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.
of the chasm, which did not exceed three feet.  He fixed his hold firmly on a blasted trunk growing within the chasm; It shook—­gave way—­another moment and he would have been lost; but in that moment he loosed his hold, clasped both hands above his head, and successfully made the leap—­aware only of the immense effort by the exhaustion which followed compelling him to sink down on the grass, deprived even of energy to look around him.

So marvellous was the change of scenery on which his eyes unclosed, that he started to his feet, bewildered.  A gradual hill, partly covered with rich meadow grass, and partly with corn, diversified with foliage, sloped downwards, leading by an easy descent to a small valley, where orange and lime trees, the pine and chestnut, palm and cedar, grew in beautiful luxuriance.  On the left was a small dwelling, almost hidden in trees.  Directly beneath him a natural fountain threw its sparkling showers on beds of sweet-scented and gayly-colored flowers.  The hand of man had very evidently aided nature in forming the wild yet chaste beauty of the scene; and Arthur bounded down the slope, disturbing a few tame sheep and goats on his way, determined on discovering the genius of the place.

No living object was visible, however; and with his usual reckless spirit, he resolved on exploring further, ere he demanded the hospitality of the dwelling.  A narrow path led into a thicker wood, and in the very heart of its shade stood a small edifice, the nature of which Arthur vainly endeavored to understand.  It was square, and formed of solid blocks of cedar; neither carving nor imagery of any kind adorned it; yet it had evidently been built with skill and care.  There was neither tower nor bell, the usual accompaniments of a chapel, which Stanley had at first imagined it; and he stood gazing on it more and more bewildered.  At that moment, a female voice of singular and thrilling beauty sounded from within.  It was evidently a hymn she chanted, for the strain was slow and solemn, but though words were distinctly intelligible, their language was entirely unknown.  The young man listened at first, conscious only of increasing wonderment, which was quickly succeeded by a thrill of hope, so strange, so engrossing, that he stood, outwardly indeed as if turned to stone; inwardly, with every pulse so throbbing that to move or speak was impossible.  The voice ceased; and in another minute a door, so skilfully constructed as when closed to be invisible in the solid wall, opened noiselessly; and a female figure stood before him.

CHAPTER II.

  “Farewell! though in that sound be years
  Of blighted hopes and fruitless tears—­
  Though the soul vibrate to its knell
  Of joys departed—­yet farewell.”

  Mrs. Hemans.

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The Vale of Cedars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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