“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 read.
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.