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Grace Aguilar
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The Vale of Cedars.

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.

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