But Isabella was too much the true and feeling woman, to permit the day to close without the private interview she saw Stanley needed; reality, sad as it was, she felt would be better than harrowing suspense; and, in a few kindly words, the tale was told.
“I should have known it!” he exclaimed, when the first shock of bitter disappointment permitted words. “My own true, precious Marie! How dared I dream that for me thou wouldst sacrifice thy faith; all, all else—joy, hope, strength; aye, life itself—but not thy God! Oh, Madam,” he continued, turning passionately to the Queen, “thou hast not condemned her to misery for this! Thou hast not revoked thy former heavenly mercy, and delivered her over to the stern fathers of our holy church? No, no! Isabella could not have done this!”
“Nor have we,” replied the Queen, so mildly that Arthur flung himself at her feet, conjuring her to pardon his disrespectful words. “Give her to thee, without retracting her fearful misbelief, indeed we dared not, but further misery has not been inflicted. We have indeed done penance for our weakness, severe penance; for Father Tomas asserts that we have most grievously sinned; and more, have pledged ourselves most solemnly, that what he may counsel for the entire uprooting of this horrible heresy, and accursed race, shall be followed, cost what it may, politically or privately; but to refuse the last boon of the unhappy girl, who had so strangely, perchance so bewilderingly, wound herself about my heart—Stanley, I must have changed my nature first!”
“Her last boon! Gracious Sovereign—”
“Nay, her last to her Sovereign, my friend. It may be that even yet her errors may be abjured, and grace be granted in her solitude, to become in this world as the next, what we have prayed for; but we dare not hope it; nor must thou. She besought permission to return to the home of her childhood, pledging herself never to leave it, or mingle with her people or ours more.”
“And she is there! God in Heaven bless, reward your Highness for the mercy!” burst impetuously from Arthur. “I trust she is, nay, I believe it; for Jewess as she is, she would not pledge me false. In the garb of the novice, as she saved thee, Father Denis conducted her to the frontiers of Castile. More we know not, for we asked not the site of her home.”