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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter III

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"That creature!" said Lady Washington,--"that light-o'-love with her Connecticut captain lover! Pardon me, but this is preposterous;" and with a stiff courtesy she swept from the room, leaving the central figure of history--as such central figures are apt to be left--alone.

Later in the evening Mistress Schuyler so far subdued the tears and emotions of Thankful, that she was enabled to dry her eyes, and rearrange her brown hair in the quaint little mirror in Mistress Schuyler's chamber; Mistress Schuyler herself lending a touch and suggestion here and there, after the secret freemasonry of her sex. "You are well rid of this forsworn captain, dear Mistress Thankful; and methinks that with hair as beautiful as yours, the new style of wearing it, though a modish frivolity, is most becoming. I assure you 'tis much affected in New York and Philadelphia,--drawn straight back from the forehead, after this manner, as you see."

The result was, that an hour later Mistress Schuyler and Mistress Blossom presented themselves to Col. Hamilton in the reception-room, with a certain freshness and elaboration of toilet that not only quite shamed the young officer's affaire negligence, but caused him to open his eyes in astonishment. "Perhaps she would rather be alone, that she might indulge her grief," he said doubtingly, in an aside to Miss Schuyler, "rather than appear in company."

"Nonsense," quoth Mistress Schuyler. "Is a young woman to mope and sigh because her lover proves false?"

"But her father is a prisoner," said Hamilton in amazement.

"Can you look me in the face," said Mistress Schuyler mischievously, "and tell me that you don't know that in twenty-four hours her father will be cleared of these charges? Nonsense! Do you think I have no eyes in my head? Do you think I misread the general's face and your own?"

"But, my dear girl," said the officer in alarm.

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"Oh! I told her so, but not WHY," responded Miss Schuyler with a wicked look in her dark eyes, "though I had warrant enough to do so, to serve you for keeping a secret from ME!"

And with this Parthian shot she returned to Mistress Thankful, who, with her face pressed against the window, was looking out on the moonlit slope beside the Whippany River.

For, by one of those freaks peculiar to the American springtide, the weather had again marvellously changed. The rain had ceased, and the ground was covered with an icing of sleet and snow, that now glittered under a clear sky and a brilliant moon. The northeast wind that shook the loose sashes of the windows had transformed each dripping tree and shrub to icy stalactites that silvered under the moon's cold touch.

"'Tis a beautiful sight, ladies," said a bluff, hearty, middle-aged man, joining the group by the window. "But God send the spring to us quickly, and spare us any more such cruel changes! My lady moon looks fine enough, glittering in yonder treetops; but I doubt not she looks down upon many a poor fellow shivering under his tattered blankets in the camp beyond. Had ye seen the Connecticut tatterdemalions file by last night, with arms reversed, showing their teeth at his Excellency, and yet not daring to bite; had ye watched these faint-hearts, these doubting Thomases, ripe for rebellion against his Excellency, against the cause, but chiefly against the weather,--ye would pray for a thaw that would melt the hearts of these men as it would these stubborn fields around us. Two weeks more of such weather would raise up not one Allan Brewster, but a dozen such malcontent puppies ripe for a drum-head court-martial."

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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