Round the sovereigns were grouped, in no regular order of march, but forming a brilliant cortege, many of the celebrated characters of their reign—men, not only of war, but of literature and wisdom, whom both monarchs gloried in distinguishing above their fellows, seeking to exalt the honor of their country, not only in extent of dominion, but by the shining qualities of her sons. It was to this group the strained gaze of Marie turned, and became riveted on the Queen, feeling strangely and indefinably a degree of comfort as she gazed; to explain wherefore, even to herself, was impossible; but she felt as if she no longer stood alone in the wide world, whose gaze she dreaded; a new impulse rose within her, urging her, instead of remaining indifferent, as she thought she should, to seek and win Isabella’s regard. She gazed and gazed, till she could have fancied her very destiny was in some way connected with the Queen’s visit to Segovia—that some mysterious influences were connecting her, insignificant as she was, with Isabella’s will. She strove with the baseless vision; but it would gain ground, folding up her whole mind in its formless imaginings. The sight of her husband, conversing eagerly with the sovereign, in some degree startled her back to the present scene. His cheek was flushed with exercise and excitement; his large dark eyes glittering, and a sunny smile robbing his mouth of its wonted expression of sternness. On passing his mansion he looked eagerly up, and with proud and joyous greeting doffed his velvet cap, and bowed with as earnest reverence as if he had still to seek and win her. The chivalry of Don Ferdinand Morales was proved, yet more after marriage than before.
It was over: the procession had at length passed: she had scanned every face and form whose gallant bearing proclaimed him noble; but Arthur Stanley was not amongst them, and inexpressibly relieved, Marie Morales sunk down on a low seat, and covering her face with her hands, lifted up her whole soul in one wild—yet how fervent!—burst of thanksgiving.
“Yet was I calm. I knew the
My breast would thrill before thy look;
But now, to tremble were a crime:
We met, and not a nerve was shook.”
The excitement of the city did not subside with the close of the procession. The quiet gravity and impressive appearance of age, which had always marked Segovia, as a city more of the past than present, gave place to all the bustling animation peculiar to a provincial residence of royalty. Its central position gave it advantages over Valladolid, the usual seat of the monarchs of Castile and Leon, to sovereigns who were seeking the internal peace and prosperity of their subjects, and were resolved on reforming abuses in every quarter of their domains. The deputation from the city was graciously received;