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

“I will answer the question by another, Ferdinand.  Is it true that she must appear as evidence against the murderer in to-morrow’s trial?”

“Isabella, this must be,” answered the King, earnestly.  “There seems to me no alternative; and yet surely this cannot be so repugnant to her feelings.  Would it not be more injustice, both to her, and to the dead, to withhold any evidence likely to assist in the discovery of the murderer?”

“But why lay so much stress on her appearance?  Is there not sufficient evidence without her?”

“Not to satisfy me as to Stanley’s guilt,” replied the King.  “I have heard indeed from Don Luis Garcia quite enough, if it be true evidence, to condemn him.  But I like not this Garcia; it is useless now to examine wherefore.  I doubt him so much, that I would not, if possible, lay any stress upon his words.  He has declared on oath that he saw Stanley draw his sword upon Morales, proclaim aloud his undying hatred, and swear that he would take his life or lose his own; but that, if I were not satisfied with this assurance, Donna Marie herself had been present, had seen and heard all, and could no doubt give a very efficient reason, in her own beautiful person, for Stanley’s hatred to her husband, as such matters were but too common in Spain.  I checked him with a stern rebuke; for if ever there were a double-meaning hypocrite, this Don Luis is one.  Besides, I cannot penetrate how he came to be present at this stormy interview.  He has evaded, he thinks successfully, my questions on this head; but if, as I believe, it was dishonorably obtained, I am the less inclined to trust either him or his intelligence.  If Marie were indeed present, which he insists she was, her testimony is the most important of any.  If she confirm Don Luis’s statement, give the same account of the interview between her husband and Stanley, and a reason for this suddenly proclaimed enmity; if she swear that he did utter such threatening words, I will neither hope nor try to save him; he is guilty, and must die.  But if she deny that he thus spoke; if she declares on oath that she knew of no cause for, nor of the existence of any enmity, I care not for other proofs, glaring though they be.  Accident or some atrocious design against him, as an envied foreigner, may have thrown them together.  Let Marie swear that this Garcia has spoken falsely, and Stanley shall live, were my whole kingdom to implore his death.  In Donna Marie’s evidence there can be no deceit; she can have no wish that Stanley should be saved; as her husband’s supposed murderer, he must be an object of horror and loathing.  Still silent Isabel?  Is not her evidence required?”

“It is indeed.  And yet I feel that, to demand it, will but increase the trial already hers.”

“As how?” inquired the King, somewhat astonished.  “Surely thou canst not mean—­”

“I mean nothing; I know nothing,” interrupted Isabella hastily.  “I can give your Grace no reason, save my own feelings.  Is there no way to prevent this public exposure, and yet serve the purpose equally?”

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