“Now heaven bless thee for those words, my own, true, precious Marie!” exclaimed Stanley, in strong emotion, and clasping her still closer, he pressed his quivering lips to her forehead, starting in agony as he marked the cold, damp dews which had gathered upon it, too truly the index of departing life. He besought her to speak no more—the exertion was exhausting her; she smiled faintly, drank of the reviving draught which Julien proffered, and lay for a few minutes calm and still.
“I am better now,” she said, after an interval. “It was only the excitement of speaking that truth, which I have so long desired to reveal—to clear my memory from the caprice and inconstancy with which even thy love must have charged me; and now, Arthur, promise me that thou wilt not mourn me too long: that thou wilt strive to conquer the morbid misery, which I know, if encouraged, will cloud thy whole life, and unfit thee for the glorious career which must otherwise be thine. Do not forget me wholly, love, but deem it not a duty to my memory never to love again. Arthur, dearest, thou canst bestow happiness on another, and one of thine own faith, even such happiness as to have been thy wife would have given me. Do not reject the calm rest and peacefulness, which such love will bring to thee, though now thou feelest as if the very thought were loathing. She will speak to thee of me; for Jewess as she knew me, she has loved and tended me in suffering, and so wept my banishment, that my frozen tears had well nigh flowed in seeing hers. Seek her in Isabella’s court, and try to love her, Arthur—if at first merely for my sake, it will soon, soon be for her own.”
Impressively and pleadingly, these words fell on Arthur’s aching heart, even at that moment when he felt to comply with them was and must ever be impossible. When time had done its work, and softened individual agony, they returned again and yet again; and at each returning, seemed less painful to obey.
“And Isabella, my kind, loving, generous mistress,” she continued, after a very long pause, and her voice was so faint as scarcely to make distinguishable the words, save for the still lingering sweetness, and clearness of her articulation—“Oh! what can I say to her? Arthur, dearest Arthur, thou must repay the debt of gratitude I owe her. Her creed condemns, but her heart loves me—aye, still, still! And better (though she cannot think so) than had I for earthly joy turned traitor to my God. Oh, tell her how with my last breath I loved and blessed her, Arthur; tell her we shall meet again, where Jew and Gentile worship the same God! Oh that I could but have proved—proved—How suddenly it has grown dark! Uncle Julien, is it not time for the evening prayer?”