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0105_001E Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter IV

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"When you took all the pains to go round the hall instead of through the dining-room, lest I should ask you to forgive me," sobbed Mistress Thankful, "I thought--you--must--hate me, and preferred to--"

"Perhaps this letter may mitigate your sorrow, Mistress Thankful," said the officer, pointing to the letter she still held unconsciously in her hand.

With a blush at her pre-occupation, Thankful opened the letter. It was a half-official document, and ran as follows:--

"The Commander-in-Chief is glad to inform Mistress Thankful Blossom that the charges preferred against her father have, upon fair examination, been found groundless and trivial. The Commander-in-Chief further begs to inform Mistress Blossom that the gentleman known to her under the name of the 'Baron Pomposo' was his Excellency Don Juan Morales, Ambassador and Envoy Extraordinary of the Court of Spain, and that the gentleman known to her as the 'Count Ferdinand' was Senor Godoy, Secretary to the Embassy. The Commander-in-Chief wishes to add that Mistress Thankful Blossom is relieved of any further obligation of hospitality toward these honorable gentlemen, as the Commander-in-Chief regrets to record the sudden and deeply-to-be-deplored death of his Excellency this morning by typhoid fever, and the possible speedy return of the Embassy.

"In conclusion, the Commander-in-Chief wishes to bear testimony to the Truthfulness, Intuition, and Discretion of Mistress Thankful Blossom.

"By order of his Excellency,


"ALEX. HAMILTON, Secretary.

"To Mistress THANKFUL BLOSSOM, of Blossom Farm."

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Thankful Blossom was silent for a few moments, and then raised her abashed eyes to Major Van Zandt. A single glance satisfied her that he knew nothing of the imposture that had been practised upon her,--knew nothing of the trap into which her vanity and self-will had led her.

"Dear Mistress Thankful," said the major, seeing the distress in her face, "I trust the news is not ill. Surely I gathered from the sergeant that--"

"What?" said Thankful, looking at him intently.

"That in twenty-four hours at furthest your father would be free, and that I should be relieved--"

"I know that you are a-weary of your task, major," said Thankful bitterly: "rejoice, then, to know your information is correct, and that my father is exonerated--unless--unless this is a forgery, and Gen. Washington should turn out to be somebody else, and YOU should turn out to be somebody else--" And she stopped short, and hid her wet eyes in the window-curtains.

"Poor girl!" said Major Van Zandt to himself. "This trouble has undoubtedly frenzied her. Fool that I was to lay up the insult of one that sorrow and excitement had bereft of reason and responsibility! 'Twere better I should retire at once, and leave her to herself," and the young man slowly retreated toward the door.

But at this moment there were alarming symptoms of distress in the window-curtain; and the major paused as a voice from its dimity depths said plaintively, "And YOU are going without forgiving me!"

"Forgive YOU, Mistress Thankful," said the major, striding to the curtain, and seizing a little hand that was obtruded from its folds,--"forgive you? rather can you forgive me for the folly--the cruelty of mistaking--of--of"--and here the major, hitherto famous for facile compliments, utterly broke down. But the hand he held was no longer cold, but warm and intelligent; and in default of coherent speech he held fast by that as the thread of his discourse, until Mistress Thankful quietly withdrew it, thanked him for his forgiveness, and retired deeper behind the curtain.

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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