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Grace Aguilar
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The Vale of Cedars.

A strange but a beautiful light for a single minute dispersed the fearful shadow creeping over Henriquez’s features.

“My son! my son!—­I bless thee—­and thou, too, my drooping flower.  Julien! my brother—­lay me beside my Miriam.  Thou didst not come for this—­but it is well.  My children—­my friends—­send up the hymn of praise—­the avowal of our faith; once more awake the voice of our fathers!”

He was obeyed; a psalm arose, solemn and sweet, in accents familiar as their mother tongue, to those who chanted; but had any other been near, not a syllable would have been intelligible.  But the voice which in general led to such solemn service—­so thrilling in its sweetness, that the most indifferent could not listen to it unmoved—­now lay hushed and mute, powerless even to breathe the sobs that crushed her heart.  And when the psalm ceased, and the prayer for the dying followed, with one mighty effort Henriquez raised himself, and clasping his hands, uttered distinctly the last solemn words ever spoken by his race, and then sunk back—­and there was silence.  Minutes, many minutes, rolled by—­but Marie moved not.  Gently, and tenderly, Don Ferdinand succeeded in disengaging the convulsive hold with which she still clasped her parent, and sought to bear her from that sad and solemn room.  Wildly she looked up in his face, and then on those beloved features, already fixed and gray in death;—­with frantic strength she pushed aside her husband, and sunk down by her father’s side.

CHAPTER VIII.

  “Slight are the outward signs of evil thought: 
  Within, within—­’twas there the spirit wrought. 
  Love shows all changes:  hate, ambition, guile,
  Betray no further than the bitter smile.”

  BYRON.

Our readers must imagine that nearly a year and a half has elapsed since the conclusion of our last chapter.  During that interval the outward life of Marie had passed in a calm, even stream; which, could she have succeeded in entirely banishing thoughts of the past, would have been unalloyed enjoyment.  Her marriage, as we hinted in our fourth chapter, had been solemnized in public, with all the form and ceremony of the Catholic Church, and with a splendor incumbent on the high rank and immense wealth of the bridegroom.  In compliance with Marie’s wishes, however, she had not yet been presented to the Queen; delicate health (which was the fact, for a terrible fever had succeeded the varied emotions of her wedding day) and her late bereavement, was her husband’s excuse to Isabella for her non-appearance—­an excuse graciously accepted; the rather that the Queen of Castile was then much engrossed with political changes and national reforms, than from any failing of interest in Don Ferdinand’s bride.

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