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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter II

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"'Tis but prudence, lass," said Blossom, frowning on the girl. "'Tis that she might disclose some movement of the army, tending to defeat the enemy."

"And why should she not try to save her lad from capture or ambuscade such as befell the Hessian commissary with the provisions that you--"

Mr. Blossom, in an ostensible fatherly embrace, managed to pinch Mistress Thankful sharply. "Hush, lass," he said with simulated playfulness; "your tongue clacks like the Whippany mill.--My daughter has small concern--'tis the manner of womenfolk--in politics," he explained to his guests. "These dangersome days have given her sore affliction by way of parting comrades of her childhood, and others whom she has much affected. It has in some sort soured her."

Mr. Blossom would have recalled this speech as soon as it escaped him, lest it should lead to a revelation from the truthful Mistress Thankful of her relations with the Continental captain. But to his astonishment, and, I may add, to my own, she showed nothing of that disposition she had exhibited a few moments before. On the contrary, she blushed slightly, and said nothing.

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And then the conversation changed,--upon the weather, the hard winter, the prospects of the Cause, a criticism upon the commander-in-chief's management of affairs, the attitude of Congress, etc., between Mr. Blossom and the count; characterized, I hardly need say, by that positiveness of opinion that distinguishes the unprofessional. In another part of the room, it so chanced that Mistress Thankful and the baron were talking about themselves; the assembly balls; who was the prettiest woman in Morristown; and whether Gen. Washington's attentions to Mistress Pyne were only perfunctory gallantry, or what; and if Lady Washington's hair was really gray; and if that young aide-de-camp, Major Van Zandt were really in love with Lady or whether his attentions were only the zeal of a subaltern,--in the midst of which a sudden gust of wind shook the house; and Mr. Blossom, going to the front door, came back with the announcement that it was snowing heavily.

And indeed, within that past hour, to their astonished eyes the whole face of nature had changed. The moon was gone, the sky hidden in a blinding, whirling swarm of stinging flakes. The wind, bitter and strong, had already fashioned white feathery drifts upon the threshold, over the painted benches on the porch, and against the door-posts.

Mistress Thankful and the baron had walked to the rear door--the baron with a slight tropical shudder--to view this meteorological change. As Mistress Thankful looked over the snowy landscape, it seemed to her that all record of her past experience had been effaced: her very footprints of an hour before were lost; the gray wall on which she leaned was white and spotless now; even the familiar farm-shed looked dim and strange and ghostly. Had she been there? had she seen the captain? was it all a fancy? She scarcely knew.

A sudden gust of wind closed the door behind them with a crash, and sent Mistress Thankful, with a slight feminine scream, forward into the outer darkness. But the baron caught her by the waist, and saved her from Heaven knows what imaginable disaster; and the scene ended in a half-hysterical laugh. But the wind then set upon them both with a malevolent fury; and the baron was, I presume, obliged to draw her closer to his side.

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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