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.
Royal protection of a Jewess was so unprecedented, that it could only argue the hope—­nay, perhaps conviction—­of her final conversion.  And the old man actually tried to divorce the sweet image of his niece from his affections, so convinced was he that her unhappy love for Arthur, combined with Isabella’s authority, and, no doubt, the threat of some terrible alternative should she refuse, would compel her acceptance of the proffered cross, and so sever them for ever.  How little can man, even the most gentle and affectionate, read woman!

It was the day completing the eleventh month after Don Ferdinand’s murder, when Julien Morales repaired earlier than usual to the little temple, there to read the service for the dead appointed for the day, and thence proceeded to his nephew’s grave.  An unusual object, which had fallen on, or was kneeling beside the grave, caught his eye, and impelled him to quicken his pace.  His heart throbbed as he recognized the garb of a novice, and to such a degree as almost to deprive him of all power, as in the white, chiselled features, resting on the cold, damp sod, he recognized his niece, and believed, for the first agonizing moment, that it was but clay resting against clay; and that the sweet, pure spirit had but guided her to that grave and flown.  But death for a brief interval withdrew his grasp; though his shaft had reached her, and no human hand could draw it back.  Father Denis had conducted her so carefully and tenderly to the frontiers of Castile, that she had scarcely felt fatigue, and encountered no exposure to the elements; but when he left her, her desire to reach her home became stronger, with the seeming physical incapacity to do so.  Her spirit gave way, and mental and bodily exhaustion followed.  The season was unusually damp and tempestuous, and, though scarcely felt at the time, sowed the seeds of cold and decline, from which her naturally good constitution might, in the very midst of her trials, otherwise have saved her.  Her repugnance to encounter the eyes or speech of her fellows, lest her disguise should be penetrated, caused her to shrink from entering any habitation, except for the single night which intervened, between the period of the father’s leaving her and her reaching the secret entrance to the Vale.  Her wallet provided her with more food than her parched throat could swallow; and for the consuming thirst, the fresh streams that so often bubbled across her path, gave her all she needed.  The fellowship of man, then, was unrequited, and, as the second night fell, so comparatively short a distance lay between her and her home, that buoyed up by the desire to reach it, she was not sensible of her utter exhaustion, till she stood within the little graveyard of the Vale; and the moon shining softly and clearly on the headstones, disclosed to her the grave of her husband.  She was totally ignorant that he had been borne there; and the rush of feeling which came over her, as she read his name—­the

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The Vale of Cedars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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