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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter III

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"No! no!" uttered Thankful, with feverish alacrity, "the gentleman was most considerate. On the contrary--mayhap--I"--she hesitated, and then came to a full stop, with a heightened color, as a vivid recollection of that gentleman's face, with the mark of her riding-whip lying across it, rose before her.

"I was about to say that Major Van Zandt, as a gentleman, has known how to fully excuse the natural impulses of a daughter," continued Washington, with a look of perfect understanding; "but let me now satisfy you on another point, where it would seem we greatly differ."

He walked to the door, and summoned his servant, to whom he gave an order. In another moment the fresh-faced young officer who had at first admitted her re-appeared with a file of official papers. He glanced slyly at Thankful Blossom's face with an amused look, as if he had already heard the colloquy between her and his superior officer, and had appreciated that which neither of the earnest actors in the scene had themselves felt,--a certain sense of humor in the situation.

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Howbeit, standing before them, Col. Hamilton gravely turned over the file of papers. Thankful bit her lips in embarrassment. A slight feeling of awe, and a presentiment of some fast-coming shame; a new and strange consciousness of herself, her surroundings, of the dignity of the two men before her; an uneasy feeling of the presence of two ladies who had in some mysterious way entered the room from another door, and who seemed to be intently regarding her from afar with a curiosity as if she were some strange animal; and a wild premonition that her whole future life and happiness depended upon the events of the next few moments,--so took possession of her, that the brave girl trembled for a moment in her isolation and loneliness. In another instant Col. Hamilton, speaking to his superior, but looking obviously at one of the ladies who had entered, handed a paper to Washington, and said, "Here are the charges."

"Read them," said the general coldly.

Col. Hamilton, with a manifest consciousness of another hearer than Mistress Blossom and his general, read the paper. It was couched in phrases of military and legal precision, and related briefly, that upon the certain and personal knowledge of the writer, Abner Blossom of the "Blossom Farm" was in the habit of entertaining two gentlemen, namely, the "Count Ferdinand" and the "Baron Pomposo," suspected enemies of the cause, and possible traitors to the Continental army. It was signed by Allan Brewster, late captain in the Connecticut Contingent.

As Col. Hamilton exhibited the signature, Thankful Blossom had no difficulty in recognizing the familiar bad hand and equally familiar mis-spelling of her lover.

She rose to her feet. With eyes that showed her present trouble and perplexity as frankly as they had a moment before blazed with her indignation, she met, one by one, the glances of the group who now seemed to be closing round her. Yet with a woman's instinct she felt, I am constrained to say, more unfriendliness in the silent presence of the two women than in the possible outspoken criticism of our much-abused sex.

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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