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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter III

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Mistress Thankful hesitated for a moment, and then, with one of her truthful glances at the commander-in-chief, began a detailed account of the outward semblance of the count. Why she began with him, I am unable to say; but possibly it was because it was easier, for when she came to describe the baron, she was, I regret to say, somewhat vague and figurative. Not so vague, however, but that Col. Hamilton suddenly started up with a look at his chief, who instantly checked it with a gesture of his ruffled hand.

"I thank you. Mistress Thankful," he said quite impassively, "but did this other gentleman, this baron--"

"Pomposo," said Thankful proudly. A titter originated in the group of ladies by the window, and became visible on the fresh face of Col. Hamilton; but the dignified color of Washington's countenance was unmoved.

"May I ask if the baron made an honorable tender of his affections to you," he continued, with respectful gravity,--"if his attentions were known to your father, and were such as honest Mistress Blossom could receive?"

"Father introduced him to me, and wanted me to be kind to him, He-- he kissed me, and I slapped his face," said Thankful quickly, with cheeks as red, I warrant, as the baron's might have been.

The moment the words had escaped her truthful lips, she would have given her life to recall them. To her astonishment, however, Col. Hamilton laughed outright, and the ladies turned and approached her, but were checked by a slight gesture from the otherwise impassive figure of the general.

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"It is possible, Mistress Thankful," he resumed, with undisturbed composure, "that one at least of these gentlemen may be known to us, and that your instincts may be correct. At least rest assured that we shall fully inquire into it, and that your father shall have the benefit of that inquiry."

"I thank your Excellency," said Thankful, still reddening under the contemplation of her own late frankness, and retreating toward the door. "I--think--I--must--go--now. It is late, and I have far to ride."

To her surprise, however, Washington stepped forward, and, again taking her hands in his, said with a grave smile, "For that very reason, if for none other, you must be our guest to-night, Mistress Thankful Blossom. We still retain our Virginian ideas of hospitality, and are tyrannous enough to make strangers conform to them, even though we have but perchance the poorest of entertainment to offer them. Lady Washington will not permit Mistress Thankful Blossom to leave her roof to-night until she has partaken of her courtesy as well as her counsel."

"Mistress Thankful Blossom will make us believe that she has at least in so far trusted our desire to serve her justly, by accepting our poor hospitality for a single night," said Lady Washington, with a stately courtesy.

Thankful Blossom still stood irresolutely at the door. But the next moment a pair of youthful arms encircled her; and the younger gentlewoman, looking into her brown eyes with an honest frankness equal to her own, said caressingly, "Dear Mistress Thankful, though I am but a guest in her ladyship's house, let me, I pray you, add my voice to hers. I am Mistress Schuyler of Albany, at your service, Mistress Thankful, as Col. Hamilton here will bear me witness, did I need any interpreter to your honest heart. Believe me, dear Mistress Thankful, I sympathize with you, and only beg you to give me an opportunity to-night to serve you. You will stay, I know, and you will stay with me; and we shall talk over the faithlessness of that over-jealous Yankee captain who has proved himself, I doubt not, as unworthy of YOU as he is of his country."

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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