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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter IV

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When he had gone, she threw herself in a chair, and again gave way to a passionate flood of tears. In the last twenty-four hours her pride had been utterly humbled: the independent spirit of this self-willed little beauty had met for the first time with defeat. When she had got over her womanly shock at the news of the sham baron's death, she had, I fear, only a selfish regard at his taking off; believing that if living he would in some way show the world-- which just then consisted of the headquarters and Major Van Zandt-- that he had really made love to her, and possibly did honorably love her still, and might yet give her an opportunity to reject him. And now he was dead, and she was held up to the world as the conceited plaything of a fine gentleman's masquerading sport. That her father's cupidity and ambition made him sanction the imposture, in her bitterness she never doubted. No! Lover, friend, father-- all had been false to her, and the only kindness she had received was from the men she had wantonly insulted. Poor little Blossom! indeed, a most premature Blossom; I fear a most unthankful Blossom, sitting there shivering in the first chill wind of adversity, rocking backward and forward, with the skirt of her dimity short-gown over her shoulders, and her little buckled shoes and clocked stockings pathetically crossed before her.

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But healthy youth is re-active; and in an hour or two Thankful was down at the cow-shed, with her arms around the neck of her favorite heifer, to whom she poured out much of her woes, and from whom she won an intelligent sort of slobbering sympathy. And then she sharply scolded Caesar for nothing at all, and a moment after returned to the house with the air and face of a deeply injured angel, who had been disappointed in some celestial idea of setting this world right, but was still not above forgiveness,--a spectacle that sunk Major Van Zandt into the dark depths of remorse, and eventually sent him to smoke a pipe of Virginia with his men in the roadside camp; seeing which, Thankful went early to bed, and cried herself to sleep. And Nature possibly followed her example; for at sunset a great thaw set in, and by midnight the freed rivers and brooks were gurgling melodiously, and tree and shrub and fence were moist and dripping.

The red dawn at last struggled through the vaporous veil that hid the landscape. Then occurred one of those magical changes peculiar to the climate, yet perhaps pre-eminently notable during that historic winter and spring. By ten o'clock on that 3d of May, 1780, a fervent June-like sun had rent that vaporous veil, and poured its direct rays upon the gaunt and haggard profile of the Jersey hills. The chilled soil responded but feebly to that kiss; perhaps a few of the willows that yellowed the river-banks took on a deeper color. But the country folk were certain that spring had come at last; and even the correct and self-sustained Major Van Zandt came running in to announce to Mistress Thankful that one of his men had seen a violet in the meadow. In another moment Mistress Thankful had donned her cloak and pattens to view this firstling of the laggard summer. It was quite natural that Major Van Zandt should accompany her as she tripped on; and so, without a thought of their past differences, they ran like very children down the moist and rocky slope that led to the quaggy meadow. Such was the influence of the vernal season.

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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