There was a few minutes’ pause, and then, with beseeching eloquence, Arthur conjured the Sovereign to let him see her once, but once again. He asked no more, but he felt as if he could not sustain the agony of eternal separation, without one last, last interview. He pledged his honor, that no temptation of a secret union should interfere with the sentence of the Queen; that both would submit; only to permit them once more to meet again.
Isabella hesitated, but not for long. Perhaps the secret hope arose that Stanley’s presence would effect that for which all else had failed; or that she really could not resist his passionate pleadings.
“One word of retraction, and even now she is thine.—And I will bless thee that thou gavest her to me again,” she said in parting; but her own spirit told her the hope was vain.
Half an hour after this agitating interview Arthur Stanley was again on horseback, a deep hectic on either cheek; his eye bloodshot and strained, traversing with the speed of lightning the open country, in the direction of Castile.
“Oh! love, love, strong as death—from
such an hour
Pressing out joy by thine immortal power;
Holy and fervent love! Had earth but rest
For thee and thine, this world were all too fair:
How could we thence be weaned to die without despair!
“But woe for him who felt that heart
Which with its weight of agony had lain
Breaking on his. Scarce could the mortal chill
Of the hushed bosom, ne’er to heave again,
And all the curdling silence round the eye,
Bring home the stern belief that she could die.”
The glowing light of a glorious sunset lingered on the Vale of Cedars, displaying that calm and beautiful retreat in all the fair and rich luxuriance of former years. Reuben and Ruth, the aged retainers of the house of Henriquez, had made it their pride and occupation to preserve the cherished retreat, lovely as it had been left. Nor were they its only inmates; their daughter, her husband, and children, after various struggles in the Christian world, had been settled in the Vale by the benevolence of Ferdinand Morales—their sole duty, to preserve it in such order, as to render it a fitting place of refuge for any who should need it. Within the last twelve months, another inmate had been added to them. Weary of his wanderings, and of the constant course of deception which his apparent profession of a monk demanded, Julien Morales had returned to the home of his childhood, there to fix his permanent abode; only to make such excursions from it, as the interests of his niece might demand. Her destiny was his sole anxious thought. Her detention by Isabella convinced him that her disguise had been penetrated, and filled him with solicitude for her spiritual, yet more than her temporal welfare.