The Vale of Cedars eBook

Grace Aguilar
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 347 pages of information about The Vale of Cedars.
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 death!


  “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

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The Vale of Cedars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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