Natural timidity, and that retiring and perhaps peculiar lassitude, which forms the very groundwork of female fascination, in the tropical provinces of Spain, held her in their seemingly indissoluble bonds; and it is more than probable, that had not an accident occurred, in which Middleton was of some personal service to her father, so long a time would have elapsed before they met, that another direction might have been given to the wishes of one, who was just of an age to be alive to all the power of youth and beauty.
Gratitude, for the kindness of Middleton, induced him to open his doors to the officers of the garrison, and to admit of a guarded but polite intercourse.
Although we have presumed the reader to be acquainted with the manner in which such results are commonly attained, it is not to be supposed that the triumph of Middleton, either over the prejudices of the father or over those of the daughter, was achieved without difficulty.
By a species of pious fraud, for which no doubt the worthy priest found his absolution in the purity of his motives, he declared that, while no positive change was actually wrought in the mind of Middleton, there was every reason to hope the entering wedge of argument had been driven to its head, and that in consequence an opening was left, through which, it might rationally be hoped, the blessed seeds of a religious fructification would find their way, especially if the subject was left uninterruptedly to enjoy the advantage of catholic communion.
The offers of Middleton were promptly accepted, and, while the father looked forward impatiently to the day assigned for the nuptials, as to the pledge of his own success, the daughter thought of it with feelings in which the holy emotions of her faith were blended with the softer sensations of her years and situation.
Father Ignatius performed the offices of the church, in a little chapel attached to the estate of Don Augustin; and long ere the sun had begun to fall, Middleton pressed the blushing and timid young Creole to his bosom, his acknowledged and unalienable wife.
There was so much of fervent piety, mingled with so strong a burst of natural feeling, so much of the woman blended with the angel, in her prayers, that Middleton could have forgiven her, had she termed him a Pagan, for the sweetness and interest with which she petitioned in his favour.
Imitate my father, Middleton, and I can ask no more of you.
The hand had already made half of another circuit, around the face of the dial, when Middleton arose and announced his determination to go and offer himself, as an escort to the absentee.
For many hours, a secret distrust of the motives of his wife caused Middleton to proceed in the search with delicacy and caution.
But Middleton, the lover, the husband, the bridegroom--Middleton was nearly crushed by the weight of the unexpected and terrible blow.