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.

To her confessor, Isabella revealed the story of Marie, and her own intentions.  Torquemada heard the tale with a stern severity, little encouraging to the Queen’s ideas of mercy; he insisted that her conversion must be effected; if by kindness and forbearance, well and good; but if she were obstinate, harshness must be resorted to; and only on that condition would he grant Isabella the desired blessing on her task.  He did not fail to bring forward the fact of a zealous Catholic, such as Don Ferdinand Morales, wedding and cherishing one of the accursed race, and conniving at her secret adherence to her religion, as a further and very strong incentive for the public establishment of the Inquisition, whose zealous care would effectually guard the sons of Spain from such unholy alliances in future.  He urged the supposition of Marie’s having become the mother of children by Ferdinand; was it not most probable, nay, certain, that she would infuse her own unbelief in them; and then how mixed and defiled a race would take the place of the present pure Castilians.  Isabella could reply nothing satisfactory to this eloquent reasoning.  The prejudices of education are strong in every really earnest heart; and though her true woman’s nature revolted at every thought of severity, and towards one so suffering as Marie, she acknowledged its necessity, in case of kindness failing.  Under the seal of confession, she imparted her full plan to Torquemada, entering more into minute particulars than she had done even to her husband, or in words to herself.  It was so fraught with mercy and gentleness that Torquemada gave his consent, believing it utterly impossible, if Marie really loved, as Isabella fancied, that she could resist.

On the departure of her confessor, the Queen communed, as was her frequent custom, long and severely with her own heart.  What was the cause of her extreme dislike to using harshness?  With any other member of that detested race, she felt Torquemada’s counsel would have been all-powerful; she would have left it all to him.  It was then mere personal regard, fear of the suffering which, did she cause Marie increase of pain, she should inflict upon herself, and this must not be.  She was failing in the duty she owed her religion, if she could not summon resolution to sacrifice even affection at its shrine.  And so she nerved herself, to adopt Torquemada’s stern alternative, if indeed it were required.  How strange is self-delusion! how difficult, even to the noblest, most unselfish natures, to read another spirit by their own!  Isabella felt it might be a duty to sacrifice affection for religion, and nerved herself to its performance at any cost.  And yet that Marie should do so, she could not believe; and if she did, harshness and suffering were to be her sole reward!  Oh, that in religion, as in every thing else, man would judge his brother man by his own heart; and as dear, as precious, as his peculiar creed may be to him, believe so it is with the faith of his brother!  How much of misery, how much of contention, of cruelty and oppression, would pass away from this lovely earth, and give place for Heaven’s own unity and peace, and harmony and love.

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The Vale of Cedars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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