The Vale of Cedars eBook

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

“Does the leech heed his patient’s anguish when probing a painful wound, or cutting away the mortified flesh?  His office is not enviable, but it is necessary, and; if feelingly performed, we love him not the less.  Speak out.  Don Luis, openly, frankly, yet gently, to the apparently injured husband.  Do more:  counsel him to act as openly, as gently with his seemingly guilty wife; and that which now appears so dark, may be proved clear, and joy dawn again for both, by a few words of mutual explanation.  But there must be no mystery on your part—­no either heightening or smoothing what you may have learnt.  Speak out the simple truth; insinuate nought, for that love is worthless, that husband false to his sacred charge, if he believes in guilt ere he questions the accused.”

Don Luis looked on the open countenance before him for a few minutes without reply, thinking, not if he should spare him, but if his plans might not be foiled, did Morales himself act as he had said.  But the pause was not long:  never had he read human countenance aright, if Arthur Stanley were not at that moment with Marie.  He laid his hand on Don Ferdinand’s arm, and so peculiar was the expression on his countenance, so low and plaintively musical the tone in which be said, “God give you strength, my poor friend,” that the rich color unconsciously forsook the cheek of the hardy warrior, leaving him pallid as death; and so sharp a thrill passed through his heart, that it was with difficulty he retained his feet; but Morales was not merely physically, he was mentally brave.  With a powerful, a mighty effort of will, he called life, energy, courage back, and said, sternly and unfalteringly, “Don Luis Garcia, again I say, speak out!  I understand you; it is I who am the apparently injured husband.  Marie!  Great God of heaven! that man should dare couple her pure name with ignominy!  Marie! my Marie! the seemingly guilty wife!  Well, put forth your tale:  I am not the man to shrink from my own words.  Speak truth, and I will hear you; and—­and, if I can, not spurn you from me as a liar!  Speak out!”

Don Luis needed not a second bidding:  he had remarked, seen, and heard quite enough the evening of Don Ferdinand’s banquet, to require nothing more than the simple truth, to harrow the heart of his hearer, even while Morales disbelieved his every word.  Speciously, indeed, he turned his own mere suspicions as to Marie’s unhappiness, and her early love for Arthur, into realities, founded on certain information, but with this sole exception—­he told but the truth.  Without moving a muscle, without change of countenance, or uttering a syllable of rejoinder, Don Ferdinand listened to Garcia’s recital, fixing his large piercing eye on his face, with a gaze that none but one so hardened in hypocrisy could have withstood.  Once only Morales’s features contracted for a single instant, as convulsed by some spasm.  It was the recollection of Marie’s passionate tears, the night of the festival; and yet she had shed them on his bosom.  How could she be guilty?  And the spasm passed.

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The Vale of Cedars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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