“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.