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.

It was the eve of the Sabbath; one from which in general all earthly cares and thoughts were banished, giving place to tranquil and spiritual joy.  The father and daughter were alone within their lovely tent, but both so wrapt in evidently painful thought, that a strange silence usurped the usual cheerful converse.  So unwonted was the anxious gloom on Manuel’s brow, that his child could bear it no longer, and flinging her arms round his neck, she besought him in the tenderest accents to confide in her, as he had ever done, since her mother’s death, to tell her what so pained him—­might she not remove it?  Henriquez could not resist that fond yet mournful pleading.  He told her, that he felt health was departing, that death seemed ever hovering near, but that its pain, its care, would all depart, could he behold his long-cherished wish fulfilled, and his Marie the wife of Ferdinand, whose every look and tone during his last visit had betrayed his devoted love.

Marie heard; and her cheek and lips blanched to such ashy whiteness, that her father in alarm folded her to his breast; and sought to soothe a grief, which he believed was occasioned merely by the sudden and fearful thought of his approaching death; and sought to soothe, by a reference to the endearing love, the cherished tenderness which would still be hers; how Ferdinand would be to her all, aye more than all that he had been, and how, with love like his, she would be happier than she had been yet.  Much he said, and he might have said still more, for it was long ere the startled girl could interrupt him.  But when he conjured her to speak to him, not to look upon his death so fearfully, the beautiful truth of her nature rose up against the involuntary deceit.  It was not his death which thus appalled her; alas—­alas!—­and she hated herself for the fearful thought—­she had almost lost sight of that, in the words which followed.  Breaking from his embrace, she sunk down on her knees before him, and buying her face upon his hand, in broken accents and with choking sobs, revealed the whole.  How could she do her noble kinsman such fearful wrong as to wed him, when her whole heart, thoughts, nay, life itself, seemed wrapt in the memory of another?  And that other!  Oh! who, what was he?  Once she looked up in her father’s face, but so fearful were the emotions written there—­wrath struggling with love, grief, pity, almost terror—­that hastily she withdrew her glance, and remained kneeling, bent even to the dust, long after the confession had been poured forth, waiting in fear and anguish for his words.

“Marie, Marie! is it my Marie, my sainted Miriam’s, child, who thus speaks? who hath thus sinned sole representative of a race of ages, in whose pure thoughts such fearful sin hath never mingled.  My child so to love the stranger as to reject, to scorn her own!  Oh God, my God, why hast thou so forsaken me?  Would I had died before!” And the heavy groan which followed, confirmed the anguish breathed in those broken words.

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The Vale of Cedars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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