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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter IV

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A smile, which the major had tried to make a careless one, curled his lip satirically as he bowed in reply. "It is the first time," he said dryly, "that I believe I have been honored with arranging a tryst for two lovers; but believe me, Mistress Thankful, I will do my best. In half an hour I will turn my prisoner over to you."

In half an hour the punctual Mistress Thankful, with a hood hiding her pale face, passed the officer in the hall, on the way to her rendezvous. An hour later Caesar came with a message that Mistress Thankful would like to see him. When the major entered the sitting-room, he was shocked to find her lying pale and motionless on the sofa; but as the door closed she rose to her feet, and confronted him.

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"I do not know," she said slowly, "whether you are aware that the man I just now parted from was for a twelvemonth past my sweetheart, and that I believed I loved him, and KNEW I was true to him. If you have not heard it, I tell you now, for the time will come when you will hear part of it from the lips of others, and I would rather you should take the whole truth from mine. This man was false to me. He betrayed two friends of mine as spies. I could have forgiven it, had it been only foolish jealousy; but it was, I have since learned from his own lips, only that he might gratify his spite against the commander-in-chief by procuring their arrest, and making a serious difficulty in the American camp, by means of which he hoped to serve his own ends. He told me this, believing that I sympathized with him in his hatred of the commander-in-chief, and in his own wrongs and sufferings. I confess to my shame, Major Van Zandt, that two days ago I did believe him, and that I looked upon you as a mere catch-poll or bailiff of the tyrant. That I found out how I was deceived when I saw the commander-in-chief, you, major, who know him so well, need not be told. Nor was it necessary for me to tell this man that he had deceived me: for I felt that--that--was--not--the--only reason-- why I could no longer return--his love."

She paused, as the major approached her earnestly, and waved him back with her hand. "He reproached me bitterly with my want of feeling for his misfortunes," she went on again: "he recalled my past protestations; he showed me my love-letters; and he told me that if I were still his true sweetheart I ought to help him. I told him if he would never call me by that name again; if he would give up all claim to me; if he would never speak, write to me, nor see me again; if he would hand me back my letters,--I would help him." She stopped: the blood rushed into her pale face. "You will remember, major, that I accepted this man's love as a young, foolish, trustful girl; but when I made him this offer--he--he accepted it."

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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