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.
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 condemn.

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. 

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The Vale of Cedars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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