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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter I

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"With you at the head of the army," broke in Thankful enthusiastically, "peace would be declared within a fortnight."

There is no flattery, however outrageous, that a man will not accept from the woman whom he believes loves him. He will perhaps doubt its influence in the colder judgment of mankind; but he will consider that this poor creature, at least, understands him, and in some vague way represents the eternal but unrecognized verities. And when this is voiced by lips that are young and warm and red, it is somehow quite as convincing as the bloodless, remoter utterance of posterity.

Wherefore the trooper complacently buttoned the compliment over his chest with the pullets.

"I think you must go now, Allan," she said, looking at him with that pseudo-maternal air which the youngest of women sometimes assume to their lovers, as if the doll had suddenly changed sex, and grown to man's estate. "You must go now, dear; for it may so chance that father is considering my absence overmuch. You will come again a' Wednesday, sweetheart; and you will not go to the assemblies, nor visit Mistress Judith, nor take any girl pick-aback again on your black horse; and you will let me know when you are hungry?"

She turned her brown eyes lovingly, yet with a certain pretty trouble in the brow, and such a searching, pleading inquiry in her glance, that the captain kissed her at once. Then came the final embrace, performed by the captain in a half-perfunctory, quiet manner, with a due regard for the friable nature of part of his provisions. Satisfying himself of the integrity of the eggs by feeling for them in his pocket, he waved a military salute with the other hand to Miss Thankful, and was gone. A few minutes later the sound of his horse's hoofs rang sharply from the icy hillside.

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But, as he reached the summit, two horsemen wheeled suddenly from the shadow of the roadside, and bade him halt.

"Capt. Brewster, if this moon does not deceive me?" queried the foremost stranger with grave civility.

"The same. Major Van Zandt, I calculate?" returned Brewster querulously.

"Your calculation is quite right. I regret Capt. Brewster, that it is my duty to inform you that you are under arrest."

"By whose orders?"

"The commander-in-chief's."

"For what?"

"Mutinous conduct, and disrespect of your superior officers."

The sword that Capt. Brewster had drawn at the sudden appearance of the strangers quivered for a moment in his strong hand. Then, sharply striking it across the pommel of his saddle, he snapped it in twain, and cast the pieces at the feet of the speaker.

"Go on," he said doggedly.

"Capt. Brewster," said Major Van Zandt, with infinite gravity, "it is not for me to point out the danger to you of this outspoken emotion, except practically in its effect upon the rations you have in your pocket. If I mistake not, they have suffered equally with your steel. Forward, march!"

Capt. Brewster looked down, and then dropped to the rear, as the discased yolks of Mistress Thankful's most precious gift slid slowly and pensively over his horse's flanks to the ground.

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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