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Grace Aguilar
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The Vale of Cedars.

Her former trials had been sharp agony and strong excitement.  Her present had neither the one nor the other; yet it was fraught with as heavy suffering, as any that had gone before it; even though she knew not, guessed not, all that depended upon her conversion.  It would have been comparatively easy to have endured, for her faith’s sake, harshness and contempt; in such a case, self-respect rises to sustain us, and we value our own tenets the more, from their startling contrast with those which could command the cruelty we endure; but Father Denis used harshness neither of manner nor of words.  Firmly impressed in his own mind, that it was utterly vain for a soul to hope for salvation unless it believed in Jesus, the Virgin, the saints and holy martyrs; he brought heart and soul to his task; and the more he saw of Marie, the more painfully did he deplore her blind infatuation, and the more ardently desire, to save her from the eternal perdition which, as a Jewess, must await her.  He poured forth such soul-breathing petitions, for saving grace to be vouchsafed to her, in her hearing, that Marie felt as if she would have given worlds, only to realize the belief for which he prayed; but the more her heart was wrung, the more vividly it seemed that her own faith, the religion of her fathers through a thousand ages, impressed itself upon her mind and heart, rendering it more and more impossible for her to forswear it, even at the very moment that weak humanity longed to do it, and so purchase peace.  Naturally so meek and yielding, so peculiarly alive to the voice of sympathy and kindness, it was inexpressibly and harrowingly distressing to be thus compelled to resist both; to think also of all Isabella’s gentle, cherishing, and manifested affection; and to know that the only return she demanded, she dared not, might not give.  To some dispositions these considerations would have been of no weight whatever; to Marie they were so exquisitely painful, that she could scarcely understand how it was that, feeling them thus acutely, she could yet so clearly, so calmly, reply to Father Denis, bring argument for argument, and never waver in her steadfast adherence to, and belief in her own creed.  The very lessons of her youth, which she had thought forgotten in the varied trials which had been her portion since, returned with full—­she fancied superhuman—­force and clearness to her mind, rendering even the very wish to embrace the Catholic religion, futile.  There was a voice within her that would be heard, aye above every human feeling, every strong temptation.  She could not drown its clear ringing tones; even where her mental sufferings seemed to cloud and harrow up the brain, to the exclusion of every distinct idea, that voice would breathe its thrilling whisper, telling her it was vain to hope it, she could not be in heart a Catholic; and so she dared not be in words.

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