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Thankful Blossom Bret Harte

Chapter V

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The ancient crone alluded to in the last chapter had been standing behind the window-curtains of that bedroom which had been Thankful Blossom's in the weeks gone by. She did not move her head, but stood looking demurely, after the manner of ancient crones, over the summer landscape. For the summer had come before the tardy spring was scarce gone, and the elms before the window no longer lisped, but were eloquent in the softest zephyrs. There was the flash of birds in among the bushes, the occasional droning of bees in and out the open window, and a perpetually swinging censer of flower incense rising from below. The farm had put on its gayest bridal raiment; and looking at the old farm-house shadowed with foliage and green with creeping vines, it was difficult to conceive that snow had ever lain on its porches, or icicles swung from its mossy eaves.

"Thankful!" said a voice still tremulous with weakness.

The ancient crone turned, drew aside the curtains, and showed the sweet face of Thankful Blossom, more beautiful even in its paleness.

"Come here, darling," repeated the voice.

Thankful stepped to the sofa whereon lay the convalescent Major Van Zandt.

"Tell me, sweetheart," said the major, taking her hand in his, "when you married me, as you told the chaplain, that you might have the right to nurse me, did you never think that if death spared me I might be so disfigured that even you, dear love, would have turned from me with loathing?"

"That was why I did it, dear," said Thankful mischievously. "I knew that the pride, and the sense of honor, and self-devotion of some people, would have kept them from keeping their promises to a poor girl."

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"But, darling," continued the major, raising her hand to his lips, "suppose the case had been reversed: suppose you had taken the disease, that I had recovered without disfigurement, but that this sweet face--"

"I thought of that too," interrupted Thankful. "Well, what would you have done, dear?" said the major, with his old mischievous smile.

"I should have died," said Thankful gravely.

"But how?"

"Somehow. But you are to go to sleep, and not ask impertinent and frivolous questions; for father is coming to-morrow."

"Thankful, dear, do you know what the trees and the birds said to me as I lay there tossing with fever?"

"No, dear."

"Thankful Blossom! Thankful Blossom! Thankful Blossom is coming!"

"Do you know what I said, sweetheart, as I lifted your dear head from the ground when you reeled from your horse just as I overtook you at Springfield?"

"No, dear."

"There are some things in life worth stooping for."

And she winged this Parthian arrow home with a kiss.

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Thankful Blossom
Bret Harte

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