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The Vale of Cedars by Grace Aguilar

Part 4 out of 5

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nature, she discovered, what was concealed from others, "That many
enormities may be committed under the veil of religion--many innocent
persons falsely accused; their riches being their only crime. Her
exertions brought such things to light, and the suborners were
punished according to their guilt."--WASHINGTON IRVING'S _Siege of
Granada_.--Of Ferdinand too we are told, "_Respeto la jurisdiction
ecclesiastica, y conservo la real_;" he respected the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction, but _guarded_ or was _jealous_, for that of the crown.
His determination, therefore, to refuse the church's interference in
the case of Marie, though unusual to his _age_, is warranted by his
larger mind and freer policy.]

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is it to Segovia ye are bound?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

"Gracious Sovereign--mercy!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man answered at once in the affirmative.

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

"Ay, gracious liege."

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Father Francis remonstrated, urged, dared to speak bolder truths than
had ever before reached the papal ear but all without effect: and
this truly good and spiritual man returned to Spain stricken to the
dust. He reported the failure of his mission; heard, with bowed
head and aching soul, the natural indignation of Ferdinand, and the
quieter, but to him, still more expressive sorrow, at this fearful
abuse of her holy religion from Isabella; and then, with an
earnestness impossible to be resisted, conjured the royal permission

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