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

To attempt description of either face or form would be useless.  The exquisite proportions of the rounded figure, the very perfection of each feature, the delicate clearness of the complexion—­brunette when brought in close contact with the Saxon, blonde when compared with the Spaniard—­all attractions in themselves, were literally forgotten, or at least unheeded, beneath the spell which dwelt in the expression of her countenance.  Truth, purity, holiness, something scarcely of this nether world, yet blended indescribably with all a woman’s nature, had rested there, attracting the most unobservant, and riveting all whose own hearts contained a spark of the same lofty attributes.  Her dress, too, was peculiar—­a full loose petticoat of dark blue silk, reaching only to the ankle, and so displaying the beautifully-shaped foot; a jacket of pale yellow, the texture seeming of the finest woven wool, reaching to the throat; with sleeves tight on the shoulders, but falling in wide folds as low as the wrist, and so with every movement displaying the round soft arm beneath.  An antique brooch of curiously wrought silver confined the jacket at the throat.  The collar, made either to stand up or fall, was this evening unclosed and thrown black, its silver fringe gleaming through the clustering tresses that fell in all their native richness and raven blackness over her shoulders, parted and braided on her brow, so as to heighten the chaste and classic expression of her features.

On a stranger that beautiful vision must have burst with bewildering power:  to Arthur Stanley she united memory with being, the past with the present, with such an intensity of emotion, that for a few minutes his very breath was impeded.  She turned, without seeing him, in a contrary direction; and the movement roused him.

“Marie!” he passionately exclaimed, flinging himself directly in her path, and startling her so painfully, that though there was a strong and visible effort at self-control, she must have fallen had he not caught her in his arms.  There was an effort to break from his hold, a murmured exclamation, in which terror, astonishment, and yet joy, were painfully mingled, and then the heroine gave place to the woman, for her head sunk on his shoulder and she burst into tears.

Time passed.  Nearly an hour from that strange meeting, and still they were together; but no joy, nor even hope was on the countenance of either.  At first, Arthur had alluded to their hours of happy yet unconfessed affection, when both had felt, intuitively, that they were all in all to each other, though not a syllable of love had passed their lips; on the sweet memories of those blissful hours, so brief, so fleeting, but still Marie wept:  the memory seemed anguish more than joy.  And then he spoke of returned affection, as avowed by her, when his fond words had called it forth; and shuddered at the recollection that that hour of acknowledged and mutual love, had

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