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The Vale of Cedars by Grace Aguilar

Part 3 out of 5

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, Catherine?"

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

"Admit him then."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Let her be brought here."

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

"And what hour was this?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And what hour was this?"

"Just half-an-hour after midnight."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote A: We are authorized to give this character to Isabella of
Castile, and annex the lustre of such action to her memory; as we know
that even when, by the persuasions and representations of Torquemada,
the Inquisition was publicly established, Isabella constantly
interfered her authority to prevent _zeal_ from becoming _inhumanity_.
Rendered unusually penetrating by her peculiarly feeling and gentle

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