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The Vale of Cedars by Grace Aguilar

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or, The Martyr




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



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

"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

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.





"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.


"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."


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

"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

"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

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

"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. "Senor
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

"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


"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

[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.


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


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


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


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

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

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

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.


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


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

"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

"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!"


"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!"


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

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

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.


"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."


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

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

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.


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


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

"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

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

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