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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter IV

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They spoke but little on their return to the farm-house, for Mistress Thankful had again become grave. And yet the sun shone cheerily above them; the landscape was filled with the joy of resurrection and new and awakened life; the breeze whispered gentle promises of hope, and the fruition of their hopes in the summer to come. And these two fared on until they reached the porch, with a half-pleased, half-frightened consciousness that they were not the same beings who had left it a half-hour before.

Nevertheless at the porch Mistress Thankful regained something of her old audacity. As they stood together in the hall, she handed him back the sash she had kept with her. As she did so, she could not help saying, "There are some things worth stooping for, Major Van Zandt."

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But she had not calculated upon the audacity of the man; and as she turned to fly she was caught by his strong arm, and pinioned to his side. She struggled, honestly I think, and perhaps more frightened at her own feelings than at his strength; but it is to be recorded that he kissed her in a moment of comparative yielding, and then, frightened himself, released her quickly, whereat she fled to her room, and threw herself panting and troubled upon her bed. For an hour or two she lay there, with flushed cheeks and conflicting thoughts. "He must never kiss me again," she said softly to herself, "unless"--but the interrupting thought said, "I shall die if he kiss me not again; and I never can kiss another." And then she was roused by a footstep upon the stair, which in that brief time she had learned to know and look for, and a knock at the door. She opened it to Major Van Zandt, white and so colorless as to bring out once more the faint red line made by her riding-whip two days before, as if it had risen again in accusation. The blood dropped out of her cheeks as she gazed at him in silence.

"An escort of dragoons," said Major Van Zandt slowly, and with military precision, "has just arrived, bringing with them one Capt. Allan Brewster, of the Connecticut Contingent, on his way to Morristown to be tried for mutiny and treason. A private note from Col. Hamilton instructs me to allow him to have a private audience with you--if YOU so wish it."

With a woman's swift and too often hopeless intuition, Thankful knew that this was not the sole contents of the letter, and that her relations with Capt. Brewster were known to the man before her. But she drew herself up a little proudly, and, turning her truthful eyes upon the major, said, "I DO so wish it."

"It shall be done as you desire, Mistress Blossom," returned the officer with cold politeness, as he turned upon his heel.

"One moment, Major Van Zandt," said Thankful swiftly.

The major turned quickly; but Thankful's eyes were gazing thoughtfully forward, and scarcely glanced at him. "I would prefer," she said timidly and hesitatingly, "that this interview should not take place under the roof where--where--where--my father lives. Half-way down the meadow there is a barn, and before it a broken part of the wall, fronting on a sycamore-tree. HE will know where it is. Tell him I will see him there in half an hour."

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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