Chapter 16

These likelihoods confirm her flight from hence,
Therefore, I pray you, stay not to discourse,
But mount you presently.


An hour had slid by, in hasty and nearly incoherent questions and answers, before Middleton, hanging over his recovered treasure with that sort of jealous watchfulness with which a miser would regard his hoards, closed the disjointed narrative of his own proceedings by demanding—

“And you, my Inez; in what manner were you treated?”

“In every thing, but the great injustice they did in separating me so forcibly from my friends, as well perhaps as the circumstances of my captors would allow. I think the man, who is certainly the master here, is but a new beginner in wickedness. He quarrelled frightfully in my presence, with the wretch who seized me, and then they made an impious bargain, to which I was compelled to acquiesce, and to which they bound me as well as themselves by oaths. Ah! Middleton, I fear the heretics are not so heedful of their vows as we who are nurtured in the bosom of the true church!”

“Believe it not; these villains are of no religion; did they forswear themselves?”

“No, not perjured: but was it not awful to call upon the good God to witness so sinful a compact?”

“And so we think, Inez, as truly as the most virtuous cardinal of Rome. But how did they observe their oath, and what was its purport?”

“They conditioned to leave me unmolested, and free from their odious presence, provided I would give a pledge to make no effort to escape; and that I would not even show myself, until a time that my masters saw fit to name.”

“And that time?” demanded the impatient Middleton, who so well knew the religious scruples of his wife— “that time?”

“It is already passed. I was sworn by my patron saint, and faithfully did I keep the vow, until the man they call Ishmael forgot the terms by offering violence. I then made my appearance on the rock, for the time too was passed; though I even think father Ignatius would have absolved me from the vow, on account of the treachery of my keepers.”

“If he had not,” muttered the youth between his compressed teeth, “I would have absolved him for ever from his spiritual care of your conscience!”

“You, Middleton!” returned his wife looking up into his flushed face, while a bright blush suffused her own sweet countenance; “you may receive my vows, but surely you can have no power to absolve me from their observance!”

“No, no, no. Inez, you are right. I know but little of these conscientious subtilties, and I am any thing but a priest: yet tell me, what has induced these monsters to play this desperate game—to trifle thus with my happiness?”

“You know my ignorance of the world, and how ill I am qualified to furnish reasons for the conduct of beings so different from any I have ever seen before. But does not love of money drive men to acts even worse than this? I believe they thought that an aged and wealthy father could be tempted to pay them a rich ransom for his child; and, perhaps,” she added, stealing an enquiring glance through her tears, at the attentive Middleton, “they counted something on the fresh affections of a bridegroom.”

“They might have extracted the blood from my heart, drop by drop!”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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