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PAGE 2

Thankful Blossom
by [?]

The stranger, however, kept his eyes fixed only on the farm-shed and the open field beside it. Five minutes passed in fruitless expectancy. Ten minutes! And then the rising moon slowly lifted herself over the black range of the Orange hills, and looked at him, blushing a little, as if the appointment were her own.

The face and figure thus illuminated were those of a strongly built, handsome man of thirty, so soldierly in bearing that it needed not the buff epaulets and facings to show his captain’s rank in the Continental army. Yet there was something in his facial expression that contradicted the manliness of his presence,–an irritation and querulousness that were inconsistent with his size and strength. This fretfulness increased as the moments went by without sign or motion in the faintly lit field beyond, until, in peevish exasperation, he began to kick the nearer stones against the wall.

“Moo-oo-w!”

The soldier started. Not that he was frightened, nor that he had failed to recognize in these prolonged syllables the deep-chested, half-drowsy low of a cow, but that it was so near him–evidently just beside the wall. If an object so bulky could have approached him so near without his knowledge, might not she–

“Moo-oo!”

He drew nearer the wall cautiously. “So, Cushy! Mooly! Come up, Bossy!” he said persuasively. “Moo”–but here the low unexpectedly broke down, and ended in a very human and rather musical little laugh.

“Thankful!” exclaimed the soldier, echoing the laugh a trifle uneasily and affectedly as a hooded little head arose above the wall.

“Well,” replied the figure, supporting a prettily rounded chin on her hands, as she laid her elbows complacently on the wall,–“well, what did you expect? Did you want me to stand here all night, while you skulked moonstruck under a tree? Or did you look for me to call you by name? did you expect me to shout out, ‘Capt. Allan Brewster–‘”

“Thankful, hush!”

“Capt. Allan Brewster of the Connecticut Contingent,” continued the girl, with an affected raising of a low, pathetic voice that was, however, inaudible beyond the tree. “Capt. Brewster, behold me,–your obleeged and humble servant and sweetheart to command.”

Capt. Brewster succeeded, after a slight skirmish at the wall, in possessing himself of the girl’s hand; at which; although still struggling, she relented slightly.

“It isn’t every lad that I’d low for,” she said, with an affected pout, “and there may be others that would not take it amiss; though there be fine ladies enough at the assembly halls at Morristown as might think it hoydenish?”

“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!”