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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter II

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Mistress Thankful read this composition once, twice, and then tore it up. Then, reflecting that it was the first letter of her lover's that she had not kept, she tried to put together again the torn fragments, but vainly, and then in a pet, new to her, cast them from the window. During the rest of the day she was considerably distraite, and even manifested more temper than she was wont to do; and later, when her father rode away on his daily visit to Morristown, she felt strangely relieved. By noon the snow ceased, or rather turned into a driving sleet that again in turn gave way to rain. By this time she became absorbed in her household duties,--in which she was usually skilful,--and in her own thoughts that to-day had a novelty in their meaning. In the midst of this, at about dark, her room being in the rear of the house, she was perhaps unmindful of the trampling of horse without, or the sound of voices in the hall below. Neither was uncommon at that time. Although protected by the Continental army from forage or the rudeness of soldiery, the Blossom farm had always been a halting-place for passing troopers, commissary teamsters, and reconnoitring officers. Gen. Sullivan and Col. Hamilton had watered their horses at its broad, substantial wayside trough, and sat in the shade of its porch. Miss Thankful was only awakened from her daydream by the entrance of the negro farm-hand, Caesar.

"Fo' God, Missy Thankful, them sogers is g'wine into camp in the road, I reckon, for they's jest makin' theysevs free afo' the house, and they's an officer in the company-room with his spurs cocked on the table, readin' a book."

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A quick flame leaped into Thankful's cheek, and her pretty brows knit themselves over darkening eyes. She arose from her work no longer the moody girl, but an indignant goddess, and, pushing the servant aside, swept down the stairs, and threw open the door.

An officer sitting by the fire in an easy, lounging attitude that justified the servant's criticism, arose instantly with an air of evident embarrassment and surprise that was, however, as quickly dominated and controlled by a gentleman's breeding.

"I beg your pardon," he said, with a deep inclination of his handsome head, "but I had no idea that there was any member of this household at home--at least, a lady." He hesitated a moment, catching in the raising of her brown-fringed lids a sudden revelation of her beauty, and partly losing his composure. "I am Major Van Zandt: I have the honor of addressing--"

"Thankful Blossom," said Thankful a little proudly, divining with a woman's swift instinct the cause of the major's hesitation. But her triumph was checked by a new embarrassment visible in the face of the officer at the mention of her name.

"Thankful Blossom," repeated the officer quickly. "You are, then, the daughter of Abner Blossom?"

"Certainly," said Thankful, turning her inquiring eyes upon him. "He will be here betimes. He has gone only to Morristown." In a new fear that had taken possession of her, her questioning eyes asked, "Has he not?"

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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