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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter IV

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But the violets were hidden. Mistress Thankful, regardless of the wet leaves and her new gown, groped with her fingers among the withered grasses. Major Van Zandt leaned against a bowlder, and watched her with admiring eyes.

"You'll never find flowers that way," she said at last, looking up to him impatiently. "Go down on your knees like an honest man. There are some things in this world worth stooping for."

The major instantly dropped on his knees beside her. But at that moment Mistress Thankful found her posies, and rose to her feet. "Stay where you are," she said mischievously, as she stooped down, and placed a flower in the lapel of his coat. "That is to make amends for my rudeness. Now get up."

But the major did not rise. He caught the two little hands that had seemed to flutter like birds against his breast, and, looking up into the laughing face above him, said, "Dear Mistress Thankful, dare I remind you of your own words, that 'there be some things worth stooping for'? Think of my love, Mistress Thankful, as a flower,--mayhap not as gracious to you as your violets, but as honest and--and--and--as--"

"Ready to spring up in a single night," laughed Thankful. "But no; get up, major! What would the fine ladies of Morristown say of your kneeling at the feet of a country girl,--the play and sport of every fine gentleman? What if Mistress Bolton should see her own cavalier, the modish Major Van Zandt, proffering his affections to the disgraced sweetheart of a perjured traitor? Leave go my hand, I pray you, major,--if you respect--"

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She was free, yet she faltered a moment beside him, with tears quivering on her long brown lashes. Then she said tremulously, "Rise up, major. Let us think no more of this. I pray you forgive me, if I have again been rude."

The major struggled to rise to his feet. But he could not. And then I regret to have to record that the fact became obvious that one of his shapely legs was in a bog-hole, and that he was perceptibly sinking out of sight. Whereat Mistress Thankful trilled out a three-syllabled laugh, looked demure and painfully concerned at his condition, and then laughed again. The major joined in her mirth, albeit his face was crimson. And then, with a little cry of alarm, she flew to his side, and put her arms around him.

"Keep away, keep away, for Heaven's sake, Mistress Blossom," he said quickly, "or I shall plunge you into my mishap, and make you as ridiculous as myself."

But the quick-witted girl had already leaped to an adjacent bowlder. "Take off your sash," she said quickly; "fasten it to your belt, and throw it to me." He did so. She straightened herself back on the rock. "Now, all together," she cried, with a preliminary strain on the sash; and then the cords of her well-trained muscles stood out on her rounded arms, and, with a long pull and a strong pull and a pull all together, she landed the major upon the rock. And then she laughed; and then, inconsistent as it may appear, she became grave, and at once proceeded to scrape him off, and rub him down with dried leaves, with fern-twigs, with her handkerchief, with the border of her mantle, as if he were a child, until he blushed with alternate shame and secret satisfaction.

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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