“That will I do,” replied the Queen, instantly. “None else will prepare her so gently, so kindly; for none knew her husband’s worth so well, or can mourn his loss more deeply. She shall come hither. And the murderer,” she continued after a brief pause, and the change was almost startling from the tender sympathy of the Woman to the indignant majesty of the Queen—“Ferdinand, have they told me true as to his person—is he secured?”
“Ay,” answered the King, briefly and bitterly: and from respect to his feelings, Isabella asked no more. Orders were issued for the body to be laid in one of the state apartments; a guard to be stationed at the entrance of the chamber, and measures taken to keep the events of that fatal night profoundly secret, lest confusion should be aroused in the easily excited populace, or her terrible loss too rudely reach the ears of the most painfully bereaved. These orders were punctually obeyed.
“Yet again methinks
Some unknown sorrow, ripe in Future’s womb,
Is coming towards me; and my inward soul
With nothing trembles. At something it grieves
More than the parting with my lord.”
Long did Marie Morales linger where her husband had left her after his strangely passionate farewell. His tone, his look, his embrace haunted her almost to pain—all were so unlike his wonted calmness: her full heart so yearned towards him that she would have given worlds, if she had had them, to call him to her side once more—to conjure him again to forgive and assure her of his continued trust—to tell him she was happy, and asked no other love than his. Why had he left her so early? when she felt as if she had so much to say—so much to confide. And then her eye caught the same ominous cloud which had so strangely riveted Don Ferdinand’s gaze, and a sensation of awe stole over her, retaining her by the casement as by some spell which she vainly strove to resist; until the forked lightnings began to illumine the murky gloom, and the thunder rolled awfully along. Determined not to give way to the heavy depression creeping over her, Marie summoned her attendants, and strenuously sought to keep up an animated conversation as they worked. Not expecting to see her husband till the ensuing morning, she retired to rest at the first partial lull of the storm, and slept calmly for many hours. A morning of transcendent loveliness followed the awful horrors of the night. The sun seemed higher in the heavens than usual, when Marie started from a profound sleep, with a vague sensation that something terrible had occurred; every pulse was throbbing, though, her heart felt stagnant within her. For some minutes she could not frame a distinct thought, and then her husband’s fond farewell flashed back; but what had that to do with gloom? Ringing a little silver bell beside her, Manuella answered the summons, and Marie anxiously inquired for Don Ferdinand. Had he not yet returned? A sensation of sickness—the deadly sickness of indefinable dread—seemed to stupefy every faculty, as Manuella answered in the negative, adding, it was much beyond his usual hour.