Marie saw the softened expression of the Queen’s face; the ineffectual effort to resist her child’s caresses, and retain her sternness: and, with a sudden impulse, she threw herself at her feet.
“Oh! do not turn from me, my Sovereign!” she implored, wildly clasping Isabella’s knees. “I ask nothing—nothing, but to return to my childhood’s home, and die there! I ask not to return to my people; they would not receive me, for I have dared to love the stranger; but in my own isolated home, where but two aged retainers of my father dwell, I can do harm to none—mingle with none; let me bear a breaking heart for a brief—brief while; and rest beside my parents. I will swear to thee never to quit that place of banishment—swear never more to mingle with either thy people or with mine—to be as much lost to man, as if the grave had already closed over me, or convent walls immured me! Oh, Madam! grant me but this! Will it not be enough of suffering to give up Arthur?—to tear myself from thy cherishing love?—to bear my misery alone? Leave me, oh! leave me but my faith—the sole joy, sole hope, now left me! Give me not up to the harsh, and cruel father—the stern mother of St. Ursula! If I can sacrifice love, kindness—all that would make earth a heaven—will harshness gain thine end? Plead for me,” she continued, addressing the infant-princess, who, as if affected by the grief she beheld, had left her mother to cling round Marie caressingly; “plead for me, Infanta! Oh, Madam! the fate of war might place this beloved and cherished one in the hands of those who regard thy faith even as thou dost mine; were such an alternative proffered, how wouldst thou she should decide? My Sovereign, my gracious Sovereign, oh, have mercy!”
“Mamma! dear Mamma!” repeated the princess at the same moment, and aware that her intercession was required, though unable to comprehend the wherefore, she clasped her little hands entreatingly; “grant poor Marie what she wishes! You have told me a Queen’s first duty is to be kind and good; and do all in her power to make others happy. Make her happy, dear Mamma, she has been so sad!”
The appeal to Isabella’s nature was irresistible; she caught her child to her heart, and burst into passionate tears.
will have vengeance!
I’ll crush thy swelling pride! I’ll still thy vaunting!
I’ll do a deed of blood!
Now all idle forms are over—
Now open villany, now open hate—
Defend thy life!”
“Let me but look upon ‘her’
face once more—
Let me but say farewell, my soul’s beloved,
And I will bless thee still.”