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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter I

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"Nonsense, love," said the captain, who had by this time mounted the wall, and encircled the girl's waist with his arm. "Nonsense! you startled me only. But," he added, suddenly taking her round chin in his hand, and turning her face toward the moon with an uneasy half-suspicion, "why did you take that light from the window? What has happened?"

"We had unexpected guests, sweetheart," said Thankful: "the count just arrived."

"That infernal Hessian!" He stopped, and gazed questioningly into her face. The moon looked upon her at the same time: the face was as sweet, as placid, as truthful, as her own. Possibly these two inconstants understood each other.

"Nay, Allan, he is not a Hessian, but an exiled gentleman from abroad,--a nobleman--"

"There are no noblemen now," sniffed the trooper contemptuously. "Congress has so decreed it. All men are born free and equal."

"But they are not, Allan," said Thankful, with a pretty trouble in her brows: "even cows are not born equal. Is yon calf that was dropped last night by Brindle the equal of my red heifer whose mother come by herself in a ship from Surrey? Do they look equal?"

"Titles are but breath," said Capt. Brewster doggedly. There was an ominous pause.

"Nay, there is one nobleman left," said Thankful; "and he is my own,--my nature's nobleman!"

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Capt. Brewster did not reply. From certain arch gestures and wreathed smiles with which this forward young woman accompanied her statement, it would seem to be implied that the gentleman who stood before her was the nobleman alluded to. At least, he so accepted it, and embraced her closely, her arms and part of her mantle clinging around his neck. In this attitude they remained quiet for some moments, slightly rocking from side to side like a metronome; a movement, I fancy, peculiarly bucolic, pastoral, and idyllic, and as such, I wot, observed by Theocritus and Virgil.

At these supreme moments weak woman usually keeps her wits about her much better than your superior reasoning masculine animal; and, while the gallant captain was losing himself upon her perfect lips, Miss Thankful distinctly heard the farm-gate click, and otherwise noticed that the moon was getting high and obtrusive. She half released herself from the captain's arms, thoughtfully and tenderly--but firmly. "Tell me all about yourself, Allan dear," she said quietly, making room for him on the wall,--"all, everything."

She turned upon him her beautiful eyes,--eyes habitually earnest and even grave in expression, yet holding in their brave brown depths a sweet, childlike reliance and dependency; eyes with a certain tender, deprecating droop in the brown-fringed lids, and yet eyes that seemed to say to every man who looked upon them, "I am truthful: be frank with me." Indeed, I am convinced there is not one of my impressible sex, who, looking in those pleading eyes, would not have perjured himself on the spot rather than have disappointed their fair owner.

Capt. Brewster's mouth resumed its old expression of discontent.

"Everything is growing worse, Thankful, and the cause is lost. Congress does nothing, and Washington is not the man for the crisis. Instead of marching to Philadelphia, and forcing that wretched rabble of Hancock and Adams at the point of the bayonet, he writes letters."

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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