished and honored him, little thinking
that, had it not been for him, Spain would have sunk at their death,
into the same abyss of anarchy and misery, from which their vigorous
measures had so lately roused, and, as they hoped, So effectually
guarded her.

When Torquemada, Isabella's confessor, was absent from court, which
not unfrequently happened, for his capacious mind was never at peace
unless actively employed--Father Francis, though but the Sub-Prior of
a Franciscan monastery, always took his place, and frequently were
both sovereigns guided by his privately asked and frankly given
opinions, not only on secular affairs, but on matters of state, and
even of war. With such a character for his Sub-Prior, the lordly Abbot
of the Franciscans was indeed but a nominal dignitary, quite contented
to enjoy all the indulgences and corporeal luxuries, permitted, or
perhaps winked at, from his superior rank, and leaving to Father
Francis every active duty; gladly, therefore, he deputed on him
the office of heading the Monks that day summoned to attend King
Ferdinand.

Not any sign of the benevolence and goodness--in reality the
characteristics of this extraordinary man--was visible on his
countenance as he sat. The very boldest and haughtiest of the
aristocracy, involuntarily perhaps, yet irresistibly, acknowledged his
superiority. Reverence and awe were the emotions first excited towards
his person: but already was that reverence largely mingled with
the love which some three years afterwards gave him such powerful
influence over the whole sovereignty of Spain. Next to the holy
fathers, and ranged according to rank and seniority, were the nobles
who had been selected to attend, the greater number of whom, were
Castilians, as countrymen of the deceased. Next to them were the
Santa Hermandad, or Brethren of the Associated Cities, without whose
presence and aid, no forms of justice, even though ruled and guided by
royalty itself, were considered valid or complete. A semicircle was
thus formed, the centre of which was the King's seat; and opposite to
him, in the hollow, as it were of the crescent, a space left for the
prisoner, accusers, and witnesses. Soldiers lined the hall; a treble
guard being drawn up at the base of the semicircle, and extending in a
wide line right and left, behind the spot destined for the prisoner.
There was still a large space left, and this was so thronged with
citizens, that it presented the appearance of a dense mass of human
heads, every face turned in one direction, and expressive in various
ways of but one excitement, one emotion.

There was not a smile on either of the stern countenances within the
hall. As the shock and horror of Don Ferdinand's fate in some measure
subsided, not only the nobles, but the soldiers themselves, began to
recall the supposed murderer in the many fields of honorable warfare,
the many positions of mighty and chivalric bearing in which they had
hitherto seen the young Englishman play so distinguished a part; and
doubts began to arise as to the possibility of so great a change, and
in so short a time. To meet even a supposed enemy in fair field,
and with an equality of weapons, was the custom of the day; such,
therefore, between Stanley and Morales, might have excited marvel as
to the _cause_, but not as to the _act_. But murder! it was so wholly
incompatible with even the very lowest principles of chivalry (except
when the unfortunate victim was of too low a rank to be removed by any
other means), that when they recalled the gallantry, the frankness of
speech and deed, the careless buoyancy, the quickly subdued passion,
and easily accorded forgiveness of injury, which had ever before
characterized young Stanley, they could not believe his guilt: but
then came the recollection of the startling proofs against him, and
such belief was almost involuntarily suspended. There was not a
movement in that immense concourse of human beings, not a word spoken
one to the other, not a murmur even of impatience for the appearance
of the King. All was so still, so mute, that, had it not been for the
varied play of countenances, any stranger suddenly placed within the
circle might have imagined himself in an assemblage of statues.

Precisely at noon, the folding-doors at the upper end of the hall were
thrown widely but noiselessly back, and King Ferdinand, attended by a
few pages and gentlemen, slowly entered, and taking his seat, gazed
a full minute, inquiringly and penetratingly around him, and then
resting his head on his hand, remained plunged in earnest meditation
some moments before he spoke.

It was a strange sight--the noiseless, yet universal rising of the
assemblage in honor to their Sovereign, changing their position as by
one simultaneous movement. Many an eye turned towards him to read
on his countenance the prisoner's doom; but its calm, almost stern
expression, baffled the most penetrating gaze. Some minutes passed ere
Ferdinand, rousing himself from his abstraction, waved his hand,
and every seat was instantaneously resumed, and so profound was the
silence, that every syllable the Monarch spoke, though his voice was
not raised one note above his usual pitch, was heard by every member
of those immense crowds, as individually addressing each.

"My Lords and holy Fathers, and ye Associated Brethren," he said, "the
cause of your present assemblage needs no repetition. Had the murdered
and the supposed murderer been other than they are, we should have
left the course of justice in the hands of those appointed to
administer it, and interfered not ourselves save to confirm or annul
the sentence they should pronounce. As the case stands, we are deputed
by our illustrious Consort and sister Sovereign, Isabella of Castile,
to represent her as Suzerain of the deceased (whom the saints
assoilize), and so ourselves guide the proceedings of justice on his
murderer. Our prerogative as Suzerain and Liege would permit us to
condemn to death at once; but in this instance, my Lords and holy
Fathers, we confess ourselves unwilling and incapable of pronouncing
judgment solely on our own responsibility. The accused is a friendless
foreigner, to whom we have been enabled to show some kindness, and
therefore one towards whom we cannot feel indifference: he has,
moreover, done us such good service both in Spain and Sicily, that
even the grave charge brought against him now, cannot blot out the
memories of the past. We find it difficult to believe that a young,
high-spirited, honorable warrior, in whose heart every chivalric
feeling appeared to beat, could become, under any temptation, under
any impulse, that base and loathsome coward--a midnight murderer! On
your counsels, then, we implicitly depend: examine, impartially and
deliberately, the proofs for and against, which will be laid before
you. But let one truth be ever present, lest justice herself be but a
cover for prejudice and hate. Let not Europe have cause to say, that
he who, flying from the enemies and tyrants of his own land, took
refuge on the hearths of our people, secure there of kindness and
protection, has found them not. Were it a countryman we were about to
judge, this charge were needless; justice and mercy would, if it were
possible, go hand in hand. The foreigner, who has voluntarily assumed
the name and service of a son of Spain, demands yet more at our hands.
My Lords and holy Fathers, and ye Associated Brethren, remember
this important truth, and act accordingly: but if, on a strict,
unprejudiced examination of the evidence against the prisoner, ye
pronounce him guilty, be it so: the scripture saith, 'blood must flow
for blood!'"

A universal murmur of assent filled the hall as the King ceased: his
words had thrilled reprovingly on many there present, particularly
amongst the populace, who felt, even as the Monarch spoke, the real
cause of their violent wrath against the murderer. Ere, however, they
had time to analyze why the violent abhorrence of Stanley should be
so calmed merely at the King's words, the command, "Bring forth the
prisoner!" occasioned an intensity of interest and eager movement
of the numerous heads towards the base of the hall, banishing every
calmer thought. The treble line of soldiers, forming the base of the
crescent, divided in the centre, and wheeling backwards, formed two
files of dense thickness, leaving a lane between them through which
the prisoner and his guards were discerned advancing to the place
assigned. He was still heavily fettered, and his dress, which he had
not been permitted to change, covered with dark, lurid stains, hung so
loosely upon him, that his attenuated form bore witness, even as the
white cheek and haggard eye, to the intense mental torture of the last
fortnight. His fair hair lay damp and matted on his pale forehead; but
still there was that in his whole bearing which, while it breathed of
suffering, contradicted every thought of guilt. He looked round him
steadily and calmly, lowered his head a moment in respectful deference
to the King, and instantly resumed the lofty carriage which suffering
itself seemed inadequate to bend. King Ferdinand fixed his eyes upon
him with an expression before which the hardiest guilt must for the
moment have quailed; but not a muscle of the prisoner's countenance
moved, and Ferdinand proceeded to address him gravely, yet feelingly.

"Arthur Stanley," he said, "we have heard from Don Felix d'Estaban
that you have refused our proffered privilege of seeking and
employing some friends, subtle in judgment, and learned in all the
technicalities of such proceedings, as to-day will witness, to
undertake your cause. Why is this? Is your honor of such small amount,
that you refuse even to accept the privilege of defence? Are you so
well prepared yourself to refute the evidence which has been collected
against you, that you need no more? Or have we indeed heard aright,
that you have resolved to let the course of justice proceed, without
one effort on your part to avert an inevitable doom? This would seem a
tacit avowal of guilt; else, wherefore call your doom inevitable? If
conscious of innocence, have you no hope, no belief in the Divine
Justice, which can as easily make manifest innocence as punish
crime? Ere we depute to others the solemn task of examination, and
pronouncing sentence, we bid you speak, and answer as to the wherefore
of this rash and contradictory determination--persisting in words that
you are guiltless, yet refusing the privilege of defence. Is life so
valueless, that you cast it degraded from you? As Sovereign and Judge,
we command you answer, lest by your own rash act the course of justice
be impeded, and the sentence of the guilty awarded to the innocent.
As man to man, I charge thee speak; bring forward some proof of
innocence. Let me not condemn to death as a coward and a murderer,
one whom I have loved and trusted as a friend! Answer--wherefore this
strange callousness to life--this utter disregard of thine honor and
thy name?"

For a moment, while the King addressed him as man to man, the pallid
cheek and brow of the prisoner flushed with painful emotion, and there
was a scarcely audible tremulousness in his voice as he replied:

"And how will defence avail me? How may mere assertion deny proof, and
so preserve life and redeem honor? My liege, I had resolved to attempt
no defence, because I would not unnecessarily prolong the torture of
degradation. Had I one proof, the slightest proof to produce, which
might in the faintest degree avail me, I would not withhold it;
justice to my father's name would be of itself sufficient to command
defence. But I have none! I cannot so perjure myself as to deny one
word of the charges brought against me, save that of murder! Of
thoughts of hate and wrath, ay, and blood, but such blood as honorable
men would shed, I am guilty, I now feel, unredeemably guilty, but not
of murder! I am not silent because conscious of enacted guilt. I will
not go down to the dishonored grave, now yawning for me, permitting,
by silence, your Highness, and these your subjects, to believe me
the monster of ingratitude, the treacherous coward which appearances
pronounce me. No!" he continued, raising his right hand as high as
his fetters would permit, and speaking in a tone which fell with
the eloquence of truth, on every heart--"No: here, as on the
scaffold--now, as with my dying breath, I will proclaim aloud my
innocence; I call on the Almighty Judge himself, as on every Saint
in heaven, to attest it--ay, and I believe it WILL be attested, when
nought but my memory is left to be cleared from shame--I am not the
murderer of Don Ferdinand Morales! Had he been in every deed my
foe--had he given me cause for the indulgence of those ungovernable
passions which I now feel were roused against him so causelessly and
sinfully, I might have sought their gratification by honorable combat,
but not by midnight murder! I speak not, I repeat, to save my life: it
is justly forfeited for thoughts of crime! I speak that, when in after
years my innocence will be made evident by the discovery of the real
assassin, you will all remember what I now say--that I have not so
basely requited the King and Country who so generously and trustingly
befriended me--that I am no murderer!"

"Then, if so convinced of innocence, young man, wherefore not attempt
defence?" demanded the Sub-Prior of St. Francis. "Knowest thou not
that wilfully to throw away the life intrusted to you, for some
wise purpose, is amenable before the throne of the Most High as
self-committed murder? Proofs of this strongly asserted innocence,
thou must have."

"I have none," calmly answered the prisoner, "I have but words, and
who will believe them? Who, here present, will credit the strange
tale, that, tortured and restless from mental suffering, I courted the
fury of the elements, and rushed from my quarters on the night of the
murder _without_ my sword?--that, in securing the belt, I missed the
weapon, but still sought not for it as I ought?--who will believe that
it was accident, not design, which took me to the Calle Soledad? and
that it was a fall over the murdered body of Don Ferdinand which
deluged my hands and dress with the blood that dyed the ground? Who
will credit that it was seeing him thus which chained me, paralyzed,
horror-stricken, to the spot? In the wild fury of my passions I had
believed him my enemy, and sworn his death; then was it marvel that
thus beholding him turned me well-nigh to stone, and that, in my
horror, I had no power to call for aid, or raise the shout after the
murderer, for my own thoughts arose as fiends, to whisper, such might
have been nay work--that I had wished his death? Great God! the awful
wakening from the delusion of weeks--the dread recognition in that
murdered corse of my own thoughts of sin!" He paused involuntarily,
for his strong agitation completely choked his voice, and shook his
whole frame. After a brief silence, which none in the hall had heart
to break, he continued calmly, "Let the trial proceed, gracious
Sovereign. Your Highness's generous interest in one accused of a
crime so awful, comprising the death, not of a subject only, but of a
friend, does but add to the heavy weight of obligation already mine,
and would of itself excite the wish to live, to prove that I am not
so utterly unworthy; but I feel that not to such as I, may the Divine
mercy be so shown, as to bring forward the real murderer. The misery
of the last fortnight has shown me how deeply I have sinned in
thought, though not in deed; and how dare I, then, indulge the wild
dream that my innocence will be proved, until too late, save for
mine honor? My liege, I have trespassed too long on the time of this
assemblage; let the trial proceed."

So powerful was the effect of his tone and words, that the impulse was
strong in every heart to strike off his fetters, and give him life
and freedom. The countenance of the Sub-Prior of St. Francis alone
retained its unmoved calmness, and its tone, its imperturbable
gravity, as he commanded Don Felix d'Estaban to produce the witnesses;
and on their appearance, desired one of the fathers to administer the
oath.



CHAPTER XIX.

              "His unaltering-cheek
  Still vividly doth hold its natural hue,
  And his eye quails not. Is this innocence?"

  MRS. HEMANS.


During the examination of Don Alonzo of Aguilar, and of old Pedro and
Juana, the prisoner remained with his arms calmly folded and head
erect, without the smallest variation of feature or position denoting
either anxiety or agitation. Don Alonzo's statement was very simple.
He described the exact spot where he had found the body, and the
position in which it lay; the intense agitation of Stanley, the bloody
appearance of his clothes, hands, and face, urging them to secure his
person even before they discovered the broken fragment of his sword
lying beside the corse. His account was corroborated, in the very
minutest points, by the men who had accompanied him, even though
cross-questioned with unusual particularity by Father Francis. Old
Pedro's statement, though less circumstantial, was, to the soldiers
and citizens especially, quite as convincing. He gave a wordy
narrative of Senor Stanley's unnatural state of excitement from the
very evening he had become his lodger--that he had frequently heard
him muttering to himself such words as "blood" and "vengeance." He
constantly appeared longing for something; never eat half the meals
provided for him--a sure proof, in old Pedro's imagination, of a
disordered mind, and that the night of the murder he had heard him
leave the house, with every symptom of agitation. Old Juana, with very
evident reluctance, confirmed this account; but Father Francis was
evidently not satisfied. "Amongst these incoherent ravings of the
prisoner, did you ever distinguish the word 'murder?'" he demanded--a
question which would be strange, indeed, in the court of justice of
the present day, but of importance in an age when such words as blood
and vengeance, amongst warriors, simply signified a determination to
fight out their quarrel in (so-called) honorable combat. The answer,
after some hesitation, was in the negative. "Did you ever distinguish
any name, as the object of Senor Stanley's desired vengeance?"

Pedro immediately answered "No;" but there was a simper of hesitation
in old Juana, that caused the Sub-Prior to appeal to her. "Please your
Reverence, I only chanced to hear the poor young man say, 'Oh, Marie!
Marie!' one day when I brought him his dinner, which he put away
untouched, though I put my best cooking in it."

A slight, scarcely perceptible flush passed over the prisoner's cheek
and brow. The King muttered an exclamation; Father Francis's brow
contracted, and several of the nobles looked uneasily from one to the
other.

"At what time did the prisoner leave his apartments the night of the
murder?" continued the Sub-Prior.

"Exactly as the great bell of the cathedral chimed eleven," was the
ready reply from Pedro and Juana at the same moment.

"Did you hear nothing but his hasty movements, as you describe? Did he
not call for attendance, or a light? Remember, you are on oath," he
continued sternly, as he observed the hesitation with which old Pedro
muttered "No;" and that Juana was silent. "The church punishes false
swearers. Did he speak or not?"

"He called for a light, please your Reverence, but--"

"But you did not choose to obey at an hour so late!" sternly responded
Father Francis; "and by such neglect may be guilty of accelerating the
death of the innocent, and concealing the real murderer! You allege
that Senor Stanley returned from some military duty at sunset, and
slept from then till just before eleven, so soundly that you could not
rouse him even for his evening meal. This was strange for a man with
murder in his thoughts! Again, that he called for a light, which,
you neglected to bring; and Senor Stanley asserts that he missed his
sword, but rushed from the house without it. Your culpable neglect,
then, prevents our discovering the truth of this assertion; yet you
acknowledge he called loudly for light; this appears too unlikely
to have been the case, had the prisoner quitted the house with the
intention to do murder."

"Intention at that moment he might not have had, Reverend Father,"
interposed the head of the Associated Brethren, who had taken an
active part in the examination. "Were there no evidence as to
premeditated desire of vengeance, premeditated insult, and
long-entertained enmity, these conclusions might have foundation. As
the case stands, they weigh but little. Where evil passions have
been excited, opportunity for their indulgence is not likely to pass
unused."

"But evidence of that long-entertained enmity and premeditated
vengeance we have not yet examined," replied the Sub-Prior. "If it
only rest on the suppositions of this old couple, in one of whom it
is pretty evident, prejudice is stronger than clearly defined truth,
methinks that, despite this circumstantial evidence, there is still
hope of the prisoner's innocence, more especially as we have one other
important fact to bring forward. You are certain," he continued,
addressing old Pedro, "that the bell chimed eleven when Senor Stanley
quitted your dwelling?" The man answered firmly in the affirmative.
"And you will swear that the Senor slept from sunset till that hour?"

"I dare not swear to it, your Reverence, for Juana and I were at a
neighbor's for part of that time; but on our return, Juana took up his
supper again, and found him so exactly in the same position as we had
left him, that we could not believe he had even moved."

"Was he alone in the house during this interval?"

"No; the maid Beta was at her work in the room below Senor Stanley's."

"Let her be brought here."

The order was so rapidly obeyed, that it was very evident she was
close at hand; but so terribly alarmed at the presence in which she
stood, as to compel the Sub-Prior to adopt the gentlest possible tone,
to get any answer at all. He merely inquired if, during the absence of
her master and mistress, she had heard any movement in the prisoner's
room. She said that she thought she had--a quiet, stealthy step, and
also a sound as if a door in the back of the house closed; but the
sounds were so very indistinct, she had felt them at the time more
like a dream than reality; and the commencement of the storm had so
terrified her, that she did not dare move from her seat.

"And what hour was this?"

It might have been about nine; but she could not say exactly. And from
the assertion that she did hear a slight sound, though puzzlingly
cross-questioned, she never wavered. The King and the Sub-Prior both
looked disappointed. The chief of the Santa Hermandad expressed
himself confirmed in his previous supposition.

The prisoner retained his calmness; but a gleam of intelligence seemed
to flit across his features.

"You would speak, Senor Stanley," interposed the King, as the girl was
dismissed. "We would gladly hear you."

"I would simply say, your Highness," replied Stanley, gratefully,
"that it is not unlikely Beta may have heard such sounds. I am
convinced my evening draught was drugged; and the same secret enemy
who did this, to give him opportunity undiscovered to purloin my
sword--may, nay, _must_ have entered my chamber during that deathlike
sleep, and committed the theft which was to burden an innocent man
with his deed of guilt. The deep stillness in the house might have
permitted her ear to catch the step, though my sleep was too profound.
I could hardly have had time to waken, rise, commit the deed of death,
and return to such a completely deceiving semblance of sleep, in the
short hour of Pedro and Juana's absence; and if I had, what madness
would have led me there again, and so appalled me, as to prevent all
effort of escape?"

"Conscience," replied the chief of the Santa Hermandad, sternly. "The
impelling of the Divine Spirit, whom you had profaned, and who
in justice so distracted you, as to lead you blindly to your own
destruction--no marvel the darkness oppressed, and the storm appalled
you; or that heaven in its wrath should ordain the events you yourself
have described--the fall over your own victim, and the horror thence
proceeding. We have heard that your early years have been honorable,
Senor Stanley, and to such, guilt is appalling even in its
accomplishment. Methinks, Father Francis, we need now but the evidence
of the premeditation."

"Your pardon, brother; but such, conclusions are somewhat over-hasty.
It is scarcely probable, had Senor Stanley returned after the
committal of such a deed, that his reentrance should not have been
heard as well as his departure; whereas the witness expressly
declares, that though her attention was awakened by the previous faint
sound, and she listened frequently, she never heard another movement,
till her master and mistress's return; and as they went into the
Senor's room directly, and found him without the very least appearance
of having moved, justice compels us to incline to the belief in Senor
Stanley's suggestion--that he could scarcely have had sufficient time
to rouse, depart, do murder, and feign sleep during Pedro Benito's
brief interval of absence."

"We will grant that so it may be, Reverend Father, but what proof have
we that the murder had not been just committed when the body and the
assassin were discovered?"

Father Francis replied, by commanding the appearance of Don
Ferdinand's steward, and after the customary formula, inquired what
hour his late lamented master had quitted his mansion the night of the
murder. The man replied, without hesitation, "Exactly as the chimes
played the quarter before nine."

"But was not that unusually early? The hour of meeting at the castle
was ten, and the distance from Don Ferdinand's mansion not twenty
minutes' ride, and scarce forty minutes' walk. Are you perfectly
certain as to the hour?"

"I can take my oath upon it, your Reverence, and Lopez will say the
same. Our sainted master (Jesu rest his soul!) called to him a few
minutes before he entered my lady's room, and told him not to get his
horse ready, as he should walk to the castle. Lopez asked as to who
should attend him, and his reply was he would go alone. He had done so
before, and so we were not surprised; but we were grieved at his look,
for it seemed of suffering, unlike himself, and were noticing it to
each other as he passed us, after quitting my lady, and so quickly and
so absorbed, that he did not return our salutation, which he never in
all his life neglected to do before. My poor, poor master! little did
we think we should never see him again!" And the man's unconstrained
burst of grief excited anew the indignation of the spectators against
the crime, till then almost forgotten, in the intense interest as
to the fate of the accused. Lopez was called, and corroborated the
steward's account exactly.

"If he left his house at a quarter before nine, at what hour, think
you, he would reach the Calle Soledad?"

From ten to fifteen minutes past the hour, your Reverence, unless
detained by calling elsewhere on his way."

"Did he mention any intention of so doing?" The answer was in the
negative. "According to this account, then, the murder must have taken
place between nine and ten; and Senor Stanley was not heard to quit
his apartment till eleven. This would corroborate his own assertion,
that the deed was committed ere he reached the spot."

"But what proof have we that Don Ferdinand was not detained on his
way?" replied the chief of the Santa Hermandad. "His domestics assert
no more than the hour of his quitting the house."

"The hour of the royal meeting was ten," rejoined the Sub-Prior; "he
was noted for regularity, and was not likely to have voluntarily
lingered so long, as not even to reach the Calle till one hour
afterwards."

"Not voluntarily; but we have heard that he appeared more suffering
than he was ever seen to do. His illness might have increased, and so
cause detention; and yet, on even partial recovery, we know him
well enough to believe he would still have endeavored to join his
Highness."

"He would; but there is evidence that when brought to the castle, he
had been dead at the very least three hours. Let Curador Benedicto
come forward."

A respectable man, dressed in black, and recognized at once as the
leech or doctor of the royal household, obeyed the summons, and on
being questioned, stated that he had examined the body the very moment
it had been conveyed to the castle, in the hope of discovering some
signs of animation, however faint. But life was totally extinct, and,
according to his judgment, had been so at the very least three hours."

"And what hour was this?"

"Just half-an-hour after midnight."

A brief silence followed the leech's dismissal; Ferdinand still seemed
perplexed and uneasy, and not one countenance, either of the nobles or
Associated Brethren, evinced satisfaction.

"Our task, instead of decreasing in difficulty, becomes more and more
complicated, my lords and brethren," observed the Sub-Prior, after
waiting for the chief of the Santa Hermandad to speak. "Had we any
positive proof, that Senor Stanley really slept from the hour of sunset
till eleven the same evening, and never quitted his quarters until then,
we might hope that the sentence of Curador Benedicto, as to the length
of time life had been extinct in his supposed victim, might weigh
strongly against the circumstantial chain of evidence brought against
him. Believing that the prisoner having slept from the hour of sunset to
eleven was a proven and witnessed fact, I undertook the defensive and
argued in his favor. The sounds heard by the girl Beta may or may not
have proceeded from the stealthy movements of the accused, and yet
justice forbids our passing them by unnoticed. The time of this movement
being heard, and that of the murder, according to the leech's evidence,
tally so exactly that we cannot doubt but the one had to do with the
other; but whether it were indeed the prisoner's step, or that of the
base purloiner of his sword, your united judgment must decide.
Individual supposition, in a matter of life or death, can be of no
avail. My belief, as you may have discovered, inclines to the prisoner's
innocence. My brother, the chief Hermano, as strongly believes in his
guilt. And it would appear as if the evidence itself, supports the one
judgment equally with the other; contradictory and complicated, it has
yet been truthfully brought forward and strictly examined. Your united
judgment, Senors and Hermanos, must therefore decide the prisoner's
fate."

"But under your favor, Reverend Father, all the evidence has not been
brought forward," rejoined the chief Hermano. "And methinks that which
is still to come is the most important of the whole. That the business
is complicated, and judgment most difficult, I acknowledge, and
therefore gladly avail myself of any remaining point on which the
scale may turn. Sworn as I am to administer impartial justice,
prejudice against the prisoner I can have none; but the point we have
until now overlooked, appears sufficient to decide not only individual
but general opinion. I mean the _premeditated vengeance_ sworn by the
prisoner against the deceased--long indulged and proclaimed enmity,
and premeditated determination to take his life or lose his own.
Don Ferdinand Morales--be his soul assoilized!--was so universally
beloved, so truly the friend of all ranks and conditions of men, that
to believe in the existence of any other enmity towards his person is
almost impossible. We have evidence that the prisoner was at feud with
him--was harboring some design against him for weeks. It may be he was
even refused by Don Ferdinand the meeting he desired, and so sought
vengeance by the midnight dagger. Let the evidence of this enmity be
examined, and according or not as premeditated malice is elicited, so
let your judgment be pronounced."

"Ay, so let it be," muttered the King as a loud murmur of assent ran
through the hall. "We have two witnesses for this; and, by heaven, if
the one differ from the other in the smallest point, the prisoner may
still be reprieved!"

Whether the royal observation was heard or not, there was no
rejoinder, for at the summoning of the chief Hermano, Don Luis Garcia
stood before the assemblage. His appearance excited surprise in many
present, and in none more than the prisoner himself. He raised his
head, which had been resting on his hand during the address of the
Sub-Prior, and the reply of the Hermano, and looked at the new witness
with bewildered astonishment. As Don Luis continued his relation of
the stormy interview between the deceased and the accused, and the
words of threatening used by the latter, astonishment itself, changed
into an indignation and loathing impossible to be restrained.

"Thou base dishonored villain!" he exclaimed, so suddenly and
wrathfully that it startled more by its strange contrast with his
former calmness than by its irreverent interruption to the formula of
the examination; "where wert thou during this interview? Hearing so
well, and so invisibly concealed, none but the voluntary spy could
have heard all this; so skilfully detailed that thou wouldst seem in
very truth _witness_ as well as hearer. What _accident_ could have led
thee to the most retired part of Don Ferdinand's garden, and,
being there, detained thee? Thou treacherous villain! and on thy
evidence--evidence so honorably, so truthfully obtained, my life or
death depends! Well, be it so."

"But so it shall not be," interposed the King himself, ere either
Sub-Prior or the Hermano could reply; "even as the prisoner, we
ourselves hold evidence dishonestly obtained of little moment--nay,
of no weight whatever. Be pleased, Don Luis Garcia, to explain
the casualty which led you, at such an important moment, to Don
Ferdinand's grounds; or name some other witness. The voluntary
listener is, in our mind, dishonorable as the liar, and demanding no
more account."

With a mien and voice of the deepest humility, Don Luis replied;
grieving that his earnest love of justice should expose him to the
royal displeasure; submitting meekly to unjust suspicion as concerned
himself, but still upholding the truth and correctness of his
statement. The other witness to the same, he added mysteriously, he
had already named to his Royal Highness.

"And she waits our pleasure," replied the King; "Don Felix d'Estaban,
be pleased to conduct the last witness to our presence."



CHAPTER XX.

                  But love is strong. There came
  Strength upon Woman's fragile heart and frame;
  There came swift courage.

  MRS. HEMANS.

  Death has no pang
  More keen than this. Oh, wherefore art thou here?

  MRS. HEMANS.


A profound silence followed Don Felix's departure. Don Luis had so
evidently evaded the King's demand, as to how he had witnessed this
important interview, that even those most prejudiced in his favor, on
account of his extreme sanctity, found themselves doubting his honor;
and those who had involuntarily been prejudiced against him, by the
indefinable something pervading his countenance and voice, doubly
rejoiced that their unspoken antipathy had some foundation. In modern
courts of justice, to refuse the validity of evidence merely because
the manner of obtaining it was supposed dishonorable, would be
pronounced the acme of folly and romance. In the age of which we
write, and in Spain especially, the sense of honor was so exquisitely
refined, that the King's rebuke, and determination not to allow the
validity of Don Luis's evidence, unless confirmed by an honorable
witness, excited no surprise whatever; every noble, nay, every one of
the Associated Brethren, there present, would have said the same; and
the eager wonder, as to the person of the witness on whom so much
stress was laid, became absolutely intense. The prisoner was very
evidently agitated; his cheek flushed and paled in rapid alternation,
and a suppressed but painful exclamation escaped from him as Don Felix
re-entered, leading with him a female form; but the faint sound was
unheard, save by the King and the Sub-Prior, who had been conversing
apart during d'Estaban's absence--lost in the irrepressible burst of
wonder and sympathy, which broke from all within the hall, as in the
new witness, despite the change of garb, and look, from the dazzling
beauty of health and peace, to the attenuated form of anxiety and
sorrow, they recognized at once the widow of the murdered, Donna
Marie. Nor was this universal sympathy lessened, when, on partially
removing her veil, to permit a clear view of the scene around her, her
sweet face was disclosed to all--profoundly, almost unnaturally, calm,
indeed--but the cheek and lips were perfectly colorless; the ashy
whiteness of the former rendered them more striking from the long
black lash resting upon it, unwetted by a single tear: and from the
peculiarly dark eye appearing the larger, from the attenuation of the
other features. One steady and inquiring glance she was seen to fix
upon the prisoner, and then she bent in homage to the Sovereign; and
emotion, if there were any, passed unseen.

"Sit, lady," said the King, with ready courtesy, touched more than he
could have imagined possible, by the change fourteen short days had
wrought. "We would feign render this compelled summons as brief and
little fatiguing as may be: none can grieve more than ourselves at
this harsh intrusion on thy hours of sorrow; but in a great measure
the doom of life or death rests with thee, and justice forbids our
neglecting evidence so important. Yet sit, lady; we command it."

"It needs not, gracious Sovereign; my strength will not fail me,"
replied Marie, her sweet voice falling distinctly on every ear, while
Stanley started at its calmness; and she gracefully refused the seat
Don Felix proffered. "Give no more thought to me than to any other
witness; it is not a subject's place to sit in presence of her
Sovereign."

But Ferdinand's kindliest feelings were excited, and instead of
permitting the Sub-Prior to give the necessary details, he himself,
with characteristic brevity, but clearly and kindly, narrated the
progress of the evidence for and against the prisoner, and how great
the weight laid on the proofs, if there were any, of acknowledged
enmity, and premeditated injury, on the part of the accused towards
the deceased. The questions to which he was compelled to request her
reply were simply, "Was she aware of any cause of hatred existing
between the accused and the deceased?" "Had she ever heard opprobrious
and insulting epithets used by the former or the latter?" "or any
threat, implying that the death of Don Ferdinand Morales was desired
by the prisoner?" "Had she ever seen the prisoner draw his sword upon
the deceased?--and had she any reason to believe that Don Ferdinand
had ever refused, or intended to refuse to meet the prisoner in
honorable combat, and so urged the gratification of vengeance by a
deed of murder? Reverend Father," continued the King, "be pleased
yourself to administer the customary oath."

Father Francis instantly rose from his seat, and taking the large and
richly embossed silver crucifix from the Monk, who had administered
the oath to all the other witnesses, himself approached Marie. "Marie
Henriquez Morales," he said, as he reverentially held the solemn
symbol of his religion before her, "art thou well advised of the
solemnity of the words thou art called upon to speak? If so, swear to
speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Swear by
the Holy Symbol which I support; by the unpronounceable name of the
Father, by the flesh and blood, the resurrection and the life of our
Lord and Saviour Christ Jesu; by the Holy Spirit; by the saving and
glorious Trinity; by the goodly army of Saints and Martyrs; daughter,
swear, and the blessing or the curse be with you as you swear true or
falsely."

The fine countenance of the Sub-Prior glowed with the holy enthusiasm
of his appeal; his form, as he stood, one hand clasping the crucifix,
the other emphatically raised, seemed dilated to unusual height and
majesty, and the deep solemnity of his accents so enhanced the awful
responsibility of the oath, that it thrilled throughout the multitude
as it had never done before. So deep was the stillness which followed,
that not one of those vast crowds seemed to breathe. To the prisoner
it was a moment of intense emotion: for if, indeed, Marie had once
told him truth, that oath, to her, even in its solemnity, was as
nought; but ere he could even think as to the wording of her answer,
that answer came, and so distinct, so unfalteringly spoken, that there
was not one person present who even strained his ear to catch the
words.

"Reverend Father," she said, "I am grateful for thy counsel; and,
believe me, am well advised of the truth and solemnity of the words I
speak. But I cannot aid his Grace, and these his subjects, in their
decision as to the prisoner's sentence. My evidence is valueless.
I belong to that race whose word is never taken as witness, for or
against, in a court of justice. I cannot take the oath required, for I
deny the faith in which it is administered. I am a JEWESS!"

A wild cry, in every variety of intonation--astonishment, horror,
wrath, and perhaps terror, ran through the hall--from Sovereign,
Noble, Monk, and Citizen, simultaneously. Father Francis staggered
back several paces, as if there were contamination in remaining by her
side, and then stood as rooted to the ground, his hand convulsively
grasping the crucifix which had nearly fallen from his hold; his lips
apart, his nostrils slightly distended, and his eyes almost starting
from their sockets, in the horrified and astonished gaze he fixed upon
the pale and fragile being who had dared speak such impious words. The
attendant fathers rose simultaneously, and formed a semicircle round
their superior, ready, at his slightest signal, to hurl down on
her the anathema of the church; reverence to the Sub-Prior alone
preventing the curse from instantly bursting forth. The nobles, the
Associated Brethren, Ferdinand himself, started almost unconsciously
to their feet, and an eager rush brought many of the citizens still
nearer to the scene of action. The prisoner, with an irresistible
impulse, darted forwards, and ere any one had recovered from his
trance of bewilderment, had flung himself at Marie's feet.

"Marie! Marie!" he exclaimed, in a voice so hoarse and choked, its
words were heard by her alone. "Oh! why hast thou done this? Why not
take the required oath, and condemn me at once? Marie, I am unworthy
of such self-sacrifice!"

"Ha! didst thou slay him then? Have I judged thee too kindly, Arthur,"
she answered; and the hand she laid heavily on his shoulder trembled
so violently, it was evident she had thus placed it only to save her
from sinking to the ground, for the unnatural strength had gone.

"No!" he exclaimed, in a tone and with a look that satisfied her at
once, and there was no time for more. The King had perceived that the
Sub-Prior was recovering composure, and with it energy of action;
though himself a zealous Catholic, he felt compelled to save Marie.
"Hold! hold!" he said hastily, as Father Francis was about to speak.
"Reverend Father, we pray thee, be not over hasty in this matter;
these are strange and terrible words; but they are meaningless; they
must be. Her misery has turned her brain; she is mad; heed her not; be
silent all of ye! See how she glares upon the prisoner! Is that the
look of sanity? By St. Francis, we have done wrong to call her hither!
Stand back, good fathers. Remove the prisoner; and let Donna Marie be
conducted from the hall. Our Consort should have warned us of this!"

"Forbear, my liege!" replied the Sub-Prior sternly. "The blaspheming
words were all too calmly and collectively spoken for the ravings of
madness. Let not the false unbeliever pass hence till at least she
has done reverence to the sacred symbol, she has, by daring denial,
insulted. As thou wouldst save thine own soul from hell-fire, my
liege, interfere not in this!"

As he spoke, several soldiers had endeavored rudely to drag Arthur
from Marie: he strove fiercely for freedom, for but one hour's power
to protect her, but in vain. And the look she fixed upon him, as he
was torn from her, from its contrast with her previous profound calm,
did indeed seem almost of madness. The excitement which had enabled
her to make this dread avowal--an avowal comprising such variety, and
terrible danger, that the magnitude of the sacrifice comprised in the
confession can now scarcely be understood; danger, not merely from the
vengeance of the church for long years of fraud, nor from the secret
and awful tribunal of whose existence she was conscious (though not of
its close vicinity); not merely these, but danger from the wrath, and
terrors of the secret members of her own faith, who might naturally
imagine their own safety endangered in the suspicion, engendered by
her rash confession. Of all this she had thought; had believed herself
strengthened to brave and bear every possible suffering, rather than
breathe those words which must seal Stanley's fate; but now that she
had spoken, though she would not have recalled them if she could--such
an overpowering, crushing sense of all she had drawn upon herself,
such fearful, spectral shapes of indefinable horror came upon her,
that, as the Sub-Prior stood again before her with the uplifted cross,
bidding her kneel and acknowledge him whose fate it imaged--she burst
into a wild hysteric laugh, and fell prone upon the floor.

"Said I not she was mad? And what need was there for this unmanly
violence?" angrily exclaimed the Monarch; and, starting from his seat,
he authoritatively waved back the denouncing monks, and himself bent
over Marie. The Duke of Murcia, Don Felix d'Estaban, the Lord of
Aguilar, and several other nobles following the Sovereign's example,
hastened to her assistance. But to restore animation was not in their
power, and on the King's whispered commands, Don Felix gently, even
tenderly raised her, and bore her in his arms from the hall. Even in
that moment of excitement Ferdinand could not forbear glancing at the
prisoner, whose passionate struggles to escape from the guard, when
Marie fell, had been noticed by all, and unhappily, combined with, his
previous irritation, but confirmed the unspoken suspicions of many as
to the real cause of his enmity against Don Ferdinand. The expression
of his countenance was of such contending, terrible suffering, that
the King hastily withdrew his gaze, vainly endeavoring to disbelieve,
as he had done, the truth of Garcia's charge.

Order was at length universally restored, and after a brief silence,
the chief of the Santa Hermandad demanded of the prisoner if he had
aught to say in his defence, or reply himself to Don Luis Garcia's
charge. The reply was a stern, determined negative; and, deputed so to
do by the Sub-Prior, who seemed so absorbed in the horror of Marie's
daring avowal, as to be incapable of further interference, the Hermano
proceeded to sum up the evidence. As the widow of the deceased had so
strangely, yet effectually deprived them of her evidence, he said,
he thought some slight regard ought to be paid to Don Luis Garcia's
words; but even without doing so, the circumstantial evidence, though
contradictory and complicated, was enough in his opinion to convict
the prisoner; but he referred to his associates and to the peers
then present, to pronounce sentence. His task was but to sum up the
evidence, which he trusted he had done distinctly; his opinion was
that of but one individual; there were at least fifty or sixty voices,
to confirm or to oppose it.

Deep and sustained as had been the interest throughout the trial, it
was never more intense than during the awful pause which heralded the
prisoner's doom. It was spoken at length; the majority alike of the
nobles and of the Santa Hermandad, believed and pronounced him guilty,
and sentence of death was accordingly passed; but the Duke of Murcia
then stepped forward, and urged the following, not only in the name of
his brother peers, but in the name of his native sovereign, Isabella;
that in consideration of the complicated and contradictory evidence,
of the prisoner's previous high character, and of his strongly
protested innocence, a respite of one month should be granted between
sentence and execution, to permit prayers to be offered up throughout
Spain for the discovery of the real murderer, or at least allow time
for some proof of innocence to appear; during which time the prisoner
should be removed from the hateful dungeon he had till that morning
occupied, and confined under strict ward, in one of the turrets of the
castle; and that, if at the end of the granted month affairs remained
as they were then, that no proof of innocence appeared, a scaffold was
to be erected in the Calle Soledad, on the exact spot where the murder
was committed; there the prisoner, publicly degraded from the honors
and privileges of chivalry, his sword broken before him, his spurs
ignominiously struck from his heels, would then receive the award
of the law, death from hanging, the usual fate of the vilest and
commonest malefactors.

Ferdinand and the Sub-Prior regarded him attentively while this
sentence was pronounced, but not a muscle in his countenance moved;
what it expressed it would have been difficult to define; but it
seemed as if his thoughts were on other than himself. The King
courteously thanked the assemblage for their aid in a matter so
momentous, and at once ratified their suggestion. The Associated
Brethren were satisfied that it was Isabella's will; confident also in
their own power to prevent the evasion, and bring about the execution
of the sentence, if still required, at the termination of the given
time; and with a brief but impressive address from the Sub-Prior to
the prisoner, the assemblage dispersed.

But the excitement of the city ceased not with the conclusion of the
trial: not alone the populace, but the nobles themselves, even the
Holy Fathers and Associated Brethren were seen, forming in various
groups, conversing eagerly and mysteriously. The interest in the
prisoner had in some measure given way to a new excitement. Question
followed question, conjecture followed conjecture, but nothing could
solve the mystery of Donna Marie's terrible avowal, or decrease the
bewilderment and perplexity which, from various causes, it created in
every mind. One alone, amongst the vast crowds which had thronged the
trial, shunned his fellows. Not a change in the calm, cold, sneering
expression of Don Luis Garcia's countenance had betrayed either
surprise at, or sympathy with, any one of the various emotions
stirring that vast multitude of human hearts; he had scarcely even
moved his position during the continuance of the trial, casting indeed
many a glance on the immediate scene of action, from beneath his
thick and shadowy eyebrows, which concealed the sinister gaze from
observation. He shunned the face of day; but in his own dark haunts,
and with his hellish colleagues, plans were formed and acted on, with
a rapidity which, to minds less matured in iniquity, would have seemed
incredible.



CHAPTER XXI.

  The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
  It droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven
  Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed,
  It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes;
  'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
  The throned monarch better than his crown.

  SHAKSPEARE.

The interest attending a trial, in which royalty had evinced such
powerful sympathy, naturally extended to every member of Isabella's
female train: her anxiety as to the issue had been very visible,
notwithstanding her calm and quiet demeanor. The Infanta Isabella and
the Infant Don Juan were with her during the morning as usual; but
even their infantile caresses, dearer to her true woman's heart than
all her vast possessions, had failed to disperse the anxiety of
thought. Few can peruse the interesting life of Isabella of Castile
without being struck by the fact, that even as her public career was
one of unmixed prosperity for her country and herself, her private
sorrows and domestic trials vied, in their bitterness, with those of
the poorest and humblest of her subjects. Her first-born, the Infanta
Isabella, who united all the brilliant and endearing qualities of her
mother, with great beauty, both of face and form, became a loving
bride only to become a widow--a mother, only to gaze upon her babe,
and die; and her orphan quickly followed. Don Juan, the delight
and pride and hope of his parents, as of the enthusiasm and almost
idolatry of their subjects, died in his twentieth year. The hapless
Catherine of Arragon, with whose life of sorrow and neglect every
reader of English history is acquainted, though they sometimes forget
her illustrious parentage; her sorrows indeed Isabella was spared, as
she died before Henry the Eighth ascended the English throne. But
it was Juana, the wife of Philip, and mother of Charles V., whose
intellects, always feeble, and destroyed by the neglect and unkindness
of the husband she idolized, struck the last and fatal blow. And she,
whom all Europe regarded with unfeigned veneration--she whom her own
subjects so idolized, they would gladly have laid down a thousand
lives for hers--she fell a victim to a mother's heart-consuming
grief.[A] Who then, after perusing her life, and that of how many
other sovereigns, will refuse them, the meed of sympathy, because,
raised so far above us in _outward_ things, we deem the griefs and
feelings of common humanity unknown and uncared for? To our mind,
the destiny of the Sovereign, the awful responsibility, the utter
loneliness of station, the general want of sympathy, the proneness to
be condemned for faults or omissions of which they are, individually,
as innocent as their contemners, present a subject for consideration
and sympathy, and ought to check the unkind thoughts and hasty
condemnation, excited merely because they are placed in rank and
circumstances above us. A King of kings has placed them there, and a
Universal Father calls them His children, even as ourselves.

[Footnote A: Isabella had been previously attacked by dangerous
indisposition, from which, however, the natural strength of her
constitution would have enabled her in some degree to rally; but the
springs of life had been injured by previous bereavement. Her lungs
became affected, and the symptoms of decline rapidly and fatally
increased from continual affliction of mind.--_History of Spain_.]

Isabella had not seen Marie that morning; her trusty attendant, Donna
Inez de Leon, had alone been with her, and had reported that she was
calm and composed, and more like herself than she had been since her
bereavement. Time passed but slowly, and Catherine Pas, the same
high-spirited maiden mentioned in a former chapter, perceiving that
the Queen's anxiety evidently increased as the hours waned, quietly
left the chamber, unbidden, and even unseen. A brief interval saw
her return, and with a countenance so expressive of horrified
bewilderment, as to excite the astonishment of all.

"Oh, madam!" she exclaimed, as she flew to the Queen's seat,
regardless of either decorum or rebuke; "Oh, madam, it has killed her;
she is dying!"

"Dying!" repeated Isabella, and the whole strength of her character
was put forth, to prevent her starting from her seat. "Dying!--who is
dying? Speak out, in Santa Maria's name!"

"Donna Marie--the poor, unhappy Marie; she has been borne from the
hall! Don Felix had her in his arms; I saw her; I followed them, and
she looked dead, quite dead; they would not let me go to her at first,
till I called them hard-hearted wretches! And I have tried to rouse
her, but I could not. Oh, save her, gracious madam! Do not let her
die!"

"And have they none with her?" demanded the Queen. "But whom can they
have, save her own terrified women? Inez--Leonor--go to her at once!
Your skill and tenderness will soon revive her; this silly child
is terrified at shadows. 'Tis but a faint, such as followed the
announcement of her husband's death. If any one dare refuse you
entrance, tell them you go in your Queen's name. Foolish trembler,"
she added, in a tone of relief, as her commands were instantly obeyed,
"why this excessive agitation, when thou hast seen a faint like this
before?"

"Nay, but by your leave, gracious madam, I have not," replied
Catherine, with emotion. "There is far more of horror in this; she is
cold--cold, like stone; and they have planted a guard at the entrance
of her apartments, and they tell a tale so wild and strange, I cannot
give it credence!"

"Ha! what say they?" demanded the Queen hastily, her eyes flashing
with light, as they always did when she was excited. "What can it be,
too wild and strange for thy hair-brained fancy to believe? Marvellous
it must be indeed!"

Isabella spoke jestingly, but her heart was not with her words: and
Catherine replied with tears starting to her eyes, "Oh, do not speak
thus, my liege. It is indeed no theme for jest." And she continued so
rapidly, that to any but the quickened mind of Isabella, her words
must have seemed unintelligible. "They say she is a heretic, royal
madam! Nay, worse--a blaspheming unbeliever; that she has refused to
take the oath, on plea of not believing in the Holy Catholic Church;
that she has insulted, has trampled on the sacred cross! Nor is
this all--worse, yet worse; they say she has proclaimed herself a
JEWESS!--an abhorred, an unbelieving Jewess!"

A general start and loud exclamation of horror was the natural
rejoinder to this unlooked-for intelligence; but not from Isabella,
whose flashing eyes were still fixed on the young girl's face, as to
read in her soul the confirmation of these strange words. "What dost
thou say?" she said at length, and so slowly, a second might have
intervened between each word. "Speak! let me hear again! A Jewess!
Santa Maria! But no; it _cannot_ be. They must have told thee false!"

So the Queen spoke; but ere Catherine had concluded a calmer
repetition of the tale, Marie's words of the preceding evening rushed
back on her mind, confirming it but too surely. "To-morrow all will be
distinct and clear enough!" she had said; ay, distinct it was; and
so engrossingly intense became the thoughts thronging in her mind,
bewildering succession, that Isabella sat motionless, her brow leaning
on her hand, wholly unconscious of the lapse of time.

A confusion in the gallery, and the words, "The King! the King!"
roused her at length; and never was the appearance of Ferdinand more
welcome, not only to Isabella, but to her attendants, as giving them
the longed-for opportunity to retire, and so satisfy curiosity, and
give vent to the wonderment which, from their compelled silence in
Isabella's presence, had actually become intolerable.

Ferdinand speedily narrated the affairs of the morning, and concluded
by inquiring if any thing had occurred in her interview with Marie to
excite suspicion of her mad design. The Queen replied by relating, in
her turn, all that had passed between them. The idea of madness could
no longer exist; there was not the faintest hope that in a moment of
frenzy she had spoken falsely.

"And yet, was it not madness," the King urged, "thus publicly to avow
a determined heresy, and expose herself to all the horrors of the
church's vengeance! 'Years of deception and fraud!' she told thee,
'would be disclosed.' By St. Francis! fraud enough. Who could have
suspected the wife of Don Ferdinand Morales a Jewess? It was on this
account he kept her so retired. How could he reconcile his conscience
to a union with one of a race so abhorred, beautiful as she is? And
where could he have found her? But this matters not: it is all wild
conjecture, save the madness of the avowal. What cause could there
have been for such self-sacrifice?"

"There was a cause," replied the Queen earnestly; "cause enough to
render life to her of little moment. Do not ask me my meaning, dearest
Ferdinand; I would not do her such wrong as to breathe the suspicion
that, spite of myself, spite of incomprehensible mystery, will come,
even to thee. Do not let us regret her secret is discovered. Let her
but recover from the agony of these repeated trials, and with the help
of our holy fathers, we may yet turn her from her abhorred faith, and
so render her happy in this world, and secure her salvation in the
next."

"The help of the holy fathers!" repeated the King. "Nay, Isabel,
their sole help will be to torture and burn! They will accuse her
of insulting, by years of deceit, the holy faith, of which she has
appeared a member. Nay, perchance of using foul magic on Morales (whom
the saints preserve), and then thou knowest what will follow!"

The Queen shuddered. "Never with my consent, my husband! From the
first moment I beheld this unfortunate, something attracted me towards
her; her misery deepened the feeling; and even now, knowing what she
is, affection lingers. The Holy Virgin give me pardon, if 'tis sin!"

"For such sin I will give thee absolution, dearest," replied the King,
half jestingly, half earnestly. "Do not look so grave. No one knows,
or values thy sterling piety half so tenderly and reverentially as
I do. But this is no common case. Were Marie one of those base and
grovelling wretches, those accursed unbelievers, who taint our fair
realm with their abhorred rites--think of nothing but gold and usury,
and how best to cheat their fellows; hating us almost as intensely as
we hate them--why, she should abide by the fate she has drawn upon
herself. But the wife of my noble Morales, one who has associated so
long with zealous Catholics, that she is already most probably one of
us, and only avowed her descent from some mysterious cause--by St.
Francis, she shall be saved!"

"But how?" inquired Isabella anxiously. "Wouldst thou deny her faith
to Father Francis, and persuade him she has spoken falsely?"

The King shook his head. "That will never do, Isabel. I have had the
holy man closeted with me already, insisting on the sanity of her
words, and urging me to resign the unbeliever at once to the tender
mercy of the church. All must depend on thee."

"On me?" repeated Isabella, in a tone of surprised yet anxious
inquiry.

"On thee, love. Thy perfect humility is ignorant of the fact--yet it
is nevertheless perfectly true--that thou art reverenced, well nigh
canonized, by the holy church; and thy words will have weight when
mine would be light as air. Refuse the holy fathers all access to her;
say she is unfitted to encounter them; that she is ill; nay, mad, if
thou wilt. Bring forward the state in which she was borne from the
hall; her very laugh (by St. Francis, it rings in my ear still) to
confirm it, and they will believe thee. The present excitement will
gradually subside, and her very existence be forgotten. Let none but
thy steadiest, most pious matrons have access to her; forbid thy young
maidens to approach or hold converse with her; and her being under
thy protection can do harm to none. Let her be prisoner in her own
apartments, an thou wilt; she deserves punishment for the deception
practised towards thee. Treat her as thou deemest best, only give her
not up to the mercy of the church!"

"Talk not of it," replied the Queen earnestly. "Unbeliever though
she be, offspring of a race which every true Catholic must hold in
abhorrence, she is yet a _woman_, Ferdinand, and, as such, demands and
shall receive the protection of her Queen. Yet, would there were some
means of saving her from the eternal perdition to which, as a Jewess,
she is destined; some method, without increase of suffering, to allure
her, as a penitent and believing child, to the bosom of our holy
mother church."

"And to do this, who so fitted as thyself, dearest Isabel?" answered
the King with earnest affection. "Thou hast able assistants in some
of thy older matrons, and may after a while call in the aid of Father
Denis, whose kindly nature is better fitted for gentle conversion
than either Francis, or thy still sterner chaplain, Torquemada. Thy
kindness has gained thee the love of this misguided one; and if any
one have sufficient influence to convert, by other than sharp means,
it can only be thyself."

Isabella was not long undecided. Her heart felt that to turn Marie
from blindness and perdition by kindness and affection would be indeed
far more acceptable to the virgin (her own peculiar saint) than the
heretic's blood, and she answered with animation, "Then so it shall
be, Ferdinand; I fear me, alas! that there will be little reason to
prevaricate, to deny all spiritual access to her. Thy report, combined
with my terrified Catherine's, gives me but little hope for health or
reason. But should she indeed recover, trust me she shall be happy
yet."

Great was the astonishment of the guards as they beheld their
Sovereign fearlessly enter the chamber of a proclaimed Jewess--a word
in their minds synonymous with the lowest, most degraded rank of
being; and yet more, to hear and perceive that she herself was
administering relief. The attendants of Isabella--whose curiosity was
now more than satisfied, for the tale had been repeated with the usual
exaggerations, even to a belief that she had used the arts of sorcery
on Morales--huddled together in groups, heaping every opprobrious
epithet upon her, and accusing her of exposing them all to the horrors
of purgatory by contaminating them with her presence. And as the
Sovereign re-appeared in her saloon with the leech Benedicto, whose
aid she had summoned, there were many who ventured to conjure her not
to expose herself to such pollution as the tending of a Jewess--to
leave her to the fate her fraud so merited. Even Catherine, finding to
disbelieve the tale any longer was impossible, and awed and terrified
at the mysterious words of her companions, which told of danger to her
beloved mistress, flung herself on her knees before her, clasping her
robe to detain her from again seeking the chamber of Marie. Then
was the moment for a painter to have seized on the face and form of
Isabella! Her eye flashed till its very color was undistinguishable,
her lip curled, every feature--usually so mild and feminine--was so
transformed by indignation into majesty and unutterable scorn as
scarcely to have been recognized. Her slight and graceful form dilated
till the very boldest cowered before her, even before she spoke; for
never had they so encountered her reproof:--

"Are ye women?" she said at length, in the quiet, concentrated tone of
strong emotion; "or are we deceived as to the meaning of your words?
Pollution! Are we to see a young, unhappy being perish for want of
sympathy and succor, because--forsooth--she is a Jewess? Danger to our
soul! We should indeed fear it; did we leave her to die, without one
effort to restore health to the frame, and the peace of Christ to the
mind! Has every spark of woman's nature faded from your hearts, that
ye can speak thus? If for yourselves you fear, tend her not, approach
her not--we will ourselves give her the aid she needs. And as for
thee," she continued severely, as she forced the now trembling
Catherine to stand upright before her, "whose energy to serve Marie
we loved and applauded; child as thou art, must thou too speak of
pollution? but example may have done this. Follow me, minion; and then
talk of pollution if thou canst!" And with a swift step Isabella led
the way to the chamber of Marie.

"Behold!" she said emphatically, as she pointed to the unhappy
sufferer, who, though restored to life, was still utterly unconscious
where she was or who surrounded her; her cheek and brow, white and
damp; her large eye lustreless and wandering; her lip and eyelid
quivering convulsively; her whole appearance proving too painfully
that reason had indeed, for the time, fled. The soul had been strong
till the dread words were said; but the re-action had been too much
for either frame or mind. "Catherine! thou hast seen her in her
beauty, the cherished, the beloved of all who knew her--seen her when
no loveliness could mate with hers. Thou seest now the wreck that
misery has made, though she has numbered but few more years than thou
hast! Detest, abhor, avoid her _faith_--for that we command thee; but
her sex, her sorrow, have a claim to sympathy and aid, which not even
her race can remove. Jewess though she be, if thou can look on her
thus, and still speak of pollution and danger, thou art not what we
deemed thee!"

Struck to the heart, alike by the marked display of a mistress she
idolized and the sympathy her better nature really felt for Marie,
Catherine sunk on her knees by the couch, and burst into tears.
Isabella watched her till her unusual indignation subsided, and then
said more kindly, "It is enough; go, Catherine. If we judge thee
rightly thou wilt not easily forget this lesson! Again I bid thee
abhor her faith; but seek to win her to the right path, by gentleness
and love, not prejudice and hate."

"Oh! let me tarry here and tend her, my gracious Sovereign," implored
Catherine, again clasping Isabella's robe and looking beseechingly in
her face--but from a very different feeling to the prompter of the
same action a few minutes before--"Oh, madam, do not send me from her!
I will be so gentle, so active--watch, tend, serve; only say your
Grace's bidding, and I will do it, if I stood by her alone!"

"My bidding would be but the promptings of thine own heart, my girl,"
replied the Queen, fondly, for she saw the desired impression had been
made. "If I need thee--which I may do--I will call upon thee; but
now, thou canst do nothing, but think kindly, and judge
mercifully--important work indeed, if thou wouldst serve an erring and
unhappy fellow-creature, with heart as well as hand. But now go: nay,
not so sorrowfully; thy momentary fault is forgiven," she added,
kindly, as she extended her hand towards the evidently pained and
penitent maiden, who raised it gratefully and reverentially to her
lips, and thoughtfully withdrew.

It was not, however, with her attendants only, this generous and
high-minded princess had to contend--with them her example was enough;
but the task was much more difficult, when the following day, as King
Ferdinand had anticipated, brought the stern Sub-Prior of St. Francis
to demand, in the church's name, the immediate surrender of Marie. But
Isabella's decision once formed never wavered. Marie was under her
protection, she said--an erring indeed, but an unhappy young creature,
who, by her very confession, had thrown herself on the mercy of her
Sovereign--and she would not deliver up the charge. In vain the Prior
urged the abomination of a Jewess residing under her very roof--the
danger to her soul should she be tempted to associate with her, and
that granting protection to an avowed and blaspheming unbeliever must
expose her to the suspicions, or, at least the censure of the church.
Isabella was inexorable. To his first and second clause she quietly
answered as she had done to her own attendants; his third only
produced a calm and fearless smile. She knew too well, as did the
Prior also, though for the time he chose to forget it, that her
character for munificent and heartfelt piety was too well established,
not only in Spain but throughout Europe, to be shaken even by the
protection of a Jewess. Father Francis then solicited to see her; but
even this point he could not gain. Isabella had, alas! no need to
equivocate as to the reason of his non-admission to Marie. Reason had
indeed returned, and with it the full sense of the dangers she had
drawn upon herself; but neither frame nor mind was in a state to
encounter such an interview as the Prior demanded.

The severity of Father Francis originated, as we have before remarked,
neither in weak intellect nor selfish superstition. Towards himself
indeed he never relented either in severity or discipline; towards
others benevolence and humanity very often gained ascendency; and
something very like a tear glistened in his eye as Isabella forcibly
portrayed the state in which Marie still remained. And when she
concluded, by frankly imparting her intention, if health were indeed
restored, to leave no means untried--even to pursue some degree of
severity if nothing else would do--to wean her from her mistaken
faith, he not only abandoned his previous intentions, but commended
and blessed the nobler purpose of his Sovereign. To his request that
Marie might be restrained from all intercourse with the younger
members of Isabella's female court--in fact, associate with none but
strict and uncompromising Catholics--the Queen readily acceded; and
moreover, granted him full permission to examine the mansion of
Don Ferdinand Morales, that any books or articles of dangerous or
heretical import might be discovered and destroyed.

With these concessions Father Francis left his Sovereign, affected
at her goodness and astonished at her influence on himself. He had
entered her presence believing nothing could change the severity of
his intentions or the harshness of his feelings; he left her with the
one entirely renounced, and the other utterly subdued.

Such was the triumph of prejudice achieved by the lofty-minded and
generous woman, who swayed the sceptre of Castile.[A] And yet, though
every history of the time unites in so portraying her; though her
individual character was the noblest, the most magnanimous, the most
complete union of masculine intellect with perfect womanhood,
ever traced on the pages of the past; though under her public
administration her kingdom stood forth the noblest, the most refined,
most generous, ay, and the freest, alike in national position, as in
individual sentiment, amongst all the nations of Europe, Isabella's
was the fated hand to sign two edicts[B] whose consequences
extinguished the lustre, diminished the virtues, enslaved the
sentiments, checked the commerce, and in a word deteriorated the whole
character of Spain.

[Footnote A: We are authorized to give this character to Isabella of
Castile, and annex the lustre of such action to her memory; as we know
that even when, by the persuasions and representations of Torquemada,
the Inquisition was publicly established, Isabella constantly
interfered her authority to prevent _zeal_ from becoming _inhumanity_.
Rendered unusually penetrating by her peculiarly feeling and gentle
nature, she discovered, what was concealed from others, "That many
enormities may be committed under the veil of religion--many innocent
persons falsely accused; their riches being their only crime. Her
exertions brought such things to light, and the suborners were
punished according to their guilt."--WASHINGTON IRVING'S _Siege of
Granada_.--Of Ferdinand too we are told, "_Respetó la jurisdiction
ecclesiastica, y conservo la real_;" he respected the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction, but _guarded_ or was _jealous_, for that of the crown.
His determination, therefore, to refuse the church's interference in
the case of Marie, though unusual to his _age_, is warranted by his
larger mind and freer policy.]

[Footnote B: The establishment of the Inquisition, and expulsion of
the Jews.]

For fourteen days affairs remained the same. At the end of that period
the castle and city of Segovia were thrown anew into a state of
the wildest excitement by a most mysterious occurrence--Marie had
disappeared.



CHAPTER XXII.

  "Meekly had he bowed and prayed,
  As not disdaining priestly aid;
  And while before the Prior kneeling,
  His heart was weaned from earthly feeling:
  No more reproach, no more despair--
  No thought but heaven, no word but prayer."

  BYRON.


Time passed slowly on, and no proof appeared to clear Arthur Stanley's
fame. All that man's judgment could counsel, was adopted--secret
measures were taken throughout Spain, for the apprehension of any
individual suspected of murder, or even of criminal deeds; constant
prayers offered up, that if Arthur Stanley were not the real murderer,
proofs of his innocence might be made so evident that not even his
greatest enemy could doubt any longer; but all seemed of no avail.
Week after week passed, and with the exception of one most mysterious
occurrence, affairs remained the same. So strong was the belief of the
nobles in his innocence, that the most strenuous exertions were made
in his favor; but, strong as Ferdinand's own wish was to save him, his
love of justice was still stronger; though the testimony of Don Luis
might be set aside, calm deliberation on all the evidence against
him marked it as sufficiently strong to have sentenced any other so
accused at once. The resolute determination to purge their kingdom
from the black crimes of former years, which both sovereigns felt and
unitedly acted upon, urged them to conquer every private wish and
feeling, rather than depart from the line laid down. The usual
dispensers of justice, the Santa Hermandad--men chosen by their
brother citizens for their lucid judgment, clearness of perception,
and utter absence of all overplus of chivalrous feeling, in matters of
cool dispassionate reasoning--were unanimous in their belief in the
prisoner's guilt, and only acquiesced in the month's reprieve, because
it was Isabella's wish. Against their verdict what could be brought
forward? In reality nothing but the prisoner's own strongly-attested
innocence--an attestation most forcible in the minds of the Sovereign
and the nobles, but of no weight whatever to men accustomed to weigh,
and examine, and cross-examine, and decide on proof, or at least from
analogy, and never from an attestation, which the greatest criminals
might as forcibly make. The power and election of these men Ferdinand
and Isabella had confirmed. How could they, then, interfere in the
present case, and shackle the judgment which they had endowed with
authority, dispute and deny the sentence they had previously given
permission to pronounce? Pardon they might, and restore to life and
liberty; but the very act of pronouncing pardon supposed belief in and
proclamation of guilt. There was but one thing which could save him
and satisfy justice, and that was the sentence of "not guilty." For
this reason Ferdinand refused every petition for Stanley's reprieve,
hoping indeed, spite of all reason, that even at the eleventh hour
evidence of his innocence would and must appear.

Stanley himself had no such hope. All his better and higher nature had
been called forth by the awful and mysterious death of Morales, dealt
too by his own sword--that sword which, in his wild passions, he had
actually prayed might shed his blood. The film of passion had dropped
alike from mental and bodily vision. He beheld his irritated feelings
in their true light, and knew himself in thought a murderer. He would
have sacrificed life itself, could he but have recalled the words of
insult offered to one so noble; not for the danger to himself from
their threatening nature, but for the injurious injustice done to the
man from whom he had received a hundred acts of little unobtrusive
kindnesses, and whom he had once revered as the model of every thing
virtuous and noble--services which Morales had rendered him, felt
gratefully perhaps at the time, but forgotten in the absorption of
thought or press of occupation during his sojourn in Sicily, now
rushed back upon him, marking him ingrate as well as dishonored. All
that had happened he regarded as Divine judgment on an unspoken,
unacted, but not the less encouraged sin. The fact that his sword had
done the deed, convinced him that his destruction had been connived
at, as well as that of Morales. A suspicion as to the designer, if not
the actual doer of the deed, had indeed taken possession of him; but
it was an idea so wild, so unfounded, that he dared not give it words.

From the idea of death, and such a death, his whole soul indeed
revolted; but to avert it seemed so utterly impossible, that he
bent his proud spirit unceasingly to its anticipation; and with the
spiritual aid of the good and feeling Father Francis, in some degree
succeeded. It was not the horror of his personal fate alone which bade
him so shrink from death. Marie was free once more; nay, had from
the moment of her dread avowal--made, he intuitively felt, to save
him--become, if possible, dearer, more passionately loved than before.
And, oh! how terrible is the anticipation of early death to those that
love!--the only trial which bids even the most truly spiritual, yet
while on earth still _human_ heart, forget that if earth is loved and
lovely, heaven _must_ be lovelier still.

From Don Felix d'Estaban, his friendly warder, he heard of Isabella's
humane intentions toward her; that her senses had been restored, and
she was, to all appearance, the same in health as she had been since
her husband's death; only evidently suffering more, which might be
easily accounted for from the changed position in which the knowledge
of her unbelief had placed her with all the members of Isabella's
court; that the only agitation she had evinced was, when threatened
with a visit from Father Francis--who, finding nothing in the mansion
of Don Ferdinand Morales to confirm the truth of her confession,
had declared his conviction that there must be some secret chamber
destined for her especial use. As if shrinking from the interview he
demanded, Marie had said to the Senora, to whose care she had been
intrusted--"He need not seek me to obtain this information. For my
husband's sake alone I concealed the faith in which I glory. Let
Father Francis remove a sliding panel beneath the tapestry behind
the couch in my sleeping apartment, and he will find not only all he
seeks, but the surest proof of my husband's care and tenderness for
me, unbeliever though he might deem me."

The discovery of this secret closet, Don Felix continued, had caused
much marvel throughout the court. Where Morales had found her, or how
he could have reconciled his conscience not only to make her his wife,
but permit her the free exercise of a religion accursed in the sight
both of God and man, under his own roof, were questions impossible to
solve, or reconcile with the character of orthodox Catholicism he had
so long borne. The examination had been conducted with the church's
usual secrecy; the volumes of heresy and unbelief (it did not signify
that the word of God was amongst them) burnt; the silver lamps and
other ornaments melted down, to enrich, by an image of the virgin, the
church of St. Francis; the recess itself purified with incense and
sprinkled with holy water; the sign of the cross deeply burnt in the
walls; and the panel which formed the secret entrance firmly fastened
up, that its very existence should be forgotten. The matter, however,
Don Felix added, was not publicly spoken of, as both the King and
Queen, in conjunction with the Sub-Prior, seemed to wish all that
had passed, in which Donna Marie was concerned, should be gradually
forgotten. Don Ferdinand's vast possessions had, in consequence of
his widow's being an unbeliever, and so having no power to inherit,
reverted to the crown; but in case of Marie's conversion, of which Don
Felix appeared to entertain little doubt, the greater part would be
restored to her. Till then, Marie was kept in strict confinement in
the palace; but all harsher measures Isabella had resolved to avoid.

This intelligence relieved Stanley's mind of one painful dread, while
it unconsciously increased his wish to live. Marie free! a Catholic!
what could come between them then? Must she not love him, else why
seek to save him? And then again the mystery darkened round her. A
wild suspicion as to the _real reason_ of her having wedded Ferdinand,
had flitted across his mind; but the words of Estaban so minutely
repeated, seemed to banish it entirely; they alluded but to her
husband's forbearing tenderness, felt the more intensely from its
being extended by a zealous Catholic to one of a race usually so
contemned and hated. In vain he tried to reconcile the seeming
inconsistency of her conduct; his thoughts only became the more
confused and painful, till even the remembrance of her self-devotion
lost its power to soothe or to allay them.

When Don Felix again visited his prisoner, his countenance was so
expressive of consternation, that Stanley had scarcely power to ask
what had occurred. Marie had disappeared from the castle so strangely
and mysteriously, that not a trace or clue could be discovered of her
path. Consternation reigned within the palace; the King was full of
wrath at the insult offered to his power; the Queen even more grieved
than angry. The guards stationed without the chamber had declared on
oath that no one had passed them; the Senoras Leon and Pas, who slept
in the room adjoining, could tell nothing wherewith to explain the
mystery. In the first paroxsym of alarm they had declared the night
had passed as usual; but on cooler reflection they remembered starting
from their sleep with the impression of a smothered cry, which having
mingled with their dreams, and not being repeated, they had believed
mere fancy. And this faint sound was the only sign, the only trace
that her departure was not a voluntary act.

"Father Francis! the arm of the church!" gasped Stanley, as Don Felix
paused in his recital, astonished at the effect of his words on the
prisoner, whose very respiration seemed impeded.

"Father Francis has solemnly sworn," he replied, "that neither he nor
any of his brethren had connived at an act of such especial disrespect
to the sovereign power, and of injustice towards the Queen. Torquemada
is still absent, or suspicion night rest on him--he is stern enough
even for such a deed; but how could even he have withdrawn her from
the castle without discovery?"

"Can she not have departed voluntarily?" inquired Stanley, with sudden
hope. "The cry you mention may indeed have been but fancy. Is it not
likely that fear as to her fate may have prompted her to seek safety
in flight?"

"Her Grace thinks not, else some clue as to her path must, ere this,
have been discovered. Besides, escape was literally impossible without
the aid of magic, which however her accursed race know well how to
use. The guards must have seen her, had she passed her own threshold
in any human form. The casement was untouched, remaining exactly as
the Senora Leon secured it with her own hand the preceding evening;
and, even had she thence descended to the ground, she could have gone
no further from the high and guarded walls. It may be magic: if so,
and the devil hides himself in so fair a form, the saints preserve
us! for we know not in whom next he will be hid." So spoke, gravely,
seriously, undoubtingly, a wise and thoughtful Spanish noble, of the
fifteenth century; and so then thought the whole European world.
Stanley scarcely heard the last words; for in his mind, however
sorcery might be synonymous with _Judaism_ it certainly was not with
_Marie_; and he could only realize the fact of the utter impossibility
of a voluntary flight.

"Had the Queen seen her since her trial?" he inquired.

"She had not; a fact which deepens her distress; for she fancies had
Marie been nearer her person, and aware of the full extent of her
merciful intentions, this might have been averted. She believes that
the smothered cry alluded to was really Donna Marie's; but, if
so, what the dark power is, which has so trampled on the royal
prerogative, is plunged in as impenetrable mystery as every thing
else, in which Donna Marie has been concerned."

"Even the same dark power which seeks my destruction, and laid Morales
low," replied Stanley, more as if thinking aloud than addressing his
companion; "and when the clue to one mystery is found, the rest will
follow. Some fiend from hell is at work around us. Morales is gone.
Marie has followed, and I shall be the next; and then, perhaps, the
demon's reign will end, and the saints of heaven triumph."

"Would to heaven a Jewess had never come amongst us," was the
rejoinder; "there is always evil in their train." And the blood rushed
to Arthur's cheek, his hand involuntarily clenched, and his eye
glanced defiance towards Don Felix, as if, even at such a moment,
insult even in thought towards Marie should not pass unquestioned; but
he restrained himself, and the emotion was unnoticed.

From that day so engrossed were the thoughts of the prisoner with
vain speculations as to the fate of Marie, that the fact of his own
position remaining the same, and his hours of life waning fast, seemed
actually unheeded. From Don Felix, in various visits, he heard that
Marie was no longer publicly spoken of; the excitement occasioned
alike by her avowal and disappearance was fast fading from the
imagination of the populace. The public jousts and festivals, intended
to celebrate the visit of the sovereigns, but which Morales's death
and the events ensuing had so painfully suspended, were recommencing,
and men flocked to them, as glad to escape from the mourning and
mystery which had held sway so long.

And now only three days intervened ere the expiration of the given
month; and each day did the Sub-Prior of St. Francis pass with the
prisoner, exhorting, comforting, and strengthening him for the dread
passage through which it was now too evident his soul must pass to
eternity. It was with difficulty and pain, that Stanley could even
then so cease to think of Marie, as to prepare himself with fitting
sobriety and humility for the fate impending; but the warm sympathy of
Father Francis, whose fine feelings had never been blunted by a life
of rigid seclusion, won him to listen and to join in his prayers, and,
gradually weaning his thoughts from their earthly resting, raised them
to that heaven which, if he truly repented of sin, the good father
assured him, was fast opening for him. Under the inviolable seal of
confession, Arthur acknowledged his deep and long-cherished love
for Marie, his dislike to her husband, which naturally followed the
discovery of her marriage, and the evil passions thence arising; but
he never wavered in the reiteration of his innocence; adding, that he
reproached no man with his death. The sentence was just according to
the appearances against him. Had he himself been amongst his judges,
his own sentence would have been the same. Yet still he was innocent;
and Father Francis so believed him that, after pronouncing absolution
and blessing, he hastened from the prisoner to the King to implore a
yet longer reprieve. But Ferdinand, though more moved by the Prior's
recital than he chose to display, remained firm; he had pledged his
kingly word to the chief of the Santa Hermandad that the award of
justice should not be waived without proof of innocence, and he could
not draw back. One chance only he granted, urged to do so by an
irresistible impulse, which how often comes we know not wherefore,
till the event marks it as the whisper of some guardian angel, who has
looked into the futurity concealed from us. The hour of the execution
had been originally fixed for the sixth hour of the morning; it was
postponed till noon.

The morning dawned, and with its first beams came Father Francis to
the prisoner. He found him calm and resigned: his last thought of
earth was to commend Marie, if ever found, to the holy father's care,
conjuring him to deal gently and mercifully with a spirit so broken,
and lead her to the sole fountain of peace by kindness, not by wrath;
and to tell her how faithfully he had loved her to the last. Much
affected, Father Francis promised--aye, even to protect, if possible,
an unbeliever. And Stanley once mere knelt in prayer, every earthly
thought at rest. The last quarter-bell had chimed; and ere it ceased,
the step of Don Felix was heard in the passage, followed by the
heavy tramp of the guard. The Prior looked eagerly in the noble's
countenance as he entered, hoping even then to read reprieve; but the
stern yet sad solemnity on Don Felix's face betrayed the hope was
vain. The hour had indeed come, and Arthur Stanley was led forth to
death!



CHAPTER XXIII.

  "Oh! blissful days,
  When all men worship God as conscience wills!
  Far other times our fathers' grandsires knew.
  What tho' the skeptic's scorn hath dared to soil
  The record of their fame! What tho' the men
  Of worldly minds have dared to stigmatize
  The sister-cause Religion and the Law
  With Superstition's name! Yet, yet their deeds,
  Their constancy in torture and in death--
  These on Tradition's tongue shall live; these shall
  On History's honest page be pictur'd bright
  To latest time."

  GRAHAME.


Retrospection is not pleasant in a narrative; but, if Marie has indeed
excited any interest in our readers, they will forgive the necessity,
and look back a few weeks ere they again arrive at the eventful day
with which our last chapter closed. All that Don Felix had reported
concerning the widow of Morales was correct. The first stunning
effects of her dread avowal were recovered, sense was entirely
restored, but the short-lived energy had gone. The trial to passively
endure is far more terrible than that which is called upon to _act_
and _do_. She soon discovered that, though nursed and treated with
kindness, she was a prisoner in her own apartments. Wish to leave them
she had none, and scarcely the physical strength; but to sit idly down
under the pressure of a double dread--the prisoner's fate and her own
sentence--to have no call for energy, not a being for whom to rouse
herself and live, not one for whose sake she might forget herself
and win future happiness by present exertion; the Past, one yearning
memory for the husband, who had so soothed and cherished her, when any
other would have cast her from his heart as a worthless thing; the
Present, fraught with thoughts she dared not think, and words she
might not breathe; the very prayer for Stanley's safety checked--for
what could he be to her?--the Future shrouded in a pall so dense, she
could not read a line of its dark page, for the torch of Hope was
extinguished, and it is only by her light we can look forward;
Isabella's affection apparently lost for ever; was it marvel energy
and hope had so departed, or that a deadening despondency seemed to
crush her heart and sap the very springs of life?

But in the midst of that dense gloom one ray there was, feeble indeed
at first as if human suffering had deadened even that, but brightening
and strengthening with every passing day. It was the sincerity of her
faith--the dearer, more precious to its followers, from the scorn and
condemnation, in which it was held by man.

The fact that the most Catholic kingdom, of Spain, was literally
peopled with secret Jews, brands this unhappy people, with a degree
of hypocrisy, in addition to the various other evil propensities
with which they have been so plentifully charged. Nay, even amongst
themselves in modern times, this charge has gained ascendency; and
the romance-writer who would make use of this extraordinary truth,
to vividly picture the condition of the Spanish Jews, is accused of
vilifying the nation, by reporting practices, opposed to the upright
dictates of the religion of the Lord. It is well to pronounce such
judgment _now_, that the liberal position which we occupy in most
lands, would render it the height of dissimulation, and hypocrisy, to
conceal our faith; but to judge correctly of the secret adherence to
Judaism and public profession of Catholicism which characterized
our ancestors in Spain, we must transport ourselves not only to
the _country_ but to the _time_, and recall the awfully degraded,
crushing, and stagnating position which _acknowledged Judaism_
occupied over the whole known world. As early as 600--as soon, in
fact, as the disputes and prosecutions of Arian against Catholic, and
Catholic against Arian, had been checked by the whole of Spain being
subdued and governed by Catholic kings--intolerance began to work
against the Jews, who had been settled in vast numbers in Spain
since the reign of the Emperor Adrian; some authorities assert still
earlier.[A] They were, therefore, nearly the original colonists of the
country, and regarded it with almost as much attachment as they had
felt towards Judea. When persecution began to work, "90,000 Jews were
compelled to receive the sacrament of baptism," the bodies of the
more obstinate tortured, and their fortunes confiscated; and yet--a
remarkable instance of inconsistency--_they were not permitted to
leave Spain_; and this species of persecution continued from 600
downwards. Once or twice edicts of expulsion were issued, but speedily
recalled; the tyrants being unwilling to dismiss victims whom they
delighted to torture, or deprive themselves of industrious slaves over
whom they might exercise a lucrative oppression; and a statute was
enacted, "that the Jews who had been baptized should be _constrained_,
for the honor of the church, to persevere in the _external practice_
of a religion which they _inwardly_ disbelieved and detested."[B]

[Footnote A: Basnage asserts that the Jews were introduced into Spain
by the fleet of Soloman, and the arms of Nebuchadnezzar, and that
Hadrian transported _forty thousand_ families of the tribe of Judah,
and ten thousand of the tribe of Benjamin, etc.]

[Footnote B: "Gibbon's Decline and Fall," vol. 6, chap. xxxvii,
from which all the previous sentences in inverted commas have been
extracted.]

How, then, can compelled obedience to this statute be termed
hypocrisy? Persecution, privation, tyranny, may torture and destroy
the body, but they cannot force the mind to the adoption of, and
belief in tenets, from which the very treatment they commanded must
urge it to revolt. Of the 90,000 Jews forcibly baptized by order of
Sisebut, and constrained to the external profession of Catholicism,
not ten, in all probability, became actually Christians. And yet how
would it have availed them to relapse into the public profession of
the faith they so obeyed and loved in secret? To leave the country was
utterly impossible. It is easy to talk now of such proceedings being
their right course of acting, when every land is open to the departure
and entrance of every creed; but it was widely different then, and,
even if they could have quitted Spain, there was not a spot of ground,
in the whole European and Asiatic world, where persecution, extortion,
and banishment would not equally have been their doom. Constant
relapses into external as well as internal Judaism, there were, but
they were but the signal for increased misery to the whole nation; and
by degrees they ceased. It was from the forcible baptism of the 90,000
Hebrews, by Sisebut, that we may trace the origin of the secret
Jews. From father to son, from mother to daughter, the solemn secret
descended, and gradually spread, still in its inviolable nature,
through every rank and every profession, from the highest priest to
the lowest friar, the general to the common soldier, the noble to the
peasant, over the whole land. There were indeed some few in Spain,
before the final edict of expulsion in 1492, who were Hebrews in
external profession as well as internal observance; but their
condition was so degraded, so scorned, so exposed to constant
suffering, that it was not in human nature voluntarily to sink down
to them, when, by the mere continuance of external Catholicism--which
from its universality, its long existence, and being in fact a rigidly
enforced statute of the state, _could_ not be regarded either as
hypocrisy or sin--they could take their station amongst the very
highest and noblest of the land, and rise to eminence and power in any
profession, civil, military, or religious, which they might prefer.
The subject is so full of philosophical inquiry, that in the limits of
a romance we cannot possibly do it justice; but to accuse the secret
Jews of Spain of hypocrisy, of departing from the pure odinances of
their religion, because _compelled_ to simulate Catholicism, is taking
indeed but a one-handed, short-sighted view of an extensive and
intensely interesting topic. We may often hope for the _present_ by
considering the changes of the _past_; but to attempt to pronounce
judgment on the sentiments of the _past_ by reasoning of the
_present_, when the mind is always advancing, is one of the weakest
and idlest fallacies that ever entered the human breast.

Digression as this is, it is necessary clearly to comprehend the
situation in which Marie's avowal of her religion had placed her,
and her reason for so carefully wording her information as to the
existence of the secret closet, that no suspicion might attach itself
to the religion of her husband. Her confession sent a shock, which
vibrated not only through Isabella's immediate court, but through
every part of Spain. Suspicion once aroused, none knew where it might
end, or on whom fall. In her first impulse to save Arthur, she
had only thought of what such confession might bring to herself
individually, and that was, comparatively, easy to endure; but as the
excitement ceased, as the dread truth dawned upon her, that, if he
must die at the expiration of the given month, her avowal had been
utterly useless, the dread of its consequences, to the numerous secret
members of her faith appalled her, and caused the firm, resolve under
no circumstances to betray the religion of her husband. Him indeed it
could not harm; but that one so high in rank, in influence, in favor
with sovereigns and people, was only outwardly a Catholic, might have
most fatal consequences on all his brethren. That he should have
wedded a Jewess might excite surprise, but nothing more; and in the
midst of her varied sufferings she could rejoice that all suspicion
as to his race and faith had been averted. She felt thankful also at
being kept so close a prisoner, for she dreaded the wrath of those
whom her avowal might have unwittingly injured. Such an instance
had never been known before, and she might justly tremble at the
chastisement it might bring upon her even from her own people. As long
as she was under Isabella's care she was safe from this; all might
feel the vibration, but none dared evince that they did, by the
adoption of any measures against her, further than would be taken by
the Catholics themselves.

Knowing this, her sole prayer, her sole effort was to obtain mental
strength sufficient under every temptation, either from severity or
kindness, to adhere unshrinkingly to the faith of her fathers--to
cling yet closer to the love of her Father in heaven, and endeavor,
with all the lowly trust and fervid feelings of her nature, to fill
the yearning void within her woman's heart with his image, and so
subdue every human love. It seemed to her vivid fancy as if all the
misfortunes she had encountered sprung from her first sin--that
of loving a Nazarene. Hers was not the age to make allowances for
circumstances in contradistinction to actual deeds. Then, as
unhappily but too often now, all were sufferings from a misplaced
affection--sprung, not from her fault, but from the mistaken kindness
which it exposed her to without due warning of her danger. Educated
with the strong belief, that to love or wed, beyond the pale of her
own people was the greatest sin she could commit, short of actual
apostacy, that impression, though not strong enough, so to conquer
human nature, as to arm against love, returned with double force, as
sorrow after sorrow gathered round her, and there were none beside her
to whisper and strengthen, with the blessed truth that God afflicts
yet more in mercy than in wrath; and that his decrees, however fraught
with human anguish, are but blessings in disguise--blessings, sown
indeed with tears on earth, to reap their deathless fruit in heaven.

But though firmly believing all her suffering was deserved, aware that
when she first loved Arthur, the rebel-thought--"Why am I of a race so
apart and hated?" had very frequently entered her heart, tempting her
at times with fearful violence to give up all for love of man; yet
Marie knew that the God of her fathers was a God of love, calling even
upon the greatest sinner to return to him repentant and amending, and
that even as a little child such should be forgiven. He had indeed
proclaimed himself a jealous God, and would have no idol-worship, were
it by wood or stone, or, far more dangerous, of human love; and she
prayed unceasingly for strength to return to Him with an undivided
heart, even if to do so demanded not only separation from Stanley--but
a trial in her desolate position almost as severe--the loss of
Isabella's confidence and love.

Few words passed between Marie and her guardians; their manner was
kind and gentle, but intercourse between rigid Catholics and a
proclaimed Jewess, could not be other wise than restrained. From the
time that reason returned, the Queen had not visited her, doing actual
violence to her own inclinations from tire mistaken--but in that age
and to her character natural--dread that the affection and interest
she felt towards Marie personally, would lessen the sentiments of
loathing and abhorrence with which it was her duty to regard her
faith. Isabella had within herself all the qualifications of a martyr.
Once impressed that it was a religious duty, she would do violence to
her most cherished wishes, sacrifice her dearest desires, her best
affections, resign her most eagerly pursued plans--not without
suffering indeed, but, according to the mistaken tenets of her
religion, the greater personal suffering, the more meritorious was the
deed believed to be. This spirit would, had she lived in an age when
the Catholic faith was the persecuted, not the persecutor, have led
her a willing martyr to the stake; as it was, this same spirit led to
the establishment of the Inquisition, and expulsion of the Jews--deeds
so awful in their consequences, that the actual motive of the
woman-heart which prompted them, is utterly forgotten, and herself
condemned. We must indeed deplore the mistaken tenets that could
obtain such influence--deplore that man could so pervert the service
of a God of love, as to believe and inculcate that such things could
be acceptable to Him; but we should pause, and ask, if we ourselves
had been influenced by such teaching, could we break from it? ere we
condemn.

Isabella's own devoted spirit could so enter into the real reason of
Marie's self abnegation for Arthur's sake, that it impelled her to
love her more; while at the very same time the knowledge of her
being a Jewess, whom she had always been taught and believed must be
accursed in the sight of God, and lost eternally unless brought to
believe in Jesus, urged her entirely to conquer that affection, lest
its indulgence should interfere with her resolution, if kindness
failed, by severity to accomplish her own version. She was too weak in
health, and Isabella intuitively felt too terribly anxious as to young
Stanley's fate, to attempt any thing till after the expiration of the
month; and she passed that interval in endeavoring to calm down her
own feelings towards her.

So fifteen days elapsed. On the evening of the fifteenth, Marie,
feeling unusually exhausted, had sunk down, without disrobing, on her
couch, and at length fell into a slumber so deep and calm, that her
guardians, fearing to disturb it, and aware that her dress was so
loose and light, it could not annoy her, retired softly to their own
chamber without arousing her. How many hours this lethargic sleep
lasted, Marie knew not, but was at length broken by a dream of terror,
and so unusually vivid, that its impression lasted even through the
terrible reality which it heralded. She beheld Arthur Stanley on the
scaffold about to receive the sentence of the law--the block, the axe,
the executioner with his arm raised, and apparently already deluged
in blood--the gaping crowds--all the fearful appurtenances of an
execution were distinctly traced, and she thought she sprung towards
Stanley, who clasped her in his arms, and the executioner, instead of
endeavoring to part them, smiled grimly as rejoicing in having two
victims instead of one; and as he smiled, the countenance seemed to
change from being entirely unknown to the sneering features of the
hated Don Luis Garcia. She seemed to cling yet closer to Stanley,
and knelt with, him to receive the blow; when, at that moment, the
scaffold shook violently, as by the shock of an earthquake, a dark
chashm yawned beneath their feet, in the centre of which stood the
spectral figure of her husband, his countenance ghastly and stern, and
his arm upraised as beckoning her to join him. And then he spoke; but
his voice sounded unlike his own:--

"Marie Henriquez Morales! awake, arise, and follow!"

And with such extraordinary clearness did the words fall, that she
started up in terror, believing they must have been spoken by her
side--and they were! they might have mingled with, perhaps even
created her dream. She still lay on her couch; but it seemed to have
sunk down through the very floor of the apartment[A] she had occupied,
and at its foot stood a figure, who, with upraised arm held before her
a wooden cross. His cowl was closely drawn, and a black robe, of the
coarsest serge, was secured round his waist by a hempen cord. Whether
he had indeed spoken the words she had heard in her dream Marie could
not tell, for they were not repeated. She saw him approach her, and
she felt his strong grasp lift her from the couch, which sprung up, by
the touch of some secret spring, to the place whence it had descended;
and she heard no more.

[Footnote A: I may be accused in this scene, of too closely imitating
a somewhat similar occurrence in Anne of Geirstein. Such seeming
plagiarism was scarcely possible to be avoided, when the superstitious
proceedings of the _vehmic_ tribunal of Germany and the _secret_
Inquisition of Spain are represented by history as so very similar.]



CHAPTER XXIV.

  "Isabel.--Ha! little honor to be much believed,
  And most pernicious purpose--seeming, seeming.
  I will proclaim thee, Angelo! look for't;
  Sign me a present pardon--
  Or, with an outstretch'd throat, I'll tell the world
  Aloud what man thou art.

  "Angelo.--Who will believe thee?
  My unsoil'd name, th' austereness of my life,
  My vouch against you, and my place i' the State,
  Will so your accusation overweigh
  That you will stifle in your own report
  The smile of Calumny."

  SHAKSPEARE.


When Marie recovered consciousness, she found herself in a scene so
strange, so terrific, that it appeared as if she must have been borne
many miles from Segovia, so utterly impossible did it seem, that
such awful orgies could be enacted within any short distance of the
sovereigns' palace, or their subjects' homes. She stood in the centre
of a large vaulted subterranean hall, which, from the numerous arched
entrances to divers passages and smaller chambers that opened on every
side, appeared to extend far and wide beneath the very bowels of the
earth. It was lighted with torches, but so dimly, that the gloom
exaggerated the horrors, which the partial light disclosed.
Instruments of torture of any and every kind--the rack, the wheel, the
screw, the cord, and fire--groups of unearthly-looking figures, all
clad in the coarse black serge and hempen belt; some with their faces
concealed by hideous masks, and others enveloped in the cowls, through
which only the eyes could be distinguished, the figure of the cross
upon the breast, and under that emblem, of divine peace, inflicting
such horrible tortures on their fellow-men that the pen shrinks from
their delineation. Nor was it the mere instruments of torture Marie
beheld: she saw them in actual use; she heard the shrieks and groans
of the hapless victims, at times mingled with the brutal leers and
jests of their fiendish tormentors; she seemed to take in at one view,
every species of torture that could be inflicted, every pain that
could be endured; and yet, comparatively, but a few of the actual
sufferers were visible. The shrillest sounds of agony came from the
gloomy arches, in which no object could be distinguished.

Whatever suffering meets the sight, it does not so exquisitely affect
the brain as that which reaches it through the ear. At the former the
heart may bleed and turn sick; but at the latter the brain seems,
for the moment, wrought into frenzy; and, even though personally in
safety, it is scarcely possible to restrain the same sounds from
bursting forth. How then must those shrill sounds of human agony have
fallen on the hapless Marie, recognizing as she did with the rapidity
of thought, in the awful scene around her, the main hall of that
mysterious and terrible tribunal, whose existence from her earliest
infancy had been impressed upon her mind, as a double incentive to
guard the secret of her faith; that very Inquisition, from which her
own grandfather, Julien Heuriquez, had fled, and in which the less
fortunate grandfather of her slaughtered husband, had been tortured
and burnt.

For a second she stood mute and motionless, as turned to stone; then,
pressing both hands tightly on her temples, she sunk down at the feet
of her conductor, and sought in words to beseech his mercy; but her
white lips gave vent to no sound save a shriek, so wild that it
seemed, for the moment, to drown all other sorrows, and startle even
the human fiends around her. Her conductor himself started back; but
quickly recovering--

"Fool!" he muttered, as he rudely raised her. "I have no power to aid
thee; come before the Superior--we must all obey--ask him, implore
him, for mercy, not me."

He bore her roughly to a recess, divided off at the upper end of the
hall, by a thick black drapery, in which sat the Grand Inquisitor
and his two colleagues. One or two familiars were behind them, and a
secretary sat near a table covered with black cloth, and on which were
several writing implements. All wore masks of black crape, so thick
that not a feature could be discerned with sufficient clearness for
recognition elsewhere; yet, one glance on the stern, motionless
figure, designated as the Grand Inquisitor, sufficed to bid every drop
of blood recede from the prisoner's heart with human terror, at the
very same moment that it endowed the _woman_ with such supernatural
fortitude that her very form seemed to dilate, and her large eye and
lovely mouth expressed--if it could be, in such a scene and such
an hour--unutterable scorn. Antipathy, even as love, will pierce
disguise; and that one glance, lit up with almost bewildering light,
in the prisoner's mind, link after link of what had before been
impenetrable mystery. Her husband's discovery of her former love for
Arthur; his murder; the suspicion thrown on Stanley; her own summons
as witness against him; her present danger; all, all were traced to
one individual, one still working and most guilty passion, which she,
in her gentle purity and holy strength, had scorned. She could not
be deceived--the mystery that surrounded him was solved--antipathy
explained; and Marie's earthly fate lay in Don Luis Garcia's hands!
The Grand Inquisitor read in that glance that he was known; and for
a brief minute a strange, an incomprehensible sensation, thrilled
through him. It could scarcely have been fear, when one gesture of
his hand would destine that frail being to torture, imprisonment, and
death; and yet never before in his whole life of wickedness, had he
experienced such a feeling as he did at that moment beneath a woman's
holy gaze. Anger at himself for the sensation, momentary as it was,
increased the virulence of other passions; but then was not the hour
for their betrayal. In low, deep tones, he commenced the mockery of a
trial. That her avowal of her faith would elude torture, by at once
condemning her to the flames, was disregarded. She was formally
accused of blasphemy and heresy, and threatened with the severest
vengeance of the church which she had reviled; but that this case of
personal guilt would be mercifully laid aside for the present, for
still more important considerations. Was her late husband, they
demanded, of the same blaspheming creed as herself? And a list of
names, comprising some of the highest families of Spain, was read out
and laid before her, with the stern command to affix a mark against
all who, like herself, had relapsed into the foul heresy of their
ancestors--to do this, or the torture should wring it from her.

But the weakness of humanity had passed; and so calm, so collected, so
firm, was the prisoner's resolute refusal to answer either question,
that the familiar to whom she had clung for mercy looked at her with
wonder. Again and again she was questioned; instruments of torture
were brought before her--one of the first and slightest used--more
to terrify than actually to torture, for that was not yet the Grand
Inquisitor's design; and still she was firm, calm, unalterable in her
resolution to refuse reply. And then Don Luis spoke of mercy, which
was to consist of imprisonment in solitude and darkness, to allow time
for reflection on her final answer--a concession, he said, in a tone
far more terrifying to Marie than even the horrors around her,
only granted in consideration of her age and sex. None opposed the
sentence; and she was conducted to a close and narrow cell, in which
no light could penetrate save through a narrow chink in the roof.

How many days and nights thus passed the hapless prisoner could not
have told, for there was nothing to mark the hours. Her food was
delivered to her by means of a turn-screw in the wall, so that not
even the sight of a fellow-creature could disturb her solitude, or
give her the faintest hope of exciting human pity. Her sole hope, her
sole refuge was in prayer; and, oh! how blessed was the calm, the
confidence it gave.

So scanty was her allowance of food, that more than once the thought,
crossed her, whether or not, death by famine would be her allotted
doom; and human nature shuddered, but the spirit did not quail! Hour
after hour passed, she knew not whether it was night or day, when the
gloom of her dungeon was suddenly illumined; she knew not at first
how or whence, so noiseless was the entrance of the intruder, but
gradually she traced the light to a small lamp held in the hand of
a shrouded individual, whom she recognized at once. There was one
fearful thrill of mortal dread, one voiceless cry for strength from
Heaven, and Marie Morales stood before Don Luis erect and calm, and
firm as in her hour of pride.

Garcia now attempted no concealment. His mask had been cast aside, and
his features gleamed without any effort at hypocritical restraint, in
all the unholy passions of his soul. We will not pollute our pages
with transcribing the fearful words of passions contending in their
nature, yet united in their object, with which the pure ear of his
prisoner was first assailed--still lingering desire, yet hate, wrath,
fury, that she should dare still oppose, and scorn, and loathe him;
rage with himself, that, strive as he might, even he was baffled by
the angel purity around her; longing to wreak upon her every torture
that his hellish office gave him unchecked power to inflict, yet
fearing that, if he did so, death would release her ere his object was
attained; all strove and raged within him, making his bosom a very
hell, from which there was no retracting, yet whose very flames
incited deeper fury towards the being whom he believed their cause.

"And solitude, darkness, privation--have they so little availed that
thou wilt tempt far fiercer sufferings?" he at length demanded,
struggling to veil his fury in a quiet, concentrated tone. "Thou hast
but neared the threshold of the tortures which one look, one gesture
of my hand, can gather around thee; tortures which the strongest
sinew, the firmest mind, have been unable to sustain--how will that
weakened frame endure?"

"It can but die," replied the prisoner, "as nobler and better ones
have done before me!"

"Die!" repeated Garcia, and he laughed mockingly. "Thinkest thou we
know our trade so little that such release can baffle us? I tell thee,
pain of itself has never yet had power to kill; and we have learned
the measure of endurance in the human form so well, that we have never
yet been checked by death, ere our ends were gained. And so will it be
with thee, boldly as now thou speakest. Thou hast but tasted pain!"

"Better the sharpest torture than thy hated presence," calmly rejoined
Marie. "My soul thou canst not touch."

"Soul! Has a Jewess a soul? Nay, by my faith, thou talkest bravely! An
thou hast, thou hadst best be mine, and so share my salvation; there's
none for such as thee."

"Man!" burst indignantly from the prisoner. "Share thy salvation!
Great God of Israel! that men like these have power to persecute thy
children for their faith, and do it in thy name! And speak of
mercy! Thou hast but given me another incentive for endurance," she
continued, more calmly addressing her tormentor. "If salvation be
denied to us, and granted thee, I would refuse it with my dying
breath; such faith is not of God!"

"I came not hither to enter on such idle quibbles," was the rejoinder.
"It matters not to me what thou art after death, but before it mine
thou shalt be. What hinders me, at this very moment, from working my
will upon thee? Who will hear thy cry? or, hearing, will approach
thee? These walls have heard too many sounds of human agony to bear
thy voice to those who could have mercy. Tempt me not by thy scorn too
far. What holds me from thee now?"

"What holds thee from me? GOD!" replied the prisoner, in a tone of
such, thrilling, such supernatural energy, that Garcia actually
started as if some other voice than hers had spoken, and she saw
him glance fearfully round. "Thou darest not touch me! Ay,
villain--blackest and basest as thou art--thou darest not do it. The
God thine acts, yet more than thy words blaspheme, withholds thee--and
thou knowest it!"

"I defy him!" were the awful words that answered her; and Don Luis
sprang forwards.

"Back!" exclaimed the heroic girl. "Advance one step nearer, and thy
vengeance, even as thy passion, will alike be foiled--and may God
forgive the deed I do."

She shook down the beautiful tresses of her long luxuriant hair, and,
parting them with both hands around her delicate throat, stood calmly
waiting in Don Luis's movements the signal for her own destruction.

"Fool!" he muttered, as involuntarily he fell back, awed--in spite of
his every effort to the contrary--at a firmness as unexpected as it
was unwavering. "Fool! Thou knowest not the power it is thy idle
pleasure to defy; thou wilt learn it all too soon, and then in vain
regret thy scorn of my proffer now. Thou hast added tenfold to my wild
yearning for revenge on thy former scorn--tenfold! ay, twice tenfold,
to thy own tortures. Yet, once more, I bid thee pause and choose.
Fools there are, who dare all personal physical torment, and yet
shrink and quail before the thought of death for a beloved one.
Idiots, who for others, sacrifice themselves; perchance thou wilt be
one of them. Listen, and tremble; or, sacrifice, and save! When in
thy haughty pride, and zenith of thy power, thou didst scorn me, and
bidding me, with galling contempt, go from thy presence as if I were a
loathsome reptile, unworthy even of thy tread, I bade thee beware, and
to myself swore vengeance. And knowest thou how that was accomplished?
Who led thy doting husband where he might hear thine own lips proclaim
thy falsity? Who poisoned the chalice of life, which had been so
sweet, ere it was dashed from his lips by death? Who commanded the
murderer's blow, and the weapon with which it was accomplished? Who
laid the charge of his murder on the foreign minion, and brought thee
in evidence against him? Who but I--even I! And if I have done all
this, thinkest thou to elude my further vengeance? I tell thee, if
thou refuse the grace I proffer, Arthur Stanley dies; accept it, and
he lives!"

"And not at such a price would Arthur Stanley wish, to live," replied
Marie calmly. "He would spurn existence purchased thus."

"Ay, perchance, if he knew it; but be it as thou wilt, he shall know
thou couldst have saved him and refused."

"And thinkest thou he will believe thee? As little as I believed him
my husband's murderer. How little knowest thou the trust of love! He
will not die," she continued emphatically; "his innocence shall save
him--thy crime be known."

"Ay!" replied Garcia, with a sneering laugh. "Give thyself wings as a
bird, and still stone walls will encircle thee; dwindle into thin air,
and gain the outer world, and tell thy tale, and charge Don Luis Garcia
with the deed, and who will believe thee? Thinkest thou I would have
boasted of my triumphant vengeance to aught who could betray me? Why my
very tool, the willing minister of my vengeance--who slew Morales merely
because I bade him--might not live, lest he should be tempted to betray
me; I slew him with my own hand. What sayest thou now--shall Stanley
live, if I say Let him die?"

There was no reply, but he looked in vain for any diminution in the
undaunted resolution which still sustained her.

"I go," he continued, after a pause. "Yet, once more, I charge thee
choose; accept the terms I proffer--be mine--and thou art saved from
all further torture thyself, and Stanley lives. Refuse, and the
English minion dies; and when thou and I next meet, it will be where
torture and executioners wait but my nod to inflict such suffering
that thou wilt die a thousand deaths in every pang. And,
Jewess--unbeliever as thou art--who will dare believe it more than
public justice, or accuse me of other than the zeal, which the service
of Christ demands? Choose, and quickly--wilt thou accept my proffers,
and be mine? Thou must, at last. What avails this idle folly of
tempting torture first?"

"Thou mayest kill my body, but thou canst not pollute my soul," was
the instant reply, and its tones were unchanged. "And as for Stanley,
his life or death is not in thine hands; but if it were, I could
not--nay, thus I _would_ not--save him. I reject thy proffers, as I
scorn thyself. Now leave me--I have chosen!"

Don Luis did not reply, but Marie beheld his cheek grow livid, and the
foam actually gather on his lip; but the calm and holy gaze she had
fixed upon him, as he spoke, quailed not, nor changed. The invisible
door of her cell closed with a deep, sullen sound, as if her tormentor
had thus, in some measure, given vent to the unutterable fury shaking
his soul to its centre; and Marie was alone. She stood for many, many
minutes, in the fearful dread of his return; and then she raised her
hand to her brow, and her lip blanched and quivered, and, with a long,
gasping breath, she sunk down upon the cold floor--all the heroine
lost in an agonized burst of tears.



CHAPTER XXV.

  "Hovers the steel above his head,
  Suspended by a spider thread:
  On, on! a life hangs on thy speed;
  With lightning wing the gallant steed!
  Buoy the full heart up! It will sink
  If it but pause to feel and think.
  There is no time to dread his fate:
  No thought but one--too late, too late!"

  MS.


Too soon did Marie realize the power of Don Luis to exercise his
threatened vengeance! Two days after that terrible interview, she
was again dragged to the hall of judgment: the same questions were
proposed as before, whether or not she would denounce the secret
followers of her own creed, and confess her late husband's real
belief; and the same firm answers given. We shrink in loathing from
the delineation of horrible tortures applied to that frail and gentle
being--shrink, for we know that such things actually have been; and
women--young, lovely, inoffensive as Marie Morales--have endured the
same exquisite agony for the same iniquitous purpose! In public,
charged to denounce innocent fellow-beings, or suffer; in private--in
those dark and fearful cells--exposed to all the horror and terror of
such persecution as we have faintly endeavored to describe. It is no
picture of the imagination, delighting to dwell on horrors. Would that
it were! Its parallel will be found, again and again repeated, in the
annals--not of the Inquisition alone--but of every European state
where the Romanists held sway.

But Marie's prayer for superhuman strength had been heard. No cry,
scarcely a groan, escaped her. She saw Don Luis at her side; she
heard his hissing whisper that there was yet time to retract and
be released; but she deigned him no reply whatever. It was not his
purpose to try her endurance to the utmost in the first, second, or
third trial; though, so enraged at her calmness, as scarcely to be
able to restrain it even before his colleagues, and with difficulty
controlling his fiendish desire to increase the torture to its utmost
at once, he remanded her to her dungeon till his further pleasure
should be known. She had fainted under the intolerable pain, and lay
for many successive hours, too exhausted even to raise to her parched
lips the pitcher of water lying near her. And even the gradual
cessation of suffering, the sensation of returning power, brought with
them the agonized thought, that they did but herald increased and
increasing torture.

One night--she knew not how long after she had been remanded to her
cell, but, counting by suffering, it felt many weary nights and
days--she sunk into a sleep or trance, which transported her to her
early home in the Vale of Cedars. Her mother seemed again to stand
before her; and she thought, as she heard her caressing voice, and met
the glance of her dove-like eyes, she laid her head on her bosom, as
she was wont to do in her happy childhood; and peace seemed to sink
into her heart so blessedly, so deeply, that the very fever of her
frame departed. A voice aroused her with a start; it was so like her
mother's, that the dream seemed lingering still.

"Marie, my beloved one," murmured the voice, and a breath fanned
her cheek, as if some one were leaning over her. She unclosed her
eyes--the words, the voice, still so kept up the illusion, though
the tones were deeper than a woman's, that even the hated dress of
a familiar of the Inquisition could not create alarm. "Hast thou
forgotten me, my child? But it matters not now. Say only thou wilt
trust me, and safety lies before us. The fiends hold not their hellish
court to-night; and the arch-fiend himself is far distant, on a sudden
summons from the King, which, though the grand Inquisitor might scorn,
Don Luis will obey. Wilt come with me, my child?"

"Ay, any where! That voice could not deceive: but 'tis all vain," she
continued, the first accents of awakened hope lost in despondency--"I
cannot rise."

"It needs not. Do thou hold the lantern, Marie; utter not a
word--check even thy breath--and the God of thy fathers shall save
thee yet."

He raised her gently in his arms; and the hope of liberty, of rescue
from Don Luis, gave her strength to grasp the light to guide them. She
could not trace their way, but she felt they left the dungeon, and
traversed many long, damp, and narrow passages, seemingly excavated in
the solid earth. All was silent, and dark as the tomb; now and then
her guide paused, as if to listen; but there was no sound. He knew
well the secret paths he trod.

The rapid motion, even the sudden change, almost deprived Marie of
consciousness. She was only sensible, by a sudden change from the
close, damp, passages to the free breezes of night, that she was in
the open air, and apparently a much freer path; that still her guide
pressed swiftly onwards, apparently scarcely feeling her light weight;
that, after a lengthened interval, she was laid tenderly on a soft,
luxurious couch--at least, so it seemed, compared with the cold floor
of her cell; that the blessed words of thanksgiving that she was
safe broke from that strangely familiar voice; and she asked no
more--seemed even to wish no more--so completely was all physical
power prostrated. She lay calm and still, conscious only that she was
saved. Her guide himself for some time disturbed her not; but after
changing his dress, and preparing a draught of cooling herbs, he knelt
down, raised her head on his knee with almost woman's tenderness, and,
holding the draught to her lips, said, gently--

"Drink, beloved child of my sainted sister; there is life and health
in the draught."

Hastily swallowing it, Marie gazed wildly in his face.--The
habiliments of the familiar had been changed for those of a
Benedictine monk; his cowl thrown back, and the now well remembered
countenance of her uncle Julien was beaming over her. In an instant,
the arm she could still use was thrown round him, and her head buried
in his bosom; every pulse throbbing with the inexpressible joy of
finding, when most desolate, one relative to love and save her still.
Julien left not his work of healing and of security incomplete;
gradually he decreased, by the constant application of linen bathed
in some cooling fluid, the scorching fire which still seemed to burn
within the maimed and shrivelled limb; parted the thick masses of
dishevelled hair from her burning temples, and bathed them with some
cooling and reviving essence; gently removed the sable robes, and
replaced them, with the dress of a young novice which he had
provided; concealed her hair beneath the white linen hood, and then,
administering a potion which he knew would produce deep and refreshing
sleep, and so effectually calm the fevered nerves, she sunk down on
the soft moss and heath which formed her couch, and slept calmly and
sweetly as an infant for many hours.

Julien Morales had entered Segovia in his monkish garb, as was
frequently his custom, on the evening of the trial.--The excitement of
the whole city naturally called forth his queries as to its cause;
and the information imparted--the murder of Don Ferdinand, and
incomprehensible avowal of Judaism on the part of his niece--demanded
a powerful exercise of self-control to prevent, by a betrayal of
unusual grief and horror, his near relationship to both parties.
Hovering about the palace, he heard of Isabella's merciful intentions
towards Marie; and feeling that his presence might only agitate,
and could in nothing avail her, he had resolved on leaving the city
without seeing her, when her mysterious disappearance excited all
Segovia anew.

Julien Morales alone, perhaps, amidst hundreds, in his own mind solved
the mystery at once. Well did he know tire existence of the secret
Inquisition. As we narrated in one of our early chapters, the fate
of his father had so fixed itself upon his mind, that he had bound
himself by a secret, though solemn oath, as his avenger. To accomplish
this fully, he had actually spent ten years of his life as familiar in
the Inquisition. The fate of Don Luis's predecessor had been plunged
in the deepest mystery. Some whispered his death was by a subtle
poison; others, that his murderer had sought him in the dead of night,
and, instead of treacherously dealing the blow, had awakened him, and
bade him confess his crimes--one especially; and acknowledge that if
the mandate of the Eternal, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall
his blood be shed," were still to govern man, his death was but an act
of justice which might not be eluded. Whether these whispered rumors
had to do with Julien Morales or not, we leave to the judgment of our
readers.--Suffice it, that not only was his vow accomplished, but,
during his ten years' residence in these subterranean halls, he
naturally became familiarized with all their secret passages and
invisible means of egress and ingress--not only to the apparently
private homes of unoffensive citizens, but into the wild tracts of
country scattered round. By one of these he had, in fact, effected his
own escape; and in the mild and benevolent Benedictine monk--known
alike to the cities and solitudes of Spain--none would have recognized
the former familiar of the Inquisition, and still less have imagined
him the being which in reality he was--a faithful and believing Jew.

To him, then, it was easy to connect the disappearance of Marie with
the existence of the Holy Office, even though he was entirely ignorant
of Garcia's ulterior designs. In an agony of apprehension, he resolved
on saving her if possible, even while he trembled at the delay which
must necessarily ensue ere he could arrange and execute his plans,
more especially as it was dangerous to associate a second person in
their accomplishment. With all his haste and skill he was not in time
to save her from the barbarity of her misnamed judges. His very soul
was wrung, as he stood amongst the familiars a silent witness of her
sufferings; but to interfere was impossible. One thing, however, was
favorable. He knew she would not be again disturbed till a sufficient
time had elapsed for the recovery of such strength as would enable her
to endure further torture; and he had, therefore, some time before him
for their flight.

Her voluntary avowal of her faith--aware too, as she was, of the
existence of the Inquisition--had, indeed, perplexed the good uncle
greatly; but she was in no state, even when partially recovered from
physical weakness, to enter into explanation then. He saw she was
unhappy, and the loss of her husband might well account for it. To the
rumors which had reached him in Segovia, as to the suppositions of the
real cause of Stanley's enmity to Morales, and Marie's self-sacrifice,
he would not even listen, so completely without foundation did they
seem to him.

The second evening after their escape, they left the cave to pursue
their journey. Father Ambrose--for so, now he has resumed his monkish
garb, we must term Julien--had provided a mule for the novice's use;
and thus they leisurely traversed the desolate and mountainous tract
forming the boundaries of the provinces now termed old and new
Castile. Neither uncle nor niece spoke of their destined goal; Marie
intuitively felt she was proceeding to the Vale of Cedars, the only
place of safety now for her; but, so engrossed was her mind with the
vain thought how to save Arthur, that for herself she could not frame
a wish.

The second evening of their journey they entered a small, straggling
village, so completely buried in mountains that its existence was
unknown save to its own rustic inhabitants. The appearance of a monk
evidently caused an unusual excitement, which was speedily explained.
The chief of the villagers approached Father Ambrose, and, addressing
him with the greatest respect, entreated him to follow him to his
house, where, he said, lay a man at the point of death, who had, from
the time he became aware of his dangerous position, incessantly called
for a priest to shrive him from some deadly sin. He had been found,
the villager continued. In a deep pit sunk in a solitary glen half way
to Segovia, with every appearance of attempted murder, which, being
supposed complete, the assassins had thrown him into the pit to
conceal their deed; but chancing to hear his groans as he passed, he
had rescued him, and hoped to have cured his wounds. For three weeks
they seemed to progress favorably, but then fever--occurring, he
thought, from great restlessness of mind--had rapidly increased,
and, after ten days of fearful struggle between life and death
mortification had ensued, and hope could exist no longer At first,
Perez added, he seemed to shrink from the idea of priestly aid, only
harping on one theme--to get strength enough to reach Segovia, and
speak to the King. They had thought him mad, but humored him; but now
he was almost furious in his wild cries for a priest, not only to
shrive him, but to bear his message to the King. They had tried
to gratify him, but their distance from any town or monastery had
prevented it; and they now, therefore, hailed Father Ambrose almost as
sent from heaven to save a sinner by absolution ere he died.

This tale was told as the monk and novice hastened with. Perez to his
house. The poor inhabitants thronged his path to crave a blessing,
and proffer every attention their simple means afforded. Fearing for
Marie, Julien's only care was for the supposed novice; and therefore
Perez, at his request, eagerly led her to a large comfortable chamber,
far removed from the bustle of the house, and left her to repose.
But repose was not at that moment possible, even though her slightly
returning strength was exhausted, from the fatigue of a long day's
travel. Fruit and cakes were before her; but, though her mouth was
parched and dry, she turned from them in loathing; and interminable
seemed the space till Father Ambrose returned. Ere he spoke, he
carefully closed and secured the door, and exclaimed, in a low,
cautious tone, "My child, this is indeed the finger of a righteous
God--blessed be His name! The unhappy man to whose dying bed they
brought me--"

"Is the murderer of my husband!" interposed Marie in a tone of almost
unnatural calmness. "I knew it from the first moment Perez spoke. We
have but to think of one thing now--Stanley is innocent, and must be
saved!"

"And shall be, if possible, my child; but there are fearful
difficulties in the way. The unhappy man conjures me not to leave him,
and is in such a horrible state of mental and bodily agony that I fear
if I do, he will commit some act of violence on himself, and so render
his evidence of no avail. We are not much above sixty miles from
Segovia, but the roads are cross and rugged; so that it will need
steadiness and speed, and instant audience with the King."

"But time--have we time?" reiterated Marie. "Say but there is time,
and every other difficulty shall be smoothed."

"There is full time: the execution is not till the second day after
to-morrow. Nay, my child," he added, observing her look of doubting
bewilderment, "suffering makes the hours seem longer than they are.
Fear not for time, but counsel me whom to send. Who amongst these poor
ignorant rustics will ever reach the King--or, failing him, the Chief
Hermano--and make his tale so sufficiently clear as to release the
prisoner, and send messengers here with the necessary speed to take
down this man's confession? He cannot linger two days more. Would that
I could go myself; but I can leave neither him nor thee."

"And it needs not," was the firm reply. "Father, I myself will do
thy errand. There must be no delay, no chance of hesitation in its
accomplishment. Ah! do not look upon me as if my words were wild and
vain; were there other means I would not speak them--but he must be
saved!"

"And again at the sacrifice of thy safety--perchance thy life! Marie,
Marie! what hold has this young stranger upon thee that thou shouldest
twice so peril thyself? Thy life is dearer to me than his--I cannot
grant thy boon."

"Nay, but thou must. Listen to me, my second father! If Stanley dies,
his blood is on my head!" And struggling with strong emotion, she
poured forth her whole tale.

"And thou lovest him still--him, a Nazarene--thou, child, wife, of an
unstained race! And is it for this, thy zeal to save him?" ejaculated
Julien, retreating several paces from her--"Can it be?"

"I would save him because he is innocent--because he has borne more
than enough for me; for aught else, thou wrongest me, father. He will
never be to me more than he is now."

It was impossible to resist the tone of mournful reproach in which
those simple words were said. Julien pressed her to his bosom, bade
God bless her, and promised, if indeed there were no other means, her
plan should be adopted; objection after objection, indeed, he brought
forward, but all were overruled. She pledged herself to retain her
disguise, and to return with Perez, without hesitation, and accompany
her uncle to the vale, as intended. But that she should start at once,
he positively refused. How could she hope to accomplish her journey
without, at least, two hours' repose? It was then late in the evening.
At six the next morning all should be ready for her journey, and there
would be still more than twenty-four hours before her; Marie tried to
be content, but the horrible dread of being too late did not leave her
for a moment, even in sleep, and inexpressibly thankful was she when
the morning dawned. Julien's provident care had been active while
she slept. Perez, flattered at the trust reposed in him, had offered
himself to accompany the young novice to Segovia: and at the appointed
hour he was ready, mounted himself, and leading a strong, docile
palfrey for brother Ernest's use. He knew an hostellerie, he said,
about twenty miles from the city, where their steeds could be changed;
and promised by two hours after noon, the very latest, the novice
should be with the King. It could be done in less time, he said; but
his reverence had told him the poor boy was unusually delicate, and
had, moreover, lost the use of his left arm; and he thought, as there
was so much time before them, it was needless to exhaust his strength
before his errand was done. Julien expressed his entire satisfaction,
gave them his blessing, and they were rapidly out of sight.

Once or twice they halted to give their horses rest and refresh
themselves; but so absorbed were the senses of Marie, that she was
unconscious of fatigue. Every mile they traversed seemed bearing a
heavy load from her chest, and enabling her to breathe more freely;
while the fresh breeze and exciting exercise seemed actually to revive
her. It wanted rather more than an hour for noon when they reached the
hostellerie mentioned by Perez. Two fleet and beautiful horses were
speedily provided for them, bread and fruit partaken, and Perez, ready
mounted, was tasting the stirrup cup, when his friend demanded--

"Is it to Segovia ye are bound?"

"Yes, man, on an important errand, charged by his reverence Father
Ambrose himself."

"His reverence should have sent you two hours earlier, and you
would have been in time for one of the finest sights seen since
Isabella--God bless her!--begun to reign. They were common enough a
few years back."

"What sight? and why am I not in time?"

"Now, art thou not the veriest rustic to be so entirely ignorant of
the world's doings? Why, to-day is the solemn execution of the
young foreigner whom they believe we have murdered Don Ferdinand
Morales--the saints preserve him! He is so brave a fellow, they say,
that had it not been for this confounded hostellerie I would have made
an effort to be present: I love to see how a brave man meets death. It
was to have been two hours after day-break this morning, but Juan here
tells me it was postponed till noon. The King--"

He was proceeding, when he was startled by a sharp cry, and Perez,
hastily turning, caught the novice as he was in the act of falling
from his horse. In an instant, however, he recovered, and exclaiming,
in a thrilling tone of excitement--

"Father Ambrose said life or death hung upon our speed and promptness;
he knew not the short interval allowed us. This young foreigner is
innocent--the real murderer is discovered. On--, on, for mercy, or we
shall be too late!"--gave his horse the rein, and the animal started
off at full speed. Perez was at his side in an instant, leaving his
friend open-mouthed with astonishment, and retailing the marvellous
news into twenty different quarters in as many seconds.

Not a word was spoken; not a moment did the fiery chargers halt in
their headlong way. On, on they went; on, over wide moors and craggy
steeps; on, through the rushing torrent and the precipitous glen;
on, through the forest and the plain, with the same unwavering pace.
Repeatedly did Marie's brain reel, and her heart grow sick, and her
limbs lose all power either to guide or feel; but she neither spoke
nor flagged--convulsively she grasped the reins, and closed her eyes,
as the voice and hand of her companion urged their steeds swifter and
yet swifter on.

An exclamation from Perez roused her. The turrets of Segovia were
visible in the distance, glittering in the brilliant sun; but her
blood-shot eye turned with sickening earnestness more towards the
latter object than the former. It had not yet attained its full
meridian--a quarter of an hour, perhaps twenty minutes, was still
before them. But the strength of their horses was flagging, foam
covered their glossy hides, their nostrils were distended, they
breathed hard, and frequently snorted--the short, quick, sound of
coming powerlessness. Their steady pace wavered, their heads drooped;
but, still urged on by Perez's encouraging voice, they exerted
themselves to the utmost--at times darting several paces suddenly
forward, then stumbling heavily on. The cold dew stood on Marie's
brow, and every pulse seemed stilled. They passed the outer
gates--they stood on the brow of a hill commanding a view of the whole
city. The castle seemed but a stone's throw from, them; but the sound
of muffled drums and other martial instruments were borne towards them
on the air. Multitudes were thronging in one direction; the Calle
Soledad seemed one mass of human heads, save where the scaffold raised
its frightful sign above them. Soldiers were advancing, forming a
thin, glittering line through the crowds. In their centre stood the
prisoner. On, again, dashed the chargers--scarcely a hundred yards
separated them from the palace-gate. Wildly Marie glanced back once
more--there were figures on the scaffold. And at that moment--borne in
the stillness more loudly, more heavily than usual, or, at least, so
it seemed to her tortured senses--the huge bell of the castle chimed
the hour of noon!



CHAPTER XXVI.

  "The outmost crowd have heard a sound,
  Like horse's hoof on harden'd ground;
  Nearer it came, and yet more near--
  The very deathsmen pause to hear!"

  SIR WALTER SCOTT.


In his private closet, far removed from the excitement stirring
without, King Ferdinand was sitting, on the morning appointed for
Stanley's execution: several maps and plans were before him, over
which he appeared intently engaged; but every now and then his brow
rested on his hand, and his eyes wandered from their object; Isabella
was at work in a recess of the window near him, conversing on his
warlike plans, and entering warmly into all his measures, as he roused
himself to speak of them, or silent when she saw him sunk in thought.
The history of the period dwells with admiration on the domestic
happiness of Ferdinand and Isabella, and most refreshingly do such
annals stand forth amid the rude and stormy scenes, both in public and
private life, most usual to that age. Isabella's real influence on
the far less lofty and more crafty Ferdinand was so silent, so
unobtrusive, that its extent was never known, either to himself or
to her people, till after her death, when in Ferdinand's rapid
deterioration from the nobler qualities of earlier years, it was
traced too clearly, and occasioned her loss to be mourned, yet more
than at the moment of her death.

The hour of noon chimed, and Ferdinand, with unusual emotion, pushed
the papers from him.

"There goes the knell of as brave and true a heart as ever beat," he
said. "If he be innocent--as I believe him--may Heaven forgive his
murderer! Hark! what is that?" he continued hurriedly, as the last
chime ceased to vibrate; and, striding to the door of his cabinet he
flung it open and listened intently.

"Some one seeks the King! follow me, Isabel. By St. Francis, we may
save him yet!" he exclaimed, and rapidly threading the numerous
passages, in less than a minute he stood within the hall.

"Who wills speech of Ferdinand?" he demanded. "Let him step forth at
once and do his errand."

"I seek thee, King of Spain!" was the instant answer, and a young lad
in the white garb of a Benedictine novice, staggered forwards. "Arthur
Stanley is innocent! The real murderer is discovered; he lies at the
point of death sixty miles hence. Send--take his confession; but
do not wait for that. Fly, or it is too late. I see it--the axe is
raised--is flashing in the sun; oh, stop it ere it falls!" And with
the wild effort to loose the grasp of an old soldier, who more
supported than detained him, his exhausted strength gave way, and they
laid him, white, stiff, and speechless, on a settle near.

With his first word, however, Ferdinand had turned to a trusty
soldier, and bade him "fly to stop the work of death;" and the man
needed not a second bidding: he darted from the hall, flew through the
castle-yard, repeated the words to the first individual he met, by
whom it was repeated to another, and by him again on and on till it
reached the crowds around the scaffold; where it spread like wildfire
from mouth to mouth, reaching the ear of Don Felix, even before his
eye caught the rapidly advancing soldier, whom he recognized at once
as one of his Sovereign's private guards; impelling him, with an
almost instinctive movement, to catch the upraised arm of the
executioner at the very instant he was about to strike.

"Wherefore this delay, Don Felix? it is but a cruel mercy," sternly
inquired the Chief Hermano, whose office had led him also to the
scaffold.

"Behold, and listen: praised be the holy saints, he is saved!" was
the rapid reply, as the voice of the soldier close by the foot of
the scaffold, was distinguished bidding them "Hold! hold! the King
commands it. He is innocent; the real murderer is discovered!" and
then followed a shout, so loud, so exulting, that it seemed to have
burst from those assembled hundreds at the same instant. The prisoner
heard it, indeed; but to his bewildered senses--taking the place as
it did of the expected blow--it was so utterly meaningless that he
neither moved nor spoke; and even Don Felix's friendly voice charging
him--"Up, Stanley! up, man! thou art saved--thine innocence made
known!" failed to convince him of the truth. He rose from his knees;
but his limbs shook, and his face--which had changed neither hue nor
expression when he had knelt for the fatal blow--was colorless as
marble. He laid his trembling hand on Father Francis's arm, and tried
to speak, but he could not utter a sound.

"'Tis true, my beloved son: thy sinful thoughts have been sufficiently
chastised; and the mercy of Heaven publicly revealed. Our prayers
have not been said in vain; thine innocence is known--the guilty one
discovered!"

To doubt these solemn accents was impossible, and though the effort
was mighty to prevent it, Nature would have sway, and Stanley laid his
head on the Prior's arm, and burst into tears. And the wild shout that
again awoke, seemed to clarion forth a thrilling denial to the charge
of weakness, which on such openly demonstrated emotion, some hearts
dead to the voice of Nature might have pronounced.

King Ferdinand had not been idle while this exciting scene was
enacting; questioning briefly but distinctly the villager who had
accompanied the novice; the latter still remaining in a state of
exhaustion precluding all inquiries from him. Perez, however, could
only repeat the lad's words when informed that the execution of Senor
Stanley was to take place that day. Father Ambrose had merely told him
that he (Perez) had rendered a most important service to more than one
individual by his compassionate care of the dying man, whose desire to
communicate with the King was no idle raving. He had also charged
him to take particular care of the young novice, who was ailing and
weakly; that the emergency of the present case alone had compelled him
to send the lad to Segovia, as his dress and ability, might gain him a
quicker admission to the King or Queen, than the rude appearance and
uncouth dialect of his companion. The father had also requested him to
urge the officers, whom the King might send to take the dying man's
confession, to travel at their utmost speed, for he thought death was
approaching fast.

With his usual rapidity of thought and decision, Ferdinand's orders
were given and so quickly obeyed, that even before the arrival of the
Sub-Prior and Don Felix with the released prisoner, a band of men,
headed by Don Alonzo and two of the chief officers of the Santa
Hermandad, had already started for the village. The King still
retained Perez, not only to reward him liberally, but that his tale
might be repeated to the proper authorities, and compared with that of
the novice, as soon as he had sufficiently recovered to give it. The
entrance of Stanley effectually prevented his giving more than a
pitying glance towards the poor boy, who had been raised on one of the
benches, surrounded by the soldiers, who were doing all their rude
kindness suggested to revive him.

Isabella had followed her husband to the hall, and been a quiet but
penetrative observer of all that followed. She had started as the
voice of the novice met her ear, and made a few hasty steps forward;
but then checked herself, and quietly watched the proceedings of the
soldiers. Perceiving how wholly ineffectual their efforts appeared,
she advanced towards them. With the most reverential affection the
men made way for her. They had been so accustomed to see her on the
battle-field, tending the wounded and the dying, soothing their
anguish and removing their cares, ay, and more than once doing the
same kindly office in their rude and lowly homes, that her appearance
and gentle tending of the boy, excited no surprise whatever. She
motioned them all back, apparently to allow a free current of air--in
reality, to prevent them from adopting her own suspicions; she did not
remove the somewhat unusually tightly-secured hood; but for her, one
glance on that white and chiselled face was sufficient. Her skill
was at length successful, and with the first symptom of returning
animation, she left him to the soldiers, and joined the throng around
the King; but her eye, which from long use, appeared literally endowed
with power to take in every desired object, however separated, at one
glance, still watched him as he painfully endeavored to rise, and
threw one searching glance towards the principal group. His eyes
rested a full minute on the prisoner, with an expression which
Isabella alone, perhaps, of all in that hall, could read. A momentary
crimson flushed his cheek, and then his face was bowed in his
spread hands, and his slight frame shook, with the fervor of the
thanksgiving, which his whole soul outpoured.

Perceiving that the lad had recovered his senses, Perez referred all
the eager questioners to him, feeling so bewildered at the marvellous
transformation of himself, in his own opinion, from, an ignorant
rustic, who had never seen the interior of a town, to the permitted
companion of his sovereign and his nobles, and even of Isabella, and
he received from her lips a few words of kindly commendation, that
it was almost an effort to speak; and he longed to rush back to his
village and astound them all, and still more, triumph over his friend,
the hostellerie-keeper, who, lord it as he might, had never been so
honored.

"Come hither, boy," said Ferdinand kindly; and the novice slowly and
with evident reluctance obeyed. "We could almost wish thy tastes had
pointed elsewhere than the church, that our acknowledgments of thy
exertions in our service might be more substantial than mere thanks;
however, thy patron saint shall not want a grateful offering. Nay, our
presence is surely not so terrible that thou shouldst tremble thus,
poor child! Hast thou aught more to communicate?--aught for our
private ear, or that of her Highness our consort? If not, we will not
exhaust thy little strength by useless questions."

In a tone so low and faltering, that Ferdinand was obliged to bend
down his head to hear, the novice replied, that if messengers had been
despatched to the village, his errand was sufficiently accomplished.
Father Ambrose had merely charged him to say that the real murderer
had himself confessed his crime, and that the sin had been incited,
by such a horrible train of secret guilt, that all particulars were
deferred till they could be imparted to the authorities of justice,
and by them to the sovereigns themselves. For himself he only asked
permission to return to the village with Perez, and rejoin his
guardian, Father Ambrose, as soon as his Grace would please to dismiss
him.

"Thou must not--shalt not--return without my poor thanks, my young
preserver," exclaimed Stanley, with emotion. "Had it not been for
exertions which have well nigh exhausted thee, exertions as gratuitous
as noble--for what am I to thee?--my honor might have been saved
indeed, but my life would have paid a felon's forfeit. Would that I
could serve thee--thou shouldst not find me ungrateful! Give me thine
hand, at least, as pledge that shouldst thou ever need me--if not for
thyself, for others--thou wilt seek me without scruple."

The boy laid his hand on Stanley's without hesitation, but without
speaking; he merely raised his heavy eyes a moment to his face, and
vainly did Stanley endeavor to account for the thrill which shot
through his heart so suddenly as almost to take away his breath, as he
felt the soft touch of that little hand and met that momentary glance.

Who has not felt the extraordinary power of a tone--a look--a touch?
which,

  "Touching th' electric chain, wherewith we are darkly bound,"

fills the heart and mind with irresistible impulses, engrossing
thoughts, and startling memories, all defined and united, and yet
lasting for so brief a moment that we are scarcely able to realize
their existence ere they are gone--and so completely, that we perplex
ourselves again and again with the vain effort to recall their subject
or their meaning. And so it was with Stanley. The thrill passed and
he could not even trace its origin or flitting thought; he only saw a
Benedictine novice before him; he only felt regret that there was no
apparent means with which he could evince his gratitude.

On Father Francis offering to take charge of the boy, till his
strength was sufficiently renovated to permit his safe return to the
village, Isabella spoke, for the first time:--

"Reverend Father! We will ourselves take charge of this poor child.
There are some questions we would fain inquire, ere we can permit his
return to his guardian: if satisfactorily answered, a munificent
gift to his patron saint shall demonstrate, how deeply we feel the
exertions he has made; and if we can serve him better than merely
allowing his return to his monastery, trust me we shall not fail.
Follow me, youth!" she continued, as the Sub-Prior and the King,
though surprised at her words, acquiesced. The novice shrunk back
and clung to the side of Perez, as if most unwilling to comply; but
neither the command, nor the look, with which it was enforced could be
disobeyed, and slowly and falteringly he followed Isabella from the
hall.



CHAPTER XXVII.

  'Tis done! and so she droops. Oh, woman-heart!
  How bold and brave to do thy destined part!
  Thro' sorrow's waves press firmly, calmly on,
  And pause not, sink not, till the goal is won!

  MS.


Not a word passed between them, until they had reached Isabella's
private cabinet; and even then the Queen--though she seated herself
and signed to the boy to stand before her, as desirous of addressing
him--asked not a question, but fixed her penetrating eyes on his
pallid features, with a look in which severity was very evidently
struggling, with commiseration and regard. To attempt to retain
disguise was useless; Marie flung aside the shrouding hood, and
sinking down at the Queen's feet, buried her face in her robe, and
murmured in strong emotion--

"Gracious Sovereign--mercy!"

"Again wouldst thou deceive, again impose upon me, Marie? What am I
to think of conduct mysterious as thine? Wherefore fly from my
protection--reject with ingratitude the kindness I would have
proffered--mistrust the interest which thou hadst already proved,
and then return as now? I promised forgiveness, and continuation of
regard, if the truth were revealed and mystery banished, and darker
than ever has thy conduct drawn the veil around thee. What urged thy
flight, and wherefore this disguise? Speak out, and truthfully; we
will be tampered with no longer!"

But Marie vainly tried to obey; her brain was burning; the rapid ride,
the sudden transition, from the sickening horror of being too late,
to the assurance of Stanley's safety, the thought that she had indeed
parted from him for ever, and now Isabella's evident anger, when her
woman-heart turned to her as a child's to its mother's, yearning
for that gentle sympathy which, at such a moment, could alone have
soothed. Words seemed choked within her, and the effort to speak
produced only sobs. Isabella's eyes filled with tears.

"Speak," she said, more gently; "Marie--say only why thou didst fly
me, when I had given no evidence, that the boon thou didst implore me
to grant, had become, by thy strange confession, null and void. What
urged thy flight?"

"Not my own will. Oh, no--no, gracious Sovereign; I would have
remained a contented prisoner with thee, but they bore me away to such
scenes and sounds of horror that their very memory burns my brain. Oh,
madam! do with me what thou wilt, but condemn me not to return to that
fearful place again. Death, death itself--ay, even such a death as
Arthur has escaped--were mercy in its stead!"

"Of what speakest thou, Marie? Who could have dared bear thee from our
protection without thine own free will? Thy mind has been overwrought
and is bewildered still; we have been harsh, perchance, to urge thee
to speak now: repose may--".

"Repose! Oh, no--no; let me remain with thee!" she sobbed, as
forgetful of either state or form, her head sunk on Isabella's knee.
"He has borne me from your highness' power once; he can, he may, I
know he will again. Oh, save me from him! It was not because of my
faith he bore me there, and tempted and tortured and laughed at my
agony; he taunted me with his power to wreak the vengeance of a
baffled passion upon me--for, as a Jewess, who would protect me? Oh,
mighty Sovereign! send me not from thy presence. Don Luis will take me
from thy very roof again."

"Don Luis!" repeated Isabella, more and more convinced that Marie's
sufferings had injured her brain. "What power can he have, so secret
and so terrible? Marie, thou ravest!"

"Do I rave?" replied the unhappy girl, raising her right hand to her
throbbing brow. "It may be so; perhaps it has all been a dream--a wild
and fearful dream!--and I am awakened from it now; and yet--yet how
can it be; how came my arm thus if it had not been reality--horrible,
agonizing reality!" And as she spoke she removed the covering from
her left arm. Painfully Isabella started: the beautiful limb hung
powerless from wrist to shoulder, a dry and scorched and shrievelled
bone.

"And couldst thou think thy Sovereign would ordain, or even permit,
such suffering?" she exclaimed, after a moment's pause, passing her
arm fondly round Marie, whom she had raised from the ground to a
cushion by her side. "My poor unhappy child, what is this dark
mystery? Who can have dared to injure thee, and call it justice,
zeal--religion, perchance! Mother of Mercy! pardon the profanation of
the word! Try and collect thy thoughts, and tell me all. Who has dared
thus insult our power?"

"Don Luis!--Don Luis!" repeated Marie, clinging like an infant to the
Queen, and shuddering with terror at the very recollection of a power
which she had faced so calmly. "Oh, save me from him! torture itself I
could bear, but not his words."

"Don Luis!" reiterated the astonished Queen. "What has he to do with
torture? Who is he--what is he, my poor child, that his very name
should thus appal thee? He may indeed have dared speak insulting
words, but what power has he thus fearfully to wreak his vengeance?"

"Who is he--what is he?" repeated Marie, looking with surprise in
the Queen's pitying face. "Does not your highness know--and yet how
shouldst thou?--his very office is as secret as his own black nature?
Has your highness never heard men whisper of a secret Inquisition,
hiding itself even in thy domains? Oh, my Sovereign, it was there they
dragged me! [her voice sunk to a low shuddering whisper] and he was
grand master there; he--even Don Luis! And he will bear me there
again. Oh, save me from those fearful sounds--those horrid sights:
they glare before me now!"

"And I will save thee, my child! ay, and root out these midnight
horrors from my kingdom," exclaimed Isabella, indignation flashing in
her eye, and flushing on her cheek. "Once we have been insulted--once
deceived; but never to us can such occur a second time. Fearfully
shall this deed of infamy recoil upon its perpetrators! Tremble not
thus, my poor girl, no one shall injure thee; no one can touch thee,
for we are warned, and this fearful tale shall be sifted to the
bottom! Child of a reprobate faith, and outcast race as thou art,
thinkest thou that even to thee Isabella would permit injury and
injustice? If we love thee too well, may we be forgiven, but cared for
thou shalt be; ay, so cared for, that there shall be joy on earth, and
in heaven for thee yet!"

At another moment, those words would have been understood in their
real meaning; but Marie could then only feel the consoling conviction
of security and love. It was not merely personal kindness which had
so bound her to her Sovereign; it was the unacknowledged but felt
conviction, that Isabella had penetrated her secret feelings, with
regard to Arthur Stanley; and yet not a syllable of this had ever
passed the Queen's lips. Oh, true sympathy seldom needs expression,
for its full consolation to be given and received! The heart
recognizes intuitively a kindred heart, and turns to it in its sorrow
or its joy, conscious of finding in it, repose from itself. But only
a woman can give to woman this perfect sympathy; for the deepest
recesses, the hidden sources of anguish in the female heart no man can
read.

Engrossed as Isabella was by the mysterious information imparted by
Marie, indefinitely yet forcibly confirmed by her, then unusual,
knowledge of the past history of Spain, she was more easily satisfied
with Marie's hurried and hesitating account of her escape, than she
might otherwise have been. To proclaim her relationship with Father
Ambrose was ruin to him at once. He had been one, she said with truth,
who had received great obligations from her family, and had vowed
to return them whenever it should be in his power so to do; he had,
therefore, made the exertion to save her, and was about taking her to
her childhood's home on the frontiers of Castile, the only place, it
appeared to him, sufficiently secret to conceal her from Don Luis's
thousand spies; but that on the providential discovery of the real
murderer, and the seeming impossibility of ever seeing the King
himself in time--she paused.

"Could he send thee on such a rapid errand, my child, and suffering
thus?" gently inquired Isabella.

"No, gracious madam," was the unhesitating rejoinder, though a burning
blush mounted to her very temples; "it was my own voluntary choice. It
was my unhappy fate to have been the actual cause of his arraignment;
it was but my duty to save him if I could."

"And thou wouldst have returned with Perez had we not penetrated thy
disguise?"

"Yes, gracious Sovereign." And the flush faded into paleness, ashy as
before; but the tone was calm and firm.

The Queen looked at her intently, but made no further observation; and
speedily summoning her before trusted attendants, placed the widow of
Morales once more in their charge; imparted to them as much of Marie's
tale as she deemed requisite, and the consequent necessity for her
return to the Queen's care; nay, her very existence was to be kept
secret from all save those to whom she herself should choose to impart
it. Gratified by her confidence, they were eager to obey; and so
skilfully did they enter into her wishes, that their very companions
suspected not the identity of the prisoner, in whom, they were told,
their Sovereign was so much interested. Curiosity might have been busy
with very many, but their vague conjectures fell far short of the
truth; Catharine Pas was the only one of Isabella's younger maidens to
whom the real fact was imparted.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

  'Twas a dark tale of crime, and awed and chilled
  E'en indignation seeming horror still'd,
  Men stood beside a murd'rer's couch of death,
  Watching-the glazing-eye and flickering-breath--
  Speaking with look and hurried sign alone,
  Their thoughts, too terror-fraught for word or tone.--MS.


The indignation excited in the Queen's mind against Don Louis was
destined, very speedily, to be increased. Ferdinand had had time to
become half angry, and quite impatient, ere his messengers dispatched
to the village returned. Stanley had been released--was regarded by
all as innocent; but this was literally only from a peasant's word and
the half broken intelligence of an exhausted boy: he wanted proof,
and a vague dread would take possession of him that his fate was but
temporarily suspended. At an early hour the next day, however, Don
Alonzo returned; and Ferdinand's impatient anger was averted, when he
found the delay had been occasioned by their determination, to
convey the dying man to Segovia, and the caution necessary for its
accomplishment. The Hermanos had already noted down his confession;
but it was so fraught with extended and dangerous consequences, that
they felt, they dared not act on their responsibility: all suppressing
measures must proceed from the sovereigns themselves. Perez was again
summoned, and at once swore to the identity of the dying man as the
individual he had rescued from a deep pit, in a lonely mountain-pass,
about twenty miles from his village; and the man, whose eagerness to
speak was evident, though his voice was so faint, as scarcely to be
intelligible, commenced his dark and terrible tale.

The indignation of the Sovereign, and of those whom he had chosen to
be present, was excited to the utmost, mingled with horror as the
mysterious fates of many a loved companion were thus so fearfully
solved; but none felt the recital with the same intensity of emotion
as the Sub-Prior, who, with, head bowed down upon his breast, and
hands tightly clenched, knelt beside the penitent. It was not
indignation, it was not horror; but agony of spirit that a religion
which he loved better than himself, whose purity and honor he would
have so jealously guarded, that he would have sacrificed life itself
for its service, should have been made the cover for such unutterable
villany. Few imagined the deeds of painful mortification and bodily
penance which, in his solitude, the Sub-Prior afterwards inflicted on
himself; as if his individual sufferings should atone for the guilt of
his brethren, and turn from them the wrath of an avenging God.

Horrible as were the details imparted, incomprehensible as it seemed
that so extended and well-organized a power, should exist so secretly
throughout Spain, as to hide itself even from the sovereigns and
ministers of justice themselves, yet none doubted what they heard.
Sovereigns and nobles well knew that the Inquisition had been
established both in Castile and Arragon centuries before, and that
the annals of those kingdoms, though mentioning the resistance of the
people against this awful power, had been silent as to its entire
extirpation.

In the first part of his narrative the man had spoken shrinkingly and
fearfully, as if still in dread of vengeance on his betrayal; but
his voice became bolder when he confessed his own share in the late
atrocious crime. Accustomed by the strictest and most rigid training,
to obey as familiars, the will of their superiors without question--to
be mere mindless and feelingless tools, to whom death itself was
awarded, if by word or hint, or even sign, they dared evince
themselves to be as other men--he had, at the command of the Grand
Inquisitor, deeply drugged Senor Stanley's evening draught, and, while
under its potent influence, had purloined his sword; waylaid Don
Ferdinand in the Calle Soledad, effectually done the deed, and--aware
that it would be many hours ere the English Senor could arouse himself
from the stupifying effects of the draught--had intended returning to
his chamber still more effectually to throw on him the suspicion of
the murder. It happened, however, that it was the first time he had
ever been chosen by his superiors as their tool for actual murder, and
the magnitude of the crime, from the greatness of, and universal love
borne towards the victim, had so appalled him, that, combined with the
raging storm and pitchy darkness, he had felt utterly bewildered. Not
well acquainted with Segovia, he had found himself, after more than an
hour's wandering--instead of, as he expected, again near the Senor's
lodgings--in the self-same spot whence he had started, and close by
the body of his victim. The sight horrified and bewildered him yet
more, and he crept behind a low wall, resolved on remaining there
till the tempest had at least partially subsided, and then fulfil the
remainder of his instructions; knowing that to fail in any one point,
would be the signal of his own destruction. Fortune, however, so far
favored him, as to send the young English Senor to the very spot,
and there was therefore no occasion for his further interference. He
tarried till he had seen Stanley's arrest, and had heard the loud
execrations of all proclaiming him the murderer--and then returned to
his employers.

The education of the familiars had so far failed with him, that,
though aware of its danger, thoughts would enter his mind, as to how
Don Ferdinand Morales could have offended the dread power which he
served, and why the foreign Senor should be thus implicated in the
deed. He hoped to have concealed these doubts; but from the issue, he
imagined that some unguarded word spoken to a companion, must have
betrayed him. He was chosen by the Grand Inquisitor as his companion,
on some secret expedition two days after the trial, unsuspicious
of the danger awaiting him, till the desolate scene on which they
unexpectedly entered flashed terror on his mind. His superior had
there paused, told him that from the witness of Beta, the servant
girl, it was quite evident he had disobeyed part of the instructions
given, or his _return_ to Arthur's lodgings would have been heard by
her as well as his _departure_ and thus at once have implicated the
Englishman as the real murderer; that though chance had thrown equal
suspicion upon him, it did net remove his disobedience, and so he
was doomed to death; and the blow, instantaneously given, felled him
insensible to the ground. When he recovered his senses, he found
himself lying in a deep pit, where he had evidently been thrown as
dead. The wounds and contusions received in the fall, as far as he
could recollect, by producing a most excruciating sense of pain,
roused him from temporary insensibility, and he was convinced he heard
his murderer's voice--though he could not see him--exclaim distinctly,
as if he were leaning over the mouth of the pit, "There goes my last
doubt: other men might call it their last fear, but I know not the
word! Three victims for the possession of one--and who will now
dare to brand me? I had slain that faltering craven without his
disobedience, he dared to _think_ upon his deed."

Almost insensible from agony as he was, these words had impressed
themselves indelibly; causing the burning desire to live and be
revenged. And the opportune succors of the villager, Perez, with a
party of woodmen; the completely hidden site of the village to which,
he had been conveyed; and the, at first, favorable healing of his
wounds, appeared to give him every hope of its accomplishment. He had
resolved on communicating his tale to none save to Ferdinand himself,
or to the Chief Hermano, under strict promise to reveal it to the
Sovereign: but his intense anxiety had evidently prevented the
attainment of his desire, by producing fever; and thence arose his
wild and almost maniac cravings to make confession, and bind some holy
monk, by a solemn vow, to convey it to the King.

It was not till the conclusion of this momentous narration, that the
King permitted any questions to be asked; and those he then demanded
were so concise and clear, that but few words were needed in which to
couch the reply.

"And the designer of this hellish plot, the real murderer--through thy
hand, of one brave friend, and almost another--is the same who has
murdered thee!" he inquired, after learning the exact sites of these
mysterious halls; information which caused some of the bravest hearts
to shudder, from their close vicinity.

The man answered at once in the affirmative.

"And he dares assume, in this illegal tribunal, the rank of Grand
Inquisitor?"

"Ay, gracious liege."

"And his name?--that by which he is known to man? Speak! And as thy
true confession may be the means of bringing a very fiend to justice,
so may thy share in his deeds be pardoned."

An indescribable expression passed over the fast stiffening features
of the dying. He half raised himself, and, laying his clammy hand on
Ferdinand's robe, whispered, in clear and thrilling tones--

"Bend low, my liege; even at this moment I dare not speak it loud;
but, oh! beware of those who affect superior sanctity to their
fellows: there is one who in the sunshine stands forth wisest, and
purest, and strictest; and at midnight rules arch-fiend--men call him
DON LUIS GARCIA. _He_ is Don Ferdinand's murderer! _He_ sought Senor
Stanley's death and mine; but instead of a victim, he has found an
accuser! His web has coiled round himself--flee him! avoid him as ye
would a walking pestilence, or visible demon! Minister as he may be of
our holy father, the Pope, he is a villain--his death alone can bring
safety to Spain. Ha! what is this? Mother of mercy! save me! The
cross! the cross! Absolution! The flames of hell! Father, bid them
avaunt! I--a true confession." The words were lost in a fearful
gurgling sound, and the convulsion which ensued was so terrible, that
some of the very bravest involuntarily turned away; but Stanley, who
had listened to the tale with emotions too varied and intense for
speech, now sprung forward, wildly exclaiming--

"Three victims for one! Where is that one? Speak--speak in mercy! Oh,
God! he dies and says no word!"

The eyes of the dying man glared on him, but there was no meaning
in their gaze; they rolled in their sockets, glazed, and in another
minute all was stiff in death.



CHAPTER XXIX.

                           "Doth Heaven
  Woo the free spirit for dishonored breath
  To sell its birthright? Doth Heaven set a price
  On the clear jewel of unsullied faith
  And the bright calm of conscience?"

  MRS. HEMANS.


A private council immediately followed the confession received; but
though it continued many hours, no active measures could at once be
decided upon. Secret and illegal, according to Spanish laws, as this
tribunal was, it was yet an instrument of the Pope, acknowledging his
supremacy alone, and, in consequence, always receiving his protection.
Civil justice, it appeared, could not reach those who were protected
by; the head of the church; but Ferdinand's mind was far too capacious
to admit this plea. Rooted out of his dominions--in its present
form, at least--he resolved it should be, and Isabella confirmed the
resolve. Not only was its secret existence fraught with the most awful
crimes and injustice, regarded generally, but it was derogatory and
insulting to that sovereign power, which Ferdinand and Isabella had
both determined on rendering supreme. Father Francis, whose usual
energy of thought and counsel appeared completely annihilated from the
fearful tale he had heard, strenuously urged the sovereigns to wait
the arrival of Torquemada, the Queen's confessor, who was now every
hour expected, and whose sterner and more experienced mind would give
them better counsel. To this both sovereigns agreed, but one measure
they adopted at once. As Grand Inquisitor, the principal actor in this
atrocious drama might be servant of and solely answerable to the Pope;
as Don Luis Garcia, he was subject to Ferdinand and Isabella, and as
such amenable to the laws of Spain. A schedule was therefore drawn up,
stating that whereas the man commonly known as Don Luis Garcia, had
been convicted of many atrocious and capital crimes, and, amongst
the gravest, of having instigated and commanded the murder of Don
Ferdinand Morales, and done to death his own tool, the real committer
of the deed, that Arthur Stanley might be charged with, and executed
for, the same; the sovereigns of Spain called upon their loving
subjects--of every rank and every degree, in all and every part of the
realm--to unite in endeavoring to discover, and deliver up the said
Don Luis Garcia, to the rigor of the law. An enormous reward was
offered for delivering him alive into the hands of justice, and half
the sum, should he have resisted to the death. The proclamation was
made by sound of trumpet in various parts of Segovia, and copies sent,
with all possible speed, to every city, town, and even village, over
Spain. A correct description of his person accompanied the schedule,
and every possible measure was adopted that could tend to his
apprehension. So strong was the popular feeling against him that every
class, almost every individual, felt it a personal duty to assist, in
this case, the course of justice. He had deceived all men, and all men
in consequence leagued themselves against him. So secretly, and yet
so judiciously, were the plans for his seizure carried on, and so
universal the popular ferment, that it appeared marvellous how he
could have escaped; and yet weeks merged into months, and, though the
measures of the Santa Hermandad in no way relaxed, Don Luis was still
at large, and effectually concealed. We may here state at once--though
it carries us much in advance of our present scene--that Father
Francis resolved at all costs to purge the church of Spain from
this most unholy member; and, authorized by the sovereigns, made a
voluntary pilgrimage to the court of St. Peter's, obtained an audience
with the Pope, laid the case before him, and besought the penalty of
excommunication to be fulminated against the hypocrite who had dared
to use, as cover for most atrocious villany, the pure and sacred
ordinances of the church. Alexander the Sixth, himself a worker of
such awful crimes that he was little capable of entering into the pure
and elevated character of the Sub-Prior, heard him calmly, smiled
sneeringly, and then informed him, he was too late. The worthy and
zealous servant of Rome, known to men as Don Luis Garcia, had been
before him, made confession of certain passions as exciting erring
deeds, to which all men were liable, had done penance, received
absolution, and was in a fair way of rising to the highest eminence in
the church.

Father Francis remonstrated, urged, dared to speak bolder truths than
had ever before reached the papal ear but all without effect: and
this truly good and spiritual man returned to Spain stricken to the
dust. He reported the failure of his mission; heard, with bowed
head and aching soul, the natural indignation of Ferdinand, and the
quieter, but to him, still more expressive sorrow, at this fearful
abuse of her holy religion from Isabella; and then, with an
earnestness impossible to be resisted, conjured the royal permission
to retire entirely from all interference in public life. He could not,
he said, support the weight of shame, which, falling on his church,
had affected him individually. Vain were the royal solicitations, vain
the love of the people, vain the entreaties of the abbot and brethren
of his convent; he resigned the office of Sub-Prior, relinquished
every religious and secular honor, and buried himself in the most
impenetrable solitude, fraught with austerity and mortification,
personal penance, and yet devoted to such extraordinary acquirements,
that, though for long years his very existence was well nigh
forgotten, when next he burst upon the astonished eyes of the world,
it was no longer as Father Francis, the Sub-Prior of a Franciscan
monastery, a good and benevolent monk, but as the learned priest, the
sagacious statesman, the skilful general, ay, and gallant warrior--the
great and good CARDINAL XIMENES!

To wait the arrival of Torquemada, the sovereigns and their council
unanimously resolved. It was but a very brief delay, and would permit
a more effectual extermination of the secret office than could be
decided upon by the laity alone. Ere the day closed, and in presence
of the sovereigns, of all the nobles, officers of state, the Santa
Hermandad and principal citizens, Arthur Stanley was formally
pronounced INNOCENT of the crime with which he had been charged. The
golden spurs, which had been ignominiously hacked from his heels, were
replaced by the aged Duke of Murcia; knighthood again bestowed by the
King; and Isabella's own hand, with winning courtesy, presented him
a sword, whose real Toledo blade, and richly jewelled hilt, should
replace the valued weapon, the loss of which had caused him such
unmerited suffering, and shame.

"May it be used for us, as faithfully and nobly as its predecessor,"
were Isabella's concluding words; "and its associations, Senor
Stanley, be nought but those of joy."

The young man's cheek burned, but there was a deep shadow on his
countenance, which neither the honors he received, nor his own urgent
efforts had power to remove. He looked wistfully after the sovereigns
as they quitted the church, then with an irresistible impulse, broke
from the throng with whom he had been endeavoing to join in animated
converse, and, suddenly kneeling before Isabella, exclaimed in low,
agitated tones--

"_She_--she may still be in the villain's power. Oh, my liege, wait
not for Torquemada's arrival and leave her to die! He will wreak his
full vengeance upon her."

"Trust me for her safety, my young friend; measures have been already
taken to secure it," was Isabella's instant reply, in a tone so full
of sympathy, that Arthur caught her robe, and pressed it to his lips.

She smiled kindly and passed on, still accompanied by Ferdinand, not a
little astonished at her words, and still more so when Marie's whole
tale was imparted to him.

On retiring to rest that night, his thoughts still engrossed with
vain speculations as to the destined fate of Marie,--Arthur, half
unconsciously, unsheathed Isabella's magnificent gift, to judge of
the temper of the blade; and, as he did so, a scroll, which had been
twisted round the steel, fell to the ground. He raised it with hasty
curiosity, but his heart throbbed as he recognized the handwriting of
the Queen, and deciphered the following words:--

"To Senor Stanley, in secrecy and confidence, these: The eye of love
is said to pierce through all disguises. In this instance it has
proved less discriminative than woman's sympathy, and woman's
penetration. She in whom we believe Senor Stanley interested, and to
whose exertions he owes the publication of his innocence in time to
save life as well as honor, is safe, and under the protection of her
Queen. Let this suffice for present peace, and speak of it to none.
ISABELLA R."

Arthur's first impulse was to press the precious letter to his lips,
and gaze upon it till every letter seemed transferred from the paper
to his heart; his next was to sit down on the nearest seat, and bury
his face in his hands, actually bewildered by the flash of light,
which with those brief words came. Disguise--exertion--could it be
possible? Nay, it must be! The soft touch of that little hand, the
speaking look of those lovely eyes, again thrilled through his very
soul, and he knew their meaning now. Mysterious, bewildering as it
was, the novice, the poor, exhausted, seeming boy--was Marie! Again he
owed his life to her, and the wild yearning to gaze on her again, to
clasp her to his bosom, to pour forth his gratitude, to soothe and
shield, became so painfully intense, as almost to banish the joy,
which her rescue from danger ought to have occasioned. Had it not been
for her refusal to bear witness against him, not even the month's
grace would have been allowed him; he would have been executed at
once. She had saved him then--she had saved him now! And his heart so
swelled he knew not how to contain its fulness, how to calm it down,
to wait till the Queen's further pleasure should be known. But hope
sprung up to give him comfort; Isabella would accomplish her intention
of conversion; Marie could never resist her, and then--then, oh! she
would be all, all his own, and life shine, for both the brighter, for
its former tempest clouds. Meanwhile, he had such sweet thoughts, such
lovely images, to rest on. He owed his life, his honor, to her; and he
thought that it was his devoted gratitude which so deepened love. How
sweet is such illusion! how refreshingly soothing to be grateful, when
the object of that gratitude has been, and is still, the dear object
of our love! How often we deceive ourselves, and imagine we are
experiencing the strongest emotions of gratitude, when, had an
indifferent person conferred the same benefit, we might feel it
indeed, but it would more pain than pleasure; and be an obligation, so
heavy that we should never rest, till in some measure, at least, it
was returned. How contrary the impression of benefits from those we
love!

Never before had the appearance of the Queen's confessor, the stern,
and some said cruel, Torquemada, been hailed with such excitement. He
was speedily informed of the late transactions, and his counsel most
earnestly demanded by both sovereigns. He required some days to
deliberate, he said, so momentous and important was the affair; and
when he did reply, his counsel was entirely opposed to what many
hoped, and Ferdinand expected. Indignant as he declared himself to
be, at the abuses in religion, he yet put a strong and most decided
negative on the royal proposition, of utterly exterminating this
unlawful tribunal. With all his natural eloquence, and in most
forcible language, he declared that, if kept within proper bounds,
restrained by due authority, and its proceedings open to the
inspection of the Sovereign, and under him, the archbishops and other
dignitaries of the church, the Inquisition would be a most valuable
auxiliary to the well-doing and purifying of the most Catholic
kingdom. He produced argument after argument of most subtle reasoning,
to prove that every effort to abolish the office in Spain had been
entirely useless: it would exist, and if not publicly acknowledged,
would always be liable to abuse and desecration; that the only means
of exterminating its secret, and too arrogant power, was to permit its
public establishment, and so control it, that its measures should be
open to the present, and to every successive sovereign. He allowed the
necessity, the imperious necessity of rooting out the _secret_ office;
but he was convinced this could not be done, nor in fact would the
church allow it, unless it should be recognized in the face of all
Europe, as based on alike the civil and religious laws of Spain.

On Ferdinand the wily churchman worked, by proving that his royal
prerogative would be insured rather than injured by this proceeding;
that by publicly establishing the Inquisition, he proved his
resolution to control even this power, and render it a mere instrument
in his sovereign hand; that his contemplated conquest of the Moors
could not be better begun than by the recognition of a holy office,
whose glory it would be to bring all heathens to the purifying and
saving doctrines of the church of Rome. Ferdinand, though wary and
politic himself, was no match for Torquemada's Jesuitical eloquence;
he was won over to adopt the churchman's views with scarcely an effort
to resist them. With Isabella the task was much more difficult. He
appealed guardedly and gently to her tender regard for the spiritual
welfare of her people, sympathized with her in her indignant horror
of the crimes committed under religion's name, but persisted that the
evil of a secret Inquisition would never be remedied, save by the
measure he proposed. He pledged himself never to rest, till the
present halls and ministers of darkness were exterminated from every
part of Spain; but it could only be on condition of her assent to his
counsel. He used all his eloquence; he appealed to her as a zealous
Catholic, whose first duty was to further and purify her faith; but
for four days he worked in vain; and when she did give her consent, it
was with such a burst of tears, that it seemed as if her foreboding
eye had indeed read the shrouded annals of the future, and beheld
there, not the sufferings of individuals alone, but of the decline and
dishonor of that fair and lovely land, which she had so labored to
exalt. Ere another year from that day had passed, the Inquisition was
publicly established throughout the kingdom; and Torquemada, as first
Grand Inquisitor, reaped the reward of his persevering counsel, and
sealed, with blood, the destiny of Spain.

To her confessor, Isabella revealed the story of Marie, and her own
intentions. Torquemada heard the tale with a stern severity, little
encouraging to the Queen's ideas of mercy; he insisted that her
conversion _must_ be effected; if by kindness and forbearance, well
and good; but if she were obstinate, harshness must be resorted
to; and only on that condition would he grant Isabella the desired
blessing on her task. He did not fail to bring forward the fact of
a zealous Catholic, such as Don Ferdinand Morales, wedding and
cherishing one of the accursed race, and conniving at her secret
adherence to her religion, as a further and very strong incentive for
the public establishment of the Inquisition, whose zealous care would
effectually guard the sons of Spain from such unholy alliances in
future. He urged the supposition of Marie's having become the mother
of children by Ferdinand; was it not most probable, nay, certain, that
she would infuse her own unbelief in them; and then how mixed and
defiled a race would take the place of the present pure Castilians.
Isabella could reply nothing satisfactory to this eloquent reasoning.
The prejudices of education are strong in every really earnest heart;
and though her true woman's nature revolted at every thought of
severity, and towards one so suffering as Marie, she acknowledged its
necessity, in case of kindness failing. Under the seal of confession,
she imparted her full plan to Torquemada, entering more into minute
particulars than she had done even to her husband, or in words to
herself. It was so fraught with mercy and gentleness that Torquemada
gave his consent, believing it utterly impossible, if Marie really
loved, as Isabella fancied, that she could resist.

On the departure of her confessor, the Queen communed, as was her
frequent custom, long and severely with her own heart. What was the
cause of her extreme dislike to using harshness? With any other member
of that detested race, she felt Torquemada's counsel would have been
all-powerful; she would have left it all to him. It was then mere
personal regard, fear of the suffering which, did she cause Marie
increase of pain, she should inflict upon herself, and this must not
be. She was failing in the duty she owed her religion, if she could
not summon resolution to sacrifice even affection at its shrine. And
so she nerved herself, to adopt Torquemada's stern alternative, if
indeed it were required. How strange is self-delusion! how difficult,
even to the noblest, most unselfish natures, to read another spirit by
their own! Isabella felt it might be a duty to sacrifice affection for
religion, and nerved herself to its performance at any cost. And
yet that Marie should do so, she could not believe; and if she did,
harshness and suffering were to be her sole reward! Oh, that in
religion, as in every thing else, man would judge his brother man by
his own heart; and as dear, as precious, as his peculiar creed may be
to him, believe so it is with the faith of his brother! How much of
misery, how much of contention, of cruelty and oppression, would pass
away from this lovely earth, and give place for Heaven's own unity and
peace, and harmony and love.



CHAPTER XXX.

                "Oh, bear me up
  Against the unutterable tenderness
  Of earthly love, my God! In the sick hour
  Of dying human hope, forsake me not!"

  MRS. HEMANS.


For some months all was gayety and rejoicing in Segovia, not a little
heightened by the exciting preparations for the much desired war. The
time had now come when Ferdinand could, with safety to the internal
state of his kingdom, commence the struggle for which he had so
impatiently waited, since the very first hour of the union of Arragon
and Castile. Troops were marshalling secretly all over Spain; the
armorers and smiths were in constant requisition. The nobles were
constantly flitting from their hereditary domains to the court, eager
and active to combine all the pomp and valor of a splendid chivalry
with the more regular force; standing armies, which in almost every
European land were now beginning to take the place of the feudal
soldiery, so long their sole resource. It was necessary for Ferdinand,
ere he commenced operations, to visit his own dominions; a measure he
did not regret, as it effectually concealed his ulterior plans from
the Moors, who were also at that time too much disturbed by internal
dissensions, to give more than a cursory glance on the movements and
appearances of their Christian foes.

In the festivals of the palace the young Englishman was naturally the
hero of the day; the best feelings of the Spanish character had
been called into play towards him: he had been unjustly accused and
seriously injured; been subject to dishonor and shame; and many might
say it had all sprung from prejudice against him as a foreigner. The
very failing of the Spaniards in this case also operated in his favor;
their national jealousy called upon them to make publicly manifest the
falsity of such a supposition, and he was courted and fêted by all,
brought forward on every occasion, and raised and promoted both to
civil and military distinction, by those very men who, before the late
events, would have been the first to keep him back, yielding him but
the bare and formal courtesy, which, however prejudiced, no true-born
Spaniard could refuse.

Amongst Isabella's female train, Arthur Stanley was ever gladly
welcomed, and his presence might have proved dangerous to more than
one of Isabella's younger attendants, had not his manner been such as
to preclude even the boldest and most presuming from any thought of
love. One alone he certainly singled out to talk with, and treat with
more attention than any other; and that one was the maiden we have
more than once had occasion to mention, Catherine Pas. Rallied as she
was by her companions, the young girl herself imagined there could be
no danger to her peace in associating thus with the handsome young
Englishman; for _she_ knew, though her companions did not, the real
reason of his preference for her society. Isabella had once slightly
hinted from which of her attendants Stanley might hear of Marie, and
giving them permission to answer his queries. It was a dangerous
ordeal for Catherine, but she laughed at the idea of permitting her
heart to pass into the possession of one who cared nothing for her,
save as she could speak of Marie.

Great was the surprise and many the conjectures of the Queen's
female court, when rather more than six months after her strange
disappearance, the widow of Morales re-appeared amongst them; not
publicly indeed, for at the various fêtes and amusements of the
palace, and elsewhere, Marie was never seen. Her existence, however,
and safety, under Isabella's especial protection, were no longer kept
secret; and her recent loss was in itself quite sufficient reason for
her strict retirement. Her identity with brother Ernest, the supposed
novice, never transpired; he was supposed to have returned with Perez
to his guardian, Father Ambrose, who, though seen and questioned by
Don Alonzo at the village, did not accompany his dying penitent to
Segovia, nor, in fact, was ever seen in that city again.

The tender care and good nursing which had been lavished on Marie, had
restored her sufficiently to health as to permit returning elasticity
of mind. All morbid agony had passed, all too passionate emotions were
gradually relaxing their fire-bands round her heart; and strength, the
martyr strength, for which she unceasingly prayed, to give up all if
called upon for her God, seemed dawning for her. That she was still
under some restraint, a sort of prisoner in the palace, Marie herself
was not aware; she had neither wish nor energy to leave the castle,
and therefore knew not that her egress, save under watchful
guardianship, would have been denied. She had no spirits to mingle
with the light-hearted, happy girls, in her Sovereign's train, and
therefore was unconscious that, with the sole exception of Catherine
whose passionate entreaties had obtained her this privilege, all
intimacy with them would have been effectually prevented. It was
enough, more than enough (for the foreboding dread was ever present,
that such a blissful calm, such mental and bodily repose, were far,
far too sweet for any long continuance) to be employed in little
services for and about the person of the Queen, and to know that
Arthur Stanley was restored to even more than former favor, and fast
rising to eminence and honor.

Before the sovereigns quitted Segovia, Stanley left the court to march
southward with Pedro Pas, to occupy a strong fortification on the
barrier line, dividing the Spanish from the Moorish territories, and
commanding a very important post, which Ferdinand was anxious to
secure, and where he intended to commence his warlike operations,
as speedily as he could settle affairs at Saragossa. Twice before
Stanley's departure did Isabella contrive an apparently accidental
meeting between him and Marie, permitting them, though in her
presence, ample opportunity for mutual explanation; but not with much
evident success. Stanley, indeed, was painfully and visibly agitated,
finding it difficult, almost impossible to speak the feelings which
had so long filled heart and mind, and been in fancy so often thrown
into eloquent words, that he could not understand why in her presence
words were frozen up, and he could only _feel_. Marie's cheek and lip
had indeed blanched as she beheld him, but the deep and quiet calm she
had so earnestly sought, even then did not forsake her; once only her
voice faltered, when she conjured him to allude no longer to the past,
that the exertions she had made for him demanded no such gratitude
as he expressed. He would have answered with his usual passionate
impetuosity, but there was something in her manner which restrained
him; it was no longer the timid, yielding girl, who, even while she
told him of the barrier between them, had yet betrayed the deep love
she felt: it was the woman whose martyr spirit was her strength. And
yet, spite of himself, he hoped. Isabella, in parting with him, had
spoken such words as sent a thrill of delight over his whole being,
and he quitted Segovia buoyant and glad-hearted, to wait weeks,
months, he thought even years: so certain did he feel of success at
last.

Isabella accompanied Ferdinand to Arragon, and determined on remaining
at Saragossa during the commencement of his Moorish campaign; but
she did not part from him without demanding and receiving his solemn
promise to send for her as soon as the residence of females in the
camp was practicable. She well knew the inspiring power of her
presence in similar scenes, and the joy and increased ardor which the
vicinity of near and dear relations, composing her court, would excite
in the warrior camp of Ferdinand. The promise was given, and the
annals of the Moorish war tell us how faithfully it was kept, and how
admirably Isabella performed the part she had assigned herself.

Months glided slowly and peacefully on; as each passed, the trembling
heart of Marie foreboded change and sorrow; but it was not till she
had been eight months a widow that aught transpired which could
account for such strange fears. Then, indeed, the trial came: she
thought she was prepared, but the aching heart and failing strength
with which she listened to the Queen's commands, betrayed how little
our best endeavors can pave the way for sorrow. Isabella spoke gently
and kindly indeed, but so decisively, there was no mistaking the
meaning of her words: she had waited, she said, till time had restored
not only health and strength, but some degree of tranquillity to the
heart, and elasticity to the mind. That, as a Jewess, Marie must have
long known, the Queen could not continue favor; that she was, in fact,
acting without a precedent in thus permitting the attendance of an
unbeliever on her person, or appearance in her court; but that she had
so acted, believing that when perfectly restored to sense and energy,
Marie would herself feel the necessity, and gladly embrace the only
return she required--a calm deliberation of the Catholic faith, and,
as a necessary consequence, its acceptance. She therefore desired that
Marie would devote herself to the instructions of a venerable monk
(Father Denis by name), whom she had selected for the task. That
from that day Marie would not be called upon for either service or
attendance on the Queen, but to devote her whole mind and energies to
the task proposed; and that when Father Denis brought her information
that Marie accepted the cross, that very hour she should resume
her place in Isabella's court, and be the dearest, most cherished
there!--be publicly acknowledged as the inheritrix of her husband's
vast possessions, and a future of love and joy would shine before her,
so bright as to banish even the memories of the stormy past.

Marie would have replied, but Isabella, with gentle firmness, refused
to hear her. "I demand nothing now," she said, "but obedience. A
willing heart, and open mind, are all you need bring with you to your
task: the father's holy lessons, blessed with God's grace, will do
the rest. I cannot believe that all the kindness and affection I have
shown have been so utterly without effect, that thou too wilt evince
the ungrateful obstinacy, so unhappily the characteristic of thy
blinded people. If banishment from our presence be a source of sorrow,
which I do believe it is, the term of that banishment rests entirely
with thyself. The sooner we can hail the child of the Virgin, even as
thou art now of our affections, the greater share of happiness wilt
thou bestow upon us and upon thyself. We have heard that nought but
harshness and severity can have effect on thy hardened race. It may
be, but with thee, at least, we will not use it, unless--" and her
voice and her look grew sufficiently stern for Marie to feel her words
were no idle threat--"unless obduracy and ingratitude so conquer
affection that we can see no more in the Marie Morales we have loved
than a hardened member of her own stiff-necked race; then--, but we
will not pain ourself or thee, by imagining what thine own will may
avert. Go, and the holy Virgin bless thee. Not a word; I know what
will be thine answer now; but a month hence thou wilt thank me for
this seeming severity."

And Isabella turned somewhat hastily away; for her lip quivered and
her eye swelled. Marie did not see these indications of emotion, and
silently withdrew.



CHAPTER XXXI.

  "I have lost for that Faith more than thou canst bestow,
  As the God who permits thee to prosper doth know.
  In His hand is my heart, and my hope; and in thine
  The land, and the life, which for Him I resign."

  BYRON.


Marie Morales had had many trials. Her life had been one of those
painful mysteries, as to why such a being should have been thus
exposed to scorn, which while on earth we vainly try to solve. Yet it
is no imaginary picture: hundreds, aye thousands, of Israel's devoted
race have thus endured; in every age, in every clime, have been
exposed to martyrdom--not of the frame alone, but of the heart; doomed
but to suffer, and to die. And how may we reconcile these things with
the government of a loving father, save by the firm belief, which,
blessed--thrice blessed--are those who feel; that, for such sufferers
on earth, a future of blessedness is laid up in another and lovelier
world--where there is no more sorrow, no more tears!

Her former trials had been sharp agony and strong excitement. Her
present had neither the one nor the other; yet it was fraught with as
heavy suffering, as any that had gone before it; even though she knew
not, guessed not, _all_ that depended upon her conversion. It would
have been comparatively easy to have endured, for her faith's sake,
harshness and contempt; in such a case, self-respect rises to sustain
us, and we value our own tenets the more, from their startling
contrast with those which could command the cruelty we endure; but
Father Denis used harshness neither of manner nor of words. Firmly
impressed in his own mind, that it was utterly vain for a soul to hope
for salvation unless it believed in Jesus, the Virgin, the saints and
holy martyrs; he brought heart and soul to his task; and the more he
saw of Marie, the more painfully did he deplore her blind infatuation,
and the more ardently desire, to save her from the eternal
perdition which, as a Jewess, must await her. He poured forth such
soul-breathing petitions, for saving grace to be vouchsafed to her, in
her hearing, that Marie felt as if she would have given worlds, only
to realize the belief for which he prayed; but the more her heart was
wrung, the more vividly it seemed that her own faith, the religion of
her fathers through a thousand ages, impressed itself upon her mind
and heart, rendering it more and more impossible for her to forswear
it, even at the very moment that weak humanity longed to do it, and so
purchase peace. Naturally so meek and yielding, so peculiarly alive
to the voice of sympathy and kindness, it was inexpressibly and
harrowingly distressing to be thus compelled to resist both; to think
also of all Isabella's gentle, cherishing, and manifested affection;
and to know that the only return she demanded, she dared not, might
not give. To some dispositions these considerations would have been of
no weight whatever; to Marie they were so exquisitely painful, that
she could scarcely understand how it was that, feeling them thus
acutely, she could yet so clearly, so calmly, reply to Father Denis,
bring argument for argument, and never waver in her steadfast
adherence to, and belief in her own creed. The very lessons of her
youth, which she had thought forgotten in the varied trials which
had been her portion since, returned with full--she fancied
superhuman--force and clearness to her mind, rendering even the very
wish to embrace the Catholic religion, futile. There was a voice
within her that _would_ be heard, aye above every human feeling, every
strong temptation. She could not drown its clear ringing tones; even
where her mental sufferings seemed to cloud and harrow up the brain,
to the exclusion of every distinct idea, that voice would breathe its
thrilling whisper, telling her it was vain to hope it, she could not
be in heart a Catholic; and so she dared not be in words.

A romance is no place for polemical discussion, and we will therefore
leave those painful arguments unrecorded. Suffice it, that Marie's
intimate acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures in their original
tongue--the language of her own people--gave her so decided an
advantage over the old monk, that, after nearly three months' trial,
he sought his Sovereign, and, with the most touching humility,
acknowledged his utter incapacity, for the conversion of Donna Marie,
and implored her to dismiss him, and select one more fitted for the
task.

Astonished, and bitterly disappointed, Isabella cross-questioned him
as to the cause of this sudden feeling of incapacity, and his answers
but increased her desire to compel Marie to abandon Judaism, and
become--in semblance at least, a Catholic; believing fully that, this
accomplished, the Holy Spirit would do the rest, and she would at
least have saved her soul. She retained the father in the palace;
desiring him to inform his charge that one fortnight's grace would be
allowed her, to ponder on all the solemn truths he had advanced, and
on her own decision whether she would not rather yield to kindness,
than tempt the severity her obstinacy demanded; but, save this
enjoyment, he was to commune with her no further. With a trembling
spirit the Queen again sought the counsel of her confessor, and
reported the information of the holy father. Torquemada listened, with
a curling lip and contracted brow. He was not surprised, he said,
for it was exactly what he had expected. It was a part of their
blaspheming creed, to blind by sorcery, the eyes and minds of all
those who had ever attempted to win them over by kind and reasonable
argument. Father Denis had been bewitched, as all were, who ever
attempted to convert, by other than the harshest means. Her grace must
see the necessity of severity, and surely could not refuse the using
it any longer. But Isabella did refuse, till her last resource had
been tried; and all she asked was, if she might hold forth a powerful
temporal temptation to obtain the end she so earnestly desired?
Torquemada hesitated; but at length, on being told the severe
alternative which Isabella would enforce, if her first proposal were
rejected, reluctantly acceded; still persisting that nothing but the
rack and the flame, or fatal expulsion, would ever purge Spain from
the horrible infection of so poisonous a race. Isabella heard him with
a shudder; but, thankful even for this ungracious sanction, waited,
with, trembling impatience, the termination of the given fourteen
days; hoping, aye praying in her meek, fervid piety, that the mistaken
one might be softened to accept the proffered grace, or her own heart
strengthened to sacrifice all of personal feeling for the purifying by
fire and consequent salvation, of that immortal soul now so fearfully
led astray.

It was with little hope that the father again sought Marie. Bewitched
he might be, but he was so impressed with the fervid earnestness
of her gentle spirit; with the lofty enthusiasm that dictated her
decision; so touched with the uncomplaining, but visible suffering,
which it cost her to argue with, and reject the voice of
kindness--that it required a strong mental effort in the old man, to
refrain from conjuring his Sovereign, to permit that misguided one
to remain unmolested, and wait, till time, and prayer, from those so
interested in her, should produce the desired effect. But this feeling
was so contrary to the spirit of the age, that it scarcely needed
Torquemada's representations to convince him, that he was experiencing
the effect of the invisible sorcery with which the race of Israel
always blinded the eyes of their opponents. The kind old man was awed
and silenced by his stern superior. Liberty of conscience was then a
thing unheard of; and therefore it was, that so much of the divine
part of our mingled nature was so completely concealed, that it lost
alike effect or influence. It was not even the subjection of the weak
to the strong; but the mere superiority of clerical rank. The truest
and the noblest, the most enlarged mind, the firmest spirit would
bend unresistingly to the simple word of a priest; and the purest
and kindest impulses of our holier nature be annihilated, before the
dictates of those, who were supposed to hold so infallibly, in their
sole keeping, the oracles of God. The spiritual in man was kept in
rigid bondage; the divinity worshipped by the Catholics of that age,
represented to the mass like the Egyptian idol, with a key upon his
lips--his attributes, as his law, hid from them, or imparted by chosen
priests, who explained them only as suited their individual purposes.
Is it marvel, then, that we should read of such awful acts committed
in Religion's name by man upon his brother? or that we should see the
purest and loveliest characters led away by priestly influence to
commit deeds, from which now, the whole mind so recoils, that we turn
away disappointed and perplexed at the inconsistency, and refuse the
meed of love and admiration to those other qualities, which would
otherwise shine forth so unsullied? The inconsistency, the seeming
cruelty and intolerance, staining many a noble one in the middle ages,
were the effects of the fearful spirit of the time; but their virtues
were their own. Truth if sought, must triumph over prejudice. By
inspection and earnest study of facts--of _causes_, as well as of
_events_, the mind disperses the mists of educational error, and
enables us to do justice, even to the injurer; and enlarges and
ennobles our feelings towards one another; till we can attain that
perfection of true, spiritual charity, which would look on all men as
children of one common parent. Liable, indeed, to be led astray by
evil inclination, and yet more by evil circumstances; but still our
brethren, in the divine part of our nature; which, however crushed,
hidden, lost to earth, is still existing--still undying. For such is
the immortal likeness of our universal Father; in which He made man,
and by which He marked mankind as brethren!

Marie's answer was as Father Denis feared. She had pondered on all
he had said, and the dread alternative awaiting her; but the
impossibility of embracing Catholicism was stronger than ever. The
unfeigned distress of the old monk pained and alarmed her, for it
seemed to her as if he were conscious that some dreadful doom was
hanging over her, which he shrunk from revealing. She had not long to
remain in that torturing suspense: a few hours later in the same day,
she was summoned to Isabella's presence. The sensation of terror was
so intense as to render obedience, for the minute, utterly impossible.
Every limb shook, and again came the wild longing for power to believe
as they desired; for a momentary cessation of the voice of conscience,
to embrace the proffered cross, and be at rest. But it _would not_
cease; and, scarcely able to support herself, she stood before the
dread Princess in whose hand was her earthly fate.



CHAPTER XXXII.

            "She clasped her hands"!--the strife
  Of love--faith--fear, and the vain dream of life,
  Within her woman-heart so deeply wrought--
  It seemed as if a reed, so slight and weak,
  _Must_, in the rending storm, not quiver only--break!

  MRS. HEMANS.


Isabella's expressive countenance was grave and calm; but it was
impossible to doubt the firmness of her purpose, though what that
purpose might be, Marie had no power to read. She stood leaning
against the back of one of the ponderous chairs; her head bent down,
and her heart so loudly and thickly throbbing that it choked her very
breath.

"We have summoned thee hither, Marie," the Queen said at length,
gravely, but not severely, "to hear from thine own lips the decision
which Father Denis has reported to us; but which, indeed, we can
scarcely credit. Wert thou other than thou art--one whose heavy trials
and lovable qualities have bound thee to us with more than common
love--we should have delivered thee over at once to the judgment of
our holy fathers, and interfered with their sentence no farther. We
are exposing ourselves to priestly censure even for the forbearance
already shown; but we will dare even that, to win thee from thine
accursed creed, and give thee peace and comfort. Marie canst _thou_
share the ingratitude--the obstinacy--of thy benighted race, that even
with thee we must deal harshly? Compel me not to a measure from which
my whole heart revolts. Do not let me feel that the charge against thy
people is true, without even one exception, and that kindness shown to
them, is unvalued as unfelt."

A convulsive sob was the sole reply. Marie's face was buried in her
hands; but the tears were streaming through her slender fingers, and
her slight figure shook with the paroxysm.

"Nay, Marie, we ask not tears. We demand the proof of grateful
affection on thy part; not its weak display. And what is that proof?
The acceptance of a faith without which there can be no security
in this life, nor felicity hereafter! The rejection of a fearfully
mistaken--terribly accursed--creed; condemning its followers to the
scorn and hate of man, and abiding wrath of God."

"'To the scorn and hate of man?' Alas, gracious Sovereign, it is
even so; but not to the 'abiding wrath of God,'" answered Marie,
suppressing with a desperate effort, her painful emotion. "The very
scorn and loathing we encounter confirms the blessed truth, of our
having been the chosen children of our God, and the glorious promise
of our future restoration. We are enduring now on earth the effects of
the fearful sins of our ancestors; but for those who live and die true
to His law, there is a future after death laid up with Him; that, how
may we forfeit for transitory joy?"

"If it were indeed so, we would be the last to demand such forfeit,"
answered the Queen; "but were it not for the blinding veil of wilful
rejection cast over the eyes and hearts of thy people, thou wouldst
know and feel, that however thy race were _once_ the chosen of God,
the distinction has been lost for ever, by their blaspheming rejection
of Jesus and his virgin mother; and the misery--its consequence--on
earth, is but a faint type of that misery which is for everlasting. It
is from this we would save thee. Father Denis has brought before thee
the solemn truths which our sainted creed advances, in reply to the
mystifying fallacies of thine; and, he tells me, wholly without
effect. My arguments, then, can be of such little weight, that I have
pledged myself to my confessor to attempt none. We summoned thee
merely to tell our decision in this matter; of too vital importance
to be left to other lips. Once more let me ask--and understand thee
rightly!--have all the Holy Father's lessons failed to convince, even
as all our affection has failed to move, thee?"

"Would--would to Heaven I could believe as thou demandest!" answered
Marie. "Would that those lessons had brought conviction! The bitter
agony of your Grace's displeasure--of feeling that, while my heart so
throbs and swells with grateful devotion that I would gladly die to
serve thee, yet the proof thou demandest I _cannot_ give; and I must
go down to an early grave, leaving with thee the sole impression that
thou hadst cherished a miserable ingrate, whom, even as thou hast
loved, so thou must now hate and scorn. Oh, madam! try me by other
proof! My creed may be the mistaken one it seems to thee; but, oh!
it is no garment we may wear and cast off at pleasure. Have mercy,
gracious Sovereign! condemn me not as reprobate--hardened--more
insensible than the veriest cur, who is grateful for the kindness of
his master!--because I love my faith better even than thy love--the
dearest earthly joy now left me."

"Methinks scarcely the dearest," replied Isabella, affected, in spite
of her every effort for control; "but of that here after. Marie, I
have pledged myself to my confessor, not to let this matter rest. He
has told me that my very affection for thee is a snare, and must
be sacrificed if it interfere with my duty; not alone as member of
Christ's church, but as Sovereign of a Catholic realm, whose bounden
duty it is to purge away all heresy and misbelief. I feel that he is
right, and, cost what it may, Christ's dictates must be obeyed. The
years of fraud--of passing for what thou wert not--I forgive, for thy
noble husband's sake; but my confessor has told me, and I feel its
truth, that if we allow thy return to thy people as thou art now, we
permit a continuance of such unnatural unions, encourage fraud,
and expose our subjects to the poisonous taint of Jewish blood and
unbelief. A Christian thou must become. The plan we have decided upon
must bring conviction at last; but it will be attended with such
long years of mental and physical suffering, that we shrink from the
alternative, and only thine own obstinacy will force us to adopt it."

She paused for above a minute; but though Marie's very lips had
blanched, and her large eyes were fixed in terror on the Queen's face,
there was no answer.

"Thou hast more than once alluded to death," Isabella continued,
her voice growing sterner; "but, though such may be the punishment
demanded, we cannot so completely banish regard as to expose thy soul,
as well as body, to undying flames. Thou hast heard, perchance, of
holy sisterhoods, who, sacrificing all of earthly joys and earthly
ties, devote themselves as the willing brides of Christ, and pass
their whole lives in acts of personal penance, mortification,
self-denial, and austerity; which to all, save those impelled try this
same lofty enthusiasm, would be unendurable. The convent of St. Ursula
is the most strictly rigid and unpitying of this sternly rigid school;
and there, if still thou wilt not retract, thou wilt be for life
immured, to learn that reverence, that submission, that belief,
which thou refusest now. Ponder well on all the suffering which this
sentence must comprise. It is even to us--a Christian--so dreadful,
that we would not impose it, could we save thy deluded spirit by any
other means. The Abbess, from the strict and terrible discipline of
long years, has conquered every womanly weakness; and to a Jewess
placed under her charge, to be brought a penitent to the bosom of
the Virgin, is not likely to decrease the severity of treatment and
discipline, the portion even of her own. Once delivered to her charge,
we interfere no further. Whatever she may command--short of actual
torture, or death--thou must endure. Marie! wilt thou tempt a doom
like this? In mercy to thyself, retract ere it be too late!"

"If I can bear the loss of thy favor, my Sovereign, I can bear this,"
replied Marie, slowly and painfully. "There is more suffering in the
thought, that your Grace's love is lost for ever; that I shall never
see your Highness more; and thou must ever think of me as only a
wretched, feelingless ingrate, than in all the bodily and mental
anguish such a life may bring."

"Marie!" exclaimed Isabella, with an irrepressible burst of natural
feeling. And Marie had darted forwards, and was kneeling at her feet,
and covering her hand with tears and kisses, ere she had power to
forcibly subdue the emotion and speak again.

"This must not be," she said at length; but she did not withdraw the
hand which Marie still convulsively clasped, and, half unconsciously
it seemed, she put back the long, black tresses, which had fallen over
her colorless cheek, looked sadly in that bowed face, and kissed
her brow. "It is the last," she murmured to herself. "It may be
the effects of sorcery--it may be sin; but if I do penance for the
weakness, it must have way."

"Thou hast heard the one alternative," she continued aloud; "now hear
the other. We have thought long, and watched well, some means of
effectually obliterating the painful memories of the past, and making
thy life as happy as it has been sad. We have asked and received
permission from our confessor to bring forward a temporal inducement
for a spiritual end; that even the affections themselves may be made
conducive to turning a benighted spirit from the path of death into
that of life; and, therefore, we may proceed more hopefully. Marie! is
there not a love thou valuest even more than mine? Nay, attempt not
to deny a truth, which we have known from the hour we told thee that
Arthur Stanley was thy husband's murderer. What meant those wild words
imploring me to save him? For what was the avowal of thy faith, but
that thy witness should not endanger him? Why didst thou return to
danger when safety was before thee?--peril thine own life but to save
his? Answer me truly: thou lovest Stanley, Marie?"

"I have loved him, gracious Sovereign."

"And thou dost no longer? Marie, methinks there would be less wrong
in loving now, than when we first suspected it," rejoined the Queen,
gravely.

"Alas! my liege, who may school the heart? He was its first--first
affection! But, oh! my Sovereign, I never wronged my noble husband. He
knew it all ere he was taken from me, and forgave and loved me still;
and, oh! had he been but spared, even memory itself would have lost
its power to sting. His trust, his love, had made me all--all his
own!"

"I believe thee, my poor child; but how came it that, loving Stanley,
thy hand was given to Morales?"

For the first time, the dangerous ground on which she stood flashed on
the mind of Marie; and her voice faltered as she answered--"My father
willed it, Madam."

"Thy father! And was he of thy faith, yet gave his child to one of
us?"

"He was dying, Madam, and there was none to protect his Marie. He
loved and admired him to whom he gave me; for Ferdinand had never
scorned nor persecuted us. He had done us such good service that my
father sought to repay him; but he would accept nothing but my hand,
and swore to protect my faith--none other would have made such
promise. I was weak, I know, and wrong; but I dared not then confess I
loved another. And, once his wife, it was sin even to think of Arthur.
Oh, Madam! night and day I prayed that we might never meet, till all
of love was conquered."

"Poor child," replied Isabella, kindly. "But, since thou wert once
more free, since Stanley was cleared of even the suspicion of guilt,
has no former feeling for him returned! He loves thee, Marie, with
such faithful love as in man I have seldom seen equalled; why check
affection now?"

"Alas! my liege, what may a Jewess be to him; or his love to me, save
as the most terrible temptation to estrange me from my God?"

"Say rather to gently lure thee to Him, Marie," replied Isabella,
earnestly. "There is a thick veil between thy heart and thy God now;
let the love thou bearest this young Englishman be the blessed means
of removing it, and bringing thee to the sole source of salvation, the
Saviour Stanley worships. One word--one little word--from thee, and
thou shalt be Stanley's wife! His own; dearer than ever from the
trials of the past. Oh! speak it, Marie! Let me feel I have saved thee
from everlasting torment, and made this life--in its deep, calm joy--a
foretaste of the heaven that, as a Christian, will await thee above.
Spare Stanley--aye, and thy Sovereign--the bitter grief of losing thee
for ever!"

"Would--would I could!" burst wildly from the heart-stricken Marie;
and she wrung her hands in that one moment of intense agony, and
looked up in the Queen's face, with an expression of suffering
Isabella could not meet. "Would that obedience, conviction, could come
at will! His wife?--Stanley's. To rest this desolate heart on his? To
weep upon his bosom?--feel his arm around me?--his love protect me? To
be his--all his? And only on condition of speaking one little word?
Oh! why can I not speak it? Why will that dread voice sound within,
telling me I dare not--cannot--for I do not believe? How dare I take
the Christians's vow, embrace the cross, and in my heart remain a
Jewess still?"

"Embrace the cross, and conviction will follow," replied the Queen.
"This question we have asked of Father Tomas, and been assured that
the vows of baptism once taken, grace will be found from on high; and
to the _heart_, as well as _lip_, conversion speedily ensue.
Forswear the blaspheming errors of thy present creed--consent to be
baptized--and that very hour sees thee Stanley's wife!"

"No, no, no!--Oh! say not such words again! My liege, my gracious
liege, tempt not this weak spirit more!" implored Marie, in fearful
agitation. "Oh! if thou hast ever loved me, in mercy spare me this!"

"In mercy is it that we do thus speak, unhappy girl." replied
Isabella, with returning firmness; for she saw the decisive moment had
come. "We have laid both alternatives before thee; it rests with thee
alone to make thine own election. Love on earth and joy in Heaven,
depends upon one word: refuse to speak it, and thou knowest thy doom!"

It was well, perhaps, for Marie's firmness, that the Queen's appealing
tone had given place to returning severity; it recalled the departing
strength--the sinking energy--the power once more to _endure!_ For
several minutes there was no sound: Marie had buried her face in her
hands, and remained--half kneeling, half crouching--on the cushion at
the Queen's feet, motionless as stone; and Isabella--internally as
agitated as herself--was, under the veil of unbending sternness,
struggling for control. The contending emotions sweeping over that
frail woman-heart in that fearful period of indecision we pretend not
to describe: again and again the terrible temptation came, to say but
the desired word, and happiness was hers--such intense happiness, that
her brain reeled beneath its thought of ecstasy; and again and again
it was driven back by that thrilling voice--louder than ever in its
call--to remain faithful to her God. It was a fearful contest; and
when she did look up, Isabella started; so terribly was its index
inscribed on those white and chiselled features.

She rose slowly, and stood before the Sovereign, her hands tightly
clasped together, and the veins on her forehead raised like cords
across it. Three times she tried to speak; but only unintelligible
murmurs came, and her lips shook as with convulsion. "It is over,"
she said at length, and her usually sweet voice sounded harsh and
unnatural. "The weakness is conquered, gracious Sovereign, condemn,
scorn, hate me as thou wilt, thou must: I must endure it till my
heart breaks, and death brings release; but the word thou demandest I
_cannot_ speak! Thy favor, Arthur's love, I resign them all! 'Tis the
bidding of my God, and he will strengthen me to bear it. Imprison,
torture, slay, with the lingering misery of a broken heart, but I
cannot deny my faith!"

Disappointed, grieved, as she was at this unexpected reply, Isabella
was too much an enthusiast in religion herself not to understand the
feeling which dictated it; and much as she still abhorred the faith,
the martyr spirit which could thus immolate the most fervid, the
most passionate emotions of woman's nature at the shrine of her God,
stirred a sympathetic chord in her own heart, and so moved her, that
the stern words she had intended to speak were choked within her.

"We must summon those then to whose charge we are pledged to commit
thee," she said with difficulty; and hastily rung a silver bell beside
her. "We had hoped such would not have been needed; but, as it is--"

She paused abruptly; for the hangings were hastily pushed aside, and,
instead of the stern figure of Torquemada, who was to have obeyed the
signal, the Infanta Isabella eagerly entered; and ran up to the Queen,
with childish and caressing glee at being permitted to rejoin her.
The confessor--not imagining his presence would be needed, or that he
would return to his post in time--had restlessly obeyed the summons of
a brother prelate, and, in some important clerical details, forgot the
mandate of his Sovereign.

Marie saw the softened expression of the Queen's face; the ineffectual
effort to resist her child's caresses, and retain her sternness: and,
with a sudden impulse, she threw herself at her feet.

"Oh! do not turn from me, my Sovereign!" she implored, wildly clasping
Isabella's knees. "I ask nothing--nothing, but to return to my
childhood's home, and die there! I ask not to return to my people; they
would not receive me, for I have dared to love the stranger; but in my
own isolated home, where but two aged retainers of my father dwell, I
can do harm to none--mingle with none; let me bear a breaking heart for
a brief--brief while; and rest beside my parents. I will swear to thee
never to quit that place of banishment--swear never more to mingle with
either thy people or with mine--to be as much lost to man, as if the
grave had already closed over me, or convent walls immured me! Oh,
Madam! grant me but this! Will it not be enough of suffering to give up
Arthur?--to tear myself from thy cherishing love?--to bear my misery
alone? Leave me, oh! leave me but my faith--the sole joy, sole hope, now
left me! Give me not up to the harsh, and cruel father--the stern mother
of St. Ursula! If I can sacrifice love, kindness--all that would make
earth a heaven--will harshness gain thine end? Plead for me," she
continued, addressing the infant-princess, who, as if affected by the
grief she beheld, had left her mother to cling round Marie caressingly;
"plead for me, Infanta! Oh, Madam! the fate of war might place this
beloved and cherished one in the hands of those who regard thy faith
even as thou dost mine; were such an alternative proffered, how wouldst
thou she should decide? My Sovereign, my gracious Sovereign, oh, have
mercy!"

"Mamma! dear Mamma!" repeated the princess at the same moment, and
aware that her intercession was required, though unable to comprehend
the wherefore, she clasped her little hands entreatingly; "grant poor
Marie what she wishes! You have told me a Queen's first duty is to be
kind and good; and do all in her power to make others happy. Make her
happy, dear Mamma, she has been so sad!"

The appeal to Isabella's nature was irresistible; she caught her child
to her heart, and burst into passionate tears.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

                        "I will have vengeance!
  I'll crush thy swelling pride! I'll still thy vaunting!
  I'll do a deed of blood!
                         Now all idle forms are over--
  Now open villany, now open hate--
  Defend thy life!"

  JOANNA BAILLIE.

  "Let me but look upon 'her' face once more--
  Let me but say farewell, my soul's beloved,
  And I will bless thee still."

  MRS. HEMANS.


Some time had elapsed since King Ferdinand and his splendid army had
quitted Saragossa. He himself had not as yet headed any important
expedition, but fixing his head-quarters at Seville, dispatched thence
various detachments under experienced officers, to make sallies on the
Moors, who had already enraged the Christian camp by the capture of
Zahara. Arthur Stanley was with the Marquis of Cadiz, when this insult
was ably avenged by the taking of Albania, a most important post,
situated within thirty miles of the capital. The Spaniards took
possession of the city, massacred many of the inhabitants, placed
strong restrictions on those who surrendered, and strongly garrisoned
every tower and fort. Nor were they long inactive: the Moors resolved
to retake what they considered the very threshold of their capital;
hastily assembled their forces, and regularly entered upon the siege.

While at Seville, the camp of Ferdinand had been joined by several
foreign chevaliers, amongst whom was an Italian knight, who had
excited the attention and curiosity of many of the younger Spaniards
from the mystery environing him. He was never seen without his armor.
His helmet always closed, keeping surlily aloof, he never mingled in
the brilliant jousts and tournaments of the camp, except when Arthur
Stanley chanced to be one of the combatants: he was then sure to be
found in the lists, and always selected the young Englishman as his
opponent. At first this strange pertinacity was regarded more as a
curious coincidence than actual design; but it occurred so often, that
at length it excited remark. Arthur himself laughed it off, suggesting
that the Italian had perhaps some grudge against England, and wished
to prove the mettle of her sons. The Italian deigned no explanation,
merely saying that he supposed the Spanish jousts were governed by the
same laws as others, and he was therefore at liberty to choose his own
opponent. But Arthur was convinced that some cause existed for this
mysterious hostility. Not wishing to create public confusion, he
contended himself by keeping a watch upon his movements. He found,
however, that he did not watch more carefully than he was watched,
and incensed at length, he resolved on calling his enemy publicly to
account for his dishonorable conduct. This, however, he found much
easier in theory than practice. The wily Italian, as if aware of his
intentions, skilfully eluded them; and as weeks passed without any
recurrence of their secret attacks. Stanley, guided by his own frank
and honorable feelings, believed his suspicions groundless, and
dismissed them altogether. On the tumultuary entrance of the
Spaniards, however, these suspicions were re-excited. Separated by the
press of contending warriors from the main body of his men, Stanley
plunged headlong into the thickest battalion of Moors, intending to
cut his way through them to the Marquis of Cadiz, who was at that
moment entering the town. His unerring arm and lightness of movement
bore him successfully onward. A very brief space divided him from his
friends: the spirited charger on which he rode, cheered by his hand
and voice, with one successful bound cleared the remaining impediments
in his way, but at that moment, with a piercing cry of suffering,
sprung high in the air and fell dead, nearly crushing his astonished
master with his weight. Happily for Stanley, the despairing anguish of
the Moors at that moment at its height, from the triumphant entry of
the Spaniards into their beloved Albania, aggravated by the shrieks
of the victims in the unsparing slaughter, effectually turned the
attention of those around him from his fall. He sprung up, utterly
unable to account for the death of his steed: the dastard blow had
been dealt from behind, and no Moor had been near but those in front.
He looked hastily round him: a tall figure was retreating through the
thickening _melée_, whose dull, red armor, and deep, black plume,
discovered on the instant his identity. Arthur's blood tingled with
just indignation, and it was with difficulty that he restrained
himself from following, and demanding on the instant, and at the
sword's point, the meaning of the deed.

The sudden start, and muttered execration of the Italian, as Stanley
joined the victorious group around the Marquis, convinced him that his
reappearance, and unhurt, was quite contrary to his mysterious enemy's
intention. The exciting events of the siege which followed, the
alternate hope and fear of the Spaniards, reduced to great distress
by the Moors having succeeded in turning the course of a river which
supplied the city with water, and finally, the timely arrival of
succors under the Duke of Medina Sidonia, which compelled the Moors to
raise the siege and disperse--the rejoicing attendant on so great and
almost unexpected a triumph, all combined to prevent any attention to
individual concerns. The Italian had not crossed Arthur's path again,
except in the general attack or defence; and Stanley found the
best means of conquering his own irritation towards such secret
machinations, was to treat them with indifference and contempt.

The halls of Alhama were of course kept strongly manned; and a guard,
under an experienced officer, constantly occupied the summit of a
lofty tower, situated on a precipitous height which commanded a
view of the open country for miles, and overlooked the most distant
approach of the Moors. As was usual to Moorish architecture, the tower
had been erected on a rock, which on one side shelved down so straight
and smooth, as to appear a continuance of the tower-wall, but forming
from the battlements a precipice some thousand feet in depth. The
strongest nerve turned sick and giddy to look beneath, and the side of
the tower overlooking it was almost always kept unguarded.

It was near midnight when Stanley, who was that night on command,
after completing his rounds, and perceiving every sentinel on duty,
found himself unconsciously on the part of the tower we have named.
So pre-occupied was his mind, that he looked beneath him without
shrinking; and then retracing his steps some twenty or thirty yards
from the immediate and unprotected edge, wrapped his mantle closely
round him, and lying down, rested his head on his arm, and permitted
the full dominion of thought. He was in that dreamy mood, when the
silence and holiness of nature is so much more soothing than even the
dearest sympathy of man; when every passing cloud and distant star,
and moaning wind, speaks with a hundred tongues, and the immaterial
spirit holds unconscious commune with beings invisible, and immaterial
as itself. Above his head, heavy clouds floated over the dark azure of
the heavens, sometimes totally obscuring the mild light of the full
moon; at others merely shrouding her beams in a transparent veil,
from which she would burst resplendently, sailing majestically along,
seeming the more light and lovely from the previous shade. One
brilliant planet followed closely on her track, and as the dark masses
of clouds would rend asunder, portions of the heavens, studded with
glittering stars, were visible, seeming like the gemmed dome of some
mighty temple, whose walls and pillars, shrouded in black drapery,
were lost in the distance on either side. Gradually, Stanley's
thoughts became indistinct; the stars seemed to lose their radiance,
as covered by a light mist; a dark cloud appearing, in his half
dormant fancy, to take the gigantic proportions of a man, hovered on
the battlement. It became smaller and smaller, but still it seemed
a cloud, through which the moonlight gleamed; but a thrill passed
through him, as if telling of some impalpable and indefinable object
of dread. With a sudden effort he shook off the lethargy of half
sleep, and sprung to his feet, at the very moment a gleaming sword was
pointed at his throat. "Ha, villain! at thy murderous work again!" he
exclaimed, and another moment beheld him closed in deadly conflict
with his mysterious foe. A deep and terrible oath, and then a mocking
laugh, escaped his adversary; and something in those sounds, nerved
Stanley's arms with resistless power: he was sure he could not be
mistaken, and he fought, not with the unguarded desire of one eager
to obtain satisfaction for personal injury--but he was calm, cool,
collected, as threefold an avenger. For once, the demon-like caution
of the supposed Italian deserted him: discovery was inevitable, and
his sole aim was to compass the death of the hated foreigner with his
own. He tried gradually to retreat to the very edge of the precipice,
and Stanley's calm and cautious avoidance of the design lashed him
into yet fiercer desperation. Thick and fast, fell those tremendous
blows. The Italian had the advantage in height and size, Stanley in
steady coolness and prudent guard; the Italian sought only to slay his
adversary, caring not to defend himself; Arthur evidently endeavored
merely to unhelm the traitor, and bring him but slightly wounded to
the ground. For several minutes there was no cessation in that fearful
clash of steel; the strokes were so rapid, so continued, a hundred
combatants might have seemed engaged. A moment they drew back, as if
to breathe; the Italian, with a despairing effort, raised his weapon
and sprung forwards; Arthur lightly leaped aside, and the murderous
stroke clove but the yielding earth. Another second, and ere the
Italian had regained his equilibrium, Arthur's sword had descended
with so true and sure a stroke that the clasp of the helmet gave way,
the dark blood bubbled up from the cloven brow, he reeled and fell;
and a long, loud shout from the officers and soldiers, who, at the
sound of arms, had flocked round, proclaimed some stronger feeling
than simply admiration of Stanley's well-known prowess.

"Seize him! seize him! or by Heaven he will escape us yet!" were among
the few words intelligible. "The daring villain, to come amongst us!
Did he think for ever to elude Heaven's vengeance? Bind, fetter, hold
him; or his assistant fiends will release him still!"

Fiercely the fallen man had striven to extricate himself; but
Stanley's knee moved not from his breast, nor his sword from his
throat, until a strong guard had raised and surrounded him: "but the
horrible passions imprinted on those lived features were such, that
his very captors turned away shuddering.

"Hadst thou not had enough of blood and crime, thou human monster,
that thou wouldst stain thy already blackened soul with, another
midnight murder?" demanded Stanley, as he sternly confronted his
baffled foe. "Don Luis Garcia, as men have termed thee, what claim
have I on thy pursuing and unchanging hate? With what dost thou charge
me? What wrong?"

"Wrong!" hoarsely and fiercely repeated Don Louis. "The wrong of
baffled hate; of success, when I planned thy downfall; of escape,
when I had sworn thy death! Did the drivelling idiots, who haunted,
persecuted, excommunicated me from these realms, as some loathed
reptile, dream that I would draw back from my sworn vengeance for such
as they? Poor, miserable fools, whom the first scent of danger would
turn aside from the pursuit of hate! I staked my life on thine, and
the stake is lost; but what care I? My hate shall follow thee; wither
thy bones with its curse; poison every joy; blight every hope; rankle
in thy life blood! Bid thee seek health, and bite the dust for anguish
because it flies thee! And for me. Ha, ha! Men may think to judge
me--torture, triumph, slay! Well, let them." And with a movement so
sudden and so desperate, that to avert it was impossible, he burst
from the grasp of his guards; and with one spring, stood firm and
triumphant on the farthest edge of the battlement. "Now follow me who
dares!" he exclaimed; and, with a fearful mocking laugh; flung himself
headlong down, ere the soldiers had recovered his first sudden
movement. Stanley alone retained presence of mind sufficient to dart
forward, regardless of his own imminent danger, in the vain hope of
arresting the leap; but quick as were his movements, he only reached
the brink in time to see the wretched man, one moment quivering in
air, and lost the next in a dark abyss of shade.

A cry of mingled disappointment, horror, and execration, burst from
all around; and several of the soldiers hastened from the battlements
to the base of the rock, determined on fighting the arch-fiend
himself, if, as many of them firmly believed, he had rendered Don Luis
invulnerable to air, and would wait there to receive him. But even
this heroic resolution was disappointed: the height was so tremendous,
and the velocity of the fall so frightful, that the action of the air
had not only deprived him of life, but actually loosed the limbs from
the trunk, and a fearfully mangled corpse was all that remained to
glut the vengeance of the infuriated soldiers.

The confusion and excitement attending this important event, spread
like wildfire; not only over Albania, but reaching to the Duke's camp
without the city. To send off the momentous information to the
King, was instantly decided upon; and young Stanley, as the person
principally concerned, selected for the mission.

Ferdinand was astonished and indignant, and greatly disappointed
that justice had been so eluded; but that such a monster, whose
machinations seemed, in their subtlety and secrecy, to prevent all
defeat, no longer cumbered Spain, was in itself a relief so great both
to monarch and people, as after the first burst of indignation to
cause universal rejoicings.

It so happened that Ferdinand had been desirous of Stanley's presence
for some weeks; letters from Isabella, some little time previous, had
expressed an earnest desire for the young man's return to Saragossa,
if only for a visit of a few days. This was then impossible. Three
months had elapsed since Isabella's first communication; within the
last two she had not again reverted to Stanley; but the King, thinking
she had merely refrained from doing so, because of its present
impossibility, gladly seized the opportunity of his appearance at
Seville, to dispatch him, as envoy extraordinary, on both public and
private business, to the court of Arragon.

Isabella was surrounded by her ministers and nobles when Stanley
was conducted to her presence; she received him with cordiality and
graciousness, asked many and eager questions concerning her husband
and the progress of his arms, entered minutely into the affair of Don
Luis, congratulated him on his having been the hand destined to unmask
the traitor and bring him low; gave her full attention on the instant
to the communications from the King, with which he was charged;
occupied some hours in earnest and thoughtful deliberation with her
counsel, which, on perusal of the King's papers, she had summoned
directly. And yet, through all this, Arthur fancied there was an even
unusual degree of sympathy and kindliness in the tone and look with
which she addressed him individually; but he felt intuitively it
was sympathy with sorrow, not with joy. He was convinced that his
unexpected presence had startled and almost grieved her; and why
should this be, if she had still the hope with which she had so
infused his spirit, when they had parted. His heart, so full of
elasticity a few hours previous, sunk chilled and pained within him,
and it was with an effort impossible to have been denied, had it not
been for the Queen's _unspoken_ but real sympathy; he roused himself
sufficiently to execute his mission.

But Isabella was too much the true and feeling woman, to permit the
day to close without the private interview she saw Stanley needed;
reality, sad as it was, she felt would be better than harrowing
suspense; and, in a few kindly words, the tale was told.

"I should have known it!" he exclaimed, when the first shock of bitter
disappointment permitted words. "My own true, precious Marie! How
dared I dream that for me thou wouldst sacrifice thy faith; all, all
else--joy, hope, strength; aye, life itself--but not thy God! Oh,
Madam," he continued, turning passionately to the Queen, "thou hast
not condemned her to misery for this! Thou hast not revoked thy former
heavenly mercy, and delivered her over to the stern fathers of our
holy church? No, no! Isabella could not have done this!"

"Nor have we," replied the Queen, so mildly that Arthur flung himself at
her feet, conjuring her to pardon his disrespectful words. "Give her to
thee, without retracting her fearful misbelief, indeed we dared not, but
further misery has not been inflicted. We have indeed done penance for
our weakness, severe penance; for Father Tomas asserts that we have most
grievously sinned; and more, have pledged ourselves most solemnly, that
what he may counsel for the entire uprooting of this horrible heresy,
and accursed race, shall be followed, cost what it may, politically or
privately; but to refuse the last boon of the unhappy girl, who had so
strangely, perchance so bewilderingly, wound herself about my
heart--Stanley, I must have changed my nature first!"

"Her last boon! Gracious Sovereign--"

"Nay, her last to her Sovereign, my friend. It may be that even yet
her errors may be abjured, and grace be granted in her solitude, to
become in this world as the next, what we have prayed for; but we dare
not hope it; nor must thou. She besought permission to return to the
home of her childhood, pledging herself never to leave it, or mingle
with her people or ours more."

"And she is there! God in Heaven bless, reward your Highness for the
mercy!" burst impetuously from Arthur. "I trust she is, nay, I believe
it; for Jewess as she is, she would not pledge me false. In the garb
of the novice, as she saved thee, Father Denis conducted her to the
frontiers of Castile. More we know not, for we asked not the site of
her home."

There was a few minutes' pause, and then, with beseeching eloquence,
Arthur conjured the Sovereign to let him see her once, but once again.
He asked no more, but he felt as if he could not sustain the agony of
eternal separation, without one last, last interview. He pledged his
honor, that no temptation of a secret union should interfere with the
sentence of the Queen; that both would submit; only to permit them
once more to meet again.

Isabella hesitated, but not for long. Perhaps the secret hope arose
that Stanley's presence would effect that for which all else had
failed; or that she really could not resist his passionate pleadings.

"One word of retraction, and even now she is thine.--And I will bless
thee that thou gavest her to me again," she said in parting; but her
own spirit told her the hope was vain.

Half an hour after this agitating interview Arthur Stanley was again
on horseback, a deep hectic on either cheek; his eye bloodshot and
strained, traversing with the speed of lightning the open country, in
the direction of Castile.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

  "Oh! love, love, strong as death--from such an hour
  Pressing out joy by thine immortal power;
  Holy and fervent love! Had earth but rest
  For thee and thine, this world were all too fair:
  How could we thence be weaned to die without despair!

  "But woe for him who felt that heart grow still
    Which with its weight of agony had lain
  Breaking on his. Scarce could the mortal chill
    Of the hushed bosom, ne'er to heave again,
  And all the curdling silence round the eye,
  Bring home the stern belief that she could die."

  MRS. HEMANS.


The glowing light of a glorious sunset lingered on the Vale of Cedars,
displaying that calm and beautiful retreat in all the fair and rich
luxuriance of former years. Reuben and Ruth, the aged retainers of the
house of Henriquez, had made it their pride and occupation to preserve
the cherished retreat, lovely as it had been left. Nor were they its
only inmates; their daughter, her husband, and children, after various
struggles in the Christian world, had been settled in the Vale by the
benevolence of Ferdinand Morales--their sole duty, to preserve it in
such order, as to render it a fitting place of refuge for any who
should need it. Within the last twelve months, another inmate had been
added to them. Weary of his wanderings, and of the constant course of
deception which his apparent profession of a monk demanded, Julien
Morales had returned to the home of his childhood, there to fix
his permanent abode; only to make such excursions from it, as the
interests of his niece might demand. Her destiny was his sole anxious
thought. Her detention by Isabella convinced him that her disguise had
been penetrated, and filled him with solicitude for her spiritual, yet
more than her temporal welfare. Royal protection of a Jewess was
so unprecedented, that it could only argue the hope--nay, perhaps
conviction--of her final conversion. And the old man actually tried to
divorce the sweet image of his niece from his affections, so convinced
was he that her unhappy love for Arthur, combined with Isabella's
authority, and, no doubt, the threat of some terrible alternative
should she refuse, would compel her acceptance of the proffered cross,
and so sever them for ever. How little can man, even the most gentle
and affectionate, read woman!

It was the day completing the eleventh month after Don Ferdinand's
murder, when Julien Morales repaired earlier than usual to the little
temple, there to read the service for the dead appointed for the day,
and thence proceeded to his nephew's grave. An unusual object, which
had fallen on, or was kneeling beside the grave, caught his eye, and
impelled him to quicken his pace. His heart throbbed as he recognized
the garb of a novice, and to such a degree as almost to deprive him of
all power, as in the white, chiselled features, resting on the cold,
damp sod, he recognized his niece, and believed, for the first
agonizing moment, that it was but clay resting against clay; and that
the sweet, pure spirit had but guided her to that grave and flown. But
death for a brief interval withdrew his grasp; though his shaft had
reached her, and no human hand could draw it back. Father Denis had
conducted her so carefully and tenderly to the frontiers of Castile,
that she had scarcely felt fatigue, and encountered no exposure to the
elements; but when he left her, her desire to reach her home became
stronger, with the seeming physical incapacity to do so. Her spirit
gave way, and mental and bodily exhaustion followed. The season was
unusually damp and tempestuous, and, though scarcely felt at the time,
sowed the seeds of cold and decline, from which her naturally good
constitution might, in the very midst of her trials, otherwise have
saved her. Her repugnance to encounter the eyes or speech of her
fellows, lest her disguise should be penetrated, caused her to shrink
from entering any habitation, except for the single night which
intervened, between the period of the father's leaving her and her
reaching the secret entrance to the Vale. Her wallet provided her with
more food than her parched throat could swallow; and for the consuming
thirst, the fresh streams that so often bubbled across her path, gave
her all she needed. The fellowship of man, then, was unrequited,
and, as the second night fell, so comparatively short a distance lay
between her and her home, that buoyed up by the desire to reach it,
she was not sensible of her utter exhaustion, till she stood within
the little graveyard of the Vale; and the moon shining softly and
clearly on the headstones, disclosed to her the grave of her husband.
She was totally ignorant that he had been borne there; and the rush
of feeling which came over her, as she read his name--the memories of
their happy, innocent, childhood, of all his love for her--that had he
been but spared, all the last year's misery might have been averted,
for she would have loved him, ay, even as he loved her; and he would
have guarded, saved--so overpowered her, that she had sunk down upon
the senseless earth which covered him, conscious only of the wild,
sickly longing, like him to flee away and be at rest. She had reached
her home; exertion no longer needed, the unnatural strength, ebbed
fast, and the frail tenement withered, hour by hour, away. And how
might Julien mourn! Her work on earth was done. Young, tried, frail
as she was, she had been permitted to show forth the glory, the
sustaining glory, of her faith, by a sacrifice whose magnitude was
indeed apparent, but whose depth and intensity of suffering, none knew
but Him for whom it had been made. She had been preserved from the
crime--if possible more fearful in the mind of the Hebrew than any
other--apostacy: and though the first conviction, that she was indeed
"passing away" even from his affection, was fraught with absolute
anguish, yet her uncle could not, dared not pray for life on earth.
And in the peace, the calm, the depth, of quietude which gradually
sunk on her heart, infusing her every word and look and gentle smile,
it was as if her spirit had already the foretaste of that blissful
heaven for which its wings were plumed. As the frame dwindled, the
expression of her sweet face became more and more unearthly in its
exquisite beauty, the mind more and more beatified, and the heart more
freed from earthly feeling. The reward of her constancy appeared in
part bestowed on earth, for death itself was revealed to her--not as
the King of Terrors, but as an Angel of Light, at whose touch the
lingering raiment of mortality would dissolve, and the freed soul
spring up rejoicing to its home.

It was the Feast of the Tabernacle and the Sabbath eve. The
tent--formed of branches of thick trees and fragrant shrubs--was
erected, as we have seen it in a former page, a short distance from
the temple. Marie's taste had once again, been consulted in its
decorations; her hand, feeble as it was, had twined the lovely
wreaths of luscious flowers and arranged the glowing fruit. With some
difficulty she had joined in the devotional service performed by her
uncle in the little temple--borne there in the arms of old Reuben, for
her weakness now prevented walking--and on the evening of the Sabbath
in the Festival, she reclined on one of the luxurious couches within
the tent, through the opening of which, she could look forth on the
varied beauties of the Vale, and the rich glorious hues dyeing the
western skies. The Sabbath lamps were lighted, but their rays were
faint and flickering in the still glowing atmosphere. A crimson ray
from the departing luminary gleamed through the branches, and a faint
glow--either from its reflection, or from that deceiving beauty, which
too often gilds the features of the dying--rested on Marie's features,
lighting up her large and lustrous eyes with unnatural brilliance. She
had been speaking earnestly of that life beyond the grave, belief in
which throughout her trials had been her sole sustainer. Julien had
listened, wrapt and almost awe-struck, so completely did it seem as if
the spirit, and not the mortal, spoke.

"And thine own trials, my beloved one," he said,--"Has the question
never come, why thou shouldst thus have been afflicted?"

"Often, very often, my father, and only within the last few weeks has
the full answer come; and I can say from my inmost heart, in the words
of Job, 'It is good that I have been afflicted,' and that I believe
all is well. While _on_ earth, we must be in some degree _of_ earth,
and bear the penalty of our earthly nature. The infirmities and
imperfections of that nature in others, as often as in ourselves,
occasion human misery, which our God, in his infinite love, permits,
to try our spirit's strength and faith, and so prepare us for that
higher state of being, in which the spirit will move and act, when
the earthly shell is shivered, and earthly infirmities are for ever
stilled. In the time of suffering we cannot think thus; but looking
back as I do now--when the near vicinity of another world bids me
regard my own past life almost as if it were another's--I feel it in
my inmost heart, and bless God for every suffering which has prepared
me thus early for his home. There is but one feeling, one wish
of earth, remaining," she continued, after a long pause of utter
exhaustion. "It is weak, perhaps, and wrong; but if--if Arthur could
but know that fatal secret which made me seem a worse deceiver than
I was--I know it cannot be, but it so haunts me. If I wedded one
Christian, may he not think there needed not this sacrifice--sacrifice
not of myself, but of his happiness. Oh! could I but--Hush! whose step
is that?" she suddenly interrupted herself; and with the effort of
strong excitement, started up, and laid her hand on her uncle's arm.

"Nay, my child, there is no sound," he replied soothingly, after
listening attentively for several moments.

"But there is. Hark, dost thou not hear it now? God of mercy! thou
hast heard my prayer--it is _his_!" she exclaimed, sinking powerlessly
back, at the moment that even Julien's duller ear had caught a rapid
step; and in another minute the branches were hastily pushed aside,
and Stanley indeed stood upon the threshold.

"Marie--and thus!" he passionately exclaimed; and flinging himself
on his knees beside her, he buried his face on her hand, and wept in
agony.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nearly an hour passed ere Marie could rally from the agitation of
Arthur's unexpected presence sufficiently to speak. She lay with her
hand clasped in his, and his arm around her--realizing, indeed, to the
full, the soothing consolation of his presence, but utterly powerless
to speak that for which she had so longed to see him once again. The
extent of her weakness had been unknown till that moment either to
her uncle or herself, and Julien watched over her in terror lest the
indefinable change which in that hour of stillness was perceptibly
stealing over her features should be indeed the dim shadow of death.
To Arthur speech was equally impossible, save in the scarcely
articulate expressions of love and veneration which he lavished on
her. What he had hoped in thus seeking her he could not himself have
defined. His whole soul was absorbed in the wild wish to see her
again, and the thoughts of death for her had never entered his heart.
The shock, then, had been terrible, and to realize the infinite mercy
which thus bade sorrow cease, was in such a moment impossible. He
could but gaze and clasp her closer and closer, yet, as if even death
should be averted by his love.

"Uncle Julien," she murmured, as she faintly extended her hand towards
him, "thou wilt not refuse to clasp hands with one who has so loved
thy Marie! And thou, Arthur, oh! scorn him not. Without him the
invisible dungeons of the Inquisition would have been my grave, and
thine that of a dishonored knight and suspected murderer."

The eyes of her companions met, and their hands were grasped in that
firm pressure, betraying unity of feeling, and reciprocal esteem,
which need no words.

"Raise me a little, dearest Arthur; uncle Julien" put back that
spreading bough. I would say something more, and the fresher air may
give me strength. Ah! the evening breeze is so fresh and sweet; it
always makes me feel as if the spirits of those we loved were hovering
near us. We hold much closer and dearer communion with the beloved
dead in the calm twilight than in the garish day. Arthur, dearest,
thou wilt think of me sometimes in an hour like this."

"When shall I not think of thee?" he passionately rejoined. "Oh,
Marie, Marie! I thought separation on earth the worst agony that could
befall me; but what--what is it compared to the eternal one of death?"

"No, no, not eternal, Arthur. In heaven I feel there is no distinction
of creed or faith; we shall all love God and one another there, and
earth's fearful distinctions can never come between us. I know such
is not the creed of thy people, nor of some of mine; but when thou
standest on the verge of eternity, as I do now, thou wilt feel this
too."

"How can I gaze on thee, and not believe it?" he replied. "The loudest
thunders of the church could not shake my trust in the purity of
heaven, which is thine."

"Because thou lovest, Arthur. Thy love for Marie is stronger than thy
hatred of her race; and, oh! if thou lovest thus, I know thou hast
forgiven."

"Forgiven!" he passionately reiterated.

"Yes, dearest Arthur. Is the past indeed so obliterated that the wrong
I did thee is forgotten even as forgiven? But, oh, Arthur! it was not
so unjustifiable as it seemed then. I dared not breathe the truth in
Isabella's court. I dare not whisper it now save to thee, who would
die rather than reveal it. Arthur, dearest Arthur, it was no Christian
whom I wedded. We had been betrothed from early childhood, though I
knew it not; and when the time came, I could not draw down on me a
father's curse, or dash with agony a heart that so cherished, so loved
me, by revelation of a truth which could avail me nothing, and would
bring him but misery. Ferdinand was my cousin--a child of Israel, as
myself."

"Now heaven bless thee for those words, my own, true, precious Marie!"
exclaimed Stanley, in strong emotion, and clasping her still closer,
he pressed his quivering lips to her forehead, starting in agony as he
marked the cold, damp dews which had gathered upon it, too truly
the index of departing life. He besought her to speak no more--the
exertion was exhausting her; she smiled faintly, drank of the reviving
draught which Julien proffered, and lay for a few minutes calm and
still.

"I am better now," she said, after an interval. "It was only the
excitement of speaking that truth, which I have so long desired to
reveal--to clear my memory from the caprice and inconstancy with which
even thy love must have charged me; and now, Arthur, promise me that
thou wilt not mourn me too long: that thou wilt strive to conquer the
morbid misery, which I know, if encouraged, will cloud thy whole life,
and unfit thee for the glorious career which must otherwise be thine.
Do not forget me wholly, love, but deem it not a duty to my memory
never to love again. Arthur, dearest, thou canst bestow happiness on
another, and one of thine own faith, even such happiness as to have
been thy wife would have given me. Do not reject the calm rest and
peacefulness, which such love will bring to thee, though now thou
feelest as if the very thought were loathing. She will speak to thee
of me; for Jewess as she knew me, she has loved and tended me in
suffering, and so wept my banishment, that my frozen tears had well
nigh flowed in seeing hers. Seek her in Isabella's court, and try to
love her, Arthur--if at first merely for my sake, it will soon, soon
be for her own."

Impressively and pleadingly, these words fell on Arthur's aching
heart, even at that moment when he felt to comply with them was and
must ever be impossible. When time had done its work, and softened
individual agony, they returned again and yet again; and at each
returning, seemed less painful to obey.

"And Isabella, my kind, loving, generous mistress," she continued,
after a very long pause, and her voice was so faint as scarcely
to make distinguishable the words, save for the still lingering
sweetness, and clearness of her articulation--"Oh! what can I say to
her? Arthur, dearest Arthur, thou must repay the debt of gratitude
I owe her. Her creed condemns, but her heart loves me--aye, still,
still! And better (though she cannot think so) than had I for earthly
joy turned traitor to my God. Oh, tell her how with my last breath I
loved and blessed her, Arthur; tell her we shall meet again, where
Jew and Gentile worship the same God! Oh that I could but have
proved--proved--How suddenly it has grown dark! Uncle Julien, is it
not time for the evening prayer?"

And her lips moved in the wordless utterance of the prayer for which
she had asked, forgetting it had some time before been said; and then
her head sunk lower and lower on Arthur's bosom, and there was no
sound. Twilight lingered, as loth to disappear, then deepened into
night, and the silver lamps within the tents brighter and more
brightly illumined the gloom; but Arthur moved not, suppressing even
his breath, lest he should disturb that deep and still repose. It was
more than an hour ere Julien Morales could realize the truth, and then
he gently endeavored to unclasp Arthur's almost convulsive hold, and
with, kindly force to lead him from the couch. The light of the lamp
fell full upon that sweet, sweet face; and, oh! never had it seemed so
lovely. The awful stillness of sculptured repose was indeed there; the
breath of life and its disturbing emotions had passed away, and nought
but the shrine remained. But like marble sculptured by God's hand,
that sweet face gleamed--seeming, in its perfect tracery, its heavenly
repose, to whisper even to the waves of agony, "Be still--my spirit is
with God!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Julien Morales and Arthur Stanley--the aged and the young--the Jewish
recluse and Christian warrior--knelt side by side on the cold earth,
which concealed the remains of one to both so inexpressibly dear. The
moonlit shrubs and spangled heaven alone beheld their mutual sorrow,
and the pale moon waned, and the stars gleamed paler and paler in the
first gray of dawn ere that vigil was concluded. And then both arose
and advanced to the barrier wall; the spring answered to the touch,
and the concealed door flew back. The young Christian turned, and
was folded to the heart of the Jew. The blessing of the Hebrew was
breathed in the ear of the Englishman, and Stanley disappeared.

Oh, love! thou fairest, brightest, most imperishable type of heaven!
what to thee are earth's distinctions? Alone in thy pure essence thou
standest, and every mere earthly feeling crouches at thy feet. And art
thou but this world's blessing? Oh! they have never loved who thus
believe. Love is the voice of God, Love is the rule of Heaven! As one
grain to the uncounted sands, as one drop to the unfathomed depths--is
the love of earth to that of heaven; but when the mortal shrine is
shivered, the minute particle will re-unite itself with its kindred
essence, to exist unshadowed and for ever.



CHAPTER XXXV.

  "Why then a final note prolong,
  Or lengthen out a closing song,
  Unless to bid the gentles speed
  Who long have listened to my rede?"

  SIR WALTER SCOTT.


The fickle sun of "merrie England" shone forth in unusual splendor;
and, as if resolved to bless the august ceremony on which it gazed,
permitted not a cloud to shadow the lustrous beams, which, darted
their floods of light through the gorgeous casements of Westminster
Abbey, in whose sacred precincts was then celebrating the bridal of
the young heir of England, with a fair and gentle daughter of Spain.
It was a scene to interest the coldest heart--not for the state and
splendor of the accoutrements, nor the high rank of the parties
principally concerned, nor for the many renowned characters of church,
state, and chivalry there assembled; it was the extreme youth and
touching expression, impressed on the features, of both bride and
bridegroom.

Neither Arthur, Prince of Wales, nor Catherine, Infanta of Arragon,
had yet numbered eighteen years, the first fresh season of joyous
life; but on neither countenance could be traced the hilarity and
thoughtlessness, natural to their age. The fair, transparent brow of
the young Prince, under which the blue veins could be clearly seen,
till lost beneath the rich chesnut curls, that parted on his brow,
fell loosely on either shoulder; the large and deep blue eye, which
was ever half concealed beneath the long, dark lash, as if some untold
languor caused the eyelid to droop so heavily; the delicate pink of
his downless cheek, the brilliant hue on his lips, even his peculiar
smile, all seemed to whisper the coming ill, that one so dear to
Englishmen would not linger with them to fulfil the sweet promise of
his youth.

Beauty is, perhaps, too strong a word to apply to the youthful bride.
It was the pensive sadness of her mild and pleasing features that so
attracted--natural enough to her position in a strange land, and the
thoughts of early severance from a mother she idolized, but recalled
some twenty years afterwards as the dim shadow of the sorrowing
future, glooming through the gay promise of the present. And there,
too, was Prince Henry, then only in his twelfth year, bearing in his
flashing eye and constantly varying expression of brow and mouth, true
index of those passions which were one day to shake Europe to the
centre; and presenting in his whole appearance a striking contrast
to his brother, and drawing around him, even while yet so young, the
hottest and wildest spirits of his father's court, who, while they
loved the person, scorned the gentle amusements of the Prince of
Wales.

Henry the Seventh and his hapless consort, Elizabeth of York, were, of
course, present--the one rejoicing in the conclusion of a marriage for
which he had been in treaty the last seven years, and which was at
last purchased at the cost of innocent blood; the other beholding only
her precious son, whose gentle and peculiarly domestic virtues, were
her sweetest solace for conjugal neglect and ill-concealed dislike.

Amongst the many noble Spaniards forming the immediate attendants of
the Infanta, had been one so different in aspect to his companions as
to attract universal notice; and not a few of the senior noblemen of
England had been observed to crowd round him whenever he appeared, and
evince towards him the most marked and pleasurable cordiality. His
thickly silvered hair and somewhat furrowed brow bore the impress
of some five-and-fifty years; but a nearer examination might have
betrayed, that sorrow more than years, had aged him, and full six,
or even ten years might very well be subtracted from the age which a
first glance supposed him. Why the fancy was taken that he was not a
Spaniard could not have been very easily explained; for his wife was
the daughter of the famous Pedro Pas, whose beauty, wit, and high
spirits were essentially Spanish, and was the Infanta's nearest and
most favored attendant; and he himself was constantly near her person,
and looked up to by the usually jealous Spaniards as even higher in
rank and importance that many of themselves. How, then, could he be a
foreigner? And marvel merged into the most tormenting curiosity, when,
on the bridal day of the Prince of Wales, though he still adhered to
the immediate train of the Princess, he appeared in the rich and full
costume of an English Peer. The impatience of several young gallants
could hardly by restrained even during the ceremony; at the conclusion
of which they tumultuously surrounded Lord Scales, declaring they
would not let him go, till he had told them who and what was this
mysterious friend: Lord Scales had headed a gallant band of English
knights in the Moorish war, and was therefore supposed to know every
thing concerning Spain, and certainly of this Anglo-Spaniard, as ever
since his arrival in England they had constantly been seen together.
He smiled good-humoredly at their importunity, and replied--

"I am afraid my friend's history has nothing very marvellous or
mysterious in it. His family were all staunch Lancastrians, and
perished either on the field or scaffold; he escaped almost
miraculously, and after a brief interval of restless wandering, went
to Spain and was treated with such consideration and kindness by
Ferdinand and Isabella, that he has lived there ever since, honored
and treated in all things as a child of the soil. On my arrival, I was
struck by his extraordinary courage and rash disregard of danger, and
gladly hailed in him a countryman. I learned afterwards that this
reckless bravery had been incited by a wish for death, and that events
had occurred in his previous life, which would supply matter for many
a minstrel tale."

"Let us hear it, let us hear it!" interrupted many eager voices, but
Lord Seales laughingly shook his head.

"Excuse me, my young friends: at present I have neither time nor
inclination for a long story. Enough that he loved, and loved
unhappily; not from its being unreturned, but from a concatenation of
circumstances and sorrows which may not be detailed."

"But he is married; and he is as devoted to Donna Catherine as she is
to him. I heard they were proverbial for their mutual affection and
domestic happiness. How could he so have loved before?" demanded,
somewhat skeptically, a very young man.

"My good friend, when you get a little older, you will cease to marvel
at such things, or imagine, because a man has been very wretched, he
is to be for ever. My friend once felt as you do (Lord Seales changed
his tone to one of impressive seriousness); but he was wise enough
to abide by the counsels of the beloved one he had lost, struggle to
shake off the sluggish misery which was crushing him, cease to wish
for death, and welcome life as a solemn path of usefulness and good,
still to be trodden, though its flowers might have faded. Gradually as
he awoke to outward things, and sought the companionship of her whom
his lost one had loved, he became sensible that, spiritless as he had
thought himself, he could yet, did he see fit, win and rivet regard;
and so he married, loving less than he was loved, perchance at the
time but scarcely so now. His marriage, and his present happiness, are
far less mysterious than his extraordinary interference in the event
which followed the conquest of the Moors--I mean the expulsion of the
Jews."

"By the way, what caused that remarkable edict?" demanded one of the
circle more interested in politics than in individuals. "It is a good
thing indeed to rid a land of such vermin; but in Spain they had
so much to do with the successful commerce of the country, that it
appears as impolitic as unnecessary."

"Impolitic it was, so far as concerned the temporal interests of the
kingdom; but the sovereigns of Spain decided on it, from the religious
light in which it was placed before them, by Torquemada. It is
whispered that Isabella would never have consented to a decree,
sentencing so many thousands of her innocent subjects to misery and
expulsion, had not her confessor worked on her conscience in an
unusual manner; alluding to some unprecedented favor shown to one of
that hated race, occasioned, he declared, by those arts of magic which
might occur again and yet again, and do most fatal evil to the land.
Isabella had, it appears, when reproached by Torquemada for her act
of mercy, which he termed weakness, pledged herself, not to interfere
with his measures for the extermination of the unbelief, and on this
promise of course he worked, till the edict was proclaimed."

"But this stranger, what had he to do with it?" demanded many of the
group, impatient at the interruption.

"What he had to do with it I really cannot tell you, but his zeal
to avert the edict lost him, in a great measure the confidence of
Ferdinand. When he found to prevent their expulsion was impossible,
he did all in his power to lessen their misfortune, if such it may be
called, by relieving every unbeliever that crossed his path."

An exclamation of horrified astonishment escaped his auditors. "What
could such conduct mean? did he lean towards unbelief himself--"

"That could hardly be," replied Lord Scales. "Unless he had been a
Catholic, earnest and zealous as herself, Isabella would never have so
esteemed him, as to give him as wife her especial favorite, Catherine
Pas, and place him so near the person of her child. When I left Spain,
I entreated my friend to accompany me, and resume his hereditary title
and estate, but I pleaded in vain. Some more than common tie seemed to
devote him to the interests of the Queen of Castile, whom he declared
he would never leave unless in England he could serve her better than
in Spain. At that time there was no chance of such an event. He now
tells me, that it was Isabella's earnest request that he should attend
the Princess; be always near her, and so decrease the difficulties,
which in a foreign land must for a time surround her. The Queen is
broken in health, and dispirited, from many domestic afflictions; and
it was with tears, she besought him to devote his remaining years, to
the service of her child, and be to the future Queen of England true,
faithful, and upright, as he had ever been to the Queen of Spain.
Need I say the honorable charge was instantly accepted, and while he
resumes his rank and duties as a Peer of his native land, the grateful
service of an adopted son of Spain will ever be remembered and
performed."

"But his name, his name?" cried many eager voices.

"ARTHUR STANLEY, EARL OF DERBY."





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