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Title: Gone With The Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)
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Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Title:      Gone With The Wind
Author:     Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)




PART ONE



CHAPTER I


Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when
caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.  In her face were
too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast
aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid
Irish father.  But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin,
square of jaw.  Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel,
starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends.
Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a
startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin--that skin so
prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets,
veils and mittens against hot Georgia suns.

Seated with Stuart and Brent Tarleton in the cool shade of the
porch of Tara, her father's plantation, that bright April
afternoon of 1861, she made a pretty picture.  Her new green
flowered-muslin dress spread its twelve yards of billowing
material over her hoops and exactly matched the flat-heeled green
morocco slippers her father had recently brought her from Atlanta.
The dress set off to perfection the seventeen-inch waist, the
smallest in three counties, and the tightly fitting basque showed
breasts well matured for her sixteen years.  But for all the
modesty of her spreading skirts, the demureness of hair netted
smoothly into a chignon and the quietness of small white hands
folded in her lap, her true self was poorly concealed.  The green
eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, willful, lusty
with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor.
Her manners had been imposed upon her by her mother's gentle
admonitions and the sterner discipline of her mammy; her eyes were
her own.

On either side of her, the twins lounged easily in their chairs,
squinting at the sunlight through tall mint-garnished glasses as
they laughed and talked, their long legs, booted to the knee and
thick with saddle muscles, crossed negligently.  Nineteen years
old, six feet two inches tall, long of bone and hard of muscle,
with sunburned faces and deep auburn hair, their eyes merry and
arrogant, their bodies clothed in identical blue coats and
mustard-colored breeches, they were as much alike as two bolls of
cotton.

Outside, the late afternoon sun slanted down in the yard, throwing
into gleaming brightness the dogwood trees that were solid masses
of white blossoms against the background of new green.  The twins'
horses were hitched in the driveway, big animals, red as their
masters' hair; and around the horses' legs quarreled the pack of
lean, nervous possum hounds that accompanied Stuart and Brent
wherever they went.  A little aloof, as became an aristocrat, lay
a black-spotted carriage dog, muzzle on paws, patiently waiting
for the boys to go home to supper.

Between the hounds and the horses and the twins there was a
kinship deeper than that of their constant companionship.  They
were all healthy, thoughtless young animals, sleek, graceful,
high-spirited, the boys as mettlesome as the horses they rode,
mettlesome and dangerous but, withal, sweet-tempered to those who
knew how to handle them.

Although born to the ease of plantation life, waited on hand and
foot since infancy, the faces of the three on the porch were
neither slack nor soft.  They had the vigor and alertness of
country people who have spent all their lives in the open and
troubled their heads very little with dull things in books.  Life
in the north Georgia county of Clayton was still new and,
according to the standards of Augusta, Savannah and Charleston, a
little crude.  The more sedate and older sections of the South
looked down their noses at the up-country Georgians, but here in
north Georgia, a lack of the niceties of classical education
carried no shame, provided a man was smart in the things that
mattered.  And raising good cotton, riding well, shooting
straight, dancing lightly, squiring the ladies with elegance and
carrying one's liquor like a gentleman were the things that
mattered.

In these accomplishments the twins excelled, and they were equally
outstanding in their notorious inability to learn anything
contained between the covers of books.  Their family had more
money, more horses, more slaves than any one else in the County,
but the boys had less grammar than most of their poor Cracker
neighbors.

It was for this precise reason that Stuart and Brent were idling
on the porch of Tara this April afternoon.  They had just been
expelled from the University of Georgia, the fourth university
that had thrown them out in two years; and their older brothers,
Tom and Boyd, had come home with them, because they refused to
remain at an institution where the twins were not welcome.  Stuart
and Brent considered their latest expulsion a fine joke, and
Scarlett, who had not willingly opened a book since leaving the
Fayetteville Female Academy the year before, thought it just as
amusing as they did.

"I know you two don't care about being expelled, or Tom either,"
she said.  "But what about Boyd?  He's kind of set on getting an
education, and you two have pulled him out of the University of
Virginia and Alabama and South Carolina and now Georgia.  He'll
never get finished at this rate."

"Oh, he can read law in Judge Parmalee's office over in
Fayetteville," answered Brent carelessly.  "Besides, it don't
matter much.  We'd have had to come home before the term was out
anyway."

"Why?"

"The war, goose!  The war's going to start any day, and you don't
suppose any of us would stay in college with a war going on, do
you?"

"You know there isn't going to be any war," said Scarlett, bored.
"It's all just talk.  Why, Ashley Wilkes and his father told Pa
just last week that our commissioners in Washington would come
to--to--an--amicable agreement with Mr. Lincoln about the
Confederacy.  And anyway, the Yankees are too scared of us to
fight.  There won't be any war, and I'm tired of hearing about
it."

"Not going to be any war!" cried the twins indignantly, as though
they had been defrauded.

"Why, honey, of course there's going to be a war," said Stuart.
"The Yankees may be scared of us, but after the way General
Beauregard shelled them out of Fort Sumter day before yesterday,
they'll have to fight or stand branded as cowards before the whole
world.  Why, the Confederacy--"

Scarlett made a mouth of bored impatience.

"If you say 'war' just once more, I'll go in the house and shut
the door.  I've never gotten so tired of any one word in my life
as 'war,' unless it's 'secession.'  Pa talks war morning, noon and
night, and all the gentlemen who come to see him shout about Fort
Sumter and States' Rights and Abe Lincoln till I get so bored I
could scream!  And that's all the boys talk about, too, that and
their old Troop.  There hasn't been any fun at any party this
spring because the boys can't talk about anything else.  I'm
mighty glad Georgia waited till after Christmas before it seceded
or it would have ruined the Christmas parties, too.  If you say
'war' again, I'll go in the house."

She meant what she said, for she could never long endure any
conversation of which she was not the chief subject.  But she
smiled when she spoke, consciously deepening her dimple and
fluttering her bristly black lashes as swiftly as butterflies'
wings.  The boys were enchanted, as she had intended them to be,
and they hastened to apologize for boring her.  They thought none
the less of her for her lack of interest.  Indeed, they thought
more.  War was men's business, not ladies', and they took her
attitude as evidence of her femininity.

Having maneuvered them away from the boring subject of war, she
went back with interest to their immediate situation.

"What did your mother say about you two being expelled again?"

The boys looked uncomfortable, recalling their mother's conduct
three months ago when they had come home, by request, from the
University of Virginia.

"Well," said Stuart, "she hasn't had a chance to say anything yet.
Tom and us left home early this morning before she got up, and
Tom's laying out over at the Fontaines' while we came over here."

"Didn't she say anything when you got home last night?"

"We were in luck last night.  Just before we got home that new
stallion Ma got in Kentucky last month was brought in, and the
place was in a stew.  The big brute--he's a grand horse, Scarlett;
you must tell your pa to come over and see him right away--he'd
already bitten a hunk out of his groom on the way down here and
he'd trampled two of Ma's darkies who met the train at Jonesboro.
And just before we got home, he'd about kicked the stable down and
half-killed Strawberry, Ma's old stallion.  When we got home, Ma
was out in the stable with a sackful of sugar smoothing him down
and doing it mighty well, too.  The darkies were hanging from the
rafters, popeyed, they were so scared, but Ma was talking to the
horse like he was folks and he was eating out of her hand.  There
ain't nobody like Ma with a horse.  And when she saw us she said:
'In Heaven's name, what are you four doing home again?  You're
worse than the plagues of Egypt!'  And then the horse began
snorting and rearing and she said:  'Get out of here!  Can't you
see he's nervous, the big darling?  I'll tend to you four in the
morning!'  So we went to bed, and this morning we got away before
she could catch us and left Boyd to handle her."

"Do you suppose she'll hit Boyd?"  Scarlett, like the rest of the
County, could never get used to the way small Mrs. Tarleton
bullied her grown sons and laid her riding crop on their backs if
the occasion seemed to warrant it.

Beatrice Tarleton was a busy woman, having on her hands not only a
large cotton plantation, a hundred negroes and eight children, but
the largest horse-breeding farm in the state as well.  She was
hot-tempered and easily plagued by the frequent scrapes of her
four sons, and while no one was permitted to whip a horse or a
slave, she felt that a lick now and then didn't do the boys any
harm.

"Of course she won't hit Boyd.  She never did beat Boyd much
because he's the oldest and besides he's the runt of the litter,"
said Stuart, proud of his six feet two.  "That's why we left him
at home to explain things to her.  God'lmighty, Ma ought to stop
licking us!  We're nineteen and Tom's twenty-one, and she acts
like we're six years old."

"Will your mother ride the new horse to the Wilkes barbecue
tomorrow?"

"She wants to, but Pa says he's too dangerous.  And, anyway, the
girls won't let her.  They said they were going to have her go to
one party at least like a lady, riding in the carriage."

"I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow," said Scarlett.  "It's rained
nearly every day for a week.  There's nothing worse than a
barbecue turned into an indoor picnic."

"Oh, it'll be clear tomorrow and hot as June," said Stuart.
"Look at that sunset.  I never saw one redder.  You can always
tell weather by sunsets."

They looked out across the endless acres of Gerald O'Hara's newly
plowed cotton fields toward the red horizon.  Now that the sun was
setting in a welter of crimson behind the hills across the Flint
River, the warmth of the April day was ebbing into a faint but
balmy chill.

Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden
frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white
stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills.  Already the plowing
was nearly finished, and the bloody glory of the sunset colored
the fresh-cut furrows of red Georgia clay to even redder hues.
The moist hungry earth, waiting upturned for the cotton seeds,
showed pinkish on the sandy tops of furrows, vermilion and scarlet
and maroon where shadows lay along the sides of the trenches.  The
whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild
red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified
suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking
into surf.  For here were no long, straight furrows, such as could
be seen in the yellow clay fields of the flat middle Georgia
country or in the lush black earth of the coastal plantations.
The rolling foothill country of north Georgia was plowed in a
million curves to keep the rich earth from washing down into the
river bottoms.

It was a savagely red land, blood-colored after rains, brick dust
in droughts, the best cotton land in the world.  It was a pleasant
land of white houses, peaceful plowed fields and sluggish yellow
rivers, but a land of contrasts, of brightest sun glare and
densest shade.  The plantation clearings and miles of cotton
fields smiled up to a warm sun, placid, complacent.  At their
edges rose the virgin forests, dark and cool even in the hottest
noons, mysterious, a little sinister, the soughing pines seeming
to wait with an age-old patience, to threaten with soft sighs:
"Be careful!  Be careful!  We had you once.  We can take you back
again."

To the ears of the three on the porch came the sounds of hooves,
the jingling of harness chains and the shrill careless laughter
of negro voices, as the field hands and mules came in from the
fields.  From within the house floated the soft voice of
Scarlett's mother, Ellen O'Hara, as she called to the little black
girl who carried her basket of keys.  The high-pitched, childish
voice answered "Yas'm," and there were sounds of footsteps going
out the back way toward the smokehouse where Ellen would ration
out the food to the home-coming hands.  There was the click of
china and the rattle of silver as Pork, the valet-butler of Tara,
laid the table for supper.

At these last sounds, the twins realized it was time they were
starting home.  But they were loath to face their mother and they
lingered on the porch of Tara, momentarily expecting Scarlett to
give them an invitation to supper.

"Look, Scarlett.  About tomorrow," said Brent.  "Just because
we've been away and didn't know about the barbecue and the ball,
that's no reason why we shouldn't get plenty of dances tomorrow
night.  You haven't promised them all, have you?"

"Well, I have!  How did I know you all would be home?  I couldn't
risk being a wallflower just waiting on you two."

"You a wallflower!"  The boys laughed uproariously.

"Look, honey.  You've got to give me the first waltz and Stu the
last one and you've got to eat supper with us.  We'll sit on the
stair landing like we did at the last ball and get Mammy Jincy to
come tell our fortunes again."

"I don't like Mammy Jincy's fortunes.  You know she said I was
going to marry a gentleman with jet-black hair and a long black
mustache, and I don't like black-haired gentlemen."

"You like 'em red-headed, don't you, honey?" grinned Brent.  "Now,
come on, promise us all the waltzes and the supper."

"If you'll promise, we'll tell you a secret," said Stuart.

"What?" cried Scarlett, alert as a child at the word.

"Is it what we heard yesterday in Atlanta, Stu?  If it is, you
know we promised not to tell."

"Well, Miss Pitty told us."

"Miss Who?"

"You know, Ashley Wilkes' cousin who lives in Atlanta, Miss
Pittypat Hamilton--Charles and Melanie Hamilton's aunt."

"I do, and a sillier old lady I never met in all my life."

"Well, when we were in Atlanta yesterday, waiting for the home
train, her carriage went by the depot and she stopped and talked
to us, and she told us there was going to be an engagement
announced tomorrow night at the Wilkes ball."

"Oh.  I know about that," said Scarlett in disappointment.  "That
silly nephew of hers, Charlie Hamilton, and Honey Wilkes.
Everybody's known for years that they'd get married some time,
even if he did seem kind of lukewarm about it."

"Do you think he's silly?" questioned Brent.  "Last Christmas you
sure let him buzz round you plenty."

"I couldn't help him buzzing," Scarlett shrugged negligently.  "I
think he's an awful sissy."

"Besides, it isn't his engagement that's going to be announced,"
said Stuart triumphantly.  "It's Ashley's to Charlie's sister,
Miss Melanie!"

Scarlett's face did not change but her lips went white--like a
person who has received a stunning blow without warning and who,
in the first moments of shock, does not realize what has happened.
So still was her face as she stared at Stuart that he, never
analytic, took it for granted that she was merely surprised and
very interested.

"Miss Pitty told us they hadn't intended announcing it till next
year, because Miss Melly hasn't been very well; but with all the
war talk going around, everybody in both families thought it would
be better to get married soon.  So it's to be announced tomorrow
night at the supper intermission.  Now, Scarlett, we've told you
the secret, so you've got to promise to eat supper with us."

"Of course I will," Scarlett said automatically.

"And all the waltzes?"

"All."

"You're sweet!  I'll bet the other boys will be hopping mad."

"Let 'em be mad," said Brent.  "We two can handle 'em.  Look,
Scarlett.  Sit with us at the barbecue in the morning."

"What?"

Stuart repeated his request.

"Of course."

The twins looked at each other jubilantly but with some surprise.
Although they considered themselves Scarlett's favored suitors,
they had never before gained tokens of this favor so easily.
Usually she made them beg and plead, while she put them off,
refusing to give a Yes or No answer, laughing if they sulked,
growing cool if they became angry.  And here she had practically
promised them the whole of tomorrow--seats by her at the barbecue,
all the waltzes (and they'd see to it that the dances were all
waltzes!) and the supper intermission.  This was worth getting
expelled from the university.

Filled with new enthusiasm by their success, they lingered on,
talking about the barbecue and the ball and Ashley Wilkes and
Melanie Hamilton, interrupting each other, making jokes and
laughing at them, hinting broadly for invitations to supper.  Some
time had passed before they realized that Scarlett was having very
little to say.  The atmosphere had somehow changed.  Just how, the
twins did not know, but the fine glow had gone out of the
afternoon.  Scarlett seemed to be paying little attention to what
they said, although she made the correct answers.  Sensing
something they could not understand, baffled and annoyed by it,
the twins struggled along for a while, and then rose reluctantly,
looking at their watches.

The sun was low across the new-plowed fields and the tall woods
across the river were looming blackly in silhouette.  Chimney
swallows were darting swiftly across the yard, and chickens, ducks
and turkeys were waddling and strutting and straggling in from the
fields.

Stuart bellowed:  "Jeems!"  And after an interval a tall black boy
of their own age ran breathlessly around the house and out toward
the tethered horses.  Jeems was their body servant and, like the
dogs, accompanied them everywhere.  He had been their childhood
playmate and had been given to the twins for their own on their
tenth birthday.  At the sight of him, the Tarleton hounds rose up
out of the red dust and stood waiting expectantly for their
masters.  The boys bowed, shook hands and told Scarlett they'd be
over at the Wilkeses' early in the morning, waiting for her.  Then
they were off down the walk at a rush, mounted their horses and,
followed by Jeems, went down the avenue of cedars at a gallop,
waving their hats and yelling back to her.

When they had rounded the curve of the dusty road that hid them
from Tara, Brent drew his horse to a stop under a clump of
dogwood.  Stuart halted, too, and the darky boy pulled up a few
paces behind them.  The horses, feeling slack reins, stretched
down their necks to crop the tender spring grass, and the patient
hounds lay down again in the soft red dust and looked up longingly
at the chimney swallows circling in the gathering dusk.  Brent's
wide ingenuous face was puzzled and mildly indignant.

"Look," he said.  "Don't it look to you like she would of asked us
to stay for supper?"

"I thought she would," said Stuart.  "I kept waiting for her to do
it, but she didn't.  What do you make of it?"

"I don't make anything of it.  But it just looks to me like she
might of.  After all, it's our first day home and she hasn't seen
us in quite a spell.  And we had lots more things to tell her."

"It looked to me like she was mighty glad to see us when we came."

"I thought so, too."

"And then, about a half-hour ago, she got kind of quiet, like she
had a headache."

"I noticed that but I didn't pay it any mind then.  What do you
suppose ailed her?"

"I dunno.  Do you suppose we said something that made her mad?"

They both thought for a minute.

"I can't think of anything.  Besides, when Scarlett gets mad,
everybody knows it.  She don't hold herself in like some girls
do."

"Yes, that's what I like about her.  She don't go around being
cold and hateful when she's mad--she tells you about it.  But it
was something we did or said that made her shut up talking and
look sort of sick.  I could swear she was glad to see us when we
came and was aiming to ask us to supper."

"You don't suppose it's because we got expelled?"

"Hell, no!  Don't be a fool.  She laughed like everything when we
told her about it.  And besides Scarlett don't set any more store
by book learning than we do."

Brent turned in the saddle and called to the negro groom.

"Jeems!"

"Suh?"

"You heard what we were talking to Miss Scarlett about?"

"Nawsuh, Mist' Brent!  Huccome you think Ah be spyin' on w'ite
folks?"

"Spying, my God!  You darkies know everything that goes on.  Why,
you liar, I saw you with my own eyes sidle round the corner of the
porch and squat in the cape jessamine bush by the wall.  Now, did
you hear us say anything that might have made Miss Scarlett mad--
or hurt her feelings?"

Thus appealed to, Jeems gave up further pretense of not having
overheard the conversation and furrowed his black brow.

"Nawsuh, Ah din' notice y'all say anything ter mek her mad.  Look
ter me lak she sho glad ter see you an' sho had missed you, an'
she cheep along happy as a bird, tell 'bout de time y'all got ter
talkin' 'bout Mist' Ashley an' Miss Melly Hamilton gittin'
mah'ied.  Den she quiet down lak a bird w'en de hawk fly ober."

The twins looked at each other and nodded, but without comprehension.

"Jeems is right.  But I don't see why," said Stuart.  "My Lord!
Ashley don't mean anything to her, 'cept a friend.  She's not
crazy about him.  It's us she's crazy about."

Brent nodded an agreement.

"But do you suppose," he said, "that maybe Ashley hadn't told her
he was going to announce it tomorrow night and she was mad at him
for not telling her, an old friend, before he told everybody else?
Girls set a big store on knowing such things first."

"Well, maybe.  But what if he hadn't told her it was tomorrow?  It
was supposed to be a secret and a surprise, and a man's got a
right to keep his own engagement quiet, hasn't he?  We wouldn't
have known it if Miss Melly's aunt hadn't let it out.  But
Scarlett must have known he was going to marry Miss Melly
sometime.  Why, we've known it for years.  The Wilkes and
Hamiltons always marry their own cousins.  Everybody knew he'd
probably marry her some day, just like Honey Wilkes is going to
marry Miss Melly's brother, Charles."

"Well, I give it up.  But I'm sorry she didn't ask us to supper.
I swear I don't want to go home and listen to Ma take on about us
being expelled.  It isn't as if this was the first time."

"Maybe Boyd will have smoothed her down by now.  You know what a
slick talker that little varmint is.  You know he always can
smooth her down."

"Yes, he can do it, but it takes Boyd time.  He has to talk around
in circles till Ma gets so confused that she gives up and tells
him to save his voice for his law practice.  But he ain't had time
to get good started yet.  Why, I'll bet you Ma is still so excited
about the new horse that she'll never even realize we're home
again till she sits down to supper tonight and sees Boyd.  And
before supper is over she'll be going strong and breathing fire.
And it'll be ten o'clock before Boyd gets a chance to tell her
that it wouldn't have been honorable for any of us to stay in
college after the way the Chancellor talked to you and me.  And
it'll be midnight before he gets her turned around to where she's
so mad at the Chancellor she'll be asking Boyd why he didn't shoot
him.  No, we can't go home till after midnight."

The twins looked at each other glumly.  They were completely
fearless of wild horses, shooting affrays and the indignation of
their neighbors, but they had a wholesome fear of their red-haired
mother's outspoken remarks and the riding crop that she did not
scruple to lay across their breeches.

"Well, look," said Brent.  "Let's go over to the Wilkes.  Ashley
and the girls'll be glad to have us for supper."

Stuart looked a little discomforted.

"No, don't let's go there.  They'll be in a stew getting ready for
the barbecue tomorrow and besides--"

"Oh, I forgot about that," said Brent hastily.  "No, don't let's
go there."

They clucked to their horses and rode along in silence for a
while, a flush of embarrassment on Stuart's brown cheeks.  Until
the previous summer, Stuart had courted India Wilkes with the
approbation of both families and the entire County.  The County
felt that perhaps the cool and contained India Wilkes would have a
quieting effect on him.  They fervently hoped so, at any rate.
And Stuart might have made the match, but Brent had not been
satisfied.  Brent liked India but he thought her mighty plain and
tame, and he simply could not fall in love with her himself to
keep Stuart company.  That was the first time the twins' interest
had ever diverged, and Brent was resentful of his brother's
attentions to a girl who seemed to him not at all remarkable.

Then, last summer at a political speaking in a grove of oak trees
at Jonesboro, they both suddenly became aware of Scarlett O'Hara.
They had known her for years, and, since their childhood, she had
been a favorite playmate, for she could ride horses and climb
trees almost as well as they.  But now to their amazement she had
become a grown-up young lady and quite the most charming one in
all the world.

They noticed for the first time how her green eyes danced, how
deep her dimples were when she laughed, how tiny her hands and
feet and what a small waist she had.  Their clever remarks sent
her into merry peals of laughter and, inspired by the thought that
she considered them a remarkable pair, they fairly outdid
themselves.

It was a memorable day in the life of the twins.  Thereafter, when
they talked it over, they always wondered just why they had failed
to notice Scarlett's charms before.  They never arrived at the
correct answer, which was that Scarlett on that day had decided to
make them notice.  She was constitutionally unable to endure any
man being in love with any woman not herself, and the sight of
India Wilkes and Stuart at the speaking had been too much for her
predatory nature.  Not content with Stuart alone, she had set her
cap for Brent as well, and with a thoroughness that overwhelmed
the two of them.

Now they were both in love with her, and India Wilkes and Letty
Munroe, from Lovejoy, whom Brent had been half-heartedly courting,
were far in the back of their minds.  Just what the loser would
do, should Scarlett accept either one of them, the twins did not
ask.  They would cross that bridge when they came to it.  For the
present they were quite satisfied to be in accord again about one
girl, for they had no jealousies between them.  It was a situation
which interested the neighbors and annoyed their mother, who had
no liking for Scarlett.

"It will serve you right if that sly piece does accept one of
you," she said.  "Or maybe she'll accept both of you, and then
you'll have to move to Utah, if the Mormons'll have you--which I
doubt. . . .  All that bothers me is that some one of these days
you're both going to get lickered up and jealous of each other
about that two-faced, little, green-eyed baggage, and you'll shoot
each other.  But that might not be a bad idea either."

Since the day of the speaking, Stuart had been uncomfortable in
India's presence.  Not that India ever reproached him or even
indicated by look or gesture that she was aware of his abruptly
changed allegiance.  She was too much of a lady.  But Stuart felt
guilty and ill at ease with her.  He knew he had made India love
him and he knew that she still loved him and, deep in his heart,
he had the feeling that he had not played the gentleman.  He still
liked her tremendously and respected her for her cool good
breeding, her book learning and all the sterling qualities she
possessed.  But, damn it, she was just so pallid and uninteresting
and always the same, beside Scarlett's bright and changeable
charm.  You always knew where you stood with India and you never
had the slightest notion with Scarlett.  That was enough to drive
a man to distraction, but it had its charm.

"Well, let's go over to Cade Calvert's and have supper.  Scarlett
said Cathleen was home from Charleston.  Maybe she'll have some
news about Fort Sumter that we haven't heard."

"Not Cathleen.  I'll lay you two to one she didn't even know the
fort was out there in the harbor, much less that it was full of
Yankees until we shelled them out.  All she'll know about is the
balls she went to and the beaux she collected."

"Well, it's fun to hear her gabble.  And it'll be somewhere to
hide out till Ma has gone to bed."

"Well, hell!  I like Cathleen and she is fun and I'd like to hear
about Caro Rhett and the rest of the Charleston folks; but I'm
damned if I can stand sitting through another meal with that
Yankee stepmother of hers."

"Don't be too hard on her, Stuart.  She means well."

"I'm not being hard on her.  I feel sorry for her, but I don't
like people I've got to feel sorry for.  And she fusses around so
much, trying to do the right thing and make you feel at home, that
she always manages to say and do just exactly the wrong thing.
She gives me the fidgets!  And she thinks Southerners are wild
barbarians.  She even told Ma so.  She's afraid of Southerners.
Whenever we're there she always looks scared to death.  She
reminds me of a skinny hen perched on a chair, her eyes kind of
bright and blank and scared, all ready to flap and squawk at the
slightest move anybody makes."

"Well, you can't blame her.  You did shoot Cade in the leg."

"Well, I was lickered up or I wouldn't have done it," said Stuart.
"And Cade never had any hard feelings.  Neither did Cathleen or
Raiford or Mr. Calvert.  It was just that Yankee stepmother who
squalled and said I was a wild barbarian and decent people weren't
safe around uncivilized Southerners."

"Well, you can't blame her.  She's a Yankee and ain't got very
good manners; and, after all, you did shoot him and he is her
stepson."

"Well, hell!  That's no excuse for insulting me!  You are Ma's own
blood son, but did she take on that time Tony Fontaine shot you in
the leg?  No, she just sent for old Doc Fontaine to dress it and
asked the doctor what ailed Tony's aim.  Said she guessed licker
was spoiling his marksmanship.  Remember how mad that made Tony?"

Both boys yelled with laughter.

"Ma's a card!" said Brent with loving approval.  "You can always
count on her to do the right thing and not embarrass you in front
of folks."

"Yes, but she's mighty liable to talk embarrassing in front of
Father and the girls when we get home tonight," said Stuart
gloomily.  "Look, Brent.  I guess this means we don't go to
Europe.  You know Mother said if we got expelled from another
college we couldn't have our Grand Tour."

"Well, hell!  We don't care, do we?  What is there to see in
Europe?  I'll bet those foreigners can't show us a thing we
haven't got right here in Georgia.  I'll bet their horses aren't
as fast or their girls as pretty, and I know damn well they
haven't got any rye whisky that can touch Father's."

"Ashley Wilkes said they had an awful lot of scenery and music.
Ashley liked Europe.  He's always talking about it."

"Well--you know how the Wilkes are.  They are kind of queer about
music and books and scenery.  Mother says it's because their
grandfather came from Virginia.  She says Virginians set quite a
store by such things."

"They can have 'em.  Give me a good horse to ride and some good
licker to drink and a good girl to court and a bad girl to have
fun with and anybody can have their Europe. . . .  What do we care
about missing the Tour?  Suppose we were in Europe now, with the
war coming on?  We couldn't get home soon enough.  I'd heap rather
go to a war than go to Europe."

"So would I, any day. . . .  Look, Brent!  I know where we can go
for supper.  Let's ride across the swamp to Abel Wynder's place
and tell him we're all four home again and ready for drill."

"That's an idea!" cried Brent with enthusiasm.  "And we can hear
all the news of the Troop and find out what color they finally
decided on for the uniforms."

"If it's Zouave, I'm damned if I'll go in the troop.  I'd feel
like a sissy in those baggy red pants.  They look like ladies' red
flannel drawers to me."

"Is y'all aimin' ter go ter Mist' Wynder's?  'Cause ef you is, you
ain' gwine git much supper," said Jeems.  "Dey cook done died, an'
dey ain' bought a new one.  Dey got a fe'el han' cookin', an' de
niggers tells me she is de wustest cook in de state."

"Good God!  Why don't they buy another cook?"

"Huccome po' w'ite trash buy any niggers?  Dey ain' never owned
mo'n fo' at de mostes'."

There was frank contempt in Jeems' voice.  His own social status
was assured because the Tarletons owned a hundred negroes and,
like all slaves of large planters, he looked down on small farmers
whose slaves were few.

"I'm going to beat your hide off for that," cried Stuart fiercely.
Don't you call Abel Wynder 'po' white.'  Sure he's poor, but he
ain't trash; and I'm damned if I'll have any man, darky or white,
throwing off on him.  There ain't a better man in this County, or
why else did the Troop elect him lieutenant?"

"Ah ain' never figgered dat out, mahseff," replied Jeems,
undisturbed by his master's scowl.  "Look ter me lak dey'd 'lect
all de awficers frum rich gempmum, 'stead of swamp trash."

"He ain't trash!  Do you mean to compare him with real white trash
like the Slatterys?  Able just ain't rich.  He's a small farmer,
not a big planter, and if the boys thought enough of him to elect
him lieutenant, then it's not for any darky to talk impudent about
him.  The Troop knows what it's doing."

The troop of cavalry had been organized three months before, the
very day that Georgia seceded from the Union, and since then the
recruits had been whistling for war.  The outfit was as yet
unnamed, though not for want of suggestions.  Everyone had his own
idea on that subject and was loath to relinquish it, just as
everyone had ideas about the color and cut of the uniforms.
"Clayton Wild Cats," "Fire Eaters," "North Georgia Hussars,"
"Zouaves," "The Inland Rifles" (although the Troop was to be armed
with pistols, sabers and bowie knives, and not with rifles), "The
Clayton Grays," "The Blood and Thunderers," "The Rough and
Readys," all had their adherents.  Until matters were settled,
everyone referred to the organization as the Troop and, despite
the high-sounding name finally adopted, they were known to the end
of their usefulness simply as "The Troop."

The officers were elected by the members, for no one in the County
had had any military experience except a few veterans of the
Mexican and Seminole wars and, besides, the Troop would have
scorned a veteran as a leader if they had not personally liked him
and trusted him.  Everyone liked the four Tarleton boys and the
three Fontaines, but regretfully refused to elect them, because
the Tarletons got lickered up too quickly and liked to skylark,
and the Fontaines had such quick, murderous tempers.  Ashley
Wilkes was elected captain, because he was the best rider in the
County and because his cool head was counted on to keep some
semblance of order.  Raiford Calvert was made first lieutenant,
because everybody liked Raif, and Able Wynder, son of a swamp
trapper, himself a small farmer, was elected second lieutenant.

Abel was a shrewd, grave giant, illiterate, kind of heart, older
than the other boys and with as good or better manners in the
presence of ladies.  There was little snobbery in the Troop.  Too
many of their fathers and grandfathers had come up to wealth from
the small farmer class for that.  Moreover, Able was the best shot
in the Troop, a real sharpshooter who could pick out the eye of a
squirrel at seventy-five yards, and, too, he knew all about living
outdoors, building fires in the rain, tracking animals and finding
water.  The Troop bowed to real worth and moreover, because they
liked him, they made him an officer.  He bore the honor gravely
and with no untoward conceit, as though it were only his due.  But
the planters' ladies and the planters' slaves could not overlook
the fact that he was not born a gentleman, even if their men folks
could.

In the beginning, the Troop had been recruited exclusively from
the sons of planters, a gentleman's outfit, each man supplying his
own horse, arms, equipment, uniform and body servant.  But rich
planters were few in the young county of Clayton, and, in order to
muster a full-strength troop, it had been necessary to raise more
recruits among the sons of small farmers, hunters in the
backwoods, swamp trappers, Crackers and, in a very few cases, even
poor whites, if they were above the average of their class.

These latter young men were as anxious to fight the Yankees,
should war come, as were their richer neighbors; but the delicate
question of money arose.  Few small farmers owned horses.  They
carried on their farm operations with mules and they had no
surplus of these, seldom more than four.  The mules could not be
spared to go off to war, even if they had been acceptable for the
Troop, which they emphatically were not.  As for the poor whites,
they considered themselves well off if they owned one mule.  The
backwoods folks and the swamp dwellers owned neither horses nor
mules.  They lived entirely off the produce of their lands and the
game in the swamp, conducting their business generally by the
barter system and seldom seeing five dollars in cash a year, and
horses and uniforms were out of their reach.  But they were as
fiercely proud in their poverty as the planters were in their
wealth, and they would accept nothing that smacked of charity from
their rich neighbors.  So, to save the feelings of all and to
bring the Troop up to full strength, Scarlett's father, John
Wilkes, Buck Munroe, Jim Tarleton, Hugh Calvert, in fact every
large planter in the County with the one exception of Angus
MacIntosh, had contributed money to completely outfit the Troop,
horse and man.  The upshot of the matter was that every planter
agreed to pay for equipping his own sons and a certain number of
the others, but the manner of handling the arrangements was such
that the less wealthy members of the outfit could accept horses
and uniforms without offense to their honor.

The Troop met twice a week in Jonesboro to drill and to pray for
the war to begin.  Arrangements had not yet been completed for
obtaining the full quota of horses, but those who had horses
performed what they imagined to be cavalry maneuvers in the field
behind the courthouse, kicked up a great deal of dust, yelled
themselves hoarse and waved the Revolutionary-war swords that had
been taken down from parlor walls.  Those who, as yet, had no
horses sat on the curb in front of Bullard's store and watched
their mounted comrades, chewed tobacco and told yarns.  Or else
engaged in shooting matches.  There was no need to teach any of
the men to shoot.  Most Southerners were born with guns in their
hands, and lives spent in hunting had made marksmen of them all.

From planters' homes and swamp cabins, a varied array of firearms
came to each muster.  There were long squirrel guns that had been
new when first the Alleghenies were crossed, old muzzle-loaders
that had claimed many an Indian when Georgia was new, horse
pistols that had seen service in 1812, in the Seminole wars and in
Mexico, silver-mounted dueling pistols, pocket derringers, double-
barreled hunting pieces and handsome new rifles of English make
with shining stocks of fine wood.

Drill always ended in the saloons of Jonesboro, and by nightfall
so many fights had broken out that the officers were hard put to
ward off casualties until the Yankees could inflict them.  It was
during one of these brawls that Stuart Tarleton had shot Cade
Calvert and Tony Fontaine had shot Brent.  The twins had been at
home, freshly expelled from the University of Virginia, at the
time the Troop was organized and they had joined enthusiastically;
but after the shooting episode, two months ago, their mother had
packed them off to the state university, with orders to stay
there.  They had sorely missed the excitement of the drills while
away, and they counted education well lost if only they could ride
and yell and shoot off rifles in the company of their friends.

"Well, let's cut across country to Abel's," suggested Brent.  "We
can go through Mr. O'Hara's river bottom and the Fontaine's
pasture and get there in no time."

"We ain' gwine git nothin' ter eat 'cept possum an' greens,"
argued Jeems.

"You ain't going to get anything," grinned Stuart.  "Because you
are going home and tell Ma that we won't be home for supper."

"No, Ah ain'!" cried Jeems in alarm.  "No, Ah ain'!  Ah doan git
no mo' fun outer havin' Miss Beetriss lay me out dan y'all does.
Fust place she'll ast me huccome Ah let y'all git expelled agin.
An' nex' thing, huccome Ah din' bring y'all home ternight so she
could lay you out.  An' den she'll light on me lak a duck on a
June bug, an' fust thing Ah know Ah'll be ter blame fer it all.
Ef y'all doan tek me ter Mist' Wynder's, Ah'll lay out in de woods
all night an' maybe de patterollers git me, 'cause Ah heap ruther
de patterollers git me dan Miss Beetriss when she in a state."

The twins looked at the determined black boy in perplexity and
indignation.

"He'd be just fool enough to let the patterollers get him and that
would give Ma something else to talk about for weeks.  I swear,
darkies are more trouble.  Sometimes I think the Abolitionists
have got the right idea."

"Well, it wouldn't be right to make Jeems face what we don't want
to face.  We'll have to take him.  But, look, you impudent black
fool, if you put on any airs in front of the Wynder darkies and
hint that we all the time have fried chicken and ham, while they
don't have nothing but rabbit and possum, I'll--I'll tell Ma.  And
we won't let you go to the war with us, either."

"Airs?  Me put on airs fo' dem cheap niggers?  Nawsuh, Ah got
better manners.  Ain' Miss Beetriss taught me manners same as she
taught y'all?"

"She didn't do a very good job on any of the three of us," said
Stuart.  "Come on, let's get going."

He backed his big red horse and then, putting spurs to his side,
lifted him easily over the split rail fence into the soft field of
Gerald O'Hara's plantation.  Brent's horse followed and then
Jeems', with Jeems clinging to pommel and mane.  Jeems did not
like to jump fences, but he had jumped higher ones than this in
order to keep up with his masters.

As they picked their way across the red furrows and down the hill
to the river bottom in the deepening dusk, Brent yelled to his
brother:

"Look, Stu!  Don't it seem like to you that Scarlett WOULD have
asked us to supper?"

"I kept thinking she would," yelled Stuart.  "Why do you
suppose . . ."



CHAPTER II


When the twins left Scarlett standing on the porch of Tara and the
last sound of flying hooves had died away, she went back to her
chair like a sleepwalker.  Her face felt stiff as from pain and
her mouth actually hurt from having stretched it, unwillingly, in
smiles to prevent the twins from learning her secret.  She sat
down wearily, tucking one foot under her, and her heart swelled up
with misery, until it felt too large for her bosom.  It beat with
odd little jerks; her hands were cold, and a feeling of disaster
oppressed her.  There were pain and bewilderment in her face, the
bewilderment of a pampered child who has always had her own way
for the asking and who now, for the first time, was in contact
with the unpleasantness of life.

Ashley to marry Melanie Hamilton!

Oh, it couldn't be true!  The twins were mistaken.  They were
playing one of their jokes on her.  Ashley couldn't, couldn't be
in love with her.  Nobody could, not with a mousy little person
like Melanie.  Scarlett recalled with contempt Melanie's thin
childish figure, her serious heart-shaped face that was plain
almost to homeliness.  And Ashley couldn't have seen her in
months.  He hadn't been in Atlanta more than twice since the house
party he gave last year at Twelve Oaks.  No, Ashley couldn't be in
love with Melanie, because--oh, she couldn't be mistaken!--because
he was in love with her!  She, Scarlett, was the one he loved--she
knew it!

Scarlett heard Mammy's lumbering tread shaking the floor of the
hall and she hastily untucked her foot and tried to rearrange her
face in more placid lines.  It would never do for Mammy to suspect
that anything was wrong.  Mammy felt that she owned the O'Haras,
body and soul, that their secrets were her secrets; and even a
hint of a mystery was enough to set her upon the trail as
relentlessly as a bloodhound.  Scarlett knew from experience that,
if Mammy's curiosity were not immediately satisfied, she would
take up the matter with Ellen, and then Scarlett would be forced
to reveal everything to her mother, or think up some plausible
lie.

Mammy emerged from the hall, a huge old woman with the small,
shrewd eyes of an elephant.  She was shining black, pure African,
devoted to her last drop of blood to the O'Haras, Ellen's
mainstay, the despair of her three daughters, the terror of the
other house servants.  Mammy was black, but her code of conduct
and her sense of pride were as high as or higher than those of her
owners.  She had been raised in the bedroom of Solange Robillard,
Ellen O'Hara's mother, a dainty, cold, high-nosed French-woman,
who spared neither her children nor her servants their just
punishment for any infringement of decorum.  She had been Ellen's
mammy and had come with her from Savannah to the up-country when
she married.  Whom Mammy loved, she chastened.  And, as her love
for Scarlett and her pride in her were enormous, the chastening
process was practically continuous.

"Is de gempmum gone?  Huccome you din' ast dem ter stay fer
supper, Miss Scarlett?  Ah done tole Poke ter lay two extry plates
fer dem.  Whar's yo' manners?"

"Oh, I was so tired of hearing them talk about the war that I
couldn't have endured it through supper, especially with Pa
joining in and shouting about Mr. Lincoln."

"You ain' got no mo' manners dan a fe'el han', an' after Miss
Ellen an' me done labored wid you.  An' hyah you is widout yo'
shawl!  An' de night air fixin' ter set in!  Ah done tole you an'
tole you 'bout gittin' fever frum settin' in de night air wid
nuthin' on yo' shoulders.  Come on in de house, Miss Scarlett."

Scarlett turned away from Mammy with studied nonchalance, thankful
that her face had been unnoticed in Mammy's preoccupation with the
matter of the shawl.

"No, I want to sit here and watch the sunset.  It's so pretty.
You run get my shawl.  Please, Mammy, and I'll sit here till Pa
comes home."

"Yo' voice soun' lak you catchin' a cole," said Mammy suspiciously.

"Well, I'm not," said Scarlett impatiently.  "You fetch me my
shawl."

Mammy waddled back into the hall and Scarlett heard her call
softly up the stairwell to the upstairs maid.

"You, Rosa!  Drap me Miss Scarlett's shawl."  Then, more loudly:
"Wuthless nigger!  She ain' never whar she does nobody no good.
Now, Ah got ter climb up an' git it mahseff."

Scarlett heard the stairs groan and she got softly to her feet.
When Mammy returned she would resume her lecture on Scarlett's
breach of hospitality, and Scarlett felt that she could not endure
prating about such a trivial matter when her heart was breaking.
As she stood, hesitant, wondering where she could hide until the
ache in her breast subsided a little, a thought came to her,
bringing a small ray of hope.  Her father had ridden over to
Twelve Oaks, the Wilkes plantation, that afternoon to offer to buy
Dilcey, the broad wife of his valet, Pork.  Dilcey was head woman
and midwife at Twelve Oaks, and, since the marriage six months
ago, Pork had deviled his master night and day to buy Dilcey, so
the two could live on the same plantation.  That afternoon,
Gerald, his resistance worn thin, had set out to make an offer for
Dilcey.

Surely, thought Scarlett, Pa will know whether this awful story is
true.  Even if he hasn't actually heard anything this afternoon,
perhaps he's noticed something, sensed some excitement in the
Wilkes family.  If I can just see him privately before supper,
perhaps I'll find out the truth--that it's just one of the twins'
nasty practical jokes.

It was time for Gerald's return and, if she expected to see him
alone, there was nothing for her to do except meet him where the
driveway entered the road.  She went quietly down the front steps,
looking carefully over her shoulder to make sure Mammy was not
observing her from the upstairs windows.  Seeing no broad black
face, turbaned in snowy white, peering disapprovingly from between
fluttering curtains, she boldly snatched up her green flowered
skirts and sped down the path toward the driveway as fast as her
small ribbon-laced slippers would carry her.

The dark cedars on either side of the graveled drive met in an
arch overhead, turning the long avenue into a dim tunnel.  As soon
as she was beneath the gnarled arms of the cedars, she knew she
was safe from observation from the house and she slowed her swift
pace.  She was panting, for her stays were laced too tightly to
permit much running, but she walked on as rapidly as she could.
Soon she was at the end of the driveway and out on the main road,
but she did not stop until she had rounded a curve that put a
large clump of trees between her and the house.

Flushed and breathing hard, she sat down on a stump to wait for
her father.  It was past time for him to come home, but she was
glad that he was late.  The delay would give her time to quiet her
breathing and calm her face so that his suspicions would not be
aroused.  Every moment she expected to hear the pounding of his
horse's hooves and see him come charging up the hill at his usual
breakneck speed.  But the minutes slipped by and Gerald did not
come.  She looked down the road for him, the pain in her heart
swelling up again.

"Oh, it can't be true!" she thought.  "Why doesn't he come?"

Her eyes followed the winding road, blood-red now after the
morning rain.  In her thought she traced its course as it ran down
the hill to the sluggish Flint River, through the tangled swampy
bottoms and up the next hill to Twelve Oaks where Ashley lived.
That was all the road meant now--a road to Ashley and the
beautiful white-columned house that crowned the hill like a Greek
Temple.

"Oh, Ashley!  Ashley!" she thought, and her heart beat faster.

Some of the cold sense of bewilderment and disaster that had
weighted her down since the Tarleton boys told her their gossip
was pushed into the background of her mind, and in its place crept
the fever that had possessed her for two years.

It seemed strange now that when she was growing up Ashley had
never seemed so very attractive to her.  In childhood days, she
had seen him come and go and never given him a thought.  But since
that day two years ago when Ashley, newly home from his three
years' Grand Tour in Europe, had called to pay his respects, she
had loved him.  It was as simple as that.

She had been on the front porch and he had ridden up the long
avenue, dressed in gray broadcloth with a wide black cravat
setting off his frilled shirt to perfection.  Even now, she could
recall each detail of his dress, how brightly his boots shone, the
head of a Medusa in cameo on his cravat pin, the wide Panama hat
that was instantly in his hand when he saw her.  He had alighted
and tossed his bridle reins to a pickaninny and stood looking up
at her, his drowsy gray eyes wide with a smile and the sun so
bright on his blond hair that it seemed like a cap of shining
silver.  And he said, "So you've grown up, Scarlett."  And, coming
lightly up the steps, he had kissed her hand.  And his voice!  She
would never forget the leap of her heart as she heard it, as if
for the first time, drawling, resonant, musical.

She had wanted him, in that first instant, wanted him as simply
and unreasoningly as she wanted food to eat, horses to ride and a
soft bed on which to lay herself.

For two years he had squired her about the County, to balls, fish
fries, picnics and court days, never so often as the Tarleton
twins or Cade Calvert, never so importunate as the younger
Fontaine boys, but, still, never the week went by that Ashley did
not come calling at Tara.

True, he never made love to her, nor did the clear gray eyes ever
glow with that hot light Scarlett knew so well in other men.  And
yet--and yet--she knew he loved her.  She could not be mistaken
about it.  Instinct stronger than reason and knowledge born of
experience told her that he loved her.  Too often she had
surprised him when his eyes were neither drowsy nor remote, when
he looked at her with a yearning and a sadness which puzzled her.
She KNEW he loved her.  Why did he not tell her so?  That she
could not understand.  But there were so many things about him
that she did not understand.

He was courteous always, but aloof, remote.  No one could ever
tell what he was thinking about, Scarlett least of all.  In a
neighborhood where everyone said exactly what he thought as soon
as he thought it, Ashley's quality of reserve was exasperating.
He was as proficient as any of the other young men in the usual
County diversions, hunting, gambling, dancing and politics, and
was the best rider of them all; but he differed from all the rest
in that these pleasant activities were not the end and aim of life
to him.  And he stood alone in his interest in books and music and
his fondness for writing poetry.

Oh, why was he so handsomely blond, so courteously aloof, so
maddeningly boring with his talk about Europe and books and music
and poetry and things that interested her not at all--and yet so
desirable?  Night after night, when Scarlett went to bed after
sitting on the front porch in the semi-darkness with him, she
tossed restlessly for hours and comforted herself only with the
thought that the very next time he saw her he certainly would
propose.  But the next time came and went, and the result was
nothing--nothing except that the fever possessing her rose higher
and hotter.

She loved him and she wanted him and she did not understand him.
She was as forthright and simple as the winds that blew over Tara
and the yellow river that wound about it, and to the end of her
days she would never be able to understand a complexity.  And now,
for the first time in her life, she was facing a complex nature.

For Ashley was born of a line of men who used their leisure for
thinking, not doing, for spinning brightly colored dreams that had
in them no touch of reality.  He moved in an inner world that was
more beautiful than Georgia and came back to reality with
reluctance.  He looked on people, and he neither liked nor
disliked them.  He looked on life and was neither heartened nor
saddened.  He accepted the universe and his place in it for what
they were and, shrugging, turned to his music and books and his
better world.

Why he should have captivated Scarlett when his mind was a
stranger to hers she did not know.  The very mystery of him
excited her curiosity like a door that had neither lock nor key.
The things about him which she could not understand only made her
love him more, and his odd, restrained courtship only served to
increase her determination to have him for her own.  That he would
propose some day she had never doubted, for she was too young and
too spoiled ever to have known defeat.  And now, like a thunderclap,
had come this horrible news.  Ashley to marry Melanie!  It couldn't
be true!

Why, only last week, when they were riding home at twilight from
Fairhill, he had said:  "Scarlett, I have something so important
to tell you that I hardly know how to say it."

She had cast down her eyes demurely, her heart beating with wild
pleasure, thinking the happy moment had come.  Then he had said:
"Not now!  We're nearly home and there isn't time.  Oh, Scarlett,
what a coward I am!"  And putting spurs to his horse, he had raced
her up the hill to Tara.

Scarlett, sitting on the stump, thought of those words which had
made her so happy, and suddenly they took on another meaning, a
hideous meaning.  Suppose it was the news of his engagement he had
intended to tell her!

Oh, if Pa would only come home!  She could not endure the suspense
another moment.  She looked impatiently down the road again, and
again she was disappointed.

The sun was now below the horizon and the red glow at the rim of
the world faded into pink.  The sky above turned slowly from azure
to the delicate blue-green of a robin's egg, and the unearthly
stillness of rural twilight came stealthily down about her.
Shadowy dimness crept over the countryside.  The red furrows and
the gashed red road lost their magical blood color and became
plain brown earth.  Across the road, in the pasture, the horses,
mules and cows stood quietly with heads over the split-rail fence,
waiting to be driven to the stables and supper.  They did not like
the dark shade of the thickets hedging the pasture creek, and they
twitched their ears at Scarlett as if appreciative of human
companionship.

In the strange half-light, the tall pines of the river swamp, so
warmly green in the sunshine, were black against the pastel sky,
an impenetrable row of black giants hiding the slow yellow water
at their feet.  On the hill across the river, the tall white
chimneys of the Wilkes' home faded gradually into the darkness of
the thick oaks surrounding them, and only far-off pin points of
supper lamps showed that a house was here.  The warm damp
balminess of spring encompassed her sweetly with the moist smells
of new-plowed earth and all the fresh green things pushing up to
the air.

Sunset and spring and new-fledged greenery were no miracle to
Scarlett.  Their beauty she accepted as casually as the air she
breathed and the water she drank, for she had never consciously
seen beauty in anything but women's faces, horses, silk dresses
and like tangible things.  Yet the serene half-light over Tara's
well-kept acres brought a measure of quiet to her disturbed mind.
She loved this land so much, without even knowing she loved it,
loved it as she loved her mother's face under the lamp at prayer
time.

Still there was no sign of Gerald on the quiet winding road.  If
she had to wait much longer, Mammy would certainly come in search
of her and bully her into the house.  But even as she strained her
eyes down the darkening road, she heard a pounding of hooves at
the bottom of the pasture hill and saw the horses and cows scatter
in fright.  Gerald O'Hara was coming home across country and at
top speed.

He came up the hill at a gallop on his thick-barreled, long-legged
hunter, appearing in the distance like a boy on a too large horse.
His long white hair standing out behind him, he urged the horse
forward with crop and loud cries.

Filled with her own anxieties, she nevertheless watched him with
affectionate pride, for Gerald was an excellent horseman.

"I wonder why he always wants to jump fences when he's had a few
drinks," she thought.  "And after that fall he had right here last
year when he broke his knee.  You'd think he'd learn.  Especially
when he promised Mother on oath he'd never jump again."

Scarlett had no awe of her father and felt him more her contemporary
than her sisters, for jumping fences and keeping it a secret from
his wife gave him a boyish pride and guilty glee that matched her
own pleasure in outwitting Mammy.  She rose from her seat to watch
him.

The big horse reached the fence, gathered himself and soared over
as effortlessly as a bird, his rider yelling enthusiastically, his
crop beating the air, his white curls jerking out behind him.
Gerald did not see his daughter in the shadow of the trees, and he
drew rein in the road, patting his horse's neck with approbation.

"There's none in the County can touch you, nor in the state," he
informed his mount, with pride, the brogue of County Meath still
heavy on his tongue in spite of thirty-nine years in America.
Then he hastily set about smoothing his hair and settling his
ruffled shirt and his cravat which had slipped awry behind one
ear.  Scarlett knew these hurried preenings were being made with
an eye toward meeting his wife with the appearance of a gentleman
who had ridden sedately home from a call on a neighbor.  She knew
also that he was presenting her with just the opportunity she
wanted for opening the conversation without revealing her true
purpose.

She laughed aloud.  As she had intended, Gerald was startled by
the sound; then he recognized her, and a look both sheepish and
defiant came over his florid face.  He dismounted with difficulty,
because his knee was stiff, and, slipping the reins over his arm,
stumped toward her.

"Well, Missy," he said, pinching her cheek, "so, you've been
spying on me and, like your sister Suellen last week, you'll be
telling your mother on me?"

There was indignation in his hoarse bass voice but also a
wheedling note, and Scarlett teasingly clicked her tongue against
her teeth as she reached out to pull his cravat into place.  His
breath in her face was strong with Bourbon whisky mingled with a
faint fragrance of mint.  Accompanying him also were the smells of
chewing tobacco, well-oiled leather and horses--a combination of
odors that she always associated with her father and instinctively
liked in other men.

"No, Pa, I'm no tattletale like Suellen," she assured him,
standing off to view his rearranged attire with a judicious air.

Gerald was a small man, little more than five feet tall, but so
heavy of barrel and thick of neck that his appearance, when
seated, led strangers to think him a larger man.  His thickset
torso was supported by short sturdy legs, always incased in the
finest leather boots procurable and always planted wide apart like
a swaggering small boy's.  Most small people who take themselves
seriously are a little ridiculous; but the bantam cock is
respected in the barnyard, and so it was with Gerald.  No one
would ever have the temerity to think of Gerald O'Hara as a
ridiculous little figure.

He was sixty years old and his crisp curly hair was silver-white,
but his shrewd face was unlined and his hard little blue eyes were
young with the unworried youthfulness of one who has never taxed
his brain with problems more abstract than how many cards to draw
in a poker game.  His was as Irish a face as could be found in the
length and breadth of the homeland he had left so long ago--round,
high colored, short nosed, wide mouthed and belligerent.

Beneath his choleric exterior Gerald O'Hara had the tenderest of
hearts.  He could not bear to see a slave pouting under a
reprimand, no matter how well deserved, or hear a kitten mewing or
a child crying; but he had a horror of having this weakness
discovered.  That everyone who met him did discover his kindly
heart within five minutes was unknown to him; and his vanity would
have suffered tremendously if he had found it out, for he liked to
think that when he bawled orders at the top of his voice everyone
trembled and obeyed.  It had never occurred to him that only one
voice was obeyed on the plantation--the soft voice of his wife
Ellen.  It was a secret he would never learn, for everyone from
Ellen down to the stupidest field hand was in a tacit and kindly
conspiracy to keep him believing that his word was law.

Scarlett was impressed less than anyone else by his tempers and
his roarings.  She was his oldest child and, now that Gerald knew
there would be no more sons to follow the three who lay in the
family burying ground, he had drifted into a habit of treating her
in a man-to-man manner which she found most pleasant.  She was
more like her father than her younger sisters, for Carreen, who
had been born Caroline Irene, was delicate and dreamy, and
Suellen, christened Susan Elinor, prided herself on her elegance
and ladylike deportment.

Moreover, Scarlett and her father were bound together by a mutual
suppression agreement.  If Gerald caught her climbing a fence
instead of walking half a mile to a gate, or sitting too late on
the front steps with a beau, he castigated her personally and with
vehemence, but he did not mention the fact to Ellen or to Mammy.
And when Scarlett discovered him jumping fences after his solemn
promise to his wife, or learned the exact amount of his losses at
poker, as she always did from County gossip, she refrained from
mentioning the fact at the supper table in the artfully artless
manner Suellen had.  Scarlett and her father each assured the
other solemnly that to bring such matters to the ears of Ellen
would only hurt her, and nothing would induce them to wound her
gentleness.

Scarlett looked at her father in the fading light, and, without
knowing why, she found it comforting to be in his presence.  There
was something vital and earthy and coarse about him that appealed
to her.  Being the least analytic of people, she did not realize
that this was because she possessed in some degree these same
qualities, despite sixteen years of effort on the part of Ellen
and Mammy to obliterate them.

"You look very presentable now," she said, "and I don't think
anyone will suspect you've been up to your tricks unless you brag
about them.  But it does seem to me that after you broke your knee
last year, jumping that same fence--"

"Well, may I be damned if I'll have me own daughter telling me
what I shall jump and not jump," he shouted, giving her cheek
another pinch.  "It's me own neck, so it is.  And besides, Missy,
what are you doing out here without your shawl?"

Seeing that he was employing familiar maneuvers to extricate
himself from unpleasant conversation, she slipped her arm through
his and said:  "I was waiting for you.  I didn't know you would be
so late.  I just wondered if you had bought Dilcey."

"Bought her I did, and the price has ruined me.  Bought her and
her little wench, Prissy.  John Wilkes was for almost giving them
away, but never will I have it said that Gerald O'Hara used
friendship in a trade.  I made him take three thousand for the two
of them."

"In the name of Heaven, Pa, three thousand!  And you didn't need
to buy Prissy!"

"Has the time come when me own daughters sit in judgment on me?"
shouted Gerald rhetorically.  "Prissy is a likely little wench and
so--"

"I know her.  She's a sly, stupid creature," Scarlett rejoined
calmly, unimpressed by his uproar.  "And the only reason you
bought her was because Dilcey asked you to buy her."

Gerald looked crestfallen and embarrassed, as always when caught
in a kind deed, and Scarlett laughed outright at his transparency.

"Well, what if I did?  Was there any use buying Dilcey if she was
going to mope about the child?  Well, never again will I let a
darky on this place marry off it.  It's too expensive.  Well, come
on, Puss, let's go in to supper."

The shadows were falling thicker now, the last greenish tinge had
left the sky and a slight chill was displacing the balminess of
spring.  But Scarlett loitered, wondering how to bring up the
subject of Ashley without permitting Gerald to suspect her motive.
This was difficult, for Scarlett had not a subtle bone in her
body; and Gerald was so much like her he never failed to penetrate
her weak subterfuges, even as she penetrated his.  And he was
seldom tactful in doing it.

"How are they all over at Twelve Oaks?"

"About as usual.  Cade Calvert was there and, after I settled
about Dilcey, we all set on the gallery and had several toddies.
Cade has just come from Atlanta, and it's all upset they are there
and talking war and--"

Scarlett sighed.  If Gerald once got on the subject of war and
secession, it would be hours before he relinquished it.  She broke
in with another line.

"Did they say anything about the barbecue tomorrow?"

"Now that I think of it they did.  Miss--what's-her-name--the
sweet little thing who was here last year, you know, Ashley's
cousin--oh, yes, Miss Melanie Hamilton, that's the name--she and
her brother Charles have already come from Atlanta and--"

"Oh, so she did come?"

"She did, and a sweet quiet thing she is, with never a word to say
for herself, like a woman should be.  Come now, daughter, don't
lag.  Your mother will be hunting for us."

Scarlett's heart sank at the news.  She had hoped against hope
that something would keep Melanie Hamilton in Atlanta where she
belonged, and the knowledge that even her father approved of her
sweet quiet nature, so different from her own, forced her into the
open.

"Was Ashley there, too?"

"He was."  Gerald let go of his daughter's arm and turned, peering
sharply into her face.  "And if that's why you came out here to
wait for me, why didn't you say so without beating around the
bush?"

Scarlett could think of nothing to say, and she felt her face
growing red with annoyance.

"Well, speak up."

Still she said nothing, wishing that it was permissible to shake
one's father and tell him to hush his mouth.

"He was there and he asked most kindly after you, as did his
sisters, and said they hoped nothing would keep you from the
barbecue tomorrow.  I'll warrant nothing will," he said shrewdly.
"And now, daughter, what's all this about you and Ashley?"

"There is nothing," she said shortly, tugging at his arm.  "Let's
go in, Pa."

"So now 'tis you wanting to go in," he observed.  "But here I'm
going to stand till I'm understanding you.  Now that I think of
it, 'tis strange you've been recently.  Has he been trifling with
you?  Has he asked to marry you?"

"No," she said shortly.

"Nor will he," said Gerald.

Fury flamed in her, but Gerald waved her quiet with a hand.

"Hold your tongue, Miss!  I had it from John Wilkes this afternoon
in the strictest confidence that Ashley's to marry Miss Melanie.
It's to be announced tomorrow."

Scarlett's hand fell from his arm.  So it was true!

A pain slashed at her heart as savagely as a wild animal's fangs.
Through it all, she felt her father's eyes on her, a little
pitying, a little annoyed at being faced with a problem for which
he knew no answer.  He loved Scarlett, but it made him uncomfortable
to have her forcing her childish problems on him for a solution.
Ellen knew all the answers.  Scarlett should have taken her troubles
to her.

"Is it a spectacle you've been making of yourself--of all of us?"
he bawled, his voice rising as always in moments of excitement.
"Have you been running after a man who's not in love with you,
when you could have any of the bucks in the County?"

Anger and hurt pride drove out some of the pain.

"I haven't been running after him.  It--it just surprised me."

"It's lying you are!" said Gerald, and then, peering at her
stricken face, he added in a burst of kindliness:  "I'm sorry,
daughter.  But after all, you are nothing but a child and there's
lots of other beaux."

"Mother was only fifteen when she married you, and I'm sixteen,"
said Scarlett, her voice muffled.

"Your mother was different," said Gerald.  "She was never flighty
like you.  Now come, daughter, cheer up, and I'll take you to
Charleston next week to visit your Aunt Eulalie and, what with all
the hullabaloo they are having over there about Fort Sumter,
you'll be forgetting about Ashley in a week."

"He thinks I'm a child," thought Scarlett, grief and anger choking
utterance, "and he's only got to dangle a new toy and I'll forget
my bumps."

"Now, don't be jerking your chin at me," warned Gerald.  "If you
had any sense you'd have married Stuart or Brent Tarleton long
ago.  Think it over, daughter.  Marry one of the twins and then
the plantations will run together and Jim Tarleton and I will
build you a fine house, right where they join, in that big pine
grove and--"

"Will you stop treating me like a child!" cried Scarlett.  "I
don't want to go to Charleston or have a house or marry the twins.
I only want--"  She caught herself but not in time.

Gerald's voice was strangely quiet and he spoke slowly as if
drawing his words from a store of thought seldom used.

"It's only Ashley you're wanting, and you'll not be having him.
And if he wanted to marry you, 'twould be with misgivings that I'd
say Yes, for all the fine friendship that's between me and John
Wilkes."  And, seeing her startled look, he continued:  "I want my
girl to be happy and you wouldn't be happy with him."

"Oh, I would!  I would!"

"That you would not, daughter.  Only when like marries like can
there be any happiness."

Scarlett had a sudden treacherous desire to cry out, "But you've
been happy, and you and Mother aren't alike," but she repressed
it, fearing that he would box her ears for her impertinence.

"Our people and the Wilkes are different," he went on slowly,
fumbling for words.  "The Wilkes are different from any of our
neighbors--different from any family I ever knew.  They are queer
folk, and it's best that they marry their cousins and keep their
queerness to themselves."

"Why, Pa, Ashley is not--"

"Hold your whist, Puss!  I said nothing against the lad, for I
like him.  And when I say queer, it's not crazy I'm meaning.  He's
not queer like the Calverts who'd gamble everything they have on a
horse, or the Tarletons who turn out a drunkard or two in every
litter, or the Fontaines who are hot-headed little brutes and
after murdering a man for a fancied slight.  That kind of
queerness is easy to understand, for sure, and but for the grace
of God Gerald O'Hara would be having all those faults!  And I
don't mean that Ashley would run off with another woman, if you
were his wife, or beat you.  You'd be happier if he did, for at
least you'd be understanding that.  But he's queer in other ways,
and there's no understanding him at all.  I like him, but it's
neither heads nor tails I can make of most he says.  Now, Puss,
tell me true, do you understand his folderol about books and
poetry and music and oil paintings and such foolishness?"

"Oh, Pa," cried Scarlett impatiently, "if I married him, I'd
change all that!"

"Oh, you would, would you now?" said Gerald testily, shooting a
sharp look at her.  "Then it's little enough you are knowing of
any man living, let alone Ashley.  No wife has ever changed a
husband one whit, and don't you be forgetting that.  And as for
changing a Wilkes--God's nightgown, daughter!  The whole family is
that way, and they've always been that way.  And probably always
will.  I tell you they're born queer.  Look at the way they go
tearing up to New York and Boston to hear operas and see oil
paintings.  And ordering French and German books by the crate from
the Yankees!  And there they sit reading and dreaming the dear God
knows what, when they'd be better spending their time hunting and
playing poker as proper men should."

"There's nobody in the County sits a horse better than Ashley,"
said Scarlett, furious at the slur of effeminacy flung on Ashley,
"nobody except maybe his father.  And as for poker, didn't Ashley
take two hundred dollars away from you just last week in
Jonesboro?"

"The Calvert boys have been blabbing again," Gerald said
resignedly, "else you'd not be knowing the amount.  Ashley can
ride with the best and play poker with the best--that's me, Puss!
And I'm not denying that when he sets out to drink he can put even
the Tarletons under the table.  He can do all those things, but
his heart's not in it.  That's why I say he's queer."

Scarlett was silent and her heart sank.  She could think of no
defense for this last, for she knew Gerald was right.  Ashley's
heart was in none of the pleasant things he did so well.  He was
never more than politely interested in any of the things that
vitally interested every one else.

Rightly interpreting her silence, Gerald patted her arm and said
triumphantly:  "There now, Scarlett!  You admit 'tis true.  What
would you be doing with a husband like Ashley?  'Tis moonstruck
they all are, all the Wilkes."  And then, in a wheedling tone:
"When I was mentioning the Tarletons the while ago, I wasn't
pushing them.  They're fine lads, but if it's Cade Calvert you're
setting your cap after, why, 'tis the same with me.  The Calverts
are good folk, all of them, for all the old man marrying a Yankee.
And when I'm gone--Whist, darlin', listen to me!  I'll leave Tara
to you and Cade--"

"I wouldn't have Cade on a silver tray," cried Scarlett in fury.
"And I wish you'd quit pushing him at me!  I don't want Tara or
any old plantation.  Plantations don't amount to anything when--"

She was going to say "when you haven't the man you want," but
Gerald, incensed by the cavalier way in which she treated his
proffered gift, the thing which, next to Ellen, he loved best in
the whole world uttered a roar.

"Do you stand there, Scarlett O'Hara, and tell me that Tara--that
land--doesn't amount to anything?"

Scarlett nodded obstinately.  Her heart was too sore to care
whether or not she put her father in a temper.

"Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything," he
shouted, his thick, short arms making wide gestures of indignation,
"for 'tis the only thing in this world that lasts, and don't you be
forgetting it!  'Tis the only thing worth working for, worth
fighting for--worth dying for."

"Oh, Pa," she said disgustedly, "you talk like an Irishman!"

"Have I ever been ashamed of it?  No, 'tis proud I am.  And don't
be forgetting that you are half Irish, Miss!  And to anyone with a
drop of Irish blood in them the land they live on is like their
mother.  'Tis ashamed of you I am this minute.  I offer you the
most beautiful land in the world--saving County Meath in the Old
Country--and what do you do?  You sniff!"

Gerald had begun to work himself up into a pleasurable shouting
rage when something in Scarlett's woebegone face stopped him.

"But there, you're young.  'Twill come to you, this love of land.
There's no getting away from it, if you're Irish.  You're just a
child and bothered about your beaux.  When you're older, you'll be
seeing how 'tis. . . .  Now, do you be making up your mind about
Cade or the twins or one of Evan Munroe's young bucks, and see how
fine I turn you out!"

"Oh, Pa!"

By this time, Gerald was thoroughly tired of the conversation and
thoroughly annoyed that the problem should be upon his shoulders.
He felt aggrieved, moreover, that Scarlett should still look
desolate after being offered the best of the County boys and Tara,
too.  Gerald liked his gifts to be received with clapping of hands
and kisses.

"Now, none of your pouts, Miss.  It doesn't matter who you marry,
as long as he thinks like you and is a gentleman and a Southerner
and prideful.  For a woman, love comes after marriage."

"Oh, Pa, that's such an Old Country notion!"

"And a good notion it is!  All this American business of running
around marrying for love, like servants, like Yankees!  The best
marriages are when the parents choose for the girl.  For how can a
silly piece like yourself tell a good man from a scoundrel?  Now,
look at the Wilkes.  What's kept them prideful and strong all
these generations?  Why, marrying the likes of themselves,
marrying the cousins their family always expects them to marry."

"Oh," cried Scarlett, fresh pain striking her as Gerald's words
brought home the terrible inevitability of the truth.

Gerald looked at her bowed head and shuffled his feet uneasily.

"It's not crying you are?" he questioned, fumbling clumsily at her
chin, trying to turn her face upward, his own face furrowed with
pity.

"No," she cried vehemently, jerking away.

"It's lying you are, and I'm proud of it.  I'm glad there's pride
in you, Puss.  And I want to see pride in you tomorrow at the
barbecue.  I'll not be having the County gossiping and laughing at
you for mooning your heart out about a man who never gave you a
thought beyond friendship."

"He did give me a thought," thought Scarlett, sorrowfully in her
heart.  "Oh, a lot of thoughts!  I know he did.  I could tell.  If
I'd just had a little longer, I know I could have made him say--
Oh, if it only wasn't that the Wilkes always feel that they have
to marry their cousins!"

Gerald took her arm and passed it through his.

"We'll be going in to supper now, and all this is between us.
I'll not be worrying your mother with this--nor do you do it
either.  Blow your nose, daughter."

Scarlett blew her nose on her torn handkerchief, and they started
up the dark drive arm in arm, the horse following slowly.  Near
the house, Scarlett was at the point of speaking again when she
saw her mother in the dim shadows of the porch.  She had on her
bonnet, shawl and mittens, and behind her was Mammy, her face like
a thundercloud, holding in her hand the black leather bag in which
Ellen O'Hara always carried the bandages and medicines she used in
doctoring the slaves.  Mammy's lips were large and pendulous and,
when indignant, she could push out her lower one to twice its
normal length.  It was pushed out now, and Scarlett knew that
Mammy was seething over something of which she did not approve.

"Mr. O'Hara," called Ellen as she saw the two coming up the
driveway--Ellen belonged to a generation that was formal even
after seventeen years of wedlock and the bearing of six children--
"Mr. O'Hara, there is illness at the Slattery house.  Emmie's baby
has been born and is dying and must be baptized.  I am going there
with Mammy to see what I can do."

Her voice was raised questioningly, as though she hung on Gerald's
assent to her plan, a mere formality but one dear to the heart of
Gerald.

"In the name of God!" blustered Gerald.  "Why should those white
trash take you away just at your supper hour and just when I'm
wanting to tell you about the war talk that's going on in Atlanta!
Go, Mrs. O'Hara.  You'd not rest easy on your pillow the night if
there was trouble abroad and you not there to help."

"She doan never git no res' on her piller fer hoppin' up at night
time nursin' niggers an po' w'ite trash dat could ten' to
deyseff," grumbled Mammy in a monotone as she went down the stairs
toward the carriage which was waiting in the side drive.

"Take my place at the table, dear," said Ellen, patting Scarlett's
cheek softly with a mittened hand.

In spite of her choked-back tears, Scarlett thrilled to the never-
failing magic of her mother's touch, to the faint fragrance of
lemon verbena sachet that came from her rustling silk dress.  To
Scarlett, there was something breath-taking about Ellen O'Hara, a
miracle that lived in the house with her and awed her and charmed
and soothed her.

Gerald helped his wife into the carriage and gave orders to the
coachman to drive carefully.  Toby, who had handled Gerald's
horses for twenty years, pushed out his lips in mute indignation
at being told how to conduct his own business.  Driving off, with
Mammy beside him, each was a perfect picture of pouting African
disapproval.

"If I didn't do so much for those trashy Slatterys that they'd
have to pay money for elsewhere," fumed Gerald, "they'd be willing
to sell me their miserable few acres of swamp bottom, and the
County would be well rid of them."  Then, brightening, in
anticipation of one of his practical jokes:  "Come daughter, let's
go tell Pork that instead of buying Dilcey, I've sold him to John
Wilkes."

He tossed the reins of his horse to a small pickaninny standing
near and started up the steps.  He had already forgotten
Scarlett's heartbreak and his mind was only on plaguing his valet.
Scarlett slowly climbed the steps after him, her feet leaden.  She
thought that, after all, a mating between herself and Ashley could
be no queerer than that of her father and Ellen Robillard O'Hara.
As always, she wondered how her loud, insensitive father had
managed to marry a woman like her mother, for never were two
people further apart in birth, breeding and habits of mind.



CHAPTER III


Ellen O'Hara was thirty-two years old, and, according to the
standards of her day, she was a middle-aged woman, one who had
borne six children and buried three.  She was a tall woman,
standing a head higher than her fiery little husband, but she
moved with such quiet grace in her swaying hoops that the height
attracted no attention to itself.  Her neck, rising from the black
taffeta sheath of her basque, was creamy-skinned, rounded and
slender, and it seemed always tilted slightly backward by the
weight of her luxuriant hair in its net at the back of her head.
From her French mother, whose parents had fled Haiti in the
Revolution of 1791, had come her slanting dark eyes, shadowed by
inky lashes, and her black hair; and from her father, a soldier of
Napoleon, she had her long straight nose and her square-cut jaw
that was softened by the gentle curving of her cheeks.  But only
from life could Ellen's face have acquired its look of pride that
had no haughtiness, its graciousness, its melancholy and its utter
lack of humor.

She would have been a strikingly beautiful woman had there been
any glow in her eyes, any responsive warmth in her smile or any
spontaneity in her voice that fell with gentle melody on the ears
of her family and her servants.  She spoke in the soft slurring
voice of the coastal Georgian, liquid of vowels, kind to
consonants and with the barest trace of French accent.  It was a
voice never raised in command to a servant or reproof to a child
but a voice that was obeyed instantly at Tara, where her husband's
blustering and roaring were quietly disregarded.

As far back as Scarlett could remember, her mother had always been
the same, her voice soft and sweet whether in praising or in
reproving, her manner efficient and unruffled despite the daily
emergencies of Gerald's turbulent household, her spirit always
calm and her back unbowed, even in the deaths of her three baby
sons.  Scarlett had never seen her mother's back touch the back of
any chair on which she sat.  Nor had she ever seen her sit down
without a bit of needlework in her hands, except at mealtime,
while attending the sick or while working at the bookkeeping of
the plantation.  It was delicate embroidery if company were
present, but at other times her hands were occupied with Gerald's
ruffled shirts, the girls' dresses or garments for the slaves.
Scarlett could not imagine her mother's hands without her gold
thimble or her rustling figure unaccompanied by the small negro
girl whose sole function in life was to remove basting threads and
carry the rosewood sewing box from room to room, as Ellen moved
about the house superintending the cooking, the cleaning and the
wholesale clothes-making for the plantation.

She had never seen her mother stirred from her austere placidity,
nor her personal appointments anything but perfect, no matter what
the hour of day or night.  When Ellen was dressing for a ball or
for guests or even to go to Jonesboro for Court Day, it frequently
required two hours, two maids and Mammy to turn her out to her own
satisfaction; but her swift toilets in times of emergency were
amazing.

Scarlett, whose room lay across the hall from her mother's, knew
from babyhood the soft sound of scurrying bare black feet on the
hardwood floor in the hours of dawn, the urgent tappings on her
mother's door, and the muffled, frightened negro voices that
whispered of sickness and birth and death in the long row of
whitewashed cabins in the quarters.  As a child, she often had
crept to the door and, peeping through the tiniest crack, had seen
Ellen emerge from the dark room, where Gerald's snores were
rhythmic and untroubled, into the flickering light of an upheld
candle, her medicine case under her arm, her hair smoothed neatly
place, and no button on her basque unlooped.

It had always been so soothing to Scarlett to hear her mother
whisper, firmly but compassionately, as she tiptoed down the hall:
"Hush, not so loudly.  You will wake Mr. O'Hara.  They are not
sick enough to die."

Yes, it was good to creep back into bed and know that Ellen was
abroad in the night and everything was right.

In the mornings, after all-night sessions at births and deaths,
when old Dr. Fontaine and young Dr. Fontaine were both out on
calls and could not be found to help her, Ellen presided at the
breakfast table as usual, her dark eyes circled with weariness but
her voice and manner revealing none of the strain.  There was a
steely quality under her stately gentleness that awed the whole
household, Gerald as well as the girls, though he would have died
rather than admit it.

Sometimes when Scarlett tiptoed at night to kiss her tall mother's
cheek, she looked up at the mouth with its too short, too tender
upper lip, a mouth too easily hurt by the world, and wondered if
it had ever curved in silly girlish giggling or whispered secrets
through long nights to intimate girl friends.  But no, that wasn't
possible.  Mother had always been just as she was, a pillar of
strength, a fount of wisdom, the one person who knew the answers
to everything.

But Scarlett was wrong, for, years before, Ellen Robillard of
Savannah had giggled as inexplicably as any fifteen-year-old in
that charming coastal city and whispered the long nights through
with friends, exchanging confidences, telling all secrets but one.
That was the year when Gerald O'Hara, twenty-eight years older
than she, came into her life--the year, too, when youth and her
black-eyed cousin, Philippe Robillard, went out of it.  For when
Philippe, with his snapping eyes and his wild ways, left Savannah
forever, he took with him the glow that was in Ellen's heart and
left for the bandy-legged little Irishman who married her only a
gentle shell.

But that was enough for Gerald, overwhelmed at his unbelievable
luck in actually marrying her.  And if anything was gone from her,
he never missed it.  Shrewd man that he was, he knew that it was
no less than a miracle that he, an Irishman with nothing of family
and wealth to recommend him, should win the daughter of one of the
wealthiest and proudest families on the Coast.  For Gerald was a
self-made man.



Gerald had come to America from Ireland when he was twenty-one.
He had come hastily, as many a better and worse Irishman before
and since, with the clothes he had on his back, two shillings
above his passage money and a price on his head that he felt was
larger than his misdeed warranted.  There was no Orangeman this
side of hell worth a hundred pounds to the British government or
to the devil himself; but if the government felt so strongly about
the death of an English absentee landlord's rent agent, it was
time for Gerald O'Hara to be leaving and leaving suddenly.  True,
he had called the rent agent "a bastard of an Orangeman," but
that, according to Gerald's way of looking at it, did not give the
man any right to insult him by whistling the opening bars of "The
Boyne Water."

The Battle of the Boyne had been fought more than a hundred years
before, but, to the O'Haras and their neighbors, it might have
been yesterday when their hopes and their dreams, as well as their
lands and wealth, went off in the same cloud of dust that
enveloped a frightened and fleeing Stuart prince, leaving William
of Orange and his hated troops with their orange cockades to cut
down the Irish adherents of the Stuarts.

For this and other reasons, Gerald's family was not inclined to
view the fatal outcome of this quarrel as anything very serious,
except for the fact that it was charged with serious consequences.
For years, the O'Haras had been in bad odor with the English
constabulary on account of suspected activities against the
government, and Gerald was not the first O'Hara to take his foot
in his hand and quit Ireland between dawn and morning.  His two
oldest brothers, James and Andrew, he hardly remembered, save as
close-lipped youths who came and went at odd hours of the night on
mysterious errands or disappeared for weeks at a time, to their
mother's gnawing anxiety.  They had come to America years before,
after the discovery of a small arsenal of rifles buried under the
O'Hara pigsty.  Now they were successful merchants in Savannah,
"though the dear God alone knows where that may be," as their
mother always interpolated when mentioning the two oldest of her
male brood, and it was to them that young Gerald was sent.

He left home with his mother's hasty kiss on his cheek and her
fervent Catholic blessing in his ears, and his father's parting
admonition, "Remember who ye are and don't be taking nothing off
no man."  His five tall brothers gave him good-by with admiring
but slightly patronizing smiles, for Gerald was the baby and the
little one of a brawny family.

His five brothers and their father stood six feet and over and
broad in proportion, but little Gerald, at twenty-one, knew that
five feet four and a half inches was as much as the Lord in His
wisdom was going to allow him.  It was like Gerald that he never
wasted regrets on his lack of height and never found it an
obstacle to his acquisition of anything he wanted.  Rather, it was
Gerald's compact smallness that made him what he was, for he had
learned early that little people must be hardy to survive among
large ones.  And Gerald was hardy.

His tall brothers were a grim, quiet lot, in whom the family
tradition of past glories, lost forever, rankled in unspoken hate
and crackled out in bitter humor.  Had Gerald been brawny, he
would have gone the way of the other O'Haras and moved quietly and
darkly among the rebels against the government.  But Gerald was
"loud-mouthed and bullheaded," as his mother fondly phrased it,
hair trigger of temper, quick with his fists and possessed of a
chip on his shoulder so large as to be almost visible to the naked
eye.  He swaggered among the tall O'Haras like a strutting bantam
in a barnyard of giant Cochin roosters, and they loved him, baited
him affectionately to hear him roar and hammered on him with their
large fists no more than was necessary to keep a baby brother in
his proper place.

If the educational equipment which Gerald brought to America was
scant, he did not even know it.  Nor would he have cared if he had
been told.  His mother had taught him to read and to write a clear
hand.  He was adept at ciphering.  And there his book knowledge
stopped.  The only Latin he knew was the responses of the Mass and
the only history the manifold wrongs of Ireland.  He knew no
poetry save that of Moore and no music except the songs of Ireland
that had come down through the years.  While he entertained the
liveliest respect for those who had more book learning than he, he
never felt his own lack.  And what need had he of these things in
a new country where the most ignorant of bogtrotters had made
great fortunes? in this country which asked only that a man be
strong and unafraid of work?

Nor did James and Andrew, who took him into their store in
Savannah, regret his lack of education.  His clear hand, his
accurate figures and his shrewd ability in bargaining won their
respect, where a knowledge of literature and a fine appreciation
of music, had young Gerald possessed them, would have moved them
to snorts of contempt.  America, in the early years of the
century, had been kind to the Irish.  James and Andrew, who had
begun by hauling goods in covered wagons from Savannah to
Georgia's inland towns, had prospered into a store of their own,
and Gerald prospered with them.

He liked the South, and he soon became, in his own opinion, a
Southerner.  There was much about the South--and Southerners--that
he would never comprehend: but, with the wholeheartedness that was
his nature, he adopted its ideas and customs, as he understood
them, for his own--poker and horse racing, red-hot politics and
the code duello, States' Rights and damnation to all Yankees,
slavery and King Cotton, contempt for white trash and exaggerated
courtesy to women.  He even learned to chew tobacco.  There was no
need for him to acquire a good head for whisky, he had been born
with one.

But Gerald remained Gerald.  His habits of living and his ideas
changed, but his manners he would not change, even had he been
able to change them.  He admired the drawling elegance of the
wealthy rice and cotton planters, who rode into Savannah from
their moss-hung kingdoms, mounted on thoroughbred horses and
followed by the carriages of their equally elegant ladies and the
wagons of their slaves.  But Gerald could never attain elegance.
Their lazy, blurred voices fell pleasantly on his ears, but his
own brisk brogue clung to his tongue.  He liked the casual grace
with which they conducted affairs of importance, risking a fortune,
a plantation or a slave on the turn of a card and writing off their
losses with careless good humor and no more ado than when they
scattered pennies to pickaninnies.  But Gerald had known poverty,
and he could never learn to lose money with good humor or good
grace.  They were a pleasant race, these coastal Georgians, with
their soft-voiced, quick rages and their charming inconsistencies,
and Gerald liked them.  But there was a brisk and restless vitality
about the young Irishman, fresh from a country where winds blew wet
and chill, where misty swamps held no fevers, that set him apart
from these indolent gentlefolk of semi-tropical weather and malarial
marshes.

From them he learned what he found useful, and the rest he
dismissed.  He found poker the most useful of all Southern
customs, poker and a steady head for whisky; and it was his
natural aptitude for cards and amber liquor that brought to Gerald
two of his three most prized possessions, his valet and his
plantation.  The other was his wife, and he could only attribute
her to the mysterious kindness of God.

The valet, Pork by name, shining black, dignified and trained in
all the arts of sartorial elegance, was the result of an all-night
poker game with a planter from St. Simons Island, whose courage in
a bluff equaled Gerald's but whose head for New Orleans rum did
not.  Though Pork's former owner later offered to buy him back at
twice his value, Gerald obstinately refused, for the possession of
his first slave, and that slave the "best damn valet on the
Coast," was the first step upward toward his heart's desire,
Gerald wanted to be a slave owner and a landed gentleman.

His mind was made up that he was not going to spend all of his
days, like James and Andrew, in bargaining, or all his nights, by
candlelight, over long columns of figures.  He felt keenly, as his
brothers did not, the social stigma attached to those "in trade."
Gerald wanted to be a planter.  With the deep hunger of an
Irishman who has been a tenant on the lands his people once had
owned and hunted, he wanted to see his own acres stretching green
before his eyes.  With a ruthless singleness of purpose, he
desired his own house, his own plantation, his own horse, his own
slaves.  And here in this new country, safe from the twin perils
of the land he had left--taxation that ate up crops and barns and
the ever-present threat of sudden confiscation--he intended to
have them.  But having that ambition and bringing it to realization
were two different matters, he discovered as time went by.  Coastal
Georgia was too firmly held by an entrenched aristocracy for him
ever to hope to win the place he intended to have.

Then the hand of Fate and a hand of poker combined to give him the
plantation which he afterwards called Tara, and at the same time
moved him out of the Coast into the upland country of north
Georgia.

It was in a saloon in Savannah, on a hot night in spring, when the
chance conversation of a stranger sitting near by made Gerald
prick up his ears.  The stranger, a native of Savannah, had just
returned after twelve years in the inland country.  He had been
one of the winners in the land lottery conducted by the State to
divide up the vast area in middle Georgia, ceded by the Indians
the year before Gerald came to America.  He had gone up there and
established a plantation; but, now the house had burned down, he
was tired of the "accursed place" and would be most happy to get
it off his hands.

Gerald, his mind never free of the thought of owning a plantation
of his own, arranged an introduction, and his interest grew as the
stranger told how the northern section of the state was filling up
with newcomers from the Carolinas and Virginia.  Gerald had lived
in Savannah long enough to acquire a viewpoint of the Coast--that
all of the rest of the state was backwoods, with an Indian lurking
in every thicket.  In transacting business for O'Hara Brothers, he
had visited Augusta, a hundred miles up the Savannah River, and he
had traveled inland far enough to visit the old towns westward
from that city.  He knew that section to be as well settled as the
Coast, but from the stranger's description, his plantation was
more than two hundred and fifty miles inland from Savannah to the
north and west, and not many miles south of the Chattahoochee
River.  Gerald knew that northward beyond that stream the land was
still held by the Cherokees, so it was with amazement that he
heard the stranger jeer at suggestions of trouble with the Indians
and narrate how thriving towns were growing up and plantations
prospering in the new country.

An hour later when the conversation began to lag, Gerald, with a
guile that belied the wide innocence of his bright blue eyes,
proposed a game.  As the night wore on and the drinks went round,
there came a time when all the others in the game laid down their
hands and Gerald and the stranger were battling alone.  The
stranger shoved in all his chips and followed with the deed to his
plantation.  Gerald shoved in all his chips and laid on top of
them his wallet.  If the money it contained happened to belong to
the firm of O'Hara Brothers, Gerald's conscience was not
sufficiently troubled to confess it before Mass the following
morning.  He knew what he wanted, and when Gerald wanted something
he gained it by taking the most direct route.  Moreover, such was
his faith in his destiny and four dueces that he never for a
moment wondered just how the money would be paid back should a
higher hand be laid down across the table.

"It's no bargain you're getting and I am glad not to have to pay
more taxes on the place," sighed the possessor of an "ace full,"
as he called for pen and ink.  "The big house burned a year ago
and the fields are growing up in brush and seedling pine.  But
it's yours."

"Never mix cards and whisky unless you were weaned on Irish
poteen," Gerald told Pork gravely the same evening, as Pork
assisted him to bed.  And the valet, who had begun to attempt a
brogue out of admiration for his new master, made requisite answer
in a combination of Geechee and County Meath that would have
puzzled anyone except those two alone.

The muddy Flint River, running silently between walls of pine and
water oak covered with tangled vines, wrapped about Gerald's new
land like a curving arm and embraced it on two sides.  To Gerald,
standing on the small knoll where the house had been, this tall
barrier of green was as visible and pleasing an evidence of
ownership as though it were a fence that he himself had built to
mark his own.  He stood on the blackened foundation stones of the
burned building, looked down the long avenue of trees leading
toward the road and swore lustily, with a joy too deep for
thankful prayer.  These twin lines of somber trees were his, his
the abandoned lawn, waist high in weeds under white-starred young
magnolia trees.  The uncultivated fields, studded with tiny pines
and underbrush, that stretched their rolling red-clay surface away
into the distance on four sides belonged to Gerald O'Hara--were
all his because he had an unbefuddled Irish head and the courage
to stake everything on a hand of cards.

Gerald closed his eyes and, in the stillness of the unworked
acres, he felt that he had come home.  Here under his feet would
rise a house of whitewashed brick.  Across the road would be new
rail fences, inclosing fat cattle and blooded horses, and the red
earth that rolled down the hillside to the rich river bottom land
would gleam white as eiderdown in the sun--cotton, acres and acres
of cotton!  The fortunes of the O'Haras would rise again.

With his own small stake, what he could borrow from his
unenthusiastic brothers and a neat sum from mortgaging the land,
Gerald bought his first field hands and came to Tara to live in
bachelor solitude in the four-room overseer's house, till such a
time as the white walls of Tara should rise.

He cleared the fields and planted cotton and borrowed more money
from James and Andrew to buy more slaves.  The O'Haras were a
clannish tribe, clinging to one another in prosperity as well as
in adversity, not for any overweening family affection but because
they had learned through grim years that to survive a family must
present an unbroken front to the world.  They lent Gerald the
money and, in the years that followed, the money came back to them
with interest.  Gradually the plantation widened out, as Gerald
bought more acres lying near him, and in time the white house
became a reality instead of a dream.

It was built by slave labor, a clumsy sprawling building that
crowned the rise of ground overlooking the green incline of
pasture land running down to the river; and it pleased Gerald
greatly, for, even when new, it wore a look of mellowed years.
The old oaks, which had seen Indians pass under their limbs,
hugged the house closely with their great trunks and towered their
branches over the roof in dense shade.  The lawn, reclaimed from
weeds, grew thick with clover and Bermuda grass, and Gerald saw to
it that it was well kept.  From the avenue of cedars to the row of
white cabins in the slave quarters, there was an air of solidness,
of stability and permanence about Tara, and whenever Gerald
galloped around the bend in the road and saw his own roof rising
through green branches, his heart swelled with pride as though
each sight of it were the first sight.

He had done it all, little, hard-headed, blustering Gerald.

Gerald was on excellent terms with all his neighbors in the
County, except the MacIntoshes whose land adjoined his on the left
and the Slatterys whose meager three acres stretched on his right
along the swamp bottoms between the river and John Wilkes'
plantation.

The MacIntoshes were Scotch-Irish and Orangemen and, had they
possessed all the saintly qualities of the Catholic calendar, this
ancestry would have damned them forever in Gerald's eyes.  True,
they had lived in Georgia for seventy years and, before that, had
spent a generation in the Carolinas; but the first of the family
who set foot on American shores had come from Ulster, and that was
enough for Gerald.

They were a close-mouthed and stiff-necked family, who kept
strictly to themselves and intermarried with their Carolina
relatives, and Gerald was not alone in disliking them, for the
County people were neighborly and sociable and none too tolerant
of anyone lacking in those same qualities.  Rumors of Abolitionist
sympathies did not enhance the popularity of the MacIntoshes.  Old
Angus had never manumitted a single slave and had committed the
unpardonable social breach of selling some of his negroes to
passing slave traders en route to the cane fields of Louisiana,
but the rumors persisted.

"He's an Abolitionist, no doubt," observed Gerald to John Wilkes.
"But, in an Orangeman, when a principle comes up against Scotch
tightness, the principle fares ill."

The Slatterys were another affair.  Being poor white, they were
not even accorded the grudging respect that Angus MacIntosh's dour
independence wrung from neighboring families.  Old Slattery, who
clung persistently to his few acres, in spite of repeated offers
from Gerald and John Wilkes, was shiftless and whining.  His wife
was a snarly-haired woman, sickly and washed-out of appearance,
the mother of a brood of sullen and rabbity-looking children--
a brood which was increased regularly every year.  Tom Slattery
owned no slaves, and he and his two oldest boys spasmodically
worked their few acres of cotton, while the wife and younger
children tended what was supposed to be a vegetable garden.  But,
somehow, the cotton always failed, and the garden, due to Mrs.
Slattery's constant childbearing, seldom furnished enough to feed
her flock.

The sight of Tom Slattery dawdling on his neighbors' porches,
begging cotton seed for planting or a side of bacon to "tide him
over," was a familiar one.  Slattery hated his neighbors with what
little energy he possessed, sensing their contempt beneath their
courtesy, and especially did he hate "rich folks' uppity niggers."
The house negroes of the County considered themselves superior to
white trash, and their unconcealed scorn stung him, while their
more secure position in life stirred his envy.  By contrast with
his own miserable existence, they were well-fed, well-clothed and
looked after in sickness and old age.  They were proud of the good
names of their owners and, for the most part, proud to belong to
people who were quality, while he was despised by all.

Tom Slattery could have sold his farm for three times its value to
any of the planters in the County.  They would have considered it
money well spent to rid the community of an eyesore, but he was
well satisfied to remain and to subsist miserably on the proceeds
of a bale of cotton a year and the charity of his neighbors.

With all the rest of the County, Gerald was on terms of amity and
some intimacy.  The Wilkeses, the Calverts, the Tarletons, the
Fontaines, all smiled when the small figure on the big white horse
galloped up their driveways, smiled and signaled for tall glasses
in which a pony of Bourbon had been poured over a teaspoon of
sugar and a sprig of crushed mint.  Gerald was likable, and the
neighbors learned in time what the children, negroes and dogs
discovered at first sight, that a kind heart, a ready and
sympathetic ear and an open pocketbook lurked just behind his
bawling voice and his truculent manner.

His arrival was always amid a bedlam of hounds barking and small
black children shouting as they raced to meet him, quarreling for
the privilege of holding his horse and squirming and grinning
under his good-natured insults.  The white children clamored to
sit on his knee and be trotted, while he denounced to their elders
the infamy of Yankee politicians; the daughters of his friends
took him into their confidence about their love affairs, and the
youths of the neighborhood, fearful of confessing debts of honor
upon the carpets of their fathers, found him a friend in need.

"So, you've been owning this for a month, you young rascal!" he
would shout.  "And, in God's name, why haven't you been asking me
for the money before this?"

His rough manner of speech was too well known to give offense, and
it only made the young men grin sheepishly and reply:  "Well, sir,
I hated to trouble you, and my father--"

"Your father's a good man, and no denying it, but strict, and so
take this and let's be hearing no more of it."

The planters' ladies were the last to capitulate.  But, when Mrs.
Wilkes, "a great lady and with a rare gift for silence," as Gerald
characterized her, told her husband one evening, after Gerald's
horse had pounded down the driveway.  "He has a rough tongue, but
he is a gentleman," Gerald had definitely arrived.

He did not know that he had taken nearly ten years to arrive, for
it never occurred to him that his neighbors had eyed him askance
at first.  In his own mind, there had never been any doubt that he
belonged, from the moment he first set foot on Tara.

When Gerald was forty-three, so thickset of body and florid of
face that he looked like a hunting squire out of a sporting print,
it came to him that Tara, dear though it was, and the County folk,
with their open hearts and open houses, were not enough.  He
wanted a wife.

Tara cried out for a mistress.  The fat cook, a yard negro
elevated by necessity to the kitchen, never had the meals on time,
and the chambermaid, formerly a field hand, let dust accumulate on
the furniture and never seemed to have clean linen on hand, so
that the arrival of guests was always the occasion of much
stirring and to-do.  Pork, the only trained house negro on the
place, had general supervision over the other servants, but even
he had grown slack and careless after several years of exposure to
Gerald's happy-go-lucky mode of living.  As valet, he kept
Gerald's bedroom in order, and, as butler, he served the meals
with dignity and style, but otherwise he pretty well let matters
follow their own course.

With unerring African instinct, the negroes had all discovered
that Gerald had a loud bark and no bite at all, and they took
shameless advantage of him.  The air was always thick with threats
of selling slaves south and of direful whippings, but there never
had been a slave sold from Tara and only one whipping, and that
administered for not grooming down Gerald's pet horse after a long
day's hunting.

Gerald's sharp blue eyes noticed how efficiently his neighbors'
houses were run and with what ease the smooth-haired wives in
rustling skirts managed their servants.  He had no knowledge of
the dawn-till-midnight activities of these women, chained to
supervision of cooking, nursing, sewing and laundering.  He only
saw the outward results, and those results impressed him.

The urgent need of a wife became clear to him one morning when he
was dressing to ride to town for Court Day.  Pork brought forth
his favorite ruffled shirt, so inexpertly mended by the
chambermaid as to be unwearable by anyone except his valet.

"Mist' Gerald," said Pork, gratefully rolling up the shirt as
Gerald fumed, "whut you needs is a wife, and a wife whut has got
plen'y of house niggers."

Gerald upbraided Pork for his impertinence, but he knew that he
was right.  He wanted a wife and he wanted children and, if he did
not acquire them soon, it would be too late.  But he was not going
to marry just anyone, as Mr. Calvert had done, taking to wife the
Yankee governess of his motherless children.  His wife must be a
lady and a lady of blood, with as many airs and graces as Mrs.
Wilkes and the ability to manage Tara as well as Mrs. Wilkes
ordered her own domain.

But there were two difficulties in the way of marriage into the
County families.  The first was the scarcity of girls of
marriageable age.  The second, and more serious one, was that
Gerald was a "new man," despite his nearly ten years' residence,
and a foreigner.  No one knew anything about his family.  While
the society of up-country Georgia was not so impregnable as that
of the Coast aristocrats, no family wanted a daughter to wed a man
about whose grandfather nothing was known.

Gerald knew that despite the genuine liking of the County men with
whom he hunted, drank and talked politics there was hardly one
whose daughter he could marry.  And he did not intend to have it
gossiped about over supper tables that this, that or the other
father had regretfully refused to let Gerald O'Hara pay court to
his daughter.  This knowledge did not make Gerald feel inferior to
his neighbors.  Nothing could ever make Gerald feel that he was
inferior in any way to anyone.  It was merely a quaint custom of
the County that daughters only married into families who had lived
in the South much longer than twenty-two years, had owned land and
slaves and been addicted only to the fashionable vices during that
time.

"Pack up.  We're going to Savannah," he told Pork.  "And if I hear
you say 'Whist!' or 'Faith!' but once, it's selling you I'll be
doing, for they are words I seldom say meself."

James and Andrew might have some advice to offer on this subject
of marriage, and there might be daughters among their old friends
who would both meet his requirements and find him acceptable as a
husband.  James and Andrew listened to his story patiently but
they gave him little encouragement.  They had no Savannah
relatives to whom they might look for assistance, for they had
been married when they came to America.  And the daughters of
their old friends had long since married and were raising small
children of their own.

"You're not a rich man and you haven't a great family," said
James.

"I've made me money and I can make a great family.  And I won't be
marrying just anyone."

"You fly high," observed Andrew, dryly.

But they did their best for Gerald.  James and Andrew were old men
and they stood well in Savannah.  They had many friends, and for a
month they carried Gerald from home to home, to suppers, dances
and picnics.

"There's only one who takes me eye," Gerald said finally.  "And
she not even born when I landed here."

"And who is it takes your eye?"

"Miss Ellen Robillard," said Gerald, trying to speak casually, for
the slightly tilting dark eyes of Ellen Robillard had taken more
than his eye.  Despite a mystifying listlessness of manner, so
strange in a girl of fifteen, she charmed him.  Moreover, there
was a haunting look of despair about her that went to his heart
and made him more gentle with her than he had ever been with any
person in all the world.

"And you old enough to be her father!"

"And me in me prime!" cried Gerald stung.

James spoke gently.

"Jerry, there's no girl in Savannah you'd have less chance of
marrying.  Her father is a Robillard, and those French are proud
as Lucifer.  And her mother--God rest her soul--was a very great
lady."

"I care not," said Gerald heatedly.  "Besides, her mother is dead,
and old man Robillard likes me."

"As a man, yes, but as a son-in-law, no."

"The girl wouldn't have you anyway," interposed Andrew.  "She's
been in love with that wild buck of a cousin of hers, Philippe
Robillard, for a year now, despite her family being at her morning
and night to give him up."

"He's been gone to Louisiana this month now," said Gerald.

"And how do you know?"

"I know," answered Gerald, who did not care to disclose that Pork
had supplied this valuable bit of information, or that Philippe
had departed for the West at the express desire of his family.
"And I do not think she's been so much in love with him that she
won't forget him.  Fifteen is too young to know much about love."

"They'd rather have that breakneck cousin for her than you."

So, James and Andrew were as startled as anyone when the news came
out that the daughter of Pierre Robillard was to marry the little
Irishman from up the country.  Savannah buzzed behind its doors
and speculated about Philippe Robillard, who had gone West, but
the gossiping brought no answer.  Why the loveliest of the
Robillard daughters should marry a loud-voiced, red-faced little
man who came hardly up to her ears remained a mystery to all.

Gerald himself never quite knew how it all came about.  He only
knew that a miracle had happened.  And, for once in his life, he
was utterly humble when Ellen, very white but very calm, put a
light hand on his arm and said:  "I will marry you, Mr. O'Hara."

The thunderstruck Robillards knew the answer in part, but only
Ellen and her mammy ever knew the whole story of the night when
the girl sobbed till the dawn like a broken-hearted child and rose
up in the morning a woman with her mind made up.

With foreboding, Mammy had brought her young mistress a small
package, addressed in a strange hand from New Orleans, a package
containing a miniature of Ellen, which she flung to the floor with
a cry, four letters in her own handwriting to Philippe Robillard,
and a brief letter from a New Orleans priest, announcing the death
of her cousin in a barroom brawl.

"They drove him away, Father and Pauline and Eulalie.  They drove
him away.  I hate them.  I hate them all.  I never want to see
them again.  I want to get away.  I will go away where I'll never
see them again, or this town, or anyone who reminds me of--of--
him."

And when the night was nearly spent, Mammy, who had cried herself
out over her mistress' dark head, protested, "But, honey, you kain
do dat!"

"I will do it.  He is a kind man.  I will do it or go into the
convent at Charleston."

It was the threat of the convent that finally won the assent of
bewildered and heartstricken Pierre Robillard.  He was staunchly
Presbyterian, even though his family were Catholic, and the
thought of his daughter becoming a nun was even worse than that of
her marrying Gerald O'Hara.  After all, the man had nothing
against him but a lack of family.

So, Ellen, no longer Robillard, turned her back on Savannah, never
to see it again, and with a middle-aged husband, Mammy, and twenty
"house niggers" journeyed toward Tara.

The next year, their first child was born and they named her Katie
Scarlett, after Gerald's mother.  Gerald was disappointed, for he
had wanted a son, but he nevertheless was pleased enough over his
small black-haired daughter to serve rum to every slave at Tara
and to get roaringly, happily drunk himself.

If Ellen had ever regretted her sudden decision to marry him, no
one ever knew it, certainly not Gerald, who almost burst with
pride whenever he looked at her.  She had put Savannah and its
memories behind her when she left that gently mannered city by the
sea, and, from the moment of her arrival in the County, north
Georgia was her home.

When she departed from her father's house forever, she had left a
home whose lines were as beautiful and flowing as a woman's body,
as a ship in full sail; a pale pink stucco house built in the
French colonial style, set high from the ground in a dainty
manner, approached by swirling stairs, banistered with wrought
iron as delicate as lace; a dim, rich house, gracious but aloof.

She had left not only that graceful dwelling but also the entire
civilization that was behind the building of it, and she found
herself in a world that was as strange and different as if she had
crossed a continent.

Here in north Georgia was a rugged section held by a hardy people.
High up on the plateau at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains,
she saw rolling red hills wherever she looked, with huge
outcroppings of the underlying granite and gaunt pines towering
somberly everywhere.  It all seemed wild and untamed to her coast-
bred eyes accustomed to the quiet jungle beauty of the sea islands
draped in their gray moss and tangled green, the white stretches
of beach hot beneath a semitropic sun, the long flat vistas of
sandy land studded with palmetto and palm.

This was a section that knew the chill of winter, as well as the
heat of summer, and there was a vigor and energy in the people
that was strange to her.  They were a kindly people, courteous,
generous, filled with abounding good nature, but sturdy, virile,
easy to anger.  The people of the Coast which she had left might
pride themselves on taking all their affairs, even their duels and
their feuds, with a careless air but these north Georgia people
had a streak of violence in them.  On the coast, life had
mellowed--here it was young and lusty and new.

All the people Ellen had known in Savannah might have been cast
from the same mold, so similar were their view points and
traditions, but here was a variety of people.  North Georgia's
settlers were coming in from many different places, from other
parts of Georgia, from the Carolinas and Virginia, from Europe and
the North.  Some of them, like Gerald, were new people seeking
their fortunes.  Some, like Ellen, were members of old families
who had found life intolerable in their former homes and sought
haven in a distant land.  Many had moved for no reason at all,
except that the restless blood of pioneering fathers still
quickened in their veins.

These people, drawn from many different places and with many
different backgrounds, gave the whole life of the County an
informality that was new to Ellen, an informality to which she
never quite accustomed herself.  She instinctively knew how Coast
people would act in any circumstance.  There was never any telling
what north Georgians would do.

And, quickening all of the affairs of the section, was the high
tide of prosperity then rolling over the South.  All of the world
was crying out for cotton, and the new land of the County, unworn
and fertile, produced it abundantly.  Cotton was the heartbeat of
the section, the planting and the picking were the diastole and
systole of the red earth.  Wealth came out of the curving furrows,
and arrogance came too--arrogance built on green bushes and the
acres of fleecy white.  If cotton could make them rich in one
generation, how much richer they would be in the next!

This certainty of the morrow gave zest and enthusiasm to life, and
the County people enjoyed life with a heartiness that Ellen could
never understand.  They had money enough and slaves enough to give
them time to play, and they liked to play.  They seemed never too
busy to drop work for a fish fry, a hunt or a horse race, and
scarcely a week went by without its barbecue or ball.

Ellen never would, or could, quite become one of them--she had
left too much of herself in Savannah--but she respected them and,
in time, learned to admire the frankness and forthrightness of
these people, who had few reticences and who valued a man for what
he was.

She became the best-loved neighbor in the County.  She was a
thrifty and kind mistress, a good mother and a devoted wife.  The
heartbreak and selflessness that she would have dedicated to the
Church were devoted instead to the service of her child, her
household and the man who had taken her out of Savannah and its
memories and had never asked any questions.

When Scarlett was a year old, and more healthy and vigorous than a
girl baby had any right to be, in Mammy's opinion, Ellen's second
child, named Susan Elinor, but always called Suellen, was born,
and in due time came Carreen, listed in the family Bible as
Caroline Irene.  Then followed three little boys, each of whom
died before he had learned to walk--three little boys who now lay
under the twisted cedars in the burying ground a hundred yards
from the house, beneath three stones, each bearing the name of
"Gerald O'Hara, Jr."

From the day when Ellen first came to Tara, the place had been
transformed.  If she was only fifteen years old, she was
nevertheless ready for the responsibilities of the mistress of a
plantation.  Before marriage, young girls must be, above all other
things, sweet, gentle, beautiful and ornamental, but, after
marriage, they were expected to manage households that numbered a
hundred people or more, white and black, and they were trained
with that in view.

Ellen had been given this preparation for marriage which any well-
brought-up young lady received, and she also had Mammy, who could
galvanize the most shiftless negro into energy.  She quickly
brought order, dignity and grace into Gerald's household, and she
gave Tara a beauty it had never had before.

The house had been built according to no architectural plan
whatever, with extra rooms added where and when it seemed
convenient, but, with Ellen's care and attention, it gained a
charm that made up for its lack of design.  The avenue of cedars
leading from the main road to the house--that avenue of cedars
without which no Georgia planter's home could be complete--had a
cool dark shadiness that gave a brighter tinge, by contrast, to
the green of the other trees.  The wistaria tumbling over the
verandas showed bright against the whitewashed brick, and it
joined with the pink crepe myrtle bushes by the door and the
white-blossomed magnolias in the yard to disguise some of the
awkward lines of the house.

In spring time and summer, the Bermuda grass and clover on the
lawn became emerald, so enticing an emerald that it presented an
irresistible temptation to the flocks of turkeys and white geese
that were supposed to roam only the regions in the rear of the
house.  The elders of the flocks continually led stealthy advances
into the front yard, lured on by the green of the grass and the
luscious promise of the cape jessamine buds and the zinnia beds.
Against their depredations, a small black sentinel was stationed
on the front porch.  Armed with a ragged towel, the little negro
boy sitting on the steps was part of the picture of Tara--and an
unhappy one, for he was forbidden to chunk the fowls and could
only flap the towel at them and shoo them.

Ellen set dozens of little black boys to this task, the first
position of responsibility a male slave had at Tara.  After they
had passed their tenth year, they were sent to old Daddy the
plantation cobbler to learn his trade, or to Amos the wheelwright
and carpenter, or Philip the cow man, or Cuffee the mule boy.  If
they showed no aptitude for any of these trades, they became field
hands and, in the opinion of the negroes, they had lost their
claim to any social standing at all.

Ellen's life was not easy, nor was it happy, but she did not
expect life to be easy, and, if it was not happy, that was woman's
lot.  It was a man's world, and she accepted it as such.  The man
owned the property, and the woman managed it.  The man took the
credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness.
The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and
the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him.
Men were rough of speech and often drunk.  Women ignored the
lapses of speech and put the drunkards to bed without bitter
words.  Men were rude and outspoken, women were always kind,
gracious and forgiving.

She had been reared in the tradition of great ladies, which had
taught her how to carry her burden and still retain her charm, and
she intended that her three daughters should be great ladies also.
With her younger daughters, she had success, for Suellen was so
anxious to be attractive she lent an attentive and obedient ear to
her mother's teachings, and Carreen was shy and easily led.  But
Scarlett, child of Gerald, found the road to ladyhood hard.

To Mammy's indignation, her preferred playmates were not her
demure sisters or the well-brought-up Wilkes girls but the negro
children on the plantation and the boys of the neighborhood, and
she could climb a tree or throw a rock as well as any of them.
Mammy was greatly perturbed that Ellen's daughter should display
such traits and frequently adjured her to "ack lak a lil lady."
But Ellen took a more tolerant and long-sighted view of the
matter.  She knew that from childhood playmates grew beaux in
later years, and the first duty of a girl was to get married.  She
told herself that the child was merely full of life and there was
still time in which to teach her the arts and graces of being
attractive to men.

To this end, Ellen and Mammy bent their efforts, and as Scarlett
grew older she became an apt pupil in this subject, even though
she learned little else.  Despite a succession of governesses and
two years at the near-by Fayetteville Female Academy, her
education was sketchy, but no girl in the County danced more
gracefully than she.  She knew how to smile so that her dimples
leaped, how to walk pigeon-toed so that her wide hoop skirts
swayed entrancingly, how to look up into a man's face and then
drop her eyes and bat the lids rapidly so that she seemed a-
tremble with gentle emotion.  Most of all she learned how to
conceal from men a sharp intelligence beneath a face as sweet and
bland as a baby's.

Ellen, by soft-voiced admonition, and Mammy, by constant carping,
labored to inculcate in her the qualities that would make her
truly desirable as a wife.

"You must be more gentle, dear, more sedate," Ellen told her
daughter.  "You must not interrupt gentlemen when they are
speaking, even if you do think you know more about matters than
they do.  Gentlemen do not like forward girls."

"Young misses whut frowns an pushes out dey chins an' says 'Ah
will' and 'Ah woan' mos' gener'ly doan ketch husbands," prophesied
Mammy gloomily.  "Young misses should cas' down dey eyes an' say,
'Well, suh, Ah mout' an' 'Jes' as you say, suh.'"

Between them, they taught her all that a gentlewoman should know,
but she learned only the outward signs of gentility.  The inner
grace from which these signs should spring, she never learned nor
did she see any reason for learning it.  Appearances were enough,
for the appearances of ladyhood won her popularity and that was
all she wanted.  Gerald bragged that she was the belle of five
counties, and with some truth, for she had received proposals from
nearly all the young men in the neighborhood and many from places
as far away as Atlanta and Savannah.

At sixteen, thanks to Mammy and Ellen, she looked sweet, charming
and giddy, but she was, in reality, self-willed, vain and
obstinate.  She had the easily stirred passions of her Irish
father and nothing except the thinnest veneer of her mother's
unselfish and forbearing nature.  Ellen never fully realized that
it was only a veneer, for Scarlett always showed her best face to
her mother, concealing her escapades, curbing her temper and
appearing as sweet-natured as she could in Ellen's presence, for
her mother could shame her to tears with a reproachful glance.

But Mammy was under no illusions about her and was constantly
alert for breaks in the veneer.  Mammy's eyes were sharper than
Ellen's, and Scarlett could never recall in all her life having
fooled Mammy for long.

It was not that these two loving mentors deplored Scarlett's high
spirits, vivacity and charm.  These were traits of which Southern
women were proud.  It was Gerald's headstrong and impetuous nature
in her that gave them concern, and they sometimes feared they
would not be able to conceal her damaging qualities until she had
made a good match.  But Scarlett intended to marry--and marry
Ashley--and she was willing to appear demure, pliable and
scatterbrained, if those were the qualities that attracted men.
Just why men should be this way, she did not know.  She only knew
that such methods worked.  It never interested her enough to try
to think out the reason for it, for she knew nothing of the inner
workings of any human being's mind, not even her own.  She knew
only that if she did or said thus-and-so, men would unerringly
respond with the complementary thus-and-so.  It was like a
mathematical formula and no more difficult, for mathematics was
the one subject that had come easy to Scarlett in her schooldays.

If she knew little about men's minds, she knew even less about the
minds of women, for they interested her less.  She had never had a
girl friend, and she never felt any lack on that account.  To her,
all women, including her two sisters, were natural enemies in
pursuit of the same prey--man.

All women with the one exception of her mother.

Ellen O'Hara was different, and Scarlett regarded her as something
holy and apart from all the rest of humankind.  When Scarlett was
a child, she had confused her mother with the Virgin Mary, and now
that she was older she saw no reason for changing her opinion.  To
her, Ellen represented the utter security that only Heaven or a
mother can give.  She knew that her mother was the embodiment of
justice, truth, loving tenderness and profound wisdom--a great
lady.

Scarlett wanted very much to be like her mother.  The only
difficulty was that by being just and truthful and tender and
unselfish, one missed most of the joys of life, and certainly many
beaux.  And life was too short to miss such pleasant things.  Some
day when she was married to Ashley and old, some day when she had
time for it, she intended to be like Ellen.  But, until then . . .



CHAPTER IV


That night at supper, Scarlett went through the motions of
presiding over the table in her mother's absence, but her mind was
in a ferment over the dreadful news she had heard about Ashley and
Melanie.  Desperately she longed for her mother's return from the
Slatterys', for, without her, she felt lost and alone.  What right
had the Slatterys and their everlasting sickness to take Ellen
away from home just at this time when she, Scarlett, needed her so
much?

Throughout the dismal meal, Gerald's booming voice battered
against her ears until she thought she could endure it no longer.
He had forgotten completely about his conversation with her that
afternoon and was carrying on a monologue about the latest news
from Fort Sumter, which he punctuated by hammering his fist on the
table and waving his arms in the air.  Gerald made a habit of
dominating the conversation at mealtimes, and usually Scarlett,
occupied with her own thoughts, scarcely heard him; but tonight
she could not shut out his voice, no matter how much she strained
to listen for the sound of carriage wheels that would herald
Ellen's return.

Of course, she did not intend to tell her mother what was so heavy
on her heart, for Ellen would be shocked and grieved to know that
a daughter of hers wanted a man who was engaged to another girl.
But, in the depths of the first tragedy she had ever known, she
wanted the very comfort of her mother's presence.  She always felt
secure when Ellen was by her, for there was nothing so bad that
Ellen could not better it, simply by being there.

She rose suddenly from her chair at the sound of creaking wheels
in the driveway and then sank down again as they went on around
the house to the back yard.  It could not be Ellen, for she would
alight at the front steps.  Then there was an excited babble of
negro voices in the darkness of the yard and high-pitched negro
laughter.  Looking out the window, Scarlett saw Pork, who had left
the room a moment before, holding high a flaring pine knot, while
indistinguishable figures descended from a wagon.  The laughter
and talking rose and fell in the dark night air, pleasant, homely,
carefree sounds, gutturally soft, musically shrill.  Then feet
shuffled up the back-porch stairs and into the passageway leading
to the main house, stopping in the hall just outside the dining
room.  There was a brief interval of whispering, and Pork entered,
his usual dignity gone, his eyes rolling and his teeth a-gleam.

"Mist' Gerald," he announced, breathing hard, the pride of a
bridegroom all over his shining face, "you' new 'oman done come."

"New woman?  I didn't buy any new woman," declared Gerald,
pretending to glare.

"Yassah, you did, Mist' Gerald!  Yassah!  An' she out hyah now
wanting ter speak wid you," answered Pork, giggling and twisting
his hands in excitement.

"Well, bring in the bride," said Gerald, and Pork, turning,
beckoned into the hall to his wife, newly arrived from the Wilkes
plantation to become part of the household of Tara.  She entered,
and behind her, almost hidden by her voluminous calico skirts,
came her twelve-year-old daughter, squirming against her mother's
legs.

Dilcey was tall and bore herself erectly.  She might have been any
age from thirty to sixty, so unlined was her immobile bronze face.
Indian blood was plain in her features, overbalancing the negroid
characteristics.  The red color of her skin, narrow high forehead,
prominent cheek bones and the hawk-bridged nose which flattened at
the end above thick negro lips, all showed the mixture of two
races.  She was self-possessed and walked with a dignity that
surpassed even Mammy's, for Mammy had acquired her dignity and
Dilcey's was in her blood.

When she spoke, her voice was not so slurred as most negroes' and
she chose her words more carefully.

"Good evenin', young Misses.  Mist' Gerald, I is sorry to 'sturb
you, but I wanted to come here and thank you agin fo' buyin' me
and my chile.  Lots of gentlemens might a' bought me but they
wouldn't a' bought my Prissy, too, jes' to keep me frum grievin'
and I thanks you.  I'm gwine do my bes' fo' you and show you I
ain't forgettin'."

"Hum--hurrump," said Gerald, clearing his throat in embarrassment
at being caught openly in an act of kindness.

Dilcey turned to Scarlett and something like a smile wrinkled the
corners of her eyes.  "Miss Scarlett, Poke done tole me how you
ast Mist Gerald to buy me.  And so I'm gwine give you my Prissy
fo' yo' own maid."

She reached behind her and jerked the little girl forward.  She
was a brown little creature, with skinny legs like a bird and a
myriad of pigtails carefully wrapped with twine sticking stiffly
out from her head.  She had sharp, knowing eyes that missed
nothing and a studiedly stupid look on her face.

"Thank you, Dilcey," Scarlett replied, "but I'm afraid Mammy will
have something to say about that.  She's been my maid ever since I
was born."

"Mammy getting ole," said Dilcey, with a calmness that would have
enraged Mammy.  "She a good mammy, but you a young lady now and
needs a good maid, and my Prissy been maidin' fo' Miss India fo' a
year now.  She kin sew and fix hair good as a grown pusson."

Prodded by her mother, Prissy bobbed a sudden curtsy and grinned
at Scarlett, who could not help grinning back.

"A sharp little wench," she thought, and said aloud:  "Thank you,
Dilcey, we'll see about it when Mother comes home."

"Thankee, Ma'm.  I gives you a good night," said Dilcey and,
turning, left the room with her child, Pork dancing attendance.
The supper things cleared away, Gerald resumed his oration, but
with little satisfaction to himself and none at all to his
audience.  His thunderous predictions of immediate war and his
rhetorical questions as to whether the South would stand for
further insults from the Yankees only produced faintly bored,
"Yes, Papas" and "No, Pas."  Carreen, sitting on a hassock under
the big lamp, was deep in the romance of a girl who had taken the
veil after her lover's death and, with silent tears of enjoyment
oozing from her eyes, was pleasurably picturing herself in a white
coif.  Suellen, embroidering on what she gigglingly called her
"hope chest," was wondering if she could possibly detach Stuart
Tarleton from her sister's side at the barbecue tomorrow and
fascinate him with the sweet womanly qualities which she possessed
and Scarlett did not.  And Scarlett was in a tumult about Ashley.

How could Pa talk on and on about Fort Sumter and the Yankees when
he knew her heart was breaking?  As usual in the very young, she
marveled that people could be so selfishly oblivious to her pain
and the world rock along just the same, in spite of her heartbreak.

Her mind was as if a cyclone had gone through it, and it seemed
strange that the dining room where they sat should be so placid,
so unchanged from what it had always been.  The heavy mahogany
table and sideboards, the massive silver, the bright rag rugs on
the shining floor were all in their accustomed places, just as if
nothing had happened.  It was a friendly and comfortable room and,
ordinarily, Scarlett loved the quiet hours which the family spent
there after supper; but tonight she hated the sight of it and, if
she had not feared her father's loudly bawled questions, she would
have slipped away, down the dark hall to Ellen's little office and
cried out her sorrow on the old sofa.

That was the room that Scarlett liked the best in all the house.
There, Ellen sat before her tall secretary each morning, keeping
the accounts of the plantation and listening to the reports of
Jonas Wilkerson, the overseer.  There also the family idled while
Ellen's quill scratched across her ledgers.  Gerald in the old
rocker, the girls on the sagging cushions of the sofa that was too
battered and worn for the front of the house.  Scarlett longed to
be there now, alone with Ellen, so she could put her head in her
mother's lap and cry in peace.  Wouldn't Mother ever come home?

Then, wheels ground sharply on the graveled driveway, and the soft
murmur of Ellen's voice dismissing the coachman floated into the
room.  The whole group looked up eagerly as she entered rapidly,
her hoops swaying, her face tired and sad.  There entered with her
the faint fragrance of lemon verbena sachet, which seemed always
to creep from the folds of her dresses, a fragrance that was
always linked in Scarlett's mind with her mother.  Mammy followed
at a few paces, the leather bag in her hand, her underlip pushed
out and her brow lowering.  Mammy muttered darkly to herself as
she waddled, taking care that her remarks were pitched too low to
be understood but loud enough to register her unqualified
disapproval.

"I am sorry I am so late," said Ellen, slipping her plaid shawl
from drooping shoulders and handing it to Scarlett, whose cheek
she patted in passing.

Gerald's face had brightened as if by magic at her entrance.

"Is the brat baptized?" he questioned.

"Yes, and dead, poor thing," said Ellen.  "I feared Emmie would
die too, but I think she will live."

The girls' faces turned to her, startled and questioning, and
Gerald wagged his head philosophically.

"Well, 'tis better so that the brat is dead, no doubt, poor
fatherle--"

"It is late.  We had better have prayers now," interrupted Ellen
so smoothly that, if Scarlett had not known her mother well, the
interruption would have passed unnoticed.

It would be interesting to know who was the father of Emmie
Slattery's baby, but Scarlett knew she would never learn the truth
of the matter if she waited to hear it from her mother.  Scarlett
suspected Jonas Wilkerson, for she had frequently seen him walking
down the road with Emmie at nightfall.  Jonas was a Yankee and a
bachelor, and the fact that he was an overseer forever barred him
from any contact with the County social life.  There was no family
of any standing into which he could marry, no people with whom he
could associate except the Slatterys and riffraff like them.  As
he was several cuts above the Slatterys in education, it was only
natural that he should not want to marry Emmie, no matter how
often he might walk with her in the twilight.

Scarlett sighed, for her curiosity was sharp.  Things were always
happening under her mother's eyes which she noticed no more than
if they had not happened at all.  Ellen ignored all things
contrary to her ideas of propriety and tried to teach Scarlett to
do the same, but with poor success.

Ellen had stepped to the mantel to take her rosary beads from the
small inlaid casket in which they always reposed when Mammy spoke
up with firmness.

"Miss Ellen, you gwine eat some supper befo' you does any
prayin'."

"Thank you.  Mammy, but I am not hungry."

"Ah gwine fix yo' supper mahseff an' you eats it," said Mammy, her
brow furrowed with indignation as she started down the hall for
the kitchen.  "Poke!" she called, "tell Cookie stir up de fiah.
Miss Ellen home."

As the boards shuddered under her weight, the soliloquy she had
been muttering in the front hall grew louder and louder, coming
clearly to the ears of the family in the dining room.

"Ah has said time an' again, it doan do no good doin' nuthin' fer
w'ite trash.  Dey is de shiflesses, mos' ungrateful passel of no-
counts livin'.  An' Miss Ellen got no bizness weahin' herseff out
waitin' on folks dat did dey be wuth shootin' dey'd have niggers
ter wait on dem.  An' Ah has said--"

Her voice trailed off as she went down the long open passageway,
covered only by a roof, that led into the kitchen.  Mammy had her
own method of letting her owners know exactly where she stood on
all matters.  She knew it was beneath the dignity of quality white
folks to pay the slightest attention to what a darky said when she
was just grumbling to herself.  She knew that to uphold this
dignity, they must ignore what she said, even if she stood in the
next room and almost shouted.  It protected her from reproof, and
it left no doubt in anyone's mind as to her exact views on any
subject.

Pork entered the room, bearing a plate, silver and a napkin.  He
was followed closely by Jack, a black little boy of ten, hastily
buttoning a white linen jacket with one hand and bearing in the
other a fly-swisher, made of thin strips of newspaper tied to a
reed longer than he was.  Ellen had a beautiful peacock-feather
fly-brusher, but it was used only on very special occasions and
then only after domestic struggle, due to the obstinate conviction
of Pork, Cookie and Mammy that peacock feathers were bad luck.

Ellen sat down in the chair which Gerald pulled out for her and
four voices attacked her.

"Mother, the lace is loose on my new ball dress and I want to wear
it tomorrow night at Twelve Oaks.  Won't you please fix it?"

"Mother, Scarlett's new dress is prettier than mine and I look
like a fright in pink.  Why can't she wear my pink and let me wear
her green?  She looks all right in pink."

"Mother, can I stay up for the ball tomorrow night?  I'm thirteen
now--"

"Mrs. O'Hara, would you believe it--  Hush, you girls, before I
take me crop to you!  Cade Calvert was in Atlanta this morning and
he says--will you be quiet and let me be hearing me own voice?--
and he says it's all upset they are there and talking nothing but
war, militia drilling, troops forming.  And he says the news from
Charleston is that they will be putting up with no more Yankee
insults."

Ellen's tired mouth smiled into the tumult as she addressed
herself first to her husband, as a wife should.

"If the nice people of Charleston feel that way, I'm sure we will
all feel the same way soon," she said, for she had a deeply rooted
belief that, excepting only Savannah, most of the gentle blood of
the whole continent could be found in that small seaport city, a
belief shared largely by Charlestonians.

"No, Carreen, next year, dear.  Then you can stay up for balls and
wear grown-up dresses, and what a good time my little pink cheeks
will have!  Don't pout, dear.  You can go to the barbecue,
remember that, and stay up through supper, but no balls until you
are fourteen.

"Give me your gown, Scarlett, I will whip the lace for you after
prayers.

"Suellen, I do not like your tone, dear.  Your pink gown is lovely
and suitable to your complexion, Scarlett's is to hers.  But you
may wear my garnet necklace tomorrow night."

Suellen, behind her mother's hack, wrinkled her nose triumphantly
at Scarlett, who had been planning to beg the necklace for
herself.  Scarlett put out her tongue at her.  Suellen was an
annoying sister with her whining and selfishness, and had it not
been for Ellen's restraining hand, Scarlett would frequently have
boxed her ears.

"Now, Mr. O'Hara, tell me more about what Mr. Calvert said about
Charleston," said Ellen.

Scarlett knew her mother cared nothing at all about war and
politics and thought them masculine matters about which no lady
could intelligently concern herself.  But it gave Gerald pleasure
to air his views, and Ellen was unfailingly thoughtful of her
husband's pleasure.

While Gerald launched forth on his news, Mammy set the plates
before her mistress, golden-topped biscuits, breast of fried
chicken and a yellow yam open and steaming, with melted butter
dripping from it.  Mammy pinched small Jack, and he hastened to
his business of slowly swishing the paper ribbons back and forth
behind Ellen.  Mammy stood beside the table, watching every
forkful that traveled from plate to mouth, as though she intended
to force the food down Ellen's throat should she see signs of
flagging.  Ellen ate diligently, but Scarlett could see that she
was too tired to know what she was eating.  Only Mammy's implacable
face forced her to it.

When the dish was empty and Gerald only midway in his remarks on
the thievishness of Yankees who wanted to free darkies and yet
offered no penny to pay for their freedom, Ellen rose.

"We'll be having prayers?" he questioned, reluctantly.

"Yes.  It is so late--why, it is actually ten o'clock," as the
clock with coughing and tinny thumps marked the hour.  "Carreen
should have been asleep long ago.  The lamp, please, Pork, and my
prayer book, Mammy."

Prompted by Mammy's hoarse whisper, Jack set his fly-brush in the
corner and removed the dishes, while Mammy fumbled in the
sideboard drawer for Ellen's worn prayer book.  Pork, tiptoeing,
reached the ring in the chain and drew the lamp slowly down until
the table top was brightly bathed in light and the ceiling receded
into shadows.  Ellen arranged her skirts and sank to the floor on
her knees, laying the open prayer book on the table before her and
clasping her hands upon it.  Gerald knelt beside her, and Scarlett
and Suellen took their accustomed places on the opposite side of
the table, folding their voluminous petticoats in pads under their
knees, so they would ache less from contact with the hard floor.
Carreen, who was small for her age, could not kneel comfortably at
the table and so knelt facing a chair, her elbows on the seat.
She liked this position, for she seldom failed to go to sleep
during prayers and, in this postures it escaped her mother's
notice.

The house servants shuffled and rustled in the hall to kneel by
the doorway, Mammy groaning aloud as she sank down, Pork straight
as a ramrod, Rosa and Teena, the maids, graceful in their
spreading bright calicoes, Cookie gaunt and yellow beneath her
snowy head rag, and Jack, stupid with sleep, as far away from
Mammy's pinching fingers as possible.  Their dark eyes gleamed
expectantly, for praying with their white folks was one of the
events of the day.  The old and colorful phrases of the litany
with its Oriental imagery meant little to them but it satisfied
something in their hearts, and they always swayed when they
chanted the responses:  "Lord, have mercy on us," "Christ, have
mercy on us."

Ellen closed her eyes and began praying, her voice rising and
falling, lulling and soothing.  Heads bowed in the circle of
yellow light as Ellen thanked God for the health and happiness of
her home, her family and her negroes.

When she had finished her prayers for those beneath the roof of
Tara, her father, mother, sisters, three dead babies and "all the
poor souls in Purgatory," she clasped her white beads between long
fingers and began the Rosary.  Like the rushing of a soft wind,
the responses from black throats and white throats rolled back:

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the
hour of our death."

Despite her heartache and the pain of unshed tears, a deep sense
of quiet and peace fell upon Scarlett as it always did at this
hour.  Some of the disappointment of the day and the dread of the
morrow departed from her, leaving a feeling of hope.  It was not
the lifting up of her heart to God that brought this balm, for
religion went no more than lip deep with her.  It was the sight of
her mother's serene face upturned to the throne of God and His
saints and angels, praying for blessings on those whom she loved.
When Ellen intervened with Heaven, Scarlett felt certain that
Heaven heard.

Ellen finished and Gerald, who could never find his beads at
prayer time, began furtively counting his decade on his fingers.
As his voice droned on, Scarlett's thoughts strayed, in spite of
herself.  She knew she should be examining her conscience.  Ellen
had taught her that at the end of each day it was her duty to
examine her conscience thoroughly, to admit her numerous faults
and pray to God for forgiveness and strength never to repeat them.
But Scarlett was examining her heart.

She dropped her head upon her folded hands so that her mother
could not see her face, and her thoughts went sadly back to
Ashley.  How could he be planning to marry Melanie when he really
loved her, Scarlett?  And when he knew how much she loved him?
How could he deliberately break her heart?

Then, suddenly, an idea, shining and new, flashed like a comet
through her brain.

"Why, Ashley hasn't an idea that I'm in love with him!"

She almost gasped aloud in the shock of its unexpectedness.  Her
mind stood still as if paralyzed for a long, breathless instant,
and then raced forward.

"How could he know?  I've always acted so prissy and ladylike and
touch-me-not around him he probably thinks I don't care a thing
about him except as a friend.  Yes, that's why he's never spoken!
He thinks his love is hopeless.  And that's why he's looked so--"

Her mind went swiftly back to those times when she had caught him
looking at her in that strange manner, when the gray eyes that
were such perfect curtains for his thoughts had been wide and
naked and had in them a look of torment and despair.

"He's been broken hearted because he thinks I'm in love with Brent
or Stuart or Cade.  And probably he thinks that if he can't have
me, he might as well please his family and marry Melanie.  But if
he knew I did love him--"

Her volatile spirits shot up from deepest depression to excited
happiness.  This was the answer to Ashley's reticence, to his
strange conduct.  He didn't know!  Her vanity leaped to the aid of
her desire to believe, making belief a certainty.  If he knew she
loved him, he would hasten to her side.  She had only to--

"Oh!" she thought rapturously, digging her fingers into her
lowered brow.  "What a fool I've been not to think of this till
now!  I must think of some way to let him know.  He wouldn't marry
her if he knew I loved him!  How could he?"

With a start, she realized that Gerald had finished and her
mother's eyes were on her.  Hastily she began her decade, telling
off the beads automatically but with a depth of emotion in her
voice that caused Mammy to open her eyes and shoot a searching
glance at her.  As she finished her prayers and Suellen, then
Carreen, began their decades, her mind was still speeding onward
with her entrancing new thought.

Even now, it wasn't too late!  Too often the County had been
scandalized by elopements when one or the other of the
participating parties was practically at the altar with a third.
And Ashley's engagement had not even been announced yet!  Yes,
there was plenty of time!

If no love lay between Ashley and Melanie but only a promise given
long ago, then why wasn't it possible for him to break that
promise and marry her?  Surely he would do it, if he knew that
she, Scarlett, loved him.  She must find some way to let him know.
She would find some way!  And then--

Scarlett came abruptly out of her dream of delight, for she had
neglected to make the responses and her mother was looking at her
reprovingly.  As she resumed the ritual, she opened her eyes
briefly and cast a quick glance around the room.  The kneeling
figures, the soft glow of the lamp, the dim shadows where the
negroes swayed, even the familiar objects that had been so hateful
to her sight an hour ago, in an instant took on the color of her
own emotions, and the room seemed once more a lovely place.  She
would never forget this moment or this scene!

"Virgin most faithful," her mother intoned.  The Litany of the
Virgin was beginning, and obediently Scarlett responded:  "Pray
for us," as Ellen praised in soft contralto the attributes of the
Mother of God.

As always since childhood, this was, for Scarlett, a moment for
adoration of Ellen, rather than the Virgin.  Sacrilegious though
it might be, Scarlett always saw, through her closed eyes, the
upturned face of Ellen and not the Blessed Virgin, as the ancient
phrases were repeated.  "Health of the Sick," "Seat of Wisdom,"
"Refuge of Sinners," "Mystical Rose"--they were beautiful because
they were the attributes of Ellen.  But tonight, because of the
exaltation of her own spirit, Scarlett found in the whole
ceremonial, the softly spoken words, the murmur of the responses,
a surpassing beauty beyond any that she had ever experienced
before.  And her heart went up to God in sincere thankfulness that
a pathway for her feet had been opened--out of her misery and
straight to the arms of Ashley.

When the last "Amen" sounded, they all rose, somewhat stiffly,
Mammy being hauled to her feet by the combined efforts of Teena
and Rosa.  Pork took a long spiller from the mantelpiece, lit it
from the lamp flame and went into the hall.  Opposite the winding
stair stood a walnut sideboard, too large for use in the dining
room, bearing on its wide top several lamps and a long row of
candles in candlesticks.  Pork lit one lamp and three candles and,
with the pompous dignity of a first chamberlain of the royal
bedchamber lighting a king and queen to their rooms, he led the
procession up the stairs, holding the light high above his head.
Ellen, on Gerald's arm, followed him, and the girls, each taking
her own candlestick, mounted after them.

Scarlett entered her room, set the candle on the tall chest of
drawers and fumbled in the dark closet for the dancing dress that
needed stitching.  Throwing it across her arm, she crossed the
hall quietly.  The door of her parents' bedroom was slightly ajar
and, before she could knock, Ellen's voice, low but stern, came to
her ears.

"Mr. O'Hara, you must dismiss Jonas Wilkerson."

Gerald exploded.  "And where will I be getting another overseer
who wouldn't be cheating me out of my eyeteeth?"

"He must be dismissed, immediately, tomorrow morning.  Big Sam is
a good foreman and he can take over the duties until you can hire
another overseer."

"Ah, ha!" came Gerald's voice.  "So, I understand!  Then the
worthy Jonas sired the--"

"He must be dismissed."

"So, he is the father of Emmie Slattery's baby," thought Scarlett.
"Oh, well, what else can you expect from a Yankee man and a white-
trash girl?"

Then, after a discreet pause which gave Gerald's splutterings time
to die away, she knocked on the door and handed the dress to her
mother.

By the time Scarlett had undressed and blown out the candle, her
plan for tomorrow had worked itself out in every detail.  It was a
simple plan, for, with Gerald's single-mindedness of purpose, her
eyes were centered on the goal and she thought only of the most
direct steps by which to reach it.

First, she would be "prideful," as Gerald had commanded.  From the
moment she arrived at Twelve Oaks, she would be her gayest, most
spirited self.  No one would suspect that she had ever been
downhearted because of Ashley and Melanie.  And she would flirt
with every man there.  That would be cruel to Ashley, but it would
make him yearn for her all the more.  She wouldn't overlook a man
of marriageable age, from ginger-whiskered old Frank Kennedy, who
was Suellen's beau, on down to shy, quiet, blushing Charles
Hamilton, Melanie's brother.  They would swarm around her like
bees around a hive, and certainly Ashley would be drawn from
Melanie to join the circle of her admirers.  Then somehow she
would maneuver to get a few minutes alone with him, away from the
crowd.  She hoped everything would work out that way, because it
would be more difficult otherwise.  But if Ashley didn't make the
first move, she would simply have to do it herself.

When they were finally alone, he would have fresh in his mind the
picture of the other men thronging about her, he would be newly
impressed with the fact that every one of them wanted her, and
that look of sadness and despair would be in his eyes.  Then she
would make him happy again by letting him discover that, popular
though she was, she preferred him above any other man in all the
world.  And when she admitted it, modestly and sweetly, she would
look a thousand things more.  Of course, she would do it all in a
ladylike way.  She wouldn't even dream of saying to him boldly
that she loved him--that would never do.  But the manner of
telling him was a detail that troubled her not at all.  She had
managed such situations before and she could do it again.

Lying in the bed with the moonlight streaming dimly over her,
she pictured the whole scene in her mind.  She saw the look of
surprise and happiness that would come over his face when he
realized that she really loved him, and she heard the words he
would say asking her to be his wife.

Naturally, she would have to say then that she simply couldn't
think of marrying a man when he was engaged to another girl, but
he would insist and finally she would let herself be persuaded.
Then they would decide to run off to Jonesboro that very afternoon
and--

Why, by this time tomorrow night, she might be Mrs. Ashley Wilkes!

She sat up in bed, hugging her knees, and for a long happy moment
she WAS Mrs. Ashley Wilkes--Ashley's bride!  Then a slight chill
entered her heart.  Suppose it didn't work out this way?  Suppose
Ashley didn't beg her to run away with him?  Resolutely she pushed
the thought from her mind.

"I won't think of that now," she said firmly.  "If I think of it
now, it will upset me.  There's no reason why things won't come
out the way I want them--if he loves me.  And I know he does!"

She raised her chin and her pale, black-fringed eyes sparkled in
the moonlight.  Ellen had never told her that desire and
attainment were two different matters; life had not taught her
that the race was not to the swift.  She lay in the silvery
shadows with courage rising and made the plans that a sixteen-
year-old makes when life has been so pleasant that defeat is an
impossibility and a pretty dress and a clear complexion are
weapons to vanquish fate.



CHAPTER V


It was ten o'clock in the morning.  The day was warm for April and
the golden sunlight streamed brilliantly into Scarlett's room
through the blue curtains of the wide windows.  The cream-colored
walls glowed with light and the depths of the mahogany furniture
gleamed deep red like wine, while the floor glistened as if it
were glass, except where the rag rugs covered it and they were
spots of gay color.

Already summer was in the air, the first hint of Georgia summer
when the high tide of spring gives way reluctantly before a
fiercer heat.  A balmy, soft warmth poured into the room, heavy
with velvety smells, redolent of many blossoms, of newly fledged
trees and of the moist, freshly turned red earth.  Through the
window Scarlett could see the bright riot of the twin lanes of
daffodils bordering the graveled driveway and the golden masses of
yellow jessamine spreading flowery sprangles modestly to the earth
like crinolines.  The mockingbirds and the jays, engaged in their
old feud for possession of the magnolia tree beneath her window,
were bickering, the jays strident, acrimonious, the mockers sweet
voiced and plaintive.

Such a glowing morning usually called Scarlett to the window, to
lean arms on the broad sill and drink in the scents and sounds of
Tara.  But, today she had no eye for sun or azure sky beyond a
hasty thought, "Thank God, it isn't raining."  On the bed lay the
apple-green, watered-silk ball dress with its festoons of ecru
lace, neatly packed in a large cardboard box.  It was ready to be
carried to Twelve Oaks to be donned before the dancing began, but
Scarlett shrugged at the sight of it.  If her plans were
successful, she would not wear that dress tonight.  Long before
the ball began, she and Ashley would be on their way to Jonesboro
to be married.  The troublesome question was--what dress should
she wear to the barbecue?

What dress would best set off her charms and make her most
irresistible to Ashley?  Since eight o'clock she had been trying
on and rejecting dresses, and now she stood dejected and irritable
in lace pantalets, linen corset cover and three billowing lace and
linen petticoats.  Discarded garments lay about her on the floor,
the bed, the chairs, in bright heaps of color and straying
ribbons.

The rose organdie with long pink sash was becoming, but she had
worn it last summer when Melanie visited Twelve Oaks and she'd be
sure to remember it.  And might be catty enough to mention it.
The black bombazine, with its puffed sleeves and princess lace
collar, set off her white skin superbly, but it did make her look
a trifle elderly.  Scarlett peered anxiously in the mirror at her
sixteen-year-old face as if expecting to see wrinkles and sagging
chin muscles.  It would never do to appear sedate and elderly
before Melanie's sweet youthfulness.  The lavender barred muslin
was beautiful with those wide insets of lace and net about the
hem, but it had never suited her type.  It would suit Carreen's
delicate profile and wishy-washy expression perfectly, but
Scarlett felt that it made her look like a schoolgirl.  It would
never do to appear schoolgirlish beside Melanie's poised self.
The green plaid taffeta, frothing with flounces and each flounce
edged in green velvet ribbon, was most becoming, in fact her
favorite dress, for it darkened her eyes to emerald.  But there
was unmistakably a grease spot on the front of the basque.  Of
course, her brooch could be pinned over the spot, but perhaps
Melanie had sharp eyes.  There remained varicolored cotton dresses
which Scarlett felt were not festive enough for the occasion, ball
dresses and the green sprigged muslin she had worn yesterday.  But
it was an afternoon dress.  It was not suitable for a barbecue,
for it had only tiny puffed sleeves and the neck was low enough
for a dancing dress.  But there was nothing else to do but wear
it.  After all she was not ashamed of her neck and arms and bosom,
even if it was not correct to show them in the morning.

As she stood before the mirror and twisted herself about to get a
side view, she thought that there was absolutely nothing about her
figure to cause her shame.  Her neck was short but rounded and her
arms plump and enticing.  Her breasts, pushed high by her stays,
were very nice breasts.  She had never had to sew tiny rows of
silk ruffles in the lining of her basques, as most sixteen-year-
old girls did, to give their figures the desired curves and
fullness.  She was glad she had inherited Ellen's slender white
hands and tiny feet, and she wished she had Ellen's height, too,
but her own height pleased her very well.  What a pity legs could
not be shown, she thought, pulling up her petticoats and
regretfully viewing them, plump and neat under pantalets.  She had
such nice legs.  Even the girls at the Fayetteville Academy had
admitted as much.  And as for her waist--there was no one in
Fayetteville, Jonesboro or in three counties, for that matter, who
had so small a waist.

The thought of her waist brought her back to practical matters.
The green muslin measured seventeen inches about the waist, and
Mammy had laced her for the eighteen-inch bombazine.  Mammy would
have to lace her tighter.  She pushed open the door, listened and
heard Mammy's heavy tread in the downstairs hall.  She shouted for
her impatiently, knowing she could raise her voice with impunity,
as Ellen was in the smokehouse, measuring out the day's food to
Cookie.

"Some folks thinks as how Ah kin fly," grumbled Mammy, shuffling
up the stairs.  She entered puffing, with the expression of one
who expects battle and welcomes it.  In her large black hands was
a tray upon which food smoked, two large yams covered with butter,
a pile of buckwheat cakes dripping syrup, and a large slice of ham
swimming in gravy.  Catching sight of Mammy's burden, Scarlett's
expression changed from one of minor irritation to obstinate
belligerency.  In the excitement of trying on dresses she had
forgotten Mammy's ironclad rule that, before going to any party,
the O'Hara girls must be crammed so full of food at home they
would be unable to eat any refreshments at the party.

"It's no use.  I won't eat it.  You can just take it back to the
kitchen."

Mammy set the tray on the table and squared herself, hands on
hips.

"Yas'm, you is!  Ah ain' figgerin' on havin' happen whut happen at
dat las' barbecue w'en Ah wuz too sick frum dem chittlins Ah et
ter fetch you no tray befo' you went.  You is gwine eat eve'y bite
of dis."

"I am not!  Now, come here and lace me tighter because we are late
already.  I heard the carriage come round to the front of the
house."

Mammy's tone became wheedling.

"Now, Miss Scarlett, you be good an' come eat jes'a lil.  Miss
Carreen an' Miss Suellen done eat all dey'n."

"They would," said Scarlett contemptuously.  "They haven't any
more spirit than a rabbit.  But I won't!  I'm through with trays.
I'm not forgetting the time I ate a whole tray and went to the
Calverts' and they had ice cream out of ice they'd brought all the
way from Savannah, and I couldn't eat but a spoonful.  I'm going
to have a good time today and eat as much as I please."

At this defiant heresy, Mammy's brow lowered with indignation.
What a young miss could do and what she could not do were as
different as black and white in Mammy's mind; there was no middle
ground of deportment between.  Suellen and Carreen were clay in
her powerful hands and harkened respectfully to her warning.  But
it had always been a struggle to teach Scarlett that most of her
natural impulses were unladylike.  Mammy's victories over Scarlett
were hard-won and represented guile unknown to the white mind.

"Ef you doan care 'bout how folks talks 'bout dis fainbly, Ah
does," she rumbled.  "Ah ain' gwine stand by an' have eve'ybody at
de pahty sayin' how you ain' fotched up right.  Ah has tole you
an' tole you dat you kin allus tell a lady by dat she eat lak a
bird.  An' Ah ain' aimin' ter have you go ter Mist' Wilkes' an'
eat lak a fe'el han' an' gobble lak a hawg."

"Mother is a lady and she eats," countered Scarlett.

"W'en you is mahied, you kin eat, too," retorted Mammy.  "W'en
Miss Ellen yo' age, she never et nuthin' w'en she went out, an'
needer yo' Aunt Pauline nor yo' Aunt Eulalie.  An' dey all done
mahied.  Young misses whut eats heavy mos' gener'ly doan never
ketch husbands."

"I don't believe it.  At that barbecue when you were sick and I
didn't eat beforehand, Ashley Wilkes told me he LIKED to see a
girl with a healthy appetite."

Mammy shook her head ominously.

"Whut gempmums says an' whut dey thinks is two diffunt things.
An' Ah ain' noticed Mist' Ashley axing fer ter mahy you."

Scarlett scowled, started to speak sharply and then caught
herself.  Mammy had her there and there was no argument.  Seeing
the obdurate look on Scarlett's face, Mammy picked up the tray
and, with the bland guile of her race, changed her tactics.  As
she started for the door, she sighed.

"Well'm, awright.  Ah wuz tellin' Cookie w'ile she wuz a-fixin'
dis tray.  'You kin sho tell a lady by whut she DOAN eat,' an' Ah
say ter Cookie.  'Ah ain' seed no w'ite lady who et less'n Miss
Melly Hamilton did las' time she wuz visitin' Mist' Ashley'--Ah
means, visitin' Miss India."

Scarlett shot a look of sharp suspicion at her, but Mammy's broad
face carried only a look of innocence and of regret that Scarlett
was not the lady Melanie Hamilton was.

"Put down that tray and come lace me tighter," said Scarlett
irritably.  "And I'll try to eat a little afterwards.  If I ate
now I couldn't lace tight enough."

Cloaking her triumph, Mammy set down the tray.

"Whut mah lamb gwine wear?"

"That," answered Scarlett, pointing at the fluffy mass of green
flowered muslin.  Instantly Mammy was in arms.

"No, you ain'.  It ain' fittin' fer mawnin'.  You kain show yo'
buzzum befo' three o'clock an' dat dress ain' got no neck an' no
sleeves.  An' you'll git freckled sho as you born, an' Ah ain'
figgerin' on you gittin' freckled affer all de buttermilk Ah been
puttin' on you all dis winter, bleachin' dem freckles you got at
Savannah settin' on de beach.  Ah sho gwine speak ter yo' Ma 'bout
you."

"If you say one word to her before I'm dressed I won't eat a
bite," said Scarlett coolly.  "Mother won't have time to send me
back to change once I'm dressed."

Mammy sighed resignedly, beholding herself outguessed.  Between
the two evils, it was better to have Scarlett wear an afternoon
dress at a morning barbecue than to have her gobble like a hog.

"Hole onter sumpin' an' suck in yo' breaf," she commanded.

Scarlett obeyed, bracing herself and catching firm hold of one of
the bedposts.  Mammy pulled and jerked vigorously and, as the tiny
circumference of whalebone-girdled waist grew smaller, a proud,
fond look came into her eyes.

"Ain' nobody got a wais' lak mah lamb," she said approvingly.
"Eve'y time Ah pulls Miss Suellen littler dan twenty inches, she
up an' faint."

"Pooh!" gasped Scarlctt, speaking with difficulty.  "I never
fainted in my life."

"Well, 'twouldn' do no hahm ef you wuz ter faint now an' den,"
advised Mammy.  "You is so brash sometimes, Miss Scarlett.  Ah
been aimin' ter tell you, it jes' doan look good de way you doan
faint 'bout snakes an' mouses an' sech.  Ah doan mean round home
but w'en you is out in comp'ny.  An' Ah has tole you an'--"

"Oh, hurry!  Don't talk so much.  I'll catch a husband.  See if I
don't, even if I don't scream and faint.  Goodness, but my stays
are tight!  Put on the dress."

Mammy carefully dropped the twelve yards of green sprigged muslin
over the mountainous petticoats and hooked up the back of the
tight, low-cut basque.

"You keep yo' shawl on yo' shoulders w'en you is in de sun, an'
doan you go takin' off yo' hat w'en you is wahm," she commanded.
"Elsewise you be comin' home lookin' brown lak Ole Miz Slattery.
Now, you come eat, honey, but doan eat too fas'.  No use havin' it
come right back up agin."

Scarlett obediently sat down before the tray, wondering if she
would be able to get any food into her stomach and still have room
to breathe.  Mammy plucked a large towel from the washstand and
carefully tied it around Scarlett's neck, spreading the white
folds over her lap.  Scarlett began on the ham, because she liked
ham, and forced it down.

"I wish to Heaven I was married," she said resentfully as she
attacked the yams with loathing.  "I'm tired of everlastingly
being unnatural and never doing anything I want to do.  I'm tired
of acting like I don't eat more than a bird, and walking when I
want to run and saying I feel faint after a waltz, when I could
dance for two days and never get tired.  I'm tired of saying, 'How
wonderful you are!' to fool men who haven't got one-half the sense
I've got, and I'm tired of pretending I don't know anything, so
men can tell me things and feel important while they're doing
it. . . .  I can't eat another bite."

"Try a hot cake," said Mammy inexorably.

"Why is it a girl has to be so silly to catch a husband?"

"Ah specs it's kase gempmums doan know whut dey wants.  Dey jes'
knows whut dey thinks dey wants.  An' givin' dem whut dey thinks
dey wants saves a pile of mizry an' bein' a ole maid.  An' dey
thinks dey wants mousy lil gals wid bird's tastes an' no sense at
all.  It doan make a gempmum feel lak mahyin' a lady ef he
suspicions she got mo' sense dan he has."

"Don't you suppose men get surprised after they're married to find
that their wives do have sense?"

"Well, it's too late den.  Dey's already mahied.  'Sides, gempmums
specs dey wives ter have sense."

"Some day I'm going to do and say everything I want to do and say,
and if people don't like it I don't care."

"No, you ain'," said Mammy grimly.  "Not while Ah got breaf.  You
eat dem cakes.  Sop dem in de gravy, honey."

"I don't think Yankee girls have to act like such fools.  When we
were at Saratoga last year, I noticed plenty of them acting like
they had right good sense and in front of men, too."

Mammy snorted.

"Yankee gals!  Yas'm, Ah guess dey speaks dey minds awright, but
Ah ain' noticed many of dem gittin' proposed ter at Saratoga."

"But Yankees must get married," argued Scarlett.  "They don't just
grow.  They must get married and have children.  There's too many
of them."

"Men mahys dem fer dey money," said Mammy firmly.

Scarlett sopped the wheat cake in the gravy and put it in her
mouth.  Perhaps there was something to what Mammy said.  There
must be something in it, for Ellen said the same things, in
different and more delicate words.  In fact, the mothers of all
her girl friends impressed on their daughters the necessity of
being helpless, clinging, doe-eyed creatures.  Really, it took a
lot of sense to cultivate and hold such a pose.  Perhaps she had
been too brash.  Occasionally she had argued with Ashley and
frankly aired her opinions.  Perhaps this and her healthy
enjoyment of walking and riding had turned him from her to the
frail Melanie.  Perhaps if she changed her tactics--  But she felt
that if Ashley succumbed to premeditated feminine tricks, she
could never respect him as she now did.  Any man who was fool
enough to fall for a simper, a faint and an "Oh, how wonderful you
are!" wasn't worth having.  But they all seemed to like it.

If she had used the wrong tactics with Ashley in the past--well,
that was the past and done with.  Today she would use different
ones, the right ones.  She wanted him and she had only a few hours
in which to get him.  If fainting, or pretending to faint, would
do the trick, then she would faint.  If simpering, coquetry or
empty-headedness would attract him, she would gladly play the
flirt and be more empty-headed than even Cathleen Calvert.  And if
bolder measures were necessary, she would take them.  Today was
the day!

There was no one to tell Scarlett that her own personality,
frighteningly vital though it was, was more attractive than any
masquerade she might adopt.  Had she been told, she would have
been pleased but unbelieving.  And the civilization of which she
was a part would have been unbelieving too, for at no time, before
or since, had so low a premium been placed on feminine
naturalness.



As the carriage bore her down the red road toward the Wilkes
plantation, Scarlett had a feeling of guilty pleasure that neither
her mother nor Mammy was with the party.  There would be no one at
the barbecue who, by delicately lifted brows or out-thrust
underlip, could interfere with her plan of action.  Of course,
Suellen would be certain to tell tales tomorrow, but if all went
as Scarlett hoped, the excitement of the family over her
engagement to Ashley or her elopement would more than overbalance
their displeasure.  Yes, she was very glad Ellen had been forced
to stay at home.

Gerald, primed with brandy, had given Jonas Wilkerson his
dismissal that morning, and Ellen had remained at Tara to go over
the accounts of the plantation before he took his departure.
Scarlett had kissed her mother good-by in the little office where
she sat before the tall secretary with its paper-stuffed
pigeonholes.  Jonas Wilkerson, hat in hand, stood beside her, his
sallow tight-skinned face hardly concealing the fury of hate that
possessed him at being so unceremoniously turned out of the best
overseer's job in the County.  And all because of a bit of minor
philandering.  He had told Gerald over and over that Emmie
Slattery's baby might have been fathered by any one of a dozen men
as easily as himself--an idea in which Gerald concurred--but that
had not altered his case so far as Ellen was concerned.  Jonas
hated all Southerners.  He hated their cool courtesy to him and
their contempt for his social status, so inadequately covered by
their courtesy.  He hated Ellen O'Hara above anyone else, for she
was the epitome of all that he hated in Southerners.

Mammy, as head woman of the plantation, had remained to help
Ellen, and it was Dilcey who rode on the driver's seat beside
Toby, the girls' dancing dresses in a long box across her lap.
Gerald rode beside the carriage on his big hunter, warm with
brandy and pleased with himself for having gotten through with the
unpleasant business of Wilkerson so speedily.  He had shoved the
responsibility onto Ellen, and her disappointment at missing the
barbecue and the gathering of her friends did not enter his mind;
for it was a fine spring day and his fields were beautiful and the
birds were singing and he felt too young and frolicsome to think
of anyone else.  Occasionally he burst out with "Peg in a Low-
backed Car" and other Irish ditties or the more lugubrious lament
for Robert Emmet, "She is far from the land where her young hero
sleeps."

He was happy, pleasantly excited over the prospect of spending the
day shouting about the Yankees and the war, and proud of his three
pretty daughters in their bright spreading hoop skirts beneath
foolish little lace parasols.  He gave no thought to his
conversation of the day before with Scarlett, for it had
completely slipped his mind.  He only thought that she was pretty
and a great credit to him and that, today, her eyes were as green
as the hills of Ireland.  The last thought made him think better
of himself, for it had a certain poetic ring to it, and so he
favored the girls with a loud and slightly off-key rendition of
"The Wearin' o' the Green."

Scarlett, looking at him with the affectionate contempt that
mothers feel for small swaggering sons, knew that he would be very
drunk by sundown.  Coming home in the dark, he would try, as
usual, to jump every fence between Twelve Oaks and Tara and, she
hoped, by the mercy of Providence and the good sense of his horse,
would escape breaking his neck.  He would disdain the bridge and
swim his horse through the river and come home roaring, to be put
to bed on the sofa in the office by Pork who always waited up with
a lamp in the front hall on such occasions.

He would ruin his new gray broadcloth suit, which would cause him
to swear horribly in the morning and tell Ellen at great length
how his horse fell off the bridge in the darkness--a palpable lie
which would fool no one but which would be accepted by all and
make him feel very clever.

Pa is a sweet, selfish, irresponsible darling, Scarlett thought,
with a surge of affection for him.  She felt so excited and happy
this morning that she included the whole world, as well as Gerald,
in her affection.  She was pretty and she knew it; she would have
Ashley for her own before the day was over; the sun was warm and
tender and the glory of the Georgia spring was spread before her
eyes.  Along the roadside the blackberry brambles were concealing
with softest green the savage red gulches cut by the winter's
rains, and the bare granite boulders pushing up through the red
earth were being draped with sprangles of Cherokee roses and
compassed about by wild violets of palest purple hue.  Upon the
wooded hills above the river, the dogwood blossoms lay glistening
and white, as if snow still lingered among the greenery.  The
flowering crab trees were bursting their buds and rioting from
delicate white to deepest pink and, beneath the trees where the
sunshine dappled the pine straw, the wild honeysuckle made a
varicolored carpet of scarlet and orange and rose.  There was a
faint wild fragrance of sweet shrub on the breeze and the world
smelled good enough to eat.

"I'll remember how beautiful this day is till I die," thought
Scarlett.  "Perhaps it will be my wedding day!"

And she thought with a tingling in her heart how she and Ashley
might ride swiftly through this beauty of blossom and greenery
this very afternoon, or tonight by moonlight, toward Jonesboro and
a preacher.  Of course, she would have to be remarried by a priest
from Atlanta, but that would be something for Ellen and Gerald to
worry about.  She quailed a little as she thought how white with
mortification Ellen would be at hearing that her daughter had
eloped with another girl's fiance, but she knew Ellen would
forgive her when she saw her happiness.  And Gerald would scold
and bawl but, for all his remarks of yesterday about not wanting
her to marry Ashley, he would be pleased beyond words at an
alliance between his family and the Wilkes.

"But that'll be something to worry about after I'm married," she
thought, tossing the worry from her.

It was impossible to feel anything but palpitating joy in this
warm sun, in this spring, with the chimneys of Twelve Oaks just
beginning to show on the hill across the river.

"I'll live there all my life and I'll see fifty springs like this
and maybe more, and I'll tell my children and my grandchildren how
beautiful this spring was, lovelier than any they'll ever see."
She was so happy at this thought that she joined in the last
chorus of "The Wearin' o' the Green" and won Gerald's shouted
approval.

"I don't know why you're so happy this morning," said Suellen
crossly, for the thought still rankled in her mind that she would
look far better in Scarlett's green silk dancing frock than its
rightful owner would.  And why was Scarlett always so selfish
about lending her clothes and bonnets?  And why did Mother always
back her up, declaring green was not Suellen's color?  "You know
as well as I do that Ashley's engagement is going to be announced
tonight.  Pa said so this morning.  And I know you've been sweet
on him for months."

"That's all you know," said Scarlett, putting out her tongue and
refusing to lose her good humor.  How surprised Miss Sue would be
by this time tomorrow morning!

"Susie, you know that's not so," protested Carreen, shocked.
"It's Brent that Scarlett cares about."

Scarlett turned smiling green eyes upon her younger sister,
wondering how anyone could be so sweet.  The whole family knew
that Carreen's thirteen-year-old heart was set upon Brent
Tarleton, who never gave her a thought except as Scarlett's baby
sister.  When Ellen was not present, the O'Haras teased her to
tears about him.

"Darling, I don't care a thing about Brent," declared Scarlett,
happy enough to be generous.  "And he doesn't care a thing about
me.  Why, he's waiting for you to grow up!"

Carreen's round little face became pink, as pleasure struggled
with incredulity.

"Oh, Scarlett, really?"

"Scarlett, you know Mother said Carreen was too young to think
about beaux yet, and there you go putting ideas in her head."

"Well, go and tattle and see if I care," replied Scarlett.  "You
want to hold Sissy back, because you know she's going to be
prettier than you in a year or so."

"You'll be keeping civil tongues in your heads this day, or I'll
be taking me crop to you," warned Gerald.  "Now whist!  Is it
wheels I'm hearing?  That'll be the Tarletons or the Fontaines."

As they neared the intersecting road that came down the thickly
wooded hill from Mimosa and Fairhill, the sound of hooves and
carriage wheels became plainer and clamorous feminine voices
raised in pleasant dispute sounded from behind the screen of
trees.  Gerald, riding ahead, pulled up his horse and signed to
Toby to stop the carriage where the two roads met.

"'Tis the Tarleton ladies," he announced to his daughters, his
florid face abeam, for excepting Ellen there was no lady in the
County he liked more than the red-haired Mrs. Tarleton.  "And 'tis
herself at the reins.  Ah, there's a woman with fine hands for a
horse!  Feather light and strong as rawhide, and pretty enough to
kiss for all that.  More's the pity none of you have such hands,"
he added, casting fond but reproving glances at his girls.  "With
Carreen afraid of the poor beasts and Sue with hands like sadirons
when it comes to reins and you, Puss--"

"Well, at any rate I've never been thrown," cried Scarlett
indignantly.  "And Mrs. Tarleton takes a toss at every hunt."

"And breaks a collar bone like a man," said Gerald.  "No fainting,
no fussing.  Now, no more of it, for here she comes."

He stood up in his stirrups and took off his hat with a sweep, as
the Tarleton carriage, overflowing with girls in bright dresses
and parasols and fluttering veils, came into view, with Mrs.
Tarleton on the box as Gerald had said.  With her four daughters,
their mammy and their ball dresses in long cardboard boxes
crowding the carriage, there was no room for the coachman.  And,
besides, Beatrice Tarleton never willingly permitted anyone, black
or white, to hold reins when her arms were out of slings.  Frail,
fine-boned, so white of skin that her flaming hair seemed to have
drawn all the color from her face into its vital burnished mass,
she was nevertheless possessed of exuberant health and untiring
energy.  She had borne eight children, as red of hair and as full
of life as she, and had raised them most successfully, so the
County said, because she gave them all the loving neglect and the
stern discipline she gave the colts she bred.  "Curb them but
don't break their spirits," was Mrs. Tarleton's motto.

She loved horses and talked horses constantly.  She understood
them and handled them better than any man in the County.  Colts
overflowed the paddock onto the front lawn, even as her eight
children overflowed the rambling house on the hill, and colts and
sons and daughters and hunting dogs tagged after her as she went
about the plantation.  She credited her horses, especially her red
mare, Nellie, with human intelligence; and if the cares of the
house kept her busy beyond the time when she expected to take her
daily ride, she put the sugar bowl in the hands of some small
pickaninny and said:  "Give Nellie a handful and tell her I'll be
out terrectly."

Except on rare occasions she always wore her riding habit, for
whether she rode or not she always expected to ride and in that
expectation put on her habit upon arising.  Each morning, rain or
shine, Nellie was saddled and walked up and down in front of the
house, waiting for the time when Mrs. Tarleton could spare an hour
away from her duties.  But Fairhill was a difficult plantation to
manage and spare time hard to get, and more often than not Nellie
walked up and down riderless hour after hour, while Beatrice
Tarleton went through the day with the skirt of her habit absently
looped over her arm and six inches of shining boot showing below
it.

Today, dressed in dull black silk over unfashionably narrow hoops,
she still looked as though in her habit, for the dress was as
severely tailored as her riding costume and the small black hat
with its long black plume perched over one warm, twinkling, brown
eye was a replica of the battered old hat she used for hunting.

She waved her whip when she saw Gerald and drew her dancing pair
of red horses to a halt, and the four girls in the back of the
carriage leaned out and gave such vociferous cries of greeting
that the team pranced in alarm.  To a casual observer it would
seem that years had passed since the Tarletons had seen the
O'Haras, instead of only two days.  But they were a sociable
family and liked their neighbors, especially the O'Hara girls.
That is, they liked Suellen and Carreen.  No girl in the County,
with the possible exception of the empty-headed Cathleen Calvert,
really liked Scarlett.

In summers, the County averaged a barbecue and ball nearly every
week, but to the red-haired Tarletons with their enormous capacity
for enjoying themselves, each barbecue and each ball was as
exciting as if it were the first they had ever attended.  They
were a pretty, buxom quartette, so crammed into the carriage that
their hoops and flounces overlapped and their parasols nudged and
bumped together above their wide leghorn sun hats, crowned with
roses and dangling with black velvet chin ribbons.  All shades of
red hair were represented beneath these hats, Hetty's plain red
hair, Camilla's strawberry blonde, Randa's coppery auburn and
small Betsy's carrot top.

"That's a fine bevy, Ma'm," said Gerald gallantly, reining his
horse alongside the carriage.  "But it's far they'll go to beat
their mother."

Mrs. Tarleton rolled her red-brown eyes and sucked in her lower
lip in burlesqued appreciation, and the girls cried, "Ma, stop
making eyes or we'll tell Pa!"  "I vow, Mr. O'Hara, she never
gives us a chance when there's a handsome man like you around!"

Scarlett laughed with the rest at these sallies but, as always,
the freedom with which the Tarletons treated their mother came as
a shock.  They acted as if she were one of themselves and not a
day over sixteen.  To Scarlett, the very idea of saying such
things to her own mother was almost sacrilegious.  And yet--and
yet--there was something very pleasant about the Tarleton girls'
relations with their mother, and they adored her for all that they
criticized and scolded and teased her.  Not, Scarlett loyally
hastened to tell herself, that she would prefer a mother like Mrs.
Tarleton to Ellen, but still it would be fun to romp with a
mother.  She knew that even that thought was disrespectful to
Ellen and felt ashamed of it.  She knew no such troublesome
thoughts ever disturbed the brains under the four flaming thatches
in the carriage and, as always when she felt herself different
from her neighbors, an irritated confusion fell upon her.

Quick though her brain was, it was not made for analysis, but she
half-consciously realized that, for all the Tarleton girls were as
unruly as colts and wild as March hares, there was an unworried
single-mindedness about them that was part of their inheritance.
On both their mother's and their father's side they were
Georgians, north Georgians, only a generation away from pioneers.
They were sure of themselves and of their environment.  They knew
instinctively what they were about, as did the Wilkeses, though in
widely divergent ways, and in them there was no such conflict as
frequently raged in Scarlett's bosom where the blood of a soft-
voiced, overbred Coast aristocrat mingled with the shrewd, earthy
blood of an Irish peasant.  Scarlett wanted to respect and adore
her mother like an idol and to rumple her hair and tease her too.
And she knew she should be altogether one way or the other.  It
was the same conflicting emotion that made her desire to appear a
delicate and high-bred lady with boys and to be, as well, a hoyden
who was not above a few kisses.

"Where's Ellen this morning?" asked Mrs. Tarleton.

"She's after discharging our overseer and stayed home to go over
the accounts with him.  Where's himself and the lads?"

"Oh, they rode over to Twelve Oaks hours ago--to sample the punch
and see if it was strong enough, I dare say, as if they wouldn't
have from now till tomorrow morning to do it!  I'm going to ask
John Wilkes to keep them overnight, even if he has to bed them
down in the stable.  Five men in their cups are just too much for
me.  Up to three, I do very well but--"

Gerald hastily interrupted to change the subject.  He could feel
his own daughters snickering behind his back as they remembered in
what condition he had come home from the Wilkeses' last barbecue
the autumn before.

"And why aren't you riding today, Mrs. Tarleton?  Sure, you don't
look yourself at all without Nellie.  It's a stentor, you are."

"A stentor, me ignorant broth of a boy!" cried Mrs. Tarleton,
aping his brogue.  "You mean a centaur.  Stentor was a man with a
voice like a brass gong."

"Stentor or centaur, 'tis no matter," answered Gerald, unruffled
by his error.  "And 'tis a voice like brass you have, Ma'm, when
you're urging on the hounds, so it is."

"That's one on you, Ma," said Betty.  "I told you you yelled like
a Comanche whenever you saw a fox."

"But not as loud as you yell when Mammy washes your ears,"
returned Mrs. Tarleton.  "And you sixteen!  Well, as to why I'm
not riding today, Nellie foaled early this morning."

"Did she now!" cried Gerald with real interest, his Irishman's
passion for horses shining in his eyes, and Scarlett again felt
the sense of shock in comparing her mother with Mrs. Tarleton.  To
Ellen, mares never foaled nor cows calved.  In fact, hens almost
didn't lay eggs.  Ellen ignored these matters completely.  But
Mrs. Tarleton had no such reticences.

"A little filly, was it?"

"No, a fine little stallion with legs two yards long.  You must
ride over and see him, Mr. O'Hara.  He's a real Tarleton horse.
He's as red as Hetty's curls."

"And looks a lot like Betty, too," said Camilla, and then
disappeared shrieking amid a welter of skirts and pantalets and
bobbing hats, as Betty, who did have a long face, began pinching
her.

"My fillies are feeling their oats this morning," said Mrs.
Tarleton.  "They've been kicking up their heels ever since we
heard the news this morning about Ashley and that little cousin of
his from Atlanta.  What's her name?  Melanie?  Bless the child,
she's a sweet little thing, but I can never remember either her
name or her face.  Our cook is the broad wife of the Wilkes
butler, and he was over last night with the news that the
engagement would be announced tonight and Cookie told us this
morning.  The girls are all excited about it, though I can't see
why.  Everybody's known for years that Ashley would marry her,
that is, if he didn't marry one of his Burr cousins from Macon.
Just like Honey Wilkes is going to marry Melanie's brother,
Charles.  Now, tell me, Mr. O'Hara, is it illegal for the Wilkes
to marry outside of their family?  Because if--"

Scarlett did not hear the rest of the laughing words.  For one
short instant, it was as though the sun had ducked behind a cool
cloud, leaving the world in shadow, taking the color out of
things.  The freshly green foliage looked sickly, the dogwood
pallid, and the flowering crab, so beautifully pink a moment ago,
faded and dreary.  Scarlett dug her fingers into the upholstery of
the carriage and for a moment her parasol wavered.  It was one
thing to know that Ashley was engaged but it was another to hear
people talk about it so casually.  Then her courage flowed
strongly back and the sun came out again and the landscape glowed
anew.  She knew Ashley loved her.  That was certain.  And she
smiled as she thought how surprised Mrs. Tarleton would be when no
engagement was announced that night--how surprised if there were
an elopement.  And she'd tell neighbors what a sly boots Scarlett
was to sit there and listen to her talk about Melanie when all the
time she and Ashley--  She dimpled at her own thoughts and Betty,
who had been watching sharply the effect of her mother's words,
sank back with a small puzzled frown.

"I don't care what you say, Mr. O'Hara," Mrs. Tarleton was saying
emphatically.  "It's all wrong, this marrying of cousins.  It's
bad enough for Ashley to be marrying the Hamilton child, but for
Honey to be marrying that pale-looking Charles Hamilton--"

"Honey'll never catch anybody else if she doesn't marry Charlie,"
said Randa, cruel and secure in her own popularity.  "She's never
had another beau except him.  And he's never acted very sweet on
her, for all that they're engaged.  Scarlett, you remember how he
ran after you last Christmas--"

"Don't be a cat, Miss," said her mother.  "Cousins shouldn't
marry, even second cousins.  It weakens the strain.  It isn't like
horses.  You can breed a mare to a brother or a sire to a daughter
and get good results if you know your blood strains, but in people
it just doesn't work.  You get good lines, perhaps, but no
stamina.  You--"

"Now, Ma'm, I'm taking issue with you on that!  Can you name me
better people than the Wilkes?  And they've been intermarrying
since Brian Boru was a boy."

"And high time they stopped it, for it's beginning to show.  Oh,
not Ashley so much, for he's a good-looking devil, though even he--
But look at those two washed-out-looking Wilkes girls, poor
things!  Nice girls, of course, but washed out.  And look at
little Miss Melanie.  Thin as a rail and delicate enough for the
wind to blow away and no spirit at all.  Not a notion of her own.
'No, Ma'm!' 'Yes, Ma'm!'  That's all she has to say.  You see what
I mean?  That family needs new blood, fine vigorous blood like my
red heads or your Scarlett.  Now, don't misunderstand me.  The
Wilkes are fine folks in their way, and you know I'm fond of them
all, but be frank!  They are overbred and inbred too, aren't they?
They'll do fine on a dry track, a fast track, but mark my words, I
don't believe the Wilkes can run on a mud track.  I believe the
stamina has been bred out of them, and when the emergency arises I
don't believe they can run against odds.  Dry-weather stock.  Give
me a big horse who can run in any weather!  And their intermarrying
has made them different from other folks around here.  Always
fiddling with the piano or sticking their heads in a book.  I do
believe Ashley would rather read than hunt!  Yes, I honestly believe
that, Mr. O'Hara!  And just look at the bones on them.  Too slender.
They need dams and sires with strength--"

"Ah-ah-hum," said Gerald, suddenly and guiltily aware that the
conversation, a most interesting and entirely proper one to him,
would seem quite otherwise to Ellen.  In fact, he knew she would
never recover should she learn that her daughters had been exposed
to so frank a conversation.  But Mrs. Tarleton was, as usual, deaf
to all other ideas when pursuing her favorite topic, breeding,
whether it be horses or humans.

"I know what I'm talking about because I had some cousins who
married each other and I give you my word their children all
turned out as popeyed as bullfrogs, poor things.  And when my
family wanted me to marry a second cousin, I bucked like a colt.
I said, 'No, Ma.  Not for me.  My children will all have spavins
and heaves.'  Well, Ma fainted when I said that about spavins, but
I stood firm and Grandma backed me up.  She knew a lot about horse
breeding too, you see, and said I was right.  And she helped me
run away with Mr. Tarleton.  And look at my children!  Big and
healthy and not a sickly one or a runt among them, though Boyd is
only five feet ten.  Now, the Wilkes--"

"Not meaning to change the subject, Ma'm," broke in Gerald
hurriedly, for he had noticed Carreen's bewildered look and the
avid curiosity on Suellen's face and feared lest they might ask
Ellen embarrassing questions which would reveal how inadequate a
chaperon he was.  Puss, he was glad to notice, appeared to be
thinking of other matters as a lady should.

Betty Tarleton rescued him from his predicament.

"Good Heavens, Ma, do let's get on!" she cried impatiently.  "This
sun is broiling me and I can just hear freckles popping out on my
neck."

"Just a minute, Ma'm, before you go," said Gerald.  "But what have
you decided to do about selling us the horses for the Troop?  War
may break any day now and the boys want the matter settled.  It's
a Clayton County troop and it's Clayton County horses we want for
them.  But you, obstinate creature that you are, are still
refusing to sell us your fine beasts."

"Maybe there won't be any war," Mrs. Tarleton temporized, her mind
diverted completely from the Wilkeses' odd marriage habits.

"Why, Ma'm, you can't--"

"Ma," Betty interrupted again, "can't you and Mr. O'Hara talk
about the horses at Twelve Oaks as well as here?"

"That's just it, Miss Betty," said Gerald.  "And I won't be
keeping you but one minute by the clock.  We'll be getting to
Twelve Oaks in a little bit, and every man there, old and young,
wanting to know about the horses.  Ah, but it's breaking me heart
to see such a fine pretty lady as your mother so stingy with her
beasts!  Now, where's your patriotism, Mrs. Tarleton?  Does the
Confederacy mean nothing to you at all?"

"Ma," cried small Betsy, "Randa's sitting on my dress and I'm
getting all wrinkled."

"Well, push Randa off you, Betsy, and hush.  Now, listen to me,
Gerald O'Hara," she retorted, her eyes beginning to snap.  "Don't
you go throwing the Confederacy in my face!  I reckon the
Confederacy means as much to me as it does to you, me with four
boys in the Troop and you with none.  But my boys can take care of
themselves and my horses can't.  I'd gladly give the horses free
of charge if I knew they were going to be ridden by boys I know,
gentlemen used to thoroughbreds.  No, I wouldn't hesitate a
minute.  But let my beauties be at the mercy of back-woodsmen and
Crackers who are used to riding mules!  No, sir!  I'd have
nightmares thinking they were being ridden with saddle galls and
not groomed properly.  Do you think I'd let ignorant fools ride my
tender-mouthed darlings and saw their mouths to pieces and beat
them till their spirits were broken?  Why, I've got goose flesh
this minute, just thinking about it!  No, Mr. O'Hara, you're
mighty nice to want my horses, but you'd better go to Atlanta and
buy some old plugs for your clodhoppers.  They'll never know the
difference."

"Ma, can't we please go on?" asked Camilla, joining the impatient
chorus.  "You know mighty well you're going to end up giving them
your darlings anyhow.  When Pa and the boys get through talking
about the Confederacy needing them and so on, you'll cry and let
them go."

Mrs. Tarleton grinned and shook the lines.

"I'll do no such thing," she said, touching the horses lightly
with the whip.  The carriage went off swiftly.

"That's a fine woman," said Gerald, putting on his hat and taking
his place beside his own carriage.  "Drive on, Toby.  We'll wear
her down and get the horses yet.  Of course, she's right.  She's
right.  If a man's not a gentleman, he's no business on a horse.
The infantry is the place for him.  But more's the pity, there's
not enough planters' sons in this County to make up a full troop.
What did you say, Puss?"

"Pa, please ride behind us or in front of us.  You kick up such a
heap of dust that we're choking," said Scarlett, who felt that she
could endure conversation no longer.  It distracted her from her
thoughts and she was very anxious to arrange both her thoughts and
her face in attractive lines before reaching Twelve Oaks.  Gerald
obediently put spurs to his horse and was off in a red cloud after
the Tarleton carriage where he could continue his horsy conversation.



CHAPTER VI


They crossed the river and the carriage mounted the hill.  Even
before Twelve Oaks came into view Scarlett saw a haze of smoke
hanging lazily in the tops of the tall trees and smelled the
mingled savory odors of burning hickory logs and roasting pork and
mutton.

The barbecue pits, which had been slowly burning since last night,
would now be long troughs of rose-red embers, with the meats
turning on spits above them and the juices trickling down and
hissing into the coals.  Scarlett knew that the fragrance carried
on the faint breeze came from the grove of great oaks in the rear
of the big house.  John Wilkes always held his barbecues there, on
the gentle slope leading down to the rose garden, a pleasant shady
place and a far pleasanter place, for instance, than that used by
the Calverts.  Mrs. Calvert did not like barbecue food and
declared that the smells remained in the house for days, so her
guests always sweltered on a flat unshaded spot a quarter of a
mile from the house.  But John Wilkes, famed throughout the state
for his hospitality, really knew how to give a barbecue.

The long trestled picnic tables, covered with the finest of the
Wilkeses' linen, always stood under the thickest shade, with
backless benches on either side; and chairs, hassocks and cushions
from the house were scattered about the glade for those who did
not fancy the benches.  At a distance great enough to keep the
smoke away from the guests were the long pits where the meats
cooked and the huge iron wash-pots from which the succulent odors
of barbecue sauce and Brunswick stew floated.  Mr. Wilkes always
had at least a dozen darkies busy running back and forth with
trays to serve the guests.  Over behind the barns there was always
another barbecue pit, where the house servants and the coachmen
and maids of the guests had their own feast of hoecakes and yams
and chitterlings, that dish of hog entrails so dear to negro
hearts, and, in season, watermelons enough to satiate.

As the smell of crisp fresh pork came to her, Scarlett wrinkled
her nose appreciatively, hoping that by the time it was cooked she
would feel some appetite.  As it was she was so full of food and
so tightly laced that she feared every moment she was going to
belch.  That would be fatal, as only old men and very old ladies
could belch without fear of social disapproval.

They topped the rise and the white house reared its perfect
symmetry before her, tall of columns, wide of verandas, flat of
roof, beautiful as a woman is beautiful who is so sure of her
charm that she can be generous and gracious to all.  Scarlett
loved Twelve Oaks even more than Tara, for it had a stately
beauty, a mellowed dignity that Gerald's house did not possess.

The wide curving driveway was full of saddle horses and carriages
and guests alighting and calling greetings to friends.  Grinning
negroes, excited as always at a party, were leading the animals to
the barnyard to be unharnessed and unsaddled for the day.  Swarms
of children, black and white, ran yelling about the newly green
lawn, playing hopscotch and tag and boasting how much they were
going to eat.  The wide hall which ran from front to back of the
house was swarming with people, and as the O'Hara carriage drew up
at the front steps, Scarlett saw girls in crinolines, bright as
butterflies, going up and coming down the stairs from the second
floor, arms about each other's waists, stopping to lean over the
delicate handrail of the banisters, laughing and calling to young
men in the hall below them.

Through the open French windows, she caught glimpses of the older
women seated in the drawing room, sedate in dark silks as they sat
fanning themselves and talking of babies and sicknesses and who
had married whom and why.  The Wilkes butler, Tom, was hurrying
through the halls, a silver tray in his hands, bowing and
grinning, as he offered tall glasses to young men in fawn and gray
trousers and fine ruffled linen shirts.

The sunny front veranda was thronged with guests.  Yes, the whole
County was here, thought Scarlett.  The four Tarleton boys and
their father leaned against the tall columns, the twins, Stuart
and Brent, side by side inseparable as usual, Boyd and Tom with
their father, James Tarleton.  Mr. Calvert was standing close by
the side of his Yankee wife, who even after fifteen years in
Georgia never seemed to quite belong anywhere.  Everyone was very
polite and kind to her because he felt sorry for her, but no one
could forget that she had compounded her initial error of birth by
being the governess of Mr. Calvert's children.  The two Calvert
boys, Raiford and Cade, were there with their dashing blonde
sister, Cathleen, teasing the dark-faced Joe Fontaine and Sally
Munroe, his pretty bride-to-be.  Alex and Tony Fontaine were
whispering in the ears of Dimity Munroe and sending her into gales
of giggles.  There were families from as far as Lovejoy, ten miles
away, and from Fayetteville and Jonesboro, a few even from Atlanta
and Macon.  The house seemed bursting with the crowd, and a
ceaseless babble of talking and laughter and giggles and shrill
feminine squeaks and screams rose and fell.

On the porch steps stood John Wilkes, silver-haired, erect,
radiating the quiet charm and hospitality that was as warm and
never failing as the sun of Georgia summer.  Beside him Honey
Wilkes, so called because she indiscriminately addressed everyone
from her father to the field hands by that endearment, fidgeted
and giggled as she called greetings to the arriving guests.

Honey's nervously obvious desire to be attractive to every man in
sight contrasted sharply with her father's poise, and Scarlett had
the thought that perhaps there was something in what Mrs. Tarleton
said, after all.  Certainly the Wilkes men got the family looks.
The thick deep-gold lashes that set off the gray eyes of John
Wilkes and Ashley were sparse and colorless in the faces of Honey
and her sister India.  Honey had the odd lashless look of a
rabbit, and India could be described by no other word than plain.

India was nowhere to be seen, but Scarlett knew she probably was
in the kitchen giving final instructions to the servants.  Poor
India, thought Scarlett, she's had so much trouble keeping house
since her mother died that she's never had the chance to catch any
beau except Stuart Tarleton, and it certainly wasn't my fault if
he thought I was prettier than she.

John Wilkes came down the steps to offer his arm to Scarlett.  As
she descended from the carriage, she saw Suellen smirk and knew
that she must have picked out Frank Kennedy in the crowd.

If I couldn't catch a better beau than that old maid in britches!
she thought contemptuously, as she stepped to the ground and
smiled her thanks to John Wilkes.

Frank Kennedy was hurrying to the carriage to assist Suellen, and
Suellen was bridling in a way that made Scarlett want to slap her.
Frank Kennedy might own more land than anyone in the County and he
might have a very kind heart, but these things counted for nothing
against the fact that he was forty, slight and nervous and had a
thin ginger-colored beard and an old-maidish, fussy way about him.
However, remembering her plan, Scarlett smothered her contempt and
cast such a flashing smile of greeting at him that he stopped
short, his arm outheld to Suellen and goggled at Scarlett in
pleased bewilderment.

Scarlett's eyes searched the crowd for Ashley, even while she made
pleasant small talk with John Wilkes, but he was not on the porch.
There were cries of greeting from a dozen voices and Stuart and
Brent Tarleton moved toward her.  The Munroe girls rushed up to
exclaim over her dress, and she was speedily the center of a
circle of voices that rose higher and higher in efforts to be
heard above the din.  But where was Ashley?  And Melanie and
Charles?  She tried not to be obvious as she looked about and
peered down the hall into the laughing group inside.

As she chattered and laughed and cast quick glances into the house
and the yard, her eyes fell on a stranger, standing alone in the
hall, staring at her in a cool impertinent way that brought her up
sharply with a mingled feeling of feminine pleasure that she had
attracted a man and an embarrassed sensation that her dress was
too low in the bosom.  He looked quite old, at least thirty-five.
He was a tall man and powerfully built.  Scarlett thought she had
never seen a man with such wide shoulders, so heavy with muscles,
almost too heavy for gentility.  When her eye caught his, he
smiled, showing animal-white teeth below a close-clipped black
mustache.  He was dark of face, swarthy as a pirate, and his eyes
were as bold and black as any pirate's appraising a galleon to be
scuttled or a maiden to be ravished.  There was a cool recklessness
in his face and a cynical humor in his mouth as he smiled at her,
and Scarlett caught her breath.  She felt that she should be
insulted by such a look and was annoyed with herself because she did
not feel insulted.  She did not know who he could be, but there was
undeniably a look of good blood in his dark face.  It showed in the
thin hawk nose over the full red lips, the high forehead and the
wide-set eyes.

She dragged her eyes away from his without smiling back, and he
turned as someone called:  "Rhett!  Rhett Butler!  Come here!  I
want you to meet the most hardhearted girl in Georgia."

Rhett Butler?  The name had a familiar sound, somehow connected
with something pleasantly scandalous, but her mind was on Ashley
and she dismissed the thought.

"I must run upstairs and smooth my hair," she told Stuart and
Brent, who were trying to get her cornered from the crowd.  "You
boys wait for me and don't run off with any other girl or I'll be
furious."

She could see that Stuart was going to be difficult to handle
today if she flirted with anyone else.  He had been drinking and
wore the arrogant looking-for-a-fight expression that she knew from
experience meant trouble.  She paused in the hall to speak to
friends and to greet India who was emerging from the back of the
house, her hair untidy and tiny beads of perspiration on her
forehead.  Poor India!  It would be bad enough to have pale hair
and eyelashes and a jutting chin that meant a stubborn disposition,
without being twenty years old and an old maid in the bargain.  She
wondered if India resented very much her taking Stuart away from
her.  Lots of people said she was still in love with him, but then
you could never tell what a Wilkes was thinking about.  If she did
resent it, she never gave any sign of it, treating Scarlett with the
same slightly aloof, kindly courtesy she had always shown her.

Scarlett spoke pleasantly to her and started up the wide stairs.
As she did, a shy voice behind her called her name and, turning,
she saw Charles Hamilton.  He was a nice-looking boy with a riot
of soft brown curls on his white forehead and eyes as deep brown,
as clean and as gentle as a collie dog's.  He was well turned out
in mustard-colored trousers and black coat and his pleated shirt
was topped by the widest and most fashionable of black cravats.
A faint blush was creeping over his face as she turned for he was
timid with girls.  Like most shy men he greatly admired airy,
vivacious, always-at-ease girls like Scarlett.  She had never
given him more than perfunctory courtesy before, and so the
beaming smile of pleasure with which she greeted him and the two
hands outstretched to his almost took his breath away.

"Why Charles Hamilton, you handsome old thing, you!  I'll bet you
came all the way down here from Atlanta just to break my poor
heart!"

Charles almost stuttered with excitement, holding her warm little
hands in his and looking into the dancing green eyes.  This was
the way girls talked to other boys but never to him.  He never
knew why but girls always treated him like a younger brother and
were very kind, but never bothered to tease him.  He had always
wanted girls to flirt and frolic with him as they did with boys
much less handsome and less endowed with this world's goods than
he.  But on the few occasions when this had happened he could
never think of anything to say and he suffered agonies of
embarrassment at his dumbness.  Then he lay awake at night
thinking of all the charming gallantries he might have employed;
but he rarely got a second chance, for the girls left him alone
after a trial or two.

Even with Honey, with whom he had an unspoken understanding of
marriage when he came into his property next fall, he was
diffident and silent.  At times, he had an ungallant feeling that
Honey's coquetries and proprietary airs were no credit to him, for
she was so boy-crazy he imagined she would use them on any man who
gave her the opportunity.  Charles was not excited over the
prospect of marrying her, for she stirred in him none of the
emotions of wild romance that his beloved books had assured him
were proper for a lover.  He had always yearned to be loved by
some beautiful, dashing creature full of fire and mischief.

And here was Scarlett O'Hara teasing him about breaking her heart!

He tried to think of something to say and couldn't, and silently
he blessed her because she kept up a steady chatter which relieved
him of any necessity for conversation.  It was too good to be
true.

"Now, you wait right here till I come back, for I want to eat
barbecue with you.  And don't you go off philandering with those
other girls, because I'm mighty jealous," came the incredible
words from red lips with a dimple on each side; and briskly black
lashes swept demurely over green eyes.

"I won't," he finally managed to breathe, never dreaming that she
was thinking he looked like a calf waiting for the butcher.

Tapping him lightly on the arm with her folded fan, she turned to
start up the stairs and her eyes again fell on the man called
Rhett Butler who stood alone a few feet away from Charles.
Evidently he had overheard the whole conversation, for he grinned
up at her as maliciously as a tomcat, and again his eyes went over
her, in a gaze totally devoid of the deference she was accustomed
to.

"God's nightgown!" said Scarlett to herself in indignation, using
Gerald's favorite oath.  "He looks as if--as if he knew what I
looked like without my shimmy," and, tossing her head, she went up
the steps.

In the bedroom where the wraps were laid, she found Cathleen
Calvert preening before the mirror and biting her lips to make
them look redder.  There were fresh roses in her sash that matched
her cheeks, and her cornflower-blue eyes were dancing with
excitement.

"Cathleen," said Scarlett, trying to pull the corsage of her dress
higher, "who is that nasty man downstairs named Butler?"

"My dear, don't you know?" whispered Cathleen excitedly, a weather
eye on the next room where Dilcey and the Wilkes girls' mammy were
gossiping.  "I can't imagine how Mr. Wilkes must feel having him
here, but he was visiting Mr. Kennedy in Jonesboro--something
about buying cotton--and, of course, Mr. Kennedy had to bring him
along with him.  He couldn't just go off and leave him."

"What is the matter with him?"

"My dear, he isn't received!"

"Not really!"

"No."

Scarlett digested this in silence, for she had never before been
under the same roof with anyone who was not received.  It was very
exciting.

"What did he do?"

"Oh, Scarlett, he has the most terrible reputation.  His name is
Rhett Butler and he's from Charleston and his folks are some of
the nicest people there, but they won't even speak to him.  Caro
Rhett told me about him last summer.  He isn't any kin to her
family, but she knows all about him, everybody does.  He was
expelled from West Point.  Imagine!  And for things too bad for
Caro to know.  And then there was that business about the girl he
didn't marry."

"Do tell me!"

"Darling, don't you know anything?  Caro told me all about it last
summer and her mama would die if she thought Caro even knew about
it.  Well, this Mr. Butler took a Charleston girl out buggy
riding.  I never did know who she was, but I've got my suspicions.
She couldn't have been very nice or she wouldn't have gone out
with him in the late afternoon without a chaperon.  And, my dear,
they stayed out nearly all night and walked home finally, saying
the horse had run away and smashed the buggy and they had gotten
lost in the woods.  And guess what--"

"I can't guess.  Tell me," said Scarlett enthusiastically, hoping
for the worst.

"He refused to marry her the next day!"

"Oh," said Scarlett, her hopes dashed.

"He said he hadn't--er--done anything to her and he didn't see why
he should marry her.  And, of course, her brother called him out,
and Mr. Butler said he'd rather be shot than marry a stupid fool.
And so they fought a duel and Mr. Butler shot the girl's brother
and he died, and Mr. Butler had to leave Charleston and now nobody
receives him," finished Cathleen triumphantly, and just in time,
for Dilcey came back into the room to oversee the toilet of her
charge.

"Did she have a baby?" whispered Scarlett in Cathleen's ear.

Cathleen shook her head violently.  "But she was ruined just the
same," she hissed back.

I wish I had gotten Ashley to compromise me, thought Scarlett
suddenly.  He'd be too much of a gentleman not to marry me.  But
somehow, unbidden, she had a feeling of respect for Rhett Butler
for refusing to marry a girl who was a fool.



Scarlett sat on a high rosewood ottoman, under the shade of a huge
oak in the rear of the house, her flounces and ruffles billowing
about her and two inches of green morocco slippers--all that a
lady could show and still remain a lady--peeping from beneath
them.  She had scarcely touched plate in her hands and seven
cavaliers about her.  The barbecue had reached its peak and the
warm air was full of laughter and talk, the click of silver on
porcelain and the rich heavy smells of roasting meats and redolent
gravies.  Occasionally when the slight breeze veered, puffs of
smoke from the long barbecue pits floated over the crowd and were
greeted with squeals of mock dismay from the ladies and violent
flappings of palmetto fans.

Most of the young ladies were seated with partners on the long
benches that faced the tables, but Scarlett, realizing that a girl
has only two sides and only one man can sit on each of these
sides, had elected to sit apart so she could gather about her as
many men as possible.

Under the arbor sat the married women, their dark dresses decorous
notes in the surrounding color and gaiety.  Matrons, regardless of
their ages, always grouped together apart from the bright-eyed
girls, beaux and laughter, for there were no married belles in the
South.  From Grandma Fontaine, who was belching frankly with the
privilege of her age, to seventeen-year-old Alice Munroe,
struggling against the nausea of a first pregnancy, they had their
heads together in the endless genealogical and obstetrical
discussions that made such gatherings very pleasant and
instructive affairs.

Casting contemptuous glances at them, Scarlett thought that they
looked like a clump of fat crows.  Married women never had any
fun.  It did not occur to her that if she married Ashley she would
automatically be relegated to arbors and front parlors with staid
matrons in dull silks, as staid and dull as they and not a part of
the fun and frolicking.  Like most girls, her imagination carried
her just as far as the altar and no further.  Besides, she was too
unhappy now to pursue an abstraction.

She dropped her eyes to her plate and nibbled daintily on a beaten
biscuit with an elegance and an utter lack of appetite that would
have won Mammy's approval.  For all that she had a superfluity of
beaux, she had never been more miserable in her life.  In some way
that she could not understand, her plans of last night had failed
utterly so far as Ashley was concerned.  She had attracted other
beaux by the dozens, but not Ashley, and all the fears of
yesterday afternoon were sweeping back upon her, making her heart
beat fast and then slow, and color flame and whiten in her cheeks.

Ashley had made no attempt to join the circle about her, in fact
she had not had a word alone with him since arriving, or even
spoken to him since their first greeting.  He had come forward to
welcome her when she came into the back garden, but Melanie had
been on his arm then, Melanie who hardly came up to his shoulder.

She was a tiny, frailly built girl, who gave the appearance of a
child masquerading in her mother's enormous hoop skirts--an
illusion that was heightened by the shy, almost frightened look in
her too large brown eyes.  She had a cloud of curly dark hair
which was so sternly repressed beneath its net that no vagrant
tendrils escaped, and this dark mass, with its long widow's peak,
accentuated the heart shape of her face.  Too wide across the
cheek bones, too pointed at the chin, it was a sweet, timid face
but a plain face, and she had no feminine tricks of allure to make
observers forget its plainness.  She looked--and was--as simple as
earth, as good as bread, as transparent as spring water.  But for
all her plainness of feature and smallness of stature, there was a
sedate dignity about her movements that was oddly touching and far
older than her seventeen years.

Her gray organdie dress, with its cherry-colored satin sash,
disguised with its billows and ruffles how childishly undeveloped
her body was, and the yellow hat with long cherry streamers made
her creamy skin glow.  Her heavy earbobs with their long gold
fringe hung down from loops of tidily netted hair, swinging close
to her brown eyes, eyes that had the still gleam of a forest pool
in winter when brown leaves shine up through quiet water.

She had smiled with timid liking when she greeted Scarlett and
told her how pretty her green dress was, and Scarlett had been
hard put to be even civil in reply, so violently did she want to
speak alone with Ashley.  Since then, Ashley had sat on a stool at
Melanie's feet, apart from the other guests, and talked quietly
with her, smiling the slow drowsy smile that Scarlett loved.  What
made matters worse was that under his smile a little sparkle had
come into Melanie's eyes, so that even Scarlett had to admit that
she looked almost pretty.  As Melanie looked at Ashley, her plain
face lit up as with an inner fire, for if ever a loving heart
showed itself upon a face, it was showing now on Melanie
Hamilton's.

Scarlett tried to keep her eyes from these two but could not, and
after each glance she redoubled her gaiety with her cavaliers,
laughing, saying daring things, teasing, tossing her head at their
compliments until her earrings danced.  She said "fiddle-dee-dee"
many times, declared that the truth wasn't in any of them, and
vowed that she'd never believe anything any man told her.  But
Ashley did not seem to notice her at all.  He only looked up at
Melanie and talked on, and Melanie looked down at him with an
expression that radiated the fact that she belonged to him.

So, Scarlett was miserable.

To the outward eye, never had a girl less cause to be miserable.
She was undoubtedly the belle of the barbecue, the center of
attention.  The furore she was causing among the men, coupled with
the heart burnings of the other girls, would have pleased her
enormously at any other time.

Charles Hamilton, emboldened by her notice, was firmly planted on
her right, refusing to be dislodged by the combined efforts of the
Tarleton twins.  He held her fan in one hand and his untouched
plate of barbecue in the other and stubbornly refused to meet the
eyes of Honey, who seemed on the verge of an outburst of tears.
Cade lounged gracefully on her left, plucking at her skirt to
attract her attention and staring up with smoldering eyes at
Stuart.  Already the air was electric between him and the twins
and rude words had passed.  Frank Kennedy fussed about like a hen
with one chick, running back and forth from the shade of the oak
to the tables to fetch dainties to tempt Scarlett, as if there
were not a dozen servants there for that purpose.  As a result,
Suellen's sullen resentment had passed beyond the point of
ladylike concealment and she glowered at Scarlett.  Small Carreen
could have cried because, for all Scarlett's encouraging words
that morning, Brent had done no more than say "Hello, Sis" and
jerk her hair ribbon before turning his full attention to
Scarlett.  Usually he was so kind and treated her with a careless
deference that made her feel grown up, and Carreen secretly
dreamed of the day when she would put her hair up and her skirts
down and receive him as a real beau.  And now it seemed that
Scarlett had him.  The Munroe girls were concealing their chagrin
at the defection of the swarthy Fontaine boys, but they were
annoyed at the way Tony and Alex stood about the circle, jockeying
for a position near Scarlett should any of the others arise from
their places.

They telegraphed their disapproval of Scarlett's conduct to Hetty
Tarleton by delicately raised eyebrows.  "Fast" was the only word
for Scarlett.  Simultaneously, the three young ladies raised lacy
parasols, said they had had quite enough to eat, thank you, and,
laying light fingers on the arms of the men nearest them, clamored
sweetly to see the rose garden, the spring and the summerhouse.
This strategic retreat in good order was not lost on a woman
present or observed by a man.

Scarlett giggled as she saw three men dragged out of the line of
her charms to investigate landmarks familiar to the girls from
childhood, and cut her eye sharply to see if Ashley had taken
note.  But he was playing with the ends of Melanie's sash and
smiling up at her.  Pain twisted Scarlett's heart.  She felt that
she could claw Melanie's ivory skin till the blood ran and take
pleasure in doing it.

As her eyes wandered from Melanie, she caught the gaze of Rhett
Butler, who was not mixing with the crowd but standing apart
talking to John Wilkes.  He had been watching her and when she
looked at him he laughed outright.  Scarlett had an uneasy feeling
that this man who was not received was the only one present who
knew what lay behind her wild gaiety and that it was affording him
sardonic amusement.  She could have clawed him with pleasure too.

"If I can just live through this barbecue till this afternoon,"
she thought, "all the girls will go upstairs to take naps to be
fresh for tonight and I'll stay downstairs and get to talk to
Ashley.  Surely he must have noticed how popular I am."  She
soothed her heart with another hope:  "Of course, he has to be
attentive to Melanie because, after all, she is his cousin and she
isn't popular at all, and if he didn't look out for her she'd just
be a wallflower."

She took new courage at this thought and redoubled her efforts in
the direction of Charles, whose brown eyes glowed down eagerly at
her.  It was a wonderful day for Charles, a dream day, and he had
fallen in love with Scarlett with no effort at all.  Before this
new emotion, Honey receded into a dim haze.  Honey was a shrill-
voiced sparrow and Scarlett a gleaming hummingbird.  She teased
him and favored him and asked him questions and answered them
herself, so that he appeared very clever without having to say a
word.  The other boys were puzzled and annoyed by her obvious
interest in him, for they knew Charles was too shy to hitch two
consecutive words together, and politeness was being severely
strained to conceal their growing rage.  Everyone was smoldering,
and it would have been a positive triumph for Scarlett, except for
Ashley.

When the last forkful of pork and chicken and mutton had been
eaten, Scarlett hoped the time had come when India would rise and
suggest that the ladies retire to the house.  It was two o'clock
and the sun was warm overhead, but India, wearied with the three-
day preparations for the barbecue, was only too glad to remain
sitting beneath the arbor, shouting remarks to a deaf old
gentleman from Fayetteville.

A lazy somnolence descended on the crowd.  The negroes idled
about, clearing the long tables on which the food had been laid.
The laughter and talking became less animated and groups here and
there fell silent.  All were waiting for their hostess to signal
the end of the morning's festivities.  Palmetto fans were wagging
more slowly, and several gentlemen were nodding from the heat and
overloaded stomachs.  The barbecue was over and all were content
to take their ease while sun was at its height.

In this interval between the morning party and the evening's ball,
they seemed a placid, peaceful lot.  Only the young men retained
the restless energy which had filled the whole throng a short
while before.  Moving from group to group, drawling in their soft
voices, they were as handsome as blooded stallions and as
dangerous.  The languor of midday had taken hold of the gathering,
but underneath lurked tempers that could rise to killing heights
in a second and flare out as quickly.  Men and women, they were
beautiful and wild, all a little violent under their pleasant ways
and only a little tamed.

Some time dragged by while the sun grew hotter, and Scarlett and
others looked again toward India.  Conversation was dying out
when, in the lull, everyone in the grove heard Gerald's voice
raised in furious accents.  Standing some little distance away
from the barbecue tables, he was at the peak of an argument with
John Wilkes.

"God's nightgown, man!  Pray for a peaceable settlement with the
Yankees after we've fired on the rascals at Fort Sumter?
Peaceable?  The South should show by arms that she cannot be
insulted and that she is not leaving the Union by the Union's
kindness but by her own strength!"

"Oh, my God!" thought Scarlett.  "He's done it!  Now, we'll all
sit here till midnight."

In an instant, the somnolence had fled from the lounging throng
and something electric went snapping through the air.  The men
sprang from benches and chairs, arms in wide gestures, voices
clashing for the right to be heard above other voices.  There had
been no talk of politics or impending war all during the morning,
because of Mr. Wilkes' request that the ladies should not be
bored.  But now Gerald had bawled the words "Fort Sumter," and
every man present forgot his host's admonition.

"Of course we'll fight--"  "Yankee thieves--"  "We could lick them
in a month--"  "Why, one Southerner can lick twenty Yankees--"
"Teach them a lesson they won't soon forget--"  "Peaceably?  They
won't let us go in peace--"  "No, look how Mr. Lincoln insulted
our Commissioners!"  "Yes, kept them hanging around for weeks--
swearing he'd have Sumter evacuated!"  "They want war; we'll make
them sick of war--"  And above all the voices, Gerald's boomed.
All Scarlett could hear was "States' rights, by God!" shouted over
and over.  Gerald was having an excellent time, but not his
daughter.

Secession, war--these words long since had become acutely boring
to Scarlett from much repetition, but now she hated the sound of
them, for they meant that the men would stand there for hours
haranguing one another and she would have no chance to corner
Ashley.  Of course there would be no war and the men all knew it.
They just loved to talk and hear themselves talk.

Charles Hamilton had not risen with the others and, finding
himself comparatively alone with Scarlett, he leaned closer and,
with the daring born of new love, whispered a confession.

"Miss O'Hara--I--I had already decided that if we did fight, I'd
go over to South Carolina and join a troop there.  It's said that
Mr. Wade Hampton is organizing a cavalry troop, and of course I
would want to go with him.  He's a splendid person and was my
father's best friend."

Scarlett thought, "What am I supposed to do--give three cheers?"
for Charles' expression showed that he was baring his heart's
secrets to her.  She could think of nothing to say and so merely
looked at him, wondering why men were such fools as to think women
interested in such matters.  He took her expression to mean
stunned approbation and went on rapidly, daringly--

"If I went--would--would you be sorry, Miss O'Hara?"

"I should cry into my pillow every night," said Scarlett, meaning
to be flippant, but he took the statement at face value and went
red with pleasure.  Her hand was concealed in the folds of her
dress and he cautiously wormed his hand to it and squeezed it,
overwhelmed at his own boldness and at her acquiescence.

"Would you pray for me?"

"What a fool!" thought Scarlett bitterly, casting a surreptitious
glance about her in the hope of being rescued from the conversation.

"Would you?"

"Oh--yes, indeed, Mr. Hamilton.  Three Rosaries a night, at
least!"

Charles gave a swift look about him, drew in his breath, stiffened
the muscles of his stomach.  They were practically alone and he
might never get another such opportunity.  And, even given another
such Godsent occasion, his courage might fail him.

"Miss O'Hara--I must tell you something.  I--I love you!"

"Um?" said Scarlett absently, trying to peer through the crowd of
arguing men to where Ashley still sat talking at Melanie's feet.

"Yes!" whispered Charles, in a rapture that she had neither
laughed, screamed nor fainted, as he had always imagined young
girls did under such circumstances.  "I love you!  You are the
most--the most--" and he found his tongue for the first time in
his life.  "The most beautiful girl I've ever known and the
sweetest and the kindest, and you have the dearest ways and I love
you with all my heart.  I cannot hope that you could love anyone
like me but, my dear Miss O'Hara, if you can give me any
encouragement, I will do anything in the world to make you love
me.  I will--"

Charles stopped, for he couldn't think of anything difficult
enough of accomplishment to really prove to Scarlett the depth of
his feeling, so he said simply:  "I want to marry you."

Scarlett came back to earth with a jerk, at the sound of the word
"marry."  She had been thinking of marriage and of Ashley, and she
looked at Charles with poorly concealed irritation.  Why must this
calf-like fool intrude his feelings on this particular day when
she was so worried she was about to lose her mind?  She looked
into the pleading brown eyes and she saw none of the beauty of a
shy boy's first love, of the adoration of an ideal come true or
the wild happiness and tenderness that were sweeping through him
like a flame.  Scarlett was used to men asking her to marry them,
men much more attractive than Charles Hamilton, and men who had
more finesse than to propose at a barbecue when she had more
important matters on her mind.  She only saw a boy of twenty, red
as a beet and looking very silly.  She wished that she could tell
him how silly he looked.  But automatically, the words Ellen had
taught her to say in such emergencies rose to her lips and casting
down her eyes, from force of long habit, she murmured:  "Mr.
Hamilton, I am not unaware of the honor you have bestowed on me in
wanting me to become your wife, but this is all so sudden that I
do not know what to say."

That was a neat way of smoothing a man's vanity and yet keeping
him on the string, and Charles rose to it as though such bait were
new and he the first to swallow it.

"I would wait forever!  I wouldn't want you unless you were quite
sure.  Please, Miss O'Hara, tell me that I may hope!"

"Um," said Scarlett, her sharp eyes noting that Ashley, who had
not risen to take part in the war talk, was smiling up at Melanie.
If this fool who was grappling for her hand would only keep quiet
for a moment, perhaps she could hear what they were saying.  She
must hear what they said.  What did Melanie say to him that
brought that look of interest to his eyes?

Charles' words blurred the voices she strained to hear.

"Oh, hush!" she hissed at him, pinching his hand and not even
looking at him.

Startled, at first abashed, Charles blushed at the rebuff and
then, seeing how her eyes were fastened on his sister, he smiled.
Scarlett was afraid someone might hear his words.  She was
naturally embarrassed and shy, and in agony lest they be
overheard.  Charles felt a surge of masculinity such as he had
never experienced, for this was the first time in his life that he
had ever embarrassed any girl.  The thrill was intoxicating.  He
arranged his face in what he fancied was an expression of careless
unconcern and cautiously returned Scarlett's pinch to show that he
was man of the world enough to understand and accept her reproof.

She did not even feel his pinch, for she could hear clearly the
sweet voice that was Melanie's chief charm:  "I fear I cannot
agree with you about Mr. Thackeray's works.  He is a cynic.  I
fear he is not the gentleman Mr. Dickens is."

What a silly thing to say to a man, thought Scarlett, ready to
giggle with relief.  Why, she's no more than a bluestocking and
everyone knows what men think of bluestockings. . . .  The way to
get a man interested and to hold his interest was to talk about
him, and then gradually lead the conversation around to yourself--
and keep it there.  Scarlett would have felt some cause for alarm
if Melanie had been saying:  "How wonderful you are!" or "How do
you ever think of such things?  My little ole brain would bust if
I even tried to think about them!"  But here she was, with a man
at her feet, talking as seriously as if she were in church.  The
prospect looked brighter to Scarlett, so bright in fact that she
turned beaming eyes on Charles and smiled from pure joy.
Enraptured at this evidence of her affection, he grabbed up her
fan and plied it so enthusiastically her hair began to blow about
untidily.

"Ashley, you have not favored us with your opinion," said Jim
Tarleton, turning from the group of shouting men, and with an
apology Ashley excused himself and rose.  There was no one there
so handsome, thought Scarlett, as she marked how graceful was his
negligent pose and how the sun gleamed on his gold hair and
mustache.  Even the older men stopped to listen to his words.

"Why, gentlemen, if Georgia fights, I'll go with her.  Why else
would I have joined the Troop?" he said.  His gray eyes opened
wide and their drowsiness disappeared in an intensity that
Scarlett had never seen before.  "But, like Father, I hope the
Yankees will let us go in peace and that there will be no
fighting--"  He held up his hand with a smile, as a babel of
voices from the Fontaine and Tarleton boys began.  "Yes, yes, I
know we've been insulted and lied to--but if we'd been in the
Yankees' shoes and they were trying to leave the Union, how would
we have acted?  Pretty much the same.  We wouldn't have liked it."

"There he goes again," thought Scarlett.  "Always putting himself
in the other fellow's shoes."  To her, there was never but one
fair side to an argument.  Sometimes, there was no understanding
Ashley.

"Let's don't be too hot headed and let's don't have any war.  Most
of the misery of the world has been caused by wars.  And when the
wars were over, no one ever knew what they were all about."

Scarlett sniffed.  Lucky for Ashley that he had an unassailable
reputation for courage, or else there'd be trouble.  As she
thought this, the clamor of dissenting voices rose up about
Ashley, indignant, fiery.

Under the arbor, the deaf old gentleman from Fayetteville punched
India.

"What's it all about?  What are they saying?"

"War!" shouted India, cupping her hand to his ear.  "They want to
fight the Yankees!"

"War, is it?" he cried, fumbling about him for his cane and
heaving himself out of his chair with more energy than he had
shown in years.  "I'll tell 'um about war.  I've been there."  It
was not often that Mr. McRae had the opportunity to talk about
war, the way his women folks shushed him.

He stumped rapidly to the group, waving his cane and shouting and,
because he could not hear the voices about him, he soon had
undisputed possession of the field.

"You fire-eating young bucks, listen to me.  You don't want to
fight.  I fought and I know.  Went out in the Seminole War and was
a big enough fool to go to the Mexican War, too.  You all don't
know what war is.  You think it's riding a pretty horse and having
the girls throw flowers at you and coming home a hero.  Well, it
ain't.  No, sir!  It's going hungry, and getting the measles and
pneumonia from sleeping in the wet.  And if it ain't measles and
pneumonia, it's your bowels.  Yes sir, what war does to a man's
bowels--dysentery and things like that--"

The ladies were pink with blushes.  Mr. McRae was a reminder of a
cruder era, like Grandma Fontaine and her embarrassingly loud
belches, an era everyone would like to forget.

"Run get your grandpa," hissed one of the old gentleman's
daughters to a young girl standing near by.  "I declare," she
whispered to the fluttering matrons about her, "he gets worse
every day.  Would you believe it, this very morning he said to
Mary--and she's only sixteen:  'Now, Missy . . .'"  And the voice
went off into a whisper as the granddaughter slipped out to try to
induce Mr. McRae to return to his seat in the shade.

Of all the group that milled about under the trees, girls smiling
excitedly, men talking impassionedly, there was only one who
seemed calm.  Scarlett's eyes turned to Rhett Butler, who leaned
against a tree, his hands shoved deep in his trouser pockets.  He
stood alone, since Mr. Wilkes had left his side, and had uttered
no word as the conversation grew hotter.  The red lips under the
close-clipped black mustache curled down and there was a glint of
amused contempt in his black eyes--contempt, as if he listened to
the braggings of children.  A very disagreeable smile, Scarlett
thought.  He listened quietly until Stuart Tarleton, his red hair
tousled and his eyes gleaming, repeated:  "Why, we could lick them
in a month!  Gentlemen always fight better than rabble.  A month--
why, one battle--"

"Gentlemen," said Rhett Butler, in a flat drawl that bespoke his
Charleston birth, not moving from his position against the tree or
taking his hands from his pockets, "may I say a word?"

There was contempt in his manner as in his eyes, contempt overlaid
with an air of courtesy that somehow burlesqued their own manners.

The group turned toward him and accorded him the politeness always
due an outsider.

"Has any one of you gentlemen ever thought that there's not a
cannon factory south of the Mason-Dixon Line?  Or how few iron
foundries there are in the South?  Or woolen mills or cotton
factories or tanneries?  Have you thought that we would not have a
single warship and that the Yankee fleet could bottle up our
harbors in a week, so that we could not sell our cotton abroad?
But--of course--you gentlemen have thought of these things."

"Why, he means the boys are a passel of fools!" thought Scarlett
indignantly, the hot blood coming to her cheeks.

Evidently, she was not the only one to whom this idea occurred,
for several of the boys were beginning to stick out their chins.
John Wilkes casually but swiftly came back to his place beside the
speaker, as if to impress on all present that this man was his
guest and that, moreover, there were ladies present.

"The trouble with most of us Southerners," continued Rhett Butler,
"is that we either don't travel enough or we don't profit enough
by our travels.  Now, of course, all you gentlemen are well
traveled.  But what have you seen?  Europe and New York and
Philadelphia and, of course, the ladies have been to Saratoga" (he
bowed slightly to the group under the arbor).  "You've seen the
hotels and the museums and the balls and the gambling houses.  And
you've come home believing that there's no place like the South.
As for me, I was Charleston born, but I have spent the last few
years in the North."  His white teeth showed in a grin, as though
he realized that everyone present knew just why he no longer lived
in Charleston, and cared not at all if they did know.  "I have
seen many things that you all have not seen.  The thousands of
immigrants who'd be glad to fight for the Yankees for food and a
few dollars, the factories, the foundries, the shipyards, the iron
and coal mines--all the things we haven't got.  Why, all we have
is cotton and slaves and arrogance.  They'd lick us in a month."

For a tense moment, there was silence.  Rhett Butler removed a
fine linen handkerchief from his coat pocket and idly flicked dust
from his sleeve.  Then an ominous murmuring arose in the crowd and
from under the arbor came a humming as unmistakable as that of a
hive of newly disturbed bees.  Even while she felt the hot blood
of wrath still in her cheeks, something in Scarlett's practical
mind prompted the thought that what this man said was right, and
it sounded like common sense.  Why, she'd never even seen a
factory, or known anyone who had seen a factory.  But, even if it
were true, he was no gentleman to make such a statement--and at a
party, too, where everyone was having a good time.

Stuart Tarleton, brows lowering, came forward with Brent close at
his heels.  Of course, the Tarleton twins had nice manners and
they wouldn't make a scene at a barbecue, even though tremendously
provoked.  Just the same, all the ladies felt pleasantly excited,
for it was so seldom that they actually saw a scene or a quarrel.
Usually they had to hear of it third-hand.

"Sir," said Stuart heavily, "what do you mean?"

Rhett looked at him with polite but mocking eyes.

"I mean," he answered, "what Napoleon--perhaps you've heard of
him?--remarked once, 'God is on the side of the strongest
battalion!'" and, turning to John Wilkes, he said with courtesy
that was unfeigned:  "You promised to show me your library, sir.
Would it be too great a favor to ask to see it now?  I fear I must
go back to Jonesboro early this afternoon where a bit of business
calls me."

He swung about, facing the crowd, clicked his heels together and
bowed like a dancing master, a bow that was graceful for so
powerful a man, and as full of impertinence as a slap in the face.
Then he walked across the lawn with John Wilkes, his black head in
the air, and the sound of his discomforting laughter floated back
to the group about the tables.

There was a startled silence and then the buzzing broke out again.
India rose tiredly from her seat beneath the arbor and went toward
the angry Stuart Tarleton.  Scarlett could not hear what she said,
but the look in her eyes as she gazed up into his lowering face
gave Scarlett something like a twinge of conscience.  It was the
same look of belonging that Melanie wore when she looked at
Ashley, only Stuart did not see it.  So India did love him.
Scarlett thought for an instant that if she had not flirted so
blatantly with Stuart at that political speaking a year ago, he
might have married India long ere this.  But then the twinge
passed with the comforting thought that it wasn't her fault if
other girls couldn't keep their men.

Finally Stuart smiled down at India, an unwilling smile, and
nodded his head.  Probably India had been pleading with him not to
follow Mr. Butler and make trouble.  A polite tumult broke out
under the trees as the guests arose, shaking crumbs from laps.
The married women called to nurses and small children and gathered
their broods together to take their departure, and groups of girls
started off, laughing and talking, toward the house to exchange
gossip in the upstairs bedrooms and to take their naps.

All the ladies except Mrs. Tarleton moved out of the back yard,
leaving the shade of oaks and arbor to the men.  She was detained
by Gerald, Mr. Calvert and the others who wanted an answer from
her about the horses for the Troop.

Ashley strolled over to where Scarlett and Charles sat, a
thoughtful and amused smile on his face.

"Arrogant devil, isn't he?" he observed, looking after Butler.
"He looks like one of the Borgias."

Scarlett thought quickly but could remember no family in the
County or Atlanta or Savannah by that name.

"I don't know them.  Is he kin to them?  Who are they?"

An odd look came over Charles' face, incredulity and shame
struggling with love.  Love triumphed as he realized that it was
enough for a girl to be sweet and gentle and beautiful, without
having an education to hamper her charms, and he made swift
answer:  "The Borgias were Italians."

"Oh," said Scarlett, losing interest, "foreigners."

She turned her prettiest smile on Ashley, but for some reason he
was not looking at her.  He was looking at Charles, and there was
understanding in his face and a little pity.



Scarlett stood on the landing and peered cautiously over the
banisters into the hall below.  It was empty.  From the bedrooms
on the floor above came an unending hum of low voices, rising and
falling, punctuated with squeaks of laughter and, "Now, you
didn't, really!" and "What did he say then?"  On the beds and
couches of the six great bedrooms, the girls were resting, their
dresses off, their stays loosed, their hair flowing down their
backs.  Afternoon naps were a custom of the country and never were
they so necessary as on the all-day parties, beginning early in
the morning and culminating in a ball.  For half an hour, the
girls would chatter and laugh, and then servants would pull the
shutters and in the warm half-gloom the talk would die to whispers
and finally expire in silence broken only by soft regular
breathing.

Scarlett had made certain that Melanie was lying down on the bed
with Honey and Hetty Tarleton before she slipped into the hall and
started down the stairs.  From the window on the landing, she
could see the group of men sitting under the arbor, drinking from
tall glasses, and she knew they would remain there until late
afternoon.  Her eyes searched the group but Ashley was not among
them.  Then she listened and she heard his voice.  As she had
hoped, he was still in the front driveway bidding good-by to
departing matrons and children.

Her heart in her throat, she went swiftly down the stairs.  What
if she should meet Mr. Wilkes?  What excuse could she give for
prowling about the house when all the other girls were getting
their beauty naps?  Well, that had to be risked.

As she reached the bottom step, she heard the servants moving
about in the dining room under the butler's orders, lifting out
the table and chairs in preparation for the dancing.  Across the
wide hall was the open door of the library and she sped into it
noiselessly.  She could wait there until Ashley finished his
adieux and then call to him when he came into the house.

The library was in semidarkness, for the blinds had been drawn
against the sun.  The dim room with towering walls completely
filled with dark books depressed her.  It was not the place which
she would have chosen for a tryst such as she hoped this one would
be.  Large numbers of books always depressed her, as did people
who liked to read large numbers of books.  That is--all people
except Ashley.  The heavy furniture rose up at her in the half-
light, high-backed chairs with deep seats and wide arms, made for
the tall Wilkes men, squatty soft chairs of velvet with velvet
hassocks before them for the girls.  Far across the long room
before the hearth, the seven-foot sofa, Ashley's favorite seat,
reared its high back, like some huge sleeping animal.

She closed the door except for a crack and tried to make her heart
beat more slowly.  She tried to remember just exactly what she had
planned last night to say to Ashley, but she couldn't recall
anything.  Had she thought up something and forgotten it--or had
she only planned that Ashley should say something to her?  She
couldn't remember, and a sudden cold fright fell upon her.  If her
heart would only stop pounding in her ears, perhaps she could
think of what to say.  But the quick thudding only increased as
she heard him call a final farewell and walk into the front hall.

All she could think of was that she loved him--everything about
him, from the proud lift of his gold head to his slender dark
boots, loved his laughter even when it mystified her, loved his
bewildering silences.  Oh, if only he would walk in on her now and
take her in his arms, so she would be spared the need of saying
anything.  He must love her--"Perhaps if I prayed--"  She squeezed
her eyes tightly and began gabbling to herself "Hail Mary, full of
grace--"

"Why, Scarlett!" said Ashley's voice, breaking in through the
roaring in her ears and throwing her into utter confusion.  He
stood in the hall peering at her through the partly opened door,
a quizzical smile on his face.

"Who are you hiding from--Charles or the Tarletons?"

She gulped.  So he had noticed how the men had swarmed about her!
How unutterably dear he was standing there with his eyes
twinkling, all unaware of her excitement.  She could not speak,
but she put out a hand and drew him into the room.  He entered,
puzzled but interested.  There was a tenseness about her, a glow
in her eyes that he had never seen before, and even in the dim
light he could see the rosy flush on her cheeks.  Automatically he
closed the door behind him and took her hand.

"What is it?" he said, almost in a whisper.

At the touch of his hand, she began to tremble.  It was going to
happen now, just as she had dreamed it.  A thousand incoherent
thoughts shot through her mind, and she could not catch a single
one to mold into a word.  She could only shake and look up into
his face.  Why didn't he speak?

"What is it?" he repeated.  "A secret to tell me?"

Suddenly she found her tongue and just as suddenly all the years
of Ellen's teachings fell away, and the forthright Irish blood of
Gerald spoke from his daughter's lips.

"Yes--a secret.  I love you."

For an instance there was a silence so acute it seemed that
neither of them even breathed.  Then the trembling fell away from
her, as happiness and pride surged through her.  Why hadn't she
done this before?  How much simpler than all the ladylike
maneuverings she had been taught.  And then her eyes sought his.

There was a look of consternation in them, of incredulity and
something more--what was it?  Yes, Gerald had looked that way the
day his pet hunter had broken his leg and he had had to shoot him.
Why did she have to think of that now?  Such a silly thought.  And
why did Ashley look so oddly and say nothing?  Then something like
a well-trained mask came down over his face and he smiled
gallantly.

"Isn't it enough that you've collected every other man's heart
here today?" he said, with the old, teasing, caressing note in his
voice.  "Do you want to make it unanimous?  Well, you've always
had my heart, you know.  You cut your teeth on it."

Something was wrong--all wrong!  This was not the way she had
planned it.  Through the mad tearing of ideas round and round in
her brain, one was beginning to take form.  Somehow--for some
reason--Ashley was acting as if he thought she was just flirting
with him.  But he knew differently.  She knew he did.

"Ashley--Ashley--tell me--you must--oh, don't tease me now!  Have
I your heart?  Oh, my dear, I lo--"

His hand went across her lips, swiftly.  The mask was gone.

"You must not say these things, Scarlett!  You mustn't.  You don't
mean them.  You'll hate yourself for saying them, and you'll hate
me for hearing them!"

She jerked her head away.  A hot swift current was running through
her.

"I couldn't ever hate you.  I tell you I love you and I know you
must care about me because--"  She stopped.  Never before had she
seen so much misery in anyone's face.  "Ashley, do you care--you
do, don't you?"

"Yes," he said dully.  "I care."

If he had said he loathed her, she could not have been more
frightened.  She plucked at his sleeve, speechless.

"Scarlett," he said, "can't we go away and forget that we have
ever said these things?"

"No," she whispered.  "I can't.  What do you mean?  Don't you want
to--to marry me?"

He replied, "I'm going to marry Melanie."

Somehow she found that she was sitting on the low velvet chair and
Ashley, on the hassock at her feet, was holding both her hands in
his, in a hard grip.  He was saying things--things that made no
sense.  Her mind was quite blank, quite empty of all the thoughts
that had surged through it only a moment before, and his words
made no more impression than rain on glass.  They fell on
unhearing ears, words that were swift and tender and full of pity,
like a father speaking to a hurt child.

The sound of Melanie's name caught in her consciousness and she
looked into his crystal-gray eyes.  She saw in them the old
remoteness that had always baffled her--and a look of self-hatred.

"Father is to announce the engagement tonight.  We are to be
married soon.  I should have told you, but I thought you knew.  I
thought everyone knew--had known for years.  I never dreamed that
you--  You've so many beaux.  I thought Stuart--"

Life and feeling and comprehension were beginning to flow back
into her.

"But you just said you cared for me."

His warm hands hurt hers.

"My dear, must you make me say things that will hurt you?"

Her silence pressed him on.

"How can I make you see these things, my dear.  You who are so
young and unthinking that you do not know what marriage means."

"I know I love you."

"Love isn't enough to make a successful marriage when two people
are as different as we are.  You would want all of a man,
Scarlett, his body, his heart, his soul, his thoughts.  And if you
did not have them, you would be miserable.  And I couldn't give
you all of me.  I couldn't give all of me to anyone.  And I would
not want all of your mind and your soul.  And you would be hurt,
and then you would come to hate me--how bitterly!  You would hate
the books I read and the music I loved, because they took me away
from you even for a moment.  And I--perhaps I--"

"Do you love her?"

"She is like me, part of my blood, and we understand each other.
Scarlett!  Scarlett!  Can't I make you see that a marriage can't
go on in any sort of peace unless the two people are alike?"

Some one else had said that:  "Like must marry like or there'll be
no happiness."  Who was it?  It seemed a million years since she
had heard that, but it still did not make sense.

"But you said you cared."

"I shouldn't have said it."

Somewhere in her brain, a slow fire rose and rage began to blot
out everything else.

"Well, having been cad enough to say it--"

His face went white.

"I was a cad to say it, as I'm going to marry Melanie.  I did you
a wrong and Melanie a greater one.  I should not have said it, for
I knew you wouldn't understand.  How could I help caring for you--
you who have all the passion for life that I have not?  You who
can love and hate with a violence impossible to me?  Why you are
as elemental as fire and wind and wild things and I--"

She thought of Melanie and saw suddenly her quiet brown eyes with
their far-off look, her placid little hands in their black lace
mitts, her gentle silences.  And then her rage broke, the same
rage that drove Gerald to murder and other Irish ancestors to
misdeeds that cost them their necks.  There was nothing in her now
of the well-bred Robillards who could bear with white silence
anything the world might cast.

"Why don't you say it, you coward!  You're afraid to marry me!
You'd rather live with that stupid little fool who can't open her
mouth except to say 'Yes' or 'No' and raise a passel of mealy-
mouthed brats just like her!  Why--"

"You must not say these things about Melanie!"

"'I mustn't' be damned to you! Who are you to tell me I mustn't?
You coward, you cad, you--  You made me believe you were going to
marry me--"

"Be fair," his voice pleaded.  "Did I ever--"

She did not want to be fair, although she knew what he said was
true.  He had never once crossed the borders of friendliness with
her and, when she thought of this fresh anger rose, the anger of
hurt pride and feminine vanity.  She had run after him and he
would have none of her.  He preferred a whey-faced little fool
like Melanie to her.  Oh, far better that she had followed Ellen
and Mammy's precepts and never, never revealed that she even liked
him--better anything than to be faced with this scorching shame!

She sprang to her feet, her hands clenched and he rose towering
over her, his face full of the mute misery of one forced to face
realities when realities are agonies.

"I shall hate you till I die, you cad--you lowdown--lowdown--"
What was the word she wanted?  She could not think of any word bad
enough.

"Scarlett--please--"

He put out his hand toward her and, as he did, she slapped him
across the face with all the strength she had.  The noise cracked
like a whip in the still room and suddenly her rage was gone, and
there was desolation in her heart.

The red mark of her hand showed plainly on his white tired face.
He said nothing but lifted her limp hand to his lips and kissed
it.  Then he was gone before she could speak again, closing the
door softly behind him.

She sat down again very suddenly, the reaction from her rage
making her knees feel weak.  He was gone and the memory of his
stricken face would haunt her till she died.

She heard the soft muffled sound of his footsteps dying away down
the long hall, and the complete enormity of her actions came over
her.  She had lost him forever.  Now he would hate her and every
time he looked at her he would remember how she threw herself at
him when he had given her no encouragement at all.

"I'm as bad as Honey Wilkes," she thought suddenly, and remembered
how everyone, and she more than anyone else, had laughed
contemptuously at Honey's forward conduct.  She saw Honey's
awkward wigglings and heard her silly titters as she hung onto
boys' arms, and the thought stung her to new rage, rage at
herself, at Ashley, at the world.  Because she hated herself, she
hated them all with the fury of the thwarted and humiliated love
of sixteen.  Only a little true tenderness had been mixed into her
love.  Mostly it had been compounded out of vanity and complacent
confidence in her own charms.  Now she had lost and, greater than
her sense of loss, was the fear that she had made a public
spectacle of herself.  Had she been as obvious as Honey?  Was
everyone laughing at her?  She began to shake at the thought.

Her hand dropped to a little table beside her, fingering a tiny
china rose-bowl on which two china cherubs smirked.  The room was
so still she almost screamed to break the silence.  She must do
something or go mad.  She picked up the bowl and hurled it
viciously across the room toward the fireplace.  It barely cleared
the tall back of the sofa and splintered with a little crash
against the marble mantelpiece.

"This," said a voice from the depths of the sofa, "is too much."

Nothing had ever startled or frightened her so much, and her mouth
went too dry for her to utter a sound.  She caught hold of the
back of the chair, her knees going weak under her, as Rhett Butler
rose from the sofa where he had been lying and made her a bow of
exaggerated politeness.

"It is bad enough to have an afternoon nap disturbed by such a
passage as I've been forced to hear, but why should my life be
endangered?"

He was real.  He wasn't a ghost.  But, saints preserve us, he had
heard everything!  She rallied her forces into a semblance of
dignity.

"Sir, you should have made known your presence."

"Indeed?"  His white teeth gleamed and his bold dark eyes laughed
at her.  "But you were the intruder.  I was forced to wait for Mr.
Kennedy, and feeling that I was perhaps persona non grata in the
back yard, I was thoughtful enough to remove my unwelcome presence
here where I thought I would be undisturbed.  But, alas!" he
shrugged and laughed softly.

Her temper was beginning to rise again at the thought that this
rude and impertinent man had heard everything--heard things she
now wished she had died before she ever uttered.

"Eavesdroppers--" she began furiously.

"Eavesdroppers often hear highly entertaining and instructive
things," he grinned.  "From a long experience in eavesdropping, I--"

"Sir," she said, "you are no gentleman!"

"An apt observation," he answered airily.  "And, you, Miss, are no
lady."  He seemed to find her very amusing, for he laughed softly
again.  "No one can remain a lady after saying and doing what I
have just overheard.  However, ladies have seldom held any charms
for me.  I know what they are thinking, but they never have the
courage or lack of breeding to say what they think.  And that, in
time, becomes a bore.  But you, my dear Miss O'Hara, are a girl of
rare spirit, very admirable spirit, and I take off my hat to you.
I fail to understand what charms the elegant Mr. Wilkes can hold
for a girl of your tempestuous nature.  He should thank God on
bended knee for a girl with your--how did he put it?--'passion for
living,' but being a poor-spirited wretch--"

"You aren't fit to wipe his boots!" she shouted in rage.

"And you were going to hate him all your life!"  He sank down on
the sofa and she heard him laughing.

If she could have killed him, she would have done it.  Instead,
she walked out of the room with such dignity as she could summon
and banged the heavy door behind her.



She went up the stairs so swiftly that when she reached the
landing, she thought she was going to faint.  She stopped,
clutching the banisters, her heart hammering so hard from anger,
insult and exertion that it seemed about to burst through her
basque.  She tried to draw deep breaths but Mammy's lacings were
too tight.  If she should faint and they should find her here on
the landing, what would they think?  Oh, they'd think everything.
Ashley and that vile Butler man and those nasty girls who were so
jealous!  For once in her life, she wished that she carried
smelling salts, like the other girls, but she had never even owned
a vinaigrette.  She had always been so proud of never feeling
giddy.  She simply could not let herself faint now!

Gradually the sickening feeling began to depart.  In a minute,
she'd feel all right and then she'd slip quietly into the little
dressing room adjoining India's room, unloose her stays and creep
in and lay herself on one of the beds beside the sleeping girls.
She tried to quiet her heart and fix her face into more composed
lines, for she knew she must look like a crazy woman.  If any of
the girls were awake, they'd know something was wrong.  And no one
must ever, ever know that anything had happened.

Through the wide bay window on the lawn she could see the men
still lounging in their chairs under the trees and in the shade of
the arbor.  How she envied them!  How wonderful to be a man and
never have to undergo miseries such as she had just passed
through.  As she stood watching them, hot eyed and dizzy, she
heard the rapid pounding of a horse's hooves on the front drive,
the scattering of gravel and the sound of an excited voice calling
a question to one of the negroes.  The gravel flew again and
across her vision a man on horseback galloped over the green lawn
toward the lazy group under the trees.

Some late-come guest, but why did he ride his horse across the
turf that was India's pride?  She could not recognize him, but as
he flung himself from the saddle and clutched John Wilkes' arm,
she could see that there was excitement in every line of him.  The
crowd swarmed about him, tall glasses and palmetto fans abandoned
on tables and on the ground.  In spite of the distance, she could
hear the hubbub of voices, questioning, calling, feel the fever-
pitch tenseness of the men.  Then above the confused sounds Stuart
Tarleton's voice rose, in an exultant shout "Yee-aay-ee!" as if he
were on the hunting field.  And she heard for the first time,
without knowing it, the Rebel yell.

As she watched, the four Tarletons followed by the Fontaine boys
broke from the group and began hurrying toward the stable, yelling
as they ran, "Jeems!  You, Jeems!  Saddle the horses!"

"Somebody's house must have caught fire," Scarlett thought.  But
fire or no fire, her job was to get herself back into the bedroom
before she was discovered.

Her heart was quieter now and she tiptoed up the steps into the
silent hall.  A heavy warm somnolence lay over the house, as if it
slept at ease like the girls, until night when it would burst into
its full beauty with music and candle flames.  Carefully, she
eased open the door of the dressing room and slipped in.  Her hand
was behind her, still holding the knob, when Honey Wilkes' voice,
low pitched, almost in a whisper, came to her through the crack of
the opposite door leading into the bedroom.

"I think Scarlett acted as fast as a girl could act today."

Scarlett felt her heart begin its mad racing again and she
clutched her hand against it unconsciously, as if she would
squeeze it into submission.  "Eavesdroppers often hear highly
instructive things," jibed a memory.  Should she slip out again?
Or make herself known and embarrass Honey as she deserved?  But
the next voice made her pause.  A team of mules could not have
dragged her away when she heard Melanie's voice.

"Oh, Honey, no!  Don't be unkind.  She's just high spirited and
vivacious.  I thought her most charming."

"Oh," thought Scarlett, clawing her nails into her basque.  "To
have that mealymouthed little mess take up for me!"

It was harder to bear than Honey's out-and-out cattiness.
Scarlett had never trusted any woman and had never credited any
woman except her mother with motives other than selfish ones.
Melanie knew she had Ashley securely, so she could well afford to
show such a Christian spirit.  Scarlett felt it was just Melanie's
way of parading her conquest and getting credit for being sweet at
the same time.  Scarlett had frequently used the same trick
herself when discussing other girls with men, and it had never
failed to convince foolish males of her sweetness and
unselfishness.

"Well, Miss," said Honey tartly, her voice rising, "you must be
blind."

"Hush, Honey," hissed the voice of Sally Munroe.  "They'll hear
you all over the house!"

Honey lowered her voice but went on.

"Well, you saw how she was carrying on with every man she could
get hold of--even Mr. Kennedy and he's her own sister's beau.  I
never saw the like!  And she certainly was going after Charles."
Honey giggled self-consciously.  "And you know, Charles and I--"

"Are you really?" whispered voices excitedly.

"Well, don't tell anybody, girls--not yet!"

There were more gigglings and the bed springs creaked as someone
squeezed Honey.  Melanie murmured something about how happy she
was that Honey would be her sister.

"Well, I won't be happy to have Scarlett for my sister, because
she's a fast piece if ever I saw one," came the aggrieved voice of
Hefty Tarleton.  "But she's as good as engaged to Stuart.  Brent
says she doesn't give a rap about him, but, of course, Brent's
crazy about her, too."

"If you should ask me," said Honey with mysterious importance,
"there's only one person she does give a rap about.  And that's
Ashley!"

As the whisperings merged together violently, questioning,
interrupting, Scarlett felt herself go cold with fear and
humiliation.  Honey was a fool, a silly, a simpleton about men,
but she had a feminine instinct about other women that Scarlett
had underestimated.  The mortification and hurt pride that she had
suffered in the library with Ashley and with Rhett Butler were pin
pricks to this.  Men could be trusted to keep their mouths shut,
even men like Mr. Butler, but with Honey Wilkes giving tongue like
a hound in the field, the entire County would know about it before
six o'clock.  And Gerald had said only last night that he wouldn't
be having the County laughing at his daughter.  And how they would
all laugh now!  Clammy perspiration, starting under her armpits,
began to creep down her ribs.

Melanie's voice, measured and peaceful, a little reproving, rose
above the others.

"Honey, you know that isn't so.  And it's so unkind."

"It is too, Melly, and if you weren't always so busy looking for
the good in people that haven't got any good in them, you'd see
it.  And I'm glad it's so.  It serves her right.  All Scarlett
O'Hara has ever done has been to stir up trouble and try to get
other girls' beaux.  You know mighty well she took Stuart from
India and she didn't want him.  And today she tried to take Mr.
Kennedy and Ashley and Charles--"

"I must get home!" thought Scarlett.  "I must get home!"

If she could only be transferred by magic to Tara and to safety.
If she could only be with Ellen, just to see her, to hold onto her
skirt, to cry and pour out the whole story in her lap.  If she had
to listen to another word, she'd rush in and pull out Honey's
straggly pale hair in big handfuls and spit on Melanie Hamilton to
show her just what she thought of her charity.  But she'd already
acted common enough today, enough like white trash--that was where
all her trouble lay.

She pressed her hands hard against her skirts, so they would not
rustle and backed out as stealthily as an animal.  Home, she
thought, as she sped down the hall, past the closed doors and
still rooms, I must go home.

She was already on the front porch when a new thought brought her
up sharply--she couldn't go home!  She couldn't run away!  She
would have to see it through, bear all the malice of the girls and
her own humiliation and heartbreak.  To run away would only give
them more ammunition.

She pounded her clenched fist against the tall white pillar beside
her, and she wished that she were Samson, so that she could pull
down all of Twelve Oaks and destroy every person in it.  She'd
make them sorry.  She'd show them.  She didn't quite see how she'd
show them, but she'd do it all the same.  She'd hurt them worse
than they hurt her.

For the moment, Ashley as Ashley was forgotten.  He was not the
tall drowsy boy she loved but part and parcel of the Wilkeses,
Twelve Oaks, the County--and she hated them all because they
laughed.  Vanity was stronger than love at sixteen and there was
no room in her hot heart now for anything but hate.

"I won't go home," she thought.  "I'll stay here and I'll make
them sorry.  And I'll never tell Mother.  No, I'll never tell
anybody."  She braced herself to go back into the house, to
reclimb the stairs and go into another bedroom.

As she turned, she saw Charles coming into the house from the
other end of the long hall.  When he saw her, he hurried toward
her.  His hair was tousled and his face near geranium with
excitement.

"Do you know what's happened?" he cried, even before he reached
her.  "Have you heard?  Paul Wilson just rode over from Jonesboro
with the news!"

He paused, breathless, as he came up to her.  She said nothing and
only stared at him.

"Mr. Lincoln has called for men, soldiers--I mean volunteers--
seventy-five thousand of them!"

Mr. Lincoln again!  Didn't men ever think about anything that
really mattered?  Here was this fool expecting her to be excited
about Mr. Lincoln's didoes when her heart was broken and her
reputation as good as ruined.

Charles stared at her.  Her face was paper white and her narrow
eyes blazing like emeralds.  He had never seen such fire in any
girl's face, such a glow in anyone's eyes.

"I'm so clumsy," he said.  "I should have told you more gently.  I
forgot how delicate ladies are.  I'm sorry I've upset you so.  You
don't feel faint, do you?  Can I get you a glass of water?"

"No," she said, and managed a crooked smile.

"Shall we go sit on the bench?" he asked, taking her arm.

She nodded and he carefully handed her down the front steps and
led her across the grass to the iron bench beneath the largest oak
in the front yard.  How fragile and tender women are, he thought,
the mere mention of war and harshness makes them faint.  The idea
made him feel very masculine and he was doubly gentle as he seated
her.  She looked so strangely, and there was a wild beauty about
her white face that set his heart leaping.  Could it be that she
was distressed by the thought that he might go to the war?  No,
that was too conceited for belief.  But why did she look at him so
oddly?  And why did her hands shake as they fingered her lace
handkerchief.  And her thick sooty lashes--they were fluttering
just like the eyes of girls in romances he had read, fluttering
with timidity and love.

He cleared his throat three times to speak and failed each time.
He dropped his eyes because her own green ones met his so
piercingly, almost as if she were not seeing him.

"He has a lot of money," she was thinking swiftly, as a thought
and a plan went through her brain.  "And he hasn't any parents to
bother me and he lives in Atlanta.  And if I married him right
away, it would show Ashley that I didn't care a rap--that I was
only flirting with him.  And it would just kill Honey.  She'd
never, never catch another beau and everybody'd laugh fit to die
at her.  And it would hurt Melanie, because she loves Charles so
much.  And it would hurt Stu and Brent--"  She didn't quite know
why she wanted to hurt them, except that they had catty sisters.
"And they'd all be sorry when I came back here to visit in a fine
carriage and with lots of pretty clothes and a house of my own.
And they would never, never laugh at me."

"Of course, it will mean fighting," said Charles, after several
more embarrassed attempts.  "But don't you fret, Miss Scarlett,
it'll be over in a month and we'll have them howling.  Yes, sir!
Howling!  I wouldn't miss it for anything.  I'm afraid there won't
be much of a ball tonight, because the Troop is going to meet at
Jonesboro.  The Tarleton boys have gone to spread the news.  I
know the ladies will be sorry."

She said, "Oh," for want of anything better, but it sufficed.

Coolness was beginning to come back to her and her mind was
collecting itself.  A frost lay over all her emotions and she
thought that she would never feel anything warmly again.  Why not
take this pretty, flushed boy?  He was as good as anyone else and
she didn't care.  No, she could never care about anything again,
not if she lived to be ninety.

"I can't decide now whether to go with Mr. Wade Hampton's South
Carolina Legion or with the Atlanta Gate City Guard."

She said, "Oh," again and their eyes met and the fluttering lashes
were his undoing.

"Will you wait for me, Miss Scarlett?  It--it would be Heaven just
knowing that you were waiting for me until after we licked them!"
He hung breathless on her words, watching the way her lips curled
up at the corners, noting for the first time the shadows about
these corners and thinking what it would mean to kiss them.  Her
hand, with palm clammy with perspiration, slid into his.

"I wouldn't want to wait," she said and her eyes were veiled.

He sat clutching her hand, his mouth wide open.  Watching him from
under her lashes, Scarlett thought detachedly that he looked like
a gigged frog.  He stuttered several times, closed his mouth and
opened it again, and again became geranium colored.

"Can you possibly love me?"

She said nothing but looked down into her lap, and Charles was
thrown into new states of ecstasy and embarrassment.  Perhaps a
man should not ask a girl such a question.  Perhaps it would be
unmaidenly for her to answer it.  Having never possessed the
courage to get himself into such a situation before, Charles was
at a loss as to how to act.  He wanted to shout and to sing and to
kiss her and to caper about the lawn and then run tell everyone,
black and white, that she loved him.  But he only squeezed her
hand until he drove her rings into the flesh.

"You will marry me soon, Miss Scarlett?"

"Um," she said, fingering a fold of her dress.

"Shall we make it a double wedding with Mel--"

"No," she said quickly, her eyes glinting up at him ominously.
Charles knew again that he had made an error.  Of course, a girl
wanted her own wedding--not shared glory.  How kind she was to
overlook his blunderings.  If it were only dark and he had the
courage of shadows and could kiss her hand and say the things he
longed to say.

"When may I speak to your father?"

"The sooner the better," she said, hoping that perhaps he would
release the crushing pressure on her rings before she had to ask
him to do it.

He leaped up and for a moment she thought he was going to cut a
caper, before dignity claimed him.  He looked down at her
radiantly, his whole clean simple heart in his eyes.  She had
never had anyone look at her thus before and would never have it
from any other man, but in her queer detachment she only thought
that he looked like a calf.

"I'll go now and find your father," he said, smiling all over his
face.  "I can't wait.  Will you excuse me--dear?"  The endearment
came hard but having said it once, he repeated it again with
pleasure.

"Yes," she said.  "I'll wait here.  It's so cool and nice here."

He went off across the lawn and disappeared around the house, and
she was alone under the rustling oak.  From the stables, men were
streaming out on horseback, negro servants riding hard behind
their masters.  The Munroe boys tore past waving their hats, and
the Fontaines and Calverts went down the road yelling.  The four
Tarletons charged across the lawn by her and Brent shouted:
"Mother's going to give us the horses!  Yee-aay-ee!"  Turf flew
and they were gone, leaving her alone again.

The white house reared its tall columns before her, seeming to
withdraw with dignified aloofness from her.  It would never be her
house now.  Ashley would never carry her over the threshold as his
bride.  Oh, Ashley, Ashley!  What have I done?  Deep in her, under
layers of hurt pride and cold practicality, something stirred
hurtingly.  An adult emotion was being born, stronger than her
vanity or her willful selfishness.  She loved Ashley and she knew
she loved him and she had never cared so much as in that instant
when she saw Charles disappearing around the curved graveled walk.



CHAPTER VII


Within two weeks Scarlett had become a wife, and within two months
more she was a widow.  She was soon released from the bonds she
had assumed with so much haste and so little thought, but she was
never again to know the careless freedom of her unmarried days.
Widowhood had crowded closely on the heels of marriage but, to her
dismay, motherhood soon followed.

In after years when she thought of those last days of April, 1861,
Scarlett could never quite remember details.  Time and events were
telescoped, jumbled together like a nightmare that had no reality
or reason.  Till the day she died there would be blank spots in
her memories of those days.  Especially vague were her recollections
of the time between her acceptance of Charles and her wedding.  Two
weeks!  So short an engagement would have been impossible in times
of peace.  Then there would have been a decorous interval of a year
or at least six months.  But the South was aflame with war, events
roared along as swiftly as if carried by a mighty wind and the slow
tempo of the old days was gone.  Ellen had wrung her hands and
counseled delay, in order that Scarlett might think the matter over
at greater length.  But to her pleadings, Scarlett turned a sullen
face and a deaf ear.  Marry she would! and quickly too.  Within two
weeks.

Learning that Ashley's wedding had been moved up from the autumn
to the first of May, so he could leave with the Troop as soon as
it was called into service, Scarlett set the date of her wedding
for the day before his.  Ellen protested but Charles pleaded with
new-found eloquence, for he was impatient to be off to South
Carolina to join Wade Hampton's Legion, and Gerald sided with the
two young people.  He was excited by the war fever and pleased
that Scarlett had made so good a match, and who was he to stand in
the way of young love when there was a war?  Ellen, distracted,
finally gave in as other mothers throughout the South were doing.
Their leisured world had been turned topsy-turvy, and their
pleadings, prayers and advice availed nothing against the powerful
forces sweeping them along.

The South was intoxicated with enthusiasm and excitement.
Everyone knew that one battle would end the war and every young
man hastened to enlist before the war should end--hastened to
marry his sweetheart before he rushed off to Virginia to strike a
blow at the Yankees.  There were dozens of war weddings in the
County and there was little time for the sorrow of parting, for
everyone was too busy and excited for either solemn thoughts or
tears.  The ladies were making uniforms, knitting socks and
rolling bandages, and the men were drilling and shooting.  Train
loads of troops passed through Jonesboro daily on their way north
to Atlanta and Virginia.  Some detachments were gaily uniformed in
the scarlets and light blues and greens of select social-militia
companies; some small groups were in homespun and coonskin caps;
others, ununiformed, were in broadcloth and fine linen; all were
half-drilled, half-armed, wild with excitement and shouting as
though en route to a picnic.  The sight of these men threw the
County boys into a panic for fear the war would be over before
they could reach Virginia, and preparations for the Troop's
departure were speeded.

In the midst of this turmoil, preparations went forward for
Scarlett's wedding and, almost before she knew it, she was clad in
Ellen's wedding dress and veil, coming down the wide stairs of
Tara on her father's arm, to face a house packed full with guests.
Afterward she remembered, as from a dream, the hundreds of candles
flaring on the walls, her mother's face, loving, a little
bewildered, her lips moving in a silent prayer for her daughter's
happiness, Gerald flushed with brandy and pride that his daughter
was marrying both money, a fine name and an old one--and Ashley,
standing at the bottom of the steps with Melanie's arm through
his.

When she saw the look on his face, she thought:  "This can't be
real.  It can't be.  It's a nightmare.  I'll wake up and find it's
all been a nightmare.  I mustn't think of it now, or I'll begin
screaming in front of all these people.  I can't think now.  I'll
think later, when I can stand it--when I can't see his eyes."

It was all very dreamlike, the passage through the aisle of
smiling people, Charles' scarlet face and stammering voice and her
own replies, so startlingly clear, so cold.  And the congratulations
afterward and the kissing and the toasts and the dancing--all, all
like a dream.  Even the feel of Ashley's kiss upon her cheek, even
Melanie's soft whisper, "Now, we're really and truly sisters," were
unreal.  Even the excitement caused by the swooning spell that
overtook Charles' plump emotional aunt, Miss Pittypat Hamilton, had
the quality of a nightmare.

But when the dancing and toasting were finally ended and the dawn
was coming, when all the Atlanta guests who could be crowded into
Tara and the overseer's house had gone to sleep on beds, sofas and
pallets on the floor and all the neighbors had gone home to rest
in preparation for the wedding at Twelve Oaks the next day, then
the dreamlike trance shattered like crystal before reality.  The
reality was the blushing Charles, emerging from her dressing room
in his nightshirt, avoiding the startled look she gave him over
the high-pulled sheet.

Of course, she knew that married people occupied the same bed but
she had never given the matter a thought before.  It seemed very
natural in the case of her mother and father, but she had never
applied it to herself.  Now for the first time since the barbecue
she realized just what she had brought on herself.  The thought of
this strange boy whom she hadn't really wanted to marry getting
into bed with her, when her heart was breaking with an agony of
regret at her hasty action and the anguish of losing Ashley
forever, was too much to be borne.  As he hesitatingly approached
the bed she spoke in a hoarse whisper.

"I'll scream out loud if you come near me.  I will!  I will--at
the top of my voice!  Get away from me!  Don't you dare touch me!"

So Charles Hamilton spent his wedding night in an armchair in the
corner, not too unhappily, for he understood, or thought he
understood, the modesty and delicacy of his bride.  He was willing
to wait until her fears subsided, only--only--  He sighed as he
twisted about seeking a comfortable position, for he was going
away to the war so very soon.

Nightmarish as her own wedding had been, Ashley's wedding was even
worse.  Scarlett stood in her apple-green "second-day" dress in
the parlor of Twelve Oaks amid the blaze of hundreds of candles,
jostled by the same throng as the night before, and saw the plain
little face of Melanie Hamilton glow into beauty as she became
Melanie Wilkes.  Now, Ashley was gone forever.  Her Ashley.  No,
not her Ashley now.  Had he ever been hers?  It was all so mixed
up in her mind and her mind was so tired, so bewildered.  He had
said he loved her, but what was it that had separated them?  If
she could only remember.  She had stilled the County's gossiping
tongue by marrying Charles, but what did that matter now?  It had
seemed so important once, but now it didn't seem important at all.
All that mattered was Ashley.  Now he was gone and she was married
to a man she not only did not love but for whom she had an active
contempt.

Oh, how she regretted it all.  She had often heard of people
cutting off their noses to spite their faces but heretofore it had
been only a figure of speech.  Now she knew just what it meant.
And mingled with her frenzied desire to be free of Charles and
safely back at Tara, an unmarried girl again, ran the knowledge
that she had only herself to blame.  Ellen had tried to stop her
and she would not listen.

So she danced through the night of Ashley's wedding in a daze and
said things mechanically and smiled and irrelevantly wondered at
the stupidity of people who thought her a happy bride and could
not see that her heart was broken.  Well, thank God, they couldn't
see!

That night after Mammy had helped her undress and had departed and
Charles had emerged shyly from the dressing room, wondering if he
was to spend a second night in the horsehair chair, she burst into
tears.  She cried until Charles climbed into bed beside her and
tried to comfort her, cried without words until no more tears
would come and at last she lay sobbing quietly on his shoulder.

If there had not been a war, there would have been a week of
visiting about the County, with balls and barbecues in honor of
the two newly married couples before they set off to Saratoga or
White Sulphur for wedding trips.  If there had not been a war,
Scarlett would have had third-day and fourth-day and fifth-day
dresses to wear to the Fontaine and Calvert and Tarleton parties
in her honor.  But there were no parties now and no wedding trips.
A week after the wedding Charles left to join Colonel Wade
Hampton, and two weeks later Ashley and the Troop departed,
leaving the whole County bereft.

In those two weeks, Scarlett never saw Ashley alone, never had a
private word with him.  Not even at the terrible moment of
parting, when he stopped by Tara on his way to the train, did she
have a private talk.  Melanie, bonneted and shawled, sedate in
newly acquired matronly dignity, hung on his arm and the entire
personnel of Tara, black and white, turned out to see Ashley off
to the war.

Melanie said:  "You must kiss Scarlett, Ashley.  She's my sister
now," and Ashley bent and touched her cheek with cold lips, his
face drawn and taut.  Scarlett could hardly take any joy from that
kiss, so sullen was her heart at Melly's prompting it.  Melanie
smothered her with an embrace at parting.

"You will come to Atlanta and visit me and Aunt Pittypat, won't
you?  Oh, darling, we want to have you so much!  We want to know
Charlie's wife better."

Five weeks passed during which letters, shy, ecstatic, loving,
came from Charles in South Carolina telling of his love, his plans
for the future when the war was over, his desire to become a hero
for her sake and his worship of his commander, Wade Hampton.  In
the seventh week, there came a telegram from Colonel Hampton
himself, and then a letter, a kind, dignified letter of condolence.
Charles was dead.  The colonel would have wired earlier, but
Charles, thinking his illness a trifling one, did not wish to have
his family worried.  The unfortunate boy had not only been cheated
of the love he thought he had won but also of his high hopes of
honor and glory on the field of battle.  He had died ignominiously
and swiftly of pneumonia, following measles, without ever having
gotten any closer to the Yankees than the camp in South Carolina.

In due time, Charles' son was born and, because it was fashionable
to name boys after their fathers' commanding officers, he was
called Wade Hampton Hamilton.  Scarlett had wept with despair at
the knowledge that she was pregnant and wished that she were dead.
But she carried the child through its time with a minimum of
discomfort, bore him with little distress and recovered so quickly
that Mammy told her privately it was downright common--ladies
should suffer more.  She felt little affection for the child, hide
the fact though she might.  She had not wanted him and she
resented his coming and, now that he was here, it did not seem
possible that he was hers, a part of her.

Though she recovered physically from Wade's birth in a disgracefully
short time, mentally she was dazed and sick.  Her spirits drooped,
despite the efforts of the whole plantation to revive them.  Ellen
went about with a puckered, worried forehead and Gerald swore more
frequently than usual and brought her useless gifts from Jonesboro.
Even old Dr. Fontaine admitted that he was puzzled, after his tonic
of sulphur, molasses and herbs failed to perk her up.  He told Ellen
privately that it was a broken heart that made Scarlett so irritable
and listless by turns.  But Scarlett, had she wished to speak, could
have told them that it was a far different and more complex trouble.
She did not tell them that it was utter boredom, bewilderment at
actually being a mother and, most of all, the absence of Ashley that
made her look so woebegone.

Her boredom was acute and ever present.  The County had been
devoid of any entertainment or social life ever since the Troop
had gone away to war.  All of the interesting young men were gone--
the four Tarletons, the two Calverts, the Fontaines, the Munroes
and everyone from Jonesboro, Fayetteville and Lovejoy who was
young and attractive.  Only the older men, the cripples and the
women were left, and they spent their time knitting and sewing,
growing more cotton and corn, raising more hogs and sheep and cows
for the army.  There was never a sight of a real man except when
the commissary troop under Suellen's middle-aged beau, Frank
Kennedy, rode by every month to collect supplies.  The men in the
commissary were not very exciting, and the sight of Frank's timid
courting annoyed her until she found it difficult to be polite to
him.  If he and Suellen would only get it over with!

Even if the commissary troop had been more interesting, it would
not have helped her situation any.  She was a widow and her heart
was in the grave.  At least, everyone thought it was in the grave
and expected her to act accordingly.  This irritated her for, try
as she would, she could recall nothing about Charles except the
dying-calf look on his face when she told him she would marry him.
And even that picture was fading.  But she was a widow and she had
to watch her behavior.  Not for her the pleasures of unmarried
girls.  She had to be grave and aloof.  Ellen had stressed this at
great length after catching Frank's lieutenant swinging Scarlett
in the garden swing and making her squeal with laughter.  Deeply
distressed, Ellen had told her how easily a widow might get
herself talked about.  The conduct of a widow must be twice as
circumspect as that of a matron.

"And God only knows," thought Scarlett, listening obediently to
her mother's soft voice, "matrons never have any fun at all.  So
widows might as well be dead."

A widow had to wear hideous black dresses without even a touch of
braid to enliven them, no flower or ribbon or lace or even
jewelry, except onyx mourning brooches or necklaces made from the
deceased's hair.  And the black crepe veil on her bonnet had to
reach to her knees, and only after three years of widowhood could
it be shortened to shoulder length.  Widows could never chatter
vivaciously or laugh aloud.  Even when they smiled, it must be a
sad, tragic smile.  And, most dreadful of all, they could in no
way indicate an interest in the company of gentlemen.  And should
a gentleman be so ill bred as to indicate an interest in her, she
must freeze him with a dignified but well-chosen reference to her
dead husband.  Oh, yes, thought Scarlett, drearily, some widows do
remarry eventually, when they are old and stringy.  Though Heaven
knows how they manage it, with their neighbors watching.  And then
it's generally to some desperate old widower with a large
plantation and a dozen children.

Marriage was bad enough, but to be widowed--oh, then life was over
forever!  How stupid people were when they talked about what a
comfort little Wade Hampton must be to her, now that Charles was
gone.  How stupid of them to say that now she had something to
live for!  Everyone talked about how sweet it was that she had
this posthumous token of her love and she naturally did not
disabuse their minds.  But that thought was farthest from her
mind.  She had very little interest in Wade and sometimes it was
difficult to remember that he was actually hers.

Every morning she woke up and for a drowsy moment she was Scarlett
O'Hara again and the sun was bright in the magnolia outside her
window and the mockers were singing and the sweet smell of frying
bacon was stealing to her nostrils.  She was carefree and young
again.  Then she heard the fretful hungry wail and always--always
there was a startled moment when she thought:  "Why, there's a
baby in the house!"  Then she remembered that it was her baby.  It
was all very bewildering.

And Ashley!  Oh, most of all Ashley!  For the first time in her
life, she hated Tara, hated the long red road that led down the
hill to the river, hated the red fields with springing green
cotton.  Every foot of ground, every tree and brook, every lane
and bridle path reminded her of him.  He belonged to another woman
and he had gone to the war, but his ghost still haunted the roads
in the twilight, still smiled at her from drowsy gray eyes in the
shadows of the porch.  She never heard the sound of hooves coming
up the river road from Twelve Oaks that for a sweet moment she did
not think--Ashley!

She hated Twelve Oaks now and once she had loved it.  She hated it
but she was drawn there, so she could hear John Wilkes and the
girls talk about him--hear them read his letters from Virginia.
They hurt her but she had to hear them.  She disliked the stiff-
necked India and the foolish prattling Honey and knew they
disliked her equally, but she could not stay away from them.  And
every time she came home from Twelve Oaks, she lay down on her bed
morosely and refused to get up for supper.

It was this refusal of food that worried Ellen and Mammy more than
anything else.  Mammy brought up tempting trays, insinuating that
now she was a widow she might eat as much as she pleased, but
Scarlett had no appetite.

When Dr. Fontaine told Ellen gravely that heartbreak frequently
led to a decline and women pined away into the grave, Ellen went
white, for that fear was what she had carried in her heart.

"Isn't there anything to be done, Doctor?"

"A change of scene will be the best thing in the world for her,"
said the doctor, only too anxious to be rid of an unsatisfactory
patient.

So Scarlett, unenthusiastic, went off with her child, first to
visit her O'Hara and Robillard relatives in Savannah and then to
Ellen's sisters, Pauline and Eulalie, in Charleston.  But she was
back at Tara a month before Ellen expected her, with no
explanation of her return.  They had been kind in Savannah, but
James and Andrew and their wives were old and content to sit
quietly and talk of a past in which Scarlett had no interest.  It
was the same with the Robillards, and Charleston was terrible,
Scarlett thought.

Aunt Pauline and her husband, a little old man, with a formal,
brittle courtesy and the absent air of one living in an older age,
lived on a plantation on the river, far more isolated than Tara.
Their nearest neighbor was twenty miles away by dark roads through
still jungles of cypress swamp and oak.  The live oaks with their
waving curtains of gray moss gave Scarlett the creeps and always
brought to her mind Gerald's stories of Irish ghosts roaming in
shimmering gray mists.  There was nothing to do but knit all day
and at night listen to Uncle Carey read aloud from the improving
works of Mr. Bulwer-Lytton.

Eulalie, hidden behind a high-walled garden in a great house on
the Battery in Charleston, was no more entertaining.  Scarlett,
accustomed to wide vistas of rolling red hills, felt that she was
in prison.  There was more social life here than at Aunt
Pauline's, but Scarlett did not like the people who called, with
their airs and their traditions and their emphasis on family.  She
knew very well they all thought she was a child of a mesalliance
and wondered how a Robillard ever married a newly come Irishman.
Scarlett felt that Aunt Eulalie apologized for her behind her
back.  This aroused her temper, for she cared no more about family
than her father.  She was proud of Gerald and what he had
accomplished unaided except by his shrewd Irish brain.

And the Charlestonians took so much upon themselves about Fort
Sumter!  Good Heavens, didn't they realize that if they hadn't
been silly enough to fire the shot that started the war some other
fools would have done it?  Accustomed to the brisk voices of
upland Georgia, the drawling flat voices of the low country seemed
affected to her.  She thought if she ever again heard voices that
said "paams" for "palms" and "hoose" for "house" and "woon't" for
"won't" and "Maa and Paa" for "Ma and Pa," she would scream.  It
irritated her so much that during one formal call she aped
Gerald's brogue to her aunt's distress.  Then she went back to
Tara.  Better to be tormented with memories of Ashley than
Charleston accents.

Ellen, busy night and day, doubling the productiveness of Tara to
aid the Confederacy, was terrified when her eldest daughter came
home from Charleston thin, white and sharp tongued.  She had known
heartbreak herself, and night after night she lay beside the
snoring Gerald, trying to think of some way to lessen Scarlett's
distress.  Charles' aunt, Miss Pittypat Hamilton, had written her
several times, urging her to permit Scarlett to come to Atlanta
for a long visit, and now for the first time Ellen considered it
seriously.

She and Melanie were alone in a big house "and without male
protection," wrote Miss Pittypat, "now that dear Charlie has gone.
Of course, there is my brother Henry but he does not make his home
with us.  But perhaps Scarlett has told you of Henry.  Delicacy
forbids my putting more concerning him on paper.  Melly and I
would feel so much easier and safer if Scarlett were with us.
Three lonely women are better than two.  And perhaps dear Scarlett
could find some ease for her sorrow, as Melly is doing, by nursing
our brave boys in the hospitals here--and, of course, Melly and I
are longing to see the dear baby. . . ."

So Scarlett's trunk was packed again with her mourning clothes and
off she went to Atlanta with Wade Hampton and his nurse Prissy, a
headful of admonitions as to her conduct from Ellen and Mammy and
a hundred dollars in Confederate bills from Gerald.  She did not
especially want to go to Atlanta.  She thought Aunt Pitty the
silliest of old ladies and the very idea of living under the same
roof with Ashley's wife was abhorrent.  But the County with its
memories was impossible now, and any change was welcome.




PART TWO



CHAPTER VIII


As the train carried Scarlett northward that May morning in 1862,
she thought that Atlanta couldn't possibly be so boring as
Charleston and Savannah had been and, in spite of her distaste for
Miss Pittypat and Melanie, she looked forward with some curiosity
toward seeing how the town had fared since her last visit, in the
winter before the war began.

Atlanta had always interested her more than any other town because
when she was a child Gerald had told her that she and Atlanta were
exactly the same age.  She discovered when she grew older that
Gerald had stretched the truth somewhat, as was his habit when a
little stretching would improve a story; but Atlanta was only nine
years older than she was, and that still left the place amazingly
young by comparison with any other town she had ever heard of.
Savannah and Charleston had the dignity of their years, one being
well along in its second century and the other entering its third,
and in her young eyes they had always seemed like aged
grandmothers fanning themselves placidly in the sun.  But Atlanta
was of her own generation, crude with the crudities of youth and
as headstrong and impetuous as herself.

The story Gerald had told her was based on the fact that she and
Atlanta were christened in the same year.  In the nine years
before Scarlett was born, the town had been called, first,
Terminus and then Marthasville, and not until the year of
Scarlett's birth had it become Atlanta.

When Gerald first moved to north Georgia, there had been no
Atlanta at all, not even the semblance of a village, and
wilderness rolled over the site.  But the next year, in 1836, the
State had authorized the building of a railroad northwestward
through the territory which the Cherokees had recently ceded.  The
destination of the proposed railroad, Tennessee and the West, was
clear and definite, but its beginning point in Georgia was
somewhat uncertain until, a year later, an engineer drove a stake
in the red clay to mark the southern end of the line, and Atlanta,
born Terminus, had begun.

There were no railroads then in north Georgia, and very few
anywhere else.  But during the years before Gerald married Ellen,
the tiny settlement, twenty-five miles north of Tara, slowly grew
into a village and the tracks slowly pushed northward.  Then the
railroad building era really began.  From the old city of Augusta,
a second railroad was extended westward across the state to
connect with the new road to Tennessee.  From the old city of
Savannah, a third railroad was built first to Macon, in the heart
of Georgia, and then north through Gerald's own county to Atlanta,
to link up with the other two roads and give Savannah's harbor a
highway to the West.  From the same junction point, the young
Atlanta, a fourth railroad was constructed southwestward to
Montgomery and Mobile.

Born of a railroad, Atlanta grew as its railroads grew.  With the
completion of the four lines, Atlanta was now connected with the
West, with the South, with the Coast and, through Augusta, with
the North and East.  It had become the crossroads of travel north
and south and east and west, and the little village leaped to
life.

In a space of time but little longer than Scarlett's seventeen
years, Atlanta had grown from a single stake driven in the ground
into a thriving small city of ten thousand that was the center of
attention for the whole state.  The older, quieter cities were
wont to look upon the bustling new town with the sensations of a
hen which has hatched a duckling.  Why was the place so different
from the other Georgia towns?  Why did it grow so fast?  After
all, they thought, it had nothing whatever to recommend it--only
its railroads and a bunch of mighty pushy people.

The people who settled the town called successively Terminus,
Marthasville and Atlanta, were a pushy people.  Restless,
energetic people from the older sections of Georgia and from more
distant states were drawn to this town that sprawled itself around
the junction of the railroads in its center.  They came with
enthusiasm.  They built their stores around the five muddy red
roads that crossed near the depot.  They built their fine homes on
Whitehall and Washington streets and along the high ridge of land
on which countless generations of moccasined Indian feet had
beaten a path called the Peachtree Trail.  They were proud of the
place, proud of its growth, proud of themselves for making it
grow.  Let the older towns call Atlanta anything they pleased.
Atlanta did not care.

Scarlett had always liked Atlanta for the very same reasons that
made Savannah, Augusta and Macon condemn it.  Like herself, the
town was a mixture of the old and new in Georgia, in which the old
often came off second best in its conflicts with the self-willed
and vigorous new.  Moreover, there was something personal,
exciting about a town that was born--or at least christened--the
same year she was christened.



The night before had been wild and wet with rain, but when
Scarlett arrived in Atlanta a warm sun was at work, bravely
attempting to dry the streets that were winding rivers of red mud.
In the open space around the depot, the soft ground had been cut
and churned by the constant flow of traffic in and out until it
resembled an enormous hog wallow, and here and there vehicles were
mired to the hubs in the ruts.  A never-ceasing line of army
wagons and ambulances, loading and unloading supplies and wounded
from the trains, made the mud and confusion worse as they toiled
in and struggled out, drivers swearing, mules plunging and mud
spattering for yards.

Scarlett stood on the lower step of the train, a pale pretty
figure in her black mourning dress, her crepe veil fluttering
almost to her heels.  She hesitated, unwilling to soil her
slippers and hems, and looked about in the shouting tangle of
wagons, buggies and carriages for Miss Pittypat.  There was no
sign of that chubby pink-cheeked lady, but as Scarlett searched
anxiously a spare old negro, with grizzled kinks and an air of
dignified authority, came toward her through the mud, his hat in
his hand.

"Dis Miss Scarlett, ain' it?  Dis hyah Peter, Miss Pitty's
coachman.  Doan step down in dat mud," he ordered severely, as
Scarlett gathered up her skirts preparatory to descending.  "You
is as bad as Miss Pitty an' she lak a chile 'bout gittin' her
feets wet.  Lemme cahy you."

He picked Scarlett up with ease despite his apparent frailness and
age and, observing Prissy standing on the platform of the train,
the baby in her arms, he paused:  "Is dat air chile yo' nuss?
Miss Scarlett, she too young ter be handlin' Mist' Charles'
onlies' baby!  But we ten' to dat later.  You gal, foller me, an'
doan you go drappin' dat baby."

Scarlett submitted meekly to being carried toward the carriage and
also to the peremptory manner in which Uncle Peter criticized her
and Prissy.  As they went through the mud with Prissy sloshing,
pouting, after them, she recalled what Charles had said about
Uncle Peter.

"He went through all the Mexican campaigns with Father, nursed him
when he was wounded--in fact, he saved his life.  Uncle Peter
practically raised Melanie and me, for we were very young when
Father and Mother died.  Aunt Pitty had a falling out with her
brother, Uncle Henry, about that time, so she came to live with us
and take care of us.  She is the most helpless soul--just like a
sweet grown-up child, and Uncle Peter treats her that way.  To
save her life, she couldn't make up her mind about anything, so
Peter makes it up for her.  He was the one who decided I should
have a larger allowance when I was fifteen, and he insisted that I
should go to Harvard for my senior year, when Uncle Henry wanted
me to take my degree at the University.  And he decided when Melly
was old enough to put up her hair and go to parties.  He tells
Aunt Pitty when it's too cold or too wet for her to go calling and
when she should wear a shawl. . . .  He's the smartest old darky
I've ever seen and about the most devoted.  The only trouble with
him is that he owns the three of us, body and soul, and he knows
it."

Charles' words were confirmed as Peter climbed onto the box and
took the whip.

"Miss Pitty in a state bekase she din' come ter meet you.  She's
feared you mout not unnerstan' but Ah tole her she an' Miss Melly
jes' git splashed wid mud an' ruin dey new dresses an' Ah'd
'splain ter you.  Miss Scarlett, you better tek dat chile.  Dat
lil pickaninny gwine let it drap."

Scarlett looked at Prissy and sighed.  Prissy was not the most
adequate of nurses.  Her recent graduation from a skinny
pickaninny with brief skirts and stiffly wrapped braids into the
dignity of a calico dress and starched white turban was an
intoxicating affair.  She would never have arrived at this
eminence so early in life had not the exigencies of war and the
demands of the commissary department on Tara made it impossible
for Ellen to spare Mammy or Dilcey or even Rosa or Teena.  Prissy
had never been more than a mile away from Twelve Oaks or Tara
before, and the trip on the train plus her elevation to nurse was
almost more than the brain in her little black skull could bear.
The twenty-mile journey from Jonesboro to Atlanta had so excited
her that Scarlett had been forced to hold the baby all the way.
Now, the sight of so many buildings and people completed Prissy's
demoralization.  She twisted from side to side, pointed, bounced
about and so jounced the baby that he wailed miserably.

Scarlett longed for the fat old arms of Mammy.  Mammy had only to
lay hands on a child and it hushed crying.  But Mammy was at Tara
and there was nothing Scarlett could do.  It was useless for her
to take little Wade from Prissy.  He yelled just as loudly when
she held him as when Prissy did.  Besides, he would tug at the
ribbons of her bonnet and, no doubt, rumple her dress.  So she
pretended she had not heard Uncle Peter's suggestion.

"Maybe I'll learn about babies sometime," she thought irritably,
as the carriage jolted and swayed out of the morass surrounding
the station, "but I'm never going to like fooling with them."  And
as Wade's face went purple with his squalling, she snapped
crossly:  "Give him that sugar-tit in your pocket, Priss.
Anything to make him hush.  I know he's hungry, but I can't do
anything about that now."

Prissy produced the sugar-tit, given her that morning by Mammy,
and the baby's wails subsided.  With quiet restored and with the
new sights that met her eyes, Scarlest's spirits began to rise a
little.  When Uncle Peter finally maneuvered the carriage out of
the mudholes and onto Peachtree Street, she felt the first surge
of interest she had known in months.  How the town had grown!  It
was not much more than a year since she had last been here, and it
did not seem possible that the little Atlanta she knew could have
changed so much.

For the past year, she had been so engrossed in her own woes, so
bored by any mention of war, she did not know that from the minute
the fighting first began, Atlanta had been transformed.  The same
railroads which had made the town the crossroads of commerce in
time of peace were now of vital strategic importance in time of
war.  Far from the battle lines, the town and its railroads
provided the connecting link between the two armies of the
Confederacy, the army in Virginia and the army in Tennessee and
the West.  And Atlanta likewise linked both of the armies with the
deeper South from which they drew their supplies.  Now, in
response to the needs of war, Atlanta had become a manufacturing
center, a hospital base and one of the South's chief depots for
the collecting of food and supplies for the armies in the field.

Scarlett looked about her for the little town she remembered so
well.  It was gone.  The town she was now seeing was like a baby
grown overnight into a busy, sprawling giant.

Atlanta was humming like a beehive, proudly conscious of its
importance to the Confederacy, and work was going forward night
and day toward turning an agricultural section into an industrial
one.  Before the war there had been few cotton factories, woolen
mills, arsenals and machine shops south of Maryland--a fact of
which all Southerners were proud.  The South produced statesmen
and soldiers, planters and doctors, lawyers and poets, but
certainly not engineers or mechanics.  Let the Yankees adopt such
low callings.  But now the Confederate ports were stoppered with
Yankee gunboats, only a trickle of blockade-run goods was slipping
in from Europe, and the South was desperately trying to manufacture
her own war materials.  The North could call on the whole world for
supplies and for soldiers, and thousands of Irish and Germans were
pouring into the Union Army, lured by the bounty money offered by
the North.  The South could only turn in upon itself.

In Atlanta, there were machine factories tediously turning out
machinery to manufacture war materials--tediously, because there
were few machines in the South from which they could model and
nearly every wheel and cog had to be made from drawings that came
through the blockade from England.  There were strange faces on
the streets of Atlanta now, and citizens who a year ago would have
pricked up their ears at the sound of even a Western accent paid
no heed to the foreign tongues of Europeans who had run the
blockade to build machines and turn out Confederate munitions.
Skilled men these, without whom the Confederacy would have been
hard put to make pistols, rifles, cannon and powder.

Almost the pulsing of the town's heart could be felt as the work
went forward night and day, pumping the materials of war up the
railway arteries to the two battle fronts.  Trains roared in and
out of the town at all hours.  Soot from the newly erected
factories fell in showers on the white houses.  By night, the
furnaces glowed and the hammers clanged long after townsfolk were
abed.  Where vacant lots had been a year before, there were now
factories turning out harness, saddles and shoes, ordnance-supply
plants making rifles and cannon, rolling mills and foundries
producing iron rails and freight cars to replace those destroyed
by the Yankees, and a variety of industries manufacturing spurs,
bridle bits, buckles, tents, buttons, pistols and swords.  Already
the foundries were beginning to feel the lack of iron, for little
or none came through the blockade, and the mines in Alabama were
standing almost idle while the miners were at the front.  There
were no iron picket fences, iron summerhouses, iron gates or even
iron statuary on the lawns of Atlanta now, for they had early
found their way into the melting pots of the rolling mills.

Here along Peachtree Street and near-by streets were the
headquarters of the various army departments, each office swarming
with uniformed men, the commissary, the signal corps, the mail
service, the railway transport, the provost marshal.  On the
outskirts of town were the remount depots where horses and mules
milled about in large corrals, and along side streets were the
hospitals.  As Uncle Peter told her about them, Scarlett felt that
Atlanta must be a city of the wounded, for there were general
hospitals, contagious hospitals, convalescent hospitals without
number.  And every day the trains just below Five Points disgorged
more sick and more wounded.

The little town was gone and the face of the rapidly growing city
was animated with never-ceasing energy and bustle.  The sight of
so much hurrying made Scarlett, fresh from rural leisure and
quiet, almost breathless, but she liked it.  There was an exciting
atmosphere about the place that uplifted her.  It was as if she
could actually feel the accelerated steady pulse of the town's
heart beating in time with her own.

As they slowly made their way through the mudholes of the town's
chief street, she noted with interest all the new buildings and
the new faces.  The sidewalks were crowded with men in uniform,
bearing the insignia of all ranks and all service branches; the
narrow street was jammed with vehicles--carriages, buggies,
ambulances, covered army wagons with profane drivers swearing as
the mules struggled through the ruts; gray-clad couriers dashed
spattering through the streets from one headquarters to another,
bearing orders and telegraphic dispatches; convalescents limped
about on crutches, usually with a solicitous lady at either elbow;
bugle and drum and barked orders sounded from the drill fields
where the recruits were being turned into soldiers; and with her
heart in her throat, Scarlett had her first sight of Yankee
uniforms, as Uncle Peter pointed with his whip to a detachment of
dejected-looking bluecoats being shepherded toward the depot by a
squad of Confederates with fixed bayonets, to entrain for the
prison camp.

"Oh," thought Scarlett, with the first feeling of real pleasure
she had experienced since the day of the barbecue, "I'm going to
like it here!  It's so alive and exciting!"

The town was even more alive than she realized, for there were new
barrooms by the dozens; prostitutes, following the army, swarmed
the town and bawdy houses were blossoming with women to the
consternation of the church people.  Every hotel, boarding house
and private residence was crammed with visitors who had come to be
near wounded relatives in the big Atlanta hospitals.  There were
parties and balls and bazaars every week and war weddings without
number, with the grooms on furlough in bright gray and gold braid
and the brides in blockade-run finery, aisles of crossed swords,
toasts drunk in blockaded champagne and tearful farewells.
Nightly the dark tree-lined streets resounded with dancing feet,
and from parlors tinkled pianos where soprano voices blended with
those of soldier guests in the pleasing melancholy of "The Bugles
Sang Truce" and "Your Letter Came, but Came Too Late"--plaintive
ballads that brought exciting tears to soft eyes which had never
known the tears of real grief.

As they progressed down the street, through the sucking mud,
Scarlett bubbled over with questions and Peter answered them,
pointing here and there with his whip, proud to display his
knowledge.

"Dat air de arsenal.  Yas'm, dey keeps guns an' sech lak dar.
No'm, dem air ain' sto's, dey's blockade awfisses.  Law, Miss
Scarlett, doan you know whut blockade awfisses is?  Dey's awfisses
whar furriners stays dat buy us Confedruts' cotton an' ship it
outer Cha'ston and Wilmin'ton an' ship us back gunpowder.  No'm,
Ah ain' sho whut kine of furriners dey is.  Miss Pitty, she say
dey is Inlish but kain nobody unnerstan a' wud dey says.  Yas'm
'tis pow'ful smoky an' de soot jes' ruinin' Miss Pitty's silk
cuttins.  It' frum de foun'ry an' de rollin' mills.  An' de noise
dey meks at night!  Kain nobody sleep.  No'm, Ah kain stop fer you
ter look around.  Ah done promise Miss Pitty Ah bring you straight
home. . . .  Miss Scarlett, mek yo' cu'tsy.  Dar's Miss
Merriwether an' Miss Elsing a-bowin' to you."

Scarlett vaguely remembered two ladies of those names who came
from Atlanta to Tara to attend her wedding and she remembered that
they were Miss Pittypat's best friends.  So she turned quickly
where Uncle Peter pointed and bowed.  The two were sitting in a
carriage outside a drygoods store.  The proprietor and two clerks
stood on the sidewalk with armfuls of bolts of cotton cloth they
had been displaying.  Mrs. Merriwether was a tall, stout woman and
so tightly corseted that her bust jutted forward like the prow of
a ship.  Her iron-gray hair was eked out by a curled false fringe
that was proudly brown and disdained to match the rest of her
hair.  She had a round, highly colored face in which was combined
good-natured shrewdness and the habit of command.  Mrs. Elsing was
younger, a thin frail woman, who had been a beauty, and about her
there still clung a faded freshness, a dainty imperious air.

These two ladies with a third, Mrs. Whiting, were the pillars of
Atlanta.  They ran the three churches to which they belonged, the
clergy, the choirs and the parishioners.  They organized bazaars
and presided over sewing circles, they chaperoned balls and
picnics, they knew who made good matches and who did not, who
drank secretly, who were to have babies and when.  They were
authorities on the genealogies of everyone who was anyone in
Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia and did not bother their
heads about the other states, because they believed that no one
who was anybody ever came from states other than these three.
They knew what was decorous behavior and what was not and they
never failed to make their opinions known--Mrs. Merriwether at the
top of her voice, Mrs. Elsing in an elegant die-away drawl and
Mrs. Whiting in a distressed whisper which showed how much she
hated to speak of such things.  These three ladies disliked and
distrusted one another as heartily as the First Triumvirate of
Rome, and their close alliance was probably for the same reason.

"I told Pitty I had to have you in my hospital," called Mrs.
Merriweather, smiling.  "Don't you go promising Mrs. Meade or Mrs.
Whiting!"

"I won't," said Scarlett, having no idea what Mrs. Merriwether was
talking about but feeling a glow of warmth at being welcomed and
wanted.  "I hope to see you again soon."

The carriage plowed its way farther and halted for a moment to
permit two ladies with baskets of bandages on their arms to pick
precarious passages across the sloppy street on stepping stones.
At the same moment, Scarlett's eye was caught by a figure on the
sidewalk in a brightly colored dress--too bright for street wear--
covered by a Paisley shawl with fringes to the heels.  Turning she
saw a tall handsome woman with a bold face and a mass of red hair,
too red to be true.  It was the first time she had ever seen any
woman who she knew for certain had "done something to her hair"
and she watched her, fascinated.

"Uncle Peter, who is that?" she whispered.

"Ah doan know."

"You do, too.  I can tell.  Who is she?"

"Her name Belle Watling," said Uncle Peter, his lower lip
beginning to protrude.

Scarlett was quick to catch the fact that he had not preceded the
name with "Miss" or "Mrs."

"Who is she?"

"Miss Scarlett," said Peter darkly, laying the whip on the
startled horse, "Miss Pitty ain' gwine ter lak it you astin'
questions dat ain' none of yo' bizness.  Dey's a passel of no-
count folks in dis town now dat it ain' no use talkin' about."

"Good Heavens!" thought Scarlett, reproved into silence.  "That
must be a bad woman!"

She had never seen a bad woman before and she twisted her head and
stared after her until she was lost in the crowd.

The stores and the new war buildings were farther apart now, with
vacant lots between.  Finally the business section fell behind and
the residences came into view.  Scarlett picked them out as old
friends, the Leyden house, dignified and stately; the Bonnells',
with little white columns and green blinds; the close-lipped red-
brick Georgian home of the McLure family, behind its low box
hedges.  Their progress was slower now, for from porches and
gardens and sidewalks ladies called to her.  Some she knew
slightly, others she vaguely remembered, but most of them she knew
not at all.  Pittypat had certainly broadcast her arrival.  Little
Wade had to be held up time and again, so that ladies who ventured
as far through the ooze as their carriage blocks could exclaim
over him.  They all cried to her that she must join their knitting
and sewing circles and their hospital committees, and no one
else's, and she promised recklessly to right and left.

As they passed a rambling green clapboard house, a little black
girl posted on the front steps cried, "Hyah she come," and Dr.
Meade and his wife and little thirteen-year-old Phil emerged,
calling greetings.  Scarlett recalled that they too had been at
her wedding.  Mrs. Meade mounted her carriage block and craned her
neck for a view of the baby, but the doctor, disregarding the mud,
plowed through to the side of the carriage.  He was tall and gaunt
and wore a pointed beard of iron gray, and his clothes hung on his
spare figure as though blown there by a hurricane.  Atlanta
considered him the root of all strength and all wisdom and it was
not strange that he had absorbed something of their belief.  But
for all his habit of making oracular statements and his slightly
pompous manner, he was as kindly a man as the town possessed.

After shaking her hand and prodding Wade in the stomach and
complimenting him, the doctor announced that Aunt Pittypat had
promised on oath that Scarlett should be on no other hospital and
bandage-rolling committee save Mrs. Meade's.

"Oh, dear, but I've promised a thousand ladies already!" said
Scarlett.

"Mrs. Merriwether, I'll be bound!" cried Mrs. Meade indignantly.
"Drat the woman!  I believe she meets every train!"

"I promised because I hadn't a notion what it was all about,"
Scarlett confessed.  "What are hospital committees anyway?"

Both the doctor and his wife looked slightly shocked at her
ignorance.

"But, of course, you've been buried in the country and couldn't
know," Mrs. Meade apologized for her.  "We have nursing committees
for different hospitals and for different days.  We nurse the men
and help the doctors and make bandages and clothes and when the
men are well enough to leave the hospitals we take them into our
homes to convalesce till they are able to go back in the army.
And we look after the wives and families of some of the wounded
who are destitute--yes, worse than destitute.  Dr. Meade is at the
Institute hospital where my committee works, and everyone says
he's marvelous and--"

"There, there, Mrs. Meade," said the doctor fondly.  "Don't go
bragging on me in front of folks.  It's little enough I can do,
since you wouldn't let me go in the army."

"'Wouldn't let!'" she cried indignantly.  "Me?  The town wouldn't
let you and you know it.  Why, Scarlett, when folks heard he was
intending to go to Virginia as an army surgeon, all the ladies
signed a petition begging him to stay here.  Of course, the town
couldn't do without you."

"There, there, Mrs. Meade," said the doctor, basking obviously in
the praise.  "Perhaps with one boy at the front, that's enough for
the time being."

"And I'm going next year!" cried little Phil hopping about
excitedly.  "As a drummer boy.  I'm learning how to drum now.  Do
you want to hear me?  I'll run get my drum."

"No, not now," said Mrs. Meade, drawing him closer to her, a
sudden look of strain coming over her face.  "Not next year,
darling.  Maybe the year after."

"But the war will be over then!" he cried petulantly, pulling away
from her.  "And you promised!"

Over his head the eyes of the parents met and Scarlett saw the
look.  Darcy Meade was in Virginia and they were clinging closer
to the little boy that was left.

Uncle Peter cleared his throat.

"Miss Pitty were in a state when Ah lef' home an' ef Ah doan git
dar soon, she'll done swooned."

"Good-by.  I'll be over this afternoon," called Mrs. Meade.  "And
you tell Pitty for me that if you aren't on my committee, she's
going to be in a worse state."

The carriage slipped and slid down the muddy road and Scarlett
leaned back on the cushions and smiled.  She felt better now than
she had felt in months.  Atlanta, with its crowds and its hurry
and its undercurrent of driving excitement, was very pleasant,
very exhilarating, so very much nicer than the lonely plantation
out from Charleston, where the bellow of alligators broke the
night stillness; better than Charleston itself, dreaming in its
gardens behind its high walls; better than Savannah with its wide
streets lined with palmetto and the muddy river beside it.  Yes,
and temporarily even better than Tara, dear though Tara was.

There was something exciting about this town with its narrow muddy
streets, lying among rolling red hills, something raw and crude
that appealed to the rawness and crudeness underlying the fine
veneer that Ellen and Mammy had given her.  She suddenly felt that
this was where she belonged, not in serene and quiet old cities,
flat beside yellow waters.

The houses were farther and farther apart now, and leaning out
Scarlett saw the red brick and slate roof of Miss Pittypat's
house.  It was almost the last house on the north side of town.
Beyond it, Peachtree road narrowed and twisted under great trees
out of sight into thick quiet woods.  The neat wooden-paneled
fence had been newly painted white and the front yard it inclosed
was yellow starred with the last jonquils of the season.  On the
front steps stood two women in black and behind them a large
yellow woman with her hands under her apron and her white teeth
showing in a wide smile.  Plump Miss Pittypat was teetering
excitedly on tiny feet, one hand pressed to her copious bosom to
still her fluttering heart.  Scarlett saw Melanie standing by her
and, with a surge of dislike, she realized that the fly in the
ointment of Atlanta would be this slight little person in black
mourning dress, her riotous dark curls subdued to matronly
smoothness and a loving smile of welcome and happiness on her
heart-shaped face.



When a Southerner took the trouble to pack a trunk and travel
twenty miles for a visit, the visit was seldom of shorter duration
than a month, usually much longer.  Southerners were as
enthusiastic visitors as they were hosts, and there was nothing
unusual in relatives coming to spend the Christmas holidays and
remaining until July.  Often when newly married couples went on
the usual round of honeymoon visits, they lingered in some
pleasant home until the birth of their second child.  Frequently
elderly aunts and uncles came to Sunday dinner and remained until
they were buried years later.  Visitors presented no problem, for
houses were large, servants numerous and the feeding of several
extra mouths a minor matter in that land of plenty.  All ages and
sexes went visiting, honeymooners, young mothers showing off new
babies, convalescents, the bereaved, girls whose parents were
anxious to remove them from the dangers of unwise matches, girls
who had reached the danger age without becoming engaged and who,
it was hoped, would make suitable matches under the guidance of
relatives in other places.  Visitors added excitement and variety
to the slow-moving Southern life and they were always welcome.

So Scarlett had come to Atlanta with no idea as to how long she
would remain.  If her visit proved as dull as those in Savannah
and Charleston, she would return home in a month.  If her stay was
pleasant, she would remain indefinitely.  But no sooner had she
arrived than Aunt Pitty and Melanie began a campaign to induce her
to make her home permanently with them.  They brought up every
possible argument.  They wanted her for her own self because they
loved her.  They were lonely and often frightened at night in the
big house, and she was so brave she gave them courage.  She was so
charming that she cheered them in their sorrow.  Now that Charles
was dead, her place and her son's place were with his kindred.
Besides, half the house now belonged to her, through Charles'
will.  Last, the Confederacy needed every pair of hands for
sewing, knitting, bandage rolling and nursing the wounded.

Charles' Uncle Henry Hamilton, who lived in bachelor state at the
Atlanta Hotel near the depot, also talked seriously to her on this
subject.  Uncle Henry was a short, pot-bellied, irascible old
gentleman with a pink face, a shock of long silver hair and an
utter lack of patience with feminine timidities and vaporings.  It
was for the latter reason that he was barely on speaking terms
with his sister, Miss Pittypat.  From childhood, they had been
exact opposites in temperament and they had been further estranged
by his objections to the manner in which she had reared Charles--
"Making a damn sissy out of a soldier's son!"  Years before, he
had so insulted her that now Miss Pitty never spoke of him except
in guarded whispers and with so great reticence that a stranger
would have thought the honest old lawyer a murderer, at the least.
The insult had occurred on a day when Pitty wished to draw five
hundred dollars from her estate, of which he was trustee, to
invest in a non-existent gold mine.  He had refused to permit it
and stated heatedly that she had no more sense than a June bug and
furthermore it gave him the fidgets to be around her longer than
five minutes.  Since that day, she only saw him formally, once a
month, when Uncle Peter drove her to his office to get the
housekeeping money.  After these brief visits, Pitty always took
to her bed for the rest of the day with tears and smelling salts.
Melanie and Charles, who were on excellent terms with their uncle,
had frequently offered to relieve her of this ordeal, but Pitty
always set her babyish mouth firmly and refused.  Henry was her
cross and she must bear him.  From this, Charles and Melanie could
only infer that she took a profound pleasure in this occasional
excitement, the only excitement in her sheltered life.

Uncle Henry liked Scarlett immediately because, he said, he could
see that for all her silly affectations she had a few grains of
sense.  He was trustee, not only of Pitty's and Melanie's estates,
but also of that left Scarlett by Charles.  It came to Scarlett as
a pleasant surprise that she was now a well-to-do young woman, for
Charles had not only left her half of Aunt Pitty's house but farm
lands and town property as well.  And the stores and warehouses
along the railroad track near the depot, which were part of her
inheritance, had tripled in value since the war began.  It was
when Uncle Henry was giving her an account of her property that he
broached the matter of her permanent residence in Atlanta.

"When Wade Hampton comes of age, he's going to be a rich young
man," he said.  "The way Atlanta is growing his property will be
ten times more valuable in twenty years, and it's only right that
the boy should be raised where his property is, so he can learn to
take care of it--yes, and of Pitty's and Melanie's, too.  He'll be
the only man of the Hamilton name left before long, for I won't be
here forever."

As for Uncle Peter, he took it for granted that Scarlett had come
to stay.  It was inconceivable to him that Charles' only son
should be reared where he could not supervise the rearing.  To all
these arguments, Scarlett smiled but said nothing, unwilling to
commit herself before learning how she would like Atlanta and
constant association with her in-laws.  She knew, too, that Gerald
and Ellen would have to be won over.  Moreover, now that she was
away from Tara, she missed it dreadfully, missed the red fields
and the springing green cotton and the sweet twilight silences.
For the first time, she realized dimly what Gerald had meant when
he said that the love of the land was in her blood.

So she gracefully evaded, for the time being, a definite answer as
to the duration of her visit and slipped easily into the life of
the red-brick house at the quiet end of Peachtree Street.

Living with Charles' blood kin, seeing the home from which he
came.  Scarlett could now understand a little better the boy who
had made her wife, widow and mother in such rapid succession.  It
was easy to see why he had been so shy, so unsophisticated, so
idealistic.  If Charles had inherited any of the qualities of the
stern, fearless, hot-tempered soldier who had been his father,
they had been obliterated in childhood by the ladylike atmosphere
in which he had been reared.  He had been devoted to the childlike
Pitty and closer than brothers usually are to Melanie, and two
more sweet, unworldly women could not be found.

Aunt Pittypat had been christened Sarah Jane Hamilton sixty years
before, but since the long-past day when her doting father had
fastened his nickname upon her, because of her airy, restless,
pattering little feet, no one had called her anything else.  In
the years that followed that second christening, many changes had
taken place in her that made the pet name incongruous.  Of the
swiftly scampering child, all that now remained were two tiny
feet, inadequate to her weight, and a tendency to prattle happily
and aimlessly.  She was stout, pink-cheeked and silver-haired and
always a little breathless from too tightly laced stays.  She was
unable to walk more than a block on the tiny feet which she
crammed into too small slippers.  She had a heart which fluttered
at any excitement and she pampered it shamelessly, fainting at any
provocation.  Everyone knew that her swoons were generally mere
ladylike pretenses but they loved her enough to refrain from
saying so.  Everyone loved her, spoiled her like a child and
refused to take her seriously--everyone except her brother Henry.

She liked gossip better than anything else in the world, even more
than she liked the pleasures of the table, and she prattled on for
hours about other people's affairs in a harmless kindly way.  She
had no memory for names, dates or places and frequently confused
the actors in one Atlanta drama with the actors in another, which
misled no one for no one was foolish enough to take seriously
anything she said.  No one ever told her anything really shocking
or scandalous, for her spinster state must be protected even if
she was sixty years old, and her friends were in a kindly
conspiracy to keep her a sheltered and petted old child.

Melanie was like her aunt in many ways.  She had her shyness, her
sudden blushes, her modesty, but she did have common sense--"Of a
sort, I'll admit that," Scarlett thought grudgingly.  Like Aunt
Pitty, Melanie had the face of a sheltered child who had never
known anything but simplicity and kindness, truth and love, a
child who had never looked upon harshness or evil and would not
recognize them if she saw them.  Because she had always been
happy, she wanted everyone about her to be happy or, at least,
pleased with themselves.  To this end, she always saw the best in
everyone and remarked kindly upon it.  There was no servant so
stupid that she did not find some redeeming trait of loyalty and
kind-heartedness, no girl so ugly and disagreeable that she could
not discover grace of form or nobility of character in her, and no
man so worthless or so boring that she did not view him in the
light of his possibilities rather than his actualities.

Because of these qualities that came sincerely and spontaneously
from a generous heart, everyone flocked about her, for who can
resist the charm of one who discovers in others admirable
qualities undreamed of even by himself?  She had more girl friends
than anyone in town and more men friends too, though she had few
beaux for she lacked the willfulness and selfishness that go far
toward trapping men's hearts.

What Melanie did was no more than all Southern girls were taught
to do--to make those about them feel at ease and pleased with
themselves.  It was this happy feminine conspiracy which made
Southern society so pleasant.  Women knew that a land where men
were contented, uncontradicted and safe in possession of
unpunctured vanity was likely to be a very pleasant place for
women to live.  So, from the cradle to the grave, women strove to
make men pleased with themselves, and the satisfied men repaid
lavishly with gallantry and adoration.  In fact, men willingly
gave the ladies everything in the world except credit for having
intelligence.  Scarlett exercised the same charms as Melanie but
with a studied artistry and consummate skill.  The difference
between the two girls lay in the fact that Melanie spoke kind and
flattering words from a desire to make people happy, if only
temporarily, and Scarlett never did it except to further her own
aims.

From the two he loved best, Charles had received no toughening
influences, learned nothing of harshness or reality, and the home
in which he grew to manhood was as soft as a bird's nest.  It was
such a quiet, old-fashioned, gentle home compared with Tara.  To
Scarlett, this house cried out for the masculine smells of brandy,
tobacco and Macassar oil, for hoarse voices and occasional curses,
for guns, for whiskers, for saddles and bridles and for hounds
underfoot.  She missed the sounds of quarreling voices that were
always heard at Tara when Ellen's back was turned, Mammy quarreling
with Pork, Rosa and Teena bickering, her own acrimonious arguments
with Suellen, Gerald's bawling threats.  No wonder Charles had been
a sissy, coming from a home like this.  Here, excitement never
entered in, voices were never raised, everyone deferred gently to
the opinions of others, and, in the end, the black grizzled autocrat
in the kitchen had his way.  Scarlett, who had hoped for a freer
rein when she escaped Mammy's supervision, discovered to her sorrow
that Uncle Peter's standards of ladylike conduct, especially for
Mist' Charles' widow, were even stricter than Mammy's.

In such a household, Scarlett came back to herself, and almost
before she realized it her spirits rose to normal.  She was only
seventeen, she had superb health and energy, and Charles' people
did their best to make her happy.  If they fell a little short of
this, it was not their fault, for no one could take out of her
heart the ache that throbbed whenever Ashley's name was mentioned.
And Melanie mentioned it so often!  But Melanie and Pitty were
tireless in planning ways to soothe the sorrow under which they
thought she labored.  They put their own grief into the background
in order to divert her.  They fussed about her food and her hours
for taking afternoon naps and for taking carriage rides.  They not
only admired her extravagantly, her high-spiritedness, her figure,
her tiny hands and feet, her white skin, but they said so
frequently, petting, hugging and kissing her to emphasize their
loving words.

Scarlett did not care for the caresses, but she basked in the
compliments.  No one at Tara had ever said so many charming things
about her.  In fact, Mammy had spent her time deflating her
conceit.  Little Wade was no longer an annoyance, for the family,
black and white, and the neighbors idolized him and there was a
never-ceasing rivalry as to whose lap he should occupy.  Melanie
especially doted on him.  Even in his worst screaming spells,
Melanie thought him adorable and said so, adding, "Oh, you
precious darling!  I just wish you were mine!"

Sometimes Scarlett found it hard to dissemble her feelings, for
she still thought Aunt Pitty the silliest of old ladies and her
vagueness and vaporings irritated her unendurably.  She disliked
Melanie with a jealous dislike that grew as the days went by, and
sometimes she had to leave the room abruptly when Melanie, beaming
with loving pride, spoke of Ashley or read his letters aloud.
But, all in all, life went on as happily as was possible under the
circumstances.  Atlanta was more interesting than Savannah or
Charleston or Tara and it offered so many strange war-time
occupations she had little time to think or mope.  But, sometimes,
when she blew out the candle and burrowed her head into the
pillow, she sighed and thought:  "If only Ashley wasn't married!
If only I didn't have to nurse in that plagued hospital!  Oh, if
only I could have some beaux!"

She had immediately loathed nursing but she could not escape this
duty because she was on both Mrs. Meade's and Mrs. Merriwether's
committees.  That meant four mornings a week in the sweltering,
stinking hospital with her hair tied up in a towel and a hot apron
covering her from neck to feet.  Every matron, old or young, in
Atlanta nursed and did it with an enthusiasm that seemed to
Scarlett little short of fanatic.  They took it for granted that
she was imbued with their own patriotic fervor and would have been
shocked to know how slight an interest in the war she had.  Except
for the ever-present torment that Ashley might be killed, the war
interested her not at all, and nursing was something she did
simply because she didn't know how to get out of it.

Certainly there was nothing romantic about nursing.  To her, it
meant groans, delirium, death and smells.  The hospitals were
filled with dirty, bewhiskered, verminous men who smelled terribly
and bore on their bodies wounds hideous enough to turn a
Christian's stomach.  The hospitals stank of gangrene, the odor
assaulting her nostrils long before the doors were reached, a
sickish sweet smell that clung to her hands and hair and haunted
her in her dreams.  Flies, mosquitoes and gnats hovered in
droning, singing swarms over the wards, tormenting the men to
curses and weak sobs; and Scarlett, scratching her own mosquito
bites, swung palmetto fans until her shoulders ached and she
wished that all the men were dead.

Melanie, however, did not seem to mind the smells, the wounds or
the nakedness, which Scarlett thought strange in one who was the
most timorous and modest of women.  Sometimes when holding basins
and instruments while Dr. Meade cut out gangrened flesh, Melanie
looked very white.  And once, alter such an operation, Scarlett
found her in the linen closet vomiting quietly into a towel.  But
as long as she was where the wounded could see her, she was
gentle, sympathetic and cheerful, and the men in the hospitals
called her an angel of mercy.  Scarlett would have liked that
title too, but it involved touching men crawling with lice,
running fingers down throats of unconscious patients to see if
they were choking on swallowed tobacco quids, bandaging stumps and
picking maggots out of festering flesh.  No, she did not like
nursing!

Perhaps it might have been endurable if she had been permitted to
use her charms on the convalescent men, for many of them were
attractive and well born, but this she could not do in her widowed
state.  The young ladies of the town, who were not permitted to
nurse for fear they would see sights unfit for virgin eyes, had
the convalescent wards in their charge.  Unhampered by matrimony
or widowhood, they made vast inroads on the convalescents, and
even the least attractive girls, Scarlett observed gloomily, had
no difficulty in getting engaged.

With the exception of desperately ill and severely wounded men,
Scarlett's was a completely feminized world and this irked her,
for she neither liked nor trusted her own sex and, worse still,
was always bored by it.  But on three afternoons a week she had to
attend sewing circles and bandage-rolling committees of Melanie's
friends.  The girls who had all known Charles were very kind and
attentive to her at these gatherings, especially Fanny Elsing and
Maybelle Merriwether, the daughters of the town dowagers.  But
they treated her deferentially, as if she were old and finished,
and their constant chatter of dances and beaux made her both
envious of their pleasures and resentful that her widowhood barred
her from such activities.  Why, she was three times as attractive
as Fanny and Maybelle!  Oh, how unfair life was!  How unfair that
everyone should think her heart was in the grave when it wasn't at
all!  It was in Virginia with Ashley!

But in spite of these discomforts, Atlanta pleased her very well.
And her visit lengthened as the weeks slipped by.



CHAPTER IX


Scarlett sat in the window of her bedroom that midsummer morning
and disconsolately watched the wagons and carriages full of girls,
soldiers and chaperons ride gaily out Peachtree road in search of
woodland decorations for the bazaar which was to be held that
evening for the benefit of the hospitals.  The red road lay
checkered in shade and sun glare beneath the over-arching trees
and the many hooves kicked up little red clouds of dust.  One
wagon, ahead of the others, bore four stout negroes with axes to
cut evergreens and drag down the vines, and the back of this wagon
was piled high with napkin-covered hampers, split-oak baskets of
lunch and a dozen watermelons.  Two of the black bucks were
equipped with banjo and harmonica and they were rendering a
spirited version of "If You Want to Have a Good Time, Jine the
Cavalry."  Behind them streamed the merry cavalcade, girls cool in
flowered cotton dresses, with light shawls, bonnets and mitts to
protect their skins and little parasols held over their heads;
elderly ladies placid and smiling amid the laughter and carriage-
to-carriage calls and jokes; convalescents from the hospitals
wedged in between stout chaperons and slender girls who made great
fuss and to-do over them; officers on horseback idling at snail's
pace beside the carriages--wheels creaking, spurs jingling, gold
braid gleaming, parasols bobbing, fans swishing, negroes singing.
Everybody was riding out Peachtree road to gather greenery and
have a picnic and melon cutting.  Everybody, thought Scarlett,
morosely, except me.

They all waved and called to her as they went by and she tried to
respond with a good grace, but it was difficult.  A hard little
pain had started in her heart and was traveling slowly up toward
her throat where it would become a lump and the lump would soon
become tears.  Everybody was going to the picnic except her.  And
everybody was going to the bazaar and the ball tonight except her.
That is everybody except her and Pittypat and Melly and the other
unfortunates in town who were in mourning.  But Melly and Pittypat
did not seem to mind.  It had not even occurred to them to want to
go.  It had occurred to Scarlett.  And she did want to go,
tremendously.

It simply wasn't fair.  She had worked twice as hard as any girl
in town, getting things ready for the bazaar.  She had knitted
socks and baby caps and afghans and mufflers and tatted yards of
lace and painted china hair receivers and mustache cups.  And she
had embroidered half a dozen sofa-pillow cases with the
Confederate flag on them.  (The stars were a bit lopsided, to be
sure, some of them being almost round and others having six or
even seven points, but the effect was good.)  Yesterday she had
worked until she was worn out in the dusty old barn of an Armory
draping yellow and pink and green cheesecloth on the booths that
lined the walls.  Under the supervision of the Ladies' Hospital
Committee, this was plain hard work and no fun at all.  It was
never fun to be around Mrs. Merriwether and Mrs. Elsing and Mrs.
Whiting and have them boss you like you were one of the darkies.
And have to listen to them brag about how popular their daughters
were.  And, worst of all, she had burned two blisters on her
fingers helping Pittypat and Cookie make layer cakes for raffling.

And now, having worked like a field hand, she had to retire
decorously when the fun was just beginning.  Oh, it wasn't fair
that she should have a dead husband and a baby yelling in the next
room and be out of everything that was pleasant.  Just a little
over a year ago, she was dancing and wearing bright clothes
instead of this dark mourning and was practically engaged to three
boys.  She was only seventeen now and there was still a lot of
dancing left in her feet.  Oh, it wasn't fair!  Life was going
past her, down a hot shady summer road, life with gray uniforms
and jingling spurs and flowered organdie dresses and banjos
playing.  She tried not to smile and wave too enthusiastically to
the men she knew best, the ones she'd nursed in the hospital, but
it was hard to subdue her dimples, hard to look as though her
heart were in the grave--when it wasn't.

Her bowing and waving were abruptly halted when Pittypat entered
the room, panting as usual from climbing the stairs, and jerked
her away from the window unceremoniously.

"Have you lost your mind, honey, waving at men out of your bedroom
window?  I declare, Scarlett, I'm shocked!  What would your mother
say?"

"Well, they didn't know it was my bedroom."

"But they'd suspect it was your bedroom and that's just as bad.
Honey, you mustn't do things like that.  Everybody will be talking
about you and saying you are fast--and anyway, Mrs. Merriwether
knew it was your bedroom."

"And I suppose she'll tell all the boys, the old cat."

"Honey, hush!  Dolly Merriwether's my best friend."

"Well, she's a cat just the same--oh, I'm sorry, Auntie, don't
cry!  I forgot it was my bedroom window.  I won't do it again--I--
I just wanted to see them go by.  I wish I was going."

"Honey!"

"Well, I do.  I'm so tired of sitting at home."

"Scarlett, promise me you won't say things like that.  People
would talk so.  They'd say you didn't have the proper respect for
poor Charlie--"

"Oh, Auntie, don't cry!"

"Oh, now I've made you cry, too," sobbed Pittypat, in a pleased
way, fumbling in her skirt pocket for her handkerchief.

The hard little pain had at last reached Scarlett's throat and she
wailed out loud--not, as Pittypat thought, for poor Charlie but
because the last sounds of the wheels and the laughter were dying
away.  Melanie rustled in from her room, a worried frown puckering
her forehead, a brush in her hands, her usually tidy black hair,
freed of its net, fluffing about her face in a mass of tiny curls
and waves.

"Darlings!  What is the matter?"

"Charlie!" sobbed Pittypat, surrendering utterly to the pleasure
of her grief and burying her head on Melly's shoulder.

"Oh," said Melly, her lip quivering at the mention of her
brother's name.  "Be brave, dear.  Don't cry.  Oh, Scarlett!"

Scarlett had thrown herself on the bed and was sobbing at the top
of her voice, sobbing for her lost youth and the pleasures of
youth that were denied her, sobbing with the indignation and
despair of a child who once could get anything she wanted by
sobbing and now knows that sobbing can no longer help her.  She
burrowed her head in the pillow and cried and kicked her feet at
the tufted counterpane.

"I might as well be dead!" she sobbed passionately.  Before such
an exhibition of grief, Pittypat's easy tears ceased and Melly
flew to the bedside to comfort her sister-in-law.

"Dear, don't cry!  Try to think how much Charlie loved you and let
that comfort you!  Try to think of your darling baby."

Indignation at being misunderstood mingled with Scarlett's forlorn
feeling of being out of everything and strangled all utterance.
That was fortunate, for if she could have spoken she would have
cried out truths couched in Gerald's forthright words.  Melanie
patted her shoulder and Pittypat tiptoed heavily about the room
pulling down the shades.

"Don't do that!" shouted Scarlett, raising a red and swollen face
from the pillow.  "I'm not dead enough for you to pull down the
shades--though I might as well be.  Oh, do go away and leave me
alone!"

She sank her face into the pillow again and, after a whispered
conference, the two standing over her tiptoed out.  She heard
Melanie say to Pittypat in a low voice as they went down the
stairs:

"Aunt Pitty, I wish you wouldn't speak of Charles to her.  You
know how it always affects her.  Poor thing, she gets that queer
look and I know she's trying not to cry.  We mustn't make it
harder for her."

Scarlett kicked the coverlet in impotent rage, trying to think of
something bad enough to say.

"God's nightgown!" she cried at last, and felt somewhat relieved.
How could Melanie be content to stay at home and never have any
fun and wear crepe for her brother when she was only eighteen
years old?  Melanie did not seem to know, or care, that life was
riding by with jingling spurs.

"But she's such a stick," thought Scarlett, pounding the pillow.
"And she never was popular like me, so she doesn't miss the things
I miss.  And--and besides she's got Ashley and I--I haven't got
anybody!"  And at this fresh woe, she broke into renewed outcries.

She remained gloomily in her room until afternoon and then the
sight of the returning picnickers with wagons piled high with pine
boughs, vines and ferns did not cheer her.  Everyone looked
happily tired as they waved to her again and she returned their
greetings drearily.  Life was a hopeless affair and certainly not
worth living.

Deliverance came in the form she least expected when, during the
after-dinner-nap period, Mrs. Merriwether and Mrs. Elsing drove
up.  Startled at having callers at such an hour, Melanie, Scarlett
and Aunt Pittypat roused themselves, hastily hooked their basques,
smoothed their hair and descended to the parlor.

"Mrs. Bonnell's children have the measles," said Mrs. Merriwether
abruptly, showing plainly that she held Mrs. Bonnell personally
responsible for permitting such a thing to happen.

"And the McLure girls have been called to Virginia," said Mrs.
Elsing in her die-away voice, fanning herself languidly as if
neither this nor anything else mattered very much.  "Dallas McLure
is wounded."

"How dreadful!" chorused their hostesses.  "Is poor Dallas--"

"No.  Just through the shoulder," said Mrs. Merriwether briskly.
"But it couldn't possibly have happened at a worse time.  The
girls are going North to bring him home.  But, skies above, we
haven't time to sit here talking.  We must hurry back to the
Armory and get the decorating done.  Pitty, we need you and Melly
tonight to take Mrs. Bonnell's and the McLure girls' places."

"Oh, but, Dolly, we can't go."

"Don't say 'can't' to me, Pittypat Hamilton," said Mrs.
Merriwether vigorously.  "We need you to watch the darkies with
the refreshments.  That was what Mrs. Bonnell was to do.  And
Melly, you must take the McLure girls' booth."

"Oh, we just couldn't--with poor Charlie dead only a--"

"I know how you feel but there isn't any sacrifice too great for
the Cause," broke in Mrs. Elsing in a soft voice that settled
matters.

"Oh, we'd love to help but--why can't you get some sweet pretty
girls to take the booths?"

Mrs. Merriwether snorted a trumpeting snort.

"I don't know what's come over the young people these days.  They
have no sense of responsibility.  All the girls who haven't
already taken booths have more excuses than you could shake a
stick at.  Oh, they don't fool me!  They just don't want to be
hampered in making up to the officers, that's all.  And they're
afraid their new dresses won't show off behind booth counters.  I
wish to goodness that blockade runner--what's his name?"

"Captain Butler," supplied Mrs. Elsing.

"I wish he'd bring in more hospital supplies and less hoop skirts
and lace.  If I've had to look at one dress today I've had to look
at twenty dresses that he ran in.  Captain Butler--I'm sick of the
name.  Now, Pitty, I haven't time to argue.  You must come.
Everybody will understand.  Nobody will see you in the back room
anyway, and Melly won't be conspicuous.  The poor McLure girls'
booth is way down at the end and not very pretty so nobody will
notice you."

"I think we should go," said Scarlett, trying to curb her
eagerness and to keep her face earnest and simple.  "It is the
least we can do for the hospital."

Neither of the visiting ladies had even mentioned her name, and
they turned and looked sharply at her.  Even in their extremity,
they had not considered asking a widow of scarcely a year to
appear at a social function.  Scarlett bore their gaze with a
wide-eyed childlike expression.

"I think we should go and help to make it a success, all of us.  I
think I should go in the booth with Melly because--well, I think
it would look better for us both to be there instead of just one.
Don't you think so, Melly?"

"Well," began Melly helplessly.  The idea of appearing publicly at
a social gathering while in mourning was so unheard of she was
bewildered.

"Scarlett's right," said Mrs. Merriwether, observing signs of
weakening.  She rose and jerked her hoops into place.  "Both of
you--all of you must come.  Now, Pitty, don't start your excuses
again.  Just think how much the hospital needs money for new beds
and drugs.  And I know Charlie would like you to help the Cause he
died for."

"Well," said Pittypat, helpless as always in the presence of a
stronger personality, "if you think people will understand."

"Too good to be true!  Too good to be true!" said Scarlett's joyful
heart as she slipped unobtrusively into the pink-and-yellow-draped
booth that was to have been the McLure girls'.  Actually she was
at a party!  After a year's seclusion, after crepe and hushed voices
and nearly going crazy with boredom, she was actually at a party,
the biggest party Atlanta had ever seen.  And she could see people
and many lights and hear music and view for herself the lovely laces
and frocks and frills that the famous Captain Butler had run through
the blockade on his last trip.

She sank down on one of the little stools behind the counter of
the booth and looked up and down the long hall which, until this
afternoon, had been a bare and ugly drill room.  How the ladies
must have worked today to bring it to its present beauty.  It
looked lovely.  Every candle and candlestick in Atlanta must be in
this hall tonight, she thought, silver ones with a dozen
sprangling arms, china ones with charming figurines clustering
their bases, old brass stands, erect and dignified, laden with
candles of all sizes and colors, smelling fragrantly of
bayberries, standing on the gun racks that ran the length of the
hall, on the long flower-decked tables, on booth counters, even on
the sills of the open windows where the draughts of warm summer
air were just strong enough to make them flare.

In the center of the hall the huge ugly lamp, hanging from the
ceiling by rusty chains, was completely transformed by twining ivy
and wild grapevines that were already withering from the heat.
The walls were banked with pine branches that gave out a spicy
smell, making the corners of the room into pretty bowers where the
chaperons and old ladies would sit.  Long graceful ropes of ivy
and grapevine and smilax were hung everywhere, in looping festoons
on the walls, draped above the windows, twined in scallops all
over the brightly colored cheesecloth booths.  And everywhere amid
the greenery, on flags and bunting, blazed the bright stars of the
Confederacy on their background of red and blue.

The raised platform for the musicians was especially artistic.  It
was completely hidden from view by the banked greenery and starry
bunting and Scarlett knew that every potted and tubbed plant in
town was there, coleus, geranium, hydrangea, oleander, elephant
ear--even Mrs. Elsing's four treasured rubber plants, which were
given posts of honor at the four corners.

At the other end of the hall from the platform, the ladies had
eclipsed themselves.  On this wall hung large pictures of
President Davis and Georgia's own "Little Alec" Stephens, Vice-
President of the Confederacy.  Above them was an enormous flag
and, beneath, on long tables was the loot of the gardens of the
town, ferns, banks of roses, crimson and yellow and white, proud
sheaths of golden gladioli, masses of varicolored nasturtiums,
tall stiff hollyhocks rearing deep maroon and creamy heads above
the other flowers.  Among them, candles burned serenely like altar
fires.  The two faces looked down on the scene, two faces as
different as could be possible in two men at the helm of so
momentous an undertaking: Davis with the flat cheeks and cold eyes
of an ascetic, his thin proud lips set firmly; Stephens with dark
burning eyes deep socketed in a face that had known nothing but
sickness and pain and had triumphed over them with humor and with
fire--two faces that were greatly loved.

The elderly ladies of the committee in whose hands rested the
responsibility for the whole bazaar rustled in as importantly as
full-rigged ships, hurried the belated young matrons and giggling
girls into their booths, and then swept through the doors into the
back rooms where the refreshments were being laid out.  Aunt Pitty
panted out after them.

The musicians clambered upon their platform, black, grinning,
their fat cheeks already shining with perspiration, and began
tuning their fiddles and sawing and whanging with their bows in
anticipatory importance.  Old Levi, Mrs. Merriwether's coachman,
who had led the orchestras for every bazaar, ball and wedding
since Atlanta was named Marthasville, rapped with his bow for
attention.  Few except the ladies who were conducting the bazaar
had arrived yet, but all eyes turned toward him.  Then the
fiddles, bull fiddles, accordions, banjos and knuckle-bones broke
into a slow rendition of "Lorena"--too slow for dancing, the
dancing would come later when the booths were emptied of their
wares.  Scarlett felt her heart beat faster as the sweet
melancholy of the waltz came to her:


"The years creep slowly by, Lorena!
The snow is on the grass again.
The sun's far down the sky, Lorena . . ."


One-two-three, one-two-three, dip-sway--three, turn--two-three.
What a beautiful waltz!  She extended her hands slightly, closed
her eyes and swayed with the sad haunting rhythm.  There was
something about the tragic melody and Lorena's lost love that
mingled with her own excitement and brought a lump into her
throat.

Then, as if brought into being by the waltz music, sounds floated
in from the shadowy moonlit street below, the trample of horses'
hooves and the sound of carriage wheels, laughter on the warm
sweet air and the soft acrimony of negro voices raised in argument
over hitching places for the horses.  There was confusion on the
stairs and light-hearted merriment, the mingling of girls' fresh
voices with the bass notes of their escorts, airy cries of
greeting and squeals of joy as girls recognized friends from whom
they had parted only that afternoon.

Suddenly the hall burst into life.  It was full of girls, girls
who floated in butterfly bright dresses, hooped out enormously,
lace pantalets peeping from beneath; round little white shoulders
bare, and faintest traces of soft little bosoms showing above lace
flounces; lace shawls carelessly hanging from arms; fans spangled
and painted, fans of swan's-down and peacock feathers, dangling at
wrists by tiny velvet ribbons; girls with masses of golden curls
about their necks and fringed gold earbobs that tossed and danced
with their dancing curls.  Laces and silks and braid and ribbons,
all blockade run, all the more precious and more proudly worn
because of it, finery flaunted with an added pride as an extra
affront to the Yankees.

Not all the flowers of the town were standing in tribute to the
leaders of the Confederacy.  The smallest, the most fragrant
blossoms bedecked the girls.  Tea roses tucked behind pink ears,
cape jessamine and bud roses in round little garlands over
cascades of side curls, blossoms thrust demurely into satin
sashes, flowers that before the night was over would find their
way into the breast pockets of gray uniforms as treasured
souvenirs.

There were so many uniforms in the crowd--so many uniforms on so
many men whom Scarlett knew, men she had met on hospital cots, on
the streets, at the drill ground.  They were such resplendent
uniforms, brave with shining buttons and dazzling with twined gold
braid on cuffs and collars, the red and yellow and blue stripes on
the trousers, for the different branches of the service, setting
off the gray to perfection.  Scarlet and gold sashes swung to and
fro, sabers glittered and banged against shining boots, spurs
rattled and jingled.

Such handsome men, thought Scarlett, with a swell of pride in her
heart, as the men called greetings, waved to friends, bent low
over the hands of elderly ladies.  All of them were so young
looking, even with their sweeping yellow mustaches and full black
and brown beards, so handsome, so reckless, with their arms in
slings, with head bandages startlingly white across sun-browned
faces.  Some of them were on crutches and how proud were the girls
who solicitously slowed their steps to their escorts' hopping
pace!  There was one gaudy splash of color among the uniforms that
put the girls' bright finery to shame and stood out in the crowd
like a tropical bird--a Louisiana Zouave, with baggy blue and
white striped pants, cream gaiters and tight little red jacket, a
dark, grinning little monkey of a man, with his arm in a black
silk sling.  He was Maybelle Merriwether's especial beau, Rene
Picard.  The whole hospital must have turned out, at least
everybody who could walk, and all the men on furlough and sick
leave and all the railroad and mail service and hospital and
commissary departments between here and Macon.  How pleased the
ladies would be!  The hospital should make a mint of money
tonight.

There was a ruffle of drums from the street below, the tramp of
feet, the admiring cries of coachmen.  A bugle blared and a bass
voice shouted the command to break ranks.  In a moment, the Home
Guard and the militia unit in their bright uniforms shook the
narrow stairs and crowded into the room, bowing, saluting, shaking
hands.  There were boys in the Home Guard, proud to be playing at
war, promising themselves they would be in Virginia this time next
year, if the war would just last that long; old men with white
beards, wishing they were younger, proud to march in uniform in
the reflected glory of sons at the front.  In the militia, there
were many middle-aged men and some older men but there was a fair
sprinkling of men of military age who did not carry themselves
quite so jauntily as their elders or their juniors.  Already
people were beginning to whisper, asking why they were not with
Lee.

How would they all get into the hall!  It had seemed such a large
place a few minutes before, and now it was packed, warm with
summer-night odors of sachet and cologne water and hair pomade and
burning bayberry candles, fragrant with flowers, faintly dusty as
many feet trod the old drill floors.  The din and hubbub of voices
made it almost impossible to hear anything and, as if feeling the
joy and excitement of the occasion, old Levi choked off "Lorena"
in mid-bar, rapped sharply with his bow and, sawing away for dear
life, the orchestra burst into "Bonnie Blue Flag."

A hundred voices took it up, sang it, shouted it like a cheer.
The Home Guard bugler, climbing onto the platform, caught up with
the music just as the chorus began, and the high silver notes
soared out thrillingly above the massed singing, causing goose
bumps to break out on bare arms and cold chills of deeply felt
emotion to fly down spines:


"Hurrah!  Hurrah!  For the Southern Rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star!"


They crashed into the second verse and Scarlett, singing with the
rest, heard the high sweet soprano of Melanie mounting behind her,
clear and true and thrilling as the bugle notes.  Turning, she saw
that Melly was standing with her hands clasped to her breast, her
eyes closed, and tiny tears oozing from the corners.  She smiled
at Scarlett, whimsically, as the music ended, making a little moue
of apology as she dabbed with her handkerchief.

"I'm so happy," she whispered, "and so proud of the soldiers that
I just can't help crying about it."

There was a deep, almost fanatic glow in her eyes that for a
moment lit up her plain little face and made it beautiful.

The same look was on the faces of all the women as the song ended,
tears of pride on cheeks, pink or wrinkled, smiles on lips, a deep
hot glow in eyes, as they turned to their men, sweetheart to
lover, mother to son, wife to husband.  They were all beautiful
with the blinding beauty that transfigures even the plainest woman
when she is utterly protected and utterly loved and is giving back
that love a thousandfold.

They loved their men, they believed in them, they trusted them to
the last breaths of their bodies.  How could disaster ever come to
women such as they when their stalwart gray line stood between
them and the Yankees?  Had there ever been such men as these since
the first dawn of the world, so heroic, so reckless, so gallant,
so tender?  How could anything but overwhelming victory come to a
Cause as just and right as theirs?  A Cause they loved as much as
they loved their men, a Cause they served with their hands and
their hearts, a Cause they talked about, thought about, dreamed
about--a Cause to which they would sacrifice these men if need be,
and bear their loss as proudly as the men bore their battle flags.

It was high tide of devotion and pride in their hearts, high tide
of the Confederacy, for final victory was at hand.  Stonewall
Jackson's triumphs in the Valley and the defeat of the Yankees in
the Seven Days' Battle around Richmond showed that clearly.  How
could it be otherwise with such leaders as Lee and Jackson?  One
more victory and the Yankees would be on their knees yelling for
peace and the men would be riding home and there would be kissing
and laughter.  One more victory and the war was over!

Of course, there were empty chairs and babies who would never see
their fathers' faces and unmarked graves by lonely Virginia creeks
and in the still mountains of Tennessee, but was that too great a
price to pay for such a Cause?  Silks for the ladies and tea and
sugar were hard to get, but that was something to joke about.
Besides, the dashing blockade runners were bringing in these very
things under the Yankees' disgruntled noses, and that made the
possession of them many times more thrilling.  Soon Raphael Semmes
and the Confederate Navy would tend to those Yankee gunboats and
the ports would be wide open.  And England was coming in to help
the Confederacy win the war, because the English mills were
standing idle for want of Southern cotton.  And naturally the
British aristocracy sympathized with the Confederacy, as one
aristocrat with another, against a race of dollar lovers like the
Yankees.

So the women swished their silks and laughed and, looking on their
men with hearts bursting with pride, they knew that love snatched
in the face of danger and death was doubly sweet for the strange
excitement that went with it.

When first she looked at the crowd, Scarlett's heart had thump-
thumped with the unaccustomed excitement of being at a party, but
as she half-comprehendingly saw the high-hearted look on the faces
about her, her joy began to evaporate.  Every woman present was
blazing with an emotion she did not feel.  It bewildered and
depressed her.  Somehow, the ball did not seem so pretty nor the
girls so dashing, and the white heat of devotion to the Cause that
was still shining on every face seemed--why, it just seemed silly!

In a sudden flash of self-knowledge that made her mouth pop open
with astonishment, she realized that she did not share with these
women their fierce pride, their desire to sacrifice themselves and
everything they had for the Cause.  Before horror made her think:
"No--no!  I mustn't think such things!  They're wrong--sinful,"
she knew the Cause meant nothing at all to her and that she was
bored with hearing other people talk about it with that fanatic
look in their eyes.  The Cause didn't seem sacred to her.  The war
didn't seem to be a holy affair, but a nuisance that killed men
senselessly and cost money and made luxuries hard to get.  She saw
that she was tired of the endless knitting and the endless bandage
rolling and lint picking that roughened the cuticle of her nails.
And oh, she was so tired of the hospital!  Tired and bored and
nauseated with the sickening gangrene smells and the endless
moaning, frightened by the look that coming death gave to sunken
faces.

She looked furtively around her, as the treacherous, blasphemous
thoughts rushed through her mind, fearful that someone might find
them written clearly upon her face.  Oh, why couldn't she feel
like those other women!  They were whole hearted and sincere in
their devotion to the Cause.  They really meant everything they
said and did.  And if anyone should ever suspect that she--  No,
no one must ever know!  She must go on making a pretense of
enthusiasm and pride in the Cause which she could not feel, acting
out her part of the widow of a Confederate officer who bears her
grief bravely, whose heart is in the grave, who feels that her
husband's death meant nothing if it aided the Cause to triumph.

Oh, why was she different, apart from these loving women?  She
could never love anything or anyone so selflessly as they did.
What a lonely feeling it was--and she had never been lonely either
in body or spirit before.  At first she tried to stifle the
thoughts, but the hard self-honesty that lay at the base of her
nature would not permit it.  And so, while the bazaar went on,
while she and Melanie waited on the customers who came to their
booth, her mind was busily working, trying to justify herself to
herself--a task which she seldom found difficult.

The other women were simply silly and hysterical with their talk
of patriotism and the Cause, and the men were almost as bad with
their talk of vital issues and States' Rights.  She, Scarlett
O'Hara Hamilton, alone had good hard-headed Irish sense.  She
wasn't going to make a fool out of herself about the Cause, but
neither was she going to make a fool out of herself by admitting
her true feelings.  She was hard-headed enough to be practical
about the situation, and no one would ever know how she felt.  How
surprised the bazaar would be if they knew what she really was
thinking!  How shocked if she suddenly climbed on the bandstand
and declared that she thought the war ought to stop, so everybody
could go home and tend to their cotton and there could be parties
and beaux again and plenty of pale green dresses.

For a moment, her self-justification buoyed her up but still she
looked about the hall with distaste.  The McLure girls' booth was
inconspicuous, as Mrs. Merriwether had said, and there were long
intervals when no one came to their corner and Scarlett had
nothing to do but look enviously on the happy throng.  Melanie
sensed her moodiness but, crediting it to longing for Charlie, did
not try to engage her in conversation.  She busied herself
arranging the articles in the booth in more attractive display,
while Scarlett sat and looked glumly around the room.  Even the
banked flowers below the pictures of Mr. Davis and Mr. Stephens
displeased her.

"It looks like an altar," she sniffed.  "And the way they all
carry on about those two, they might as well be the Father and the
Son!"  Then smitten with sudden fright at her irreverence she
began hastily to cross herself by way of apology but caught
herself in time.

"Well, it's true," she argued with her conscience.  "Everybody
carries on like they were holy and they aren't anything but men,
and mighty unattractive looking ones at that."

Of course, Mr. Stephens couldn't help how he looked for he had
been an invalid all his life, but Mr. Davis--  She looked up at
the cameo clean, proud face.  It was his goatee that annoyed her
the most.  Men should either be clean shaven, mustached or wear
full beards.

"That little wisp looks like it was just the best he could do,"
she thought, not seeing in his face the cold hard intelligence
that was carrying the weight of a new nation.

No, she was not happy now, and at first she had been radiant with
the pleasure of being in a crowd.  Now just being present was not
enough.  She was at the bazaar but not a part of it.  No one paid
her any attention and she was the only young unmarried woman
present who did not have a beau.  And all her life she had enjoyed
the center of the stage.  It wasn't fair!  She was seventeen years
old and her feet were patting the floor, wanting to skip and
dance.  She was seventeen years old and she had a husband lying at
Oakland Cemetery and a baby in his cradle at Aunt Pittypat's and
everyone thought she should be content with her lot.  She had a
whiter bosom and a smaller waist and a tinier foot than any girl
present, but for all they mattered she might just as well be lying
beside Charles with "Beloved Wife of" carved over her.

She wasn't a girl who could dance and flirt and she wasn't a wife
who could sit with other wives and criticize the dancing and
flirting girls.  And she wasn't old enough to be a widow.  Widows
should be old--so terribly old they didn't want to dance and flirt
and be admired.  Oh, it wasn't fair that she should have to sit
here primly and be the acme of widowed dignity and propriety when
she was only seventeen.  It wasn't fair that she must keep her
voice low and her eyes cast modestly down, when men, attractive
ones, too, came to their booth.

Every girl in Atlanta was three deep in men.  Even the plainest
girls were carrying on like belles--and, oh, worst of all, they
were carrying on in such lovely, lovely dresses!

Here she sat like a crow with hot black taffeta to her wrists and
buttoned up to her chin, with not even a hint of lace or braid,
not a jewel except Ellen's onyx mourning brooch, watching tacky-
looking girls hanging on the arms of good-looking men.  All
because Charles Hamilton had had the measles.  He didn't even die
in a fine glow of gallantry in battle, so she could brag about
him.

Rebelliously she leaned her elbows on the counter and looked at
the crowd, flouting Mammy's oft-repeated admonition against
leaning on elbows and making them ugly and wrinkled.  What did it
matter if they did get ugly?  She'd probably never get a chance to
show them again.  She looked hungrily at the frocks floating by,
butter-yellow watered silks with garlands of rosebuds; pink satins
with eighteen flounces edged with tiny black velvet ribbons; baby
blue taffeta, ten yards in the skirt and foamy with cascading
lace; exposed bosoms; seductive flowers.  Maybelle Merriwether
went toward the next booth on the arm of the Zouave, in an apple-
green tarlatan so wide that it reduced her waist to nothingness.
It was showered and flounced with cream-colored Chantilly lace
that had come from Charleston on the last blockader, and Maybelle
was flaunting it as saucily as if she and not the famous Captain
Butler had run the blockade.

"How sweet I'd look in that dress," thought Scarlett, a savage
envy in her heart.  "Her waist is as big as a cow's.  That green
is just my color and it would make my eyes look--  Why will
blondes try to wear that color?  Her skin looks as green as an old
cheese.  And to think I'll never wear that color again, not even
when I do get out of mourning.  No, not even if I do manage to get
married again.  Then I'll have to wear tacky old grays and tans
and lilacs."

For a brief moment she considered the unfairness of it all.  How
short was the time for fun, for pretty clothes, for dancing, for
coquetting!  Only a few, too few years!  Then you married and wore
dull-colored dresses and had babies that ruined your waist line
and sat in corners at dances with other sober matrons and only
emerged to dance with your husband or with old gentlemen who
stepped on your feet.  If you didn't do these things, the other
matrons talked about you and then your reputation was ruined and
your family disgraced.  It seemed such a terrible waste to spend
all your little girlhood learning how to be attractive and how to
catch men and then only use the knowledge for a year or two.  When
she considered her training at the hands of Ellen and Mammy, she
knew it had been thorough and good because it had always reaped
results.  There were set rules to be followed, and if you followed
them success crowned your efforts.

With old ladies you were sweet and guileless and appeared as
simple minded as possible, for old ladies were sharp and they
watched girls as jealously as cats, ready to pounce on any
indiscretion of tongue or eye.  With old gentlemen, a girl was
pert and saucy and almost, but not quite, flirtatious, so that the
old fools' vanities would be tickled.  It made them feel devilish
and young and they pinched your cheek and declared you were a
minx.  And, of course, you always blushed on such occasions,
otherwise they would pinch you with more pleasure than was proper
and then tell their sons that you were fast.

With young girls and young married women, you slopped over with
sugar and kissed them every time you met them, even if it was ten
times a day.  And you put your arms about their waists and
suffered them to do the same to you, no matter how much you
disliked it.  You admired their frocks or their babies
indiscriminately and teased about beaux and complimented husbands
and giggled modestly and denied that you had any charms at all
compared with theirs.  And, above all, you never said what you
really thought about anything, any more than they said what they
really thought.

Other women's husbands you let severely alone, even if they were
your own discarded beaux, and no matter how temptingly attractive
they were.  If you were too nice to young husbands, their wives
said you were fast and you got a bad reputation and never caught
any beaux of your own.

But with young bachelors--ah, that was a different matter!  You
could laugh softly at them and when they came flying to see why
you laughed, you could refuse to tell them and laugh harder and
keep them around indefinitely trying to find out.  You could
promise, with your eyes, any number of exciting things that would
make a man maneuver to get you alone.  And, having gotten you
alone, you could be very, very hurt or very, very angry when he
tried to kiss you.  You could make him apologize for being a cur
and forgive him so sweetly that he would hang around trying to
kiss you a second time.  Sometimes, but not often, you did let him
kiss you.  (Ellen and Mammy had not taught her that but she
learned it was effective.)  Then you cried and declared you didn't
know what had come over you and that he couldn't ever respect you
again.  Then he had to dry your eyes and usually he proposed, to
show just how much he did respect you.  And then there were--  Oh,
there were so many things to do to bachelors and she knew them
all, the nuance of the sidelong glance, the half-smile behind the
fan, the swaying of the hips so that skirts swung like a bell, the
tears, the laughter, the flattery, the sweet sympathy.  Oh, all
the tricks that never failed to work--except with Ashley.

No, it didn't seem right to learn all these smart tricks, use them
so briefly and then put them away forever.  How wonderful it would
be never to marry but to go on being lovely in pale green dresses
and forever courted by handsome men.  But, if you went on too
long, you got to be an old maid like India Wilkes and everyone
said "poor thing" in that smug hateful way.  No, after all it was
better to marry and keep your self-respect even if you never had
any more fun.

Oh, what a mess life was!  Why had she been such an idiot as to
marry Charles of all people and have her life end at sixteen?

Her indignant and hopeless reverie was broken when the crowd began
pushing back against the walls, the ladies carefully holding their
hoops so that no careless contact should turn them up against
their bodies and show more pantalets than was proper.  Scarlett
tiptoed above the crowd and saw the captain of the militia
mounting the orchestra platform.  He shouted orders and half of
the Company fell into line.  For a few minutes they went through a
brisk drill that brought perspiration to their foreheads and
cheers and applause from the audience.  Scarlett clapped her hands
dutifully with the rest and, as the soldiers pushed forward toward
the punch and lemonade booths after they were dismissed, she
turned to Melanie, feeling that she had better begin her deception
about the Cause as soon as possible.

"They looked fine, didn't they?" she said.

Melanie was fussing about with the knitted things on the counter.

"Most of them would look a lot finer in gray uniforms and in
Virginia," she said, and she did not trouble to lower her voice.

Several of the proud mothers of members of the militia were
standing close by and overheard the remark.  Mrs. Guinan turned
scarlet and then white, for her twenty-five-year-old Willie was in
the company.

Scarlett was aghast at such words coming from Melly of all people.

"Why, Melly!"

"You know it's true, Scarlet.  I don't mean the little boys and
the old gentlemen.  But a lot of the militia are perfectly able to
tote a rifle and that's what they ought to be doing this minute."

"But--but--" began Scarlett, who had never considered the matter
before.  "Somebody's got to stay home to--"  What was it Willie
Guinan had told her by way of excusing his presence in Atlanta?
"Somebody's got to stay home to protect the state from invasion."

"Nobody's invading us and nobody's going to," said Melly coolly,
looking toward a group of the militia.  "And the best way to keep
out invaders is to go to Virginia and beat the Yankees there.  And
as for all this talk about the militia staying here to keep the
darkies from rising--why, it's the silliest thing I ever heard of.
Why should our people rise?  It's just a good excuse for cowards.
I'll bet we could lick the Yankees in a month if all the militia
of all the states went to Virginia.  So there!"

"Why, Melly!" cried Scarlett again, staring.

Melly's soft dark eyes were flashing angrily.  "My husband wasn't
afraid to go and neither was yours.  And I'd rather they'd both be
dead than here at home--  Oh, darling, I'm sorry.  How thoughtless
and cruel of me!"

She stroked Scarlett's arm appealingly and Scarlett stared at her.
But it was not of dead Charles she was thinking.  It was of
Ashley.  Suppose he too were to die?  She turned quickly and
smiled automatically as Dr. Meade walked up to their booth.

"Well, girls," he greeted them, "it was nice of you to come.  I
know what a sacrifice it must have been for you to come out
tonight.  But it's all for the Cause.  And I'm going to tell you a
secret.  I've a surprise way for making some more money tonight
for the hospital, but I'm afraid some of the ladies are going to
be shocked about it."

He stopped and chuckled as he tugged at his gray goatee.

"Oh, what?  Do tell!"

"On second thought I believe I'll keep you guessing, too.  But you
girls must stand up for me if the church members want to run me
out of town for doing it.  However, it's for the hospital.  You'll
see.  Nothing like this has ever been done before."

He went off pompously toward a group of chaperons in one corner,
and just as the two girls had turned to each other to discuss the
possibilities of the secret, two old gentlemen bore down on the
booth, declaring in loud voices that they wanted ten miles of
tatting.  Well, after all, old gentlemen were better than no
gentlemen at all, thought Scarlett, measuring out the tatting and
submitting demurely to being chucked under the chin.  The old
blades charged off toward the lemonade booth and others took their
places at the counter.  Their booth did not have so many customers
as did the other booths where the tootling laugh of Maybelle
Merriwether sounded and Fanny Elsing's giggles and the Whiting
girls' repartee made merriment.  Melly sold useless stuff to men
who could have no possible use for it as quietly and serenely as a
shopkeeper, and Scarlett patterned her conduct on Melly's.

There were crowds in front of every other counter but theirs,
girls chattering, men buying.  The few who came to them talked
about how they went to the university with Ashley and what a fine
soldier he was or spoke in respectful tones of Charles and how
great a loss to Atlanta his death had been.

Then the music broke into the rollicking strains of "Johnny
Booker, he'p dis Nigger!" and Scarlett thought she would scream.
She wanted to dance.  She wanted to dance.  She looked across the
floor and tapped her foot to the music and her green eyes blazed
so eagerly that they fairly snapped.  All the way across the
floor, a man, newly come and standing in the doorway, saw them,
started in recognition and watched closely the slanting eyes in
the sulky, rebellious face.  Then he grinned to himself as he
recognized the invitation that any male could read.

He was dressed in black broadcloth, a tall man, towering over the
officers who stood near him, bulky in the shoulders but tapering
to a small waist and absurdly small feet in varnished boots.  His
severe black suit, with fine ruffled shirt and trousers smartly
strapped beneath high insteps, was oddly at variance with his
physique and face, for he was foppishly groomed, the clothes of a
dandy on a body that was powerful and latently dangerous in its
lazy grace.  His hair was jet black, and his black mustache was
small and closely clipped, almost foreign looking compared with
the dashing, swooping mustaches of the cavalrymen near by.  He
looked, and was, a man of lusty and unashamed appetites.  He had
an air of utter assurance, of displeasing insolence about him, and
there was a twinkle of malice in his bold eyes as he stared at
Scarlett, until finally, feeling his gaze, she looked toward him.

Somewhere in her mind, the bell of recognition rang, but for the
moment she could not recall who he was.  But he was the first man
in months who had displayed an interest in her, and she threw him
a gay smile.  She made a little curtsy as he bowed, and then, as
he straightened and started toward her with a peculiarly lithe
Indian-like gait, her hand went to her mouth in horror, for she
knew who he was.

Thunderstruck, she stood as if paralyzed while he made his way
through the crowd.  Then she turned blindly, bent on flight into
the refreshment rooms, but her skirt caught on a nail of the
booth.  She jerked furiously at it, tearing it and, in an instant,
he was beside her.

"Permit me," he said bending over and disentangling the flounce.
"I hardly hoped that you would recall me, Miss O'Hara."

His voice was oddly pleasant to the ear, the well-modulated voice
of a gentleman, resonant and overlaid with the flat slow drawl of
the Charlestonian.

She looked up at him imploringly, her face crimson with the shame
of their last meeting, and met two of the blackest eyes she had
ever seen, dancing in merciless merriment.  Of all the people in
the world to turn up here, this terrible person who had witnessed
that scene with Ashley which still gave her nightmares; this
odious wretch who ruined girls and was not received by nice
people; this despicable man who had said, and with good cause,
that she was not a lady.

At the sound of his voice, Melanie turned and for the first time
in her life Scarlett thanked God for the existence of her sister-
in-law.

"Why--it's--it's Mr. Rhett Butler, isn't it?" said Melanie with a
little smile, putting out her hand.  "I met you--"

"On the happy occasion of the announcement of your betrothal," he
finished, bending over her hand.  "It is kind of you to recall
me."

"And what are you doing so far from Charleston, Mr. Butler?"

"A boring matter of business, Mrs. Wilkes.  I will be in and out
of your town from now on.  I find I must not only bring in goods
but see to the disposal of them."

"Bring in--" began Melly, her brow wrinkling, and then she broke
into a delighted smile.  "Why, you--you must be the famous Captain
Butler we've been hearing so much about--the blockade runner.
Why, every girl here is wearing dresses you brought in.  Scarlett,
aren't you thrilled--what's the matter, dear?  Are you faint?  Do
sit down."

Scarlett sank to the stool, her breath coming so rapidly she
feared the lacings of her stays would burst.  Oh, what a terrible
thing to happen!  She had never thought to meet this man again.
He picked up her black fan from the counter and began fanning her
solicitously, too solicitously, his face grave but his eyes still
dancing.

"It is quite warm in here," he said.  "No wonder Miss O'Hara is
faint.  May I lead you to a window?"

"No," said Scarlett, so rudely that Melly stared.

"She is not Miss O'Hara any longer," said Melly.  "She is Mrs.
Hamilton.  She is my sister now," and Melly bestowed one of her
fond little glances on her.  Scarlett felt that she would strangle
at the expression on Captain Butler's swarthy piratical face.

"I am sure that is a great gain to two charming ladies," said he,
making a slight bow.  That was the kind of remark all men made,
but when he said it it seemed to her that he meant just the
opposite.

"Your husbands are here tonight, I trust, on this happy occasion?
It would be a pleasure to renew acquaintances."

"My husband is in Virginia," said Melly with a proud lift of her
head.  "But Charles--"  Her voice broke.

"He died in camp," said Scarlett flatly.  She almost snapped the
words.  Would this creature never go away?  Melly looked at her,
startled, and the Captain made a gesture of self-reproach.

"My dear ladies--how could I!  You must forgive me.  But permit a
stranger to offer the comfort of saying that to die for one's
country is to live forever."

Melanie smiled at him through sparkling tears while Scarlett felt
the fox of wrath and impotent hate gnaw at her vitals.  Again he
had made a graceful remark, the kind of compliment any gentleman
would pay under such circumstances, but he did not mean a word of
it.  He was jeering at her.  He knew she hadn't loved Charles.
And Melly was just a big enough fool not to see through him.  Oh,
please God, don't let anybody else see through him, she thought
with a start of terror.  Would he tell what he knew?  Of course he
wasn't a gentleman and there was no telling what men would do when
they weren't gentlemen.  There was no standard to judge them by.
She looked up at him and saw that his mouth was pulled down at the
corners in mock sympathy, even while he swished the fan.
Something in his look challenged her spirit and brought her
strength back in a surge of dislike.  Abruptly she snatched the
fan from his hand.

"I'm quite all right," she said tartly.  "There's no need to blow
my hair out of place."

"Scarlett, darling!  Captain Butler, you must forgive her.  She--
she isn't herself when she hears poor Charlie's name spoken--and
perhaps, after all, we shouldn't have come here tonight.  We're
still in mourning, you see, and it's quite a strain on her--all
this gaiety and music, poor child."

"I quite understand," he said with elaborate gravity, but as he
turned and gave Melanie a searching look that went to the bottom
of her sweet worried eyes, his expression changed, reluctant
respect and gentleness coming over his dark face.  "I think you're
a courageous little lady, Mrs. Wilkes."

"Not a word about me!" thought Scarlett indignantly, as Melly
smiled in confusion and answered,

"Dear me, no, Captain Butler!  The hospital committee just had to
have us for this booth because at the last minute--  A pillow
case?  Here's a lovely one with a flag on it."

She turned to three cavalrymen who appeared at her counter.  For a
moment, Melanie thought how nice Captain Butler was.  Then she
wished that something more substantial than cheesecloth was
between her skirt and the spittoon that stood just outside the
booth, for the aim of the horsemen with amber streams of tobacco
juice was not so unerring as with their long horse pistols.  Then
she forgot about the Captain, Scarlett and the spittoons as more
customers crowded to her.

Scarlett sat quietly on the stool fanning herself, not daring to
look up, wishing Captain Butler back on the deck of his ship where
he belonged.

"Your husband has been dead long?"

"Oh, yes, a long time.  Almost a year."

"An aeon, I'm sure."

Scarlett was not sure what an aeon was, but there was no mistaking
the baiting quality of his voice, so she said nothing.

"Had you been married long?  Forgive my questions but I have been
away from this section for so long."

"Two months," said Scarlett, unwillingly.

"A tragedy, no less," his easy voice continued.

Oh, damn him, she thought violently.  If he was any other man in
the world I could simply freeze up and order him off.  But he
knows about Ashley and he knows I didn't love Charlie.  And my
hands are tied.  She said nothing, still looking down at her fan.

"And this is your first social appearance?"

"I know it looks quite odd," she explained rapidly.  "But the
McLure girls who were to take this booth were called away and
there was no one else, so Melanie and I--"

"No sacrifice is too great for the Cause."

Why, that was what Mrs. Elsing had said, but when she said it it
didn't sound the same way.  Hot words started to her lips but she
choked them back.  After all, she was here, not for the Cause, but
because she was tired of sitting home.

"I have always thought," he said reflectively, "that the system of
mourning, of immuring women in crepe for the rest of their lives
and forbidding them normal enjoyment is just as barbarous as the
Hindu suttee."

"Settee?"

He laughed and she blushed for her ignorance.  She hated people
who used words unknown to her.

"In India, when a man dies he is burned, instead of buried, and
his wife always climbs on the funeral pyre and is burned with
him."

"How dreadful!  Why do they do it?  Don't the police do anything
about it?"

"Of course not.  A wife who didn't burn herself would be a social
outcast.  All the worthy Hindu matrons would talk about her for
not behaving as a well-bred lady should--precisely as those worthy
matrons in the corner would talk about you, should you appear
tonight in a red dress and lead a reel.  Personally, I think
suttee much more merciful than our charming Southern custom of
burying widows alive!"

"How dare you say I'm buried alive!"

"How closely women crutch the very chains that bind them!  You
think the Hindu custom barbarous--but would you have had the
courage to appear here tonight if the Confederacy hadn't needed
you?"

Arguments of this character were always confusing to Scarlett.
His were doubly confusing because she had a vague idea there was
truth in them.  But now was the time to squelch him.

"Of course, I wouldn't have come.  It would have been--well,
disrespectful to--it would have seemed as if I hadn't lov--"

His eyes waited on her words, cynical amusement in them, and she
could not go on.  He knew she hadn't loved Charlie and he wouldn't
let her pretend to the nice polite sentiments that she should
express.  What a terrible, terrible thing it was to have to do
with a man who wasn't a gentleman.  A gentleman always appeared to
believe a lady even when he knew she was lying.  That was Southern
chivalry.  A gentleman always obeyed the rules and said the
correct things and made life easier for a lady.  But this man
seemed not to care for rules and evidently enjoyed talking of
things no one ever talked about.

"I am waiting breathlessly."

"I think you are horrid," she said, helplessly, dropping her eyes.

He leaned down across the counter until his mouth was near her ear
and hissed, in a very creditable imitation of the stage villains
who appeared infrequently at the Athenaeum Hall:  "Fear not, fair
lady!  Your guilty secret is safe with me!"

"Oh," she whispered, feverishly, "how can you say such things!"

"I only thought to ease your mind.  What would you have me say?
'Be mine, beautiful female, or I will reveal all?'"

She met his eyes unwillingly and saw they were as teasing as a
small boy's.  Suddenly she laughed.  It was such a silly
situation, after all.  He laughed too, and so loudly that several
of the chaperons in the corner looked their way.  Observing how
good a time Charles Hamilton's widow appeared to be having with a
perfect stranger, they put their heads together disapprovingly.



There was a roll of drums and many voices cried "Sh!" as Dr. Meade
mounted the platform and spread out his arms for quiet.

"We must all give grateful thanks to the charming ladies whose
indefatigable and patriotic efforts have made this bazaar not only
a pecuniary success," he began, "but have transformed this rough
hall into a bower of loveliness, a fit garden for the charming
rosebuds I see about me."

Everyone clapped approvingly.

"The ladies have given their best, not only of their time but of
the labor of their hands, and these beautiful objects in the
booths are doubly beautiful, made as they are by the fair hands of
our charming Southern women."

There were more shouts of approval, and Rhett Butler who had been
lounging negligently against the counter at Scarlett's side
whispered:  "Pompous goat, isn't he?"

Startled, at first horrified, at this lese majesty toward
Atlanta's most beloved citizen, she stared reprovingly at him.
But the doctor did look like a goat with his gray chin whiskers
wagging away at a great rate, and with difficulty she stifled a
giggle.

"But these things are not enough.  The good ladies of the hospital
committee, whose cool hands have soothed many a suffering brow and
brought back from the jaws of death our brave men wounded in the
bravest of all Causes, know our needs.  I will not enumerate them.
We must have more money to buy medical supplies from England, and
we have with us tonight the intrepid captain who has so
successfully run the blockade for a year and who will run it again
to bring us the drugs we need.  Captain Rhett Butler!"

Though caught unawares, the blockader made a graceful bow--too
graceful, thought Scarlett, trying to analyze it.  It was almost
as if he overdid his courtesy because his contempt for everybody
present was so great.  There was a loud burst of applause as he
bowed and a craning of necks from the ladies in the corner.  So
that was who poor Charles Hamilton's widow was carrying on with!
And Charlie hardly dead a year!

"We need more gold and I am asking you for it," the doctor
continued.  "I am asking a sacrifice but a sacrifice so small
compared with the sacrifices our gallant men in gray are making
that it will seem laughably small.  Ladies, I want your jewelry.
_I_ want your jewelry?  No, the Confederacy wants your jewelry,
the Confederacy calls for it and I know no one will hold back.
How fair a gem gleams on a lovely wrist!  How beautifully gold
brooches glitter on the bosoms of our patriotic women!  But how
much more beautiful is sacrifice than all the gold and gems of the
Ind.  The gold will be melted and the stones sold and the money
used to buy drugs and other medical supplies.  Ladies, there will
pass among you two of our gallant wounded, with baskets and--"
But the rest of his speech was lost in the storm and tumult of
clapping hands and cheering voices.

Scarlett's first thought was one of deep thankfulness that
mourning forbade her wearing her precious earbobs and the heavy
gold chain that had been Grandma Robillard's and the gold and
black enameled bracelets and the garnet brooch.  She saw the
little Zouave, a split-oak basket over his unwounded arm, making
the rounds of the crowd on her side of the hall and saw women, old
and young, laughing, eager, tugging at bracelets, squealing in
pretended pain as earrings came from pierced flesh, helping each
other undo stiff necklace clasps, unpinning brooches from bosoms.
There was a steady little clink-clink of metal on metal and cries
of "Wait--wait!  I've got it unfastened now.  There!"  Maybelle
Merriwether was pulling off her lovely twin bracelets from above
and below her elbows.  Fanny Elsing, crying "Mamma, may I?" was
tearing from her curls the seed-pearl ornament set in heavy gold
which had been in the family for generations.  As each offering
went into the basket, there was applause and cheering.

The grinning little man was coming to their booth now, his basket
heavy on his arm, and as he passed Rhett Butler a handsome gold
cigar case was thrown carelessly into the basket.  When he came to
Scarlett and rested his basket upon the counter, she shook her
head throwing wide her hands to show that she had nothing to give.
It was embarrassing to be the only person present who was giving
nothing.  And then she saw the bright gleam of her wide gold
wedding ring.

For a confused moment she tried to remember Charles' face--how he
had looked when he slipped it on her finger.  But the memory was
blurred, blurred by the sudden feeling of irritation that memory
of him always brought to her.  Charles--he was the reason why life
was over for her, why she was an old woman.

With a sudden wrench she seized the ring but it stuck.  The Zouave
was moving toward Melanie.

"Wait!" cried Scarlett.  "I have something for you!"  The ring
came off and, as she started to throw it into the basket, heaped
up with chains, watches, rings, pins and bracelets, she caught
Rhett Butler's eye.  His lips were twisted in a slight smile.
Defiantly, she tossed the ring onto the top of the pile.

"Oh, my darling!" whispered Molly, clutching her arm, her eyes
blazing with love and pride.  "You brave, brave girl!  Wait--
please, wait, Lieutenant Picard!  I have something for you, too!"

She was tugging at her own wedding ring, the ring Scarlett knew
had never once left that finger since Ashley put it there.
Scarlett knew, as no one did, how much it meant to her.  It came
off with difficulty and for a brief instant was clutched tightly
in the small palm.  Then it was laid gently on the pile of
jewelry.  The two girls stood looking after the Zouave who was
moving toward the group of elderly ladies in the corner, Scarlett
defiant, Melanie with a look more pitiful than tears.  And neither
expression was lost on the man who stood beside them.

"If you hadn't been brave enough to do it, I would never have been
either," said Melly, putting her arm about Scarlett's waist and
giving her a gentle squeeze.  For a moment Scarlett wanted to
shake her off and cry "Name of God!" at the top of her lungs, as
Gerald did when he was irritated, but she caught Rhett Butler's
eye and managed a very sour smile.  It was annoying the way Melly
always misconstrued her motives--but perhaps that was far
preferable to having her suspect the truth.

"What a beautiful gesture," said Rhett Butler, softly.  "It is
such sacrifices as yours that hearten our brave lads in gray."

Hot words bubbled to her lips and it was with difficulty that she
checked them.  There was mockery in everything he said.  She
disliked him heartily, lounging there against the booth.  But
there was something stimulating about him, something warm and
vital and electric.  All that was Irish in her rose to the
challenge of his black eyes.  She decided she was going to take
this man down a notch or two.  His knowledge of her secret gave
him an advantage over her that was exasperating, so she would have
to change that by putting him at a disadvantage somehow.  She
stifled her impulse to tell him exactly what she thought of him.
Sugar always caught more flies than vinegar, as Mammy often said,
and she was going to catch and subdue this fly, so he could never
again have her at his mercy.

"Thank you," she said sweetly, deliberately misunderstanding his
jibe.  "A compliment like that coming from so famous a man as
Captain Butler is appreciated."

He threw back his head and laughed freely--yelped, was what
Scarlett thought fiercely, her face becoming pink again.

"Why don't you say what you really think?" he demanded, lowering
his voice so that in the clatter and excitement of the collection,
it came only to her ears.  "Why don't you say I'm a damned rascal
and no gentleman and that I must take myself off or you'll have
one of these gallant boys in gray call me out?"

It was on the tip of her tongue to answer tartly, but she managed
by heroic control to say:  "Why, Captain Butler!  How you do run
on!  As if everybody didn't know how famous you are and how brave
and what a--what a--

"I am disappointed in you," he said.

"Disappointed?"

"Yes.  On the occasion of our first eventful meeting I thought to
myself that I had at last met a girl who was not only beautiful
but who had courage.  And now I see that you are only beautiful."

"Do you mean to call me a coward?"  She was ruffling like a hen.

"Exactly.  You lack the courage to say what you really think.
When I first met you, I thought:  There is a girl in a million.
She isn't like these other silly little fools who believe
everything their mammas tell them and act on it, no matter how
they feel.  And conceal all their feelings and desires and little
heartbreaks behind a lot of sweet words.  I thought:  Miss O'Hara
is a girl of rare spirit.  She knows what she wants and she
doesn't mind speaking her mind--or throwing vases."

"Oh," she said, rage breaking through.  "Then I'll speak my mind
right this minute.  If you'd had any raising at all you'd never
have come over here and talked to me.  You'd have known I never
wanted to lay eyes on you again!  But you aren't a gentleman!  You
are just a nasty ill-bred creature!  And you think that because
your rotten little boats can outrun the Yankees, you've the right
to come here and jeer at men who are brave and women who are
sacrificing everything for the Cause--"

"Stop, stop--" he begged with a grin.  "You started off very
nicely and said what you thought, but don't begin talking to me
about the Cause.  I'm tired of hearing about it and I'll bet you
are, too--"

"Why, how did--" she began, caught off her balance, and then
checked herself hastily, boiling with anger at herself for falling
into his trap.

"I stood there in the doorway before you saw me and I watched
you," he said.  "And I watched the other girls.  And they all
looked as though their faces came out of one mold.  Yours didn't.
You have an easy face to read.  You didn't have your mind on your
business and I'll wager you weren't thinking about our Cause or
the hospital.  It was all over your face that you wanted to dance
and have a good time and you couldn't.  So you were mad clean
through.  Tell the truth.  Am I not right?"

"I have nothing more to say to you, Captain Butler," she said as
formally as she could, trying to draw the rags of her dignity
about her.  "Just because you're conceited at being the 'great
blockader' doesn't give you the right to insult women."

"The great blockader!  That's a joke.  Pray give me only one
moment more of your precious time before you cast me into
darkness.  I wouldn't want so charming a little patriot to be left
under a misapprehension about my contribution to the Confederate
Cause."

"I don't care to listen to your brags."

"Blockading is a business with me and I'm making money out of it.
When I stop making money out of it, I'll quit.  What do you think
of that?"

"I think you're a mercenary rascal--just like the Yankees."

"Exactly," he grinned.  "And the Yankees help me make my money.
Why, last month I sailed my boat right into New York harbor and
took on a cargo."

"What!" cried Scarlett, interested and excited in spite of
herself.  "Didn't they shell you?"

"My poor innocent!  Of course not.  There are plenty of sturdy
Union patriots who are not averse to picking up money selling
goods to the Confederacy.  I run my boat into New York, buy from
Yankee firms, sub rosa, of course, and away I go.  And when that
gets a bit dangerous, I go to Nassau where these same Union
patriots have brought powder and shells and hoop skirts for me.
It's more convenient than going to England.  Sometimes it's a bit
difficult running it into Charleston or Wilmington--but you'd be
surprised how far a little gold goes."

"Oh, I knew Yankees were vile but I didn't know--"

"Why quibble about the Yankees earning an honest penny selling out
the Union?  It won't matter in a hundred years.  The result will
be the same.  They know the Confederacy will be licked eventually,
so why shouldn't they cash in on it?"

"Licked--us?"

"Of course."

"Will you please leave me--or will it be necessary for me to call
my carriage and go home to get rid of you?"

"A red-hot little Rebel," he said, with another sudden grin.  He
bowed and sauntered off, leaving her with her bosom heaving with
impotent rage and indignation.  There was disappointment burning
in her that she could not quite analyze, the disappointment of a
child seeing illusions crumble.  How dared he take the glamor from
the blockaders!  And how dared he say the Confederacy would be
licked!  He should be shot for that--shot like a traitor.  She
looked about the hall at the familiar faces, so assured of
success, so brave, so devoted, and somehow a cold little chill set
in at her heart.  Licked?  These people--why, of course not!  The
very idea was impossible, disloyal.

"What were you two whispering about?" asked Melanie, turning to
Scarlett as her customers drifted off.  "I couldn't help seeing
that Mrs. Merriwether had her eye on you all the time and, dear,
you know how she talks."

"Oh, the man's impossible--an ill-bred boor," said Scarlett.  "And
as for old lady Merriwether, let her talk.  I'm sick of acting
like a ninny, just for her benefit."

"Why, Scarlett!" cried Melanie, scandalized.

"Sh-sh," said Scarlett.  "Dr. Meade is going to make another
announcement."

The gathering quieted again as the doctor raised his voice, at
first in thanks to the ladies who had so willingly given their
jewelry.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to propose a surprise--
an innovation that may shock some of you, but I ask you to
remember that all this is done for the hospital and for the
benefit of our boys lying there."

Everyone edged forward, in anticipation, trying to imagine what
the sedate doctor could propose that would be shocking.

"The dancing is about to begin and the first number will, of
course, be a reel, followed by a waltz.  The dances following, the
polkas, the schottisches, the mazurkas, will be preceded by short
reels.  I know the gentle rivalry to lead the reels very well and
so--"  The doctor mopped his brow and cast a quizzical glance at
the corner, where his wife sat among the chaperons.  "Gentlemen,
if you wish to lead a reel with the lady of your choice, you must
bargain for her.  I will be auctioneer and the proceeds will go to
the hospital."

Fans stopped in mid-swish and a ripple of excited murmuring ran
through the hall.  The chaperons' corner was in tumult and Mrs.
Meade, anxious to support her husband in an action of which she
heartily disapproved, was at a disadvantage.  Mrs. Elsing, Mrs.
Merriwether and Mrs. Whiting were red with indignation.  But
suddenly the Home Guard gave a cheer and it was taken up by the
other uniformed guests.  The young girls clapped their hands and
jumped excitedly.

"Don't you think it's--it's just--just a little like a slave
auction?" whispered Melanie, staring uncertainly at the embattled
doctor who heretofore had been perfect in her eyes.

Scarlett said nothing but her eyes glittered and her heart
contracted with a little pain.  If only she were not a widow.  If
only she were Scarlett O'Hara again, out there on the floor in an
apple-green dress with dark-green velvet ribbons dangling from her
bosom and tuberoses in her black hair--she'd lead that reel.  Yes,
indeed!  There'd be a dozen men battling for her and paying over
money to the doctor.  Oh, to have to sit here, a wallflower
against her will and see Fanny or Maybelle lead the first reel as
the belle of Atlanta!

Above the tumult sounded the voice of the little Zouave, his
Creole accent very obvious:  "Eef I may--twenty dollars for Mees
Maybelle Merriwether."

Maybelle collapsed with blushes against Fanny's shoulder and the
two girls hid their faces in each other's necks and giggled, as
other voices began calling other names, other amounts of money.
Dr. Meade had begun to smile again, ignoring completely the
indignant whispers that came from the Ladies' Hospital Committee
in the corner.

At first, Mrs. Merriwether had stated flatly and loudly that her
Maybelle would never take part in such a proceeding; but as
Maybelle's name was called most often and the amount went up to
seventy-five dollars, her protests began to dwindle.  Scarlett
leaned her elbows on the counter and almost glared at the excited
laughing crowd surging about the platform, their hands full of
Confederate paper money.

Now, they would all dance--except her and the old ladies.  Now
everyone would have a good time, except her.  She saw Rhett Butler
standing just below the doctor and, before she could change the
expression of her face, he saw her and one corner of his mouth
went down and one eyebrow went up.  She jerked her chin up and
turned away from him and suddenly she heard her own name called--
called in an unmistakable Charleston voice that rang out above the
hubbub of other names.

"Mrs. Charles Hamilton--one hundred and fifty dollars--in gold."

A sudden hush fell on the crowd both at the mention of the sum and
at the name.  Scarlett was so startled she could not even move.
She remained sitting with her chin in her hands, her eyes wide
with astonishment.  Everybody turned to look at her.  She saw the
doctor lean down from the platform and whisper something to Rhett
Butler.  Probably telling him she was in mourning and it was
impossible for her to appear on the floor.  She saw Rhett's
shoulders shrug lazily.

"Another one of our belles, perhaps?" questioned the doctor.

"No," said Rhett clearly, his eyes sweeping the crowd carelessly.
"Mrs. Hamilton."

"I tell you it is impossible," said the doctor testily.  "Mrs.
Hamilton will not--"

Scarlett heard a voice which, at first, she did not recognize as
her own.

"Yes, I will!"

She leaped to her feet, her heart hammering so wildly she feared
she could not stand, hammering with the thrill of being the center
of attention again, of being the most highly desired girl present
and oh, best of all, at the prospect of dancing again.

"Oh, I don't care!  I don't care what they say!" she whispered, as
a sweet madness swept over her.  She tossed her head and sped out
of the booth, tapping her heels like castanets, snapping open her
black silk fan to its widest.

For a fleeting instant she saw Melanie's incredulous face, the
look on the chaperons' faces, the petulant girls, the enthusiastic
approval of the soldiers.

Then she was on the floor and Rhett Butler was advancing toward
her through the aisle of the crowd, that nasty mocking smile on
his face.  But she didn't care--didn't care if he were Abe Lincoln
himself!  She was going to dance again.  She was going to lead the
reel.  She swept him a low curtsy and a dazzling smile and he
bowed, one hand on his frilled bosom.  Levi, horrified, was quick
to cover the situation and bawled:  "Choose yo' padners fo' de
Ferginny reel!"

And the orchestra crashed into that best of all reel tunes,
"Dixie."



"How dare you make me so conspicuous, Captain Butler?"

"But, my dear Mrs. Hamilton, you so obviously wanted to be
conspicuous!"

"How could you call my name out in front of everybody?"

"You could have refused."

"But--I owe it to the Cause--I--I couldn't think of myself when
you were offering so much in gold.  Stop laughing, everyone is
looking at us."

"They will look at us anyway.  Don't try to palm off that twaddle
about the Cause to me.  You wanted to dance and I gave you the
opportunity.  This march is the last figure of the reel, isn't
it?"

"Yes--really, I must stop and sit down now."

"Why?  Have I stepped on your feet?"

"No--but they'll talk about me."

"Do you really care--down in your heart?"

"Well--"

"You aren't committing any crime, are you?  Why not dance the
waltz with me?"

"But if Mother ever--"

"Still tied to mamma's apronstrings."

"Oh, you have the nastiest way of making virtues sound so stupid."

"But virtues are stupid.  Do you care if people talk?"

"No--but--well, let's don't talk about it.  Thank goodness the
waltz is beginning.  Reels always leave me breathless."

"Don't dodge my questions.  Has what other women said ever
mattered to you?"

"Oh, if you're going to pin me down--no!  But a girl is supposed
to mind.  Tonight, though, I don't care."

"Bravo!  Now you are beginning to think for yourself instead of
letting others think for you.  That's the beginning of wisdom."

"Oh, but--"

"When you've been talked about as much as I have, you'll realize
how little it matters.  Just think, there's not a home in
Charleston where I am received.  Not even my contribution to our
just and holy Cause lifts the ban."

"How dreadful!"

"Oh, not at all.  Until you've lost your reputation, you never
realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is."

"You do talk scandalous!"

"Scandalously and truly.  Always providing you have enough
courage--or money--you can do without a reputation."

"Money can't buy everything."

"Someone must have told you that.  You'd never think of such a
platitude all by yourself.  What can't it buy?"

"Oh, well, I don't know--not happiness or love, anyway."

"Generally it can.  And when it can't, it can buy some of the most
remarkable substitutes."

"And have you so much money, Captain Butler?"

"What an ill-bred question, Mrs. Hamilton.  I'm surprised.  But,
yes.  For a young man cut off without a shilling in early youth,
I've done very well.  And I'm sure I'll clean up a million on the
blockade."

"Oh, no!"

"Oh, yes!  What most people don't seem to realize is that there
is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a
civilization as from the upbuilding of one."

"And what does all that mean?"

"Your family and my family and everyone here tonight made their
money out of changing a wilderness into a civilization.  That's
empire building.  There's good money in empire building.  But,
there's more in empire wrecking."

"What empire are you talking about?"

"This empire we're living in--the South--the Confederacy--the
Cotton Kingdom--it's breaking up right under our feet.  Only most
fools won't see it and take advantage of the situation created by
the collapse.  I'm making my fortune out of the wreckage."

"Then you really think we're going to get licked?"

"Yes.  Why be an ostrich?"

"Oh, dear, it bores me to talk about such like.  Don't you ever
say pretty things, Captain Butler?"

"Would it please you if I said your eyes were twin goldfish bowls
filled to the brim with the clearest green water and that when the
fish swim to the top, as they are doing now, you are devilishly
charming?"

"Oh, I don't like that. . . .  Isn't the music gorgeous?  Oh, I
could waltz forever!  I didn't know I had missed it so!"

"You are the most beautiful dancer I've ever held in my arms."

"Captain Butler, you must not hold me so tightly.  Everybody is
looking."

"If no one were looking, would you care?"

"Captain Butler, you forget yourself."

"Not for a minute.  How could I, with you in my arms? . . .  What
is that tune?  Isn't it new?"

"Yes.  Isn't it divine?  It's something we captured from the
Yankees."

"What's the name of it?"

"'When This Cruel War Is Over.'"

"What are the words?  Sing them to me."


"Dearest one, do you remember
  When we last did meet?
When you told me how you loved me,
  Kneeling at my feet?
Oh, how proud you stood before me
  In your suit of gray,
When you vowed from me and country
  Ne'er to go astray.
Weeping sad and lonely,
  Sighs and tears how vain!
When this cruel war is over
  Pray that we meet again!"


"Of course, it was 'suit of blue' but we changed it to 'gray.' . . .
Oh, you waltz so well, Captain Butler.  Most big men don't, you
know.  And to think it will be years and years before I'll dance
again."

"It will only be a few minutes.  I'm going to bid you in for the
next reel--and the next and the next."

"Oh, no, I couldn't!  You mustn't!  My reputation will be ruined."

"It's in shreds already, so what does another dance matter?  Maybe
I'll give the other boys a chance after I've had five or six, but
I must have the last one."

"Oh, all right.  I know I'm crazy but I don't care.  I don't care
a bit what anybody says.  I'm so tired of sitting at home.  I'm
going to dance and dance--"

"And not wear black?  I loathe funeral crepe."

"Oh, I couldn't take off mourning--Captain Butler, you must not
hold me so tightly.  I'll be mad at you if you do."

"And you look gorgeous when you are mad.  I'll squeeze you again--
there--just to see if you will really get mad.  You have no idea
how charming you were that day at Twelve Oaks when you were mad
and throwing things."

"Oh, please--won't you forget that?"

"No, it is one of my most priceless memories--a delicately
nurtured Southern belle with her Irish up--  You are very Irish,
you know."

"Oh, dear, there's the end of the music and there's Aunt Pittypat
coming out of the back room.  I know Mrs. Merriwether must have
told her.  Oh, for goodness' sakes, let's walk over and look out
the window.  I don't want her to catch me now.  Her eyes are as
big as saucers."



CHAPTER X


Over the waffles next morning, Pittypat was lachrymose, Melanie
was silent and Scarlett defiant.

"I don't care if they do talk.  I'll bet I made more money for the
hospital than any girl there--more than all the messy old stuff we
sold, too."

"Oh, dear, what does the money matter?" wailed Pittypat, wringing
her hands.  "I just couldn't believe my eyes, and poor Charlie
hardly dead a year. . . .  And that awful Captain Butler, making
you so conspicuous, and he's a terrible, terrible person,
Scarlett.  Mrs. Whiting's cousin, Mrs. Coleman, whose husband came
from Charleston, told me about him.  He's the black sheep of a
lovely family--oh, how could any of the Butlers ever turn out
anything like him?  He isn't received in Charleston and he has the
fastest reputation and there was something about a girl--something
so bad Mrs. Coleman didn't even know what it was--"

"Oh, I can't believe he's that bad," said Melly gently.  "He
seemed a perfect gentleman and when you think how brave he's been,
running the blockade--"

"He isn't brave," said Scarlett perversely, pouring half a pitcher
of syrup over her waffles.  "He just does it for money.  He told
me so.  He doesn't care anything about the Confederacy and he says
we're going to get licked.  But he dances divinely."

Her audience was speechless with horror.

"I'm tired of sitting at home and I'm not going to do it any
longer.  If they all talked about me about last night, then my
reputation is already gone and it won't matter what else they
say."

It did not occur to her that the idea was Rhett Butler's.  It came
so patly and fitted so well with what she was thinking.

"Oh!  What will your mother say when she hears?  What will she
think of me?"

A cold qualm of guilt assailed Scarlett at the thought of Ellen's
consternation, should she ever learn of her daughter's scandalous
conduct.  But she took heart at the thought of the twenty-five
miles between Atlanta and Tara.  Miss Pitty certainly wouldn't
tell Ellen.  It would put her in such a bad light as a chaperon.
And if Pitty didn't tattle, she was safe.

"I think--" said Pitty, "yes, I think I'd better write Henry a
letter about it--much as I hate it--but he's our only male
relative, and make him go speak reprovingly to Captain Butler--
Oh, dear, if Charlie were only alive--  You must never, never
speak to that man again, Scarlett."

Melanie had been sitting quietly, her hands in her lap, her
waffles cooling on her plate.  She arose and, coming behind
Scarlett, put her arms about her neck.

"Darling," she said, "don't you get upset.  I understand and it
was a brave thing you did last night and it's going to help the
hospital a lot.  And if anybody dares say one little word about
you, I'll tend to them. . . .  Aunt Pitty, don't cry.  It has been
hard on Scarlett, not going anywhere.  She's just a baby."  Her
fingers played in Scarlett's black hair.  "And maybe we'd all be
better off if we went out occasionally to parties.  Maybe we've
been very selfish, staying here with our grief.  War times aren't
like other times.  When I think of all the soldiers in town who
are far from home and haven't any friends to call on at night--and
the ones in the hospital who are well enough to be out of bed and
not well enough to go back in the army--  Why, we have been
selfish.  We ought to have three convalescents in our house this
minute, like everybody else, and some of the soldiers out to
dinner every Sunday.  There, Scarlett, don't you fret.  People
won't talk when they understand.  We know you loved Charlie."

Scarlett was far from fretting and Melanie's soft hands in her
hair were irritating.  She wanted to jerk her head away and say
"Oh, fiddle-dee-dee!" for the warming memory was still on her of
how the Home Guard and the militia and the soldiers from the
hospital had fought for her dances last night.  Of all the people
in the world, she didn't want Melly for a defender.  She could
defend herself, thank you, and if the old cats wanted to squall--
well, she could get along without the old cats.  There were too
many nice officers in the world for her to bother about what old
women said.

Pittypat was dabbing at her eyes under Melanie's soothing words
when Prissy entered with a bulky letter.

"Fer you.  Miss Melly.  A lil nigger boy brung it."

"For me?" said Melly, wondering, as she ripped open the envelope.

Scarlett was making headway with her waffles and so noticed
nothing until she heard a burst of tears from Melly and, looking
up, saw Aunt Pittypat's hand go to her heart.

"Ashley's dead!" screamed Pittypat, throwing her head back and
letting her arms go limp.

"Oh, my God!" cried Scarlett, her blood turning to ice water.

"No!  No!" cried Melanie.  "Quick!  Her smelling salts, Scarlett!
There, there, honey, do you feel better?  Breathe deep.  No, it's
not Ashley.  I'm so sorry I scared you.  I was crying because I'm
so happy," and suddenly she opened her clenched palm and pressed
some object that was in it to her lips.  "I'm so happy," and burst
into tears again.

Scarlett caught a fleeting glimpse and saw that it was a broad
gold ring.

"Read it," said Melly, pointing to the letter on the floor.  "Oh,
how sweet, how kind, he is!"

Scarlett, bewildered, picked up the single sheet and saw written
in a black, bold hand:  "The Confederacy may need the lifeblood of
its men but not yet does it demand the heart's blood of its women.
Accept, dear Madam, this token of my reverence for your courage
and do not think that your sacrifice has been in vain, for this
ring has been redeemed at ten times its value.  Captain Rhett
Butler."

Melanie slipped the ring on her finger and looked at it lovingly.

"I told you he was a gentleman, didn't I?" she said turning to
Pittypat, her smile bright through the teardrops on her face.  "No
one but a gentleman of refinement and thoughtfulness would ever
have thought how it broke my heart to--  I'll send my gold chain
instead.  Aunt Pittypat, you must write him a note and invite him
to Sunday dinner so I can thank him."

In the excitement, neither of the others seemed to have thought
that Captain Butler had not returned Scarlett's ring, too.  But
she thought of it, annoyed.  And she knew it had not been Captain
Butler's refinement that had prompted so gallant a gesture.  It
was that he intended to be asked into Pittypat's house and knew
unerringly how to get the invitation.



"I was greatly disturbed to hear of your recent conduct," ran
Ellen's letter and Scarlett, who was reading it at the table,
scowled.  Bad news certainly traveled swiftly.  She had often
heard in Charleston and Savannah that Atlanta people gossiped more
and meddled in other people's business more than any other people
in the South, and now she believed it.  The bazaar had taken place
Monday night and today was only Thursday.  Which of the old cats
had taken it upon herself to write Ellen?  For a moment she
suspected Pittypat but immediately abandoned that thought.  Poor
Pittypat had been quaking in her number-three shoes for fear of
being blamed for Scarlett's forward conduct and would be the last
to notify Ellen of her own inadequate chaperonage.  Probably it
was Mrs. Merriwether.

"It is difficult for me to believe that you could so forget
yourself and your rearing.  I will pass over the impropriety of
your appearing publicly while in mourning, realizing your warm
desire to be of assistance to the hospital.  But to dance, and
with such a man as Captain Butler!  I have heard much of him (as
who has not?) and Pauline wrote me only last week that he is a man
of bad repute and not even received by his own family in
Charleston, except of course by his heartbroken mother.  He is a
thoroughly bad character who would take advantage of your youth
and innocence to make you conspicuous and publicly disgrace you
and your family.  How could Miss Pittypat have so neglected her
duty to you?"

Scarlett looked across the table at her aunt.  The old lady had
recognized Ellen's handwriting and her fat little mouth was pursed
in a frightened way, like a baby who fears a scolding and hopes to
ward it off by tears.

"I am heartbroken to think that you could so soon forget your
rearing.  I have thought of calling you home immediately but will
leave that to your father's discretion.  He will be in Atlanta
Friday to speak with Captain Butler and to escort you home.  I
fear he will be severe with you despite my pleadings.  I hope and
pray it was only youth and thoughtlessness that prompted such
forward conduct.  No one can wish to serve our Cause more than I,
and I wish my daughters to feel the same way, but to disgrace--"

There was more in the same vein but Scarlett did not finish it.
For once, she was thoroughly frightened.  She did not feel
reckless and defiant now.  She felt as young and guilty as when
she was ten and had thrown a buttered biscuit at Suellen at the
table.  To think of her gentle mother reproving her so harshly and
her father coming to town to talk to Captain Butler.  The real
seriousness of the matter grew on her.  Gerald was going to be
severe.  This was one time when she knew she couldn't wiggle out
of her punishment by sitting on his knee and being sweet and pert.

"Not--not bad news?" quavered Pittypat.

"Pa is coming tomorrow and he's going to land on me like a duck on
a June bug," answered Scarlett dolorously.

"Prissy, find my salts," fluttered Pittypat, pushing back her
chair from her half-eaten meal.  "I--I feel faint."

"Dey's in yo' skirt pocket," said Prissy, who had been hovering
behind Scarlett, enjoying the sensational drama.  Mist' Gerald in
a temper was always exciting, providing his temper was not
directed at her kinky head.  Pitty fumbled at her skirt and held
the vial to her nose.

"You all must stand by me and not leave me alone with him for one
minute," cried Scarlett.  "He's so fond of you both, and if you
are with me he can't fuss at me."

"I couldn't," said Pittypat weakly, rising to her feet.  "I--I
feel ill.  I must go lie down.  I shall lie down all day tomorrow.
You must give him my excuses."

"Coward!" thought Scarlett, glowering at her.

Melly rallied to the defense, though white and frightened at the
prospect of facing the fire-eating Mr. O'Hara.  "I'll--I'll help
you explain how you did it for the hospital.  Surely he'll
understand."

"No, he won't," said Scarlett.  "And oh, I shall die if I have to
go back to Tara in disgrace, like Mother threatens!"

"Oh, you can't go home," cried Pittypat, bursting into tears.  "If
you did I should be forced--yes, forced to ask Henry to come live
with us, and you know I just couldn't live with Henry.  I'm so
nervous with just Melly in the house at night, with so many
strange men in town.  You're so brave I don't mind being here
without a man!"

"Oh, he couldn't take you to Tara!" said Melly, looking as if she
too would cry in a moment.  "This is your home now.  What would we
ever do without you?"

"You'd be glad to do without me if you knew what I really think of
you," thought Scarlett sourly, wishing there were some other
person than Melanie to help ward off Gerald's wrath.  It was
sickening to be defended by someone you disliked so much.

"Perhaps we should recall our invitation to Captain Butler--"
began Pittypat.

"Oh, we couldn't!  It would be the height of rudeness!" cried
Melly, distressed.

"Help me to bed.  I'm going to be ill," moaned Pittypat.  "Oh,
Scarlett, how could you have brought this on me?"

Pittypat was ill and in her bed when Gerald arrived the next
afternoon.  She sent many messages of regret to him from behind
her closed door and left the two frightened girls to preside over
the supper table.  Gerald was ominously silent although he kissed
Scarlett and pinched Melanie's cheek approvingly and called her
"Cousin Melly."  Scarlett would have infinitely preferred
bellowing oaths and accusations.  True to her promise, Melanie
clung to Scarlett's skirts like a small rustling shadow and Gerald
was too much of a gentleman to upbraid his daughter in front of
her.  Scarlett had to admit that Melanie carried off things very
well, acting as if she knew nothing was amiss, and she actually
succeeded in engaging Gerald in conversation, once the supper had
been served.

"I want to know all about the County," she said, beaming upon him.
"India and Honey are such poor correspondents, and I know you know
everything that goes on down there.  Do tell us about Joe
Fontaine's wedding."

Gerald warmed to the flattery and said that the wedding had been a
quiet affair, "not like you girls had," for Joe had only a few
days' furlough.  Sally, the little Munroe chit, looked very
pretty.  No, he couldn't recall what she wore but he did hear that
she didn't have a "second-day" dress.

"She didn't!" exclaimed the girls, scandalized.

"Sure, because she didn't have a second day," Gerald explained and
bawled with laughter before recalling that perhaps such remarks
were not fit for female ears.  Scarlett's spirits soared at his
laugh and she blessed Melanie's tact.

"Back Joe went to Virginia the next day," Gerald added hastily.
"There was no visiting about and dancing afterwards.  The Tarleton
twins are home."

"We heard that.  Have they recovered?"

"They weren't badly wounded.  Stuart had it in the knee and a
minie ball went through Brent's shoulder.  You had it, too, that
they were mentioned in dispatches for bravery?"

"No!  Tell us!"

"Hare brained--both of them.  I'm believing there's Irish in
them," said Gerald complacently.  "I forget what they did, but
Brent is a lieutenant now."

Scarlett felt pleased at hearing of their exploits, pleased in a
proprietary manner.  Once a man had been her beau, she never lost
the conviction that he belonged to her, and all his good deeds
redounded to her credit.

"And I've news that'll be holding the both of you," said Gerald.
"They're saying Stu is courting at Twelve Oaks again."

"Honey or India?" questioned Melly excitedly, while Scarlett
stared almost indignantly.

"Oh, Miss India, to be sure.  Didn't she have him fast till this
baggage of mine winked at him?"

"Oh," said Melly, somewhat embarrassed at Gerald's outspokenness.

"And more than that, young Brent has taken to hanging about Tara.
Now!"

Scarlett could not speak.  The defection of her beaux was almost
insulting.  Especially when she recalled how wildly both the twins
had acted when she told them she was going to marry Charles.
Stuart had even threatened to shoot Charles, or Scarlett, or
himself, or all three.  It had been most exciting.

"Suellen?" questioned Melly, breaking into a pleased smile.  "But
I thought Mr. Kennedy--"

"Oh, him?" said Gerald.  "Frank Kennedy still pussyfoots about,
afraid of his shadow, and I'll be asking him his intentions soon
if he doesn't speak up.  No, 'tis me baby."

"Carreen?"

"She's nothing but a child!" said Scarlett sharply, finding her
tongue.

"She's little more than a year younger than you were, Miss, when
you were married," retorted Gerald.  "Is it you're grudging your
old beau to your sister?"

Melly blushed, unaccustomed to such frankness, and signaled Peter
to bring in the sweet potato pie.  Frantically she cast about in
her mind for some other topic of conversation which would not be
so personal but which would divert Mr. O'Hara from the purpose of
his trip.  She could think of nothing but, once started, Gerald
needed no stimulus other than an audience.  He talked on about the
thievery of the commissary department which every month increased
its demands, the knavish stupidity of Jefferson Davis and the
blackguardery of the Irish who were being enticed into the Yankee
army by bounty money.

When the wine was on the table and the two girls rose to leave
him, Gerald cocked a severe eye at his daughter from under
frowning brows and commanded her presence alone for a few minutes.
Scarlett cast a despairing glance at Melly, who twisted her
handkerchief helplessly and went out, softly pulling the sliding
doors together.

"How now, Missy!" bawled Gerald, pouring himself a glass of port.
"'Tis a fine way to act!  Is it another husband you're trying to
catch and you so fresh a widow?"

"Not so loud, Pa, the servants--"

"They know already, to be sure, and everybody knows of our
disgrace.  And your poor mother taking to her bed with it and me
not able to hold up me head.  'Tis shameful.  No, Puss, you need
not think to get around me with tears this time," he said hastily
and with some panic in his voice as Scarlett's lids began to bat
and her mouth to screw up.  "I know you.  You'd be flirting at the
wake of your husband.  Don't cry.  There, I'll be saying no more
tonight, for I'm going to see this fine Captain Butler who makes
so light of me daughter's reputation.  But in the morning--  There
now, don't cry.  Twill do you no good at all, at all.  'Tis firm
that I am and back to Tara you'll be going tomorrow before you're
disgracing the lot of us again.  Don't cry, pet.  Look what I've
brought you!  Isn't that a pretty present?  See, look!  How could
you be putting so much trouble on me, bringing me all the way up
here when 'tis a busy man I am?  Don't cry!"



Melanie and Pittypat had gone to sleep hours before, but Scarlett
lay awake in the warm darkness, her heart heavy and frightened in
her breast.  To leave Atlanta when life had just begun again and
go home and face Ellen!  She would rather die than face her
mother.  She wished she were dead, this very minute, then everyone
would be sorry they had been so hateful.  She turned and tossed on
the hot pillow until a noise far up the quiet street reached her
ears.  It was an oddly familiar noise, blurred and indistinct
though it was.  She slipped out of bed and went to the window.
The street with its over-arching trees was softly, deeply black
under a dim star-studded sky.  The noise came closer, the sound of
wheels, the plod of a horse's hooves and voices.  And suddenly she
grinned for, as a voice thick with brogue and whisky came to her,
raised in "Peg in a Low-backed Car," she knew.  This might not be
Jonesboro on Court Day, but Gerald was coming home in the same
condition.

She saw the dark bulk of a buggy stop in front of the house and
indistinct figures alight.  Someone was with him.  Two figures
paused at the gate and she heard the click of the latch and
Gerald's voice came plain,

"Now I'll be giving you the 'Lament for Robert Emmet.'  'Tis a
song you should be knowing, me lad.  I'll teach it to you."

"I'd like to learn it," replied his companion, a hint of buried
laughter in his flat drawling voice.  "But not now, Mr. O'Hara."

"Oh, my God, it's that hateful Butler man!" thought Scarlett, at
first annoyed.  Then she took heart.  At least they hadn't shot
each other.  And they must be on amicable terms to be coming home
together at this hour and in this condition.

"Sing it I will and listen you will or I'll be shooting you for
the Orangeman you are."

"Not Orangeman--Charlestonian."

"'Tis no better.  'Tis worse.  I have two sister-in-laws in
Charleston and I know."

"Is he going to tell the whole neighborhood?" thought Scarlett
panic-stricken, reaching for her wrapper.  But what could she do?
She couldn't go downstairs at this hour of the night and drag her
father in from the street.

With no further warning, Gerald, who was hanging on the gate,
threw back his head and began the "Lament," in a roaring bass.
Scarlett rested her elbows on the window sill and listened,
grinning unwillingly.  It would be a beautiful song, if only her
father could carry a tune.  It was one of her favorite songs and,
for a moment, she followed the fine melancholy of those verses
beginning:


"She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps
And lovers are round her sighing."


The song went on and she heard stirrings in Pittypat's and Melly's
rooms.  Poor things, they'd certainly be upset.  They were not
used to full-blooded males like Gerald.  When the song had
finished, two forms merged into one, came up the walk and mounted
the steps.  A discreet knock sounded at the door.

"I suppose I must go down," thought Scarlett.  "After all he's my
father and poor Pitty would die before she'd go."  Besides, she
didn't want the servants to see Gerald in his present condition.
And if Peter tried to put him to bed, he might get unruly.  Pork
was the only one who knew how to handle him.

She pinned the wrapper close about her throat, lit her bedside
candle and hurried down the dark stairs into the front hall.
Setting the candle on the stand, she unlocked the door and in the
wavering light she saw Rhett Butler, not a ruffle disarranged,
supporting her small, thickset father.  The "Lament" had evidently
been Gerald's swan song for he was frankly hanging onto his
companion's arm.  His hat was gone, his crisp long hair was
tumbled in a white mane, his cravat was under one ear, and there
were liquor stains down his shirt bosom.

"Your father, I believe?" said Captain Butler, his eyes amused in
his swarthy face.  He took in her dishabille in one glance that
seemed to penetrate through her wrapper.

"Bring him in," she said shortly, embarrassed at her attire,
infuriated at Gerald for putting her in a position where this man
could laugh at her.

Rhett propelled Gerald forward.  "Shall I help you take him
upstairs?  You cannot manage him.  He's quite heavy."

Her mouth fell open with horror at the audacity of his proposal.
Just imagine what Pittypat and Melly cowering in their beds would
think, should Captain Butler come upstairs!

"Mother of God, no!  In here, in the parlor on that settee."

"The suttee, did you say?"

"I'll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head.  Here.  Now
lay him down."

"Shall I take off his boots?"

"No.  He's slept in them before."

She could have bitten off her tongue for that slip, for he laughed
softly as he crossed Gerald's legs.

"Please go, now."

He walked out into the dim hall and picked up the hat he had
dropped on the doorsill.

"I will be seeing you Sunday at dinner," he said and went out,
closing the door noiselessly behind him.

Scarlett arose at five-thirty, before the servants had come in
from the back yard to start breakfast, and slipped down the steps
to the quiet lower floor.  Gerald was awake, sitting on the sofa,
his hands gripping his bullet head as if he wished to crush it
between his palms.  He looked up furtively as she entered.  The
pain of moving his eyes was too excruciating to be borne and he
groaned.

"Wurra the day!"

"It's a fine way you've acted, Pa," she began in a furious
whisper.  "Coming home at such an hour and waking all the
neighbors with your singing."

"I sang?"

"Sang!  You woke the echoes singing the 'Lament.'"

"'Tis nothing I'm remembering."

"The neighbors will remember it till their dying day and so will
Miss Pittypat and Melanie."

"Mother of Sorrows," moaned Gerald, moving a thickly furred tongue
around parched lips.  "'Tis little I'm remembering after the game
started."

"Game?"

"That laddybuck Butler bragged that he was the best poker player
in--"

"How much did you lose?"

"Why, I won, naturally.  A drink or two helps me game."

"Look in your wallet."

As if every movement was agony, Gerald removed his wallet from his
coat and opened it.  It was empty and he looked at it in forlorn
bewilderment.

"Five hundred dollars," he said.  "And 'twas to buy things from
the blockaders for Mrs. O'Hara, and now not even fare left to
Tara."

As she looked indignantly at the empty purse, an idea took form in
Scarlett's mind and grew swiftly.

"I'll not be holding up my head in this town," she began.  "You've
disgraced us all."

"Hold your tongue, Puss.  Can you not see me head is bursting?"

"Coming home drunk with a man like Captain Butler, and singing at
the top of your lungs for everyone to hear and losing all that
money."

"The man is too clever with cards to be a gentleman.  He--"

"What will Mother say when she hears?"

He looked up in sudden anguished apprehension.  "You wouldn't be
telling your mother a word and upsetting her, now would you?"

Scarlett said nothing but pursed her lips.

"Think now how 'twould hurt her and her so gentle."

"And to think, Pa, that you said only last night I had disgraced
the family!  Me, with my poor little dance to make money for the
soldiers.  Oh, I could cry."

"Well, don't," pleaded Gerald.  "'Twould be more than me poor head
could stand and sure 'tis bursting now."

"And you said that I--"

"Now Puss, now Puss, don't you be hurt at what your poor old
father said and him not meaning a thing and not understanding a
thing!  Sure, you're a fine well-meaning girl, I'm sure."

"And wanting to take me home in disgrace."

"Ah, darling, I wouldn't be doing that.  'Twas to tease you.  You
won't be mentioning the money to your mother and her in a flutter
about expenses already?"

"No," said Scarlett frankly, "I won't, if you'll let me stay here
and if you'll tell Mother that 'twas nothing but a lot of gossip
from old cats."

Gerald looked mournfully at his daughter.

"'Tis blackmail, no less."

"And last night was a scandal, no less."

"Well," he began wheedlingly, "we'll be forgetting all that.  And
do you think a fine pretty lady like Miss Pittypat would be having
any brandy in the house?  The hair of the dog--"

Scarlett turned and tiptoed through the silent hall into the
dining room to get the brandy bottle that she and Melly privately
called the "swoon bottle" because Pittypat always took a sip from
it when her fluttering heart made her faint--or seem to faint.
Triumph was written on her face and no trace of shame for her
unfilial treatment of Gerald.  Now Ellen would be soothed with
lies if any other busybody wrote her.  Now she could stay in
Atlanta.  Now she could do almost as she pleased, Pittypat being
the weak vessel that she was.  She unlocked the cellaret and stood
for a moment with the bottle and glass pressed to her bosom.

She saw a long vista of picnics by the bubbling waters of
Peachtree Creek and barbecues at Stone Mountain, receptions and
balls, afternoon danceables, buggy rides and Sunday-night buffet
suppers.  She would be there, right in the heart of things, right
in the center of a crowd of men.  And men fell in love so easily,
after you did little things for them at the hospital.  She
wouldn't mind the hospital so much now.  Men were so easily
stirred when they had been ill.  They fell into a clever girl's
hand just like the ripe peaches at Tara when the trees were gently
shaken.

She went back toward her father with the reviving liquor, thanking
Heaven that the famous O'Hara head had not been able to survive
last night's bout and wondering suddenly if Rhett Butler had had
anything to do with that.



CHAPTER XI


On an afternoon of the following week, Scarlett came home from the
hospital weary and indignant.  She was tired from standing on her
feet all morning and irritable because Mrs. Merriwether had
scolded her sharply for sitting on a soldier's bed while she
dressed his wounded arm.  Aunt Pitty and Melanie, bonneted in
their best, were on the porch with Wade and Prissy, ready for
their weekly round of calls.  Scarlett asked to be excused from
accompanying them and went upstairs to her room.

When the last sound of carriage wheels had died away and she knew
the family was safely out of sight, she slipped quietly into
Melanie's room and turned the key in the lock.  It was a prim,
virginal little room and it lay still and warm in the slanting
rays of the four-o'clock sun.  The floors were glistening and bare
except for a few bright rag rugs, and the white walls unornamented
save for one corner which Melanie had fitted up as a shrine.

Here, under a draped Confederate flag, hung the gold-hilted saber
that Melanie's father had carried in the Mexican War, the same
saber Charles had worn away to war.  Charles' sash and pistol belt
hung there too, with his revolver in the holster.  Between the
saber and the pistol was a daguerreotype of Charles himself, very
stiff and proud in his gray uniform, his great brown eyes shining
out of the frame and a shy smile on his lips.

Scarlett did not even glance at the picture but went unhesitatingly
across the room to the square rosewood writing box that stood on the
table beside the narrow bed.  From it she took a pack of letters
tied together with a blue ribbon, addressed in Ashley's hand to
Melanie.  On the top was the letter which had come that morning and
this one she opened.

When Scarlett first began secretly reading these letters, she had
been so stricken of conscience and so fearful of discovery she
could hardly open the envelopes for trembling.  Now, her never-
too-scrupulous sense of honor was dulled by repetition of the
offense and even fear of discovery had subsided.  Occasionally,
she thought with a sinking heart, "What would Mother say if she
knew?"  She knew Ellen would rather see her dead than know her
guilty of such dishonor.  This had worried Scarlett at first, for
she still wanted to be like her mother in every respect.  But the
temptation to read the letters was too great and she put the
thought of Ellen out of her mind.  She had become adept at putting
unpleasant thoughts out of her mind these days.  She had learned
to say, "I won't think of this or that bothersome thought now.
I'll think about it tomorrow."  Generally when tomorrow came, the
thought either did not occur at all or it was so attenuated by the
delay it was not very troublesome.  So the matter of Ashley's
letters did not lie very heavily on her conscience.

Melanie was always generous with the letters, reading parts of
them aloud to Aunt Pitty and Scarlett.  But it was the part she
did not read that tormented Scarlett, that drove her to
surreptitious reading of her sister-in-law's mail.  She had to
know if Ashley had come to love his wife since marrying her.  She
had to know if he even pretended to love her.  Did he address
tender endearments to her?  What sentiments did he express and
with what warmth?

She carefully smoothed out the letter.

Ashley's small even writing leaped up at her as she read, "My dear
wife," and she breathed in relief.  He wasn't calling Melanie
"Darling" or "Sweetheart" yet.

"My Dear wife:  You write me saying you are alarmed lest I be
concealing my real thoughts from you and you ask me what is
occupying my mind these days--"

"Mother of God!" thought Scarlett, in a panic of guilt.
"'Concealing his real thoughts.'  Can Melly have read his mind?
Or my mind?  Does she suspect that he and I--"

Her hands trembled with fright as she held the letter closer, but
as she read the next paragraph she relaxed.

"Dear Wife, if I have concealed aught from you it is because I did
not wish to lay a burden on your shoulders, to add to your worries
for my physical safety with those of my mental turmoil.  But I can
keep nothing from you, for you know me too well.  Do not be
alarmed.  I have no wound.  I have not been ill.  I have enough to
eat and occasionally a bed to sleep in.  A soldier can ask for no
more.  But, Melanie, heavy thoughts lie on my heart and I will
open my heart to you.

"These summer nights I lie awake, long after the camp is sleeping,
and I look up at the stars and, over and over, I wonder, 'Why are
you here, Ashley Wilkes?  What are you fighting for?'

"Not for honor and glory, certainly.  War is a dirty business and
I do not like dirt.  I am not a soldier and I have no desire to
seek the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth.  Yet, here
I am at the wars--whom God never intended to be other than a
studious country gentleman.  For, Melanie, bugles do not stir my
blood nor drums entice my feet and I see too clearly that we have
been betrayed, betrayed by our arrogant Southern selves, believing
that one of us could whip a dozen Yankees, believing that King
Cotton could rule the world.  Betrayed, too, by words and catch
phrases, prejudices and hatreds coming from the mouths of those
highly placed, those men whom we respected and revered--'King
Cotton, Slavery, States' Rights, Damn Yankees.'

"And so when I lie on my blanket and look up at the stars and say
'What are you fighting for?' I think of States' Rights and cotton
and the darkies and the Yankees whom we have been bred to hate,
and I know that none of these is the reason why I am fighting.
Instead, I see Twelve Oaks and remember how the moonlight slants
across the white columns, and the unearthly way the magnolias
look, opening under the moon, and how the climbing roses make the
side porch shady even at the hottest noon.  And I see Mother,
sewing there, as she did when I was a little boy.  And I hear the
darkies coming home across the fields at dusk, tired and singing
and ready for supper, and the sound of the windlass as the bucket
goes down into the cool well.  And there's the long view down the
road to the river, across the cotton fields, and the mist rising
from the bottom lands in the twilight.  And that is why I'm here
who have no love of death or misery or glory and no hatred for
anyone.  Perhaps that is what is called patriotism, love of home
and country.  But Melanie, it goes deeper than that.  For,
Melanie, these things I have named are but the symbols of the
thing for which I risk my life, symbols of the kind of life I
love.  For I am fighting for the old days, the old ways I love so
much but which, I fear, are now gone forever, no matter how the
die may fall.  For, win or lose, we lose just the same.

"If we win this war and have the Cotton Kingdom of our dreams, we
still have lost, for we will become a different people and the old
quiet ways will go.  The world will be at our doors clamoring for
cotton and we can command our own price.  Then, I fear, we will
become like the Yankees, at whose money-making activities,
acquisitiveness and commercialism we now sneer.  And if we lose,
Melanie, if we lose!

"I am not afraid of danger or capture or wounds or even death, if
death must come, but I do fear that once this war is over, we will
never get back to the old times.  And I belong in those old times.
I do not belong in this mad present of killing and I fear I will
not fit into any future, try though I may.  Nor will you, my dear,
for you and I are of the same blood.  I do not know what the
future will bring, but it cannot be as beautiful or as satisfying
as the past.

"I lie and look at the boys sleeping near me and I wonder if the
twins or Alex or Cade think these same thoughts.  I wonder if they
know they are fighting for a Cause that was lost the minute the
first shot was fired, for our Cause is really our own way of
living and that is gone already.  But I do not think they think
these things and they are lucky.

"I had not thought of this for us when I asked you to marry me.  I
had thought of life going on at Twelve Oaks as it had always done,
peacefully, easily, unchanging.  We are alike, Melanie, loving the
same quiet things, and I saw before us a long stretch of
uneventful years in which to read, hear music and dream.  But not
this!  Never this!  That this could happen to us all, this
wrecking of old ways, this bloody slaughter and hate!  Melanie,
nothing is worth it--States' Rights, nor slaves, nor cotton.
Nothing is worth what is happening to us now and what may happen,
for if the Yankees whip us the future will be one of incredible
horror.  And, my dear, they may yet whip us.

"I should not write those words.  I should not even think them.
But you have asked me what was in my heart, and the fear of defeat
is there.  Do you remember at the barbecue, the day our engagement
was announced, that a man named Butler, a Charlestonian by his
accent, nearly caused a fight by his remarks about the ignorance
of Southerners?  Do you recall how the twins wanted to shoot him
because he said we had few foundries and factories, mills and
ships, arsenals and machine shops?  Do you recall how he said the
Yankee fleet could bottle us up so tightly we could not ship out
our cotton?  He was right.  We are fighting the Yankees' new
rifles with Revolutionary War muskets, and soon the blockade will
be too tight for even medical supplies to slip in.  We should have
paid heed to cynics like Butler who knew, instead of statesmen who
felt--and talked.  He said, in effect, that the South had nothing
with which to wage war but cotton and arrogance.  Our cotton is
worthless and what he called arrogance is all that is left.  But I
call that arrogance matchless courage.  If--"

But Scarlett carefully folded up the letter without finishing it
and thrust it back into the envelope, too bored to read further.
Besides, the tone of the letter vaguely depressed her with its
foolish talk of defeat.  After all, she wasn't reading Melanie's
mail to learn Ashley's puzzling and uninteresting ideas.  She had
had to listen to enough of them when he sat on the porch at Tara
in days gone by.

All she wanted to know was whether he wrote impassioned letters to
his wife.  So far he had not.  She had read every letter in the
writing box and there was nothing in any one of them that a
brother might not have written to a sister.  They were
affectionate, humorous, discursive, but not the letters of a
lover.  Scarlett had received too many ardent love letters herself
not to recognize the authentic note of passion when she saw it.
And that note was missing.  As always after her secret readings, a
feeling of smug satisfaction enveloped her, for she felt certain
that Ashley still loved her.  And always she wondered sneeringly
why Melanie did not realize that Ashley only loved her as a
friend.  Melanie evidently found nothing lacking in her husband's
messages but Melanie had had no other man's love letters with
which to compare Ashley's."

"He writes such crazy letters," Scarlett thought.  "If ever any
husband of mine wrote me such twaddle-twaddle, he'd certainly hear
from me!  Why, even Charlie wrote better letters than these."

She flipped back the edges of the letters, looking at the dates,
remembering their contents.  In them there were no fine
descriptive pages of bivouacs and charges such as Darcy Meade
wrote his parents or poor Dallas McLure had written his old-maid
sisters, Misses Faith and Hope.  The Meades and McLures proudly
read these letters all over the neighborhood, and Scarlett had
frequently felt a secret shame that Melanie had no such letters
from Ashley to read aloud at sewing circles.

It was as though when writing Melanie, Ashley tried to ignore the
war altogether, and sought to draw about the two of them a magic
circle of timelessness, shutting out everything that had happened
since Fort Sumter was the news of the day.  It was almost as if he
were trying to believe there wasn't any war.  He wrote of books
which he and Melanie had read and songs they had sung, of old
friends they knew and places he had visited on his Grand Tour.
Through the letters ran a wistful yearning to be back home at
Twelve Oaks, and for pages he wrote of the hunting and the long
rides through the still forest paths under frosty autumn stars,
the barbecues, the fish fries, the quiet of moonlight nights and
the serene charm of the old house.

She thought of his words in the letter she had just read:  "Not
this!  Never this!" and they seemed to cry of a tormented soul
facing something he could not face, yet must face.  It puzzled her
for, if he was not afraid of wounds and death, what was it he
feared?  Unanalytical, she struggled with the complex thought.

"The war disturbs him and he--he doesn't like things that disturb
him. . . .  Me, for instance. . . .  He loved me but he was afraid
to marry me because--for fear I'd upset his way of thinking and
living.  No, it wasn't exactly that he was afraid.  Ashley isn't a
coward.  He couldn't be when he's been mentioned in dispatches and
when Colonel Sloan wrote that letter to Melly all about his
gallant conduct in leading the charge.  Once he's made up his mind
to do something, no one could be braver or more determined but--
He lives inside his head instead of outside in the world and he
hates to come out into the world and--  Oh, I don't know what it
is!  If I'd just understood this one thing about him years ago, I
know he'd have married me."

She stood for a moment holding the letters to her breast, thinking
longingly of Ashley.  Her emotions toward him had not changed
since the day when she first fell in love with him.  They were the
same emotions that struck her speechless that day when she was
fourteen years old and she had stood on the porch of Tara and seen
Ashley ride up smiling, his hair shining silver in the morning
sun.  Her love was still a young girl's adoration for a man she
could not understand, a man who possessed all the qualities she
did not own but which she admired.  He was still a young girl's
dream of the Perfect Knight and her dream asked no more than
acknowledgment of his love, went no further than hopes of a kiss.

After reading the letters, she felt certain he did love her,
Scarlett, even though he had married Melanie, and that certainty
was almost all that she desired.  She was still that young and
untouched.  Had Charles with his fumbling awkwardness and his
embarrassed intimacies tapped any of the deep vein of passionate
feeling within her, her dreams of Ashley would not be ending with
a kiss.  But those few moonlight nights alone with Charles had not
touched her emotions or ripened her to maturity.  Charles had
awakened no idea of what passion might be or tenderness or true
intimacy of body or spirit.

All that passion meant to her was servitude to inexplicable male
madness, unshared by females, a painful and embarrassing process
that led inevitably to the still more painful process of
childbirth.  That marriage should be like this was no surprise to
her.  Ellen had hinted before the wedding that marriage was
something women must bear with dignity and fortitude, and the
whispered comments of other matrons since her widowhood had
confirmed this.  Scarlett was glad to be done with passion and
marriage.

She was done with marriage but not with love, for her love for
Ashley was something different, having nothing to do with passion
or marriage, something sacred and breathtakingly beautiful, an
emotion that grew stealthily through the long days of her enforced
silence, feeding on oft-thumbed memories and hopes.

She sighed as she carefully tied the ribbon about the packet,
wondering for the thousandth time just what it was in Ashley that
eluded her understanding.  She tried to think the matter to some
satisfactory conclusion but, as always, the conclusion evaded her
uncomplex mind.  She put the letters back in the lap secretary and
closed the lid.  Then she frowned, for her mind went back to the
last part of the letter she had just read, to his mention of
Captain Butler.  How strange that Ashley should be impressed by
something that scamp had said a year ago.  Undeniably Captain
Butler was a scamp, for all that he danced divinely.  No one but a
scamp would say the things about the Confederacy that he had said
at the bazaar.

She crossed the room to the mirror and patted her smooth hair
approvingly.  Her spirits rose, as always at the sight of her
white skin and slanting green eyes, and she smiled to bring out
her dimples.  Then she dismissed Captain Butler from her mind as
she happily viewed her reflection, remembering how Ashley had
always liked her dimples.  No pang of conscience at loving another
woman's husband or reading that woman's mail disturbed her
pleasure in her youth and charm and her renewed assurance of
Ashley's love.

She unlocked the door and went down the dim winding stair with a
light heart.  Halfway down she began singing "When This Cruel War
Is Over."



CHAPTER XII


The war went on, successfully for the most part, but people had
stopped saying "One more victory and the war is over," just as
they had stopped saying the Yankees were cowards.  It was obvious
to all now that the Yankees were far from cowardly and that it
would take more than one victory to conquer them.  However, there
were the Confederate victories in Tennessee scored by General
Morgan and General Forrest and the triumph at the Second Battle of
Bull Run hung up like visible Yankee scalps to gloat over.  But
there was a heavy price on these scalps.  The hospitals and homes
of Atlanta were overflowing with the sick and wounded, and more
and more women were appearing in black.  The monotonous rows of
soldiers' graves at Oakland Cemetery stretched longer every day.

Confederate money had dropped alarmingly and the price of food and
clothing had risen accordingly.  The commissary was laying such
heavy levies on foodstuffs that the tables of Atlanta were
beginning to suffer.  White flour was scarce and so expensive that
corn bread was universal instead of biscuits, rolls and waffles.
The butcher shops carried almost no beef and very little mutton,
and that mutton cost so much only the rich could afford it.
However there was still plenty of hog meat, as well as chickens
and vegetables.

The Yankee blockade about the Confederate ports had tightened, and
luxuries such as tea, coffee, silks, whalebone stays, colognes,
fashion magazines and books were scarce and dear.  Even the
cheapest cotton goods had skyrocketed in price and ladies were
regretfully making their old dresses do another season.  Looms
that had gathered dust for years had been brought down from
attics, and there were webs of homespun to be found in nearly
every parlor.  Everyone, soldiers, civilians, women, children and
negroes, began to wear homespun.  Gray, as the color of the
Confederate uniform, practically disappeared and homespun of a
butternut shade took its place.

Already the hospitals were worrying about the scarcity of quinine,
calomel, opium, chloroform and iodine.  Linen and cotton bandages
were too precious now to be thrown away when used, and every lady
who nursed at the hospitals brought home baskets of bloody strips
to be washed and ironed and returned for use on other sufferers.

But to Scarlett, newly emerged from the chrysalis of widowhood,
all the war meant was a time of gaiety and excitement.  Even the
small privations of clothing and food did not annoy her, so happy
was she to be in the world again.

When she thought of the dull times of the past year, with the days
going by one very much like another, life seemed to have quickened
to an incredible speed.  Every day dawned as an exciting
adventure, a day in which she would meet new men who would ask to
call on her, tell her how pretty she was, and how it was a
privilege to fight and, perhaps, to die for her.  She could and
did love Ashley with the last breath in her body, but that did not
prevent her from inveigling other men into asking to marry her.

The ever-present war in the background lent a pleasant informality
to social relations, an informality which older people viewed with
alarm.  Mothers found strange men calling on their daughters, men
who came without letters of introduction and whose antecedents
were unknown.  To their horror, mothers found their daughters
holding hands with these men.  Mrs. Merriwether, who had never
kissed her husband until after the wedding ceremony, could
scarcely believe her eyes when she caught Maybelle kissing the
little Zouave, Rene Picard, and her consternation was even greater
when Maybelle refused to be ashamed.  Even the fact that Rene
immediately asked for her hand did not improve matters.  Mrs.
Merriwether felt that the South was heading for a complete moral
collapse and frequently said so.  Other mothers concurred heartily
with her and blamed it on the war.

But men who expected to die within a week or a month could not
wait a year before they begged to call a girl by her first name,
with "Miss," of course, preceding it.  Nor would they go through
the formal and protracted courtships which good manners had
prescribed before the war.  They were likely to propose in three
or four months.  And girls who knew very well that a lady always
refused a gentleman the first three times he proposed rushed
headlong to accept the first time.

This informality made the war a lot of fun for Scarlett.  Except
for the messy business of nursing and the bore of bandage rolling,
she did not care if the war lasted forever.  In fact, she could
endure the hospital with equanimity now because it was a perfect
happy hunting ground.  The helpless wounded succumbed to her
charms without a struggle.  Renew their bandages, wash their
faces, pat up their pillows and fan them, and they fell in love.
Oh, it was Heaven after the last dreary year!

Scarlett was back again where she had been before she married
Charles and it was as if she had never married him, never felt the
shock of his death, never borne Wade.  War and marriage and
childbirth had passed over her without touching any deep chord
within her and she was unchanged.  She had a child but he was
cared for so well by the others in the red brick house she could
almost forget him.  In her mind and heart, she was Scarlett O'Hara
again, the belle of the County.  Her thoughts and activities were
the same as they had been in the old days, but the field of her
activities had widened immensely.  Careless of the disapproval of
Aunt Pitty's friends, she behaved as she had behaved before her
marriage, went to parties, danced, went riding with soldiers,
flirted, did everything she had done as a girl, except stop
wearing mourning.  This she knew would be a straw that would break
the backs of Pittypat and Melanie.  She was as charming a widow as
she had been a girl, pleasant when she had her own way, obliging
as long as it did not discommode her, vain of her looks and her
popularity.

She was happy now where a few weeks before she had been miserable,
happy with her beaux and their reassurances of her charm, as happy
as she could be with Ashley married to Melanie and in danger.  But
somehow it was easier to bear the thought of Ashley belonging to
some one else when he was far away.  With the hundreds of miles
stretching between Atlanta and Virginia, he sometimes seemed as
much hers as Melanie's.

So the autumn months of 1862 went swiftly by with nursing,
dancing, driving and bandage rolling taking up all the time she
did not spend on brief visits to Tara.  These visits were
disappointing, for she had little opportunity for the long quiet
talks with her mother to which she looked forward while in
Atlanta, no time to sit by Ellen while she sewed, smelling the
faint fragrance of lemon verbena sachet as her skirts rustled,
feeling her soft hands on her cheek in a gentle caress.

Ellen was thin and preoccupied now and on her feet from morning
until long after the plantation was asleep.  The demands of the
Confederate commissary were growing heavier by the month, and hers
was the task of making Tara produce.  Even Gerald was busy, for
the first time in many years, for he could get no overseer to take
Jonas Wilkerson's place and he was riding his own acres.  With
Ellen too busy for more than a goodnight kiss and Gerald in the
fields all day, Scarlett found Tara boring.  Even her sisters were
taken up with their own concerns.  Suellen had now come to an
"understanding" with Frank Kennedy and sang "When This Cruel War
Is Over" with an arch meaning Scarlett found well-nigh
unendurable, and Carreen was too wrapped up in dreams of Brent
Tarleton to be interesting company.

Though Scarlett always went home to Tara with a happy heart, she
was never sorry when the inevitable letters came from Pitty and
Melanie, begging her to return.  Ellen always sighed at these
times, saddened by the thought of her oldest daughter and her only
grandchild leaving her.

"But I mustn't be selfish and keep you here when you are needed to
nurse in Atlanta," she said.  "Only--only, my darling, it seems
that I never get the time to talk to you and to feel that you are
my own little girl again before you are gone from me."

"I'm always your little girl," Scarlett would say and bury her
head upon Ellen's breast, her guilt rising up to accuse her.  She
did not tell her mother that it was the dancing and the beaux
which drew her back to Atlanta and not the service of the
Confederacy.  There were many things she kept from her mother
these days.  But, most of all, she kept secret the fact that Rhett
Butler called frequently at Aunt Pittypat's house.



During the months that followed the bazaar, Rhett called whenever
he was in town, taking Scarlett riding in his carriage, escorting
her to danceables and bazaars and waiting outside the hospital to
drive her home.  She lost her fear of his betraying her secret,
but there always lurked in the back of her mind the disquieting
memory that he had seen her at her worst and knew the truth about
Ashley.  It was this knowledge that checked her tongue when he
annoyed her.  And he annoyed her frequently.

He was in his mid-thirties, older than any beau she had ever had,
and she was as helpless as a child to control and handle him as
she had handled beaux nearer her own age.  He always looked as if
nothing had ever surprised him and much had amused him and, when
he had gotten her into a speechless temper, she felt that she
amused him more than anything in the world.  Frequently she flared
into open wrath under his expert baiting, for she had Gerald's
Irish temper along with the deceptive sweetness of face she had
inherited from Ellen.  Heretofore she had never bothered to
control her temper except in Ellen's presence.  Now it was painful
to have to choke back words for fear of his amused grin.  If only
he would ever lose his temper too, then she would not feel at such
a disadvantage.

After tilts with him from which she seldom emerged the victor she
vowed he was impossible, ill-bred and no gentleman and she would
have nothing more to do with him.  But sooner or later, he
returned to Atlanta, called, presumably on Aunt Pitty, and
presented Scarlett, with overdone gallantry, a box of bonbons he
had brought her from Nassau.  Or preempted a seat by her at a
musicale or claimed her at a dance, and she was usually so amused
by his bland impudence that she laughed and overlooked his past
misdeeds until the next occurred.

For all his exasperating qualities, she grew to look forward to
his calls.  There was something exciting about him that she could
not analyze, something different from any man she had ever known.
There was something breathtaking in the grace of his big body
which made his very entrance into a room like an abrupt physical
impact, something in the impertinence and bland mockery of his
dark eyes that challenged her spirit to subdue him.

"It's almost like I was in love with him!" she thought,
bewildered.  "But I'm not and I just can't understand it."

But the exciting feeling persisted.  When he came to call, his
complete masculinity made Aunt Pitty's well-bred and ladylike
house seem small, pale and a trifle fusty.  Scarlett was not the
only member of the household who reacted strangely and unwillingly
to his presence, for he kept Aunt Pitty in a flutter and a
ferment.

While Pitty knew Ellen would disapprove of his calls on her
daughter, and knew also that the edict of Charleston banning him
from polite society was not one to be lightly disregarded, she
could no more resist his elaborate compliments and hand kissing
than a fly can resist a honey pot.  Moreover, he usually brought
her some little gift from Nassau which he assured her he had
purchased especially for her and blockaded in at risk of his life--
papers of pins and needles, buttons, spools of silk thread and
hairpins.  It was almost impossible to obtain these small luxuries
now--ladies were wearing hand-whittled wooden hairpins and
covering acorns with cloth for buttons--and Pitty lacked the moral
stamina to refuse them.  Besides, she had a childish love of
surprise packages and could not resist opening his gifts.  And,
having once opened them, she did not feel that she could refuse
them.  Then, having accepted his gifts, she could not summon
courage enough to tell him his reputation made it improper for him
to call on three lone women who had no male protector.  Aunt Pitty
always felt that she needed a male protector when Rhett Butler was
in the house.

"I don't know what it is about him," she would sigh helplessly.
"But--well, I think he'd be a nice, attractive man if I could just
feel that--well, that deep down in his heart he respected women."

Since the return of her wedding ring, Melanie had felt that Rhett
was a gentleman of rare refinement and delicacy and she was
shocked at this remark.  He was unfailingly courteous to her, but
she was a little timid with him, largely because she was shy with
any man she had not known from childhood.  Secretly she was very
sorry for him, a feeling which would have amused him had he been
aware of it.  She was certain that some romantic sorrow had
blighted his life and made him hard and bitter, and she felt that
what he needed was the love of a good woman.  In all her sheltered
life she had never seen evil and could scarcely credit its
existence, and when gossip whispered things about Rhett and the
girl in Charleston she was shocked and unbelieving.  And, instead
of turning her against him, it only made her more timidly gracious
toward him because of her indignation at what she fancied was a
gross injustice done him.

Scarlett silently agreed with Aunt Pitty.  She, too, felt that he
had no respect for any woman, unless perhaps for Melanie.  She
still felt unclothed every time his eyes ran up and down her
figure.  It was not that he ever said anything.  Then she could
have scorched him with hot words.  It was the bold way his eyes
looked out of his swarthy face with a displeasing air of
insolence, as if all women were his property to be enjoyed in his
own good time.  Only with Melanie was this look absent.  There was
never that cool look of appraisal, never mockery in his eyes, when
he looked at Melanie; and there was an especial note in his voice
when he spoke to her, courteous, respectful, anxious to be of
service.

"I don't see why you're so much nicer to her than to me," said
Scarlett petulantly, one afternoon when Melanie and Pitty had
retired to take their naps and she was alone with him.

For an hour she had watched Rhett hold the yarn Melanie was
winding for knitting, had noted the blank inscrutable expression
when Melanie talked at length and with pride of Ashley and his
promotion.  Scarlett knew Rhett had no exalted opinion of Ashley
and cared nothing at all about the fact that he had been made a
major.  Yet he made polite replies and murmured the correct things
about Ashley's gallantry.

And if I so much as mention Ashley's name, she had thought
irritably, he cocks his eyebrow up and smiles that nasty, knowing
smile!

"I'm much prettier than she is," she continued, "and I don't see
why you're nicer to her."

"Dare I hope that you are jealous?"

"Oh, don't presume!"

"Another hope crushed.  If I am 'nicer' to Mrs. Wilkes, it is
because she deserves it.  She is one of the very few kind, sincere
and unselfish persons I have ever known.  But perhaps you have
failed to note these qualities.  And moreover, for all her youth,
she is one of the few great ladies I have ever been privileged to
know."

"Do you mean to say you don't think I'm a great lady, too?"

"I think we agreed on the occasion of our first meeting that you
were no lady at all."

"Oh, if you are going to be hateful and rude enough to bring that
up again!  How can you hold that bit of childish temper against
me?  That was so long ago and I've grown up since then and I'd
forget all about it if you weren't always harping and hinting
about it."

"I don't think it was childish temper and I don't believe you've
changed.  You are just as capable now as then of throwing vases if
you don't get your own way.  But you usually get your way now.
And so there's no necessity for broken bric-a-brac."

"Oh, you are--I wish I was a man!  I'd call you out and--"

"And get killed for your pains.  I can drill a dime at fifty
yards.  Better stick to your own weapons--dimples, vases and the
like."

"You are just a rascal."

"Do you expect me to fly into a rage at that?  I am sorry to
disappoint you.  You can't make me mad by calling me names that are
true.  Certainly I'm a rascal, and why not?  It's a free country and
a man may be a rascal if he chooses.  It's only hypocrites like you,
my dear lady, just as black at heart but trying to hide it, who
become enraged when called by their right names."

She was helpless before his calm smile and his drawling remarks,
for she had never before met anyone who was so completely
impregnable. Her weapons of scorn, coldness and abuse blunted
in her hands, for nothing she could say would shame him.  It had
been her experience that the liar was the hottest to defend his
veracity, the coward his courage, the ill-bred his gentlemanliness,
and the cad his honor.  But not Rhett.  He admitted everything and
laughed and dared her to say more.

He came and went during these months, arriving unheralded and
leaving without saying good-by.  Scarlett never discovered just
what business brought him to Atlanta, for few other blockaders
found it necessary to come so far away from the coast.  They
landed their cargoes at Wilmington or Charleston, where they were
met by swarms of merchants and speculators from all over the South
who assembled to buy blockaded goods at auction.  It would have
pleased her to think that he made these trips to see her, but even
her abnormal vanity refused to believe this.  If he had ever once
made love to her, seemed jealous of the other men who crowded
about her, even tried to hold her hand or begged for a picture or
a handkerchief to cherish, she would have thought triumphantly he
had been caught by her charms.  But he remained annoyingly
unloverlike and, worst of all, seemed to see through all her
maneuverings to bring him to his knees.

Whenever he came to town, there was a feminine fluttering.  Not
only did the romantic aura of the dashing blockader hang about him
but there was also the titillating element of the wicked and the
forbidden.  He had such a bad reputation!  And every time the
matrons of Atlanta gathered together to gossip, his reputation
grew worse, which only made him all the more glamorous to the
young girls.  As most of them were quite innocent, they had heard
little more than that he was "quite loose with women"--and exactly
how a man went about the business of being "loose" they did not
know.  They also heard whispers that no girl was safe with him.
With such a reputation, it was strange that he had never so much
as kissed the hand of an unmarried girl since he first appeared in
Atlanta.  But that only served to make him more mysterious and
more exciting.

Outside of the army heroes, he was the most talked-about man in
Atlanta.  Everyone knew in detail how he had been expelled from
West Point for drunkenness and "something about women."  That
terrific scandal concerning the Charleston girl he had compromised
and the brother he had killed was public property.  Correspondence
with Charleston friends elicited the further information that his
father, a charming old gentleman with an iron will and a ramrod
for a backbone, had cast him out without a penny when he was
twenty and even stricken his name from the family Bible.  After
that he had wandered to California in the gold rush of 1849 and
thence to South America and Cuba, and the reports of his
activities in these parts were none too savory.  Scrapes about
women, several shootings, gun running to the revolutionists in
Central America and, worst of all, professional gambling were
included in his career, as Atlanta heard it.

There was hardly a family in Georgia who could not own to their
sorrow at least one male member or relative who gambled, losing
money, houses, land and slaves.  But that was different.  A man
could gamble himself to poverty and still be a gentleman, but a
professional gambler could never be anything but an outcast.

Had it not been for the upset conditions due to the war and his
own services to the Confederate government, Rhett Butler would
never have been received in Atlanta.  But now, even the most
strait laced felt that patriotism called upon them to be more
broad minded.  The more sentimental were inclined to view that the
black sheep of the Butler family had repented of his evil ways and
was making an attempt to atone for his sins.  So the ladies felt
in duty bound to stretch a point, especially in the case of so
intrepid a blockader.  Everyone knew now that the fate of the
Confederacy rested as much upon the skill of the blockade boats in
eluding the Yankee fleet as it did upon the soldiers at the front.

Rumor had it that Captain Butler was one of the best pilots in the
South and that he was reckless and utterly without nerves.  Reared
in Charleston, he knew every inlet, creek, shoal and rock of the
Carolina coast near that port, and he was equally at home in the
waters around Wilmington.  He had never lost a boat or even been
forced to dump a cargo.  At the onset of the war, he had emerged
from obscurity with enough money to buy a small swift boat and
now, when blockaded goods realized two thousand per cent on each
cargo, he owned four boats.  He had good pilots and paid them
well, and they slid out of Charleston and Wilmington on dark
nights, bearing cotton for Nassau, England and Canada.  The cotton
mills of England were standing idle and the workers were starving,
and any blockader who could outwit the Yankee fleet could command
his own price in Liverpool.  Rhett's boats were singularly lucky
both in taking out cotton for the Confederacy and bringing in the
war materials for which the South was desperate.  Yes, the ladies
felt they could forgive and forget a great many things for such a
brave man.

He was a dashing figure and one that people turned to look at.  He
spent money freely, rode a wild black stallion, and wore clothes
which were always the height of style and tailoring.  The latter
in itself was enough to attract attention to him, for the uniforms
of the soldiers were dingy and worn now and the civilians, even
when turned out in their best, showed skillful patching and
darning.  Scarlett thought she had never seen such elegant pants
as he wore, fawn colored, shepherd's plaid, and checked.  As for
his waistcoats, they were indescribably handsome, especially the
white watered-silk one with tiny pink rosebuds embroidered on it.
And he wore these garments with a still more elegant air as though
unaware of their glory.

There were few ladies who could resist his charms when he chose to
exert them, and finally even Mrs. Merriwether unbent and invited
him to Sunday dinner.

Maybelle Merriwether was to marry her little Zouave when he got
his next furlough, and she cried every time she thought of it, for
she had set her heart on marrying in a white satin dress and there
was no white satin in the Confederacy.  Nor could she borrow a
dress, for the satin wedding dresses of years past had all gone
into the making of battle flags.  Useless for the patriotic Mrs.
Merriwether to upbraid her daughter and point out that homespun
was the proper bridal attire for a Confederate bride.  Maybelle
wanted satin.  She was willing, even proud to go without hairpins
and buttons and nice shoes and candy and tea for the sake of the
Cause, but she wanted a satin wedding dress.

Rhett, hearing of this from Melanie, brought in from England yards
and yards of gleaming white satin and a lace veil and presented
them to her as a wedding gift.  He did it in such a way that it
was unthinkable to even mention paying him for them, and Maybelle
was so delighted she almost kissed him.  Mrs. Merriwether knew
that so expensive a gift--and a gift of clothing at that--was
highly improper, but she could think of no way of refusing when
Rhett told her in the most florid language that nothing was too
good to deck the bride of one of our brave heroes.  So Mrs.
Merriwether invited him to dinner, feeling that this concession
more than paid for the gift.

He not only brought Maybelle the satin but he was able to give
excellent hints on the making of the wedding dress.  Hoops in
Paris were wider this season and skirts were shorter.  They were
no longer ruffled but were gathered up in scalloped festoons,
showing braided petticoats beneath.  He said, too, that he had
seen no pantalets on the streets, so he imagined they were "out."
Afterwards, Mrs. Merriwether told Mrs. Elsing she feared that if
she had given him any encouragement at all, he would have told her
exactly what kind of drawers were being worn by Parisiennes.

Had he been less obviously masculine, his ability to recall
details of dresses, bonnets and coiffures would have been put down
as the rankest effeminacy.  The ladies always felt a little odd
when they besieged him with questions about styles, but they did
it nevertheless.  They were as isolated from the world of fashion
as shipwrecked mariners, for few books of fashion came through the
blockade.  For all they knew the ladies of France might be shaving
their heads and wearing coonskin caps, so Rhett's memory for
furbelows was an excellent substitute for Godey's Lady's Book.  He
could and did notice details so dear to feminine hearts, and after
each trip abroad he could be found in the center of a group of
ladies, telling that bonnets were smaller this year and perched
higher, covering most of the top of the head, that plumes and not
flowers were being used to trim them, that the Empress of France
had abandoned the chignon for evening wear and had her hair piled
almost on the top of her head, showing all of her ears, and that
evening frocks were shockingly low again.



For some months, he was the most popular and romantic figure the
town knew, despite his previous reputation, despite the faint
rumors that he was engaged not only in blockading but in
speculating on foodstuffs, too.  People who did not like him said
that after every trip he made to Atlanta, prices jumped five
dollars.  But even with this under-cover gossip seeping about, he
could have retained his popularity had he considered it worth
retaining.  Instead, it seemed as though, after trying the company
of the staid and patriotic citizens and winning their respect and
grudging liking, something perverse in him made him go out of his
way to affront them and show them that his conduct had been only a
masquerade and one which no longer amused him.

It was as though he bore an impersonal contempt for everyone and
everything in the South, the Confederacy in particular, and took
no pains to conceal it.  It was his remarks about the Confederacy
that made Atlanta look at him first in bewilderment, then coolly
and then with hot rage.  Even before 1862 passed into 1863, men
were bowing to him with studied frigidity and women beginning to
draw their daughters to their sides when he appeared at a
gathering.

He seemed to take pleasure not only in affronting the sincere and
red-hot loyalties of Atlanta but in presenting himself in the
worst possible light.  When well-meaning people complimented him
on his bravery in running the blockade, he blandly replied that he
was always frightened when in danger, as frightened as were the
brave boys at the front.  Everyone knew there had never been a
cowardly Confederate soldier and they found this statement
peculiarly irritating.  He always referred to the soldiers as "our
brave boys" and "our heroes in gray" and did it in such a way as
to convey the utmost in insult.  When daring young ladies, hoping
for a flirtation, thanked him for being one of the heroes who
fought for them, he bowed and declared that such was not the case,
for he would do the same thing for Yankee women if the same amount
of money were involved.

Since Scarlett's first meeting with him in Atlanta on the night of
the bazaar, he had talked with her in this manner, but now there
was a thinly veiled note of mockery in his conversations with
everyone.  When praised for his services to the Confederacy, he
unfailingly replied that blockading was a business with him.  If
he could make as much money out of government contracts, he would
say, picking out with his eyes those who had government contracts,
then he would certainly abandon the hazards of blockading and take
to selling shoddy cloth, sanded sugar, spoiled flour and rotten
leather to the Confederacy.

Most of his remarks were unanswerable, which made them all the
worse.  There had already been minor scandals about those holding
government contracts.  Letters from men at the front complained
constantly of shoes that wore out in a week, gunpowder that would
not ignite, harness that snapped at any strain, meat that was
rotten and flour that was full of weevils.  Atlanta people tried
to think that the men who sold such stuff to the government must
be contract holders from Alabama or Virginia or Tennessee, and not
Georgians.  For did not the Georgia contract holders include men
from the very best families?  Were they not the first to
contribute to the hospital funds and to the aid of soldiers'
orphans?  Were they not the first to cheer at "Dixie" and the most
rampant seekers, in oratory at least, for Yankee blood?  The full
tide of fury against those profiteering on government contracts
had not yet risen, and Rhett's words were taken merely as evidence
of his own bad breeding.

He not only affronted the town with insinuations of venality on
the part of men in high places and slurs on the courage of the men
in the field, but he took pleasure in tricking the dignified
citizenry into embarrassing situations.  He could no more resist
pricking the conceits, the hypocrisies and the flamboyant
patriotism of those about him than a small boy can resist putting
a pin into a balloon.  He neatly deflated the pompous and exposed
the ignorant and the bigoted, and he did it in such subtle ways,
drawing his victims out by his seemingly courteous interest, that
they never were quite certain what had happened until they stood
exposed as windy, high flown and slightly ridiculous.

During the months when the town accepted him, Scarlett had been
under no illusions about him.  She knew that his elaborate
gallantries and his florid speeches were all done with his tongue
in his cheek.  She knew that he was acting the part of the dashing
and patriotic blockade runner simply because it amused him.
Sometimes he seemed to her like the County boys with whom she had
grown up, the wild Tarleton twins with their obsession for practical
jokes; the devil-inspired Fontaines, teasing, mischievous; the
Calverts who would sit up all night planning hoaxes.  But there was
a difference, for beneath Rhett's seeming lightness there was
something malicious, almost sinister in its suave brutality.

Though she was thoroughly aware of his insincerity, she much
preferred him in the role of the romantic blockader.  For one
thing, it made her own situation in associating with him so much
easier than it had been at first.  So, she was intensely annoyed
when he dropped his masquerade and set out apparently upon a
deliberate campaign to alienate Atlanta's good will.  It annoyed
her because it seemed foolish and also because some of the harsh
criticism directed at him fell on her.

It was at Mrs. Elsing's silver musicale for the benefit of the
convalescents that Rhett signed his final warrant of ostracism.
That afternoon the Elsing home was crowded with soldiers on leave
and men from the hospitals, members of the Home Guard and the
militia unit, and matrons, widows and young girls.  Every chair in
the house was occupied, and even the long winding stair was packed
with guests.  The large cut-glass bowl held at the door by the
Elsings' butler had been emptied twice of its burden of silver
coins.  That in itself was enough to make the affair a success,
for now a dollar in silver was worth sixty dollars in Confederate
paper money.

Every girl with any pretense to accomplishments had sung or played
the piano, and the tableaux vivants had been greeted with
flattering applause.  Scarlett was much pleased with herself, for
not only had she and Melanie rendered a touching duet, "When the
Dew Is on the Blossom," followed as an encore by the more
sprightly "Oh, Lawd, Ladies, Don't Mind Stephen!" but she had also
been chosen to represent the Spirit of the Confederacy in the last
tableau.

She had looked most fetching, wearing a modestly draped Greek robe
of white cheesecloth girdled with red and blue and holding the
Stars and Bars in one hand, while with the other she stretched out
to the kneeling Captain Carey Ashburn, of Alabama, the gold-hilted
saber which had belonged to Charles and his father.

When her tableau was over, she could not help seeking Rhett's eyes
to see if he had appreciated the pretty picture she made.  With a
feeling of exasperation she saw that he was in an argument and
probably had not even noticed her.  Scarlett could see by the
faces of the group surrounding him that they were infuriated by
what he was saying.

She made her way toward them and, in one of those odd silences
which sometimes fall on a gathering, she heard Willie Guinan, of
the militia outfit, say plainly:  "Do I understand, sir, that you
mean the Cause for which our heroes have died is not sacred?"

"If you were run over by a railroad train your death wouldn't
sanctify the railroad company, would it?" asked Rhett and his
voice sounded as if he were humbly seeking information.

"Sir," said Willie, his voice shaking, "if we were not under this
roof--"

"I tremble to think what would happen," said Rhett.  "For, of
course, your bravery is too well known."

Willie went scarlet and all conversation ceased.  Everyone was
embarrassed.  Willie was strong and healthy and of military age
and yet he wasn't at the front.  Of course, he was the only boy
his mother had and, after all, somebody had to be in the militia
to protect the state.  But there were a few irreverent snickers
from convalescent officers when Rhett spoke of bravery.

"Oh, why doesn't he keep his mouth shut!" thought Scarlett
indignantly.  "He's simply spoiling the whole party!"

Dr. Meade's brows were thunderous.

"Nothing may be sacred to you, young man," he said, in the voice
he always used when making speeches.  "But there are many things
sacred to the patriotic men and ladies of the South.  And the
freedom of our land from the usurper is one and States' Rights is
another and--"

Rhett looked lazy and his voice had a silky, almost bored, note.

"All wars are sacred," he said.  "To those who have to fight them.
If the people who started wars didn't make them sacred, who would
be foolish enough to fight?  But, no matter what rallying cries
the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble
purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a
war.  And that is money.  All wars are in reality money squabbles.
But so few people ever realize it.  Their ears are too full of
bugles and drums and the fine words from stay-at-home orators.
Sometimes the rallying cry is 'Save the Tomb of Christ from the
Heathen!'  Sometimes it's 'Down with Popery!' and sometimes
'Liberty!' and sometimes 'Cotton, Slavery and States' Rights!'"

"What on earth has the Pope to do with it?" thought Scarlett.  "Or
Christ's tomb, either?"

But as she hurried toward the incensed group, she saw Rhett bow
jauntily and start toward the doorway through the crowd.  She
started after him but Mrs. Elsing caught her skirt and held her.

"Let him go," she said in a clear voice that carried throughout
the tensely quiet room.  "Let him go.  He is a traitor, a
speculator!  He is a viper that we have nursed to our bosoms!"

Rhett, standing in the hall, his hat in his hand, heard as he was
intended to hear and, turning, surveyed the room for a moment.  He
looked pointedly at Mrs. Elsing's flat bosom, grinned suddenly
and, bowing, made his exit.



Mrs. Merriwether rode home in Aunt Pitty's carriage, and scarcely
had the four ladies seated themselves when she exploded.

"There now, Pittypat Hamilton!  I hope you are satisfied!"

"With what?" cried Pitty, apprehensively.

"With the conduct of that wretched Butler man you've been
harboring."

Pittypat fluttered, too upset by the accusation to recall that
Mrs. Merriwether had also been Rhett Butler's hostess on several
occasions.  Scarlett and Melanie thought of this, but bred to
politeness to their elders, refrained from remarking on the
matter.  Instead they studiously looked down at their mittened
hands.

"He insulted us all and the Confederacy too," said Mrs. Merriwether,
and her stout bust heaved violently beneath its glittering
passementerie trimmings.  "Saying that we were fighting for money!
Saying that our leaders had lied to us!  He should be put in jail.
Yes, he should.  I shall speak to Dr. Meade about it.  If Mr.
Merriwether were only alive, he'd tend to him!  Now, Pitty Hamilton,
you listen to me.  You mustn't ever let that scamp come into your
house again!"

"Oh," mumbled Pitty, helplessly, looking as if she wished she were
dead.  She looked appealingly at the two girls who kept their eyes
cast down and then hopefully toward Uncle Peter's erect back.  She
knew he was listening attentively to every word and she hoped he
would turn and take a hand in the conversation, as he frequently
did.  She hoped he would say:  "Now, Miss Dolly, you let Miss
Pitty be," but Peter made no move.  He disapproved heartily of
Rhett Butler and poor Pitty knew it.  She sighed and said:  "Well,
Dolly, if you think--"

"I do think," returned Mrs. Merriwether firmly.  "I can't imagine
what possessed you to receive him in the first place.  After this
afternoon, there won't be a decent home in town that he'll be
welcome in.  Do get up some gumption and forbid him your house."

She turned a sharp eye on the girls.  "I hope you two are marking
my words," she continued, "for it's partly your fault, being so
pleasant to him.  Just tell him politely but firmly that his
presence and his disloyal talk are distinctly unwelcome at your
house."

By this time Scarlett was boiling, ready to rear like a horse at
the touch of a strange rough hand on its bridle.  But she was
afraid to speak.  She could not risk Mrs. Merriwether writing
another letter to her mother.

"You old buffalo!" she thought, her face crimson with suppressed
fury.  "How heavenly it would be to tell you just what I think of
you and your bossy ways!"

"I never thought to live long enough to hear such disloyal words
spoken of our Cause," went on Mrs. Merriwether, by this time in a
ferment of righteous anger.  "Any man who does not think our Cause
is just and holy should be hanged!  I don't want to hear of you
two girls ever even speaking to him again--  For Heaven's sake,
Melly, what ails you?"

Melanie was white and her eyes were enormous.

"I will speak to him again," she said in a low voice.  "I will not
be rude to him.  I will not forbid him the house."

Mrs. Merriwether's breath went out of her lungs as explosively as
though she had been punched.  Aunt Pitty's fat mouth popped open
and Uncle Peter turned to stare.

"Now, why didn't I have the gumption to say that?" thought
Scarlett, jealousy mixing with admiration.  "How did that little
rabbit ever get up spunk enough to stand up to old lady
Merriwether?"

Melanie's hands were shaking but she went on hurriedly, as though
fearing her courage would fail her if she delayed.

"I won't be rude to him because of what he said, because--  It was
rude of him to say it out loud--most ill advised--but it's--it's
what Ashley thinks.  And I can't forbid the house to a man who
thinks what my husband thinks.  It would be unjust."

Mrs. Merriwether's breath had come back and she charged.

"Melly Hamilton, I never heard such a lie in all my life!  There
was never a Wilkes who was a coward--"

"I never said Ashley was a coward," said Melanie, her eyes
beginning to flash.  "I said he thinks what Captain Butler thinks,
only he expresses it in different words.  And he doesn't go around
saying it at musicales, I hope.  But he has written it to me."

Scarlett's guilty conscience stirred as she tried to recall what
Ashley might have written that would lead Melanie to make such a
statement, but most of the letters she had read had gone out of
her head as soon as she finished reading them.  She believed
Melanie had simply taken leave of her senses.

"Ashley wrote me that we should not be fighting the Yankees.  And
that we have been betrayed into it by statesmen and orators
mouthing catchwords and prejudices," said Melly rapidly.  "He said
nothing in the world was worth what this war was going to do to
us.  He said here wasn't anything at all to glory--it was just
misery and dirt."

"Oh!  That letter," thought Scarlett.  "Was that what he meant?"

"I don't believe it," said Mrs. Merriwether firmly.  "You
misunderstood his meaning."

"I never misunderstand Ashley," Melanie replied quietly, though
her lips were trembling.  "I understand him perfectly.  He meant
exactly what Captain Butler meant, only he didn't say it in a rude
way."

"You should be ashamed of yourself, comparing a fine man like
Ashley Wilkes to a scoundrel like Captain Butler!  I suppose you,
too, think the Cause is nothing!"

"I--I don't know what I think," Melanie began uncertainly, her
fire deserting her and panic at her outspokenness taking hold of
her.  "I--I'd die for the Cause, like Ashley would.  But--I mean--
I mean, I'll let the men folks do the thinking, because they are
so much smarter."

"I never heard the like," snorted Mrs. Merriwether.  "Stop, Uncle
Peter, you're driving past my house!"

Uncle Peter, preoccupied with the conversation behind him, had
driven past the Merriwether carriage block and he backed up the
horse.  Mrs. Merriwether alighted, her bonnet ribbons shaking like
sails in a storm.

"You'll be sorry," she said.

Uncle Peter whipped up the horse.

"You young misses ought ter tek shame, gittin' Miss Pitty in a
state," he scolded.

"I'm not in a state," replied Pitty, surprisingly, for less strain
than this had frequently brought on fainting fits.  "Melly, honey,
I knew you were doing it just to take up for me and, really, I was
glad to see somebody take Dolly down a peg.  She's so bossy.  How
did you have the courage?  But do you think you should have said
that about Ashley?"

"But it's true," answered Melanie and she began to cry softly.
"And I'm not ashamed that he thinks that way.  He thinks the war
is all wrong but he's willing to fight and die anyway, and that
takes lots more courage than fighting for something you think is
right."

"Lawd, Miss Melly, doan cry hyah on Peachtree Street," groaned
Uncle Peter, hastening his horse's pace.  "Folks'll talk sumpin'
scan'lous.  Wait till us gits home."

Scarlett said nothing.  She did not even squeeze the hand that
Melanie had inserted into her palm for comfort.  She had read
Ashley's letters for only one purpose--to assure herself that he
still loved her.  Now Melanie had given a new meaning to passages
in the letters which Scarlett's eyes had barely seen.  It shocked
her to realize that anyone as absolutely perfect as Ashley could
have any thought in common with such a reprobate as Rhett Butler.
She thought:  "They both see the truth of this war, but Ashley is
willing to die about it and Rhett isn't.  I think that shows
Rhett's good sense."  She paused a moment, horror struck that she
could have such a thought about Ashley.  "They both see the same
unpleasant truth, but Rhett likes to look it in the face and
enrage people by talking about it--and Ashley can hardly bear to
face it."

It was very bewildering.



CHAPTER XIII


Under Mrs. Merriwether's goading, Dr. Meade took action, in the
form of a letter to the newspaper wherein he did not mention Rhett
by name, though his meaning was obvious.  The editor, sensing the
social drama of the letter, put it on the second page of the
paper, in itself a startling innovation, as the first two pages of
the paper were always devoted to advertisements of slaves, mules,
plows, coffins, houses for sale or rent, cures for private
diseases, abortifacients and restoratives for lost manhood.

The doctor's letter was the first of a chorus of indignation that
was beginning to be heard all over the South against speculators,
profiteers and holders of government contracts.  Conditions in
Wilmington, the chief blockade port, now that Charleston's port
was practically sealed by the Yankee gunboats, had reached the
proportions of an open scandal.  Speculators swarmed Wilmington
and, having the ready cash, bought up boatloads of goods and held
them for a rise in prices.  The rise always came, for with the
increasing scarcity of necessities, prices leaped higher by the
month.  The civilian population had either to do without or buy at
the speculators' prices, and the poor and those in moderate
circumstances were suffering increasing hardships.  With the rise
in prices, Confederate money sank, and with its rapid fall there
rose a wild passion for luxuries.  Blockaders were commissioned to
bring in necessities but now it was the higher-priced luxuries
that filled their boats to the exclusion of the things the
Confederacy vitally needed.  People frenziedly bought these
luxuries with the money they had today, fearing that tomorrow's
prices would be higher and the money worthless.

To make matters worse, there was only one railroad line from
Wilmington to Richmond and, while thousands of barrels of flour
and boxes of bacon spoiled and rotted in wayside stations for want
of transportation, speculators with wines, taffetas and coffee to
sell seemed always able to get their goods to Richmond two days
after they were landed at Wilmington.

The rumor which had been creeping about underground was now being
openly discussed, that Rhett Butler not only ran his own four
boats and sold the cargoes at unheard-of prices but bought up the
cargoes of other boats and held them for rises in prices.  It was
said that he was at the head of a combine worth more than a
million dollars, with Wilmington as its headquarters for the
purpose of buying blockade goods on the docks.  They had dozens of
warehouses in that city and in Richmond, so the story ran, and the
warehouses were crammed with food and clothing that were being
held for higher prices.  Already soldiers and civilians alike were
feeling the pinch, and the muttering against him and his fellow
speculators was bitter.

"There are many brave and patriotic men in the blockade arm of the
Confederacy's naval service," ran the last of the doctor's letter,
"unselfish men who are risking their lives and all their wealth
that the Confederacy may survive.  They are enshrined in the
hearts of all loyal Southerners, and no one begrudges them the
scant monetary returns they make for their risks.  They are
unselfish gentlemen, and we honor them.  Of these men, I do not
speak.

"But there are other scoundrels who masquerade under the cloak of
the blockader for their own selfish gains, and I call down the
just wrath and vengeance of an embattled people, fighting in the
justest of Causes, on these human vultures who bring in satins and
laces when our men are dying for want of quinine, who load their
boats with tea and wines when our heroes are writhing for lack of
morphia.  I execrate these vampires who are sucking the lifeblood
of the men who follow Robert Lee--these men who are making the
very name of blockader a stench in the nostrils of all patriotic
men.  How can we endure these scavengers in our midst with their
varnished boots when our boys are tramping barefoot into battle?
How can we tolerate them with their champagnes and their pates of
Strasbourg when our soldiers are shivering about their camp fires
and gnawing moldy bacon?  I call upon every loyal Confederate to
cast them out."

Atlanta read, knew the oracle had spoken, and, as loyal
Confederates, they hastened to cast Rhett out.

Of all the homes which had received him in the fall of 1862, Miss
Pittypat's was almost the only one into which he could enter in
1863.  And, except for Melanie, he probably would not have been
received there.  Aunt Pitty was in a state whenever he was in
town.  She knew very well what her friends were saying when she
permitted him to call but she still lacked the courage to tell him
he was unwelcome.  Each time he arrived in Atlanta, she set her
fat mouth and told the girls that she would meet him at the door
and forbid him to enter.  And each time he came, a little package
in his hand and a compliment for her charm and beauty on his lips,
she wilted.

"I just don't know what to do," she would moan.  "He just looks at
me and I--I'm scared to death of what he would do if I told him.
He's got such a bad reputation.  Do you suppose he would strike
me--or--or--  Oh, dear, if Charlie were only alive!  Scarlett, YOU
must tell him not to call again--tell him in a nice way.  Oh, me!
I do believe you encourage him, and the whole town is talking and,
if your mother ever finds out, what will she say to me?  Melly,
you must not be so nice to him.  Be cool and distant and he will
understand.  Oh, Melly, do you think I'd better write Henry a note
and ask him to speak to Captain Butler?"

"No, I don't," said Melanie.  "And I won't be rude to him, either.
I think people are acting like chickens with their heads off about
Captain Butler.  I'm sure he can't be all the bad things Dr. Meade
and Mrs. Merriwether say he is.  He wouldn't hold food from
starving people.  Why, he even gave me a hundred dollars for the
orphans.  I'm sure he's just as loyal and patriotic as any of us
and he's just too proud to defend himself.  You know how obstinate
men are when they get their backs up."

Aunt Pitty knew nothing about men, either with their backs up or
otherwise, and she could only wave her fat little hands
helplessly.  As for Scarlett, she had long ago become resigned to
Melanie's habit of seeing good in everyone.  Melanie was a fool,
but there was nothing anybody could do about it.

Scarlett knew that Rhett was not being patriotic and, though she
would have died rather than confess it, she did not care.  The
little presents he brought her from Nassau, little oddments that a
lady could accept with propriety, were what mattered most to her.
With prices as high as they were, where on earth could she get
needles and bonbons and hairpins, if she forbade the house to him?
No, it was easier to shift the responsibility to Aunt Pitty, who
after all was the head of the house, the chaperon and the arbiter
of morals.  Scarlett knew the town gossiped about Rhett's calls,
and about her too; but she also knew that in the eyes of Atlanta
Melanie Wilkes could do no wrong, and if Melanie defended Rhett
his calls were still tinged with respectability.

However, life would be pleasanter if Rhett would recant his
heresies.  She wouldn't have to suffer the embarrassment of seeing
him cut openly when she walked down Peachtree Street with him.

"Even if you think such things, why do you say them?" she scolded.
"If you'd just think what you please but keep your mouth shut,
everything would be so much nicer."

"That's your system, isn't it, my green-eyed hypocrite?  Scarlett,
Scarlett!  I hoped for more courageous conduct from you.  I
thought the Irish said what they thought and the Divvil take the
hindermost.  Tell me truthfully, don't you sometimes almost burst
from keeping your mouth shut?"

"Well--yes," Scarlett confessed reluctantly.  "I do get awfully
bored when they talk about the Cause, morning, noon and night.
But goodness, Rhett Butler, if I admitted it nobody would speak to
me and none of the boys would dance with me!"

"Ah, yes, and one must be danced with, at all costs.  Well, I
admire your self-control but I do not find myself equal to it.
Nor can I masquerade in a cloak of romance and patriotism, no
matter how convenient it might be.  There are enough stupid
patriots who are risking every cent they have in the blockade and
who are going to come out of this war paupers.  They don't need me
among their number, either to brighten the record of patriotism or
to increase the roll of paupers.  Let them have the haloes.  They
deserve them--for once I am being sincere--and, besides, haloes
will be about all they will have in a year or so."

"I think you are very nasty to even hint such things when you know
very well that England and France are coming in on our side in no
time and--"

"Why, Scarlett!  You must have been reading a newspaper!  I'm
surprised at you.  Don't do it again.  It addles women's brains.
For your information, I was in England, not a month ago, and I'll
tell you this.  England will never help the Confederacy.  England
never bets on the underdog.  That's why she's England.  Besides,
the fat Dutch woman who is sitting on the throne is a God-fearing
soul and she doesn't approve of slavery.  Let the English mill
workers starve because they can't get our cotton but never, never
strike a blow for slavery.  And as for France, that weak imitation
of Napoleon is far too busy establishing the French in Mexico to
be bothered with us.  In fact he welcomes this war, because it
keeps us too busy to run his troops out of Mexico. . . .  No,
Scarlett, the idea of assistance from abroad is just a newspaper
invention to keep up the morale of the South.  The Confederacy is
doomed.  It's living on its hump now, like the camel, and even the
largest of humps aren't inexhaustible.  I give myself about six
months more of blockading and then I'm through.  After that, it
will be too risky.  And I'll sell my boats to some foolish
Englishman who thinks he can slip them through.  But one way or
the other, it's not bothering me.  I've made money enough, and
it's in English banks and in gold.  None of this worthless paper
for me."

As always when he spoke, he sounded so plausible.  Other people
might call his utterances treachery but, to Scarlett, they always
rang with common sense and truth.  And she knew that this was
utterly wrong, knew she should be shocked and infuriated.
Actually she was neither, but she could pretend to be.  It made
her feel more respectable and ladylike.

"I think what Dr. Meade wrote about was right, Captain Butler.
The only way to redeem yourself is to enlist after you sell your
boats.  You're a West Pointer and--"

"You talk like a Baptist preacher making a recruiting speech.
Suppose I don't want to redeem myself?  Why should I fight to
uphold the system that cast me out?  I shall take pleasure in
seeing it smashed."

"I never heard of any system," she said crossly.

"No?  And yet you are a part of it, like I was, and I'll wager you
don't like it any more than I did.  Well, why am I the black sheep
of the Butler family?  For this reason and no other--I didn't
conform to Charleston and I couldn't.  And Charleston is the
South, only intensified.  I wonder if you realize yet what a bore
it is?  So many things that one must do because they've always
been done.  So many things, quite harmless, that one must not do
for the same reason.  So many things that annoyed me by their
senselessness.  Not marrying the young lady, of whom you have
probably heard, was merely the last straw.  Why should I marry a
boring fool, simply because an accident prevented me from getting
her home before dark?  And why permit her wild-eyed brother to
shoot and kill me, when I could shoot straighter?  If I had been a
gentleman, of course, I would have let him kill me and that would
have wiped the blot from the Butler escutcheon.  But--I like to
live.  And so I've lived and I've had a good time. . . .  When I
think of my brother, living among the sacred cows of Charleston,
and most reverent toward them, and remember his stodgy wife and
his Saint Cecilia Balls and his everlasting rice fields--then I
know the compensation for breaking with the system.  Scarlett, our
Southern way of living is as antiquated as the feudal system of
the Middle Ages.  The wonder is that it's lasted as long as it
has.  It had to go and it's going now.  And yet you expect me to
listen to orators like Dr. Meade who tell me our Cause is just and
holy?  And get so excited by the roll of drums that I'll grab a
musket and rush off to Virginia to shed my blood for Marse Robert?
What kind of a fool do you think I am?  Kissing the rod that
chastised me is not in my line.  The South and I are even now.
The South threw me out to starve once.  I haven't starved, and I
am making enough money out of the South's death throes to
compensate me for my lost birthright."

"I think you are vile and mercenary," said Scarlett, but her
remark was automatic.  Most of what he was saying went over her
head, as did any conversation that was not personal.  But part of
it made sense.  There were such a lot of foolish things about life
among nice people.  Having to pretend that her heart was in the
grave when it wasn't.  And how shocked everybody had been when she
danced at the bazaar.  And the infuriating way people lifted their
eyebrows every time she did or said anything the least bit
different from what every other young woman did and said.  But
still, she was jarred at hearing him attack the very traditions
that irked her most.  She had lived too long among people who
dissembled politely not to feel disturbed at hearing her own
thoughts put into words.

"Mercenary?  No, I'm only farsighted.  Though perhaps that is
merely a synonym for mercenary.  At least, people who were not as
farsighted as I will call it that.  Any loyal Confederate who had
a thousand dollars in cash in 1861 could have done what I did, but
how few were mercenary enough to take advantage of their
opportunities!  As for instance, right after Fort Sumter fell and
before the blockade was established, I bought up several thousand
bales of cotton at dirt-cheap prices and ran them to England.
They are still there in warehouses in Liverpool.  I've never sold
them.  I'm holding them until the English mills have to have
cotton and will give me any price I ask.  I wouldn't be surprised
if I got a dollar a pound."

"You'll get a dollar a pound when elephants roost in trees!"

"I'll believe I'll get it.  Cotton is at seventy-two cents a pound
already.  I'm going to be a rich man when this war is over,
Scarlett, because I was farsighted--pardon me, mercenary.  I told
you once before that there were two times for making big money,
one in the upbuilding of a country and the other in its
destruction.  Slow money on the upbuilding, fast money in the
crack-up.  Remember my words.  Perhaps they may be of use to you
some day."

"I do appreciate good advice so much," said Scarlett, with all the
sarcasm she could muster.  "But I don't need your advice.  Do you
think Pa is a pauper?  He's got all the money I'll ever need and
then I have Charles' property besides."

"I imagine the French aristocrats thought practically the same
thing until the very moment when they climbed into the tumbrils."



Frequently Rhett pointed out to Scarlett the inconsistency of her
wearing black mourning clothes when she was participating in all
social activities.  He liked bright colors and Scarlett's funeral
dresses and the crepe veil that hung from her bonnet to her heels
both amused him and offended him.  But she clung to her dull black
dresses and her veil, knowing that if she changed them for colors
without waiting several more years, the town would buzz even more
than it was already buzzing.  And besides, how would she ever
explain to her mother?

Rhett said frankly that the crepe veil made her look like a crow
and the black dresses added ten years to her age.  This ungallant
statement sent her flying to the mirror to see if she really did
look twenty-eight instead of eighteen.

"I should think you'd have more pride than to try to look like
Mrs. Merriwether," he taunted.  "And better taste than to wear
that veil to advertise a grief I'm sure you never felt.  I'll lay
a wager with you.  I'll have that bonnet and veil off your head
and a Paris creation on it within two months."

"Indeed, no, and don't let's discuss it any further," said
Scarlett, annoyed by his reference to Charles.  Rhett, who was
preparing to leave for Wilmington for another trip abroad,
departed with a grin on his face.

One bright summer morning some weeks later, he reappeared with a
brightly trimmed hatbox in his hand and, after finding that
Scarlett was alone in the house, he opened it.  Wrapped in layers
of tissue was a bonnet, a creation that made her cry:  "Oh, the
darling thing!" as she reached for it.  Starved for the sight,
much less the touch, of new clothes, it seemed the loveliest
bonnet she had ever seen.  It was of dark-green taffeta, lined
with water silk of a pale-jade color.  The ribbons that tied under
the chin were as wide as her hand and they, too, were pale green.
And, curled about the brim of this confection was the perkiest of
green ostrich plumes.

"Put it on," said Rhett, smiling.

She flew across the room to the mirror and plopped it on her head,
pushing back her hair to show her earrings and tying the ribbon
under her chin.

"How do I look?" she cried, pirouetting for his benefit and
tossing her head so that the plume danced.  But she knew she
looked pretty even before she saw confirmation in his eyes.  She
looked attractively saucy and the green of the lining made her
eyes dark emerald and sparkling.

"Oh, Rhett, whose bonnet is it?  I'll buy it.  I'll give you every
cent I've got for it."

"It's your bonnet," he said.  "Who else could wear that shade of
green?  Don't you think I carried the color of your eyes well in
my mind?"

"Did you really have it trimmed just for me?"

"Yes, and there's 'Rue de la Paix' on the box, if that means
anything to you."

It meant nothing to her, smiling at her reflection in the mirror.
Just at this moment, nothing mattered to her except that she
looked utterly charming in the first pretty hat she had put on her
head in two years.  What she couldn't do with this hat!  And then
her smile faded.

"Don't you like it?"

"Oh, it's a dream but--  Oh, I do hate to have to cover this
lovely green with crepe and dye the feather black."

He was beside her quickly and his deft fingers untied the wide bow
under her chin.  In a moment the hat was back in its box.

"What are you doing?  You said it was mine."

"But not to change to a mourning bonnet.  I shall find some other
charming lady with green eyes who appreciates my taste."

"Oh, you shan't!  I'll die if I don't have it!  Oh, please, Rhett,
don't be mean!  Let me have it."

"And turn it into a fright like your other hats?  No."

She clutched at the box.  That sweet thing that made her look so
young and enchanting to be given to some other girl?  Oh, never!
For a moment she thought of the horror of Pitty and Melanie.  She
thought of Ellen and what she would say, and she shivered.  But
vanity was stronger.

"I won't change it.  I promise.  Now, do let me have it."

He gave her the box with a slightly sardonic smile and watched her
while she put it on again and preened herself.

"How much is it?" she asked suddenly, her face falling.  "I have
only fifty dollars but next month--"

"It would cost about two thousand dollars, Confederate money," he
said with a grin at her woebegone expression.

"Oh, dear--  Well, suppose I give you the fifty now and then when
I get--"

"I don't want any money for it," he said.  "It's a gift."

Scarlett's mouth dropped open.  The line was so closely, so
carefully drawn where gifts from men were concerned.

"Candy and flowers, dear," Ellen had said time and again, "and
perhaps a book of poetry or an album or a small bottle of Florida
water are the only things a lady may accept from a gentleman.
Never, never any expensive gift, even from your fiance.  And never
any gift of jewelry or wearing apparel, not even gloves or
handkerchiefs.  Should you accept such gifts, men would know you
were no lady and would try to take liberties."

"Oh, dear," thought Scarlett, looking first at herself in the
mirror and then at Rhett's unreadable face.  "I simply can't tell
him I won't accept it.  It's too darling.  I'd--I'd almost rather
he took a liberty, if it was a very small one."  Then she was
horrified at herself for having such a thought and she turned
pink.

"I'll--I'll give you the fifty dollars--"

"If you do I will throw it in the gutter.  Or, better still buy
masses for your soul.  I'm sure your soul could do with a few
masses."

She laughed unwillingly, and the laughing reflection under the
green brim decided her instantly.

"Whatever are you trying to do to me?"

"I'm tempting you with fine gifts until your girlish ideals are
quite worn away and you are at my mercy," he said.  "'Accept only
candy and flowers from gentlemen, dearie,'" he mimicked, and she
burst into a giggle.

"You are a clever, black-hearted wretch, Rhett Butler, and you
know very well this bonnet's too pretty to be refused."

His eyes mocked her, even while they complimented her beauty.

"Of course, you can tell Miss Pitty that you gave me a sample of
taffeta and green silk and drew a picture of the bonnet and I
extorted fifty dollars from you for it."

"No.  I shall say one hundred dollars and she'll tell everybody in
town and everybody will be green with envy and talk about my
extravagance.  But Rhett, you mustn't bring me anything else so
expensive.  It's awfully kind of you, but I really couldn't accept
anything else."

"Indeed?  Well, I shall bring you presents so long as it pleases
me and so long as I see things that will enhance your charms.  I
shall bring you dark-green watered silk for a frock to match the
bonnet.  And I warn you that I am not kind.  I am tempting you
with bonnets and bangles and leading you into a pit.  Always
remember I never do anything without reason and I never give
anything without expecting something in return.  I always get
paid."

His black eyes sought her face and traveled to her lips.

Scarlett cast down her eyes, excitement filling her.  Now, he was
going to try to take liberties, just as Ellen predicted.  He was
going to kiss her, or try to kiss her, and she couldn't quite make
up her flurried mind which it should be.  If she refused, he might
jerk the bonnet right off her head and give it to some other girl.
On the other hand, if she permitted one chaste peck, he might
bring her other lovely presents in the hope of getting another
kiss.  Men set such a store by kisses, though Heaven alone knew
why.  And lots of times, after one kiss they fell completely in
love with a girl and made most entertaining spectacles of
themselves, provided the girl was clever and withheld her kisses
after the first one.  It would be exciting to have Rhett Butler in
love with her and admitting it and begging for a kiss or a smile.
Yes, she would let him kiss her.

But he made no move to kiss her.  She gave him a sidelong glance
from under her lashes and murmured encouragingly.

"So you always get paid, do you?  And what do you expect to get
from me?"

"That remains to be seen."

"Well, if you think I'll marry you to pay for the bonnet, I
won't," she said daringly and gave her head a saucy flirt that set
the plume to bobbing.

His white teeth gleamed under his little mustache.

"Madam, you flatter yourself, I do not want to marry you or anyone
else.  I am not a marrying man."

"Indeed!" she cried, taken aback and now determined that he should
take some liberty.  "I don't even intend to kiss you, either."

"Then why is your mouth all pursed up in that ridiculous way?"

"Oh!" she cried as she caught a glimpse of herself and saw that
her red lips were indeed in the proper pose for a kiss.  "Oh!" she
cried again, losing her temper and stamping her foot.  "You are
the horridest man I have ever seen and I don't care if I never lay
eyes on you again!"

"If you really felt that way, you'd stamp on the bonnet.  My, what
a passion you are in and it's quite becoming, as you probably
know.  Come, Scarlett, stamp on the bonnet to show me what you
think of me and my presents."

"Don't you dare touch this bonnet," she said, clutching it by the
bow and retreating.  He came after her, laughing softly and took
her hands in his.

"Oh, Scarlett, you are so young you wring my heart," he said.
"And I shall kiss you, as you seem to expect it," and leaning down
carelessly, his mustache just grazed her cheek.  "Now, do you feel
that you must slap me to preserve the proprieties?"

Her lips mutinous, she looked up into his eyes and saw so much
amusement in their dark depths that she burst into laughter.  What
a tease he was and how exasperating!  If he didn't want to marry
her and didn't even want to kiss her, what did he want?  If he
wasn't in love with her, why did he call so often and bring her
presents?

"That's better," he said.  "Scarlett, I'm a bad influence on you
and if you have any sense you will send me packing--if you can.
I'm very hard to get rid of.  But I'm bad for you."

"Are you?"

"Can't you see it?  Ever since I met you at the bazaar, your
career has been most shocking and I'm to blame for most of it.
Who encouraged you to dance?  Who forced you to admit that you
thought our glorious Cause was neither glorious nor sacred?  Who
goaded you into admitting that you thought men were fools to die
for high-sounding principles?  Who has aided you in giving the old
ladies plenty to gossip about?  Who is getting you out of mourning
several years too soon?  And who, to end all this, has lured you
into accepting a gift which no lady can accept and still remain a
lady?"

"You flatter yourself, Captain Butler.  I haven't done anything so
scandalous and I'd have done everything you mentioned without your
aid anyway."

"I doubt that," he said and his face went suddenly quiet and
somber.  "You'd still be the broken-hearted widow of Charles
Hamilton and famed for your good deeds among the wounded.
Eventually, however--"

But she was not listening, for she was regarding herself pleasedly
in the mirror again, thinking she would wear the bonnet to the
hospital this very afternoon and take flowers to the convalescent
officers.

That there was truth in his last words did not occur to her.  She
did not see that Rhett had pried open the prison of her widowhood
and set her free to queen it over unmarried girls when her days as
a belle should have been long past.  Nor did she see that under
his influence she had come a long way from Ellen's teachings.  The
change had been so gradual, the flouting of one small convention
seeming to have no connection with the flouting of another, and
none of them any connection with Rhett.  She did not realize that,
with his encouragement, she had disregarded many of the sternest
injunctions of her mother concerning the proprieties, forgotten
the difficult lessons in being a lady.

She only saw that the bonnet was the most becoming one she ever
had, that it had not cost her a penny and that Rhett must be in
love with her, whether he admitted it or not.  And she certainly
intended to find a way to make him admit it.



The next day, Scarlett was standing in front of the mirror with a
comb in her hand and her mouth full of hairpins, attempting a new
coiffure which Maybelle, fresh from a visit to her husband in
Richmond, had said was the rage at the Capital.  It was called
"Cats, Rats and Mice" and presented many difficulties.  The hair
was parted in the middle and arranged in three rolls of graduating
size on each side of the head, the largest, nearest the part,
being the "cat."  The "cat" and the "rat" were easy to fix but the
"mice" kept slipping out of her hairpins in an exasperating
manner.  However, she was determined to accomplish it, for Rhett
was coming to supper and he always noticed and commented upon any
innovation of dress or hair.

As she struggled with her bushy, obstinate locks, perspiration
beading her forehead, she heard light running feet in the
downstairs hall and knew that Melanie was home from the hospital.
As she heard her fly up the stairs, two at a time, she paused,
hairpin in mid-air, realizing that something must be wrong, for
Melanie always moved as decorously as a dowager.  She went to the
door and threw it open, and Melanie ran in, her face flushed and
frightened, looking like a guilty child.

There were tears on her cheeks, her bonnet was hanging on her neck
by the ribbons and her hoops swaying violently.  She was clutching
something in her hand, and the reek of heavy cheap perfume came
into the room with her.

"Oh, Scarlett!" she cried, shutting the door and sinking on the
bed.  "Is Auntie home yet?  She isn't?  Oh, thank the Lord!
Scarlett, I'm so mortified I could die!  I nearly swooned and,
Scarlett, Uncle Peter is threatening to tell Aunt Pitty!"

"Tell what?"

"That I was talking to that--to Miss--Mrs.--"  Melanie fanned her
hot face with her handkerchief.  "That woman with red hair, named
Belle Watling!"

"Why, Melly!" cried Scarlett, so shocked she could only stare.

Belle Watling was the red-haired woman she had seen on the street
the first day she came to Atlanta and by now, she was easily the
most notorious woman in town.  Many prostitutes had flocked into
Atlanta, following the soldiers, but Belle stood out above the
rest, due to her flaming hair and the gaudy, overly fashionable
dresses she wore.  She was seldom seen on Peachtree Street or in
any nice neighborhood, but when she did appear respectable women
made haste to cross the street to remove themselves from her
vicinity.  And Melanie had been talking with her.  No wonder Uncle
Peter was outraged.

"I shall die if Aunt Pitty finds out!  You know she'll cry and
tell everybody in town and I'll be disgraced," sobbed Melanie.
"And it wasn't my fault.  I--I couldn't run away from her.  It
would have been so rude.  Scarlett, I--I felt sorry for her.  Do
you think I'm bad for feeling that way?"

But Scarlett was not concerned with the ethics of the matter.
Like most innocent and well-bred young women, she had a devouring
curiosity about prostitutes.

"What did she want?  What does she talk like?"

"Oh, she used awful grammar but I could see she was trying so hard
to be elegant, poor thing.  I came out of the hospital and Uncle
Peter and the carriage weren't waiting, so I thought I'd walk
home.  And when I went by the Emersons' yard, there she was hiding
behind the hedge!  Oh, thank Heaven, the Emersons are in Macon!
And she said, 'Please, Mrs. Wilkes, do speak a minute with me.'  I
don't know how she knew my name.  I knew I ought to run as hard as
I could but--well, Scarlett, she looked so sad and--well, sort of
pleading.  And she had on a black dress and black bonnet and no
paint and really looked decent but for that red hair.  And before
I could answer she said.  'I know I shouldn't speak to you but I
tried to talk to that old peahen, Mrs. Elsing, and she ran me away
from the hospital.'"

"Did she really call her a peahen?" said Scarlett pleasedly and
laughed.

"Oh, don't laugh.  It isn't funny.  It seems that Miss--this
woman, wanted to do something for the hospital--can you imagine
it?  She offered to nurse every morning and, of course, Mrs.
Elsing must have nearly died at the idea and ordered her out of
the hospital.  And then she said, 'I want to do something, too.
Ain't I a Confedrut, good as you?'  And, Scarlett, I was right
touched at her wanting to help.  You know, she can't be all bad if
she wants to help the Cause.  Do you think I'm bad to feel that
way?"

"For Heaven's sake, Melly, who cares if you're bad?  What else did
she say?"

"She said she'd been watching the ladies go by to the hospital and
thought I had--a--a kind face and so she stopped me.  She had some
money and she wanted me to take it and use it for the hospital and
not tell a soul where it came from.  She said Mrs. Elsing wouldn't
let it be used if she knew what kind of money it was.  What kind
of money!  That's when I thought I'd swoon!  And I was so upset
and anxious to get away, I just said:  'Oh, yes, indeed, how sweet
of you' or something idiotic, and she smiled and said:  'That's
right Christian of you' and shoved this dirty handkerchief into my
hand.  Ugh, can you smell the perfume?"

Melanie held out a man's handkerchief, soiled and highly perfumed,
in which some coins were knotted.

"She was saying thank you and something about bringing me some
money every week and just then Uncle Peter drove up and saw me!"
Melly collapsed into tears and laid her head on the pillow.  "And
when he saw who was with me, he--Scarlett, he HOLLERED at me!
Nobody has ever hollered at me before in my whole life.  And he
said, 'You git in dis hyah cah'ige dis minute!'  Of course, I did,
and all the way home he blessed me out and wouldn't let me explain
and said he was going to tell Aunt Pitty.  Scarlett, do go down
and beg him not to tell her.  Perhaps he will listen to you.  It
will kill Auntie if she knows I ever even looked that woman in the
face.  Will you?"

"Yes, I will.  But let's see how much money is in here.  It feels
heavy."

She untied the knot and a handful of gold coins rolled out on the
bed.

"Scarlett, there's fifty dollars here!  And in gold!" cried
Melanie, awed, as she counted the bright pieces.  "Tell me, do you
think it's all right to use this kind--well, money made--er--this
way for the boys?  Don't you think that maybe God will understand
that she wanted to help and won't care if it is tainted?  When I
think of how many things the hospital needs--"

But Scarlett was not listening.  She was looking at the dirty
handkerchief, and humiliation and fury were filling her.  There
was a monogram in the corner in which were the initials "R. K. B."
In her top drawer was a handkerchief just like this, one that
Rhett Butler had lent her only yesterday to wrap about the stems
of wild flowers they had picked.  She had planned to return it to
him when he came to supper tonight.

So Rhett consorted with that vile Watling creature and gave her
money.  That was where the contribution to the hospital came from.
Blockade gold.  And to think that Rhett would have the gall to
look a decent woman in the face after being with that creature!
And to think that she could have believed he was in love with her!
This proved he couldn't be.

Bad women and all they involved were mysterious and revolting
matters to her.  She knew that men patronized these women for
purposes which no lady should mention--or, if she did mention
them, in whispers and by indirection and euphemism.  She had
always thought that only common vulgar men visited such women.
Before this moment, it had never occurred to her that nice men--
that is, men she met at nice homes and with whom she danced--could
possibly do such things.  It opened up an entirely new field of
thought and one that was horrifying.  Perhaps all men did this!
It was bad enough that they forced their wives to go through such
indecent performances but to actually seek out low women and pay
them for such accommodation!  Oh, men were so vile, and Rhett
Butler was the worst of them all!

She would take this handkerchief and fling it in his face and show
him the door and never, never speak to him again.  But no, of
course she couldn't do that.  She could never, never let him know
she even realized that bad women existed, much less that he
visited them.  A lady could never do that.

"Oh," she thought in fury.  "If I just wasn't a lady, what
wouldn't I tell that varmint!"

And, crumbling the handkerchief in her hand, she went down the
stairs to the kitchen in search of Uncle Peter.  As she passed the
stove, she shoved the handkerchief into the flames and with
impotent anger watched it burn.




CHAPTER XIV


Hope was rolling high in every Southern heart as the summer of 1863
came in.  Despite privation and hardships, despite food speculators
and kindred scourges, despite death and sickness and suffering
which had now left their mark on nearly every family, the South was
again saying "One more victory and the war is over," saying it with
even more happy assurance than in the summer before.  The Yankees
were proving a hard nut to crack but they were cracking at last.

Christmas of 1862 had been a happy one for Atlanta, for the whole
South.  The Confederacy had scored a smashing victory, at
Fredericksburg and the Yankee dead and wounded were counted in the
thousands.  There was universal rejoicing in that holiday season,
rejoicing and thankfulness that the tide was turning.  The army in
butternut were now seasoned fighters, their generals had proven
their mettle, and everyone knew that when the campaign reopened in
the spring, the Yankees would be crushed for good and all.

Spring came and the fighting recommenced.  May came and the
Confederacy won another great victory at Chancellorsville.  The
South roared with elation.

Closer at home, a Union cavalry dash into Georgia had been turned
into a Confederate triumph.  Folks were still laughing and slapping
each other on the back and saying:  "Yes, sir!  When old Nathan
Bedford Forrest gets after them, they better git!"  Late in April,
Colonel Streight and eighteen hundred Yankee cavalry had made a
surprise raid into Georgia, aiming at Rome, only a little more than
sixty miles north of Atlanta.  They had ambitious plans to cut the
vitally important railroad between Atlanta and Tennessee and then
swing southward into Atlanta to destroy the factories and the war
supplies concentrated there in that key city of the Confederacy.

It was a bold stroke and it would have cost the South dearly,
except for Forrest.  With only one-third as many men--but what men
and what riders!--he had started after them, engaged them before
they even reached Rome, harassed them day and night and finally
captured the entire force!

The news reached Atlanta almost simultaneously with the news of the
victory at Chancellorsville, and the town fairly rocked with
exultation and with laughter.  Chancellorsville might be a more
important victory but the capture of Streight's raiders made the
Yankees positively ridiculous.

"No, sir, they'd better not fool with old Forrest," Atlanta said
gleefully as the story was told over and over.

The tide of the Confederacy's fortune was running strong and full
now, sweeping the people jubilantly along on its flood.  True, the
Yankees under Grant had been besieging Vicksburg since the middle
of May.  True, the South had suffered a sickening loss when
Stonewall Jackson had been fatally wounded at Chancellorsville.
True, Georgia had lost one of her bravest and most brilliant sons
when General T. R. R. Cobb had been killed at Fredericksburg.  But
the Yankees just couldn't stand any more defeats like Fredericksburg
and Chancellorsville.  They'd have to give in, and then this cruel
war would be over.

The first days of July came and with them the rumor, later
confirmed by dispatches, that Lee was marching into Pennsylvania.
Lee in the enemy's territory!  Lee forcing battle!  This was the
last fight of the war!

Atlanta was wild with excitement, pleasure and a hot thirst for
vengeance.  Now the Yankees would know what it meant to have the
war carried into their own country.  Now they'd know what it meant
to have fertile fields stripped, horses and cattle stolen, houses
burned, old men and boys dragged off to prison and women and
children turned out to starve.

Everyone knew what the Yankees had done in Missouri, Kentucky,
Tennessee and Virginia.  Even small children could recite with hate
and fear the horrors the Yankees had inflicted upon the conquered
territory.  Already Atlanta was full of refugees from east
Tennessee, and the town had heard firsthand stories from them of
what suffering they had gone through.  In that section, the
Confederate sympathizers were in the minority and the hand of war
fell heavily upon them, as it did on all the border states,
neighbor informing against neighbor and brother killing brother.
These refugees cried out to see Pennsylvania one solid sheet of
flame, and even the gentlest of old ladies wore expressions of grim
pleasure.

But when the news trickled back that Lee had issued orders that no
private property in Pennsylvania should be touched, that looting
would be punished by death and that the army would pay for every
article it requisitioned--then it needed all the reverence the
General had earned to save his popularity.  Not turn the men loose
in the rich storehouses of that prosperous state?  What was General
Lee thinking of?  And our boys so hungry and needing shoes and
clothes and horses!

A hasty note from Darcy Meade to the doctor, the only first-hand
information Atlanta received during those first days of July, was
passed from hand to hand, with mounting indignation.

"Pa, could you manage to get me a pair of boots?  I've been
barefooted for two weeks now and I don't see any prospects of
getting another pair.  If I didn't have such big feet I could get
them off dead Yankees like the other boys, but I've never yet found
a Yankee whose feet were near as big as mine.  If you can get me
some, don't mail them.  Somebody would steal them on the way and I
wouldn't blame them.  Put Phil on the train and send him up with
them.  I'll write you soon, where we'll be.  Right now I don't
know, except that we're marching north.  We're in Maryland now and
everybody says we're going on into Pennsylvania. . . .

"Pa, I thought that we'd give the Yanks a taste of their own
medicine but the General says No, and personally I don't care to
get shot just for the pleasure of burning some Yank's house.  Pa,
today we marched through the grandest cornfields you ever saw.  We
don't have corn like this down home.  Well, I must admit we did a
bit of private looting in that corn, for we were all pretty hungry
and what the General don't know won't hurt him.  But that green
corn didn't do us a bit of good.  All the boys have got dysentery
anyway, and that corn made it worse.  It's easier to walk with a
leg wound than with dysentery.  Pa, do try to manage some boots for
me.  I'm a captain now and a captain ought to have boots, even if
he hasn't got a new uniform or epaulets."

But the army was in Pennsylvania--that was all that mattered.  One
more victory and the war would be over, and then Darcy Meade could
have all the boots he wanted, and the boys would come marching home
and everybody would be happy again.  Mrs. Meade's eyes grew wet as
she pictured her soldier son home at last, home to stay.

On the third of July, a sudden silence fell on the wires from the
north, a silence that lasted till midday of the fourth when
fragmentary and garbled reports began to trickle into headquarters
in Atlanta.  There had been hard fighting in Pennsylvania, near a
little town named Gettysburg, a great battle with all Lee's army
massed.  The news was uncertain, slow in coming, for the battle had
been fought in the enemy's territory and the reports came first
through Maryland, were relayed to Richmond and then to Atlanta.

Suspense grew and the beginnings of dread slowly crawled over the
town.  Nothing was so bad as not knowing what was happening.
Families with sons at the front prayed fervently that their boys
were not in Pennsylvania, but those who knew their relatives were
in the same regiment with Darcy Meade clamped their teeth and said
it was an honor for them to be in the big fight that would lick the
Yankees for good and all.

In Aunt Pitty's house, the three women looked into one another's
eyes with fear they could not conceal.  Ashley was in Darcy's
regiment.

On the fifth came evil tidings, not from the North but from the
West.  Vicksburg had fallen, fallen after a long and bitter siege,
and practically all the Mississippi River, from St. Louis to New
Orleans was in the hands of the Yankees.  The Confederacy had been
cut in two.  At any other time, the news of this disaster would
have brought fear and lamentation to Atlanta.  But now they could
give little thought to Vicksburg.  They were thinking of Lee in
Pennsylvania, forcing battle.  Vicksburg's loss would be no
catastrophe if Lee won in the East.  There lay Philadelphia, New
York, Washington.  Their capture would paralyze the North and more
than cancel off the defeat on the Mississippi.

The hours dragged by and the black shadow of calamity brooded over
the town, obscuring the hot sun until people looked up startled
into the sky as if incredulous that it was clear and blue instead
of murky and heavy with scudding clouds.  Everywhere, women
gathered in knots, huddled in groups on front porches, on
sidewalks, even in the middle of the streets, telling each other
that no news is good news, trying to comfort each other, trying to
present a brave appearance.  But hideous rumors that Lee was
killed, the battle lost, and enormous casualty lists coming in,
fled up and down the quiet streets like darting bats.  Though they
tried not to believe, whole neighborhoods, swayed by panic, rushed
to town, to the newspapers, to headquarters, pleading for news, any
news, even bad news.

Crowds formed at the depot, hoping for news from incoming trains,
at the telegraph office, in front of the harried headquarters,
before the locked doors of the newspapers.  They were oddly still
crowds, crowds that quietly grew larger and larger.  There was no
talking.  Occasionally an old man's treble voice begged for news,
and instead of inciting the crowd to babbling it only intensified
the hush as they heard the oft-repeated:  "Nothing on the wires yet
from the North except that there's been fighting."  The fringe of
women on foot and in carriages grew greater and greater, and the
heat of the close-packed bodies and dust rising from restless feet
were suffocating.  The women did not speak, but their pale set
faces pleaded with a mute eloquence that was louder than wailing.

There was hardly a house in town that had not sent away a son, a
brother, a father, a lover, a husband, to this battle.  They all
waited to hear the news that death had come to their homes.  They
expected death.  They did not expect defeat.  That thought they
dismissed.  Their men might be dying, even now, on the sun-parched
grass of the Pennsylvania hills.  Even now the Southern ranks might
be falling like grain before a hailstorm, but the Cause for which
they fought could never fall.  They might be dying in thousands
but, like the fruit of the dragon's teeth, thousands of fresh men
in gray and butternut with the Rebel yell on their lips would
spring up from the earth to take their places.  Where these men
would come from, no one knew.  They only knew, as surely as they
knew there was a just and jealous God in Heaven, that Lee was
miraculous and the Army of Virginia invincible.



Scarlett, Melanie and Miss Pittypat sat in front of the Daily
Examiner office in the carriage with the top back, sheltered
beneath their parasols.  Scarlett's hands shook so that her parasol
wobbled above her head, Pitty was so excited her nose quivered in
her round face like a rabbit's, but Melanie sat as though carved of
stone, her dark eyes growing larger and larger as time went by.
She made only one remark in two hours, as she took a vial of
smelling salts from her reticule and handed it to her aunt, the
only time she had ever spoken to her, in her whole life, with
anything but tenderest affection.

"Take this, Auntie, and use it if you feel faint.  I warn you if
you do faint you'll just have to faint and let Uncle Peter take you
home, for I'm not going to leave this place till I hear about--till
I hear.  And I'm not going to let Scarlett leave me, either."

Scarlett had no intention of leaving, no intention of placing
herself where she could not have the first news of Ashley.  No,
even if Miss Pitty died, she wouldn't leave this spot.  Somewhere,
Ashley was fighting, perhaps dying, and the newspaper office was
the only place where she could learn the truth.

She looked about the crowd, picking out friends and neighbors, Mrs.
Meade with her bonnet askew and her arm through that of fifteen-
year-old Phil; the Misses McLure trying to make their trembling
upper lips cover their buck teeth; Mrs. Elsing, erect as a Spartan
mother, betraying her inner turmoil only by the straggling gray
locks that hung from her chignon; and Fanny Elsing white as a
ghost.  (Surely Fanny wouldn't be so worried about her brother
Hugh.  Had she a real beau at the front that no one suspected?)
Mrs. Merriwether sat in her carriage patting Maybelle's hand.
Maybelle looked so very pregnant it was a disgrace for her to be
out in public, even if she did have her shawl carefully draped over
her.  Why should she be so worried?  Nobody had heard that the
Louisiana troops were in Pennsylvania.  Probably her hairy little
Zouave was safe in Richmond this very minute.

There was a movement on the outskirts of the crowd and those on
foot gave way as Rhett Butler carefully edged his horse toward Aunt
Pitty's carriage.  Scarlett thought:  He's got courage, coming here
at this time when it wouldn't take anything to make this mob tear
him to pieces because he isn't in uniform.  As he came nearer, she
thought she might be the first to rend him.  How dared he sit there
on that fine horse, in shining boots and handsome white linen suit,
so sleek and well fed, smoking an expensive cigar, when Ashley and
all the other boys were fighting the Yankees, barefooted,
sweltering in the heat, hungry, their bellies rotten with disease?

Bitter looks were thrown at him as he came slowly through the
press.  Old men growled in their beards, and Mrs. Merriwether who
feared nothing rose slightly in her carriage and said clearly:
"Speculator!" in a tone that made the word the foulest and most
venomous of epithets.  He paid no heed to anyone but raised his hat
to Melly and Aunt Pitty and, riding to Scarlett's side, leaned down
and whispered:  "Don't you think this would be the time for Dr.
Meade to give us his familiar speech about victory perching like a
screaming eagle on our banners?"

Her nerves taut with suspense, she turned on him as swiftly as an
angry cat, hot words bubbling to her lips, but he stopped them with
a gesture.

"I came to tell you ladies," he said loudly, "that I have been to
headquarters and the first casualty lists are coming in."

At these words a hum rose among those near enough to hear his
remark, and the crowd surged, ready to turn and run down Whitehall
Street toward headquarters.

"Don't go," he called, rising in his saddle and holding up his
hand.  "The lists have been sent to both newspapers and are now
being printed.  Stay where you are!"

"Oh, Captain Butler," cried Melly, turning to him with tears in her
eyes.  "How kind of you to come and tell us!  When will they be
posted?"

"They should be out any minute, Madam.  The reports have been in
the offices for half an hour now.  The major in charge didn't want
to let that out until the printing was done, for fear the crowd
would wreck the offices trying to get news.  Ah!  Look!"

The side window of the newspaper office opened and a hand was
extended, bearing a sheaf of long narrow galley proofs, smeared
with fresh ink and thick with names closely printed.  The crowd
fought for them, tearing the slips in half, those obtaining them
trying to back out through the crowd to read, those behind pushing
forward, crying:  "Let me through!"

"Hold the reins," said Rhett shortly, swinging to the ground and
tossing the bridle to Uncle Peter.  They saw his heavy shoulders
towering above the crowd as he went through, brutally pushing and
shoving.  In a while he was back, with half a dozen in his hands.
He tossed one to Melanie and distributed the others among the
ladies in the nearest carriages, the Misses McLure, Mrs. Meade,
Mrs. Merriwether, Mrs. Elsing.

"Quick, Melly," cried Scarlett, her heart in her throat,
exasperation sweeping her as she saw that Melly's hands were
shaking so that it was impossible for her to read.

"Take it," whispered Melly, and Scarlett snatched it from her.  The
Ws.  Where were the Ws?  Oh, there they were at the bottom and all
smeared up.  "White," she read and her voice shook, "Wilkens . . .
Winn . . . Zebulon . . . Oh, Melly, he's not on it!  He's not on
it!  Oh, for God's sake, Auntie, Melly, pick up the salts!  Hold
her up, Melly."

Melly, weeping openly with happiness, steadied Miss Pitty's rolling
head and held the smelling salts under her nose.  Scarlett braced
the fat old lady on the other side, her heart singing with joy.
Ashley was alive.  He wasn't even wounded.  How good God was to
pass him by!  How--

She heard a low moan and, turning, saw Fanny Elsing lay her head on
her mother's bosom, saw the casualty list flutter to the floor of
the carriage, saw Mrs. Elsing's thin lips quiver as she gathered
her daughter in her arms and said quietly to the coachman:  "Home.
Quickly."  Scarlett took a quick glance at the lists.  Hugh Elsing
was not listed.  Fanny must have had a beau and now he was dead.
The crowd made way in sympathetic silence for the Elsings'
carriage, and after them followed the little wicker pony cart of
the McLure girls.  Miss Faith was driving, her face like a rock,
and for once, her teeth were covered by her lips.  Miss Hope, death
in her face, sat erect beside her, holding her sister's skirt in a
tight grasp.  They looked like very old women.  Their young brother
Dallas was their darling and the only relative the maiden ladies
had in the world.  Dallas was gone.

"Melly!  Melly!" cried Maybelle, joy in her voice, "Rene is safe!
And Ashley, too!  Oh, thank God!"  The shawl had slipped from her
shoulders and her condition was most obvious but, for once, neither
she nor Mrs. Merriwether cared.  "Oh, Mrs. Meade!  Rene--"  Her
voice changed, swiftly, "Melly, look!--Mrs. Meade, please!  Darcy
isn't--?"

Mrs. Meade was looking down into her lap and she did not raise her
head when her name was called, but the face of little Phil beside
her was an open book that all might read.

"There, there, Mother," he said, helplessly.  Mrs. Meade looked up,
meeting Melanie's eyes.

"He won't need those boots now," she said.

"Oh, darling!" cried Melly, beginning to sob, as she shoved Aunt
Pitty onto Scarlett's shoulder and scrambled out of the carriage
and toward that of the doctor's wife.

"Mother, you've still got me," said Phil, in a forlorn effort at
comforting the white-faced woman beside him.  "And if you'll just
let me, I'll go kill all the Yank--"

Mrs. Meade clutched his arm as if she would never let it go, said
"No!" in a strangled voice and seemed to choke.

"Phil Meade, you hush your mouth!" hissed Melanie, climbing in
beside Mrs. Meade and taking her in her arms.  "Do you think it'll
help your mother to have you off getting shot too?  I never heard
anything so silly.  Drive us home, quick!"

She turned to Scarlett as Phil picked up the reins.

"As soon as you take Auntie home, come over to Mrs. Meade's.
Captain Butler, can you get word to the doctor?  He's at the
hospital."

The carriage moved off through the dispersing crowd.  Some of the
women were weeping with joy, but most looked too stunned to realize
the heavy blows that had fallen upon them.  Scarlett bent her head
over the blurred lists, reading rapidly, to find names of friends.
Now that Ashley was safe she could think of other people.  Oh, how
long the list was!  How heavy the toll from Atlanta, from all of
Georgia.

Good Heavens!  "Calvert--Raiford, Lieutenant."  Raif!  Suddenly she
remembered the day, so long ago, when they had run away together
but decided to come home at nightfall because they were hungry and
afraid of the dark.

"Fontaine--Joseph K., private."  Little bad-tempered Joe!  And
Sally hardly over having her baby!

"Munroe--LaFayette, Captain."  And Lafe had been engaged to
Cathleen Calvert.  Poor Cathleen!  Hers had been a double loss, a
brother and a sweetheart.  But Sally's loss was greater--a brother
and a husband.

Oh, this was too terrible.  She was almost afraid to read further.
Aunt Pitty was heaving and sighing on her shoulder and, with small
ceremony, Scarlett pushed her over into a corner of the carriage
and continued her reading.

Surely, surely--there couldn't be three "Tarleton" names on that
list.  Perhaps--perhaps the hurried printer had repeated the name
by error.  But no.  There they were.  "Tarleton--Brenton,
Lieutenant."  "Tarleton--Stuart, Corporal."  "Tarleton--Thomas,
private."  And Boyd, dead the first year of the war, was buried God
knew where in Virginia.  All the Tarleton boys gone.  Tom and the
lazy long-legged twins with their love of gossip and their absurd
practical jokes and Boyd who had the grace of a dancing master and
the tongue of a wasp.

She could not read any more.  She could not know if any other of
those boys with whom she had grown up, danced, flirted, kissed were
on that list.  She wished that she could cry, do something to ease
the iron fingers that were digging into her throat.

"I'm sorry, Scarlett," said Rhett.  She looked up at him.  She had
forgotten he was still there.  "Many of your friends?"

She nodded and struggled to speak:  "About every family in the
County--and all--all three of the Tarleton boys."

His face was quiet, almost somber, and there was no mocking in his
eyes.

"And the end is not yet," he said.  "These are just the first lists
and they're incomplete.  There'll be a longer list tomorrow."  He
lowered his voice so that those in the near-by carriages could not
hear.  "Scarlett, General Lee must have lost the battle.  I heard
at headquarters that he had retreated back into Maryland."

She raised frightened eyes to his, but her fear did not spring from
Lee's defeat.  Longer casualty lists tomorrow!  Tomorrow.  She had
not thought of tomorrow, so happy was she at first that Ashley's
name was not on that list.  Tomorrow.  Why, right this minute he
might be dead and she would not know it until tomorrow, or perhaps
a week from tomorrow.

"Oh, Rhett, why do there have to be wars?  It would have been so
much better for the Yankees to pay for the darkies--or even for us
to give them the darkies free of charge than to have this happen."

"It isn't the darkies, Scarlett.  They're just the excuse.
There'll always be wars because men love wars.  Women don't, but
men do--yea, passing the love of women."

His mouth twisted in his old smile and the seriousness was gone
from his face.  He lifted his wide Panama hat.

"Good-by.  I'm going to find Dr. Meade.  I imagine the irony of me
being the one to tell him of his son's death will be lost on him,
just now.  But later, he'll probably hate to think that a
speculator brought the news of a hero's death."



Scarlett put Miss Pitty to bed with a toddy, left Prissy and Cookie
in attendance and went down the street to the Meade house.  Mrs.
Meade was upstairs with Phil, waiting her husband's return, and
Melanie sat in the parlor, talking in a low voice to a group of
sympathetic neighbors.  She was busy with needle and scissors,
altering a mourning dress that Mrs. Elsing had lent to Mrs. Meade.
Already the house was full of the acrid smell of clothes boiling in
homemade black dye for, in the kitchen, the sobbing cook was
stirring all of Mrs. Meade's dresses in the huge wash pot.

"How is she?" questioned Scarlett softly.

"Not a tear," said Melanie.  "It's terrible when women can't cry.
I don't know how men stand things without crying.  I guess it's
because they're stronger and braver than women.  She says she's
going to Pennsylvania by herself to bring him home.  The doctor
can't leave the hospital."

"It will be dreadful for her!  Why can't Phil go?"

"She's afraid he'll join the army if he gets out of her sight.  You
know he's so big for his age and they're taking them at sixteen
now."

One by one the neighbors slipped away, reluctant to be present when
the doctor came home, and Scarlett and Melanie were left alone,
sewing in the parlor.  Melanie looked sad but tranquil, though
tears dropped down on the cloth she held in her hands.  Evidently
she had not thought that the battle might still be going on and
Ashley perhaps dead at this very moment.  With panic in her heart,
Scarlett did not know whether to tell Melanie of Rhett's words and
have the dubious comfort of her misery or keep it to herself.
Finally she decided to remain quiet.  It would never do for Melanie
to think her too worried about Ashley.  She thanked God that
everyone, Melly and Pitty included, had been too engrossed in her
own worries that morning to notice her conduct.

After an interval of silent sewing, they heard sounds outside and,
peering through the curtains, they saw Dr. Meade alighting from his
horse.  His shoulders were sagging and his head bowed until his
gray beard spread out fanlike on his chest.  He came slowly into
the house and, laying down his hat and bag, kissed both the girls
silently.  Then he went tiredly up the stairs.  In a moment Phil
came down, all long legs and arms and awkwardness.  The two girls
looked an invitation to join them, but he went onto the front porch
and, seating himself on the top step, dropped his head on his
cupped palm.

Melly sighed.

"He's mad because they won't let him go fight the Yankees.  Fifteen
years old!  Oh, Scarlett, it would be Heaven to have a son like
that!"

"And have him get killed," said Scarlett shortly, thinking of
Darcy.

"It would be better to have a son even if he did get killed than to
never have one," said Melanie and gulped.  "You can't understand,
Scarlett, because you've got little Wade, but I--  Oh, Scarlett, I
want a baby so bad!  I know you think I'm horrid to say it right
out, but it's true and only what every woman wants and you know
it."

Scarlett restrained herself from sniffing.

"If God should will that Ashley should be--taken, I suppose I could
bear it, though I'd rather die if he died.  But God would give me
strength to bear it.  But I could not bear having him dead and not
having--not having a child of his to comfort me.  Oh, Scarlett, how
lucky you are!  Though you lost Charlie, you have his son.  And if
Ashley goes, I'll have nothing.  Scarlett, forgive me, but
sometimes I've been so jealous of you--"

"Jealous--of me?" cried Scarlett, stricken with guilt.

"Because you have a son and I haven't.  I've even pretended
sometimes that Wade was mine because it's so awful not to have a
child."

"Fiddle-dee-dee!" said Scarlett in relief.  She cast a quick glance
at the slight figure with blushing face bent over the sewing.
Melanie might want children but she certainly did not have the
figure for bearing them.  She was hardly taller than a twelve-year-
old child, her hips were as narrow as a child's and her breasts
were very flat.  The very thought of Melanie having a child was
repellent to Scarlett.  It brought up too many thoughts she
couldn't bear thinking.  If Melanie should have a child of
Ashley's, it would be as though something were taken from Scarlett
that was her own.

"Do forgive me for saying that about Wade.  You know I love him so.
You aren't mad at me, are you?"

"Don't be silly," said Scarlett shortly.  "And go out on the porch
and do something for Phil.  He's crying."



CHAPTER XV


The army, driven back into Virginia, went into winter quarters on
the Rapidan--a tired, depleted army since the defeat at Gettysburg--
and as the Christmas season approached, Ashley came home on
furlough.  Scarlett, seeing him for the first time in more than two
years, was frightened by the violence of her feelings.  When she
had stood in the parlor at Twelve Oaks and seen him married to
Melanie, she had thought she could never love him with a more
heartbreaking intensity than she did at that moment.  But now she
knew her feelings of that long-past night were those of a spoiled
child thwarted of a toy.  Now, her emotions were sharpened by her
long dreams of him, heightened by the repression she had been
forced to put on her tongue.

This Ashley Wilkes in his faded, patched uniform, his blond hair
bleached tow by summer suns, was a different man from the easy-
going, drowsy-eyed boy she had loved to desperation before the war.
And he was a thousand times more thrilling.  He was bronzed and
lean now, where he had once been fair and slender, and the long
golden mustache drooping about his mouth, cavalry style, was the
last touch needed to make him the perfect picture of a soldier.

He stood with military straightness in his old uniform, his pistol
in its worn holster, his battered scabbard smartly slapping his
high boots, his tarnished spurs dully gleaming--Major Ashley
Wilkes, C.S.A.  The habit of command sat upon him now, a quiet air
of self-reliance and authority, and grim lines were beginning to
emerge about his mouth.  There was something new and strange about
the square set of his shoulders and the cool bright gleam of his
eyes.  Where he had once been lounging and indolent, he was now as
alert as a prowling cat, with the tense alertness of one whose
nerves are perpetually drawn as tight as the strings of a violin.
In his eyes, there was a fagged, haunted look, and the sunburned
skin was tight across the fine bones of his face--her same handsome
Ashley, yet so very different.

Scarlett had made her plans to spend Christmas at Tara, but after
Ashley's telegram came no power on earth, not even a direct command
from the disappointed Ellen, could drag her away from Atlanta.  Had
Ashley intended going to Twelve Oaks, she would have hastened to
Tara to be near him; but he had written his family to join him in
Atlanta, and Mr. Wilkes and Honey and India were already in town.
Go home to Tara and miss seeing him, after two long years?  Miss
the heart-quickening sound of his voice, miss reading in his eyes
that he had not forgotten her?  Never!  Not for all the mothers in
the world.

Ashley came home four days before Christmas, with a group of the
County boys also on furlough, a sadly diminished group since
Gettysburg.  Cade Calvert was among them, a thin, gaunt Cade, who
coughed continually, two of the Munroe boys, bubbling with the
excitement of their first leave since 1861, and Alex and Tony
Fontaine, splendidly drunk, boisterous and quarrelsome.  The group
had two hours to wait between trains and, as it was taxing the
diplomacy of the sober members of the party to keep the Fontaines
from fighting each other and perfect strangers in the depot, Ashley
brought them all home to Aunt Pittypat's.

"You'd think they'd had enough fighting in Virginia," said Cade
bitterly, as he watched the two bristle like game-cocks over who
should be the first to kiss the fluttering and flattered Aunt
Pitty.  "But no.  They've been drunk and picking fights ever since
we got to Richmond.  The provost guard took them up there and if it
hadn't been for Ashley's slick tongue, they'd have spent Christmas
in jail."

But Scarlett hardly heard a word he said, so enraptured was she at
being in the same room with Ashley again.  How could she have
thought during these two years that other men were nice or handsome
or exciting?  How could she have even endured hearing them make
love to her when Ashley was in the world?  He was home again,
separated from her only by the width of the parlor rug, and it took
all her strength not to dissolve in happy tears every time she
looked at him sitting there on the sofa with Melly on one side and
India on the other and Honey hanging over his shoulder.  If only
she had the right to sit there beside him, her arm through his!  If
only she could pat his sleeve every few minutes to make sure he was
really there, hold his hand and use his handkerchief to wipe away
her tears of joy.  For Melanie was doing all these things,
unashamedly.  Too happy to be shy and reserved, she hung on her
husband's arm and adored him openly with her eyes, with her smiles,
her tears.  And Scarlett was too happy to resent this, too glad to
be jealous.  Ashley was home at last!

Now and then she put her hand up to her cheek where he had kissed
her and felt again the thrill of his lips and smiled at him.  He
had not kissed her first, of course.  Melly had hurled herself into
his arms crying incoherently, holding him as though she would never
let him go.  And then, India and Honey had hugged him, fairly
tearing him from Melanie's arms.  Then he had kissed his father,
with a dignified affectionate embrace that showed the strong quiet
feeling that lay between them.  And then Aunt Pitty, who was
jumping up and down on her inadequate little feet with excitement.
Finally he turned to her, surrounded by all the boys who were
claiming their kisses, and said:  "Oh, Scarlett!  You pretty,
pretty thing!" and kissed her on the cheek.

With that kiss, everything she had intended to say in welcome took
wings.  Not until hours later did she recall that he had not kissed
her on the lips.  Then she wondered feverishly if he would have
done it had she met him alone, bending his tall body over hers,
pulling her up on tiptoe, holding her for a long, long time.  And
because it made her happy to think so, she believed that he would.
But there would be time for all things, a whole week!  Surely she
could maneuver to get him alone and say:  "Do you remember those
rides we used to take down our secret bridle paths?"  "Do you
remember how the moon looked that night when we sat on the steps at
Tara and you quoted that poem?"  (Good Heavens!  What was the name
of that poem, anyway?)  "Do you remember that afternoon when I
sprained my ankle and you carried me home in your arms in the
twilight?"

Oh, there were so many things she would preface with "Do you
remember?"  So many dear memories that would bring back to him
those lovely days when they roamed the County like care-free
children, so many things that would call to mind the days before
Melanie Hamilton entered on the scene.  And while they talked she
could perhaps read in his eyes some quickening of emotion, some
hint that behind the barrier of husbandly affection for Melanie he
still cared, cared as passionately as on that day of the barbecue
when he burst forth with the truth.  It did not occur to her to
plan just what they would do if Ashley should declare his love for
her in unmistakable words.  It would be enough to know that he did
care. . . .  Yes, she could wait, could let Melanie have her happy
hour of squeezing his arm and crying.  Her time would come.  After
all, what did a girl like Melanie know of love?

"Darling, you look like a ragamuffin," said Melanie when the first
excitement of homecoming was over.  "Who did mend your uniform and
why did they use blue patches?"

"I thought I looked perfectly dashing," said Ashley, considering
his appearance.  "Just compare me with those rag-tags over there
and you'll appreciate me more.  Mose mended the uniform and I
thought he did very well, considering that he'd never had a needle
in his hand before the war.  About the blue cloth, when it comes to
a choice between having holes in your britches or patching them
with pieces of a captured Yankee uniform--well, there just isn't
any choice.  And as for looking like a ragamuffin, you should thank
your stars your husband didn't come home barefooted.  Last week my
old boots wore completely out, and I would have come home with
sacks tied on my feet if we hadn't had the good luck to shoot two
Yankee scouts.  The boots of one of them fitted me perfectly."

He stretched out his long legs in their scarred high boots for them
to admire.

"And the boots of the other scout didn't fit me," said Cade.
"They're two sizes too small and they're killing me this minute.
But I'm going home in style just the same."

"And the selfish swine won't give them to either of us," said Tony.
"And they'd fit our small, aristocratic Fontaine feet perfectly.
Hell's afire, I'm ashamed to face Mother in these brogans.  Before
the war she wouldn't have let one of our darkies wear them."

"Don't worry," said Alex, eyeing Cade's boots.  "We'll take them
off of him on the train going home.  I don't mind facing Mother but
I'm da--I mean I don't intend for Dimity Munroe to see my toes
sticking out."

"Why, they're my boots.  I claimed them first," said Tony,
beginning to scowl at his brother; and Melanie, fluttering with
fear at the possibility of one of the famous Fontaine quarrels,
interposed and made peace.

"I had a full beard to show you girls," said Ashley, ruefully
rubbing his face where half-healed razor nicks still showed.  "It
was a beautiful beard and if I do say it myself, neither Jeb Stuart
nor Nathan Bedford Forrest had a handsomer one.  But when we got to
Richmond, those two scoundrels," indicating the Fontaines, "decided
that as they were shaving their beards, mine should come off too.
They got me down and shaved me, and it's a wonder my head didn't
come off along with the beard.  It was only by the intervention of
Evan and Cade that my mustache was saved."

"Snakes, Mrs. Wilkes!  You ought to thank me.  You'd never have
recognized him and wouldn't have let him in the door," said Alex.
"We did it to show our appreciation of his talking the provost
guard out of putting us in jail.  If you say the word, we'll take
the mustache off for you, right now."

"Oh, no, thank you!" said Melanie hastily, clutching Ashley in a
frightened way, for the two swarthy little men looked capable of
any violence.  "I think it's perfectly lovely."

"That's love," said the Fontaines, nodding gravely at each other.

When Ashley went into the cold to see the boys off to the depot in
Aunt Pitty's carriage, Melanie caught Scarlett's arm.

"Isn't his uniform dreadful?  Won't my coat be a surprise?  Oh, if
only I had enough cloth for britches too!"

That coat for Ashley was a sore subject with Scarlett, for she
wished so ardently that she and not Melanie were bestowing it as a
Christmas gift.  Gray wool for uniforms was now almost literally
more priceless than rubies, and Ashley was wearing the familiar
homespun.  Even butternut was now none too plentiful, and many of
the soldiers were dressed in captured Yankee uniforms which had
been turned a dark-brown color with walnut-shell dye.  But Melanie,
by rare luck, had come into possession of enough gray broadcloth to
make a coat--a rather short coat but a coat just the same.  She had
nursed a Charleston boy in the hospital and when he died had
clipped a lock of his hair and sent it to his mother, along with
the scant contents of his pockets and a comforting account of his
last hours which made no mention of the torment in which he died.
A correspondence had sprung up between them and, learning that
Melanie had a husband at the front, the mother had sent her the
length of gray cloth and brass buttons which she had bought for her
dead son.  It was a beautiful piece of material, thick and warm and
with a dull sheen to it, undoubtedly blockade goods and undoubtedly
very expensive.  It was now in the hands of the tailor and Melanie
was hurrying him to have it ready by Christmas morning.  Scarlett
would have given anything to be able to provide the rest of the
uniform, but the necessary materials were simply not to be had in
Atlanta.

She had a Christmas present for Ashley, but it paled in
insignificance beside the glory of Melanie's gray coat.  It was a
small "housewife," made of flannel, containing the whole precious
pack of needles Rhett had brought her from Nassau, three of her
linen handkerchiefs, obtained from the same source, two spools of
thread and a small pair of scissors.  But she wanted to give him
something more personal, something a wife could give a husband, a
shirt, a pair of gauntlets, a hat.  Oh, yes, a hat by all means.
That little flat-topped forage cap Ashley was wearing looked
ridiculous.  Scarlett had always hated them.  What if Stonewall
Jackson had worn one in preference to a slouch felt?  That didn't
make them any more dignified looking.  But the only hats obtainable
in Atlanta were crudely made wool hats, and they were tackier than
the monkey-hat forage caps.

When she thought of hats, she thought of Rhett Butler.  He had so
many hats, wide Panamas for summer, tall beavers for formal
occasions, hunting hats, slouch hats of tan and black and blue.
What need had he for so many when her darling Ashley rode in the
rain with moisture dripping down his collar from the back of his
cap?

"I'll make Rhett give me that new black felt of his," she decided.
"And I'll put a gray ribbon around the brim and sew Ashley's wreath
on it and it will look lovely."

She paused and thought it might be difficult to get the hat without
some explanation.  She simply could not tell Rhett she wanted it
for Ashley.  He would raise his brows in that nasty way he always
had when she even mentioned Ashley's name and, like as not, would
refuse to give her the hat.  Well, she'd make up some pitiful story
about a soldier in the hospital who needed it and Rhett need never
know the truth.

All that afternoon, she maneuvered to be alone with Ashley, even
for a few minutes, but Melanie was beside him constantly, and India
and Honey, their pale lashless eyes glowing, followed him about the
house.  Even John Wilkes, visibly proud of his son, had no
opportunity for quiet conversation with him.

It was the same at supper where they all plied him with questions
about the war.  The war!  Who cared about the war?  Scarlett didn't
think Ashley cared very much for that subject either.  He talked at
length, laughed frequently and dominated the conversation more
completely than she had ever seen him do before, but he seemed to
say very little.  He told them jokes and funny stories about
friends, talked gaily about makeshifts, making light of hunger and
long marches in the rain, and described in detail how General Lee
had looked when he rode by on the retreat from Gettysburg and
questioned:  "Gentlemen, are you Georgia troops?  Well, we can't
get along without you Georgians!"

It seemed to Scarlett that he was talking fervishly to keep them
from asking questions he did not want to answer.  When she saw his
eyes falter and drop before the long, troubled gaze of his father,
a faint worry and bewilderment rose in her as to what was hidden in
Ashley's heart.  But it soon passed, for there was no room in her
mind for anything except a radiant happiness and a driving desire
to be alone with him.

That radiance lasted until everyone in the circle about the open
fire began to yawn, and Mr. Wilkes and the girls took their
departure for the hotel.  Then as Ashley and Melanie and Pittypat
and Scarlett mounted the stairs, lighted by Uncle Peter, a chill
fell on her spirit.  Until that moment when they stood in the
upstairs hall, Ashley had been hers, only hers, even if she had not
had a private word with him that whole afternoon.  But now, as she
said good night, she saw that Melanie's cheeks were suddenly
crimson and she was trembling.  Her eyes were on the carpet and,
though she seemed overcome with some frightening emotion, she
seemed shyly happy.  Melanie did not even look up when Ashley
opened the bedroom door, but sped inside.  Ashley said good night
abruptly, and he did not meet Scarlett's eyes either.

The door closed behind them, leaving Scarlett open mouthed and
suddenly desolate.  Ashley was no longer hers.  He was Melanie's.
And as long as Melanie lived, she could go into rooms with Ashley
and close the door--and close out the rest of the world.

Now Ashley was going away, back to Virginia, back to the long
marches in the sleet, to hungry bivouacs in the snow, to pain and
hardship and to the risk of all the bright beauty of his golden
head and proud slender body being blotted out in an instant, like
an ant beneath a careless heel.  The past week with its shimmering,
dreamlike beauty, its crowded hours of happiness, was gone.

The week had passed swiftly, like a dream, a dream fragrant with
the smell of pine boughs and Christmas trees, bright with little
candles and home-made tinsel, a dream where minutes flew as rapidly
as heartbeats.  Such a breathless week when something within her
drove Scarlett with mingled pain and pleasure to pack and cram
every minute with incidents to remember after he was gone,
happenings which she could examine at leisure in the long months
ahead, extracting every morsel of comfort from them--dance, sing,
laugh, fetch and carry for Ashley, anticipate his wants, smile when
he smiles, be silent when he talks, follow him with your eyes so
that each line of his erect body, each lift of his eyebrows, each
quirk of his mouth, will be indelibly printed on your mind--for a
week goes by so fast and the war goes on forever.

She sat on the divan in the parlor, holding her going-away gift for
him in her lap, waiting while he said good-by to Melanie, praying
that when he did come down the stairs he would be alone and she
might be granted by Heaven a few moments alone with him.  Her ears
strained for sounds from upstairs, but the house was oddly still,
so still that even the sound of her breathing seemed loud.  Aunt
Pittypat was crying into her pillows in her room, for Ashley had
told her good-by half an hour before.  No sounds of murmuring
voices or of tears came from behind the closed door of Melanie's
bedroom.  It seemed to Scarlett that he had been in that room for
hours, and she resented bitterly each moment that he stayed, saying
good-by to his wife, for the moments were slipping by so fast and
his time was so short.

She thought of all the things she had intended to say to him during
this week.  But there had been no opportunity to say them, and she
knew now that perhaps she would never have the chance to say them.

Such foolish little things, some of them:  "Ashley, you will be
careful, won't you?"  "Please don't get your feet wet.  You take
cold so easily."  "Don't forget to put a newspaper across your
chest under your shirt.  It keeps out the wind so well."  But there
were other things, more important things she had wanted to say,
much more important things she had wanted to hear him say, things
she had wanted to read in his eyes, even if he did not speak them.

So many things to say and now there was no time!  Even the few
minutes that remained might be snatched away from her if Melanie
followed him to the door, to the carriage block.  Why hadn't she
made the opportunity during this last week?  But always, Melanie
was at his side, her eyes caressing him adoringly, always friends
and neighbors and relatives were in the house and, from morning
till night, Ashley was never alone.  Then, at night, the door of
the bedroom closed and he was alone with Melanie.  Never once
during these last days had he betrayed to Scarlett by one look, one
word, anything but the affection a brother might show a sister or a
friend, a lifelong friend.  She could not let him go away, perhaps
forever, without knowing whether he still loved her.  Then, even if
he died, she could nurse the warm comfort of his secret love to the
end of her days.

After what seemed an eternity of waiting, she heard the sound of
his boots in the bedroom above and the door opening and closing.
She heard him coming down the steps.  Alone!  Thank God for that!
Melanie must be too overcome by the grief of parting to leave her
room.  Now she would have him for herself for a few precious
minutes.

He came down the steps slowly, his spurs clinking, and she could
hear the slap-slap of his saber against his high boots.  When he
came into the parlor, his eyes were somber.  He was trying to smile
but his face was as white and drawn as a man bleeding from an
internal wound.  She rose as he entered, thinking with proprietary
pride that he was the handsomest soldier she had ever seen.  His
long holster and belt glistened and his silver spurs and scabbard
gleamed, from the industrious polishing Uncle Peter had given them.
His new coat did not fit very well, for the tailor had been hurried
and some of the seams were awry.  The bright new sheen of the gray
coat was sadly at variance with the worn and patched butternut
trousers and the scarred boots, but if he had been clothed in
silver armor he could not have looked more the shining knight to
her.

"Ashley," she begged abruptly, "may I go to the train with you?"

"Please don't.  Father and the girls will be there.  And anyway,
I'd rather remember you saying good-by to me here than shivering at
the depot.  There's so much to memories."

Instantly she abandoned her plan.  If India and Honey who disliked
her so much were to be present at the leave taking, she would have
no chance for a private word.

"Then I won't go," she said.  "See, Ashley!  I've another present
for you."

A little shy, now that the time had come to give it to him, she
unrolled the package.  It was a long yellow sash, made of thick
China silk and edged with heavy fringe.  Rhett Butler had brought
her a yellow shawl from Havana several months before, a shawl
gaudily embroidered with birds and flowers in magenta and blue.
During this last week, she had patiently picked out all the
embroidery and cut up the square of silk and stitched it into a
sash length.

"Scarlett, it's beautiful!  Did you make it yourself?  Then I'll
value it all the more.  Put it on me, my dear.  The boys will be
green with envy when they see me in the glory of my new coat and
sash."

She wrapped the bright lengths about his slender waist, above his
belt, and tied the ends in a lover's knot.  Melanie might have
given him his new coat but this sash was her gift, her own secret
guerdon for him to wear into battle, something that would make him
remember her every time he looked at it.  She stood back and viewed
him with pride, thinking that even Jeb Stuart with his flaunting
sash and plume could not look so dashing as her cavalier.

"It's beautiful," he repeated, fingering the fringe.  "But I know
you've cut up a dress or a shawl to make it.  You shouldn't have
done it, Scarlett.  Pretty things are too hard to get these days."

"Oh, Ashley, I'd--"

She had started to say:  "I'd cut up my heart for you to wear if
you wanted it," but she finished, "I'd do anything for you!"

"Would you?" he questioned and some of the somberness lifted from
his face.  "Then, there's something you can do for me, Scarlett,
something that will make my mind easier when I'm away."

"What is it?" she asked joyfully, ready to promise prodigies.

"Scarlett, will you look after Melanie for me?"

"Look after Melly?"

Her heart sank with bitter disappointment.  So this was something
beautiful, something spectacular!  And then anger flared.  This
moment was her moment with Ashley, hers alone.  And yet, though
Melanie was absent, her pale shadow lay between them.  How could he
bring up her name in their moment of farewell?  How could he ask
such a thing of her?

He did not notice the disappointment on her face.  As of old, his
eyes were looking through her and beyond her, at something else,
not seeing her at all.

"Yes, keep an eye on her, take care of her.  She's so frail and she
doesn't realize it.  She'll wear herself out nursing and sewing.
And she's so gentle and timid.  Except for Aunt Pittypat and Uncle
Henry and you, she hasn't a close relative in the world, except the
Burrs in Macon and they're third cousins.  And Aunt Pitty--
Scarlett, you know she's like a child.  And Uncle Henry is an old
man.  Melanie loves you so much, not just because you were
Charlie's wife, but because--well, because you're you and she loves
you like a sister.  Scarlett, I have nightmares when I think what
might happen to her if I were killed and she had no one to turn to.
Will you promise?"

She did not even hear his last request, so terrified was she by
those ill-omened words, "if I were killed."

Every day she had read the casualty lists, read them with her heart
in her throat, knowing that the world would end if anything should
happen to him.  But always, always, she had an inner feeling that
even if the Confederate Army were entirely wiped out, Ashley would
be spared.  And now he had spoken the frightful words!  Goose bumps
came out all over her and fear swamped her, a superstitious fear
she could not combat with reason.  She was Irish enough to believe
in second sight, especially where death premonitions were
concerned, and in his wide gray eyes she saw some deep sadness
which she could only interpret as that of a man who has felt the
cold finger on his shoulder, has heard the wail of the Banshee.

"You mustn't say it!  You mustn't even think it.  It's bad luck to
speak of death!  Oh, say a prayer, quickly!"

"You say it for me and light some candles, too," he said, smiling
at the frightened urgency in her voice.

But she could not answer, so stricken was she by the pictures her
mind was drawing, Ashley lying dead in the snows of Virginia, so
far away from her.  He went on speaking and there was a quality in
his voice, a sadness, a resignation, that increased her fear until
every vestige of anger and disappointment was blotted out.

"I'm asking you for this reason, Scarlett.  I cannot tell what will
happen to me or what will happen to any of us.  But when the end
comes, I shall be far away from here, even if I am alive, too far
away to look out for Melanie."

"The--the end?"

"The end of the war--and the end of the world."

"But Ashley, surely you can't think the Yankees will beat us?  All
this week you've talked about how strong General Lee--"

"All this week I've talked lies, like all men talk when they're on
furlough.  Why should I frighten Melanie and Aunt Pitty before
there's any need for them to be frightened?  Yes, Scarlett, I think
the Yankees have us.  Gettysburg was the beginning of the end.  The
people back home don't know it yet.  They can't realize how things
stand with us, but--Scarlett, some of my men are barefooted now and
the snow is deep in Virginia.  And when I see their poor frozen
feet, wrapped in rags and old sacks, and I see the blood prints
they leave in the snow, and know that I've got a whole pair of
boots--well, I feel like I should give mine away and be barefooted
too."

"Oh, Ashley, promise me you won't give them away!"

"When I see things like that and then look at the Yankees--then I
see the end of everything.  Why Scarlett, the Yankees are buying
soldiers from Europe by the thousands!  Most of the prisoners we've
taken recently can't even speak English.  They're Germans and Poles
and wild Irishmen who talk Gaelic.  But when we lose a man, he
can't be replaced.  When our shoes wear out, there are no more
shoes.  We're bottled up, Scarlett.  And we can't fight the whole
world."

She thought wildly:  Let the whole Confederacy crumble in the dust.
Let the world end, but you must not die!  I couldn't live if you
were dead!

"I hope you will not repeat what I have said, Scarlett.  I do not
want to alarm the others.  And, my dear, I would not have alarmed
you by saying these things, were it not that I had to explain why I
ask you to look after Melanie.  She's so frail and weak and you're
so strong, Scarlett.  It will be a comfort to me to know that you
are together if anything happens to me.  You will promise, won't
you?"

"Oh, yes!" she cried, for at that moment, seeing death at his
elbow, she would have promised anything.  "Ashley, Ashley!  I can't
let you go away!  I simply can't be brave about it!"

"You must be brave," he said, and his voice changed subtly.  It was
resonant, deeper, and his words fell swiftly as though hurried with
some inner urgency.  "You must be brave.  For how else can I stand
it?"

Her eyes sought his face quickly and with joy, wondering if he
meant that leaving her was breaking his heart, even as it was
breaking hers.  His face was as drawn as when he came down from
bidding Melanie good-by, but she could read nothing in his eyes.
He leaned down, took her face in his hands, and kissed her lightly
on the forehead.

"Scarlett!  Scarlett!  You are so fine and strong and good.  So
beautiful, not just your sweet face, my dear, but all of you, your
body and your mind and your soul."

"Oh, Ashley," she whispered happily, thrilling at his words and his
touch on her face.  "Nobody else but you ever--"

"I like to think that perhaps I know you better than most people
and that I can see beautiful things buried deep in you that others
are too careless and too hurried to notice."

He stopped speaking and his hands dropped from her face, but his
eyes still clung to her eyes.  She waited a moment, breathless for
him to continue, a-tiptoe to hear him say the magic three words.
But they did not come.  She searched his face frantically, her lips
quivering, for she saw he had finished speaking.

This second blighting of her hopes was more than heart could bear
and she cried "Oh!" in a childish whisper and sat down, tears
stinging her eyes.  Then she heard an ominous sound in the
driveway, outside the window, a sound that brought home to her even
more sharply the imminence of Ashley's departure.  A pagan hearing
the lapping of the waters around Charon's boat could not have felt
more desolate.  Uncle Peter, muffled in a quilt, was bringing out
the carriage to take Ashley to the train.

Ashley said "Good-by," very softly, caught up from the table the
wide felt hat she had inveigled from Rhett and walked into the dark
front hall.  His hand on the doorknob, he turned and looked at her,
a long, desperate look, as if he wanted to carry away with him
every detail of her face and figure.  Through a blinding mist of
tears she saw his face and with a strangling pain in her throat she
knew that he was going away, away from her care, away from the safe
haven of this house, and out of her life, perhaps forever, without
having spoken the words she so yearned to hear.  Time was going by
like a mill race, and now it was too late.  She ran stumbling
across the parlor and into the hall and clutched the ends of his
sash.

"Kiss me," she whispered.  "Kiss me good-by."

His arms went around her gently, and he bent his head to her face.
At the first touch of his lips on hers, her arms were about his
neck in a strangling grip.  For a fleeting immeasurable instant, he
pressed her body close to his.  Then she felt a sudden tensing of
all his muscles.  Swiftly, he dropped the hat to the floor and,
reaching up, detached her arms from his neck.

"No, Scarlett, no," he said in a low voice, holding her crossed
wrists in a grip that hurt.

"I love you," she said choking.  "I've always loved you.  I've
never loved anybody else.  I just married Charlie to--to try to
hurt you.  Oh, Ashley, I love you so much I'd walk every step of
the way to Virginia just to be near you!  And I'd cook for you and
polish your boots and groom your horse--Ashley, say you love me!
I'll live on it for the rest of my life!"

He bent suddenly to retrieve his hat and she had one glimpse of his
face.  It was the unhappiest face she was ever to see, a face from
which all aloofness had fled.  Written on it were his love for and
joy that she loved him, but battling them both were shame and
despair.

"Good-by," he said hoarsely.

The door clicked open and a gust of cold wind swept the house,
fluttering the curtains.  Scarlett shivered as she watched him run
down the walk to the carriage, his saber glinting in the feeble
winter sunlight, the fringe of his sash dancing jauntily.



CHAPTER XVI


January and February of 1864 passed, full of cold rains and wild
winds, clouded by pervasive gloom and depression.  In addition to
the defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the center of the Southern
line had caved.  After hard fighting, nearly all of Tennessee was
now held by the Union troops.  But even with this loss on the top
of the others, the South's spirit was not broken.  True, grim
determination had taken the place of high-hearted hopes, but people
could still find a silver lining in the cloud.  For one thing, the
Yankees had been stoutly repulsed in September when they had tried
to follow up their victories in Tennessee by an advance into
Georgia.

Here in the northwesternmost corner of the state, at Chickamauga,
serious fighting had occurred on Georgia soil for the first time
since the war began.  The Yankees had taken Chattanooga and then
had marched through the mountain passes into Georgia, but they had
been driven back with heavy losses.

Atlanta and its railroads had played a big part in making
Chickamauga a great victory for the South.  Over the railroads that
led down from Virginia to Atlanta and then northward to Tennessee,
General Longstreet's corps had been rushed to the scene of the
battle.  Along the entire route of several hundred miles, the
tracks had been cleared and all the available rolling stock in the
Southeast had been assembled for the movement.

Atlanta had watched while train after train rolled through the
town, hour after hour, passenger coaches, box cars, flat cars,
filled with shouting men.  They had come without food or sleep,
without their horses, ambulances or supply trains and, without
waiting for the rest, they had leaped from the trains and into the
battle.  And the Yankees had been driven out of Georgia, back into
Tennessee.

It was the greatest feat of the war, and Atlanta took pride and
personal satisfaction in the thought that its railroads had made
the victory possible.

But the South had needed the cheering news from Chickamauga to
strengthen its morale through the winter.  No one denied now that
the Yankees were good fighters and, at last, they had good
generals.  Grant was a butcher who did not care how many men he
slaughtered for a victory, but victory he would have.  Sheridan was
a name to bring dread to Southern hearts.  And, then, there was a
man named Sherman who was being mentioned more and more often.  He
had risen to prominence in the campaigns in Tennessee and the West,
and his reputation as a determined and ruthless fighter was
growing.

None of them, of course, compared with General Lee.  Faith in the
General and the army was still strong.  Confidence in ultimate
victory never wavered.  But the war was dragging out so long.
There were so many dead, so many wounded and maimed for life, so
many widowed, so many orphaned.  And there was still a long
struggle ahead, which meant more dead, more wounded, more widows
and orphans.

To make matters worse, a vague distrust of those in high places had
begun to creep over the civilian population.  Many newspapers were
outspoken in their denunciation of President Davis himself and the
manner in which he prosecuted the war.  There were dissensions
within the Confederate cabinet, disagreements between President
Davis and his generals.  The currency was falling rapidly.  Shoes
and clothing for the army were scarce, ordnance supplies and drugs
were scarcer.  The railroads needed new cars to take the place of
old ones and new iron rails to replace those torn up by the
Yankees.  The generals in the field were crying out for fresh
troops, and there were fewer and fewer fresh troops to be had.
Worst of all, some of the state governors, Governor Brown of
Georgia among them, were refusing to send state militia troops and
arms out of their borders.  There were thousands of able-bodied men
in the state troops for whom the army was frantic, but the
government pleaded for them in vain.

With the new fall of currency, prices soared again.  Beef, pork and
butter cost thirty-five dollars a pound, flour fourteen hundred
dollars a barrel, soda one hundred dollars a pound, tea five
hundred dollars a pound.  Warm clothing, when it was obtainable at
all, had risen to such prohibitive prices that Atlanta ladies were
lining their old dresses with rags and reinforcing them with
newspapers to keep out the wind.  Shoes cost from two hundred to
eight hundred dollars a pair, depending on whether they were made
of "cardboard" or real leather.  Ladies now wore gaiters made of
their old wool shawls and cut-up carpets.  The soles were made of
wood.

The truth was that the North was holding the South in a virtual
state of siege, though many did not realize it.  The Yankee
gunboats had tightened the mesh at the ports and very few ships
were now able to slip past the blockade.

The South had always lived by selling cotton and buying the things
it did not produce, but now it could neither sell nor buy.  Gerald
O'Hara had three years' crops of cotton stored under the shed near
the gin house at Tara, but little good it did him.  In Liverpool it
would bring one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, but there was
no hope of getting it to Liverpool.  Gerald had changed from a
wealthy man to a man who was wondering how he would feed his family
and his negroes through the winter.

Throughout the South, most of the cotton planters were in the same
fix.  With the blockade closing tighter and tighter, there was no
way to get the South's money crop to its market in England, no way
to bring in the necessaries which cotton money had brought in years
gone by.  And the agricultural South, waging war with the
industrial North, was needing so many things now, things it had
never thought of buying in times of peace.

It was a situation made to order for speculators and profiteers,
and men were not lacking to take advantage of it.  As food and
clothing grew scarcer and prices rose higher and higher, the public
outcry against the speculators grew louder and more venomous.  In
those early days of 1864, no newspaper could be opened that did not
carry scathing editorials denouncing the speculators as vultures
and bloodsucking leeches and calling upon the government to put
them down with a hard hand.  The government did its best, but the
efforts came to nothing, for the government was harried by many
things.

Against no one was feeling more bitter than against Rhett Butler.
He had sold his boats when blockading grew too hazardous, and he
was now openly engaged in food speculation.  The stories about him
that came back to Atlanta from Richmond and Wilmington made those
who had received him in other days writhe with shame.

In spite of all these trials and tribulations, Atlanta's ten
thousand population had grown to double that number during the war.
Even the blockade had added to Atlanta's prestige.  From time
immemorial, the coast cities had dominated the South, commercially
and otherwise.  But now with the ports closed and many of the port
cities captured or besieged, the South's salvation depended upon
itself.  The interior section was what counted, if the South was
going to win the war, and Atlanta was now the center of things.
The people of the town were suffering hardship, privation, sickness
and death as severely as the rest of the Confederacy; but Atlanta,
the city, had gained rather than lost as a result of the war.
Atlanta, the heart of the Confederacy, was still beating full and
strong, the railroads that were its arteries throbbing with the
never-ending flow of men, munitions and supplies.



In other days, Scarlett would have been bitter about her shabby
dresses and patched shoes but now she did not care, for the one
person who mattered was not there to see her.  She was happy those
two months, happier than she had been in years.  Had she not felt
the start of Ashley's heart when her arms went round his neck? seen
that despairing look on his face which was more open an avowal than
any words could be?  He loved her.  She was sure of that now, and
this conviction was so pleasant she could even be kinder to
Melanie.  She could be sorry for Melanie now, sorry with a faint
contempt for her blindness, her stupidity.

"When the war is over!" she thought.  "When it's over--then . . ."

Sometimes she thought with a small dart of fear:  "What then?"  But
she put the thought from her mind.  When the war was over,
everything would be settled, somehow.  If Ashley loved her, he
simply couldn't go on living with Melanie.

But then, a divorce was unthinkable; and Ellen and Gerald, staunch
Catholics that they were, would never permit her to marry a
divorced man.  It would mean leaving the Church!  Scarlett thought
it over and decided that, in a choice between the Church and
Ashley, she would choose Ashley.  But, oh, it would make such a
scandal!  Divorced people were under the ban not only of the Church
but of society.  No divorced person was received.  However, she
would dare even that for Ashley.  She would sacrifice anything for
Ashley.

Somehow it would come out all right when the war was over.  If
Ashley loved her so much, he'd find a way.  She'd make him find a
way.  And with every day that passed, she became more sure in her
own mind of his devotion, more certain he would arrange matters
satisfactorily when the Yankees were finally beaten.  Of course, he
had said the Yankees "had" them.  Scarlett thought that was just
foolishness.  He had been tired and upset when he said it.  But she
hardly cared whether the Yankees won or not.  The thing that
mattered was for the war to finish quickly and for Ashley to come
home.

Then, when the sleets of March were keeping everyone indoors, the
hideous blow fell.  Melanie, her eyes shining with joy, her head
ducked with embarrassed pride, told her she was going to have a
baby.

"Dr. Meade says it will be here in late August or September," she
said.  "I've thought--but I wasn't sure till today.  Oh, Scarlett,
isn't it wonderful?  I've so envied you Wade and so wanted a baby.
And I was so afraid that maybe I wasn't ever going to have one and,
darling, I want a dozen!"

Scarlett had been combing her hair, preparing for bed, when Melanie
spoke and she stopped, the comb in mid-air.

"Dear God!" she said and, for a moment, realization did not come.
Then there suddenly leaped to her mind the closed door of Melanie's
bedroom and a knifelike pain went through her, a pain as fierce as
though Ashley had been her own husband and had been unfaithful to
her.  A baby.  Ashley's baby.  Oh, how could he, when he loved her
and not Melanie?

"I know you're surprised," Melanie rattled on, breathlessly.  "And
isn't it too wonderful?  Oh, Scarlett, I don't know how I shall
ever write Ashley!  It wouldn't be so embarrassing if I could tell
him or--or--well, not say anything and just let him notice
gradually, you know--"

"Dear God!" said Scarlett, almost sobbing, as she dropped the comb
and caught at the marble top of the dresser for support.

"Darling, don't look like that!  You know having a baby isn't so
bad.  You said so yourself.  And you mustn't worry about me, though
you are sweet to be so upset.  Of course, Dr. Meade said I was--
was," Melanie blushed, "quite narrow but that perhaps I shouldn't
have any trouble and--Scarlett, did you write Charlie and tell him
when you found out about Wade, or did your mother do it or maybe
Mr. O'Hara?  Oh, dear, if I only had a mother to do it!  I just
don't see how--"

"Hush!" said Scarlett, violently.  "Hush!"

"Oh, Scarlett, I'm so stupid!  I'm sorry.  I guess all happy people
are selfish.  I forgot about Charlie, just for the moment--"

"Hush!" said Scarlett again, fighting to control her face and make
her emotions quiet.  Never, never must Melanie see or suspect how
she felt.

Melanie, the most tactful of women, had tears in her eyes at her
own cruelty.  How could she have brought back to Scarlett the
terrible memories of Wade being born months after poor Charlie was
dead?  How could she have been so thoughtless?

"Let me help you undress, dearest," she said humbly.  "And I'll rub
your head for you."

"You leave me alone," said Scarlett, her face like stone.  And
Melanie, bursting into tears of self-condemnation, fled the room,
leaving Scarlett to a tearless bed, with wounded pride,
disillusionment and jealousy for bedfellows.

She thought that she could not live any longer in the same house
with the woman who was carrying Ashley's child, thought that she
would go home to Tara, home, where she belonged.  She did not see
how she could ever look at Melanie again and not have her secret
read in her face.  And she arose the next morning with the fixed
intention of packing her trunk immediately after breakfast.  But,
as they sat at the table, Scarlett silent and gloomy, Pitty
bewildered and Melanie miserable, a telegram came.

It was to Melanie from Ashley's body servant, Mose.

"I have looked everywhere and I can't find him.  Must I come home?"

No one knew what it meant but the eyes of the three women went to
one another, wide with terror, and Scarlett forgot all thoughts of
going home.  Without finishing their breakfasts they drove down to
telegraph Ashley's colonel, but even as they entered the office,
there was a telegram from him.

"Regret to inform you Major Wilkes missing since scouting
expedition three days ago.  Will keep you informed."

It was a ghastly trip home, with Aunt Pitty crying into her
handkerchief, Melanie sitting erect and white and Scarlett slumped,
stunned in the corner of the carriage.  Once in the house, Scarlett
stumbled up the stairs to her bedroom and, clutching her Rosary
from the table, dropped to her knees and tried to pray.  But the
prayers would not come.  There only fell on her an abysmal fear, a
certain knowledge that God had turned His face from her for her
sin.  She had loved a married man and tried to take him from his
wife, and God had punished her by killing him.  She wanted to pray
but she could not raise her eyes to Heaven.  She wanted to cry but
the tears would not come.  They seemed to flood her chest, and they
were hot tears that burned under her bosom, but they would not
flow.

Her door opened and Melanie entered.  Her face was like a heart cut
from white paper, framed against black hair, and her eyes were
wide, like those of a frightened child lost in the dark.

"Scarlett," she said, putting out her hands.  "You must forgive me
for what I said yesterday, for you're--all I've got now.  Oh,
Scarlett, I know my darling is dead!"

Somehow, she was in Scarlett's arms, her small breasts heaving with
sobs, and somehow they were lying on the bed, holding each other
close, and Scarlett was crying too, crying with her face pressed
close against Melanie's, the tears of one wetting the cheeks of the
other.  It hurt so terribly to cry, but not so much as not being
able to cry.  Ashley is dead--dead, she thought, and I have killed
him by loving him!  Fresh sobs broke from her, and Melanie somehow
feeling comfort in her tears tightened her arms about her neck.

"At least," she whispered, "at least--I've got his baby."

"And I," thought Scarlett, too stricken now for anything so petty
as jealousy, "I've got nothing--nothing--nothing except the look on
his face when he told me good-by."



The first reports were "Missing--believed killed" and so they
appeared on the casualty list.  Melanie telegraphed Colonel Sloan a
dozen times and finally a letter arrived, full of sympathy,
explaining that Ashley and a squad had ridden out on a scouting
expedition and had not returned.  There had been reports of a
slight skirmish within the Yankee lines and Mose, frantic with
grief, had risked his own life to search for Ashley's body but had
found nothing.  Melanie, strangely calm now, telegraphed him money
and instructions to come home.

When "Missing--believed captured" appeared on the casualty lists,
joy and hope reanimated the sad household.  Melanie could hardly be
dragged away from the telegraph office and she met every train
hoping for letters.  She was sick now, her pregnancy making itself
felt in many unpleasant ways, but she refused to obey Dr. Meade's
commands and stay in bed.  A feverish energy possessed her and
would not let her be still; and at night, long after Scarlett had
gone to bed, she could hear her walking the floor in the next room.

One afternoon, she came home from town, driven by the frightened
Uncle Peter and supported by Rhett Butler.  She had fainted at the
telegraph office and Rhett, passing by and observing the
excitement, had escorted her home.  He carried her up the stairs to
her bedroom and while the alarmed household fled hither and yon for
hot bricks, blankets and whisky, he propped her on the pillows of
her bed.

"Mrs. Wilkes," he questioned abruptly, "you are going to have a
baby, are you not?"

Had Melanie not been so faint, so sick, so heartsore, she would
have collapsed at his question.  Even with women friends she was
embarrassed by any mention of her condition, while visits to Dr.
Meade were agonizing experiences.  And for a man, especially Rhett
Butler, to ask such a question was unthinkable.  But lying weak and
forlorn in the bed, she could only nod.  After she had nodded, it
did not seem so dreadful, for he looked so kind and so concerned.

"Then you must take better care of yourself.  All this running
about and worry won't help you and may harm the baby.  If you will
permit me, Mrs. Wilkes, I will use what influence I have in
Washington to learn about Mr. Wilkes' fate.  If he is a prisoner,
he will be on the Federal lists, and if he isn't--well, there's
nothing worse than uncertainty.  But I must have your promise.
Take care of yourself or, before God, I won't turn a hand."

"Oh, you are so kind," cried Melanie.  "How can people say such
dreadful things about you?"  Then overcome with the knowledge of
her tactlessness and also with horror at having discussed her
condition with a man, she began to cry weakly.  And Scarlett,
flying up the stairs with a hot brick wrapped in flannel, found
Rhett patting her hand.

He was as good as his word.  They never knew what wires he pulled.
They feared to ask, knowing it might involve an admission of his
too close affiliations with the Yankees.  It was a month before he
had news, news that raised them to the heights when they first
heard it, but later created a gnawing anxiety in their hearts.

Ashley was not dead!  He had been wounded and taken prisoner, and
the records showed that he was at Rock Island, a prison camp in
Illinois.  In their first joy, they could think of nothing except
that he was alive.  But, when calmness began to return, they looked
at one another and said "Rock Island!" in the same voice they would
have said "In Hell!"  For even as Andersonville was a name that
stank in the North, so was Rock Island one to bring terror to the
heart of any Southerner who had relatives imprisoned there.

When Lincoln refused to exchange prisoners, believing it would
hasten the end of the war to burden the Confederacy with the
feeding and guarding of Union prisoners, there were thousands of
bluecoats at Andersonville, Georgia.  The Confederates were on
scant rations and practically without drugs or bandages for their
own sick and wounded.  They had little to share with the prisoners.
They fed their prisoners on what the soldiers in the field were
eating, fat pork and dried peas, and on this diet the Yankees died
like flies, sometimes a hundred a day.  Inflamed by the reports,
the North resorted to harsher treatment of Confederate prisoners
and at no place were conditions worse than at Rock Island.  Food
was scanty, one blanket for three men, and the ravages of smallpox,
pneumonia and typhoid gave the place the name of a pest-house.
Three-fourths of all the men sent there never came out alive.

And Ashley was in that horrible place!  Ashley was alive but he was
wounded and at Rock Island, and the snow must have been deep in
Illinois when he was taken there.  Had he died of his wound, since
Rhett had learned his news?  Had he fallen victim to smallpox?  Was
he delirious with pneumonia and no blanket to cover him?

"Oh, Captain Butler, isn't there some way--  Can't you use your
influence and have him exchanged?" cried Melanie.

"Mr. Lincoln, the merciful and just, who cries large tears over
Mrs. Bixby's five boys, hasn't any tears to shed about the
thousands of Yankees dying at Andersonville," said Rhett, his mouth
twisting.  "He doesn't care if they all die.  The order is out.  No
exchanges.  I--I hadn't told you before, Mrs. Wilkes, but your
husband had a chance to get out and refused it."

"Oh, no!" cried Melanie in disbelief.

"Yes, indeed.  The Yankees are recruiting men for frontier service
to fight the Indians, recruiting them from among Confederate
prisoners.  Any prisoner who will take the oath of allegiance and
enlist for Indian service for two years will be released and sent
West.  Mr. Wilkes refused."

"Oh, how could he?" cried Scarlett.  "Why didn't he take the oath
and then desert and come home as soon as he got out of jail?"

Melanie turned on her like a small fury.

"How can you even suggest that he would do such a thing?  Betray
his own Confederacy by taking that vile oath and then betray his
word to the Yankees!  I would rather know he was dead at Rock
Island than hear he had taken that oath.  I'd be proud of him if he
died in prison.  But if he did THAT, I would never look on his face
again.  Never!  Of course, he refused."

When Scarlett was seeing Rhett to the door, she asked indignantly:
"If it were you, wouldn't you enlist with the Yankees to keep from
dying in that place and then desert?"

"Of course," said Rhett, his teeth showing beneath his mustache.

"Then why didn't Ashley do it?"

"He's a gentleman," said Rhett, and Scarlett wondered how it was
possible to convey such cynicism and contempt in that one honorable
word.




Part Three



CHAPTER XVII


May of 1864 came--a hot dry May that wilted the flowers in the
buds--and the Yankees under General Sherman were in Georgia again,
above Dalton, one hundred miles northwest of Atlanta.  Rumor had it
that there would be heavy fighting up there near the boundary
between Georgia and Tennessee.  The Yankees were massing for an
attack on the Western and Atlantic Railroad, the line which
connected Atlanta with Tennessee and the West, the same line over
which the Southern troops had been rushed last fall to win the
victory at Chickamauga.

But, for the most part, Atlanta was not disturbed by the prospect
of fighting near Dalton.  The place where the Yankees were
concentrating was only a few miles southeast of the battle field of
Chickamauga.  They had been driven back once when they had tried to
break through the mountain passes of that region, and they would be
driven back again.

Atlanta--and all of Georgia--knew that the state was far too
important to the Confederacy for General Joe Johnston to let the
Yankees remain inside the state's borders for long.  Old Joe and
his army would not let even one Yankee get south of Dalton, for too
much depended on the undisturbed functioning of Georgia.  The
unravaged state was a vast granary, machine shop and storehouse for
the Confederacy.  It manufactured much of the powder and arms used
by the army and most of the cotton and woolen goods.  Lying between
Atlanta and Dalton was the city of Rome with its cannon foundry and
its other industries, and Etowah and Allatoona with the largest
ironworks south of Richmond.  And, in Atlanta, were not only the
factories for making pistols and saddles, tents and ammunition, but
also the most extensive rolling mills in the South, the shops of
the principal railroads and the enormous hospitals.  And in Atlanta
was the junction of the four railroads on which the very life of
the Confederacy depended.

So no one worried particularly.  After all, Dalton was a long way
off, up near the Tennessee line.  There had been fighting in
Tennessee for three years and people were accustomed to the thought
of that state as a far-away battle field, almost as far away as
Virginia or the Mississippi River.  Moreover, Old Joe and his men
were between the Yankees and Atlanta, and everyone knew that, next
to General Lee himself, there was no greater general than Johnston,
now that Stonewall Jackson was dead.

Dr. Meade summed up the civilian point of view on the matter, one
warm May evening on the veranda of Aunt Pitty's house, when he said
that Atlanta had nothing to fear, for General Johnston was standing
in the mountains like an iron rampart.  His audience heard him with
varying emotions, for all who sat there rocking quietly in the
fading twilight, watching the first fireflies of the season moving
magically through the dusk, had weighty matters on their minds.
Mrs. Meade, her hand upon Phil's arm, was hoping the doctor was
right.  If the war came closer, she knew that Phil would have to
go.  He was sixteen now and in the Home Guard.  Fanny Elsing, pale
and hollow eyed since Gettysburg, was trying to keep her mind from
the torturing picture which had worn a groove in her tired mind
these past several months--Lieutenant Dallas McLure dying in a
jolting ox cart in the rain on the long, terrible retreat into
Maryland.

Captain Carey Ashburn's useless arm was hurting him again and
moreover he was depressed by the thought that his courtship of
Scarlett was at a standstill.  That had been the situation ever
since the news of Ashley Wilkes' capture, though the connection
between the two events did not occur to him.  Scarlett and Melanie
both were thinking of Ashley, as they always did when urgent tasks
or the necessity of carrying on a conversation did not divert them.
Scarlett was thinking bitterly, sorrowfully:  He must be dead or
else we would have heard.  Melanie, stemming the tide of fear again
and again, through endless hours, was telling herself:  "He can't
be dead.  I'd know it--I'd feel it if he were dead."  Rhett Butler
lounged in the shadows, his long legs in their elegant boots
crossed negligently, his dark face an unreadable blank.  In his
arms Wade slept contentedly, a cleanly picked wishbone in his small
hand.  Scarlett always permitted Wade to sit up late when Rhett
called because the shy child was fond of him, and Rhett oddly
enough seemed to be fond of Wade.  Generally Scarlett was annoyed
by the child's presence, but he always behaved nicely in Rhett's
arms.  As for Aunt Pitty, she was nervously trying to stifle a
belch, for the rooster they had had for supper was a tough old
bird.

That morning Aunt Pitty had reached the regretful decision that she
had better kill the patriarch before he died of old age and pining
for his harem which had long since been eaten.  For days he had
drooped about the empty chicken run, too dispirited to crow.  After
Uncle Peter had wrung his neck, Aunt Pitty had been beset by
conscience at the thought of enjoying him, en famille, when so many
of her friends had not tasted chicken for weeks, so she suggested
company for dinner.  Melanie, who was now in her fifth month, had
not been out in public or received guests for weeks, and she was
appalled at the idea.  But Aunt Pitty, for once, was firm.  It
would be selfish to eat the rooster alone, and if Melanie would
only move her top hoop a little higher no one would notice anything
and she was so flat in the bust anyway.

"Oh, but Auntie I don't want to see people when Ashley--"

"It isn't as if Ashley were--had passed away," said Aunt Pitty, her
voice quavering, for in her heart she was certain Ashley was dead.
"He's just as much alive as you are and it will do you good to have
company.  And I'm going to ask Fanny Elsing, too.  Mrs. Elsing
begged me to try to do something to arouse her and make her see
people--"

"Oh, but Auntie, it's cruel to force her when poor Dallas has only
been dead--"

"Now, Melly, I shall cry with vexation if you argue with me.  I
guess I'm your auntie and I know what's what.  And I want a party."

So Aunt Pitty had her party, and, at the last minute, a guest she
did not expect, or desire, arrived.  Just when the smell of roast
rooster was filling the house, Rhett Butler, back from one of his
mysterious trips, knocked at the door, with a large box of bonbons
packed in paper lace under his arm and a mouthful of two-edged
compliments for her.  There was nothing to do but invite him to
stay, although Aunt Pitty knew how the doctor and Mrs. Meade felt
about him and how bitter Fanny was against any man not in uniform.
Neither the Meades nor the Elsings would have spoken to him on the
street, but in a friend's home they would, of course, have to be
polite to him.  Besides, he was now more firmly than ever under the
protection of the fragile Melanie.  After he had intervened for her
to get the news about Ashley, she had announced publicly that her
home was open to him as long as he lived and no matter what other
people might say about him.

Aunt Pitty's apprehensions quieted when she saw that Rhett was on
his best behavior.  He devoted himself to Fanny with such
sympathetic deference she even smiled at him, and the meal went
well.  It was a princely feast.  Carey Ashburn had brought a little
tea, which he had found in the tobacco pouch of a captured Yankee
en route to Andersonville, and everyone had a cup, faintly flavored
with tobacco.  There was a nibble of the tough old bird for each,
an adequate amount of dressing made of corn meal and seasoned with
onions, a bowl of dried peas, and plenty of rice and gravy, the
latter somewhat watery, for there was no flour with which to
thicken it.  For dessert, there was a sweet potato pie followed by
Rhett's bonbons, and when Rhett produced real Havana cigars for the
gentlemen to enjoy over their glass of blackberry wine, everyone
agreed it was indeed a Lucullan banquet.

When the gentlemen joined the ladies on the front porch, the talk
turned to war.  Talk always turned to war now, all conversations on
any topic led from war or back to war--sometimes sad, often gay,
but always war.  War romances, war weddings, deaths in hospitals
and on the field, incidents of camp and battle and march,
gallantry, cowardice, humor, sadness, deprivation and hope.
Always, always hope.  Hope firm, unshaken despite the defeats of
the summer before.

When Captain Ashburn announced he had applied for and been granted
transfer from Atlanta to the army at Dalton, the ladies kissed his
stiffened arm with their eyes and covered their emotions of pride
by declaring he couldn't go, for then who would beau them about?

Young Carey looked confused and pleased at hearing such statements
from settled matrons and spinsters like Mrs. Meade and Melanie and
Aunt Pitty and Fanny, and tried to hope that Scarlett really meant
it.

"Why, he'll be back in no time," said the doctor, throwing an arm
over Carey's shoulder.  "There'll be just one brief skirmish and
the Yankees will skedaddle back into Tennessee.  And when they get
there, General Forrest will take care of them.  You ladies need
have no alarm about the proximity of the Yankees, for General
Johnston and his army stands there in the mountains like an iron
rampart.  Yes, an iron rampart," he repeated, relishing his phrase.
"Sherman will never pass.  He'll never dislodge Old Joe."

The ladies smiled approvingly, for his lightest utterance was
regarded as incontrovertible truth.  After all, men understood
these matters much better than women, and if he said General
Johnston was an iron rampart, he must be one.  Only Rhett spoke.
He had been silent since supper and had sat in the twilight
listening to the war talk with a down-twisted mouth, holding the
sleeping child against his shoulder.

"I believe that rumor has it that Sherman has over one hundred
thousand men, now that his reinforcements have come up?"

The doctor answered him shortly.  He had been under considerable
strain ever since he first arrived and found that one of his fellow
diners was this man whom he disliked so heartily.  Only the respect
due Miss Pittypat and his presence under her roof as a guest had
restrained him from showing his feelings more obviously.

"Well, sir?" the doctor barked in reply.

"I believe Captain Ashburn said just a while ago that General
Johnston had only about forty thousand, counting the deserters who
were encouraged to come back to the colors by the last victory."

"Sir," said Mrs. Meade indignantly.  "There are no deserters in the
Confederate army."

"I beg your pardon," said Rhett with mock humility.  "I meant those
thousands on furlough who forgot to rejoin their regiments and
those who have been over their wounds for six months but who remain
at home, going about their usual business or doing the spring
plowing."

His eyes gleamed and Mrs. Meade bit her lip in a huff.  Scarlett
wanted to giggle at her discomfiture, for Rhett had caught her
fairly.  There were hundreds of men skulking in the swamps and the
mountains, defying the provost guard to drag them back to the army.
They were the ones who declared it was a "rich man's war and a poor
man's fight" and they had had enough of it.  But outnumbering these
by far were men who, though carried on company rolls as deserters,
had no intention of deserting permanently.  They were the ones who
had waited three years in vain for furloughs and while they waited
received ill-spelled letters from home:  "We air hungry"  "There
won't be no crop this year--there ain't nobody to plow."  "We air
hungry."  "The commissary took the shoats, and we ain't had no
money from you in months.  We air livin' on dried peas."

Always the rising chorus swelled:  "We are hungry, your wife, your
babies, your parents.  When will it be over?  When will you come
home?  We are hungry, hungry."  When furloughs from the rapidly
thinning army were denied, these soldiers went home without them,
to plow their land and plant their crops, repair their houses and
build up their fences.  When regimental officers, understanding the
situation, saw a hard fight ahead, they wrote these men, telling
them to rejoin their companies and no questions would be asked.
Usually the men returned when they saw that hunger at home would be
held at bay for a few months longer.  "Plow furloughs" were not
looked upon in the same light as desertion in the face of the
enemy, but they weakened the army just the same.

Dr. Meade hastily bridged over the uncomfortable pause, his voice
cold:  "Captain Butler, the numerical difference between our troops
and those of the Yankees has never mattered.  One Confederate is
worth a dozen Yankees."

The ladies nodded.  Everyone knew that.

"That was true at the first of the war," said Rhett.  "Perhaps it's
still true, provided the Confederate soldier has bullets for his
gun and shoes on his feet and food in his stomach.  Eh, Captain
Ashburn?"

His voice was still soft and filled with specious humility.  Carey
Ashburn looked unhappy, for it was obvious that he, too, disliked
Rhett intensely.  He gladly would have sided with the doctor but he
could not lie.  The reason he had applied for transfer to the
front, despite his useless arm, was that he realized, as the
civilian population did not, the seriousness of the situation.
There were many other men, stumping on wooden pegs, blind in one
eye, fingers blown away, one arm gone, who were quietly transferring
from the commissariat, hospital duties, mail and railroad service
back to their old fighting units.  They knew Old Joe needed every
man.

He did not speak and Dr. Meade thundered, losing his temper:  "Our
men have fought without shoes before and without food and won
victories.  And they will fight again and win!  I tell you General
Johnston cannot be dislodged!  The mountain fastnesses have always
been the refuge and the strong forts of invaded peoples from
ancient times.  Think of--think of Thermopylae!"

Scarlett thought hard but Thermopylae meant nothing to her.

"They died to the last man at Thermopylae, didn't they, Doctor?"
Rhett asked, and his lips twitched with suppressed laughter.

"Are you being insulting, young man?"

"Doctor!  I beg of you!  You misunderstood me!  I merely asked for
information.  My memory of ancient history is poor."

"If need be, our army will die to the last man before they permit
the Yankees to advance farther into Georgia," snapped the doctor.
"But it will not be.  They will drive them out of Georgia in one
skirmish."

Aunt Pittypat rose hastily and asked Scarlett to favor them with a
piano selection and a song.  She saw that the conversation was
rapidly getting into deep and stormy water.  She had known very
well there would be trouble if she invited Rhett to supper.  There
was always trouble when he was present.  Just how he started it,
she never exactly understood.  Dear!  Dear!  What did Scarlett see
in the man?  And how could dear Melly defend him?

As Scarlett went obediently into the parlor, a silence fell on the
porch, a silence that pulsed with resentment toward Rhett.  How
could anyone not believe with heart and soul in the invincibility
of General Johnston and his men?  Believing was a sacred duty.  And
those who were so traitorous as not to believe should, at least,
have the decency to keep their mouths shut.

Scarlett struck a few chords and her voice floated out to them from
the parlor, sweetly, sadly, in the words of a popular song:


"Into a ward of whitewashed walls
Where the dead and dying lay--
Wounded with bayonets, shells and balls--
Somebody's darling was borne one day.

"Somebody's darling! so young and so brave!
Wearing still on his pale, sweet face--
Soon to be hid by the dust of the grave--
The lingering light of his boyhood's grace."


"Matted and damp are the curls of gold," mourned Scarlett's faulty
soprano, and Fanny half rose and said in a faint, strangled voice:
"Sing something else!"

The piano was suddenly silent as Scarlett was overtaken with
surprise and embarrassment.  Then she hastily blundered into the
opening bars of "Jacket of Gray" and stopped with a discord as she
remembered how heartrending that selection was too.  The piano was
silent again for she was utterly at a loss.  All the songs had to
do with death and parting and sorrow.

Rhett rose swiftly, deposited Wade in Fanny's lap, and went into
the parlor.

"Play 'My Old Kentucky Home,'" he suggested smoothly, and Scarlett
gratefully plunged into it.  Her voice was joined by Rhett's
excellent bass, and as they went into the second verse those on the
porch breathed more easily, though Heaven knew it was none too
cheery a song, either.


"Just a few more days for to tote the weary load!
No matter, 'twill never be light!
Just a few more days, till we totter in the road!
Then, my old Kentucky home, good night!"



Dr. Meade's prediction was right--as far as it went.  Johnston did
stand like an iron rampart in the mountains above Dalton, one
hundred miles away.  So firmly did he stand and so bitterly did he
contest Sherman's desire to pass down the valley toward Atlanta
that finally the Yankees drew back and took counsel with
themselves.  They could not break the gray lines by direct assault
and so, under cover of night, they marched through the mountain
passes in a semicircle, hoping to come upon Johnston's rear and cut
the railroad behind him at Resaca, fifteen miles below Dalton.

With those precious twin lines of iron in danger, the Confederates
left their desperately defended rifle pits and, under the
starlight, made a forced march to Resaca by the short, direct road.
When the Yankees, swarming out of the hills, came upon them, the
Southern troops were waiting for them, entrenched behind
breastworks, batteries planted, bayonets gleaming, even as they had
been at Dalton.

When the wounded from Dalton brought in garbled accounts of Old
Joe's retreat to Resaca, Atlanta was surprised and a little
disturbed.  It was as though a small, dark cloud had appeared in
the northwest, the first cloud of a summer storm.  What was the
General thinking about, letting the Yankees penetrate eighteen
miles farther into Georgia?  The mountains were natural fortresses,
even as Dr. Meade had said.  Why hadn't Old Joe held the Yankees
there?

Johnston fought desperately at Resaca and repulsed the Yankees
again, but Sherman, employing the same flanking movement, swung his
vast army in another semicircle, crossed the Oostanaula River and
again struck at the railroad in the Confederate rear.  Again the
gray lines were summoned swiftly from their red ditches to defend
the railroad, and, weary for sleep, exhausted from marching and
fighting, and hungry, always hungry, they made another rapid march
down the valley.  They reached the little town of Calhoun, six
miles below Resaca, ahead of the Yankees, entrenched and were again
ready for the attack when the Yankees came up.  The attack came,
there was fierce skirmishing and the Yankees were beaten back.
Wearily the Confederates lay on their arms and prayed for respite
and rest.  But there was no rest.  Sherman inexorably advanced,
step by step, swinging his army about them in a wide curve, forcing
another retreat to defend the railroad at their back.

The Confederates marched in their sleep, too tired to think for the
most part.  But when they did think, they trusted old Joe.  They
knew they were retreating but they knew they had not been beaten.
They just didn't have enough men to hold their entrenchments and
defeat Sherman's flanking movements, too.  They could and did lick
the Yankees every time the Yankees would stand and fight.  What
would be the end of this retreat, they did not know.  But Old Joe
knew what he was doing and that was enough for them.  He had
conducted the retreat in masterly fashion, for they had lost few
men and the Yankees killed and captured ran high.  They hadn't lost
a single wagon and only four guns.  And they hadn't lost the
railroad at their back, either.  Sherman hadn't laid a finger on it
for all his frontal attacks, cavalry dashes and flank movements.

The railroad.  It was still theirs, that slender iron line winding
through the sunny valley toward Atlanta.  Men lay down to sleep
where they could see the rails gleaming faintly in the starlight.
Men lay down to die, and the last sight that met their puzzled eyes
was the rails shining in the merciless sun, heat shimmering along
them.

As they fell back down the valley, an army of refugees fell back
before them.  Planters and Crackers, rich and poor, black and
white, women and children, the old, the dying, the crippled, the
wounded, the women far gone in pregnancy, crowded the road to
Atlanta on trains, afoot, on horseback, in carriages and wagons
piled high with trunks and household goods.  Five miles ahead of
the retreating army went the refugees, halting at Resaca, at
Calhoun, at Kingston, hoping at each stop to hear that the Yankees
had been driven back so they could return to their homes.  But
there was no retracing that sunny road.  The gray troops passed by
empty mansions, deserted farms, lonely cabins with doors ajar.
Here and there some lone woman remained with a few frightened
slaves, and they came to the road to cheer the soldiers, to bring
buckets of well water for the thirsty men, to bind up the wounds
and bury the dead in their own family burying grounds.  But for the
most part the sunny valley was abandoned and desolate and the
untended crops stood in parching fields.

Flanked again at Calhoun, Johnston fell back to Adairsville, where
there was sharp skirmishing, then to Cassville, then south of
Cartersville.  And the enemy had now advanced fifty-five miles from
Dalton.  At New Hope Church, fifteen miles farther along the hotly
fought way, the gray ranks dug in for a determined stand.  On came
the blue lines, relentlessly, like a monster serpent, coiling,
striking venomously, drawing its injured lengths back, but always
striking again.  There was desperate fighting at New Hope Church,
eleven days of continuous fighting, with every Yankee assault
bloodily repulsed.  Then Johnston, flanked again, withdrew his
thinning lines a few miles farther.

The Confederate dead and wounded at New Hope Church ran high.  The
wounded flooded Atlanta in train-loads and the town was appalled.
Never, even after the battle of Chickamauga, had the town seen so
many wounded.  The hospitals overflowed and wounded lay on the
floors of empty stores and upon cotton bales in the warehouses.
Every hotel, boarding house and private residence was crowded with
sufferers.  Aunt Pitty had her share, although she protested that
it was most unbecoming to have strange men in the house when
Melanie was in a delicate condition and when gruesome sights might
bring on premature birth.  But Melanie reefed up her top hoop a
little higher to hide her thickening figure and the wounded invaded
the brick house.  There was endless cooking and lifting and turning
and fanning, endless hours of washing and rerolling bandages and
picking lint, and endless warm nights made sleepless by the
babbling delirium of men in the next room.  Finally the choked town
could take care of no more and the overflow of wounded was sent on
to the hospitals at Macon and Augusta.

With this backwash of wounded bearing conflicting reports and the
increase of frightened refugees crowding into the already crowded
town, Atlanta was in an uproar.  The small cloud on the horizon had
blown up swiftly into a large, sullen storm cloud and it was as
though a faint, chilling wind blew from it.

No one had lost faith in the invincibility of the troops but
everyone, the civilians at least, had lost faith in the General.
New Hope Church was only thirty-five miles from Atlanta!  The
General had let the Yankees push him back sixty-five miles in three
weeks!  Why didn't he hold the Yankees instead of everlastingly
retreating?  He was a fool and worse than a fool.  Graybeards in
the Home Guard and members of the state militia, safe in Atlanta,
insisted they could have managed the campaign better and drew maps
on tablecloths to prove their contentions.  As his lines grew
thinner and he was forced back farther, the General called
desperately on Governor Brown for these very men, but the state
troops felt reasonably safe.  After all, the Governor had defied
Jeff Davis' demand for them.  Why should he accede to General
Johnston?

Fight and fall back!  Fight and fall back!  For seventy miles and
twenty-five days the Confederates had fought almost daily.  New
Hope Church was behind the gray troops now, a memory in a mad haze
of like memories, heat, dust, hunger, weariness, tramp-tramp on the
red rutted roads, slop-slop through the red mud, retreat, entrench,
fight--retreat, entrench, fight.  New Hope Church was a nightmare
of another life and so was Big Shanty, where they turned and fought
the Yankees like demons.  But, fight the Yankees till the fields
were blue with dead, there were always more Yankees, fresh Yankees;
there was always that sinister southeast curving of the blue lines
toward the Confederate rear, toward the railroad--and toward
Atlanta!

From Big Shanty, the weary sleepless lines retreated down the road
to Kennesaw Mountain, near the little town of Marietta, and here
they spread their lines in a ten-mile curve.  On the steep sides of
the mountain they dug their rifle pits and on the towering heights
they planted their batteries.  Swearing, sweating men hauled the
heavy guns up the precipitous slopes, for mules could not climb the
hillsides.  Couriers and wounded coming into Atlanta gave
reassuring reports to the frightened townspeople.  The heights of
Kennesaw were impregnable.  So were Pine Mountain and Lost Mountain
near by which were also fortified.  The Yankees couldn't dislodge
Old Joe's men and they could hardly flank them now for the
batteries on the mountain tops commanded all the roads for miles.
Atlanta breathed more easily, but--

But Kennesaw Mountain was only twenty-two miles away!

On the day when the first wounded from Kennesaw Mountain were
coming in, Mrs. Merriwether's carriage was at Aunt Pitty's house at
the unheard-of hour of seven in the morning, and black Uncle Levi
sent up word that Scarlett must dress immediately and come to the
hospital.  Fanny Elsing and the Bonnell girls, roused early from
slumber, were yawning on the back seat and the Elsings' mammy sat
grumpily on the box, a basket of freshly laundered bandages on her
lap.  Off Scarlett went, unwillingly for she had danced till dawn
the night before at the Home Guard's party and her feet were tired.
She silently cursed the efficient and indefatigable Mrs.
Merriwether, the wounded and the whole Southern Confederacy, as
Prissy buttoned her in her oldest and raggedest calico frock which
she used for hospital work.  Gulping down the bitter brew of
parched corn and dried sweet potatoes that passed for coffee, she
went out to join the girls.

She was sick of all this nursing.  This very day she would tell
Mrs. Merriwether that Ellen had written her to come home for a
visit.  Much good this did her, for that worthy matron, her sleeves
rolled up, her stout figure swathed in a large apron, gave her one
sharp look and said:  "Don't let me hear any more such foolishness,
Scarlett Hamilton.  I'll write your mother today and tell her how
much we need you, and I'm sure she'll understand and let you stay.
Now, put on your apron and trot over to Dr. Meade.  He needs
someone to help with the dressings."

"Oh, God," thought Scarlett drearily, "that's just the trouble.
Mother will make me stay here and I shall die if I have to smell
these stinks any longer!  I wish I was an old lady so I could bully
the young ones, instead of getting bullied--and tell old cats like
Mrs. Merriwether to go to Halifax!"

Yes, she was sick of the hospital, the foul smells, the lice, the
aching, unwashed bodies.  If there had ever been any novelty and
romance about nursing, that had worn off a year ago.  Besides,
these men wounded in the retreat were not so attractive as the
earlier ones had been.  They didn't show the slightest interest in
her and they had very little to say beyond:  "How's the fightin'
goin'?  What's Old Joe doin' now?  Mighty clever fellow, Old Joe."
She didn't think Old Joe a mighty clever fellow.  All he had done
was let the Yankees penetrate eighty-eight miles into Georgia.  No,
they were not an attractive lot.  Moreover, many of them were
dying, dying swiftly, silently, having little strength left to
combat the blood poisoning, gangrene, typhoid and pneumonia which
had set in before they could reach Atlanta and a doctor.

The day was hot and the flies came in the open windows in swarms,
fat lazy flies that broke the spirits of the men as pain could not.
The tide of smells and pain rose and rose about her.  Perspiration
soaked through her freshly starched dress as she followed Dr. Meade
about, a basin in her hand.

Oh, the nausea of standing by the doctor, trying not to vomit when
his bright knife cut into mortifying flesh!  And oh, the horror of
hearing the screams from the operating ward where amputations were
going on!  And the sick, helpless sense of pity at the sight of
tense, white faces of mangled men waiting for the doctor to get to
them, men whose ears were filled with screams, men waiting for the
dreadful words:  "I'm sorry, my boy, but that hand will have to
come off.  Yes, yes, I know; but look, see those red streaks?
It'll have to come off."

Chloroform was so scarce now it was used only for the worst
amputations and opium was a precious thing, used only to ease the
dying out of life, not the living out of pain.  There was no
quinine and no iodine at all.  Yes, Scarlett was sick of it all,
and that morning she wished that she, like Melanie, had the excuse
of pregnancy to offer.  That was about the only excuse that was
socially acceptable for not nursing these days.

When noon came, she put off her apron and sneaked away from the
hospital while Mrs. Merriwether was busy writing a letter for a
gangling, illiterate mountaineer.  Scarlett felt that she could
stand it no longer.  It was an imposition on her and she knew that
when the wounded came in on the noon train there would be enough
work to keep her busy until night-fall--and probably without
anything to eat.

She went hastily up the two short blocks to Peachtree Street,
breathing the unfouled air in as deep gulps as her tightly laced
corset would permit.  She was standing on the corner, uncertain as
to what she would do next, ashamed to go home to Aunt Pitty's but
determined not to go back to the hospital, when Rhett Butler drove
by.

"You look like the ragpicker's child," he observed, his eyes taking
in the mended lavender calico, streaked with perspiration and
splotched here and there with water which had slopped from the
basin.  Scarlett was furious with embarrassment and indignation.
Why did he always notice women's clothing and why was he so rude as
to remark upon her present untidiness?

"I don't want to hear a word out of you.  You get out and help me
in and drive me somewhere where nobody will see me.  I won't go
back to the hospital if they hang me!  My goodness, I didn't start
this war and I don't see any reason why I should be worked to death
and--"

"A traitor to Our Glorious Cause!"

"The pot's calling the kettle black.  You help me in.  I don't care
where you were going.  You're going to take me riding now."

He swung himself out of the carriage to the ground and she suddenly
thought how nice it was to see a man who was whole, who was not
minus eyes or limbs, or white with pain or yellow with malaria, and
who looked well fed and healthy.  He was so well dressed too.  His
coat and trousers were actually of the same material and they
fitted him, instead of hanging in folds or being almost too tight
for movement.  And they were new, not ragged, with dirty bare flesh
and hairy legs showing through.  He looked as if he had not a care
in the world and that in itself was startling these days, when
other men wore such worried, preoccupied, grim looks.  His brown
face was bland and his mouth, red lipped, clear cut as a woman's,
frankly sensual, smiled carelessly as he lifted her into the
carriage.

The muscles of his big body rippled against his well-tailored
clothes, as he got in beside her, and, as always, the sense of his
great physical power struck her like a blow.  She watched the swell
of his powerful shoulders against the cloth with a fascination that
was disturbing, a little frightening.  His body seemed so tough and
hard, as tough and hard as his keen mind.  His was such an easy,
graceful strength, lazy as a panther stretching in the sun, alert
as a panther to spring and strike.

"You little fraud," he said, clucking to the horse.  "You dance all
night with the soldiers and give them roses and ribbons and tell
them how you'd die for the Cause, and when it comes to bandaging a
few wounds and picking off a few lice, you decamp hastily."

"Can't you talk about something else and drive faster?  It would be
just my luck for Grandpa Merriwether to come out of his store and
see me and tell old lady--I mean, Mrs. Merriwether."

He touched up the mare with the whip and she trotted briskly across
Five Points and across the railroad tracks that cut the town in
two.  The train bearing the wounded had already come in and the
litter bearers were working swiftly in the hot sun, transferring
wounded into ambulances and covered ordnance wagons.  Scarlett had
no qualm of conscience as she watched them but only a feeling of
vast relief that she had made her escape.

"I'm just sick and tired of that old hospital," she said, settling
her billowing skirts and tying her bonnet bow more firmly under her
chin.  "And every day more and more wounded come in.  It's all
General Johnston's fault.  If he'd just stood up to the Yankees at
Dalton, they'd have--"

"But he did stand up to the Yankees, you ignorant child.  And if
he'd kept on standing there, Sherman would have flanked him and
crushed him between the two wings of his army.  And he'd have lost
the railroad and the railroad is what Johnston is fighting for."

"Oh, well," said Scarlett, on whom military strategy was utterly
lost.  "It's his fault anyway.  He ought to have done something
about it and I think he ought to be removed.  Why doesn't he stand
and fight instead of retreating?"

"You are like everyone else, screaming 'Off with his head' because
he can't do the impossible.  He was Jesus the Savior at Dalton, and
now he's Judas the Betrayer at Kennesaw Mountain, all in six weeks.
Yet, just let him drive the Yankees back twenty miles and he'll be
Jesus again.  My child, Sherman has twice as many men as Johnston,
and he can afford to lose two men for every one of our gallant
laddies.  And Johnston can't afford to lose a single man.  He needs
reinforcements badly and what is he getting?  'Joe Brown's Pets.'
What a help they'll be!"

"Is the militia really going to be called out?  The Home Guard,
too?  I hadn't heard.  How do you know?"

"There's a rumor floating about to that effect.  The rumor arrived
on the train from Milledgeville this morning.  Both the militia and
the Home Guards are going to be sent in to reinforce General
Johnston.  Yes, Governor Brown's darlings are likely to smell
powder at last, and I imagine most of them will be much surprised.
Certainly they never expected to see action.  The Governor as good
as promised them they wouldn't.  Well, that's a good joke on them.
They thought they had bomb proofs because the Governor stood up to
even Jeff Davis and refused to send them to Virginia.  Said they
were needed for the defense of their state.  Who'd have ever
thought the war would come to their own back yard and they'd really
have to defend their state?"

"Oh, how can you laugh, you cruel thing!  Think of the old
gentlemen and the little boys in the Home Guard!  Why, little Phil
Meade will have to go and Grandpa Merriwether and Uncle Henry
Hamilton."

"I'm not talking about the little boys and the Mexican War
veterans.  I'm talking about brave young men like Willie Guinan who
like to wear pretty uniforms and wave swords--"

"And yourself!"

"My dear, that didn't hurt a bit!  I wear no uniform and wave no
sword and the fortunes of the Confederacy mean nothing at all to
me.  Moreover, I wouldn't be caught dead in the Home Guard or in
any army, for that matter.  I had enough of things military at West
Point to do me the rest of my life. . . .  Well, I wish Old Joe
luck.  General Lee can't send him any help because the Yankees are
keeping him busy in Virginia.  So the Georgia state troops are the
only reinforcements Johnston can get.  He deserves better, for he's
a great strategist.  He always manages to get places before the
Yankees do.  But he'll have to keep falling back if he wants to
protect the railroad; and mark my words, when they push him out of
the mountains and onto the flatter land around here, he's going to
be butchered."

"Around here?" cried Scarlett.  "You know mighty well the Yankees
will never get this far!"

"Kennesaw is only twenty-two miles away and I'll wager you--"

"Rhett, look, down the street!  That crowd of men!  They aren't
soldiers.  What on earth . . . ?  Why, they're darkies!"

There was a great cloud of red dust coming up the street and from
the cloud came the sound of the tramping of many feet and a hundred
or more negro voices, deep throated, careless, singing a hymn.
Rhett pulled the carriage over to the curb, and Scarlett looked
curiously at the sweating black men, picks and shovels over their
shoulders, shepherded along by an officer and a squad of men
wearing the insignia of the engineering corps.

"What on earth . . . ?" she began again.

Then her eyes lighted on a singing black buck in the front rank.
He stood nearly six and a half feet tall, a giant of a man, ebony
black, stepping along with the lithe grace of a powerful animal,
his white teeth flashing as he led the gang in "Go Down, Moses."
Surely there wasn't a negro on earth as tall and loud voiced as
this one except Big Sam, the foreman of Tara.  But what was Big Sam
doing here, so far away from home, especially now that there was no
overseer on the plantation and he was Gerald's right-hand man?

As she half rose from her seat to look closer, the giant caught
sight of her and his black face split in a grin of delighted
recognition.  He halted, dropped his shovel and started toward her,
calling to the negroes nearest him:  "Gawdlmighty!  It's Miss
Scarlett!  You, 'Lige!  'Postle!  Prophet!  Dar's Miss Scarlett!"

There was confusion in the ranks.  The crowd halted uncertainly,
grinning, and Big Sam, followed by three other large negroes, ran
across the road to the carriage, closely followed by the harried,
shouting officer.

"Get back in line, you fellows!  Get back, I tell you or I'll--
Why it's Mrs. Hamilton.  Good morning, Ma'm, and you, too, sir.
What are you up to inciting mutiny and insubordination?  God knows,
I've had trouble enough with these boys this morning."

"Oh, Captain Randall, don't scold them!  They are our people.  This
is Big Sam our foreman, and Elijah and Apostle and Prophet from
Tara.  Of course, they had to speak to me.  How are you, boys?"

She shook hands all around, her small white hand disappearing into
their huge black paws and the four capered with delight at the
meeting and with pride at displaying before their comrades what a
pretty Young Miss they had.

"What are you boys doing so far from Tara?  You've run away, I'll
be bound.  Don't you know the patterollers will get you sure?"

They bellowed pleasedly at the badinage.

"Runned away?" answered Big Sam.  "No'm, us ain' runned away.  Dey
done sont an' tuck us, kase us wuz de fo' bigges' an' stronges'
han's at Tara."  His white teeth showed proudly.  "Dey specially
sont fer me, kase Ah could sing so good.  Yas'm, Mist' Frank
Kennedy, he come by an' tuck us."

"But why, Big Sam?"

"Lawd, Miss Scarlett!  Ain' you heerd?  Us is ter dig de ditches
fer de wite gempmums ter hide in w'en de Yankees comes."

Captain Randall and the occupants of the carriage smothered smiles
at this naive explanation of rifle pits.

"Cose, Mis' Gerald might' nigh had a fit w'en dey tuck me, an' he
say he kain run de place widout me.  But Miss Ellen she say:  'Tek
him, Mist' Kennedy.  De Confedrutsy need Big Sam mo' dan us do.'
An' she gib me a dollar an' tell me ter do jes' whut de w'ite
gempmums tell me.  So hyah us is."

"What does it all mean, Captain Randall?"

"Oh, it's quite simple.  We have to strengthen the fortifications
of Atlanta with more miles of rifle pits, and the General can't
spare any men from the front to do it.  So we've been impressing
the strongest bucks in the countryside for the work."

"But--"

A cold little fear was beginning to throb in Scarlett's breast.
More miles of rifle pits!  Why should they need more?  Within the
last year, a series of huge earth redoubts with battery
emplacements had been built all around Atlanta, one mile from the
center of town.  These great earth-works were connected with rifle
pits and they ran, mile after mile, completely encircling the city.
More rifle pits!

"But--why should we be fortified any more than we are already
fortified?  We won't need what we've got.  Surely, the General
won't let--"

"Our present fortifications are only a mile from town," said
Captain Randall shortly.  "And that's too close for comfort--or
safety.  These new ones are going to be farther away.  You see,
another retreat may bring our men into Atlanta."

Immediately he regretted his last remark, as her eyes widened with
fear.

"But, of course there won't be another retreat," he added hastily.
"The lines around Kennesaw Mountain are impregnable.  The batteries
are planted all up the mountain sides and they command the roads,
and the Yankees can't possibly get by."

But Scarlett saw him drop his eyes before the lazy, penetrating
look Rhett gave him, and she was frightened.  She remembered
Rhett's remark:  "When the Yankees push him out of the mountains
and onto the flatter land, he'll be butchered."

"Oh, Captain, do you think--"

"Why, of course not!  Don't fret your mind one minute.  Old Joe
just believes in taking precautions.  That's the only reason we're
digging more entrenchments. . . .  But I must be going now.  It's
been pleasant, talking to you. . . .  Say good-by to your mistress,
boys, and let's get going."

"Good-by, boys.  Now, if you get sick or hurt or in trouble, let me
know.  I live right down Peachtree Street, down there in almost the
last house at the end of town.  Wait a minute--"  She fumbled in
her reticule.  "Oh, dear, I haven't a cent.  Rhett, give me a few
shinplasters.  Here, Big Sam, buy some tobacco for yourself and the
boys.  And be good and do what Captain Randall tells you."

The straggling line re-formed, the dust arose again in a red cloud
as they moved off and Big Sam started up the singing again.


"Go do-ow, Mos-es!  Waaa-ay, do-own, in Eeejup laa-an!
An' te-el O-le Faa-ro-o
Ter let mah--peee-pul go!"


"Rhett, Captain Randall was lying to me, just like all the men do--
trying to keep the truth from us women for fear we'll faint.  Or
was he lying?  Oh, Rhett, if there's no danger, why are they
digging these new breastworks?  Is the army so short of men they've
got to use darkies?"

Rhett clucked to the mare.

"The army is damned short of men.  Why else would the Home Guard be
called out?  And as for the entrenchments, well, fortifications are
supposed to be of some value in case of a siege.  The General is
preparing to make his final stand here."

"A siege!  Oh, turn the horse around.  I'm going home, back home to
Tara, right away."

"What ails you?"

"A siege!  Name of God, a siege!  I've heard about sieges!  Pa was
in one or maybe it was his Pa, and Pa told me--"

"What siege?"

"The siege at Drogheda when Cromwell had the Irish, and they didn't
have anything to eat and Pa said they starved and died in the
streets and finally they ate all the cats and rats and even things
like cockroaches.  And he said they ate each other too, before they
surrendered, though I never did know whether to believe that or
not.  And when Cromwell took the town all the women were--  A
siege!  Mother of God!"

"You are the most barbarously ignorant young person I ever saw.
Drogheda was in sixteen hundred and something and Mr. O'Hara
couldn't possibly have been alive then.  Besides, Sherman isn't
Cromwell."

"No, but he's worse!  They say--"

"And as for the exotic viands the Irish ate at the siege--
personally I'd as soon eat a nice juicy rat as some of the victuals
they've been serving me recently at the hotel.  I think I shall
have to go back to Richmond.  They have good food there, if you
have the money to pay for it."  His eyes mocked the fear in her
face.

Annoyed that she had shown her trepidation, she cried:  "I don't
see why you've stayed here this long!  All you think about is being
comfortable and eating and--and things like that."

"I know no more pleasant way to pass the time than in eating and
er--things like that," he said.  "And as for why I stay here--well,
I've read a good deal about sieges, beleaguered cities and the
like, but I've never seen one.  So I think I'll stay here and
watch.  I won't get hurt because I'm a noncombatant and besides I
want the experience.  Never pass up new experiences, Scarlett.
They enrich the mind."

"My mind's rich enough."

"Perhaps you know best about that, but I should say--  But that
would be ungallant.  And perhaps, I'm staying here to rescue you
when the siege does come.  I've never rescued a maiden in distress.
That would be a new experience, too."

She knew he was teasing her but she sensed a seriousness behind his
words.  She tossed her head.

"I won't need you to rescue me.  I can take care of myself, thank
you."

"Don't say that, Scarlett!  Think of it, if you like, but never,
never say it to a man.  That's the trouble with Yankee girls.
They'd be most charming if they weren't always telling you that
they can take care of themselves, thank you.  Generally they are
telling the truth, God help them.  And so men let them take care of
themselves."

"How you do run on," she said coldly, for there was no insult worse
than being likened to a Yankee girl.  "I believe you're lying about
a siege.  You know the Yankees will never get to Atlanta."

"I'll bet you they will be here within the month.  I'll bet you a
box of bonbons against--"  His dark eyes wandered to her lips.
"Against a kiss."

For a last brief moment, fear of a Yankee invasion clutched her
heart but at the word "kiss," she forgot about it.  This was
familiar ground and far more interesting than military operations.
With difficulty she restrained a smile of glee.  Since the day when
he gave her the green bonnet, Rhett had made no advances which
could in any way be construed as those of a lover.  He could never
be inveigled into personal conversations, try though she might, but
now with no angling on her part, he was talking about kissing.

"I don't care for such personal conversation," she said coolly and
managed a frown.  "Besides, I'd just as soon kiss a pig."

"There's no accounting for tastes and I've always heard the Irish
were partial to pigs--kept them under their beds, in fact.  But,
Scarlett, you need kissing badly.  That's what's wrong with you.
All your beaux have respected you too much, though God knows why,
or they have been too afraid of you to really do right by you.  The
result is that you are unendurably uppity.  You should be kissed
and by someone who knows how."

The conversation was not going the way she wanted it.  It never did
when she was with him.  Always, it was a duel in which she was
worsted.

"And I suppose you think you are the proper person?" she asked with
sarcasm, holding her temper in check with difficulty.

"Oh, yes, if I cared to take the trouble," he said carelessly.
"They say I kiss very well."

"Oh," she began, indignant at the slight to her charms.  "Why,
you . . ."  But her eyes fell in sudden confusion.  He was smiling,
but in the dark depths of his eyes a tiny light flickered for a
brief moment, like a small raw flame.

"Of course, you've probably wondered why I never tried to follow up
that chaste peck I gave you, the day I brought you that bonnet--"

"I have never--"

"Then you aren't a nice girl, Scarlett, and I'm sorry to hear it.
All really nice girls wonder when men don't try to kiss them.  They
know they shouldn't want them to and they know they must act
insulted if they do, but just the same, they wish the men would
try. . . .  Well, my dear, take heart.  Some day, I will kiss you
and you will like it.  But not now, so I beg you not to be too
impatient."

She knew he was teasing but, as always, his teasing maddened her.
There was always too much truth in the things he said.  Well, this
finished him.  If ever, ever he should be so ill bred as to try to
take any liberties with her, she would show him.

"Will you kindly turn the horse around, Captain Butler?  I wish to
go back to the hospital."

"Do you indeed, my ministering angel?  Then lice and slops are
preferable to my conversation?  Well, far be it from me to keep a
pair of willing hands from laboring for Our Glorious Cause."  He
turned the horse's head and they started back toward Five Points.

"As to why I have made no further advances," he pursued blandly, as
though she had not signified that the conversation was at an end,
"I'm waiting for you to grow up a little more.  You see, it
wouldn't be much fun for me to kiss you now and I'm quite selfish
about my pleasures.  I never fancied kissing children."

He smothered a grin, as from the corner of his eye he saw her bosom
heave with silent wrath.

"And then, too," he continued softly, "I was waiting for the memory
of the estimable Ashley Wilkes to fade."

At the mention of Ashley's name, sudden pain went through her,
sudden hot tears stung her lids.  Fade?  The memory of Ashley would
never fade, not if he were dead a thousand years.  She thought of
Ashley wounded, dying in a far-off Yankee prison, with no blankets
over him, with no one who loved him to hold his hand, and she was
filled with hate for the well-fed man who sat beside her, jeers
just beneath the surface of his drawling voice.

She was too angry to speak and they rode along in silence for some
while.

"I understand practically everything about you and Ashley, now,"
Rhett resumed.  "I began with your inelegant scene at Twelve Oaks
and, since then, I've picked up many things by keeping my eyes
open.  What things?  Oh, that you still cherish a romantic
schoolgirl passion for him which he reciprocates as well as his
honorable nature will permit him.  And that Mrs. Wilkes knows
nothing and that, between the two of you, you've done her a pretty
trick.  I understand practically everything, except one thing that
piques my curiosity.  Did the honorable Ashley ever jeopardize his
immortal soul by kissing you?"

A stony silence and an averted head were his answers.

"Ah, well, so he did kiss you.  I suppose it was when he was here
on furlough.  And now that he's probably dead you are cherishing it
to your heart.  But I'm sure you'll get over it and when you've
forgotten his kiss, I'll--"

She turned in fury.

"You go to--Halifax," she said tensely, her green eyes slits of
rage.  "And let me out of this carriage before I jump over the
wheels.  And I don't ever want to speak to you again."

He stopped the carriage, but before he could alight and assist her
she sprang down.  Her hoop caught on the wheel and for a moment the
crowd at Five Points had a flashing view of petticoats and
pantalets.  Then Rhett leaned over and swiftly released it.  She
flounced off without a word, without even a backward look, and he
laughed softly and clicked to the horse.



CHAPTER XVIII


For the first time since the war began, Atlanta could hear the
sound of battle.  In the early morning hours before the noises of
the town awoke, the cannon at Kennesaw Mountain could be heard
faintly, far away, a low dim booming that might have passed for
summer thunder.  Occasionally it was loud enough to be heard even
above the rattle of traffic at noon.  People tried not to listen to
it, tried to talk, to laugh, to carry on their business, just as
though the Yankees were not there, twenty-two miles away, but
always ears were strained for the sound.  The town wore a
preoccupied look, for no matter what occupied their hands, all were
listening, listening, their hearts leaping suddenly a hundred times
a day.  Was the booming louder?  Or did they only think it was
louder?  Would General Johnston hold them this time?  Would he?

Panic lay just beneath the surface.  Nerves which had been
stretched tighter and tighter each day of the retreat began to
reach the breaking point.  No one spoke of fears.  That subject was
taboo, but strained nerves found expression in loud criticism of
the General.  Public feeling was at fever heat.  Sherman was at the
very doors of Atlanta.  Another retreat might bring the
Confederates into the town.

Give us a general who won't retreat!  Give us a man who will stand
and fight!

With the far-off rumbling of cannon in their ears, the state
militia, "Joe Brown's Pets," and the Home Guard marched out of
Atlanta, to defend the bridges and ferries of the Chattahoochee
River at Johnston's back.  It was a gray, overcast day and, as they
marched through Five Points and out the Marietta road, a fine rain
began to fall.  The whole town had turned out to see them off and
they stood, close packed, under the wooden awnings of the stores on
Peachtree Street and tried to cheer.

Scarlett and Maybelle Merriwether Picard had been given permission
to leave the hospital and watch the men go out, because Uncle Henry
Hamilton and Grandpa Merriwether were in the Home Guard, and they
stood with Mrs. Meade, pressed in the crowd, tiptoeing to get a
better view.  Scarlett, though filled with the universal Southern
desire to believe only the pleasantest and most reassuring things
about the progress of the fighting, felt cold as she watched the
motley ranks go by.  Surely, things must be in a desperate pass if
this rabble of bombproofers, old men and little boys were being
called out!  To be sure there were young and able-bodied men in the
passing lines, tricked out in the bright uniforms of socially
select militia units, plumes waving, sashes dancing.  But there
were so many old men and young boys, and the sight of them made her
heart contract with pity and with fear.  There were graybeards
older than her father trying to step jauntily along in the needle-
fine rain to the rhythm of the fife and drum corps.  Grandpa
Merriwether, with Mrs. Merriwether's best plaid shawl laid across
his shoulders to keep out the rain, was in the first rank and he
saluted the girls with a grin.  They waved their handkerchiefs and
cried gay good-bys to him; but Maybelle, gripping Scarlett's arm,
whispered:  "Oh, the poor old darling!  A real good rainstorm will
just about finish him!  His lumbago--"

Uncle Henry Hamilton marched in the rank behind Grandpa
Merriwether, the collar of his long black coat turned up about his
ears, two Mexican War pistols in his belt and a small carpetbag in
his hand.  Beside him marched his black valet who was nearly as old
as Uncle Henry, with an open umbrella held over them both.
Shoulder to shoulder with their elders came the young boys, none of
them looking over sixteen.  Many of them had run away from school
to join the army, and here and there were clumps of them in the
cadet uniforms of military academies, the black cock feathers on
their tight gray caps wet with rain, the clean white canvas straps
crossing their chests sodden.  Phil Meade was among them, proudly
wearing his dead brother's saber and horse pistols, his hat bravely
pinned up on one side.  Mrs. Meade managed to smile and wave until
he had passed and then she leaned her head on the back of
Scarlett's shoulder for a moment as though her strength had
suddenly left her.

Many of the men were totally unarmed, for the Confederacy had
neither rifles nor ammunition to issue to them.  These men hoped to
equip themselves from killed and captured Yankees.  Many carried
bowie knives in their boots and bore in their hands long thick
poles with iron-pointed tips known as "Joe Brown pikes."  The lucky
ones had old flintlock muskets slung over their shoulders and
powder-horns at their belts.

Johnston had lost around ten thousand men in his retreat.  He
needed ten thousand more fresh troops.  And this, thought Scarlett
frightened, is what he is getting!

As the artillery rumbled by, splashing mud into the watching
crowds, a negro on a mule, riding close to a cannon caught her eye.
He was a young, saddle-colored negro with a serious face, and when
Scarlett saw him she cried:  "It's Mose!  Ashley's Mose!  Whatever
is he doing here?"  She fought her way through the crowd to the
curb and called:  "Mose!  Stop!"

The boy seeing her, drew rein, smiled delightedly and started to
dismount.  A soaking sergeant, riding behind him, called:  "Stay on
that mule, boy, or I'll light a fire under you!  We got to git to
the mountain some time."

Uncertainly, Mose looked from the sergeant to Scarlett and she,
splashing through the mud, close to the passing wheels, caught at
Moses' stirrup strap.

"Oh, just a minute, Sergeant!  Don't get down, Mose.  What on earth
are you doing here?"

"Ah's off ter de war, agin, Miss Scarlett.  Dis time wid Ole Mist'
John 'stead ob Mist' Ashley."

"Mr. Wilkes!" Scarlett was stunned.  Mr. Wilkes was nearly seventy.
"Where is he?"

"Back wid de las' cannon, Miss Scarlett.  Back dar!"

"Sorry, lady.  Move on, boy!"

Scarlett stood for a moment, ankle deep in mud as the guns lurched
by.  Oh, no!  She thought.  It can't be.  He's too old.  And he
doesn't like war any more than Ashley did!  She retreated back a
few paces toward the curb and scanned each face that passed.  Then,
as the last cannon and limber chest came groaning and splashing up,
she saw him, slender, erect, his long silver hair wet upon his
neck, riding easily upon a little strawberry mare that picked her
way as daintily through the mud holes as a lady in a satin dress.
Why--that mare was Nellie!  Mrs. Tarleton's Nellie!  Beatrice
Tarleton's treasured darling!

When he saw her standing in the mud, Mr. Wilkes drew rein with a
smile of pleasure and, dismounting, came toward her.

"I had hoped to see you, Scarlett.  I was charged with so many
messages from your people.  But there was no time.  We just got in
this morning and they are rushing us out immediately, as you see."

"Oh, Mr. Wilkes," she cried desperately, holding his hand.  "Don't
go!  Why must you go?"

"Ah, so you think I'm too old!" he smiled, and it was Ashley's
smile in an older face.  "Perhaps I am too old to march but not to
ride and shoot.  And Mrs. Tarleton so kindly lent me Nellie, so I
am well mounted.  I hope nothing happens to Nellie, for if
something should happen to her, I could never go home and face Mrs.
Tarleton.  Nellie was the last horse she had left."  He was
laughing now, turning away her fears.  "Your mother and father and
the girls are well and they sent you their love.  Your father
nearly came up with us today!"

"Oh, not Pa!" cried Scarlett in terror.  "Not Pa!  He isn't going
to the war, is he?"

"No, but he was.  Of course, he can't walk far with his stiff knee,
but he was all for riding away with us.  Your mother agreed,
providing he was able to jump the pasture fence, for, she said,
there would be a lot of rough riding to be done in the army.  Your
father thought that easy, but--would you believe it?  When his
horse came to the fence, he stopped dead and over his head went
your father!  It's a wonder it didn't break his neck!  You know how
obstinate he is.  He got right up and tried it again.  Well,
Scarlett, he came off three times before Mrs. O'Hara and Pork
assisted him to bed.  He was in a taking about it, swearing that
your mother had 'spoken a wee word in the beast's ear.'  He just
isn't up to active service, Scarlett.  You need have no shame about
it.  After all, someone must stay home and raise crops for the
army."

Scarlett had no shame at all, only an active feeling of relief.

"I've sent India and Honey to Macon to stay with the Burrs and Mr.
O'Hara is looking after Twelve Oaks as well as Tara. . . .  I must
go, my dear.  Let me kiss your pretty face."

Scarlett turned up her lips and there was a choking pain in her
throat.  She was so fond of Mr. Wilkes.  Once, long ago, she had
hoped to be his daughter-in-law.

"And you must deliver this kiss to Pittypat and this to Melanie,"
he said, kissing her lightly two more times.  "And how is Melanie?"

"She is well."

"Ah!"  His eyes looked at her but through her, past her as Ashley's
had done, remote gray eyes looking on another world.  "I should
have liked to see my first grandchild.  Good-by, my dear."

He swung onto Nellie and cantered off, his hat in his hand, his
silver hair bare to the rain.  Scarlett had rejoined Maybelle and
Mrs. Meade before the import of his last words broke upon her.
Then in superstitious terror she crossed herself and tried to say a
prayer.  He had spoken of death, just as Ashley had done, and now
Ashley--  No one should ever speak of death!  It was tempting
Providence to mention death.  As the three women started silently
back to the hospital in the rain, Scarlett was praying:  "Not him,
too, God.  Not him and Ashley, too!"

The retreat from Dalton to Kennesaw Mountain had taken from early
May to mid-June and as the hot rainy days of June passed and
Sherman failed to dislodge the Confederates from the steep slippery
slopes, hope again raised its head.  Everyone grew more cheerful
and spoke more kindly of General Johnston.  As wet June days passed
into a wetter July and the Confederates, fighting desperately
around the entrenched heights, still held Sherman at bay, a wild
gaiety took hold of Atlanta.  Hope went to their heads like
champagne.  Hurrah!  Hurrah!  We're holding them!  An epidemic of
parties and dances broke out.  Whenever groups of men from the
fighting were in town for the night, dinners were given for them
and afterwards there was dancing and the girls, outnumbering the
men ten to one, made much of them and fought to dance with them.

Atlanta was crowded with visitors, refugees, families of wounded
men in the hospitals, wives and mothers of soldiers fighting at the
mountain who wished to be near them in case of wounds.  In
addition, bevies of belles from the country districts, where all
remaining men were under sixteen or over sixty, descended upon the
town.  Aunt Pitty disapproved highly of these last, for she felt
they had come to Atlanta for no reason at all except to catch
husbands, and the shamelessness of it made her wonder what the
world was coming to.  Scarlett disapproved, too.  She did not care
for the eager competition furnished by the sixteen-year-olds whose
fresh cheeks and bright smiles made one forget their twice-turned
frocks and patched shoes.  Her own clothes were prettier and newer
than most, thanks to the material Rhett Butler had brought her on
the last boat he ran in, but, after all, she was nineteen and
getting along and men had a way of chasing silly young things.

A widow with a child was at a disadvantage with these pretty
minxes, she thought.  But in these exciting days her widowhood and
her motherhood weighed less heavily upon her than ever before.
Between hospital duties in the day time and parties at night, she
hardly ever saw Wade.  Sometimes she actually forgot, for long
stretches, that she had a child.

In the warm wet summer nights, Atlanta's homes stood open to the
soldiers, the town's defenders.  The big houses from Washington
Street to Peachtree Street blazed with lights, as the muddy
fighters in from the rifle pits were entertained, and the sound of
banjo and fiddle and the scrape of dancing feet and light laughter
carried far on the night air.  Groups hung over pianos and voices
sang lustily the sad words of "Your Letter Came but Came Too Late"
while ragged gallants looked meaningly at girls who laughed from
behind turkey-tail fans, begging them not to wait until it was too
late.  None of the girls waited, if they could help it.  With the
tide of hysterical gaiety and excitement flooding the city, they
rushed into matrimony.  There were so many marriages that month
while Johnston was holding the enemy at Kennesaw Mountain,
marriages with the bride turned out in blushing happiness and the
hastily borrowed finery of a dozen friends and the groom with saber
banging at patched knees.  So much excitement, so many parties, so
many thrills!  Hurrah!  Johnston is holding the Yanks twenty-two
miles away!



Yes, the lines around Kennesaw Mountain were impregnable.  After
twenty-five days of fighting, even General Sherman was convinced of
this, for his losses were enormous.  Instead of continuing the
direct assault, he swung his army in a wide circle again and tried
to come between the Confederates and Atlanta.  Again, the strategy
worked.  Johnston was forced to abandon the heights he had held so
well, in order to protect his rear.  He had lost a third of his men
in that fight and the remainder slogged tiredly through the rain
across the country toward the Chattahoochee River.  The
Confederates could expect no more reinforcements, whereas the
railroad, which the Yankees now held from Tennessee south to the
battle line, brought Sherman fresh troops and supplies daily.  So
the gray lines went back through the muddy fields, back toward
Atlanta.

With the loss of the supposedly unconquerable position, a fresh
wave of terror swept the town.  For twenty-five wild, happy days,
everyone had assured everyone else that this could not possibly
happen.  And now it had happened!  But surely the General would
hold the Yankees on the opposite bank of the river.  Though God
knows the river was close enough, only seven miles away!

But Sherman flanked them again, crossing the stream above them, and
the weary gray files were forced to hurry across the yellow water
and throw themselves again between the invaders and Atlanta.  They
dug in hastily in shallow pits to the north of the town in the
valley of Peachtree Creek.  Atlanta was in agony and panic.

Fight and fall back!  Fight and fall back!  And every retreat was
bringing the Yankees closer to the town.  Peachtree Creek was only
five miles away!  What was the General thinking about?

The cries of "Give us a man who will stand and fight!" penetrated
even to Richmond.  Richmond knew that if Atlanta was lost, the war
was lost, and after the army had crossed the Chattahoochee, General
Johnston was removed from command.  General Hood, one of his corps
commanders, took over the army, and the town breathed a little
easier.  Hood wouldn't retreat.  Not that tall Kentuckian, with his
flowing beard and flashing eye!  He had the reputation of a
bulldog.  He'd drive the Yankees back from the creek, yes, back
across the river and on up the road every step of the way back to
Dalton.  But the army cried:  "Give us back Old Joe!" for they had
been with Old Joe all the weary miles from Dalton and they knew, as
the civilians could not know, the odds that had opposed them.

Sherman did not wait for Hood to get himself in readiness to
attack.  On the day after the change in command, the Yankee general
struck swiftly at the little town of Decatur, six miles beyond
Atlanta, captured it and cut the railroad there.  This was the
railroad connecting Atlanta with Augusta, with Charleston, and
Wilmington and with Virginia.  Sherman had dealt the Confederacy a
crippling blow.  The time had come for action!  Atlanta screamed
for action!

Then, on a July afternoon of steaming heat, Atlanta had its wish.
General Hood did more than stand and fight.  He assaulted the
Yankees fiercely at Peachtree Creek, hurling his men from their
rifle pits against the blue lines where Sherman's men outnumbered
him more than two to one.

Frightened, praying that Hood's attack would drive the Yankees
back, everyone listened to the sound of booming cannon and the
crackling of thousands of rifles which, though five miles away from
the center of town, were so loud as to seem almost in the next
block.  They could hear the rumblings of the batteries, see the
smoke which rolled like low-hanging clouds above the trees, but for
hours no one knew how the battle was going.

By late afternoon the first news came, but it was uncertain,
contradictory, frightening, brought as it was by men wounded in the
early hours of the battle.  These men began straggling in, singly
and in groups, the less seriously wounded supporting those who
limped and staggered.  Soon a steady stream of them was
established, making their painful way into town toward the
hospitals, their faces black as negroes' from powder stains, dust
and sweat, their wounds unbandaged, blood drying, flies swarming
about them.

Aunt Pitty's was one of the first houses which the wounded reached
as they struggled in from the north of the town, and one after
another, they tottered to the gate, sank down on the green lawn and
croaked:

"Water!"

All that burning afternoon, Aunt Pitty and her family, black and
white, stood in the sun with buckets of water and bandages, ladling
drinks, binding wounds until the bandages gave out and even the
torn sheets and towels were exhausted.  Aunt Pitty completely
forgot that the sight of blood always made her faint and she worked
until her little feet in their too small shoes swelled and would no
longer support her.  Even Melanie, now great with child, forgot her
modesty and worked feverishly side by side with Prissy, Cookie and
Scarlett, her face as tense as any of the wounded.  When at last
she fainted, there was no place to lay her except on the kitchen
table, as every bed, chair and sofa in the house was filled with
wounded.

Forgotten in the tumult, little Wade crouched behind the banisters
on the front porch, peering out onto the lawn like a caged,
frightened rabbit, his eyes wide with terror, sucking his thumb and
hiccoughing.  Once Scarlett saw him and cried sharply:  "Go play in
the back yard, Wade Hampton!" but he was too terrified, too
fascinated by the mad scene before him to obey.

The lawn was covered with prostrate men, too tired to walk farther,
too weak from wounds to move.  These Uncle Peter loaded into the
carriage and drove to the hospital, making trip after trip until
the old horse was lathered.  Mrs. Meade and Mrs. Merriwether sent
their carriages and they, too, drove off, springs sagging beneath
the weight of the wounded.

Later, in the long, hot summer twilight, the ambulances came
rumbling down the road from the battle field and commissary wagons,
covered with muddy canvas.  Then farm wagons, ox carts and even
private carriages commandeered by the medical corps.  They passed
Aunt Pitty's house, jolting over the bumpy road, packed with
wounded and dying men, dripping blood into the red dust.  At the
sight of the women with buckets and dippers, the conveyances halted
and the chorus went up in cries, in whispers:

"Water!"

Scarlett held wobbling heads that parched lips might drink, poured
buckets of water over dusty, feverish bodies and into open wounds
that the men might enjoy a brief moment's relief.  She tiptoed to
hand dippers to ambulance drivers and of each she questioned, her
heart in her throat:  "What news?  What news?"

From all came back the answer:  "Don't know fer sartin, lady.  It's
too soon to tell."

Night came and it was sultry.  No air moved and the flaring pine
knots the negroes held made the air hotter.  Dust clogged
Scarlett's nostrils and dried her lips.  Her lavender calico dress,
so freshly clean and starched that morning, was streaked with
blood, dirt and sweat.  This, then, was what Ashley had meant when
he wrote that war was not glory but dirt and misery.

Fatigue gave an unreal, nightmarish cast to the whole scene.  It
couldn't be real--or it was real, then the world had gone mad.  If
not, why should she be standing here in Aunt Pitty's peaceful front
yard, amid wavering lights, pouring water over dying beaux?  For so
many of them were her beaux and they tried to smile when they saw
her.  There were so many men jolting down this dark, dusty road
whom she knew so well, so many men dying here before her eyes,
mosquitoes and gnats swarming their bloody faces, men with whom she
had danced and laughed, for whom she had played music and sung
songs, teased, comforted and loved--a little.

She found Carey Ashburn on the bottom layer of wounded in an ox
cart, barely alive from a bullet wound in his head.  But she could
not extricate him without disturbing six other wounded men, so she
let him go on to the hospital.  Later she heard he had died before
a doctor ever saw him and was buried somewhere, no one knew
exactly.  So many men had been buried that month, in shallow,
hastily dug graves at Oakland Cemetery.  Melanie felt it keenly
that they had not been able to get a lock of Carey's hair to send
to his mother in Alabama.

As the hot night wore on and their backs were aching and their
knees buckling from weariness, Scarlett and Pitty cried to man
after man:  "What news?  What news?"

And as the long hours dragged past, they had their answer, an
answer that made them look whitely into each other's eyes.

"We're falling back."  "We've got to fall back."  "They outnumber
us by thousands."  "The Yankees have got Wheeler's cavalry cut off
near Decatur.  We got to reenforce them."  "Our boys will all be in
town soon."

Scarlett and Pitty clutched each other's arms for support.

"Are--are the Yankees coming?"

"Yes'm, they're comin' all right but they ain't goin' ter git fer,
lady."  "Don't fret, Miss, they can't take Atlanta."  "No, Ma'm, we
got a million miles of breastworks 'round this town."  "I heard Old
Joe say it myself:  'I can hold Atlanta forever.'"  "But we ain't
got Old Joe.  We got--"  "Shut up, you fool!  Do you want to scare
the ladies?"  "The Yankees will never take this place, Ma'm."
"Whyn't you ladies go ter Macon or somewheres that's safer?  Ain't
you got no kinfolks there?"  "The Yankees ain't goin' ter take
Atlanta but still it ain't goin' ter be so healthy for ladies
whilst they're tryin' it."  "There's goin' ter be a powerful lot of
shellin'."

In a warm steaming rain the next day, the defeated army poured
though Atlanta by thousands, exhausted by hunger and weariness,
depleted by seventy-six days of battle and retreat, their horses
starved scarecrows, their cannon and caissons harnessed with odds
and ends of rope and strips of rawhide.  But they did not come in
as disorderly rabble, in full rout.  They marched in good order,
jaunty for all their rags, their torn red battle flags flying in
the rain.  They had learned retreating under Old Joe, who had made
it as great a feat of strategy as advancing.  The bearded, shabby
files swung down Peachtree Street to the tune of "Maryland!  My
Maryland!" and all the town turned out to cheer them.  In victory
or defeat, they were their boys.

The state militia who had gone out so short a time before,
resplendent in new uniforms, could hardly be distinguished from the
seasoned troops, so dirty and unkempt were they.  There was a new
look in their eyes.  Three years of apologizing, of explaining why
they were not at the front was behind them now.  They had traded
security behind the lines for the hardships of battle.  Many of
their number had traded easy living for hard death.  They were
veterans now, veterans of brief service, but veterans just the
same, and they had acquitted themselves well.  They searched out
the faces of friends in the crowd and stared at them proudly,
defiantly.  They could hold up their heads now.

The old men and boys of the Home Guard marched by, the graybeards
almost too weary to lift their feet, the boys wearing the faces of
tired children, confronted too early with adult problems.  Scarlett
caught sight of Phil Meade and hardly recognized him, so black was
his face with powder and grime, so taut with strain and weariness.
Uncle Henry went limping by, hatless in the rain, his head stuck
through a hole in a piece of old oilcloth.  Grandpa Merriwether
rode in on a gun carriage, his bare feet tied in quilt scraps.  But
search though she might, she saw no sign of John Wilkes.

Johnston's veterans, however, went by with the tireless, careless
step which had carried them for three years, and they still had the
energy to grin and wave at pretty girls and to call rude gibes to
men not in uniform.  They were on their way to the entrenchments
that ringed the town--no shallow, hastily dug trenches, these, but
earthworks, breast high, reinforced with sandbags and tipped with
sharpened staves of wood.  For mile after mile the trenches
encircled the town, red gashes surmounted by red mounds, waiting
for the men who would fill them.

The crowd cheered the troops as they would have cheered them in
victory.  There was fear in every heart but, now that they knew the
truth, now that the worst had happened, now that the war was in
their front yard, a change came over the town.  There was no panic
now, no hysteria.  Whatever lay in hearts did not show on faces.
Everyone looked cheerful even if the cheer was strained.  Everyone
tried to show brave, confident faces to the troops.  Everyone
repeated what Old Joe had said, just before he was relieved of
command:  "I can hold Atlanta forever."

Now that Hood had had to retreat, quite a number wished, with the
soldiers, that they had Old Joe back, but they forebore saying it
and took courage from Old Joe's remark:

"I can hold Atlanta forever!"



Not for Hood the cautious tactics of General Johnston.  He
assaulted the Yankees on the east, he assaulted them on the west.
Sherman was circling the town like a wrestler seeking a fresh hold
on an opponent's body, and Hood did not remain behind his rifle
pits waiting for the Yankees to attack.  He went out boldly to meet
them and savagely fell upon them.  Within the space of a few days
the battles of Atlanta and of Ezra Church were fought, and both of
them were major engagements which made Peachtree Creek seem like a
skirmish.

But the Yankees kept coming back for more.  They had suffered heavy
losses but they could afford to lose.  And all the while their
batteries poured shells into Atlanta, killing people in their
homes, ripping roofs off buildings, tearing huge craters in the
streets.  The townsfolk sheltered as best they could in cellars, in
holes in the ground and in shallow tunnels dug in railroad cuts.
Atlanta was under siege.

Within eleven days after he had taken command, General Hood had
lost almost as many men as Johnston had lost in seventy-four days
of battle and retreat, and Atlanta was hemmed in on three sides.

The railroad from Atlanta to Tennessee was now in Sherman's hands
for its full length.  His army was across the railroad to the east
and he had cut the railroad running southwest to Alabama.  Only the
one railroad to the south, to Macon and Savannah, was still open.
The town was crowded with soldiers, swamped with wounded, jammed
with refugees, and this one line was inadequate for the crying
needs of the stricken city.  But as long as this railroad could be
held, Atlanta could still stand.

Scarlett was terrified when she realized how important this line
had become, how fiercely Sherman would fight to take it, how
desperately Hood would fight to defend it.  For this was the
railroad which ran through the County, through Jonesboro.  And Tara
was only five miles from Jonesboro!  Tara seemed like a haven of
refuge by comparison with the screaming hell of Atlanta, but Tara
was only five miles from Jonesboro!



Scarlett and many other ladies sat on the flat roofs of stores,
shaded by their tiny parasols, and watched the fighting on the day
of the battle of Atlanta.  But when shells began falling in the
streets for the first time, they fled to the cellars, and that
night the exodus of women, children and old people from the city
began.  Macon was their destination and many of those who took the
train that night had already refugeed five and six times before, as
Johnston fell back from Dalton.  They were traveling lighter now
than when they arrived in Atlanta.  Most of them carried only a
carpetbag and a scanty lunch done up in a bandana handkerchief.
Here and there, frightened servants carried silver pitchers, knives
and forks and a family portrait or two which had been salvaged in
the first fight.

Mrs. Merriwether and Mrs. Elsing refused to leave.  They were
needed at the hospital and furthermore, they said proudly, they
weren't afraid and no Yankees were going to run them out of their
homes.  But Maybelle and her baby and Fanny Elsing went to Macon.
Mrs. Meade was disobedient for the first time in her married life
and flatly refused to yield to the doctor's command that she take
the train to safety.  The doctor needed her, she said.  Moreover,
Phil was somewhere in the trenches and she wanted to be near by in
case . . .

But Mrs. Whiting went and many other ladies of Scarlett's circle.
Aunt Pitty, who had been the first to denounce Old Joe for his
policy of retreat, was among the first to pack her trunks.  Her
nerves, she said, were delicate and she could not endure noises.
She feared she might faint at an explosion and not be able to reach
the cellar.  No, she was not afraid.  Her baby mouth tried to set
in martial lines but failed.  She'd go to Macon and stay with her
cousin, old Mrs. Burr, and the girls should come with her.

Scarlett did not want to go to Macon.  Frightened as she was of the
shells, she'd rather stay in Atlanta than go to Macon, for she
hated old Mrs. Burr cordially.  Years ago, Mrs. Burr had said she
was "fast" after catching her kissing her son Willie at one of the
Wilkes' house parties.  No, she told Aunt Pitty, I'll go home to
Tara and Melly can go to Macon with you.

At this Melanie began to cry in a frightened, heartbroken way.
When Aunt Pitty fled to get Dr. Meade, Melanie caught Scarlett's
hand in hers, pleading:

"Dear, don't go to Tara and leave me!  I'll be so lonely without
you.  Oh, Scarlett, I'd just die if you weren't with me when the
baby came!  Yes--Yes, I know I've got Aunt Pitty and she is sweet.
But after all, she's never had a baby, and sometimes she makes me
so nervous I could scream.  Don't desert me, darling.  You've been
just like a sister to me, and besides," she smiled wanly, "you
promised Ashley you'd take care of me.  He told me he was going to
ask you."

Scarlett stared down at her in wonderment.  With her own dislike of
this woman so strong she could barely conceal it, how could Melly
love her so?  How could Melly be so stupid as not to guess the
secret of her love of Ashley?  She had given herself away a hundred
times during these months of torment, waiting for news of him.  But
Melanie saw nothing, Melanie who could see nothing but good in
anyone she loved. . . .  Yes, she had promised Ashley she would
look out for Melanie.  Oh, Ashley! Ashley! you must be dead, dead
these many months!  And now your promise reaches out and clutches
me!

"Well," she said shortly, "I did promise him that and I don't go
back on my promises.  But I won't go to Macon and stay with that
old Burr cat.  I'd claw her eyes out in five minutes.  I'm going
home to Tara and you can come with me.  Mother would love to have
you."

"Oh, I'd like that!  Your mother is so sweet.  But you know Auntie
would just die if she wasn't with me when the baby came, and I know
she won't go to Tara.  It's too close to the fighting, and Auntie
wants to be safe."

Dr. Meade, who had arrived out of breath, expecting to find Melanie
in premature labor at least, judging by Aunt Pitty's alarmed
summoning, was indignant and said as much.  And upon learning the
cause of the upset, he settled the matter with words that left no
room for argument.

"It's out of the question for you to go to Macon, Miss Melly.  I
won't answer for you if you move.  The trains are crowded and
uncertain and the passengers are liable to be put off in the woods
at any time, if the trains are needed for the wounded or troops and
supplies.  In your condition--"

"But if I went to Tara with Scarlett--"

"I tell you I won't have you moved.  The train to Tara is the train
to Macon and the same conditions prevail.  Moreover, no one knows
just where the Yankees are now, but they are all over everywhere.
Your train might even be captured.  And even if you reached
Jonesboro safely, there'd be a five-mile ride over a rough road
before you ever reached Tara.  It's no trip for a woman in a
delicate condition.  Besides, there's not a doctor in the County
since old Dr. Fontaine joined the army."

"But there are midwives--"

"I said a doctor," he answered brusquely and his eyes unconsciously
went over her tiny frame.  "I won't have you moved.  It might be
dangerous.  You don't want to have the baby on the train or in a
buggy, do you?"

This medical frankness reduced the ladies to embarrassed blushes
and silence.

"You've got to stay right here where I can watch you, and you must
stay in bed.  No running up and down stairs to cellars.  No, not
even if shells come right in the window.  After all, there's not
so much danger here.  We'll have the Yankees beaten back in no
time. . . .  Now, Miss Pitty, you go right on to Macon and leave
the young ladies here."

"Unchaperoned?" she cried, aghast.

"They are matrons," said the doctor testily.  "And Mrs. Meade is
just two houses away.  They won't be receiving any male company
anyway with Miss Melly in her condition.  Good Heavens, Miss Pitty!
This is war time.  We can't think of the proprieties now.  We must
think of Miss Melly."

He stamped out of the room and waited on the front porch until
Scarlett joined him.

"I shall talk frankly to you, Miss Scarlett," he began, jerking at
his gray beard.  "You seem to be a young woman of common sense, so
spare me your blushes.  I do not want to hear any further talk
about Miss Melly being moved.  I doubt if she could stand the trip.
She is going to have a difficult time, even in the best of
circumstances--very narrow in the hips, as you know, and probably
will need forceps for her delivery, so I don't want any ignorant
darky midwife meddling with her.  Women like her should never have
children, but--  Anyway, you pack Miss Pitty's trunk and send her
to Macon.  She's so scared she'll upset Miss Melly and that won't
do any good.  And now, Miss," he fixed her with a piercing glance,
"I don't want to hear about you going home, either.  You stay with
Miss Melly till the baby comes.  Not afraid, are you?"

"Oh, no!" lied Scarlett, stoutly.

"That's a brave girl.  Mrs. Meade will give you whatever
chaperonage you need and I'll send over old Betsy to cook for you,
if Miss Pitty wants to take her servants with her.  It won't be for
long.  The baby ought to be here in another five weeks, but you
never can tell with first babies and all this shelling going on.
It may come any day."

So Aunt Pittypat went to Macon, in floods of tears, taking Uncle
Peter and Cookie with her.  The carriage and horse she donated to
the hospital in a burst of patriotism which she immediately
regretted and that brought on more tears.  And Scarlett and Melanie
were left alone with Wade and Prissy in a house that was much
quieter, even though the cannonading continued.



CHAPTER XIX


In those first days of the siege, when the Yankees crashed here and
there against the defenses of the city, Scarlett was so frightened
by the bursting shells she could only cower helplessly, her hands
over her ears, expecting every moment to be blown into eternity.
When she heard the whistling screams that heralded their approach,
she rushed to Melanie's room and flung herself on the bed beside
her, and the two clutched each other, screaming "Oh! Oh!" as they
buried their heads in the pillows.  Prissy and Wade scurried for
the cellar and crouched in the cobwebbed darkness, Prissy squalling
at the top of her voice and Wade sobbing and hiccoughing.

Suffocating under feather pillows while death screamed overhead,
Scarlett silently cursed Melanie for keeping her from the safer
regions below stairs.  But the doctor had forbidden Melanie to walk
and Scarlett had to stay with her.  Added to her terror of being
blown to pieces was her equally active terror that Melanie's baby
might arrive at any moment.  Sweat broke out on Scarlett with
clammy dampness, whenever this thought entered her mind.  What
would she do if the baby started coming?  She knew she'd rather let
Melanie die than go out on the streets to hunt for the doctor when
the shells were falling like April rain.  And she knew Prissy could
be beaten to death before she would venture forth.  What would she
do if the baby came?

These matters she discussed with Prissy in whispers one evening, as
they prepared Melanie's supper tray, and Prissy, surprisingly
enough, calmed her fears.

"Miss Scarlett, effen we kain git de doctah w'en Miss Melly's time
come, doan you bodder.  Ah kin manage.  Ah knows all 'bout
birthin'.  Ain' mah ma a midwife?  Ain' she raise me ter be a
midwife, too?  Jes' you leave it ter me."

Scarlett breathed more easily knowing that experienced hands were
near, but she nevertheless yearned to have the ordeal over and done
with.  Mad to be away from exploding shells, desperate to get home
to the quiet of Tara, she prayed every night that the baby would
arrive the next day, so she would be released from her promise and
could leave Atlanta.  Tara seemed so safe, so far away from all
this misery.

Scarlett longed for home and her mother as she had never longed for
anything in all her life.  If she were just near Ellen she wouldn't
be afraid, no matter what happened.  Every night after a day of
screeching ear-splitting shells, she went to bed determined to tell
Melanie the next morning that she could not stand Atlanta another
day, that she would have to go home and Melanie would have to go to
Mrs. Meade's.  But, as she lay on her pillow, there always rose the
memory of Ashley's face as it had looked when she last saw him,
drawn as with an inner pain but with a little smile on his lips:
"You'll take care of Melanie, won't you?  You're so strong. . . .
Promise me."  And she had promised.  Somewhere, Ashley lay dead.
Wherever he was, he was watching her, holding her to that promise.
Living or dead, she could not fail him, no matter what the cost.
So she remained day after day.

In response to Ellen's letters, pleading with her to come home, she
wrote minimizing the dangers of the siege, explaining Melanie's
predicament and promising to come as soon as the baby was born.
Ellen, sensitive to the bonds of kin, be they blood or marriage,
wrote back reluctantly agreeing that she must stay but demanding
Wade and Prissy be sent home immediately.  This suggestion met with
the complete approval of Prissy, who was now reduced to teeth-
chattering idiocy at every unexpected sound.  She spent so much
time crouching in the cellar that the girls would have fared badly
but for Mrs. Meade's stolid old Betsy.

Scarlett was as anxious as her mother to have Wade out of Atlanta,
not only for the child's safety, but because his constant fear
irritated her.  Wade was terrified to speechlessness by the
shelling, and even when lulls came he clung to Scarlett's skirts,
too terrified to cry.  He was afraid to go to bed at night, afraid
of the dark, afraid to sleep lest the Yankees should come and get
him, and the sound of his soft nervous whimpering in the night
grated unendurably on her nerves.  Secretly she was just as
frightened as he was, but it angered her to be reminded of it every
minute by his tense, drawn face.  Yes, Tara was the place for Wade.
Prissy should take him there and return immediately to be present
when the baby came.

But before Scarlett could start the two on their homeward journey,
news came that the Yankees had swung to the south and were
skirmishing along the railroad between Atlanta and Jonesboro.
Suppose the Yankees should capture the train on which Wade and
Prissy were riding--Scarlett and Melanie turned pale at the
thought, for everyone knew that Yankee atrocities on helpless
children were even more dreadful than on women.  So she feared to
send him home and he remained in Atlanta, a frightened, silent
little ghost, pattering about desperately after his mother, fearing
to have her skirt out of his hand for even a minute.

The siege went on through the hot days of July, thundering days
following nights of sullen, ominous stillness, and the town began
to adjust itself.  It was as though, the worst having happened,
they had nothing more to fear.  They had feared a siege and now
they had a siege and, after all, it wasn't so bad.  Life could and
did go on almost as usual.  They knew they were sitting on a
volcano, but until that volcano erupted there was nothing they
could do.  So why worry now?  And probably it wouldn't erupt
anyway.  Just look how General Hood is holding the Yankees out of
the city!  And see how the cavalry is holding the railroad to
Macon!  Sherman will never take it!

But for all their apparent insouciance in the face of falling
shells and shorter rations, for all their ignoring the Yankees,
barely half a mile away, and for all their boundless confidence in
the ragged line of gray men in the rifle pits, there pulsed, just
below the skin of Atlanta, a wild uncertainty over what the next
day would bring.  Suspense, worry, sorrow, hunger and the torment
of rising, falling, rising hope was wearing that skin thin.

Gradually, Scarlett drew courage from the brave faces of her
friends and from the merciful adjustment which nature makes when
what cannot be cured must be endured.  To be sure, she still jumped
at the sound of explosions but she did not run screaming to burrow
her head under Melanie's pillow.  She could now gulp and say
weakly:  "That was close, wasn't it?"

She was less frightened also because life had taken on the quality
of a dream, a dream too terrible to be real.  It wasn't possible
that she, Scarlett O'Hara, should be in such a predicament, with
the danger of death about her every hour, every minute.  It wasn't
possible that the quiet tenor of life could have changed so
completely in so short a time.

It was unreal, grotesquely unreal, that morning skies which dawned
so tenderly blue could be profaned with cannon smoke that hung over
the town like low thunder clouds, that warm noontides filled with
the piercing sweetness of massed honeysuckle and climbing roses
could be so fearful, as shells screamed into the streets, bursting
like the crack of doom, throwing iron splinters hundreds of yards,
blowing people and animals to bits.

Quiet, drowsy afternoon siestas had ceased to be, for though the
clamor of battle might lull from time to time, Peachtree Street was
alive and noisy at all hours, cannon and ambulances rumbling by,
wounded stumbling in from the rifle pits, regiments hurrying past
at double-quick, ordered from the ditches on one side of town to
the defense of some hard-pressed earthworks on the other, and
couriers dashing headlong down the street toward headquarters as
though the fate of the Confederacy hung on them.

The hot nights brought a measure of quiet but it was a sinister
quiet.  When the night was still, it was too still--as though the
tree frogs, katydids and sleepy mockingbirds were too frightened to
raise their voices in the usual summer-night chorus.  Now and
again, the quiet was broken sharply by the crack-cracking of musket
fire in the last line of defenses.

Often in the late night hours, when the lamps were out and Melanie
asleep and deathly silence pressed over the town, Scarlett, lying
awake, heard the latch of the front gate click and soft urgent
tappings on the front door.

Always, faceless soldiers stood on the dark porch and from the
darkness many different voices spoke to her.  Sometimes a cultured
voice came from the shadows:  "Madam, my abject apologies for
disturbing you, but could I have water for myself and my horse?"
Sometimes it was the hard burring of a mountain voice, sometimes
the odd nasals of the flat Wiregrass country to the far south,
occasionally the lulling drawl of the Coast that caught at her
heart, reminding her of Ellen's voice.

"Missy, I got a pardner here who I wuz aimin' ter git ter the
horsepittle but looks like he ain't goin' ter last that fer.  Kin
you take him in?"

"Lady, I shore could do with some vittles.  I'd shore relish a corn
pone if it didn't deprive you none."

"Madam, forgive my intrusion but--could I spend the night on your
porch?  I saw the roses and smelled the honeysuckle and it was so
much like home that I was emboldened--"

No, these nights were not real!  They were a nightmare and the men
were part of that nightmare, men without bodies or faces, only
tired voices speaking to her from the warm dark.  Draw water, serve
food, lay pillows on the front porch, bind wounds, hold the dirty
heads of the dying.  No, this could not be happening to her!

Once, late in July, it was Uncle Henry Hamilton who came tapping in
the night.  Uncle Henry was minus his umbrella and carpetbag now,
and his fat stomach as well.  The skin of his pink fat face hung
down in loose folds like the dewlaps of a bulldog and his long
white hair was indescribably dirty.  He was almost barefoot,
crawling with lice, and he was hungry, but his irascible spirit was
unimpaired.

Despite his remark:  "It's a foolish war when old fools like me are
out toting guns," the girls received the impression that Uncle
Henry was enjoying himself.  He was needed, like the young men, and
he was doing a young man's work.  Moreover, he could keep up with
the young men, which was more than Grandpa Merriwether could do, he
told them gleefully.  Grandpa's lumbago was troubling him greatly
and the Captain wanted to discharge him.  But Grandpa wouldn't go
home.  He said frankly that he preferred the Captain's swearing and
bullying to his daughter-in-law's coddling, and her incessant
demands that he give up chewing tobacco and launder his beard every
day.

Uncle Henry's visit was brief, for he had only a four-hour furlough
and he needed half of it for the long walk in from the breastworks
and back.

"Girls, I'm not going to see you all for a while," he announced as
he sat in Melanie's bedroom, luxuriously wriggling his blistered
feet in the tub of cold water Scarlett had set before him.  "Our
company is going out in the morning."

"Where?" questioned Melanie frightened, clutching his arm.

"Don't put your hand on me," said Uncle Henry irritably.  "I'm
crawling with lice.  War would be a picnic if it wasn't for lice
and dysentery.  Where'm I going?  Well, I haven't been told but
I've got a good idea.  We're marching south, toward Jonesboro, in
the morning, unless I'm greatly in error."

"Oh, why toward Jonesboro?"

"Because there's going to be big fighting there, Missy.  The
Yankees are going to take the railroad if they possibly can.  And
if they do take it, it's good-by Atlanta!"

"Oh, Uncle Henry, do you think they will?"

"Shucks, girls!  No!  How can they when I'm there?"  Uncle Henry
grinned at their frightened faces and then, becoming serious again:
"It's going to be a hard fight, girls.  We've got to win it.  You
know, of course, that the Yankees have got all the railroads except
the one to Macon, but that isn't all they've got.  Maybe you girls
didn't know it, but they've got every road, too, every wagon lane
and bridle path, except the McDonough road.  Atlanta's in a bag and
the strings of the bag are at Jonesboro.  And if the Yankees can
take the railroad there, they can pull up the strings and have us,
just like a possum in a poke.  So, we don't aim to let them get
that railroad. . . .  I may be gone a while, girls.  I just came in
to tell you all good-by and to make sure Scarlett was still with
you, Melly."

"Of course, she's with me," said Melanie fondly.  "Don't you worry
about us, Uncle Henry, and do take care of yourself."

Uncle Henry wiped his wet feet on the rag rug and groaned as he
drew on his tattered shoes.

"I got to be going," he said.  "I've got five miles to walk.
Scarlett, you fix me up some kind of lunch to take.  Anything
you've got."

After he had kissed Melanie good-by, he went down to the kitchen
where Scarlett was wrapping a corn pone and some apples in a
napkin.

"Uncle Henry--is it--is it really so serious?"

"Serious?  God'lmighty, yes!  Don't be a goose.  We're in the last
ditch."

"Do you think they'll get to Tara?"

"Why--" began Uncle Henry, irritated at the feminine mind which
thought only of personal things when broad issues were involved.
Then, seeing her frightened, woebegone face, he softened.

"Of course they won't.  Tara's five miles from the railroad and
it's the railroad the Yankees want.  You've got no more sense than
a June bug, Missy."  He broke off abruptly.  "I didn't walk all
this way here tonight just to tell you all good-by.  I came to
bring Melly some bad news, but when I got up to it I just couldn't
tell her.  So I'm going to leave it to you to do."

"Ashley isn't--you haven't heard anything--that he's--dead?"

"Now, how would I be hearing about Ashley when I've been standing
in rifle pits up to the seat of my pants in mud?" the old gentleman
asked testily.  "No.  It's about his father.  John Wilkes is dead."

Scarlett sat down suddenly, the half-wrapped lunch in her hand.

"I came to tell Melly--but I couldn't.  You must do it.  And give
her these."

He hauled from his pockets a heavy gold watch with dangling seals,
a small miniature of the long dead Mrs. Wilkes and a pair of
massive cuff buttons.  At the sight of the watch which she had seen
in John Wilkes' hands a thousand times, the full realization came
over Scarlett that Ashley's father was really dead.  And she was
too stunned to cry or to speak.  Uncle Henry fidgeted, coughed and
did not look at her, lest he catch sight of a tear that would upset
him.

"He was a brave man, Scarlett.  Tell Melly that.  Tell her to write
it to his girls.  And a good soldier for all his years.  A shell
got him.  Came right down on him and his horse.  Tore the horse's--
I shot the horse myself, poor creature.  A fine little mare she
was.  You'd better write Mrs. Tarleton about that, too.  She set a
store on that mare.  Wrap up my lunch, child.  I must be going.
There, dear, don't take it so hard.  What better way can an old man
die than doing a young man's work?"

"Oh, he shouldn't have died!  He shouldn't have ever gone to the
war.  He should have lived and seen his grandchild grow up and died
peacefully in bed.  Oh, why did he go?  He didn't believe in
secession and he hated the war and--"

"Plenty of us think that way, but what of it?"  Uncle Henry blew
his nose grumpily.  "Do you think I enjoy letting Yankee riflemen
use me for a target at my age?  But there's no other choice for a
gentleman these days.  Kiss me good-by, child, and don't worry
about me.  I'll come through this war safely."

Scarlett kissed him and heard him go down the steps into the dark,
heard the latch click on the front gate.  She stood for a minute
looking at the keepsakes in her hand.  And then she went up the
stairs to tell Melanie.



At the end of July came the unwelcome news, predicted by Uncle
Henry, that the Yankees had swung around again toward Jonesboro.
They had cut the railroad four miles below the town, but they had
been beaten off by the Confederate cavalry; and the engineering
corps, sweating in the broiling sun, had repaired the line.

Scarlett was frantic with anxiety.  For three days she waited, fear
growing in her heart.  Then a reassuring letter came from Gerald.
The enemy had not reached Tara.  They had heard the sound of the
fight but they had seen no Yankees.

Gerald's letter was so full of brag and bluster as to how the
Yankees had been driven from the railroad that one would have
thought he personally had accomplished the feat, single handed.
He wrote for three pages about the gallantry of the troops and then,
at the end of his letter, mentioned briefly that Carreen was ill.
The typhoid, Mrs. O'Hara said it was.  She was not very ill and
Scarlett was not to worry about her, but on no condition must she
come home now, even if the railroad should become safe.  Mrs. O'Hara
was very glad now that Scarlett and Wade had not come home when the
siege began.  Mrs. O'Hara said Scarlett must go to church and say
some Rosaries for Carreen's recovery.

Scarlett's conscience smote her at this last, for it had been
months since she had been to church.  Once she would have thought
this omission a mortal sin but, somehow, staying away from church
did not seem so sinful now as it formerly had.  But she obeyed her
mother and going to her room gabbled a hasty Rosary.  When she rose
from her knees she did not feel as comforted as she had formerly
felt after prayer.  For some time she had felt that God was not
watching out for her, the Confederates or the South, in spite of
the millions of prayers ascending to Him daily.

That night she sat on the front porch with Gerald's letter in her
bosom where she could touch it occasionally and bring Tara and
Ellen closer to her.  The lamp in the parlor window threw odd
golden shadows onto the dark vine-shrouded porch, and the matted
tangle of yellow climbing roses and honeysuckle made a wall of
mingled fragrance about her.  The night was utterly still.  Not
even the crack of a rifle had sounded since sunset and the world
seemed far away.  Scarlett rocked back and forth, lonely, miserable
since reading the news from Tara, wishing that someone, anyone,
even Mrs. Merriwether, were with her.  But Mrs. Merriwether was on
night duty at the hospital, Mrs. Meade was at home making a feast
for Phil, who was in from the front lines, and Melanie was asleep.
There was not even the hope of a chance caller.  Visitors had
fallen off to nothing this last week, for every man who could walk
was in the rifle pits or chasing the Yankees about the countryside
near Jonesboro.

It was not often that she was alone like this and she did not like
it.  When she was alone she had to think and, these days, thoughts
were not so pleasant.  Like everyone else, she had fallen into the
habit of thinking of the past, the dead.

Tonight when Atlanta was so quiet, she could close her eyes and
imagine she was back in the rural stillness of Tara and that life
was unchanged, unchanging.  But she knew that life in the County
would never be the same again.  She thought of the four Tarletons,
the red-haired twins and Tom and Boyd, and a passionate sadness
caught at her throat.  Why, either Stu or Brent might have been her
husband.  But now, when the war was over and she went back to Tara
to live, she would never again hear their wild halloos as they
dashed up the avenue of cedars.  And Raiford Calvert, who danced so
divinely, would never again choose her to be his partner.  And the
Munroe boys and little Joe Fontaine and--

"Oh, Ashley!" she sobbed, dropping her head into her hands.  "I'll
never get used to you being gone!"

She heard the front gate click and she hastily raised her head and
dashed her hand across her wet eyes.  She rose and saw it was Rhett
Butler coming up the walk, carrying his wide Panama hat in his
hand.  She had not seen him since the day when she had alighted
from his carriage so precipitously at Five Points.  On that
occasion, she had expressed the desire never to lay eyes on him
again.  But she was so glad now to have someone to talk to, someone
to divert her thoughts from Ashley, that she hastily put the memory
from her mind.  Evidently he had forgotten the contretemps, or
pretended to have forgotten it, for he settled himself on the top
step at her feet without mention of their late difference.

"So you didn't refugee to Macon!  I heard that Miss Pitty had
retreated and, of course, I thought you had gone too.  So, when I
saw your light I came here to investigate.  Why did you stay?"

"To keep Melanie company.  You see, she--well, she can't refugee
just now."

"Thunderation," he said, and in the lamplight she saw that he was
frowning.  "You don't mean to tell me Mrs. Wilkes is still here?  I
never heard of such idiocy.  It's quite dangerous for her in her
condition."

Scarlett was silent, embarrassed, for Melanie's condition was not a
subject she could discuss with a man.  She was embarrassed, too,
that Rhett should know it was dangerous for Melanie.  Such
knowledge sat ill upon a bachelor.

"It's quite ungallant of you not to think that I might get hurt
too," she said tartly.

His eyes flickered with amusement.

"I'd back you against the Yankees any day."

"I'm not sure that that's a compliment," she said uncertainly.

"It isn't," he answered.  "When will you stop looking for
compliments in men's lightest utterances?"

"When I'm on my deathbed," she replied and smiled, thinking that
there would always be men to compliment her, even if Rhett never
did.

"Vanity, vanity," he said.  "At least, you are frank about it."

He opened his cigar case, extracted a black cigar and held it to
his nose for a moment.  A match flared, he leaned back against a
post and, clasping his hands about his knees, smoked a while in
silence.  Scarlett resumed her rocking and the still darkness of
the warm night closed about them.  The mockingbird, which nested in
the tangle of roses and honeysuckle, roused from slumber and gave
one timid, liquid note.  Then, as if thinking better of the matter,
it was silent again.

From the shadow of the porch, Rhett suddenly laughed, a low, soft
laugh.

"So you stayed with Mrs. Wilkes!  This is the strangest situation I
ever encountered!"

"I see nothing strange about it," she answered uncomfortably,
immediately on the alert.

"No?  But then you lack the impersonal viewpoint.  My impression
has been for some time past that you could hardly endure Mrs.
Wilkes.  You think her silly and stupid and her patriotic notions
bore you.  You seldom pass by the opportunity to slip in some
belittling remark about her, so naturally it seems strange to me
that you should elect to do the unselfish thing and stay here with
her during this shelling.  Now, just why did you do it?"

"Because she's Charlie's sister--and like a sister to me," answered
Scarlett with as much dignity as possible though her cheeks were
growing hot.

"You mean because she's Ashley's Wilkes' widow."

Scarlett rose quickly, struggling with her anger.

"I was almost on the point of forgiving you for your former boorish
conduct but now I shan't do it.  I wouldn't have ever let you come
upon this porch at all, if I hadn't been feeling so blue and--"

"Sit down and smooth your ruffled fur," he said, and his voice
changed.  He reached up and taking her hand pulled her back into
her chair.  "Why are you blue?"

"Oh, I had a letter from Tara today.  The Yankees are close to home
and my little sister is ill with typhoid and--and--so now, even if
I could go home, like I want to, Mother wouldn't let me for fear
I'd catch it too.  Oh, dear, and I do so want to go home!"

"Well, don't cry about it," he said, but his voice was kinder.
"You are much safer here in Atlanta even if the Yankees do come
than you'd be at Tara.  The Yankees won't hurt you and typhoid
would."

"The Yankees wouldn't hurt me!  How can you say such a lie?"

"My dear girl, the Yankees aren't fiends.  They haven't horns and
hoofs, as you seem to think.  They are pretty much like
Southerners--except with worse manners, of course, and terrible
accents."

"Why, the Yankees would--"

"Rape you?  I think not.  Though, of course, they'd want to."

"If you are going to talk vilely I shall go into the house," she
cried, grateful that the shadows hid her crimson face.

"Be frank.  Wasn't that what you were thinking?"

"Oh, certainly not!"

"Oh, but it was!  No use getting mad at me for reading your
thoughts.  That's what all our delicately nurtured and pure-minded
Southern ladies think.  They have it on their minds constantly.
I'll wager even dowagers like Mrs. Merriwether . . ."

Scarlett gulped in silence, remembering that wherever two or more
matrons were gathered together, in these trying days, they
whispered of such happenings, always in Virginia or Tennessee or
Lousiana, never close to home.  The Yankees raped women and ran
bayonets through children's stomachs and burned houses over the
heads of old people.  Everyone knew these things were true even if
they didn't shout them on the street corners.  And if Rhett had any
decency he would realize they were true.  And not talk about them.
And it wasn't any laughing matter either.

She could hear him chuckling softly.  Sometimes he was odious.  In
fact, most of the time he was odious.  It was awful for a man to
know what women really thought about and talked about.  It made a
girl feel positively undressed.  And no man ever learned such
things from good women either.  She was indignant that he had read
her mind.  She liked to believe herself a thing of mystery to men,
but she knew Rhett thought her as transparent as glass.

"Speaking of such matters," he continued, "have you a protector or
chaperon in the house?  The admirable Mrs. Merriwether or Mrs.
Meade?  They always look at me as if they knew I was here for no
good purpose."

"Mrs. Meade usually comes over at night," answered Scarlett, glad
to change the subject.  "But she couldn't tonight.  Phil, her boy,
is home."

"What luck," he said softly, "to find you alone."

Something in his voice made her heart beat pleasantly faster and
she felt her face flush.  She had heard that note in men's voices
often enough to know that it presaged a declaration of love.  Oh,
what fun!  If he would just say he loved her, how she would torment
him and get even with him for all the sarcastic remarks he had
flung at her these past three years.  She would lead him a chase
that would make up for even that awful humiliation of the day he
witnessed her slapping Ashley.  And then she'd tell him sweetly she
could only be a sister to him and retire with the full honors of
war.  She laughed nervously in pleasant anticipation.

"Don't giggle," he said, and taking her hand, he turned it over and
pressed his lips into the palm.  Something vital, electric, leaped
from him to her at the touch of his warm mouth, something that
caressed her whole body thrillingly.  His lips traveled to her
wrist and she knew he must feel the leap of her pulse as her heart
quickened and she tried to draw back her hand.  She had not
bargained on this--this treacherous warm tide of feeling that made
her want to run her hands through his hair, to feel his lips upon
her mouth.

She wasn't in love with him, she told herself confusedly.  She was
in love with Ashley.  But how to explain this feeling that made her
hands shake and the pit of her stomach grow cold?

He laughed softly.

"Don't pull away!  I won't hurt you!"

"Hurt me?  I'm not afraid of you, Rhett Butler, or of any man in
shoe leather!" she cried, furious that her voice shook as well as
her hands.

"An admirable sentiment, but do lower your voice.  Mrs. Wilkes
might hear you.  And pray compose yourself."  He sounded as though
delighted at her flurry.

"Scarlett, you do like me, don't you?"

That was more like what she was expecting.

"Well, sometimes," she answered cautiously.  "When you aren't
acting like a varmint."

He laughed again and held the palm of her hand against his hard
cheek.

"I think you like me because I am a varmint.  You've known so few
dyed-in-the-wool varmints in your sheltered life that my very
difference holds a quaint charm for you."

This was not the turn she had anticipated and she tried again
without success to pull her hand free.

"That's not true!  I like nice men--men you can depend on to always
be gentlemanly."

"You mean men you can always bully.  It's merely a matter of
definition.  But no matter."

He kissed her palm again, and again the skin on the back of her
neck crawled excitingly.

"But you do like me.  Could you ever love me, Scarlett?"

"Ah!" she thought, triumphantly.  "Now I've got him!"  And she
answered with studied coolness:  "Indeed, no.  That is--not unless
you mended your manners considerably."

"And I have no intention of mending them.  So you could not love
me?  That is as I hoped.  For while I like you immensely, I do not
love you and it would be tragic indeed for you to suffer twice from
unrequited love, wouldn't it, dear?  May I call you 'dear,' Mrs.
Hamilton?  I shall call you 'dear' whether you like it or not, so
no matter, but the proprieties must be observed."

"You don't love me?"

"No, indeed.  Did you hope that I did?"

"Don't be so presumptuous!"

"You hoped!  Alas, to blight your hopes!  I should love you, for
you are charming and talented at many useless accomplishments.  But
many ladies have charm and accomplishments and are just as useless
as you are.  No, I don't love you.  But I do like you tremendously--
for the elasticity of your conscience, for the selfishness which
you seldom trouble to hide, and for the shrewd practicality in you
which, I fear, you get from some not too remote Irish-peasant
ancestor."

Peasant!  Why, he was insulting her!  She began to splutter
wordlessly.

"Don't interrupt," he begged, squeezing her hand.  "I like you
because I have those same qualities in me and like begets liking.
I realize you still cherish the memory of the godlike and wooden-
headed Mr. Wilkes, who's probably been in his grave these six
months.  But there must be room in your heart for me too.
Scarlett, do stop wriggling!  I am making you a declaration.  I
have wanted you since the first time I laid eyes on you, in the
hall of Twelve Oaks, when you were bewitching poor Charlie
Hamilton.  I want you more than I have ever wanted any woman--and
I've waited longer for you than I've ever waited for any woman."

She was breathless with surprise at his last words.  In spite of
all his insults, he did love her and he was just so contrary he
didn't want to come out frankly and put it into words, for fear
she'd laugh.  Well, she'd show him and right quickly.

"Are you asking me to marry you?"

He dropped her hand and laughed so loudly she shrank back in her
chair.

"Good Lord, no!  Didn't I tell you I wasn't a marrying man?"

"But--but--what--"

He rose to his feet and, hand on heart, made her a burlesque bow.

"Dear," he said quietly, "I am complimenting your intelligence by
asking you to be my mistress without having first seduced you."

Mistress!

Her mind shouted the word, shouted that she had been vilely
insulted.  But in that first startled moment she did not feel
insulted.  She only felt a furious surge of indignation that he
should think her such a fool.  He must think her a fool if he
offered her a proposition like that, instead of the proposal of
matrimony she had been expecting.  Rage, punctured vanity and
disappointment threw her mind into a turmoil and, before she even
thought of the high moral grounds on which she should upbraid him,
she blurted out the first words which came to her lips--

"Mistress!  What would I get out of that except a passel of brats?"

And then her jaw dropped in horror as she realized what she had
said.  He laughed until he choked, peering at her in the shadows as
she sat, stricken dumb, pressing her handkerchief to her mouth.

"That's why I like you!  You are the only frank woman I know, the
only woman who looks on the practical side of matters without
beclouding the issue with mouthings about sin and morality.  Any
other woman would have swooned first and then shown me the door."

Scarlett leaped to her feet, her face red with shame.  How could
she have said such a thing!  How could she, Ellen's daughter, with
her upbringing, have sat there and listened to such debasing words
and then made such a shameless reply?  She should have screamed.
She should have fainted.  She should have turned coldly away in
silence and swept from the porch.  Too late now!

"I will show you the door," she shouted, not caring if Melanie or
the Meades, down the street, did hear her.  "Get out!  How dare you
say such things to me!  What have I ever done to encourage you--to
make you suppose. . . .  Get out and don't ever come back here.  I
mean it this time.  Don't you ever come back here with any of your
piddling papers of pins and ribbons, thinking I'll forgive you.
I'll--I'll tell my father and he'll kill you!"

He picked up his hat and bowed and she saw in the light of the lamp
that his teeth were showing in a smile beneath his mustache.  He
was not ashamed, he was amused at what she had said, and he was
watching her with alert interest.

Oh, he was detestable!  She swung round on her heel and marched
into the house.  She grabbed hold of the door to shut it with a
bang, but the hook which held it open was too heavy for her.  She
struggled with it, panting.

"May I help you?" he asked.

Feeling that she would burst a blood vessel if she stayed another
minute, she stormed up the stairs.  And as she reached the upper
floor, she heard him obligingly slam the door for her.



CHAPTER XX


As the hot noisy days of August were drawing to a close the
bombardment abruptly ceased.  The quiet that fell on the town was
startling.  Neighbors met on the streets and stared at one another,
uncertain, uneasy, as to what might be impending.  The stillness,
after the screaming days, brought no surcease to strained nerves
but, if possible, made the strain even worse.  No one knew why the
Yankee batteries were silent; there was no news of the troops
except that they had been withdrawn in large numbers from the
breastworks about the town and had marched off toward the south to
defend the railroad.  No one knew where the fighting was, if indeed
there was any fighting, or how the battle was going if there was a
battle.

Nowadays the only news was that which passed from mouth to mouth.
Short of paper, short of ink, short of men, the newspapers had
suspended publication after the siege began, and the wildest rumors
appeared from nowhere and swept through the town.  Now, in the
anxious quiet, crowds stormed General Hood's headquarters demanding
information, crowds massed about the telegraph office and the depot
hoping for tidings, good tidings, for everyone hoped that the
silence of Sherman's cannon meant that the Yankees were in full
retreat and the Confederates chasing them back up the road to
Dalton.  But no news came.  The telegraph wires were still, no
trains came in on the one remaining railroad from the south and the
mail service was broken.

Autumn with its dusty, breathless heat was slipping in to choke the
suddenly quiet town, adding its dry, panting weight to tired,
anxious hearts.  To Scarlett, mad to hear from Tara, yet trying to
keep up a brave face, it seemed an eternity since the siege began,
seemed as though she had always lived with the sound of cannon in
her ears until this sinister quiet had fallen.  And yet, it was
only thirty days since the siege began.  Thirty days of siege!  The
city ringed with red-clay rifle pits, the monotonous booming of
cannon that never rested, the long lines of ambulances and ox carts
dripping blood down the dusty streets toward the hospitals, the
overworked burial squads dragging out men when they were hardly
cold and dumping them like so many logs in endless rows of shallow
ditches.  Only thirty days!

And it was only four months since the Yankees moved south from
Dalton!  Only four months!  Scarlett thought, looking back on that
far day, that it had occurred in another life.  Oh, no!  Surely not
just four months.  It had been a lifetime.

Four months ago!  Why, four months ago Dalton, Resaca, Kennesaw
Mountain had been to her only names of places on the railroad.  Now
they were battles, battles desperately, vainly fought as Johnston
fell back toward Atlanta.  And now, Peachtree Creek, Decatur, Ezra
Church and Utoy Creek were no longer pleasant names of pleasant
places.  Never again could she think of them as quiet villages full
of welcoming friends, as green places where she picnicked with
handsome officers on the soft banks of slow-moving streams.  These
names meant battles too, and the soft green grasses where she had
sat were cut to bits by heavy cannon wheels, trampled by desperate
feet when bayonet met bayonet and flattened where bodies threshed
in agonies. . . .  And the lazy streams were redder now than ever
Georgia clay could make them.  Peachtree Creek was crimson, so they
said, after the Yankees crossed it.  Peachtree Creek, Decatur, Ezra
Church, Utoy Creek.  Never names of places any more.  Names of
graves where friends lay buried, names of tangled underbrush and
thick woods where bodies rotted unburied, names of the four sides
of Atlanta where Sherman had tried to force his army in and Hood's
men had doggedly beaten him back.

At last, news came from the south to the strained town and it was
alarming news, especially to Scarlett.  General Sherman was trying
the fourth side of the town again, striking again at the railroad
at Jonesboro.  Yankees in large numbers were on that fourth side of
the town now, no skirmishing units or cavalry detachments but the
massed Yankee forces.  And thousands of Confederate troops had been
withdrawn from the lines close about the city to hurl themselves
against them.  And that explained the sudden silence.

"Why Jonesboro?" thought Scarlett, terror striking at her heart at
the thought of Tara's nearness.  "Why must they always hit
Jonesboro?  Why can't they find some other place to attack the
railroad?"

For a week she had not heard from Tara and the last brief note from
Gerald had added to her fears.  Carreen had taken a turn for the
worse and was very, very sick.  Now it might be days before the
mails came through, days before she heard whether Carreen was alive
or dead.  Oh, if she had only gone home at the beginning of the
siege, Melanie or no Melanie!

There was fighting at Jonesboro--that much Atlanta knew, but how
the battle went no one could tell and the most insane rumors
tortured the town.  Finally a courier came up from Jonesboro with
the reassuring news that the Yankees had been beaten back.  But
they had made a sortie into Jonesboro, burned the depot, cut the
telegraph wires and torn up three miles of track before they
retreated.  The engineering corps was working like mad, repairing
the line, but it would take some time because the Yankees had torn
up the crossties, made bonfires of them, laid the wrenched-up rails
across them until they were red hot and then twisted them around
telegraph poles until they looked like giant corkscrews.  These
days it was so hard to replace iron rails, to replace anything made
of iron.

No, the Yankees hadn't gotten to Tara.  The same courier who
brought the dispatches to General Hood assured Scarlett of that.
He had met Gerald in Jonesboro after the battle, just as he was
starting to Atlanta, and Gerald had begged him to bring a letter to
her.

But what was Pa doing in Jonesboro?  The young courier looked ill
at ease as he made answer.  Gerald was hunting for an army doctor
to go to Tara with him.

As she stood in the sunshine on the front porch, thanking the young
man for his trouble, Scarlett felt her knees go weak.  Carreen must
be dying if she was so far beyond Ellen's medical skill that Gerald
was hunting a doctor!  As the courier went off in a small whirlwind
of red dust, Scarlett tore open Gerald's letter with fingers that
trembled.  So great was the shortage of paper in the Confederacy
now that Gerald's note was written between the lines of her last
letter to him and reading it was difficult.

"Dear Daughter, Your Mother and both girls have the typhoid.  They
are very ill but we must hope for the best.  When your mother took
to her bed she bade me write you that under no condition were you
to come home and expose yourself and Wade to the disease.  She
sends her love and bids you pray for her."

"Pray for her!"  Scarlett flew up the stairs to her room and,
dropping on her knees by the bed, prayed as she had never prayed
before.  No formal Rosaries now but the same words over and over:
"Mother of God, don't let her die!  I'll be so good if you don't
let her die! Please, don't let her die!"

For the next week Scarlett crept about the house like a stricken
animal, waiting for news, starting at every sound of horses'
hooves, rushing down the dark stair at night when soldiers came
tapping at the door, but no news came from Tara.  The width of the
continent might have spread between her and home instead of twenty-
five miles of dusty road.

The mails were still disrupted, no one knew where the Confederates
were or what the Yankees were up to.  No one knew anything except
that thousands of soldiers, gray and blue, were somewhere between
Atlanta and Jonesboro.  Not a word from Tara in a week.

Scarlett had seen enough typhoid in the Atlanta hospital to know
what a week meant in that dread disease.  Ellen was ill, perhaps
dying, and here was Scarlett helpless in Atlanta with a pregnant
woman on her hands and two armies between her and home.  Ellen was
ill--perhaps dying.  But Ellen couldn't be ill!  She had never been
ill.  The very thought was incredible and it struck at the very
foundations of the security of Scarlett's life.  Everyone else got
sick, but never Ellen.  Ellen looked after sick people and made
them well again.  She couldn't be sick.  Scarlett wanted to be
home.  She wanted Tara with the desperate desire of a frightened
child frantic for the only haven it had ever known.

Home!  The sprawling white house with fluttering white curtains at
the windows, the thick clover on the lawn with the bees busy in it,
the little black boy on the front steps shooing the ducks and
turkeys from the flower beds, the serene red fields and the miles
and miles of cotton turning white in the sun!  Home!

If she had only gone home at the beginning of the siege, when
everyone else was refugeeing!  She could have taken Melanie with
her in safety with weeks to spare.

"Oh, damn Melanie!" she thought a thousand times.  "Why couldn't
she have gone to Macon with Aunt Pitty?  That's where she belongs,
with her own kinfolks, not with me.  I'm none of her blood.  Why
does she hang onto me so hard?  If she'd only gone to Macon, then
I could have gone home to Mother.  Even now--even now, I'd take a
chance on getting home in spite of the Yankees, if it wasn't for
this baby.  Maybe General Hood would give me an escort.  He's a
nice man, General Hood, and I know I could make him give me an
escort and a flag of truce to get me through the lines.  But I have
to wait for this baby! . . .  Oh, Mother!  Mother!  Don't die! . . .
Why don't this baby ever come?  I'll see Dr. Meade today and ask
him if there's any way to hurry babies up so I can go home--if I
can get an escort.  Dr. Meade said she'd have a bad time.  Dear
God!  Suppose she should die!  Melanie dead.  Melanie dead.  And
Ashley--  No, I mustn't think about that, it isn't nice.  But
Ashley--  No, I mustn't think about that because he's probably
dead, anyway.  But he made me promise I'd take care of her.  But--
if I didn't take care of her and she died and Ashley is still
alive--  No, I mustn't think about that.  It's sinful.  And I
promised God I'd be good if He would just not let Mother die.  Oh,
if the baby would only come.  If I could only get away from here--
get home--get anywhere but here."

Scarlett hated the sight of the ominously still town now and once
she had loved it.  Atlanta was no longer the gay, the desperately
gay place she had loved.  It was a hideous place like a plague-
stricken city so quiet, so dreadfully quiet after the din of the
siege.  There had been stimulation in the noise and the danger of
the shelling.  There was only horror in the quiet that followed.
The town seemed haunted, haunted with fear and uncertainty and
memories.  People's faces looked pinched and the few soldiers
Scarlett saw wore the exhausted look of racers forcing themselves
on through the last lap of a race already lost.

The last day of August came and with it convincing rumors that the
fiercest fighting since the battle of Atlanta was taking place.
Somewhere to the south.  Atlanta, waiting for news of the turn of
battle, stopped even trying to laugh and joke.  Everyone knew now
what the soldiers had known two weeks before--that Atlanta was in
the last ditch, that if the Macon railroad fell, Atlanta would fall
too.



On the morning of the first of September, Scarlett awoke with a
suffocating sense of dread upon her, a dread she had taken to her
pillow the night before.  She thought, dulled with sleep:  "What
was it I was worrying about when I went to bed last night?  Oh,
yes, the fighting.  There was a battle, somewhere, yesterday!  Oh,
who won?"  She sat up hastily, rubbing her eyes, and her worried
heart took up yesterday's load again.

The air was oppressive even in the early morning hour, hot with the
scorching promise of a noon of glaring blue sky and pitiless bronze
sun.  The road outside lay silent.  No wagons creaked by.  No
troops raised the red dust with their tramping feet.  There were no
sounds of negroes' lazy voices in neighboring kitchens, no pleasant
sounds of breakfasts being prepared, for all the near neighbors
except Mrs. Meade and Mrs. Merriwether had refugeed to Macon.  And
she could hear nothing from their houses either.  Farther down the
street the business section was quiet and many of the stores and
offices were locked and boarded up, while their occupants were
somewhere about the countryside with rifles in their hands.

The stillness that greeted her seemed even more sinister this
morning than on any of the mornings of the queer quiet week
preceding it.  She rose hastily, without her usual preliminary
burrowings and stretchings, and went to the window, hoping to see
some neighbor's face, some heartening sight.  But the road was
empty.  She noted how the leaves on the trees were still dark green
but dry and heavily coated with red dust, and how withered and sad
the untended flowers in the front yard looked.

As she stood, looking out of the window, there came to her ears a
far-off sound, faint and sullen as the first distant thunder of an
approaching storm.

"Rain," she thought in the first moment, and her country-bred mind
added, "we certainly need it."  But, in a split instant:  "Rain?
No!  Not rain!  Cannon!"

Her heart racing, she leaned from the window, her ear cocked to the
far-off roaring, trying to discover from which direction it came.
But the dim thundering was so distant that, for a moment, she could
not tell.  "Make it from Marietta, Lord!" she prayed.  "Or Decatur.
Or Peachtree Creek.  But not from the south!  Not from the south!"
She gripped the window still tighter and strained her ears and the
far-away booming seemed louder.  And it was coming from the south.

Cannon to the south!  And to the south lay Jonesboro and Tara--and
Ellen.

Yankees perhaps at Tara, now, this minute!  She listened again but
the blood thudding in her ears all but blurred out the sound of
far-off firing.  No, they couldn't be at Jonesboro yet.  If they
were that far away, the sound would be fainter, more indistinct.
But they must be at least ten miles down the road toward Jonesboro,
probably near the little settlement of Rough and Ready.  But
Jonesboro was scarcely more than ten miles below Rough and Ready.

Cannon to the south, and they might be tolling the knell of
Atlanta's fall.  But to Scarlett, sick for her mother's safety,
fighting to the south only meant fighting near Tara.  She walked
the floor and wrung her hands and for the first time the thought in
all its implications came to her that the gray army might be
defeated.  It was the thought of Sherman's thousands so close to
Tara that brought it all home to her, brought the full horror of
the war to her as no sound of siege guns shattering windowpanes, no
privations of food and clothing and no endless rows of dying men
had done.  Sherman's army within a few miles of Tara!  And even if
the Yankees should be defeated, they might fall back down the road
to Tara.  And Gerald couldn't possibly refugee out of their way
with three sick women.

Oh, if she were only there now, Yankees or not.  She paced the
floor in her bare feet, her nightgown clinging to her legs and the
more she walked the stronger became her foreboding.  She wanted to
be at home.  She wanted to be near Ellen.

From the kitchen below, she heard the rattle of china as Prissy
prepared breakfast, but no sound of Mrs. Meade's Betsy.  The
shrill, melancholy minor of Prissy was raised, "Jes' a few mo'
days, ter tote de wee-ry load . . ."  The song grated on Scarlett,
its sad implications frightening her, and slipping on a wrapper she
pattered out into the hall and to the back stairs and shouted:
"Shut up that singing, Prissy!"

A sullen "Yas'm" drifted up to her and she drew a deep breath,
feeling suddenly ashamed of herself.

"Where's Betsy?"

"Ah doan know.  She ain' came."

Scarlett walked to Melanie's door and opened it a crack, peering
into the sunny room.  Melanie lay in bed in her nightgown, her eyes
closed and circled with black, her heart-shaped face bloated, her
slender body hideous and distorted.  Scarlett wished viciously that
Ashley could see her now.  She looked worse than any pregnant woman
she had ever seen.  As she looked, Melanie's eyes opened and a soft
warm smile lit her face.

"Come in," she invited, turning awkwardly on her side.  "I've been
awake since sun-up thinking, and, Scarlett, there's something I
want to ask you."

She entered the room and sat down on the bed that was glaring with
harsh sunshine.

Melanie reached out and took Scarlett's hand in a gentle confiding
clasp.

"Dear," she said, "I'm sorry about the cannon.  It's toward
Jonesboro, isn't it?"

Scarlett said "Um," her heart beginning to beat faster as the
thought recurred.

"I know how worried you are.  I know you'd have gone home last week
when you heard about your mother, if it hadn't been for me.
Wouldn't you?"

"Yes," said Scarlett ungraciously.

"Scarlett, darling.  You've been so good to me.  No sister could
have been sweeter or braver.  And I love you for it.  I'm so sorry
I'm in the way."

Scarlett stared.  Loved her, did she?  The fool!

"And Scarlett, I've been lying here thinking and I want to ask a
very great favor of you."  Her clasp tightened.  "If I should die,
will you take my baby?"

Melanie's eyes were wide and bright with soft urgency.

"Will you?"

Scarlett jerked away her hand as fear swamped her.  Fear roughened
her voice as she spoke.

"Oh, don't be a goose, Melly.  You aren't going to die.  Every
woman thinks she's going to die with her first baby.  I know I
did."

"No, you didn't.  You've never been afraid of anything.  You are
just saying that to try to cheer me up.  I'm not afraid to die but
I'm so afraid to leave the baby, if Ashley is--  Scarlett, promise
me that you'll take my baby if I should die.  Then I won't be
afraid.  Aunt Pittypat is too old to raise a child and Honey and
India are sweet but--I want you to have my baby.  Promise me,
Scarlett.  And if it's a boy, bring him up like Ashley, and if it's
a girl--dear, I'd like her to be like you."

"God's nightgown!" cried Scarlett, leaping from the bed.  "Aren't
things bad enough without you talking about dying?"

"I'm sorry, dear.  But promise me.  I think it'll be today.  I'm
sure it'll be today.  Please promise me."

"Oh, all right, I promise," said Scarlett, looking down at her in
bewilderment.

Was Melanie such a fool she really didn't know how she cared for
Ashley?  Or did she know everything and feel that because of that
love, Scarlett would take good care of Ashley's child?  Scarlett
had a wild impulse to cry out questions, but they died on her lips
as Melanie took her hand and held it for an instant against her
cheek.  Tranquillity had come back into her eyes.

"Why do you think it will be today, Melly?"

"I've been having pains since dawn--but not very bad ones."

"You have?  Well, why didn't you call me?  I'll send Prissy for Dr.
Meade."

"No, don't do that yet, Scarlett.  You know how busy he is, how
busy they all are.  Just send word to him that we'll need him some
time today.  Send over to Mrs. Meade's and tell her and ask her to
come over and sit with me.  She'll know when to really send for
him."

"Oh, stop being so unselfish.  You know you need a doctor as much
as anybody in the hospital.  I'll send for him right away."

"No, please don't.  Sometimes it takes all day having a baby and I
just couldn't let the doctor sit here for hours when all those poor
boys need him so much.  Just send for Mrs. Meade.  She'll know."

"Oh, all right," said Scarlett.



CHAPTER XXI


After sending up Melanie's breakfast tray, Scarlett dispatched
Prissy for Mrs. Meade and sat down with Wade to eat her own
breakfast.  But for once she had no appetite.  Between her nervous
apprehension over the thought that Melanie's time was approaching
and her unconscious straining to hear the sound of the cannon, she
could hardly eat.  Her heart acted very queerly, beating regularly
for several minutes and then thumping so loudly and swiftly it
almost made her sick at her stomach.  The heavy hominy stuck in her
throat like glue and never before had the mixture of parched corn
and ground-up yams that passed for coffee been so repulsive.
Without sugar or cream it was bitter as gall, for the sorghum used
for "long sweetening" did little to improve the taste.  After one
swallow she pushed her cup away.  If for no other reason she hated
the Yankees because they kept her from having real coffee with
sugar and thick cream in it.

Wade was quieter than usual and did not set up his every morning
complaint against the hominy that he so disliked.  He ate silently
the spoonfuls she pushed into his mouth and washed them down with
noisily gulped water.  His soft brown eyes followed her every
movement, large, round as dollars, a childish bewilderment in them
as though her own scarce-hidden fears had been communicated to him.
When he had finished she sent him off to the back yard to play and
watched him toddle across the straggling grass to his playhouse
with great relief.

She arose and stood irresolutely at the foot of the stairs.  She
should go up and sit with Melanie and distract her mind from her
coming ordeal but she did not feel equal to it.  Of all days in the
world, Melanie had to pick this day to have the baby!  And of all
days to talk about dying!

She sat down on the bottom step of the stairs and tried to compose
herself, wondering again how yesterday's battle had gone, wondering
how today's fighting was going.  How strange to have a big battle
going on just a few miles away and to know nothing of it!  How
strange the quiet of this deserted end of town in contrast with the
day of the fighting at Peachtree Creek!  Aunt Pitty's house was one
of the last on the north side of Atlanta and with the fighting
somewhere to the far south, there were no reinforcements going by
at double-quick, no ambulances and staggering lines of walking
wounded coming back.  She wondered if such scenes were being
enacted on the south side of town and thanked God she was not
there.  If only everyone except the Meades and the Merriwethers had
not refugeed from this north end of Peachtree!  It made her feel
forsaken and alone.  She wished fervently that Uncle Peter were
with her so he could go down to headquarters and learn the news.
If it wasn't for Melanie she'd go to town this very minute and
learn for herself, but she couldn't leave until Mrs. Meade arrived.
Mrs. Meade.  Why didn't she come on?  And where was Prissy?

She rose and went out onto the front porch and looked for them
impatiently, but the Meade house was around a shady bend in the
street and she could see no one.  After a long while Prissy came
into view, alone, switching her skirts from side to side and
looking over her shoulder to observe the effect.

"You're as slow as molasses in January," snapped Scarlett as Prissy
opened the gate.  "What did Mrs. Meade say?  How soon will she be
over here?"

"She warn't dar," said Prissy.

"Where is she?  When will she be home?"

"Well'm," answered Prissy, dragging out her words pleasurably to
give more weight to her message.  "Dey Cookie say Miss Meade done
got wud early dis mawnin' dat young Mist' Phil done been shot an'
Miss Meade she tuck de cah'ige an' Ole Talbot an' Betsy an' dey
done gone ter fotch him home.  Cookie say he bad hurt an' Miss
Meade ain' gwine ter be studyin' 'bout comin' up hyah."

Scarlett stared at her and had an impulse to shake her.  Negroes
were always so proud of being the bearers of evil tidings.

"Well, don't stand there like a ninny.  Go down to Mrs.
Merriwether's and ask her to come up or send her mammy.  Now,
hurry."

"Dey ain' dar, Miss Scarlett.  Ah drapped in ter pass time of de
day wid Mammy on mah way home.  Dey's done gone.  House all locked
up.  Spec dey's at de horsepittle."

"So that's where you were so long!  Whenever I send you somewhere
you go where I tell you and don't stop to 'pass any time' with
anybody.  Go--"

She stopped and racked her brain.  Who was left in town among their
friends who would be helpful?  There was Mrs. Elsing.  Of course,
Mrs. Elsing didn't like her at all these days but she had always
been fond of Melanie.

"Go to Mrs. Elsing's, and explain everything very carefully and
tell her to please come up here.  And, Prissy, listen to me.  Miss
Melly's baby is due and she may need you any minute now.  Now you
hurry right straight back."

"Yas'm," said Prissy and, turning, sauntered down the walk at
snail's gait.

"Hurry, you slow poke!"

"Yas'm."

Prissy quickened her gait infinitesimally and Scarlett went back
into the house.  She hesitated again before going upstairs to
Melanie.  She would have to explain to her just why Mrs. Meade
couldn't come and the knowledge that Phil Meade was badly wounded
might upset her.  Well, she'd tell a lie about it.

She entered Melanie's room and saw that the breakfast tray was
untouched.  Melanie lay on her side, her face white.

"Mrs. Meade's over at the hospital," said Scarlett.  "But Mrs.
Elsing is coming.  Do you feel bad?"

"Not very," lied Melanie.  "Scarlett, how long did it take Wade to
get born?"

"Less than no time," answered Scarlett with a cheerfulness she was
far from feeling.  "I was out in the yard and I didn't hardly have
time to get into the house.  Mammy said it was scandalous--just
like one of the darkies."

"I hope I'll be like one of the darkies too," said Melanie,
mustering a smile which suddenly disappeared as pain contorted her
face.

Scarlett looked down at Melanie's tiny hips with none too sanguine
hopes but said reassuringly:  "Oh, it's not really so bad."

"Oh, I know it isn't.  I'm afraid I'm a little coward.  Is--is Mrs.
Elsing coming right away?"

"Yes, right away," said Scarlett.  "I'll go down and get some fresh
water and sponge you off.  It's so hot today."

She took as long a time as possible in getting the water, running
to the front door every two minutes to see if Prissy were coming.
There was no sign of Prissy so she went back upstairs, sponged
Melanie's perspiring body and combed out her long dark hair.

When an hour had passed she heard scuffing negro feet coming down
the street, and looking out of the window, saw Prissy returning
slowly, switching herself as before and tossing her head with as
many airy affectations as if she had a large and interested
audience.

"Some day, I'm going to take a strap to that little wench," thought
Scarlett savagely, hurrying down the stairs to meet her.

"Miss Elsing ober at de horsepittle.  Dey Cookie 'lows a whole lot
of wounded sojers come in on de early train.  Cookie fixin' soup
ter tek over dar.  She say--"

"Never mind what she said," interrupted Scarlett, her heart
sinking.  "Put on a clean apron because I want you to go over to
the hospital.  I'm going to give you a note to Dr. Meade, and if he
isn't there, give it to Dr. Jones or any of the other doctors.  And
if you don't hurry back this time, I'll skin you alive."

"Yas'm."

"And ask any of the gentlemen for news of the fighting.  If they
don't know, go by the depot and ask the engineers who brought the
wounded in.  Ask if they are fighting at Jonesboro or near there."

"Gawdlmighty, Miss Scarlett!" and sudden fright was in Prissy's
black face.  "De Yankees ain' at Tara, is dey?"

"I don't know.  I'm telling you to ask for news."

"Gawdlmighty, Miss Scarlett!  Whut'll dey do ter Maw?"

Prissy began to bawl suddenly, loudly, the sound adding to
Scarlett's own uneasiness.

"Stop bawling!  Miss Melanie will hear you.  Now go change your
apron, quick."

Spurred to speed, Prissy hurried toward the back of the house while
Scarlett scratched a hasty note on the margin of Gerald's last
letter to her--the only bit of paper in the house.  As she folded
it, so that her note was uppermost, she caught Gerald's words,
"Your mother--typhoid--under no condition--to come home--"  She
almost sobbed.  If it wasn't for Melanie, she'd start home, right
this minute, if she had to walk every step of the way.

Prissy went off at a trot, the letter gripped in her hand, and
Scarlett went back upstairs, trying to think of some plausible lie
to explain Mrs. Elsing's failure to appear.  But Melanie asked no
questions.  She lay upon her back, her face tranquil and sweet, and
the sight of her quieted Scarlett for a while.

She sat down and tried to talk of inconsequential things, but the
thoughts of Tara and a possible defeat by the Yankees prodded
cruelly.  She thought of Ellen dying and of the Yankees coming into
Atlanta, burning everything, killing everybody.  Through it all,
the dull far-off thundering persisted, rolling into her ears in
waves of fear.  Finally, she could not talk at all and only stared
out of the window at the hot still street and the dusty leaves
hanging motionless on the trees.  Melanie was silent too, but at
intervals her quiet face was wrenched with pain.

She said, after each pain:  "It wasn't very bad, really," and
Scarlett knew she was lying.  She would have preferred a loud
scream to silent endurance.  She knew she should feel sorry for
Melanie, but somehow she could not muster a spark of sympathy.  Her
mind was too torn with her own anguish.  Once she looked sharply at
the pain-twisted face and wondered why it should be that she, of
all people in the world, should be here with Melanie at this
particular time--she who had nothing in common with her, who hated
her, who would gladly have seen her dead.  Well, maybe she'd have
her wish, and before the day was over too.  A cold superstitious
fear swept her at this thought.  It was bad luck to wish that
someone were dead, almost as bad luck as to curse someone.  Curses
came home to roost, Mammy said.  She hastily prayed that Melanie
wouldn't die and broke into feverish small talk, hardly aware of
what she said.  At last, Melanie put a hot hand on her wrist.

"Don't bother about talking, dear.  I know how worried you are.
I'm so sorry I'm so much trouble."

Scarlett relapsed into silence but she could not sit still.  What
would she do if neither the doctor nor Prissy got there in time?
She walked to the window and looked down the street and came back
and sat down again.  Then she rose and looked out of the window on
the other side of the room.

An hour went by and then another.  Noon came and the sun was high
and hot and not a breath of air stirred the dusty leaves.
Melanie's pains were harder now.  Her long hair was drenched in
sweat and her gown stuck in wet spots to her body.  Scarlett
sponged her face in silence but fear was gnawing at her.  God in
Heaven, suppose the baby came before the doctor arrived!  What
would she do?  She knew less than nothing of midwifery.  This was
exactly the emergency she had been dreading for weeks.  She had
been counting on Prissy to handle the situation if no doctor should
be available.  Prissy knew all about midwifery.  She'd said so time
and again.  But where was Prissy?  Why didn't she come?  Why didn't
the doctor come?  She went to the window and looked again.  She
listened hard and suddenly she wondered if it were only her
imagination or if the sound of cannon in the distance had died
away.  If it were farther away it would mean that the fighting was
nearer Jonesboro and that would mean--

At last she saw Prissy coming down the street at a quick trot and
she leaned out of the window.  Prissy, looking up, saw her and her
mouth opened to yell.  Seeing the panic written on the little black
face and fearing she might alarm Melanie by crying out evil
tidings, Scarlett hastily put her finger to her lips and left the
window.

"I'll get some cooler water," she said, looking down into Melanie's
dark, deep-circled eyes and trying to smile.  Then she hastily left
the room, closing the door carefully behind her.

Prissy was sitting on the bottom step in the hall, panting.

"Dey's fightin' at Jonesboro, Miss Scarlett!  Dey say our gempmums
is gittin' beat.  Oh, Gawd, Miss Scarlett!  Whut'll happen ter Maw
an' Poke?  Oh, Gawd, Miss Scarlett!  Whut'll happen ter us effen de
Yankees gits hyah?  Oh, Gawd--"

Scarlett clapped a hand over the blubbery mouth.

"For God's sake, hush!"

Yes, what would happen to them if the Yankees came--what would
happen to Tara?  She pushed the thought firmly back into her mind
and grappled with the more pressing emergency.  If she thought of
these things, she'd begin to scream and bawl like Prissy.

"Where's Dr. Meade?  When's he coming?"

"Ah ain' nebber seed him, Miss Scarlett."

"What!"

"No'm, he ain' at de horsepittle.  Miss Merriwether an' Miss Elsing
ain' dar needer.  A man he tole me de doctah down by de car shed
wid the wounded sojers jes' come in frum Jonesboro, but Miss
Scarlett, Ah wuz sceered ter go down dar ter de shed--dey's folkses
dyin' down dar.  Ah's sceered of daid folkses--"

"What about the other doctors?"

"Miss Scarlett, fo' Gawd, Ah couldn' sceercely git one of dem ter
read yo' note.  Dey wukin' in de horsepittle lak dey all done gone
crazy.  One doctah he say ter me, 'Damn yo' hide!  Doan you come
roun' hyah bodderin' me 'bout babies w'en we got a mess of men
dyin' hyah.  Git some woman ter he'p you.'  An' den Ah went aroun'
an' about an' ask fer news lak you done tole me an' dey all say
'fightin' at Jonesboro' an' Ah--"

"You say Dr. Meade's at the depot?"

"Yas'm.  He--"

"Now, listen sharp to me.  I'm going to get Dr. Meade and I want
you to sit by Miss Melanie and do anything she says.  And if you so
much as breathe to her where the fighting is, I'll sell you South
as sure as gun's iron.  And don't you tell her that the other
doctors wouldn't come either.  Do you hear?"

"Yas'm."

"Wipe your eyes and get a fresh pitcher of water and go on up.
Sponge her off.  Tell her I've gone for Dr. Meade."

"Is her time nigh, Miss Scarlett?"

"I don't know.  I'm afraid it is but I don't know.  You should
know.  Go on up."

Scarlett caught up her wide straw bonnet from the console table and
jammed it on her head.  She looked in the mirror and automatically
pushed up loose strands of hair but she did not see her own
reflection.  Cold little ripples of fear that started in the pit of
her stomach were radiating outward until the fingers that touched
her cheeks were cold, though the rest of her body streamed
perspiration.  She hurried out of the house and into the heat of
the sun.  It was blindingly, glaring hot and as she hurried down
Peachtree Street her temples began to throb from the heat.  From
far down the street she could hear the rise and fall and roar of
many voices.  By the time she caught sight of the Leyden house, she
was beginning to pant, for her stays were tightly laced, but she
did not slow her gait.  The roar of noise grew louder.

From the Leyden house down to Five Points, the street seethed with
activity, the activity of an anthill just destroyed.  Negroes were
running up and down the street, panic in their faces; and on
porches, white children sat crying untended.  The street was
crowded with army wagons and ambulances filled with wounded and
carriages piled high with valises and pieces of furniture.  Men on
horseback dashed out of side streets pell-mell down Peachtree
toward Hood's headquarters.  In front of the Bonnell house, old
Amos stood holding the head of the carriage horse and he greeted
Scarlett with rolling eyes.

"Ain't you gone yit, Miss Scarlett?  We is goin' now.  Ole Miss
packin' her bag."

"Going?  Where?"

"Gawd knows, Miss.  Somewheres.  De Yankees is comin'!"

She hurried on, not even saying good-by.  The Yankees were coming!
At Wesley Chapel, she paused to catch her breath and wait for her
hammering heart to subside.  If she did not quiet herself she would
certainly faint.  As she stood clutching a lamp post for support,
she saw an officer on horseback come charging up the street from
Five Points and, on an impulse, she ran out into the street and
waved at him.

"Oh, stop!  Please, stop!"

He reined in so suddenly the horse went back on its haunches,
pawing the air.  There were harsh lines of fatigue and urgency in
his face but his tattered gray hat was off with a sweep.

"Madam?"

"Tell me, is it true?  Are the Yankees coming?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Do you know so?"

"Yes, Ma'm.  I know so.  A dispatch came in to headquarters half an
hour ago from the fighting at Jonesboro."

"At Jonesboro?  Are you sure?"

"I'm sure.  There's no use telling pretty lies, Madam.  The message
was from General Hardee and it said:  'I have lost the battle and
am in full retreat.'"

"Oh, my God!"

The dark face of the tired man looked down without emotion.  He
gathered the reins again and put on his hat.

"Oh, sir, please, just a minute.  What shall we do?"

"Madam, I can't say.  The army is evacuating Atlanta soon."

"Going off and leaving us to the Yankees?"

"I'm afraid so."

The spurred horse went off as though on springs and Scarlett was
left standing in the middle of the street with the red dust thick
upon her ankles.

The Yankees were coming.  The army was leaving.  The Yankees were
coming.  What should she do?  Where should she run?  No, she
couldn't run.  There was Melanie back there in the bed expecting
that baby.  Oh, why did women have babies?  If it wasn't for
Melanie she could take Wade and Prissy and hide in the woods where
the Yankees could never find them.  But she couldn't take Melanie
to the woods.  No, not now.  Oh, if she'd only had the baby sooner,
yesterday even, perhaps they could get an ambulance and take her
away and hide her somewhere.  But now--she must find Dr. Meade and
make him come home with her.  Perhaps he could hurry the baby.

She gathered up her skirts and ran down the street, and the rhythm
of her feet was "The Yankees are coming!  The Yankees are coming!"
Five Points was crowded with people who rushed here and there with
unseeing eyes, jammed with wagons, ambulances, ox carts, carriages
loaded with wounded.  A roaring sound like the breaking of surf
rose from the crowd.

Then a strangely incongruous sight struck her eyes.  Throngs of
women were coming up from the direction of the railroad tracks
carrying hams across their shoulders.  Little children hurried by
their sides, staggering under buckets of steaming molasses.  Young
boys dragged sacks of corn and potatoes.  One old man struggled
along with a small barrel of flour on a wheelbarrow.  Men, women
and children, black and white, hurried, hurried with straining
faces, lugging packages and sacks and boxes of food--more food than
she had seen in a year.  The crowd suddenly gave a lane for a
careening carriage and through the lane came the frail and elegant
Mrs. Elsing, standing up in the front of her victoria, reins in one
hand, whip in the other.  She was hatless and white faced and her
long gray hair streamed down her back as she lashed the horse like
a Fury.  Jouncing on the back seat of the carriage was her black
mammy, Melissy, clutching a greasy side of bacon to her with one
hand, while with the other and both feet she attempted to hold the
boxes and bags piled all about her.  One bag of dried peas had
burst and the peas strewed themselves into the street.  Scarlett
screamed to her, but the tumult of the crowd drowned her voice and
the carriage rocked madly by.

For a moment she could not understand what it all meant and then,
remembering that the commissary warehouses were down by the
railroad tracks, she realized that the army had thrown them open to
the people to salvage what they could before the Yankees came.

She pushed her way swiftly through the crowds, past the packed,
hysterical mob surging in the open space of Five Points, and
hurried as fast as she could down the short block toward the depot.
Through the tangle of ambulances and the clouds of dust, she could
see doctors and stretcher bearers bending, lifting, hurrying.
Thank God, she'd find Dr. Meade soon.  As she rounded the corner of
the Atlanta Hotel and came in full view of the depot and the
tracks, she halted appalled.

Lying in the pitiless sun, shoulder to shoulder, head to feet, were
hundreds of wounded men, lining the tracks, the sidewalks,
stretched out in endless rows under the car shed.  Some lay stiff
and still but many writhed under the hot sun, moaning.  Everywhere,
swarms of flies hovered over the men, crawling and buzzing in their
faces, everywhere was blood, dirty bandages, groans, screamed
curses of pain as stretcher bearers lifted men.  The smell of
sweat, of blood, of unwashed bodies, of excrement rose up in waves
of blistering heat until the fetid stench almost nauseated her.
The ambulance men hurrying here and there among the prostrate forms
frequently stepped on wounded men, so thickly packed were the rows,
and those trodden upon stared stolidly up, waiting their turn.

She shrank back, clapping her hand to her mouth feeling that she
was going to vomit.  She couldn't go on.  She had seen wounded men
in the hospitals, wounded men on Aunt Pitty's lawn after the
fighting at the creek, but never anything like this.  Never
anything like these stinking, bleeding bodies broiling under the
glaring sun.  This was an inferno of pain and smell and noise and
hurry--hurry--hurry!  The Yankees are coming!  The Yankees are
coming!

She braced her shoulders and went down among them, straining her
eyes among the upright figures to distinguish Dr. Meade.  But she
discovered she could not look for him, for if she did not step
carefully she would tread on some poor soldier.  She raised her
skirts and tried to pick her way among them toward a knot of men
who were directing the stretcher bearers.

As she walked, feverish hands plucked at her skirt and voices
croaked:  "Lady--water!  Please, lady, water!  For Christ's sake,
water!"

Perspiration came down her face in streams as she pulled her skirts
from clutching hands.  If she stepped on one of these men, she'd
scream and faint.  She stepped over dead men, over men who lay dull
eyed with hands clutched to bellies where dried blood had glued
torn uniforms to wounds, over men whose beards were stiff with
blood and from whose broken jaws came sounds which must mean:

"Water!  Water!"

If she did not find Dr. Meade soon, she would begin screaming with
hysteria.  She looked toward the group of men under the car shed
and cried as loudly as she could:

"Dr. Meade!  Is Dr. Meade there?"

From the group one man detached himself and looked toward her.  It
was the doctor.  He was coatless and his sleeves were rolled up to
his shoulders.  His shirt and trousers were as red as a butcher's
and even the end of his iron-gray beard was matted with blood.  His
face was the face of a man drunk with fatigue and impotent rage and
burning pity.  It was gray and dusty, and sweat had streaked long
rivulets across his cheeks.  But his voice was calm and decisive as
he called to her.

"Thank God, you are here.  I can use every pair of hands."

For a moment she stared at him bewildered, dropping her skirts in
dismay.  They fell over the dirty face of a wounded man who feebly
tried to turn his head to escape from their smothering folds.  What
did the doctor mean?  The dust from the ambulances came into her
face with choking dryness, and the rotten smells were like a foul
liquid in her nostrils.

"Hurry, child!  Come here."

She picked up her skirts and went to him as fast as she could go
across the rows of bodies.  She put her hand on his arm and felt
that it was trembling with weariness but there was no weakness in
his face.

"Oh, Doctor!" she cried.  "You must come.  Melanie is having her
baby."

He looked at her as if her words did not register on his mind.  A
man who lay upon the ground at her feet, his head pillowed on his
canteen, grinned up companionably at her words.

"They will do it," he said cheerfully.

She did not even look down but shook the doctor's arm.

"It's Melanie.  The baby.  Doctor, you must come.  She--the--"
This was no time for delicacy but it was hard to bring out the
words with the ears of hundreds of strange men listening.

"The pains are getting hard.  Please, Doctor!"

"A baby?  Great God!" thundered the doctor and his face was
suddenly contorted with hate and rage, a rage not directed at her
or at anyone except a world wherein such things could happen.  "Are
you crazy?  I can't leave these men.  They are dying, hundreds of
them.  I can't leave them for a damned baby.  Get some woman to
help you.  Get my wife."

She opened her mouth to tell him why Mrs. Meade could not come and
then shut it abruptly.  He did not know his own son was wounded!
She wondered if he would still be here if he did know, and
something told her that even if Phil were dying he would still be
standing on this spot, giving aid to the many instead of the one.

"No, you must come, Doctor.  You know you said she'd have a hard
time--"  Was it really she, Scarlett, standing here saying these
dreadful indelicate things at the top of her voice in this hell of
heat and groans?  "She'll die if you don't come!"

He shook off her hand roughly and spoke as though he hardly heard
her, hardly knew what she said.

"Die?  Yes, they'll all die--all these men.  No bandages, no
salves, no quinine, no chloroform.  Oh, God, for some morphia!
Just a little morphia for the worst ones.  Just a little
chloroform.  God damn the Yankees!  God damn the Yankees!"

"Give um hell, Doctor!" said the man on the ground, his teeth
showing in his beard.

Scarlett began to shake and her eyes burned with tears of fright.
The doctor wasn't coming with her.  Melanie would die and she had
wished that she would die.  The doctor wasn't coming.

"Name of God, Doctor!  Please!"

Dr. Meade bit his lip and his jaw hardened as his face went cool
again.

"Child, I'll try.  I can't promise you.  But I'll try.  When we get
these men tended to.  The Yankees are coming and the troops are
moving out of town.  I don't know what they'll do with the wounded.
There aren't any trains.  The Macon line has been captured. . . .
But I'll try.  Run along now.  Don't bother me.  There's nothing
much to bringing a baby.  Just tie up the cord. . . ."

He turned as an orderly touched his arm and began firing directions
and pointing to this and that wounded man.  The man at her feet
looked up at Scarlett compassionately.  She turned away, for the
doctor had forgotten her.

She picked her way rapidly through the wounded and back to
Peachtree Street.  The doctor wasn't coming.  She would have to see
it through herself.  Thank God, Prissy knew all about midwifery.
Her head ached from the heat and she could feel her basque, soaking
wet from perspiration, sticking to her.  Her mind felt numb and so
did her legs, numb as in a nightmare when she tried to run and
could not move them.  She thought of the long walk back to the
house and it seemed interminable.

Then, "The Yankees are coming!" began to beat its refrain in her
mind again.  Her heart began to pound and new life came into her
limbs.  She hurried into the crowd at Five Points, now so thick
there was no room on the narrow sidewalks and she was forced to
walk in the street.  Long lines of soldiers were passing, dust
covered, sodden with weariness.  There seemed thousands of them,
bearded, dirty, their guns slung over their shoulders, swiftly
passing at route step.  Cannon rolled past, the drivers flaying the
thin mules with lengths of rawhide.  Commissary wagons with torn
canvas covers rocked through the ruts.  Cavalry raising clouds of
choking dust went past endlessly.  She had never seen so many
soldiers together before.  Retreat!  Retreat!  The army was moving
out.

The hurrying lines pushed her back onto the packed sidewalk and she
smelled the reek of cheap corn whisky.  There were women in the mob
near Decatur Street, garishly dressed women whose bright finery and
painted faces gave a discordant note of holiday.  Most of them were
drunk and the soldiers on whose arms they hung were drunker.  She
caught a fleeting glimpse of a head of red curls and saw that
creature, Belle Watling, heard her shrill drunken laughter as she
clung for support to a one-armed soldier who reeled and staggered.

When she had shoved and pushed her way through the mob for a block
beyond Five Points the crowd thinned a little and, gathering up her
skirts, she began to run again.  When she reached Wesley Chapel,
she was breathless and dizzy and sick at her stomach.  Her stays
were cutting her ribs in two.  She sank down on the steps of the
church and buried her head in her hands until she could breathe
more easily.  If she could only get one deep breath, way down in
her abdomen.  If her heart would only stop bumping and drumming and
cavorting.  If there were only someone in this mad place to whom
she could turn.

Why, she had never had to do a thing for herself in all her life.
There had always been someone to do things for her, to look after
her, shelter and protect her and spoil her.  It was incredible that
she could be in such a fix.  Not a friend, not a neighbor to help
her.  There had always been friends, neighbors, the competent hands
of willing slaves.  And now in this hour of greatest need, there
was no one.  It was incredible that she could be so completely
alone, and frightened, and far from home.

Home!  If she were only home, Yankees or no Yankees.  Home, even if
Ellen was sick.  She longed for the sight of Ellen's sweet face,
for Mammy's strong arms around her.

She rose dizzily to her feet and started walking again.  When she
came in sight of the house, she saw Wade swinging on the front
gate.  When he saw her, his face puckered and he began to cry,
holding up a grubby bruised finger.

"Hurt!" he sobbed.  "Hurt!"

"Hush!  Hush!  Hush!  Or I'll spank you.  Go out in the back yard
and make mud pies and don't move from there."

"Wade hungwy," he sobbed and put the hurt finger in his mouth.

"I don't care.  Go in the back yard and--"

She looked up and saw Prissy leaning out of the upstairs window,
fright and worry written on her face; but in an instant they were
wiped away in relief as she saw her mistress.  Scarlett beckoned to
her to come down and went into the house.  How cool it was in the
hall.  She untied her bonnet and flung it on the table, drawing her
forearms across her wet forehead.  She heard the upstairs door open
and a low wailing moan, wrenched from the depths of agony, came to
her ears.  Prissy came down the stairs three at a time.

"Is de doctah come?"

"No.  He can't come."

"Gawd, Miss Scarlett!  Miss Melly bad off!"

"The doctor can't come.  Nobody can come.  You've got to bring the
baby and I'll help you."

Prissy's mouth fell open and her tongue wagged wordlessly.  She
looked at Scarlett sideways and scuffed her feet and twisted her
thin body.

"Don't look so simple minded!" cried Scarlett, infuriated at her
silly expression.  "What's the matter?"

Prissy edged back up the stairs.

"Fo' Gawd, Miss Scarlett--"  Fright and shame were in her rolling
eyes.

"Well?"

"Fo' Gawd, Miss Scarlett!  We's got ter have a doctah.  Ah--Ah--
Miss Scarlett, Ah doan know nuthin' 'bout bringin' babies.  Maw
wouldn' nebber lemme be 'round folkses whut wuz havin' dem."

All the breath went out of Scarlett's lungs in one gasp of horror
before rage swept her.  Prissy made a lunge past her, bent on
flight, but Scarlett grabbed her.

"You black liar--what do you mean?  You've been saying you knew
everything about birthing babies.  What is the truth?  Tell me!"
She shook her until the kinky head rocked drunkenly.

"Ah's lyin', Miss Scarlett!  Ah doan know huccome Ah tell sech a
lie.  Ah jes' see one baby birthed, an' Maw she lak ter wo' me out
fer watchin'."

Scarlett glared at her and Prissy shrank back, trying to pull
loose.  For a moment her mind refused to accept the truth, but when
realization finally came to her that Prissy knew no more about
midwifery than she did, anger went over her like a flame.  She had
never struck a slave in all her life, but now she slapped the black
cheek with all the force in her tired arm.  Prissy screamed at the
top of her voice, more from fright than pain, and began to dance up
and down, writhing to break Scarlett's grip.

As she screamed, the moaning from the second floor ceased and a
moment later Melanie's voice, weak and trembling, called:
"Scarlett?  Is it you?  Please come!  Please!"

Scarlett dropped Prissy's arm and the wench sank whimpering to the
steps.  For a moment Scarlett stood still, looking up, listening to
the low moaning which had begun again.  As she stood there, it
seemed as though a yoke descended heavily upon her neck, felt as
though a heavy load were harnessed to it, a load she would feel as
soon as she took a step.

She tried to think of all the things Mammy and Ellen had done for
her when Wade was born but the merciful blurring of the childbirth
pains obscured almost everything in mist.  She did recall a few
things and she spoke to Prissy rapidly, authority in her voice.

"Build a fire in the stove and keep hot water boiling in the
kettle.  And bring up all the towels you can find and that ball of
twine.  And get me the scissors.  Don't come telling me you can't
find them.  Get them and get them quick.  Now hurry."

She jerked Prissy to her feet and sent her kitchenwards with a
shove.  Then she squared her shoulders and started up the stairs.
It was going to be difficult, telling Melanie that she and Prissy
were to deliver her baby.



CHAPTER XXII


There would never again be an afternoon as long as this one.  Or as
hot.  Or as full of lazy insolent flies.  They swarmed on Melanie
despite the fan Scarlett kept in constant motion.  Her arms ached
from swinging the wide palmetto leaf.  All her efforts seemed
futile, for while she brushed them from Melanie's moist face, they
crawled on her clammy feet and legs and made her jerk them weakly
and cry:  "Please!  On my feet!"

The room was in semigloom, for Scarlett had pulled down the shades
to shut out the heat and brightness.  Pin points of sunlight came
in through minute holes in the shades and about the edges.  The
room was an oven and Scarlett's sweat-drenched clothes never dried
but became wetter and stickier as the hours went by.  Prissy was
crouched in a corner, sweating too, and smelled so abominably
Scarlett would have sent her from the room had she not feared the
girl would take to her heels if once out of sight.  Melanie lay on
the bed on a sheet dark with perspiration and splotched with
dampness where Scarlett had spilled water.  She twisted endlessly,
to one side, to the other, to left, to right and back again.

Sometimes she tried to sit up and fell back and began twisting
again.  At first, she had tried to keep from crying out, biting her
lips until they were raw, and Scarlett, whose nerves were as raw as
the lips, said huskily:  "Melly, for God's sake, don't try to be
brave.  Yell if you want to.  There's nobody to hear you but us."

As the afternoon wore on, Melanie moaned whether she wanted to be
brave or not, and sometimes she screamed.  When she did, Scarlett
dropped her head into her hands and covered her ears and twisted
her body and wished that she herself were dead.  Anything was
preferable to being a helpless witness to such pain.  Anything was
better than being tied here waiting for a baby that took such a
long time coming.  Waiting, when for all she knew the Yankees were
actually at Five Points.

She fervently wished she had paid more attention to the whispered
conversations of matrons on the subject of childbirth.  If only she
had!  If only she had been more interested in such matters she'd
know whether Melanie was taking a long time or not.  She had a
vague memory of one of Aunt Pitty's stories of a friend who was in
labor for two days and died without ever having the baby.  Suppose
Melanie should go on like this for two days!  But Melanie was so
delicate.  She couldn't stand two days of this pain.  She'd die
soon if the baby didn't hurry.  And how could she ever face Ashley,
if he were still alive, and tell him that Melanie had died--after
she had promised to take care of her?

At first, Melanie wanted to hold Scarlett's hand when the pain was
bad but she clamped down on it so hard she nearly broke the bones.
After an hour of this, Scarlett's hands were so swollen and bruised
she could hardly flex them.  She knotted two long towels together
and tied them to the foot of the bed and put the knotted end in
Melanie's hands.  Melanie hung onto it as though it were a life
line, straining, pulling it taut, slackening it, tearing it.
Throughout the afternoon, her voice went on like an animal dying in
a trap.  Occasionally she dropped the towel and rubbed her hands
feebly and looked up at Scarlett with eyes enormous with pain.

"Talk to me.  Please talk to me," she whispered and Scarlett would
gabble something until Melanie again gripped the knot and again
began writhing.

The dim room swam with heat and pain and droning flies, and time
went by on such dragging feet Scarlett could scarcely remember the
morning.  She felt as if she had been in this steaming, dark,
sweating place all her life.  She wanted very much to scream every
time Melanie did, and only by biting her lips so hard it infuriated
her could she restrain herself and drive off hysteria.

Once Wade came tiptoeing up the stairs and stood outside the door,
wailing.

"Wade hungwy!"  Scarlett started to go to him, but Melanie
whispered:  "Don't leave me.  Please.  I can stand it when you're
here."

So Scarlett sent Prissy down to warm up the breakfast hominy and
feed him.  For herself, she felt that she could never eat again
after this afternoon.

The clock on the mantel had stopped and she had no way of telling
the time but as the heat in the room lessened and the bright pin
points of light grew duller, she pulled the shade aside.  She saw
to her surprise that it was late afternoon and the sun, a ball of
crimson, was far down the sky.  Somehow, she had imagined it would
remain broiling hot noon forever.

She wondered passionately what was going on downtown.  Had all the
troops moved out yet?  Had the Yankees come?  Would the Confederates
march away without even a fight?  Then she remembered with a sick
dropping in her stomach how few Confederates there were and how many
men Sherman had and how well fed they were.  Sherman!  The name of
Satan himself did not frighten her half so much.  But there was no
time for thinking now, as Melanie called for water, for a cold towel
on her head, to be fanned, to have the flies brushed away from her
face.

When twilight came on and Prissy, scurrying like a black wraith,
lit a lamp, Melanie became weaker.  She began calling for Ashley,
over and over, as if in a delirium until the hideous monotony gave
Scarlett a fierce desire to smother her voice with a pillow.
Perhaps the doctor would come after all.  If he would only come
quickly!  Hope raising its head, she turned to Prissy, and ordered
her to run quickly to the Meades' house and see if he were there or
Mrs. Meade.

"And if he's not there, ask Mrs. Meade or Cookie what to do.  Beg
them to come!"

Prissy was off with a clatter and Scarlett watched her hurrying
down the street, going faster than she had ever dreamed the
worthless child could move.  After a prolonged time she was back,
alone.

"De doctah ain' been home all day.  Sont wud he mout go off wid de
sojers.  Miss Scarlett, Mist' Phil's 'ceased."

"Dead?"

"Yas'm," said Prissy, expanding with importance.  "Talbot, dey
coachman, tole me.  He wuz shot--"

"Never mind that."

"Ah din' see Miss Meade.  Cookie say Miss Meade she washin' him an'
fixin ter buhy him fo' de Yankees gits hyah.  Cookie say effen de
pain get too bad, jes' you put a knife unner Miss Melly's bed an'
it cut de pain in two."

Scarlett wanted to slap her again for this helpful information but
Melanie opened wide, dilated eyes and whispered:  "Dear--are the
Yankees coming?"

"No," said Scarlett stoutly.  "Prissy's a liar."

"Yas'm, Ah sho is," Prissy agreed fervently.

"They're coming," whispered Melanie undeceived and buried her face
in the pillow.  Her voice came out muffled.

"My poor baby.  My poor baby."  And, after a long interval:  "Oh,
Scarlett, you mustn't stay here.  You must go and take Wade."

What Melanie said was no more than Scarlett had been thinking but
hearing it put into words infuriated her, shamed her as if her
secret cowardice was written plainly in her face.

"Don't be a goose.  I'm not afraid.  You know I won't leave you."

"You might as well.  I'm going to die."  And she began moaning
again.



Scarlett came down the dark stairs slowly, like an old woman,
feeling her way, clinging to the banisters lest she fall.  Her legs
were leaden, trembling with fatigue and strain, and she shivered
with cold from the clammy sweat that soaked her body.  Feebly she
made her way onto the front porch and sank down on the top step.
She sprawled back against a pillar of the porch and with a shaking
hand unbuttoned her basque halfway down her bosom.  The night was
drenched in warm soft darkness and she lay staring into it, dull as
an ox.

It was all over.  Melanie was not dead and the small baby boy who
made noises like a young kitten was receiving his first bath at
Prissy's hands.  Melanie was asleep.  How could she sleep after
that nightmare of screaming pain and ignorant midwifery that hurt
more than it helped?  Why wasn't she dead?  Scarlett knew that she
herself would have died under such handling.  But when it was over,
Melanie had even whispered, so weakly she had to bend over her to
hear:  "Thank you."  And then she had gone to sleep.  How could she
go to sleep?  Scarlett forgot that she too had gone to sleep after
Wade was born.  She forgot everything.  Her mind was a vacuum; the
world was a vacuum; there had been no life before this endless day
and there would be none hereafter--only a heavily hot night, only
the sound of her hoarse tired breathing, only the sweat trickling
coldly from armpit to waist, from hip to knee, clammy, sticky,
chilling.

She heard her own breath pass from loud evenness to spasmodic
sobbing but her eyes were dry and burning as though there would
never be tears in them again.  Slowly, laboriously, she heaved
herself over and pulled her heavy skirts up to her thighs.  She was
warm and cold and sticky all at the same time and the feel of the
night air on her limbs was refreshing.  She thought dully what Aunt
Pitty would say, if she could see her sprawled here on the front
porch with her skirts up and her drawers showing, but she did not
care.  She did not care about anything.  Time had stood still.  It
might be just after twilight and it might be midnight.  She didn't
know or care.

She heard sounds of moving feet upstairs and thought "May the Lord
damn Prissy," before her eyes closed and something like sleep
descended upon her.  Then after an indeterminate dark interval,
Prissy was beside her, chattering on in a pleased way.

"We done right good, Miss Scarlett.  Ah specs Maw couldn' a did no
better."

From the shadows, Scarlett glared at her, too tired to rail, too
tired to upbraid, too tired to enumerate Prissy's offenses--her
boastful assumption of experience she didn't possess, her fright,
her blundering awkwardness, her utter inefficiency when the
emergency was hot, the misplacing of the scissors, the spilling of
the basin of water on the bed, the dropping of the new born baby.
And now she bragged about how good she had been.

And the Yankees wanted to free the negroes!  Well, the Yankees were
welcome to them.

She lay back against the pillar in silence and Prissy, aware of her
mood, tiptoed away into the darkness of the porch.  After a long
interval in which her breathing finally quieted and her mind
steadied, Scarlett heard the sound of faint voices from up the
road, the tramping of many feet coming from the north.  Soldiers!
She sat up slowly, pulling down her skirts, although she knew no
one could see her in the darkness.  As they came abreast the house,
an indeterminate number, passing like shadows, she called to them.

"Oh, please!"

A shadow disengaged itself from the mass and came to the gate.

"Are you going?  Are you leaving us?"

The shadow seemed to take off a hat and a quiet voice came from the
darkness.

"Yes, Ma'm.  That's what we're doing.  We're the last of the men
from the breastworks, 'bout a mile north from here."

"Are you--is the army really retreating?"

"Yes, Ma'm.  You see, the Yankees are coming."

The Yankees are coming!  She had forgotten that.  Her throat
suddenly contracted and she could say nothing more.  The shadow
moved away, merged itself with the other shadows and the feet
tramped off into the darkness.  "The Yankees are coming!  The
Yankees are coming!"  That was what the rhythm of their feet said,
that was what her suddenly bumping heart thudded out with each
beat.  The Yankees are coming!

"De Yankees is comin'!" bawled Prissy, shrinking close to her.
"Oh, Miss Scarlett, dey'll kill us all!  Dey'll run dey baynits in
our stummicks!  Dey'll--"

"Oh, hush!"  It was terrifying enough to think these things without
hearing them put into trembling words.  Renewed fear swept her.
What could she do?  How could she escape?  Where could she turn for
help?  Every friend had failed her.

Suddenly she thought of Rhett Butler and calm dispelled her fears.
Why hadn't she thought of him this morning when she had been
tearing about like a chicken with its head off?  She hated him, but
he was strong and smart and he wasn't afraid of the Yankees.  And
he was still in town.  Of course, she was mad at him.  But she
could overlook such things at a time like this.  And he had a horse
and carriage, too.  Oh, why hadn't she thought of him before!  He
could take them all away from this doomed place, away from the
Yankees, somewhere, anywhere.

She turned to Prissy and spoke with feverish urgency.

"You know where Captain Butler lives--at the Atlanta Hotel?"

"Yas'm, but--"

"Well, go there, now, as quick as you can run and tell him I want
him.  I want him to come quickly and bring his horse and carriage
or an ambulance if he can get one.  Tell him about the baby.  Tell
him I want him to take us out of here.  Go, now.  Hurry!"

She sat upright and gave Prissy a push to speed her feet.

"Gawdlmighty, Miss Scarlett!  Ah's sceered ter go runnin' roun' in
de dahk by mahseff!  Spose de Yankees gits me?"

"If you run fast you can catch up with those soldiers and they
won't let the Yankees get you.  Hurry!"

"Ah's sceered!  Sposin' Cap'n Butler ain' at de hotel?"

"Then ask where he is.  Haven't you any gumption?  If he isn't at
the hotel, go to the barrooms on Decatur Street and ask for him.
Go to Belle Watling's house.  Hunt for him.  You fool, don't you
see that if you don't hurry and find him the Yankees will surely
get us all?"

"Miss Scarlett, Maw would weah me out wid a cotton stalk, did Ah go
in a bahroom or a ho' house."

Scarlett pulled herself to her feet.

"Well, I'll wear you out if you don't.  You can stand outside in
the street and yell for him, can't you?  Or ask somebody if he's
inside.  Get going."

When Prissy still lingered, shuffling her feet and mouthing,
Scarlett gave her another push which nearly sent her headlong down
the front steps.

"You'll go or I'll sell you down the river.  You'll never see your
mother again or anybody you know and I'll sell you for a field hand
too.  Hurry!"

"Gawdlmighty, Miss Scarlett--"

But under the determined pressure of her mistress' hand she started
down the steps.  The front gate clicked and Scarlett cried:  "Run,
you goose!"

She heard the patter of Prissy's feet as she broke into a trot, and
then the sound died away on the soft earth.



CHAPTER XXIII


After Prissy had gone, Scarlett went wearily into the downstairs
hall and lit a lamp.  The house felt steamingly hot, as though it
held in its walls all the heat of the noontide.  Some of her
dullness was passing now and her stomach was clamoring for food.
She remembered she had had nothing to eat since the night before
except a spoonful of hominy, and picking up the lamp she went into
the kitchen.  The fire in the oven had died but the room was
stifling hot.  She found half a pone of hard corn bread in the
skillet and gnawed hungrily on it while she looked about for other
food.  There was some hominy left in the pot and she ate it with a
big cooking spoon, not waiting to put it on a plate.  It needed
salt badly but she was too hungry to hunt for it.  After four
spoonfuls of it, the heat of the room was too much and, taking the
lamp in one hand and a fragment of pone in the other, she went out
into the hall.

She knew she should go upstairs and sit beside Melanie.  If
anything went wrong, Melanie would be too weak to call.  But the
idea of returning to that room where she had spent so many
nightmare hours was repulsive to her.  Even if Melanie were dying,
she couldn't go back up there.  She never wanted to see that room
again.  She set the lamp on the candle stand by the window and
returned to the front porch.  It was so much cooler here, and even
the night was drowned in soft warmth.  She sat down on the steps in
the circle of faint light thrown by the lamp and continued gnawing
on the corn bread.

When she had finished it, a measure of strength came back to her
and with the strength came again the pricking of fear.  She could
hear a humming of noise far down the street, but what it portended
she did not know.  She could distinguish nothing but a volume of
sound that rose and fell.  She strained forward trying to hear and
soon she found her muscles aching from the tension.  More than
anything in the world she yearned to hear the sound of hooves and
to see Rhett's careless, self-confident eyes laughing at her fears.
Rhett would take them away, somewhere.  She didn't know where.  She
didn't care.

As she sat straining her ears toward town, a faint glow appeared
above the trees.  It puzzled her.  She watched it and saw it grow
brighter.  The dark sky became pink and then dull red, and suddenly
above the trees, she saw a huge tongue of flame leap high to the
heavens.  She jumped to her feet, her heart beginning again its
sickening thudding and bumping.

The Yankees had come!  She knew they had come and they were burning
the town.  The flames seemed to be off to the east of the center of
town.  They shot higher and higher and widened rapidly into a broad
expanse of red before her terrified eyes.  A whole block must be
burning.  A faint hot breeze that had sprung up bore the smell of
smoke to her.

She fled up the stairs to her own room and hung out the window for
a better view.  The sky was a hideous lurid color and great swirls
of black smoke went twisting up to hand in billowy clouds above the
flames.  The smell of smoke was stronger now.  Her mind rushed
incoherently here and there, thinking how soon the flames would
spread up Peachtree Street and burn this house, how soon the
Yankees would be rushing in upon her, where she would run, what she
would do.  All the fiends of hell seemed screaming in her ears and
her brain swirled with confusion and panic so overpowering she
clung to the window sill for support.

"I must think," she told herself over and over.  "I must think."

But thoughts eluded her, darting in and out of her mind like
frightened humming birds.  As she stood hanging to the sill, a
deafening explosion burst on her ears, louder than any cannon she
had ever heard.  The sky was rent with gigantic flame.  Then other
explosions.  The earth shook and the glass in the panes above her
head shivered and came down around her.

The world became an inferno of noise and flame and trembling earth
as one explosion followed another in earsplitting succession.
Torrents of sparks shot to the sky and descended slowly, lazily,
through blood-colored clouds of smoke.  She thought she heard a
feeble call from the next room but she paid it no heed.  She had no
time for Melanie now.  No time for anything except a fear that
licked through her veins as swiftly as the flames she saw.  She was
a child and mad with fright and she wanted to bury her head in her
mother's lap and shut out this sight.  If she were only home!  Home
with Mother.

Through the nerve-shivering sounds, she heard another sound, that
of fear-sped feet coming up the stairs three at a time, heard a
voice yelping like a lost hound.  Prissy broke into the room and,
flying to Scarlett, clutched her arm in a grip that seemed to pinch
out pieces of flesh.

"The Yankees--" cried Scarlett.

"No'm, its our gempmums!" yelled Prissy between breaths, digging
her nails deeper into Scarlett's arm.  "Dey's buhnin' de foun'ry
an' de ahmy supply depots an' de wa'houses an', fo' Gawd, Miss
Scarlett, dey done set off dem sebenty freight cahs of cannon balls
an' gunpowder an', Jesus, we's all gwine ter buhn up!"

She began yelping again shrilly and pinched Scarlett so hard she
cried out in pain and fury and shook off her hand.

The Yankees hadn't come yet!  There was still time to get away!
She rallied her frightened forces together.

"If I don't get a hold on myself," she thought, "I'll be squalling
like a scalded cat!" and the sight of Prissy's abject terror helped
steady her.  She took her by the shoulders and shook her.

"Shut up that racket and talk sense.  The Yankees haven't come, you
fool!  Did you see Captain Butler?  What did he say?  Is he
coming?"

Prissy ceased her yelling but her teeth chattered.

"Yas'm, ah finely foun' him.  In a bahroom, lak you told me.  He--"

"Never mind where you found him.  Is he coming?  Did you tell him
to bring his horse?"

"Lawd, Miss Scarlett, he say our gempmums done tuck his hawse an'
cah'ige fer a amberlance."

"Dear God in Heaven!"

"But he comin'--"

"What did he say?"

Prissy had recovered her breath and a small measure of control but
her eyes still rolled.

"Well'm, lak you tole me, Ah foun' him in a bahroom.  Ah stood
outside an' yell fer him an' he come out.  An' terreckly he see me
an' Ah starts tell him, de sojers tech off a sto' house down
Decatur Street an' it flame up an' he say Come on an' he grab me
an' we runs ter Fibe Points an' he say den:  What now?  Talk fas'.
An' Ah say you say, Cap'n Butler, come quick an' bring yo' hawse
an' cah'ige.  Miss Melly done had a chile an' you is bustin' ter
get outer town.  An' he say:  Where all she studyin' 'bout goin'?
An' Ah say:  Ah doan know, suh, but you is boun' ter go fo' de
Yankees gits hyah an' wants him ter go wid you.  An' he laugh an'
say dey done tuck his hawse."

Scarlett's heart went leaden as the last hope left her.  Fool that
she was, why hadn't she thought that the retreating army would
naturally take every vehicle and animal left in the city?  For a
moment she was too stunned to hear what Prissy was saying but she
pulled herself together to hear the rest of the story.

"An' den he say, Tell Miss Scarlett ter res' easy.  Ah'll steal her
a hawse outer de ahmy crall effen dey's ary one lef.  An' he say,
Ah done stole hawses befo' dis night.  Tell her Ah git her a hawse
effen Ah gits shot fer it.  Den he laugh agin an' say, Cut an' run
home.  An' befo' Ah gits started Ker-bboom!  Off goes a noise an'
Ah lak ter drap in mah tracks an' he tell me twain't nuthin' but de
ammernition our gempmums blown' up so's de Yankees don't git it
an'--"

"He is coming?  He's going to bring a horse?"

"So he say."

She drew a long breath of relief.  If there was any way of getting
a horse, Rhett Butler would get one.  A smart man, Rhett.  She
would forgive him anything if he got them out of this mess.
Escape!  And with Rhett she would have no fear.  Rhett would
protect them.  Thank God for Rhett!  With safety in view she turned
practical.

"Wake Wade up and dress him and pack some clothes for all of us.
Put them in the small trunk.  And don't tell Miss Mellie we're
going.  Not yet.  But wrap the baby in a couple of thick towels and
be sure and pack his clothes."

Prissy still clung to her skirts and hardly anything showed in her
eyes except the whites.  Scarlett gave her a shove and loosened her
grip.

"Hurry," she cried, and Prissy went off like a rabbit.

Scarlett knew she should go in and quiet Melanie's fear, knew
Melanie must be frightened out of her senses by the thunderous
noises that continued unabated and the glare that lighted the sky.
It looked and sounded like the end of the world.

But she could not bring herself to go back into that room just yet.
She ran down the stairs with some idea of packing up Miss
Pittypat's china and the little silver she had left when she
refugeed to Macon.  But when she reached the dining room, her hands
were shaking so badly she dropped three plates and shattered them.
She ran out onto the porch to listen and back again to the dining
room and dropped the silver clattering to the floor.  Everything
she touched she dropped.  In her hurry she slipped on the rag rug
and fell to the floor with a jolt but leaped up so quickly she was
not even aware of the pain.  Upstairs she could hear Prissy
galloping about like a wild animal and the sound maddened her, for
she was galloping just as aimlessly.

For the dozenth time, she ran out onto the porch but this time she
did not go back to her futile packing.  She sat down.  It was just
impossible to pack anything.  Impossible to do anything but sit
with hammering heart and wait for Rhett.  It seemed hours before he
came.  At last, far up the road, she heard the protesting screech
of unoiled axles and the slow uncertain plodding of hooves.  Why
didn't he hurry?  Why didn't he make the horse trot?

The sounds came nearer and she leaped to her feet and called
Rhett's name.  Then, she saw him dimly as he climbed down from the
seat of a small wagon, heard the clicking of the gate as he came
toward her.  He came into view and the light of the lamp showed him
plainly.  His dress was as debonaire as if he were going to a ball,
well-tailored white linen coat and trousers, embroidered gray
watered-silk waistcoat and a hint of ruffle on his shirt bosom.
His wide Panama hat was set dashingly on one side of his head and
in the belt of his trousers were thrust two ivory-handled, long-
barreled dueling pistols.  The pockets of his coat sagged heavily
with ammunition.

He came up the walk with the springy stride of a savage and his
fine head was carried like a pagan prince.  The dangers of the
night which had driven Scarlett into panic had affected him like an
intoxicant.  There was a carefully restrained ferocity in his dark
face, a ruthlessness which would have frightened her had she the
wits to see it.

His black eyes danced as though amused by the whole affair, as
though the earth-splitting sounds and the horrid glare were merely
things to frighten children.  She swayed toward him as he came up
the steps, her face white, her green eyes burning.

"Good evening," he said, in his drawling voice, as he removed his
hat with a sweeping gesture.  "Fine weather we're having.  I hear
you're going to take a trip."

"If you make any jokes, I shall never speak to you again," she said
with quivering voice.

"Don't tell me you are frightened!"  He pretended to be surprised
and smiled in a way that made her long to push him backwards down
the steep steps.

"Yes, I am!  I'm frightened to death and if you had the sense God
gave a goat, you'd be frightened too.  But we haven't got time to
talk.  We must get out of here."

"At your service, Madam.  But just where were you figuring on
going?  I made the trip out here for curiosity, just to see where
you were intending to go.  You can't go north or east or south or
west.  The Yankees are all around.  There's just one road out of
town which the Yankees haven't got yet and the army is retreating
by that road.  And that road won't be open long.  General Steve
Lee's cavalry is fighting a rear-guard action at Rough and Ready to
hold it open long enough for the army to get away.  If you follow
the army down the McDonough road, they'll take the horse away from
you and, while it's not much of a horse, I did go to a lot of
trouble stealing it.  Just where are you going?"

She stood shaking, listening to his words, hardly hearing them.
But, at his question she suddenly knew where she was going, knew
that all this miserable day she had known where she was going.  The
only place.

"I'm going home," she said.

"Home?  You mean to Tara?"

"Yes, yes!  To Tara!  Oh, Rhett, we must hurry!"

He looked at her as if she had lost her mind.

"Tara?  God Almighty, Scarlett!  Don't you know they fought all day
at Jonesboro?  Fought for ten miles up and down the road from Rough
and Ready even into the streets of Jonesboro?  The Yankees may be
all over Tara by now, all over the County.  Nobody knows where they
are but they're in that neighborhood.  You can't go home!  You
can't go right through the Yankee army!"

"I will go home!" she cried.  "I will!  I will!"

"You little fool," and his voice was swift and rough.  "You can't
go that way.  Even if you didn't run into the Yankees, the woods
are full of stragglers and deserters from both armies.  And lots of
our troops are still retreating from Jonesboro.  They'd take the
horse away from you as quickly as the Yankees would.  Your only
chance is to follow the troops down the McDonough road and pray
that they won't see you in the dark.  You can't go to Tara.  Even
if you got there, you'd probably find it burned down.  I won't let
you go home.  It's insanity."

"I will go home!" she cried and her voice broke and rose to a
scream.  "I will go home!  You can't stop me!  I will go home!  I
want my mother!  I'll kill you if you try to stop me!  I will go
home!"

Tears of fright and hysteria streamed down her face as she finally
gave way under the long strain.  She beat on his chest with her
fists and screamed again:  "I will!  I will!  If I have to walk
every step of the way!"

Suddenly she was in his arms, her wet cheek against the starched
ruffle of his shirt, her beating hands stilled against him.  His
hands caressed her tumbled hair gently, soothingly, and his voice
was gentle too.  So gentle, so quiet, so devoid of mockery, it did
not seem Rhett Butler's voice at all but the voice of some kind
strong stranger who smelled of brandy and tobacco and horses,
comforting smells because they reminded her of Gerald.

"There, there, darling," he said softly.  "Don't cry.  You shall go
home, my brave little girl.  You shall go home.  Don't cry."

She felt something brush her hair and wondered vaguely through her
tumult if it were his lips.  He was so tender, so infinitely
soothing, she longed to stay in his arms forever.  With such strong
arms about her, surely nothing could harm her.

He fumbled in his pocket and produced a handkerchief and wiped her
eyes.

"Now, blow your nose like a good child," he ordered, a glint of a
smile in his eyes, "and tell me what to do.  We must work fast."

She blew her nose obediently, still trembling, but she could not
think what to tell him to do.  Seeing how her lip quivered and her
eyes looked up at him helplessly, he took command.

"Mrs. Wilkes has had her child?  It will be dangerous to move her--
dangerous to drive her twenty-five miles in that rickety wagon.
We'd better leave her with Mrs. Meade."

"The Meades aren't home.  I can't leave her."

"Very well.  Into the wagon she goes.  Where is that simple-minded
little wench?"

"Upstairs packing the trunk."

"Trunk?  You can't take any trunk in that wagon.  It's almost too
small to hold all of you and the wheels are ready to come off with
no encouragement.  Call her and tell her to get the smallest
feather bed in the house and put it in the wagon."

Still Scarlett could not move.  He took her arm in a strong grasp
and some of the vitality which animated him seemed to flow into her
body.  If only she could be as cool and casual as he was!  He
propelled her into the hall but she still stood helplessly looking
at him.  His lip went down mockingly:  "Can this be the heroic
young woman who assured me she feared neither God nor man?"

He suddenly burst into laughter and dropped her arm.  Stung, she
glared at him, hating him.

"I'm not afraid," she said.

"Yes, you are.  In another moment you'll be in a swoon and I have
no smelling salts about me."

She stamped her foot impotently because she could not think of
anything else to do--and without a word picked up the lamp and
started up the stairs.  He was close behind her and she could hear
him laughing softly to himself.  That sound stiffened her spine.
She went into Wade's nursery and found him sitting clutched in
Prissy's arms, half dressed, hiccoughing quietly.  Prissy was
whimpering.  The feather tick on Wade's bed was small and she
ordered Prissy to drag it down the stairs and into the wagon.
Prissy put down the child and obeyed.  Wade followed her down the
stairs, his hiccoughs stilled by his interest in the proceedings.

"Come," said Scarlett, turning to Melanie's door and Rhett followed
her, hat in hand.

Melanie lay quietly with the sheet up to her chin.  Her face was
deathly white but her eyes, sunken and black circled, were serene.
She showed no surprise at the sight of Rhett in her bedroom but
seemed to take it as a matter of course.  She tried to smile weakly
but the smile died before it reached the corners of her mouth.

"We are going home, to Tara," Scarlett explained rapidly.  "The
Yankees are coming.  Rhett is going to take us.  It's the only way,
Melly."

Melanie tried to nod her head feebly and gestured toward the baby.
Scarlett picked up the small baby and wrapped him hastily in a
thick towel.  Rhett stepped to the bed.

"I'll try not to hurt you," he said quietly, tucking the sheet
about her.  "See if you can put your arms around my neck."

Melanie tried but they fell back weakly.  He bent, slipped an arm
under her shoulders and another across her knees and lifted her
gently.  She did not cry out but Scarlett saw her bite her lip and
go even whiter.  Scarlett held the lamp high for Rhett to see and
started toward the door when Melanie made a feeble gesture toward
the wall.

"What is it?" Rhett asked softly.

"Please," Melanie whispered, trying to point.  "Charles."

Rhett looked down at her as if he thought her delirious but
Scarlett understood and was irritated.  She knew Melanie wanted the
daguerreotype of Charles which hung on the wall below his sword and
pistol.

"Please," Melanie whispered again, "the sword."

"Oh, all right," said Scarlett and, after she had lighted Rhett's
careful way down the steps, she went back and unhooked the sword
and pistol belts.  It would be awkward, carrying them as well as
the baby and the lamp.  That was just like Melanie, not to be at
all bothered over nearly dying and having the Yankees at her heels
but to worry about Charles' things.

As she took down the daguerreotype, she caught a glimpse of
Charles' face.  His large brown eyes met hers and she stopped for a
moment to look at the picture curiously.  This man had been her
husband, had lain beside her for a few nights, had given her a
child with eyes as soft and brown as his.  And she could hardly
remember him.

The child in her arms waved small fists and mewed softly and she
looked down at him.  For the first time, she realized that this was
Ashley's baby and suddenly wished with all the strength left in her
that he were her baby, hers and Ashley's.

Prissy came bounding up the stairs and Scarlett handed the child to
her.  They went hastily down, the lamp throwing uncertain shadows
on the wall.  In the hall, Scarlett saw a bonnet and put it on
hurriedly, tying the ribbons under her chin.  It was Melanie's
black mourning bonnet and it did not fit Scarlett's head but she
could not recall where she had put her own bonnet.

She went out of the house and down the front steps, carrying the
lamp and trying to keep the saber from banging against her legs.
Melanie lay full length in the back of the wagon, and, beside her,
were Wade and the towel-swathed baby.  Prissy climbed in and took
the baby in her arms.

The wagon was very small and the boards about the sides very low.
The wheels leaned inward as if their first revolution would make
them come off.  She took one look at the horse and her heart sank.
He was a small emaciated animal and he stood with his head
dispiritedly low, almost between his forelegs.  His back was raw
with sores and harness galls and he breathed as no sound horse
should.

"Not much of an animal, is it?" grinned Rhett.  "Looks like he'll
die in the shafts.  But he's the best I could do.  Some day I'll
tell you with embellishments just where and how I stole him and how
narrowly I missed getting shot.  Nothing but my devotion to you
would make me, at this stage of my career, turn horse thief--and
thief of such a horse.  Let me help you in."

He took the lamp from her and set it on the ground.  The front seat
was only a narrow plank across the sides of the wagon.  Rhett
picked Scarlett up bodily and swung her to it.  How wonderful to be
a man and as strong as Rhett, she thought, tucking her wide skirts
about her.  With Rhett beside her, she did not fear anything,
neither the fire nor the noise nor the Yankees.

He climbed onto the seat beside her and picked up the reins.

"Oh, wait!" she cried.  "I forgot to lock the front door."

He burst into a roar of laughter and slapped the reins upon the
horse's back.

"What are you laughing at?"

"At you--locking the Yankees out," he said and the horse started
off, slowly, reluctantly.  The lamp on the sidewalk burned on,
making a tiny yellow circle of light which grew smaller and smaller
as they moved away.



Rhett turned the horse's slow feet westward from Peachtree and the
wobbling wagon jounced into the rutty lane with a violence that
wrenched an abruptly stifled moan from Melanie.  Dark trees
interlaced above their heads, dark silent houses loomed up on
either side and the white palings of fences gleamed faintly like a
row of tombstones.  The narrow street was a dim tunnel, but faintly
through the thick leafy ceiling the hideous red glow of the sky
penetrated and shadows chased one another down the dark way like
mad ghosts.  The smell of smoke came stronger and stronger, and on
the wings of the hot breeze came a pandemonium of sound from the
center of town, yells, the dull rumbling of heavy army wagons and
the steady tramp of marching feet.  As Rhett jerked the horse's
head and turned him into another street, another deafening
explosion tore the air and a monstrous skyrocket of flame and smoke
shot up in the west.

"That must be the last of the ammunition trains," Rhett said
calmly.  "Why didn't they get them out this morning, the fools!
There was plenty of time.  Well, too bad for us.  I thought by
circling around the center of town, we might avoid the fire and
that drunken mob on Decatur Street and get through to the southwest
part of town without any danger.  But we've got to cross Marietta
Street somewhere and that explosion was near Marietta Street or I
miss my guess."

"Must--must we go through the fire?" Scarlett quavered.

"Not if we hurry," said Rhett and, springing from the wagon, he
disappeared into the darkness of a yard.  When he returned he had a
small limb of a tree in his hand and he laid it mercilessly across
the horse's galled back.  The animal broke into a shambling trot,
his breath panting and labored, and the wagon swayed forward with a
jolt that threw them about like popcorn in a popper.  The baby
wailed, and Prissy and Wade cried out as they bruised themselves
against the sides of the wagon.  But from Melanie there was no
sound.

As they neared Marietta Street, the trees thinned out and the tall
flames roaring up above the buildings threw street and houses into
a glare of light brighter than day, casting monstrous shadows that
twisted as wildly as torn sails flapping in a gale on a sinking
ship.

Scarlett's teeth chattered but so great was her terror she was not
even aware of it.  She was cold and she shivered, even though the
heat of the flames was already hot against their faces.  This was
hell and she was in it and, if she could only have conquered her
shaking knees, she would have leaped from the wagon and run
screaming back the dark road they had come, back to the refuge of
Miss Pittypat's house.  She shrank closer to Rhett, took his arm in
fingers that trembled and looked up at him for words, for comfort,
for something reassuring.  In the unholy crimson glow that bathed
them, his dark profile stood out as clearly as the head on an
ancient coin, beautiful, cruel and decadent.  At her touch he
turned to her, his eyes gleaming with a light as frightening as the
fire.  To Scarlett, he seemed as exhilarated and contemptuous as if
he got strong pleasure from the situation, as if he welcomed the
inferno they were approaching.

"Here," he said, laying a hand on one of the long-barreled pistols
in his belt.  "If anyone, black or white, comes up on your side of
the wagon and tries to lay hand on the horse, shoot him and we'll
ask questions later.  But for God's sake, don't shoot the nag in
your excitement."

"I--I have a pistol," she whispered, clutching the weapon in her
lap, perfectly certain that if death stared her in the face, she
would be too frightened to pull the trigger.

"You have?  Where did you get it?"

"It's Charles'."

"Charles?"

"Yes, Charles--my husband."

"Did you ever really have a husband, my dear?" he whispered and
laughed softly.

If he would only be serious!  If he would only hurry!

"How do you suppose I got my boy?" she cried fiercely.

"Oh, there are other ways than husbands--"

"Will you hush and hurry?"

But he drew rein abruptly, almost at Marietta Street, in the shadow
of a warehouse not yet touched by the flames.

"Hurry!"  It was the only word in her mind.  Hurry!  Hurry!

"Soldiers," he said.

The detachment came down Marietta Street, between the burning
buildings, walking at route step, tiredly, rifles held any way,
heads down, too weary to hurry, too weary to care if timbers were
crashing to right and left and smoke billowing about them.  They
were all ragged, so ragged that between officers and men there were
no distinguishing insignia except here and there a torn hat brim
pinned up with a wreathed "C.S.A."  Many were barefooted and here
and there a dirty bandage wrapped a head or arm.  They went past,
looking neither to left nor right, so silent that had it not been
for the steady tramp of feet they might all have been ghosts.

"Take a good look at them," came Rhett's gibing voice, "so you can
tell your grandchildren you saw the rear guard of the Glorious
Cause in retreat."

Suddenly she hated him, hated him with a strength that momentarily
overpowered her fear, made it seem petty and small.  She knew her
safety and that of the others in the back of the wagon depended on
him and him alone, but she hated him for his sneering at those
ragged ranks.  She thought of Charles who was dead and Ashley who
might be dead and all the gay and gallant young men who were
rotting in shallow graves and she forgot that she, too, had once
thought them fools.  She could not speak, but hatred and disgust
burned in her eyes as she stared at him fiercely.

As the last of the soldiers were passing, a small figure in the
rear rank, his rifle butt dragging the ground, wavered, stopped and
stared after the others with a dirty face so dulled by fatigue he
looked like a sleepwalker.  He was as small as Scarlett, so small
his rifle was almost as tall as he was, and his grime-smeared face
was unbearded.  Sixteen at the most, thought Scarlett irrelevantly,
must be one of the Home Guard or a runaway schoolboy.

As she watched, the boy's knees buckled slowly and he went down in
the dust.  Without a word, two men fell out of the last rank and
walked back to him.  One, a tall spare man with a black beard that
hung to his belt, silently handed his own rifle and that of the boy
to the other.  Then, stooping, he jerked the boy to his shoulders
with an ease that looked like sleight of hand.  He started off
slowly after the retreating column, his shoulders bowed under the
weight, while the boy, weak, infuriated like a child teased by its
elders, screamed out:  "Put me down, damn you!  Put me down!  I can
walk!"

The bearded man said nothing and plodded on out of sight around the
bend of the road.

Rhett sat still, the reins lax in his hands, looking after them, a
curious moody look on his swarthy face.  Then, there was a crash of
falling timbers near by and Scarlett saw a thin tongue of flame
lick up over the roof of the warehouse in whose sheltering shadow
they sat.  Then pennons and battle flags of flame flared
triumphantly to the sky above them.  Smoke burnt her nostrils and
Wade and Prissy began coughing.  The baby made soft sneezing
sounds.

"Oh, name of God, Rhett!  Are you crazy?  Hurry!  Hurry!"

Rhett made no reply but brought the tree limb down on the horse's
back with a cruel force that made the animal leap forward.  With
all the speed the horse could summon, they jolted and bounced
across Marietta Street.  Ahead of them was a tunnel of fire where
buildings were blazing on either side of the short, narrow street
that led down to the railroad tracks.  They plunged into it.  A
glare brighter than a dozen suns dazzled their eyes, scorching heat
seared their skins and the roaring, cracking and crashing beat upon
their ears in painful waves.  For an eternity, it seemed, they were
in the midst of flaming torment and then abruptly they were in
semidarkness again.

As they dashed down the street and bumped over the railroad tracks,
Rhett applied the whip automatically.  His face looked set and
absent, as though he had forgotten where he was.  His broad
shoulders were hunched forward and his chin jutted out as though
the thoughts in his mind were not pleasant.  The heat of the fire
made sweat stream down his forehead and cheeks but he did not wipe
it off.

They pulled into a side street, then another, then turned and
twisted from one narrow street to another until Scarlett completely
lost her bearings and the roaring of the flames died behind them.
Still Rhett did not speak.  He only laid on the whip with
regularity.  The red glow in the sky was fading now and the road
became so dark, so frightening, Scarlett would have welcomed words,
any words from him, even jeering, insulting words, words that cut.
But he did not speak.

Silent or not, she thanked Heaven for the comfort of his presence.
It was so good to have a man beside her, to lean close to him and
feel the hard swell of his arm and know that he stood between her
and unnamable terrors, even though he merely sat there and stared.

"Oh, Rhett," she whispered clasping his arm, "What would we ever
have done without you?  I'm so glad you aren't in the army!"

He turned his head and gave her one look, a look that made her drop
his arm and shrink back.  There was no mockery in his eyes now.
They were naked and there was anger and something like bewilderment
in them.  His lip curled down and he turned his head away.  For a
long time they jounced along in a silence unbroken except for the
faint wails of the baby and sniffles from Prissy.  When she was
able to bear the sniffling noise no longer, Scarlett turned and
pinched her viciously, causing Prissy to scream in good earnest
before she relapsed into frightened silence.

Finally Rhett turned the horse at right angles and after a while
they were on a wider, smoother road.  The dim shapes of houses grew
farther and farther apart and unbroken woods loomed wall-like on
either side.

"We're out of town now," said Rhett briefly, drawing rein, "and on
the main road to Rough and Ready."

"Hurry.  Don't stop!"

"Let the animal breathe a bit."  Then turning to her, he asked
slowly:  "Scarlett, are you still determined to do this crazy
thing?"

"Do what?"

"Do you still want to try to get through to Tara?  It's suicidal.
Steve Lee's cavalry and the Yankee Army are between you and Tara."

Oh, Dear God!  Was he going to refuse to take her home, after all
she'd gone through this terrible day?

"Oh, yes!  Yes!  Please, Rhett, let's hurry.  The horse isn't
tired."

"Just a minute.  You can't go down to Jonesboro on this road.  You
can't follow the train tracks.  They've been fighting up and down
there all day from Rough and Ready on south.  Do you know any other
roads, small wagon roads or lanes that don't go through Rough and
Ready or Jonesboro?"

"Oh, yes," cried Scarlett in relief.  "If we can just get near to
Rough and Ready, I know a wagon trace that winds off from the main
Jonesboro road and wanders around for miles.  Pa and I used to ride
it.  It comes out right near the MacIntosh place and that's only a
mile from Tara."

"Good.  Maybe you can get past Rough and Ready all right.  General
Steve Lee was there during the afternoon covering the retreat.
Maybe the Yankees aren't there yet.  Maybe you can get through
there, if Steve Lee's men don't pick up your horse."

"_I_ can get through?"

"Yes, YOU."  His voice was rough.

"But Rhett--  You--  Aren't going to take us?"

"No.  I'm leaving you here."

She looked around wildly, at the livid sky behind them, at the dark
trees on either hand hemming them in like a prison wall, at the
frightened figures in the back of the wagon--and finally at him.
Had she gone crazy?  Was she not hearing right?

He was grinning now.  She could just see his white teeth in the
faint light and the old mockery was back in his eyes.

"Leaving us?  Where--where are you going?"

"I am going, dear girl, with the army."

She sighed with relief and irritation.  Why did he joke at this
time of all times?  Rhett in the army!  After all he'd said about
stupid fools who were enticed into losing their lives by a roll of
drums and brave words from orators--fools who killed themselves
that wise men might make money!

"Oh, I could choke you for scaring me so!  Let's get on."

"I'm not joking, my dear.  And I am hurt, Scarlett, that you do not
take my gallant sacrifice with better spirit.  Where is your
patriotism, your love for Our Glorious Cause?  Now is your chance
to tell me to return with my shield or on it.  But, talk fast, for
I want time to make a brave speech before departing for the wars."

His drawling voice gibed in her ears.  He was jeering at her and,
somehow, she knew he was jeering at himself too.  What was he
talking about?  Patriotism, shields, brave speeches?  It wasn't
possible that he meant what he was saying.  It just wasn't
believable that he could talk so blithely of leaving her here on
this dark road with a woman who might be dying, a new-born infant,
a foolish black wench and a frightened child, leaving her to pilot
them through miles of battle fields and stragglers and Yankees and
fire and God knows what.

Once, when she was six years old, she had fallen from a tree, flat
on her stomach.  She could still recall that sickening interval
before breath came back into her body.  Now, as she looked at
Rhett, she felt the same way she had felt then, breathless,
stunned, nauseated.

"Rhett, you are joking!"

She grabbed his arm and felt her tears of fright splash down her
wrist.  He raised her hand and kissed it arily.

"Selfish to the end, aren't you, my dear?  Thinking only of your
own precious hide and not of the gallant Confederacy.  Think how
our troops will be heartened by my eleventh-hour appearance."
There was a malicious tenderness in his voice.

"Oh, Rhett," she wailed, "how can you do this to me?  Why are you
leaving me?"

"Why?" he laughed jauntily.  "Because, perhaps, of the betraying
sentimentality that lurks in all of us Southerners.  Perhaps--
perhaps because I am ashamed.  Who knows?"

"Ashamed?  You should die of shame.  To desert us here, alone,
helpless--"

"Dear Scarlett!  You aren't helpless.  Anyone as selfish and
determined as you are is never helpless.  God help the Yankees if
they should get you."

He stepped abruptly down from the wagon and, as she watched him,
stunned with bewilderment, he came around to her side of the wagon.

"Get out," he ordered.

She stared at him.  He reached up roughly, caught her under the
arms and swung her to the ground beside him.  With a tight grip on
her he dragged her several paces away from the wagon.  She felt the
dust and gravel in her slippers hurting her feet.  The still hot
darkness wrapped her like a dream.

"I'm not asking you to understand or forgive.  I don't give a damn
whether you do either, for I shall never understand or forgive
myself for this idiocy.  I am annoyed at myself to find that so
much quixoticism still lingers in me.  But our fair Southland needs
every man.  Didn't our brave Governor Brown say just that?  Not
matter.  I'm off to the wars."  He laughed suddenly, a ringing,
free laugh that startled the echoes in the dark woods.

"'I could not love thee, Dear, so much, loved I not Honour more.'
That's a pat speech, isn't it?  Certainly better than anything I
can think up myself, at the present moment.  For I do love you,
Scarlett, in spite of what I said that night on the porch last
month."

His drawl was caressing and his hands slid up her bare arms, warm
strong hands.  "I love you, Scarlett, because we are so much alike,
renegades, both of us, dear, and selfish rascals.  Neither of us
cares a rap if the whole world goes to pot, so long as we are safe
and comfortable."

His voice went on in the darkness and she heard words, but they
made no sense to her.  Her mind was tiredly trying to take in the
harsh truth that he was leaving her here to face the Yankees alone.
Her mind said:  "He's leaving me.  He's leaving me."  But no
emotion stirred.

Then his arms went around her waist and shoulders and she felt the
hard muscles of his thighs against her body and the buttons of his
coat pressing into her breast.  A warm tide of feeling, bewildering,
frightening, swept over her, carrying out of her mind the time and
place and circumstances.  She felt as limp as a rag doll, warm, weak
and helpless, and his supporting arms were so pleasant.

"You don't want to change your mind about what I said last month?
There's nothing like danger and death to give an added fillip.  Be
patriotic, Scarlett.  Think how you would be sending a soldier to
his death with beautiful memories."

He was kissing her now and his mustache tickled her mouth, kissing
her with slow, hot lips that were so leisurely as though he had the
whole night before him.  Charles had never kissed her like this.
Never had the kisses of the Tarleton and Calvert boys made her go
hot and cold and shaky like this.  He bent her body backward and
his lips traveled down her throat to where the cameo fastened her
basque.

"Sweet," he whispered.  "Sweet."

She saw the wagon dimly in the dark and heard the treble piping of
Wade's voice.

"Muvver!  Wade fwightened!"

Into her swaying, darkened mind, cold sanity came back with a rush
and she remembered what she had forgotten for the moment--that she
was frightened too, and Rhett was leaving her, leaving her, the
damned cad.  And on top of it all, he had the consummate gall to
stand here in the road and insult her with his infamous proposals.
Rage and hate flowed into her and stiffened her spine and with one
wrench she tore herself loose from his arms.

"Oh, you cad!" she cried and her mind leaped about, trying to think
of worse things to call him, things she had heard Gerald call Mr.
Lincoln, the MacIntoshes and balky mules, but the words would not
come.  "You low-down, cowardly, nasty, stinking thing!"  And
because she could not think of anything crushing enough, she drew
back her arm and slapped him across the mouth with all the force
she had left.  He took a step backward, his hand going to his face.

"Ah," he said quietly and for a moment they stood facing each other
in the darkness.  Scarlett could hear his heavy breathing, and her
own breath came in gasps as if she had been running hard.

"They were right!  Everybody was right!  You aren't a gentleman!"

"My dear girl," he said, "how inadequate."

She knew he was laughing and the thought goaded her.

"Go on!  Go on now!  I want you to hurry.  I don't want to ever see
you again.  I hope a cannon ball lands right on you.  I hope it
blows you to a million pieces.  I--"

"Never mind the rest.  I follow your general idea.  When I'm dead
on the altar of my country, I hope your conscience hurts you."

She heard him laugh as he turned away and walked back toward the
wagon.  She saw him stand beside it, heard him speak and his voice
was changed, courteous and respectful as it always was when he
spoke to Melanie.

"Mrs. Wilkes?"

Prissy's frightened voice made answer from the wagon.

"Gawdlmighty, Cap'n Butler!  Miss Melly done fainted away back
yonder."

"She's not dead?  Is she breathing?"

"Yassuh, she breathin'."

"Then she's probably better off as she is.  If she were conscious,
I doubt if she could live through all the pain.  Take good care of
her, Prissy.  Here's a shinplaster for you.  Try not to be a bigger
fool than you are."

"Yassuh.  Thankee suh."

"Good-by, Scarlett."

She knew he had turned and was facing her but she did not speak.
Hate choked all utterance.  His feet ground on the pebbles of the
road and for a moment she saw his big shoulders looming up in the
dark.  Then he was gone.  She could hear the sound of his feet for
a while and then they died away.  She came slowly back to the
wagon, her knees shaking.

Why had he gone, stepping off into the dark, into the war, into a
Cause that was lost, into a world that was mad?  Why had he gone,
Rhett who loved the pleasures of women and liquor, the comfort of
good food and soft beds, the feel of fine linen and good leather,
who hated the South and jeered at the fools who fought for it?  Now
he had set his varnished boots upon a bitter road where hunger
tramped with tireless stride and wounds and weariness and heartbreak
ran like yelping wolves.  And the end of the road was death.  He
need not have gone.  He was safe, rich, comfortable.  But he had
gone, leaving her alone in a night as black as blindness, with the
Yankee Army between her and home.

Now she remembered all the bad names she had wanted to call him but
it was too late.  She leaned her head against the bowed neck of the
horse and cried.



CHAPTER XXIV


The bright glare of morning sunlight streaming through the trees
overhead awakened Scarlett.  For a moment, stiffened by the cramped
position in which she had slept, she could not remember where she
was.  The sun blinded her, the hard boards of the wagon under her
were harsh against her body, and a heavy weight lay across her
legs.  She tried to sit up and discovered that the weight was Wade
who lay sleeping with his head pillowed on her knees.  Melanie's
bare feet were almost in her face and, under the wagon seat, Prissy
was curled up like a black cat with the small baby wedged in
between her and Wade.

Then she remembered everything.  She popped up to a sitting
position and looked hastily all around.  Thank God, no Yankees in
sight!  Their hiding place had not been discovered in the night.
It all came back to her now, the nightmare journey after Rhett's
footsteps died away, the endless night, the black road full of ruts
and boulders along which they jolted, the deep gullies on either
side into which the wagon slipped, the fear-crazed strength with
which she and Prissy had pushed the wheels out of the gullies.  She
recalled with a shudder how often she had driven the unwilling
horse into fields and woods when she heard soldiers approaching,
not knowing if they were friends or foes--recalled, too, her
anguish lest a cough, a sneeze or Wade's hiccoughing might betray
them to the marching men.

Oh, that dark road where men went by like ghosts, voices stilled,
only the muffled tramping of feet on soft dirt, the faint clicking
of bridles and the straining creak of leather!  And, oh, that
dreadful moment when the sick horse balked and cavalry and light
cannon rumbled past in the darkness, past where they sat
breathless, so close she could almost reach out and touch them, so
close she could smell the stale sweat on the soldiers' bodies!

When, at last, they had neared Rough and Ready, a few camp fires
were gleaming where the last of Steve Lee's rear guard was awaiting
orders to fall back.  She had circled through a plowed field for a
mile until the light of the fires died out behind her.  And then
she had lost her way in the darkness and sobbed when she could not
find the little wagon path she knew so well.  Then finally having
found it, the horse sank in the traces and refused to move, refused
to rise even when she and Prissy tugged at the bridle.

So she had unharnessed him and crawled, sodden with fatigue, into
the back of the wagon and stretched her aching legs.  She had a
faint memory of Melanie's voice before sleep clamped down her
eyelids, a weak voice that apologized even as it begged:  "Scarlett,
can I have some water, please?"

She had said:  "There isn't any," and gone to sleep before the
words were out of her mouth.

Now it was morning and the world was still and serene and green and
gold with dappled sunshine.  And no soldiers in sight anywhere.
She was hungry and dry with thirst, aching and cramped and filled
with wonder that she, Scarlett O'Hara, who could never rest well
except between linen sheets and on the softest of feather beds, had
slept like a field hand on hard planks.

Blinking in the sunlight, her eyes fell on Melanie and she gasped,
horrified.  Melanie lay so still and white Scarlett thought she
must be dead.  She looked dead.  She looked like a dead, old woman
with her ravaged face and her dark hair snarled and tangled across
it.  Then Scarlett saw with relief the faint rise and fall of her
shallow breathing and knew that Melanie had survived the night.

Scarlett shaded her eyes with her hand and looked about her.  They
had evidently spent the night under the trees in someone's front
yard, for a sand and gravel driveway stretched out before her,
winding away under an avenue of cedars.

"Why, it's the Mallory place!" she thought, her heart leaping with
gladness at the thought of friends and help.

But a stillness as of death hung over the plantation.  The shrubs
and grass of the lawn were cut to pieces where hooves and wheels
and feet had torn frantically back and forth until the soil was
churned up.  She looked toward the house and instead of the old
white clapboard place she knew so well, she saw there only a long
rectangle of blackened granite foundation stones and two tall
chimneys rearing smoke-stained bricks into the charred leaves of
still trees.

She drew a deep shuddering breath.  Would she find Tara like this,
level with the ground, silent as the dead?

"I mustn't think about that now," she told herself hurriedly.  "I
mustn't let myself think about it.  I'll get scared again if I
think about it."  But, in spite of herself, her heart quickened and
each beat seemed to thunder:  "Home!  Hurry!  Home!  Hurry!"

They must be starting on toward home again.  But first they must
find some food and water, especially water.  She prodded Prissy
awake.  Prissy rolled her eyes as she looked about her.

"Fo' Gawd, Miss Scarlett, Ah din' spec ter wake up agin 'cept in de
Promise Lan'."

"You're a long way from there," said Scarlett, trying to smooth
back her untidy hair.  Her face was damp and her body was already
wet with sweat.  She felt dirty and messy and sticky, almost as if
she smelled bad.  Her clothes were crushed and wrinkled from
sleeping in them and she had never felt more acutely tired and sore
in all her life.  Muscles she did not know she possessed ached from
her unaccustomed exertions of the night before and every movement
brought sharp pain.

She looked down at Melanie and saw that her dark eyes were opened.
They were sick eyes, fever bright, and dark baggy circles were
beneath them.  She opened cracking lips and whispered appealingly:
"Water."

"Get up, Prissy," ordered Scarlett.  "We'll go to the well and get
some water."

"But, Miss Scarlett!  Dey mout be hants up dar.  Sposin' somebody
daid up dar?"

"I'll make a hant out of you if you don't get out of this wagon,"
said Scarlett, who was in no mood for argument, as she climbed
lamely down to the ground.

And then she thought of the horse.  Name of God!  Suppose the horse
had died in the night!  He had seemed ready to die when she
unharnessed him.  She ran around the wagon and saw him lying on his
side.  If he were dead, she would curse God and die too.  Somebody
in the Bible had done just that thing.  Cursed God and died.  She
knew just how that person felt.  But the horse was alive--breathing
heavily, sick eyes half closed, but alive.  Well, some water would
help him too.

Prissy climbed reluctantly from the wagon with many groans and
timorously followed Scarlett up the avenue.  Behind the ruins the
row of whitewashed slave quarters stood silent and deserted under
the overhanging trees.  Between the quarters and the smoked stone
foundations, they found the well, and the roof of it still stood
with the bucket far down the well.  Between them, they wound up the
rope, and when the bucket of cool sparkling water appeared out of
the dark depths, Scarlett tilted it to her lips and drank with loud
sucking noises, spilling the water all over herself.

She drank until Prissy's petulant:  "Well, Ah's thusty, too, Miss
Scarlett," made her recall the needs of the others.

"Untie the knot and take the bucket to the wagon and give them
some.  And give the rest to the horse.  Don't you think Miss
Melanie ought to nurse the baby?  He'll starve."

"Law, Miss Scarlett, Miss Melly ain' got no milk--ain' gwine have
none."

"How do you know?"

"Ah's seed too many lak her."

"Don't go putting on any airs with me.  A precious little you knew
about babies yesterday.  Hurry now.  I'm going to try to find
something to eat."

Scarlett's search was futile until in the orchard she found a few
apples.  Soldiers had been there before her and there was none on
the trees.  Those she found on the ground were mostly rotten.  She
filled her skirt with the best of them and came back across the
soft earth, collecting small pebbles in her slippers.  Why hadn't
she thought of putting on stouter shoes last night?  Why hadn't she
brought her sun hat?  Why hadn't she brought something to eat?
She'd acted like a fool.  But, of course, she'd thought Rhett would
take care of them.

Rhett!  She spat on the ground, for the very name tasted bad.  How
she hated him!  How contemptible he had been!  And she had stood
there in the road and let him kiss her--and almost liked it.  She
had been crazy last night.  How despicable he was!

When she came back, she divided up the apples and threw the rest
into the back of the wagon.  The horse was on his feet now but the
water did not seem to have refreshed him much.  He looked far worse
in the daylight than he had the night before.  His hip bones stood
out like an old cow's, his ribs showed like a washboard and his
back was a mass of sores.  She shrank from touching him as she
harnessed him.  When she slipped the bit into his mouth, she saw
that he was practically toothless.  As old as the hills!  While
Rhett was stealing a horse, why couldn't he have stolen a good one?

She mounted the seat and brought down the hickory limb on his back.
He wheezed and started, but he walked so slowly as she turned him
into the road she knew she could walk faster herself with no effort
whatever.  Oh, if only she didn't have Melanie and Wade and the
baby and Prissy to bother with!  How swiftly she could walk home!
Why, she would run home, run every step of the way that would bring
her closer to Tara and to Mother.

They couldn't be more than fifteen miles from home, but at the rate
this old nag traveled it would take all day, for she would have to
stop frequently to rest him.  All day!  She looked down the glaring
red road, cut in deep ruts where cannon wheels and ambulances had
gone over it.  It would be hours before she knew if Tara still
stood and if Ellen were there.  It would be hours before she
finished her journey under the broiling September sun.

She looked back at Melanie who lay with sick eyes closed against
the sun and jerked loose the strings of her bonnet and tossed it to
Prissy.

"Put that over her face.  It'll keep the sun out of her eyes."
Then as the heat beat down upon her unprotected head, she thought:
"I'll be as freckled as a guinea egg before this day is over."

She had never in her life been out in the sunshine without a hat or
veils, never handled reins without gloves to protect the white skin
of her dimpled hands.  Yet here she was exposed to the sun in a
broken-down wagon with a broken-down horse, dirty, sweaty, hungry,
helpless to do anything but plod along at a snail's pace through a
deserted land.  What a few short weeks it had been since she was
safe and secure!  What a little while since she and everyone else
had thought that Atlanta could never fall, that Georgia could never
be invaded.  But the small cloud which appeared in the northwest
four months ago had blown up into a mighty storm and then into a
screaming tornado, sweeping away her world, whirling her out of her
sheltered life, and dropping her down in the midst of this still,
haunted desolation.

Was Tara still standing?  Or was Tara also gone with the wind which
had swept through Georgia?

She laid the whip on the tired horse's back and tried to urge him
on while the waggling wheels rocked them drunkenly from side to
side.



There was death in the air.  In the rays of the late afternoon sun,
every well-remembered field and forest grove was green and still,
with an unearthly quiet that struck terror to Scarlett's heart.
Every empty, shell-pitted house they had passed that day, every
gaunt chimney standing sentinel over smoke-blackened ruins, had
frightened her more.  They had not seen a living human being or
animal since the night before.  Dead men and dead horses, yes, and
dead mules, lying by the road, swollen, covered with flies, but
nothing alive.  No far-off cattle lowed, no birds sang, no wind
waved the trees.  Only the tired plop-plop of the horse's feet and
the weak wailing of Melanie's baby broke the stillness.

The countryside lay as under some dread enchantment.  Or worse
still, thought Scarlett with a chill, like the familiar and dear
face of a mother, beautiful and quiet at last, after death agonies.
She felt that the once-familiar woods were full of ghosts.
Thousands had died in the fighting near Jonesboro.  They were here
in these haunted woods where the slanting afternoon sun gleamed
eerily through unmoving leaves, friends and foes, peering at her in
her rickety wagon, through eyes blinded with blood and red dust--
glazed, horrible eyes.

"Mother!  Mother!" she whispered.  If she could only win to Ellen!
If only, by a miracle of God, Tara were still standing and she
could drive up the long avenue of trees and go into the house and
see her mother's kind, tender face, could feel once more the soft
capable hands that drove out fear, could clutch Ellen's skirts and
bury her face in them.  Mother would know what to do.  She wouldn't
let Melanie and her baby die.  She would drive away all ghosts and
fears with her quiet "Hush, hush."  But Mother was ill, perhaps
dying.

Scarlett laid the whip across the weary rump of the horse.  They
must go faster!  They had crept along this never-ending road all
the long hot day.  Soon it would be night and they would be alone
in this desolation that was death.  She gripped the reins tighter
with hands that were blistered and slapped them fiercely on the
horse's back, her aching arms burning at the movement.

If she could only reach the kind arms of Tara and Ellen and lay
down her burdens, far too heavy for her young shoulders--the dying
woman, the fading baby, her own hungry little boy, the frightened
negro, all looking to her for strength, for guidance, all reading
in her straight back courage she did not possess and strength which
had long since failed.

The exhausted horse did not respond to the whip or reins but
shambled on, dragging his feet, stumbling on small rocks and
swaying as if ready to fall to his knees.  But, as twilight came,
they at last entered the final lap of the long journey.  They
rounded the bend of the wagon path and turned into the main road.
Tara was only a mile away!

Here loomed up the dark bulk of the mock-orange hedge that marked
the beginning of the MacIntosh property.  A little farther on,
Scarlett drew rein in front of the avenue of oaks that led from the
road to old Angus MacIntosh's house.  She peered through the
gathering dusk down the two lines of ancient trees.  All was dark.
Not a single light showed in the house or in the quarters.
Straining her eyes in the darkness she dimly discerned a sight
which had grown familiar through that terrible day--two tall
chimneys, like gigantic tombstones towering above the ruined second
floor, and broken unlit windows blotching the walls like still,
blind eyes.

"Hello!" she shouted, summoning all her strength.  "Hello!"

Prissy clawed at her in a frenzy of fright and Scarlett, turning,
saw that her eyes were rolling in her head.

"Doan holler, Miss Scarlett!  Please, doan holler agin!" she
whispered, her voice shaking.  "Dey ain' no tellin' WHUT mout
answer!"

"Dear God!" thought Scarlett, a shiver running through her.  "Dear
God!  She's right.  Anything might come out of there!"

She flapped the reins and urged the horse forward.  The sight of
the MacIntosh house had pricked the last bubble of hope remaining
to her.  It was burned, in ruins, deserted, as were all the
plantations she had passed that day.  Tara lay only half a mile
away, on the same road, right in the path of the army.  Tara was
leveled, too!  She would find only the blackened bricks, starlight
shining through the roofless walls, Ellen and Gerald gone, the
girls gone, Mammy gone, the negroes gone, God knows where, and this
hideous stillness over everything.

Why had she come on this fool's errand, against all common sense,
dragging Melanie and her child?  Better that they had died in
Atlanta than, tortured by this day of burning sun and jolting
wagon, to die in the silent ruins of Tara.

But Ashley had left Melanie in her care.  "Take care of her."  Oh,
that beautiful, heartbreaking day when he had kissed her good-by
before he went away forever!  "You'll take care of her, won't you?
Promise!"  And she had promised.  Why had she ever bound herself
with such a promise, doubly binding now that Ashley was gone?  Even
in her exhaustion she hated Melanie, hated the tiny mewing voice of
her child which, fainter and fainter, pierced the stillness.  But
she had promised and now they belonged to her, even as Wade and
Prissy belonged to her, and she must struggle and fight for them as
long as she had strength or breath.  She could have left them in
Atlanta, dumped Melanie into the hospital and deserted her.  But
had she done that, she could never face Ashley, either on this
earth or in the hereafter and tell him she had left his wife and
child to die among strangers.

Oh, Ashley!  Where was he tonight while she toiled down this
haunted road with his wife and baby?  Was he alive and did he think
of her as he lay behind the bars at Rock Island?  Or was he dead of
smallpox months ago, rotting in some long ditch with hundreds of
other Confederates?

Scarlett's taut nerves almost cracked as a sudden noise sounded in
the underbrush near them.  Prissy screamed loudly, throwing herself
to the floor of the wagon, the baby beneath her.  Melanie stirred
feebly, her hands seeking the baby, and Wade covered his eyes and
cowered, too frightened to cry.  Then the bushes beside them
crashed apart under heavy hooves and a low moaning bawl assaulted
their ears.

"It's only a cow," said Scarlett, her voice rough with fright.
"Don't be a fool, Prissy.  You've mashed the baby and frightened
Miss Melly and Wade."

"It's a ghos'," moaned Prissy, writhing face down on the wagon
boards.

Turning deliberately, Scarlett raised the tree limb she had been
using as a whip and brought it down across Prissy's back.  She was
too exhausted and weak from fright to tolerate weakness in anyone
else.

"Sit up, you fool," she said, "before I wear this out on you."

Yelping, Prissy raised her head and peering over the side of the
wagon saw it was, indeed, a cow, a red and white animal which stood
looking at them appealingly with large frightened eyes.  Opening
its mouth, it lowed again as if in pain.

"Is it hurt?  That doesn't sound like an ordinary moo."

"Soun' ter me lak her bag full an' she need milkin' bad," said
Prissy, regaining some measure of control.  "Spec it one of Mist'
MacIntosh's dat de niggers driv in de woods an' de Yankees din'
git."

"We'll take it with us," Scarlett decided swiftly.  "Then we can
have some milk for the baby."

"How all we gwine tek a cow wid us, Miss Scarlett?  We kain tek no
cow wid us.  Cow ain' no good nohow effen she ain' been milked
lately.  Dey bags swells up and busts.  Dat's why she hollerin'."

"Since you know so much about it, take off your petticoat and tear
it up and tie her to the back of the wagon."

"Miss Scarlett, you knows Ah ain' had no petticoat fer a month an'
did Ah have one, Ah wouldn' put it on her fer nuthin'.  Ah nebber
had no truck wid cows.  Ah's sceered of cows."

Scarlett laid down the reins and pulled up her skirt.  The lace-
trimmed petticoat beneath was the last garment she possessed that
was pretty--and whole.  She untied the waist tape and slipped it
down over her feet, crushing the soft linen folds between her
hands.  Rhett had brought her that linen and lace from Nassau on
the last boat he slipped through the blockade and she had worked a
week to make the garment.  Resolutely she took it by the hem and
jerked, put it in her mouth and gnawed, until finally the material
gave with a rip and tore the length.  She gnawed furiously, tore
with both hands and the petticoat lay in strips in her hands.  She
knotted the ends with fingers that bled from blisters and shook
from fatigue.

"Slip this over her horns," she directed.  But Prissy balked.

"Ah's sceered of cows, Miss Scarlett.  Ah ain' nebber had nuthin'
ter do wid cows.  Ah ain' no yard nigger.  Ah's a house nigger."

"You're a fool nigger, and the worst day's work Pa ever did was to
buy you," said Scarlett slowly, too tired for anger.  "And if I
ever get the use of my arm again, I'll wear this whip out on you."

There, she thought, I've said "nigger" and Mother wouldn't like
that at all.

Prissy rolled her eyes wildly, peeping first at the set face of her
mistress and then at the cow which bawled plaintively.  Scarlett
seemed the less dangerous of the two, so Prissy clutched at the
sides of the wagon and remained where she was.

Stiffly, Scarlett climbed down from the seat, each movement of
agony of aching muscles.  Prissy was not the only one who was
"sceered" of cows.  Scarlett had always feared them, even the
mildest cow seemed sinister to her, but this was no time to truckle
to small fears when great ones crowded so thick upon her.
Fortunately the cow was gentle.  In its pain it had sought human
companionship and help and it made no threatening gesture as she
looped one end of the torn petticoat about its horns.  She tied the
other end to the back of the wagon, as securely as her awkward
fingers would permit.  Then, as she started back toward the
driver's seat, a vast weariness assailed her and she swayed
dizzily.  She clutched the side of the wagon to keep from falling.

Melanie opened her eyes and, seeing Scarlett standing beside her,
whispered:  "Dear--are we home?"

Home!  Hot tears came to Scarlett's eyes at the word.  Home.
Melanie did not know there was no home and that they were alone in
a mad and desolate world.

"Not yet," she said, as gently as the constriction of her throat
would permit, "but we will be, soon.  I've just found a cow and
soon we'll have some milk for you and the baby."

"Poor baby," whispered Melanie, her hand creeping feebly toward the
child and falling short.

Climbing back into the wagon required all the strength Scarlett
could muster, but at last it was done and she picked up the lines.
The horse stood with head drooping dejectedly and refused to start.
Scarlett laid on the whip mercilessly.  She hoped God would forgive
her for hurting a tired animal.  If He didn't she was sorry.  After
all, Tara lay just ahead, and after the next quarter of a mile, the
horse could drop in the shafts if he liked.

Finally he started slowly, the wagon creaking and the cow lowing
mournfully at every step.  The pained animal's voice rasped on
Scarlett's nerves until she was tempted to stop and untie the
beast.  What good would the cow do them anyway if there should be
no one at Tara?  She couldn't milk her and, even if she could, the
animal would probably kick anyone who touched her sore udder.  But
she had the cow and she might as well keep her.  There was little
else she had in this world now.

Scarlett's eyes grew misty when, at last, they reached the bottom
of a gentle incline, for just over the rise lay Tara!  Then her
heart sank.  The decrepit animal would never pull the hill.  The
slope had always seemed so slight, so gradual, in days when she
galloped up it on her fleet-footed mare.  It did not seem possible
it could have grown so steep since she saw it last.  The horse
would never make it with the heavy load.

Wearily she dismounted and took the animal by the bridle.

"Get out, Prissy," she commanded, "and take Wade.  Either carry him
or make him walk.  Lay the baby by Miss Melanie."

Wade broke into sobs and whimperings from which Scarlett could only
distinguish:  "Dark--dark--Wade fwightened!"

"Miss Scarlett, Ah kain walk.  Mah feets done blistered an' dey's
thoo mah shoes, an' Wade an' me doan weigh so much an'--"

"Get out!  Get out before I pull you out!  And if I do, I'm going
to leave you right here, in the dark by yourself.  Quick, now!"

Prissy moaned, peering at the dark trees that closed about them on
both sides of the road--trees which might reach out and clutch her
if she left the shelter of the wagon.  But she laid the baby beside
Melanie, scrambled to the ground and, reaching up, lifted Wade out.
The little boy sobbed, shrinking close to his nurse.

"Make him hush.  I can't stand it," said Scarlett, taking the horse
by the bridle and pulling him to a reluctant start.  "Be a little
man, Wade, and stop crying or I will come over there and slap you."

Why had God invented children, she thought savagely as she turned
her ankle cruelly on the dark road--useless, crying nuisances they
were, always demanding care, always in the way.  In her exhaustion,
there was no room for compassion for the frightened child, trotting
by Prissy's side, dragging at her hand and sniffling--only a
weariness that she had borne him, only a tired wonder that she had
ever married Charles Hamilton.

"Miss Scarlett," whispered Prissy, clutching her mistress' arm,
"doan le's go ter Tara.  Dey's not dar.  Dey's all done gone.
Maybe dey daid--Maw an' all'm."

The echo of her own thoughts infuriated her and Scarlett shook off
the pinching fingers.

"Then give me Wade's hand.  You can sit right down here and stay."

"No'm!  No'm!"

"Then HUSH!"

How slowly the horse moved!  The moisture from his slobbering mouth
dripped down upon her hand.  Through her mind ran a few words of
the song she had once sung with Rhett--she could not recall the
rest:


"Just a few more days for to tote the weary load--"


"Just a few more steps," hummed her brain, over and over, "just a
few more steps for to tote the weary load."

Then they topped the rise and before them lay the oaks of Tara, a
towering dark mass against the darkening sky.  Scarlett looked
hastily to see if there was a light anywhere.  There was none.

"They are gone!" said her heart, like cold lead in her breast.
"Gone!"

She turned the horse's head into the driveway, and the cedars,
meeting over their heads cast them into midnight blackness.
Peering up the long tunnel of darkness, straining her eyes she saw
ahead--or did she see?  Were her tired eyes playing her tricks?--
the white bricks of Tara blurred and indistinct.  Home!  Home!  The
dear white walls, the windows with the fluttering curtains, the
wide verandas--were they all there ahead of her, in the gloom?  Or
did the darkness mercifully conceal such a horror as the MacIntosh
house?

The avenue seemed miles long and the horse, pulling stubbornly at
her hand, plopped slower and slower.  Eagerly her eyes searched the
darkness.  The roof seemed to be intact.  Could it be--could it
be--?  No, it wasn't possible.  War stopped for nothing, not even
Tara, built to last five hundred years.  It could not have passed
over Tara.

Then the shadowy outline did take form.  She pulled the horse
forward faster.  The white walls did show there through the
darkness.  And untarnished by smoke.  Tara had escaped!  Home!  She
dropped the bridle and ran the last few steps, leaped forward with
an urge to clutch the walls themselves in her arms.  Then she saw a
form, shadowy in the dimness, emerging from the blackness of the
front veranda and standing at the top of the steps.  Tara was not
deserted.  Someone was home!

A cry of joy rose to her throat and died there.  The house was so
dark and still and the figure did not move or call to her.  What
was wrong?  What was wrong?  Tara stood intact, yet shrouded with
the same eerie quiet that hung over the whole stricken countryside.
Then the figure moved.  Stiffly and slowly, it came down the steps.

"Pa?" she whispered huskily, doubting almost that it was he.  "It's
me--Katie Scarlett.  I've come home."

Gerald moved toward her, silent as a sleepwalker, his stiff leg
dragging.  He came close to her, looking at her in a dazed way as
if he believed she was part of a dream.  Putting out his hand, he
laid it on her shoulder.  Scarlett felt it tremble, tremble as if
he had been awakened from a nightmare into a half-sense of reality.

"Daughter," he said with an effort.  "Daughter."

Then he was silent.

Why--he's an old man! thought Scarlett.

Gerald's shoulders sagged.  In the face which she could only see
dimly, there was none of the virility, the restless vitality of
Gerald, and the eyes that looked into hers had almost the same
fear-stunned look that lay in little Wade's eyes.  He was only a
little old man and broken.

And now, fear of unknown things seized her, leaped swiftly out of
the darkness at her and she could only stand and stare at him, all
the flood of questioning dammed up at her lips.

From the wagon the faint wailing sounded again and Gerald seemed to
rouse himself with an effort.

"It's Melanie and her baby," whispered Scarlett rapidly.  "She's
very ill--I brought her home."

Gerald dropped his hand from her arm and straightened his
shoulders.  As he moved slowly to the side of the wagon, there was
a ghostly semblance of the old host of Tara welcoming guests, as if
Gerald spoke words from out of shadowy memory.

"Cousin Melanie!"

Melanie's voice murmured indistinctly.

"Cousin Melanie, this is your home.  Twelve Oaks is burned.  You
must stay with us."

Thoughts of Melanie's prolonged suffering spurred Scarlett to
action.  The present was with her again, the necessity of laying
Melanie and her child on a soft bed and doing those small things
for her that could be done.

"She must be carried.  She can't walk."

There was a scuffle of feet and a dark figure emerged from the cave
of the front hall.  Pork ran down the steps.

"Miss Scarlett!  Miss Scarlett!" he cried.

Scarlett caught him by the arms.  Pork, part and parcel of Tara, as
dear as the bricks and the cool corridors!  She felt his tears
stream down on her hands as he patted her clumsily, crying:  "Sho
is glad you back!  Sho is--"

Prissy burst into tears and incoherent mumblings:  "Poke!  Poke,
honey!"  And little Wade, encouraged by the weakness of his elders,
began sniffling:  "Wade thirsty!"

Scarlett caught them all in hand.

"Miss Melanie is in the wagon and her baby too.  Pork, you must
carry her upstairs very carefully and put her in the back company
room.  Prissy, take the baby and Wade inside and give Wade a drink
of water.  Is Mammy here, Pork?  Tell her I want her."

Galvanized by the authority in her voice, Pork approached the wagon
and fumbled at the backboard.  A moan was wrenched from Melanie as
he half-lifted, half-dragged her from the feather tick on which she
had lain so many hours.  And then she was in Pork's strong arms,
her head drooping like a child's across his shoulder.  Prissy,
holding the baby and dragging Wade by the hand, followed them up
the wide steps and disappeared into the blackness of the hall.

Scarlett's bleeding fingers sought her father's hand urgently.

"Did they get well, Pa?"

"The girls are recovering."

Silence fell and in the silence an idea too monstrous for words
took form.  She could not, could not force it to her lips.  She
swallowed and swallowed but a sudden dryness seemed to have stuck
the sides of her throat together.  Was this the answer to the
frightening riddle of Tara's silence?  As if answering the question
in her mind Gerald spoke.

"Your mother--" he said and stopped.

"And--Mother?"

"Your mother died yesterday."



Her father's arm held tightly in her own, Scarlett felt her way
down the wide dark hall which, even in its blackness, was as
familiar as her own mind.  She avoided the high-backed chairs, the
empty gun rack, the old sideboard with its protruding claw feet,
and she felt herself drawn by instinct to the tiny office at the
back of the house where Ellen always sat, keeping her endless
accounts.  Surely, when she entered that room, Mother would again
be sitting there before the secretary and would look up, quill
poised, and rise with sweet fragrance and rustling hoops to meet
her tired daughter.  Ellen could not be dead, not even though Pa
had said it, said it over and over like a parrot that knows only
one phrase:  "She died yesterday--she died yesterday--she died
yesterday."

Queer that she should feel nothing now, nothing except a weariness
that shackled her limbs with heavy iron chains and a hunger that
made her knees tremble.  She would think of Mother later.  She must
put her mother out of her mind now, else she would stumble stupidly
like Gerald or sob monotonously like Wade.

Pork came down the wide dark steps toward them, hurrying to press
close to Scarlett like a cold animal toward a fire.

"Lights?" she questioned.  "Why is the house so dark, Pork?  Bring
candles."

"Dey tuck all de candles, Miss Scarlett, all 'cept one we been
usin' ter fine things in de dahk wid, an' it's 'bout gone.  Mammy
been usin' a rag in a dish of hawg fat fer a light fer nussin' Miss
Careen an' Miss Suellen."

"Bring what's left of the candle," she ordered.  "Bring it into
Mother's--into the office."

Pork pattered into the dining room and Scarlett groped her way into
the inky small room and sank down on the sofa.  Her father's arm
still lay in the crook of hers, helpless, appealing, trusting, as
only the hands of the very young and the very old can be.

"He's an old man, an old tired man," she thought again and vaguely
wondered why she could not care.

Light wavered into the room as Pork entered carrying high a half-
burned candle stuck in a saucer.  The dark cave came to life, the
sagging old sofa on which they sat, the tall secretary reaching
toward the ceiling with Mother's fragile carved chair before it,
the racks of pigeonholes, still stuffed with papers written in her
fine hand, the worn carpet--all, all were the same, except that
Ellen was not there, Ellen with the faint scent of lemon verbena
sachet and the sweet look in her up-tilted eyes.  Scarlett felt a
small pain in her heart as of nerves numbed by a deep wound,
struggling to make themselves felt again.  She must not let them
come to life now; there was all the rest of her life ahead of her
in which they could ache.  But, not now!  Please, God, not now!

She looked into Gerald's putty-colored face and, for the first time
in her life, she saw him unshaven, his once florid face covered
with silvery bristles.  Pork placed the candle on the candle stand
and came to her side.  Scarlett felt that if he had been a dog he
would have laid his muzzle in her lap and whined for a kind hand
upon his head.

"Pork, how many darkies are here?"

"Miss Scarlett, dem trashy niggers done runned away an' some of dem
went off wid de Yankees an'--"

"How many are left?"

"Dey's me, Miss Scarlett, an' Mammy.  She been nussin' de young
Misses all day.  An' Dilcey, she settin' up wid de young Misses
now.  Us three, Miss Scarlett."

"Us three" where there had been a hundred.  Scarlett with an effort
lifted her head on her aching neck.  She knew she must keep her
voice steady.  To her surprise, words came out as coolly and
naturally as if there had never been a war and she could, by waving
her hand, call ten house servants to her.

"Pork, I'm starving.  Is there anything to eat?"

"No'm.  Dey tuck it all."

"But the garden?"

"Dey tuhned dey hawses loose in it."

"Even the sweet potato hills?"

Something almost like a pleased smile broke his thick lips.

"Miss Scarlett, Ah done fergit de yams.  Ah specs dey's right dar.
Dem Yankee folks ain' never seed no yams an' dey thinks dey's jes'
roots an'--"

"The moon will be up soon.  You go out and dig us some and roast
them.  There's no corn meal?  No dried peas?  No chickens?"

"No'm.  No'm.  Whut chickens dey din' eat right hyah dey cah'ied
off 'cross dey saddles."

They--  They--  They--  Was there no end to what 'They" had done?
Was it not enough to burn and kill?  Must they also leave women and
children and helpless negroes to starve in a country which they had
desolated?

"Miss Scarlett, Ah got some apples Mammy buhied unner de house.  We
been eatin' on dem today."

"Bring them before you dig the potatoes.  And, Pork--I--I feel so
faint.  Is there any wine in the cellar, even blackberry?"

"Oh, Miss Scarlett, de cellar wuz de fust place dey went."

A swimming nausea compounded of hunger, sleeplessness, exhaustion
and stunning blows came on suddenly and she gripped the carved
roses under her hand.

"No wine," she said dully, remembering the endless rows of bottles
in the cellar.  A memory stirred.

"Pork, what of the corn whisky Pa buried in the oak barrel under
the scuppernong arbor?"

Another ghost of a smile lit the black face, a smile of pleasure
and respect.

"Miss Scarlett, you sho is de beatenes' chile!  Ah done plum fergit
dat bah'l.  But, Miss Scarlett, dat whisky ain' no good.  Ain' been
dar but 'bout a year an' whisky ain' no good fer ladies nohow."

How stupid negroes were!  They never thought of anything unless
they were told.  And the Yankees wanted to free them.

"It'll be good enough for this lady and for Pa.  Hurry, Pork, and
dig it up and bring us two glasses and some mint and sugar and I'll
mix a julep."

"Miss Scarlett, you knows dey ain' been no sugar at Tara fer de
longes'.  An' dey hawses done et up all de mint an' dey done broke
all de glasses."

If he says "They" once more, I'll scream.  I can't help it, she
thought, and then, aloud:  "Well, hurry and get the whisky,
quickly.  We'll take it neat."  And, as he turned:  "Wait, Pork.
There's so many things to do that I can't seem to think. . . .  Oh,
yes.  I brought home a horse and a cow and the cow needs milking,
badly, and unharness the horse and water him.  Go tell Mammy to
look after the cow.  Tell her she's got to fix the cow up somehow.
Miss Melanie's baby will die if he doesn't get something to eat
and--"

"Miss Melly ain'--kain--?"  Pork paused delicately.

"Miss Melanie has no milk."  Dear God, but Mother would faint at
that!

"Well, Miss Scarlett, mah Dilcey ten' ter Miss Melly's chile.  Mah
Dilcey got a new chile herseff an' she got mo'n nuff fer both."

"You've got a new baby, Pork?"

Babies, babies, babies.  Why did God make so many babies?  But no,
God didn't make them.  Stupid people made them.

"Yas'm, big fat black boy.  He--"

"Go tell Dilcey to leave the girls.  I'll look after them.  Tell
her to nurse Miss Melanie's baby and do what she can for Miss
Melanie.  Tell Mammy to look after the cow and put that poor horse
in the stable."

"Dey ain' no stable, Miss Scarlett.  Dey use it fer fiah wood."

"Don't tell me any more what 'They' did.  Tell Dilcey to look after
them.  And you, Pork, go dig up that whisky and then some
potatoes."

"But, Miss Scarlett, Ah ain' got no light ter dig by."

"You can use a stick of firewood, can't you?"

"Dey ain' no fiah wood--Dey--"

"Do something. . . .  I don't care what.  But dig those things and
dig them fast.  Now, hurry."

Pork scurried from the room as her voice roughened and Scarlett was
left alone with Gerald.  She patted his leg gently.  She noted how
shrunken were the thighs that once bulged with saddle muscles.  She
must do something to drag him from his apathy--but she could not
ask about Mother.  That must come later, when she could stand it.

"Why didn't they burn Tara?"

Gerald stared at her for a moment as if not hearing her and she
repeated her question.

"Why--" he fumbled, "they used the house as a headquarters."

"Yankees--in this house?"

A feeling that the beloved walls had been defiled rose in her.
This house, sacred because Ellen had lived in it, and those--those--
in it.

"So they were, Daughter.  We saw the smoke from Twelve Oaks, across
the river, before they came.  But Miss Honey and Miss India and
some of their darkies had refugeed to Macon, so we did not worry
about them.  But we couldn't be going to Macon.  The girls were so
sick--your mother--we couldn't be going.  Our darkies ran--I'm not
knowing where.  They stole the wagons and the mules.  Mammy and
Dilcey and Pork--they didn't run.  The girls--your mother--we
couldn't be moving them."

"Yes, yes."  He mustn't talk about Mother.  Anything else.  Even
that General Sherman himself had used this room, Mother's office,
for his headquarters.  Anything else.

"The Yankees were moving on Jonesboro, to cut the railroad.  And
they came up the road from the river--thousands and thousands--and
cannon and horses--thousands.  I met them on the front porch."

"Oh, gallant little Gerald!" thought Scarlett, her heart swelling,
Gerald meeting the enemy on the stairs of Tara as if an army stood
behind him instead of in front of him.

"They said for me to leave, that they would be burning the place.
And I said that they would be burning it over my head.  We could
not leave--the girls--your mother were--"

"And then?"  Must he revert to Ellen always?

"I told them there was sickness in the house, the typhoid, and it
was death to move them.  They could burn the roof over us.  I did
not want to leave anyway--leave Tara--"

His voice trailed off into silence as he looked absently about the
walls and Scarlett understood.  There were too many Irish ancestors
crowding behind Gerald's shoulders, men who had died on scant
acres, fighting to the end rather than leave the homes where they
had lived, plowed, loved, begotten sons.

"I said that they would be burning the house over the heads of
three dying women.  But we would not leave.  The young officer was--
was a gentleman."

"A Yankee a gentleman?  Why, Pa!"

"A gentleman.  He galloped away and soon he was back with a
captain, a surgeon, and he looked at the girls--and your mother."

"You let a damned Yankee into their room?"

"He had opium.  We had none.  He saved your sisters.  Suellen was
hemorrhaging.  He was as kind as he knew how.  And when he reported
that they were--ill--they did not burn the house.  They moved in,
some general, his staff, crowding in.  They filled all the rooms
except the sick room.  And the soldiers--"

He paused again, as if too tired to go on.  His stubbly chin sank
heavily in loose folds of flesh on his chest.  With an effort he
spoke again.

"They camped all round the house, everywhere, in the cotton, in the
corn.  The pasture was blue with them.  That night there were a
thousand campfires.  They tore down the fences and burned them to
cook with and the barns and the stables and the smokehouse.  They
killed the cows and the hogs and the chickens--even my turkeys."
Gerald's precious turkeys.  So they were gone.  "They took things,
even the pictures--some of the furniture, the china--"

"The silver?"

"Pork and Mammy did something with the silver--put it in the well--
but I'm not remembering now," Gerald's voice was fretful.  "Then
they fought the battle from here--from Tara--there was so much
noise, people galloping up and stamping about.  And later the
cannon at Jonesboro--it sounded like thunder--even the girls could
hear it, sick as they were, and they kept saying over and over:
'Papa, make it stop thundering.'"

"And--and Mother?  Did she know Yankees were in the house?"

"She--never knew anything."

"Thank God," said Scarlett.  Mother was spared that.  Mother never
knew, never heard the enemy in the rooms below, never heard the
guns at Jonesboro, never learned that the land which was part of
her heart was under Yankee feet.

"I saw few of them for I stayed upstairs with the girls and your
mother.  I saw the young surgeon mostly.  He was kind, so kind,
Scarlett.  After he'd worked all day with the wounded, he came and
sat with them.  He even left some medicine.  He told me when they
moved on that the girls would recover but your mother--  She was so
frail, he said--too frail to stand it all.  He said she had
undermined her strength. . . ."

In the silence that fell, Scarlett saw her mother as she must have
been in those last days, a thin power of strength in Tara, nursing,
working, doing without sleep and food that the others might rest
and eat.

"And then, they moved on.  Then, they moved on."

He was silent for a long time and then fumbled at her hand.

"It's glad I am you are home," he said simply.

There was a scraping noise on the back porch.  Poor Pork, trained
for forty years to clean his shoes before entering the house, did
not forget, even in a time like this.  He came in, carefully
carrying two gourds, and the strong smell of dripping spirits
entered before him.

"Ah spilt a plen'y, Miss Scarlett.  It's pow'ful hard ter po' outer
a bung hole inter a go'de."

"That's quite all right, Pork, and thank you."  She took the wet
gourd dipper from him, her nostrils wrinkling in distaste at the
reek.

"Drink this, Father," she said, pushing the whisky in its strange
receptacle into his hand and taking the second gourd of water from
Pork.  Gerald raised it, obedient as a child, and gulped noisily.
She handed the water to him but he shook his head.

As she took the whisky from him and held it to her mouth, she saw
his eyes follow her, a vague stirring of disapproval in them.

"I know no lady drinks spirits," she said briefly.  "But today I'm
no lady, Pa, and there is work to do tonight."

She tilted the dipper, drew a deep breath and drank swiftly.  The
hot liquid burned down her throat to her stomach, choking her and
bringing tears to her eyes.  She drew another breath and raised it
again.

"Katie Scarlett," said Gerald, the first note of authority she had
heard in his voice since her return, "that is enough.  You're not
knowing spirits and they will be making you tipsy."

"Tipsy?"  She laughed an ugly laugh.  "Tipsy?  I hope it makes me
drunk.  I would like to be drunk and forget all of this."

She drank again, a slow train of warmth lighting in her veins and
stealing through her body until even her finger tips tingled.  What
a blessed feeling, this kindly fire.  It seemed to penetrate even
her ice-locked heart and strength came coursing back into her body.
Seeing Gerald's puzzled hurt face, she patted his knee again and
managed an imitation of the pert smile he used to love.

"How could it make me tipsy, Pa?  I'm your daughter.  Haven't I
inherited the steadiest head in Clayton County?"

He almost smiled into her tired face.  The whisky was bracing him
too.  She handed it back to him.

"Now you're going to take another drink and then I am going to take
you upstairs and put you to bed."

She caught herself.  Why, this was the way she talked to Wade--she
should not address her father like this.  It was disrespectful.
But he hung on her words.

"Yes, put you to bed," she added lightly, "and give you another
drink--maybe all the dipper and make you go to sleep.  You need
sleep and Katie Scarlett is here, so you need not worry about
anything.  Drink."

He drank again obediently and, slipping her arm through his, she
pulled him to his feet.

"Pork. . . ."

Pork took the gourd in one hand and Gerald's arm in the other.
Scarlett picked up the flaring candle and the three walked slowly
into the dark hall and up the winding steps toward Gerald's room.

The room where Suellen and Carreen lay mumbling and tossing on the
same bed stank vilely with the smell of the twisted rag burning in
a saucer of bacon fat, which provided the only light.  When
Scarlett first opened the door the thick atmosphere of the room,
with all windows closed and the air reeking with sick-room odors,
medicine smells and stinking grease, almost made her faint.
Doctors might say that fresh air was fatal in a sick room but if
she were to sit here, she must have air or die.  She opened the
three windows, bringing in the smell of oak leaves and earth, but
the fresh air could do little toward dispelling the sickening odors
which had accumulated for weeks in this close room.

Carreen and Suellen, emaciated and white, slept brokenly and awoke
to mumble with wide, staring eyes in the tall four-poster bed where
they had whispered together in better, happier days.  In the corner
of the room was an empty bed, a narrow French Empire bed with
curling head and foot, a bed which Ellen had brought from Savannah.
This was where Ellen had lain.

Scarlett sat beside the two girls, staring at them stupidly.  The
whisky taken on a stomach long empty was playing tricks on her.
Sometimes her sisters seemed far away and tiny and their incoherent
voices came to her like the buzz of insects.  And again, they
loomed large, rushing at her with lightning speed.  She was tired,
tired to the bone.  She could lie down and sleep for days.

If she could only lie down and sleep and wake to feel Ellen gently
shaking her arm and saying:  "It is late, Scarlett.  You must not
be so lazy."  But she could not ever do that again.  If there were
only Ellen, someone older than she, wiser and unweary, to whom she
could go!  Someone in whose lap she could lay her head, someone on
whose shoulders she could rest her burdens!

The door opened softly and Dilcey entered, Melanie's baby held to
her breast, the gourd of whisky in her hand.  In the smoky,
uncertain light, she seemed thinner than when Scarlett last saw her
and the Indian blood was more evident in her face.  The high cheek
bones were more prominent, the hawk-bridged nose was sharper and
her copper skin gleamed with a brighter hue.  Her faded calico
dress was open to the waist and her large bronze breast exposed.
Held close against her, Melanie's baby pressed his pale rosebud
mouth greedily to the dark nipple, sucking, gripping tiny fists
against the soft flesh like a kitten in the warm fur of its
mother's belly.

Scarlett rose unsteadily and put a hand on Dilcey's arm.

"It was good of you to stay, Dilcey."

"How could I go off wid them trashy niggers, Miss Scarlett, after
yo' pa been so good to buy me and my little Prissy and yo' ma been
so kine?"

"Sit down, Dilcey.  The baby can eat all right, then?  And how is
Miss Melanie?"

"Nuthin' wrong wid this chile 'cept he hongry, and whut it take to
feed a hongry chile I got.  No'm, Miss Melanie is all right.  She
ain' gwine die, Miss Scarlett.  Doan you fret yo'seff.  I seen too
many, white and black, lak her.  She mighty tired and nervous like
and scared fo' this baby.  But I hesh her and give her some of whut
was lef' in that go'de and she sleepin'."

So the corn whisky had been used by the whole family!  Scarlett
thought hysterically that perhaps she had better give a drink to
little Wade and see if it would stop his hiccoughs--  And Melanie
would not die.  And when Ashley came home--if he did come home . . .
No, she would think of that later too.  So much to think of--
later!  So many things to unravel--to decide.  If only she could
put off the hour of reckoning forever!  She started suddenly as a
creaking noise and a rhythmic "Ker-bunk--ker-bunk--" broke the
stillness of the air outside.

"That's Mammy gettin' the water to sponge off the young Misses.
They takes a heap of bathin'," explained Dilcey, propping the gourd
on the table between medicine bottles and a glass.

Scarlett laughed suddenly.  Her nerves must be shredded if the
noise of the well windlass, bound up in her earliest memories,
could frighten her.  Dilcey looked at her steadily as she laughed,
her face immobile in its dignity, but Scarlett felt that Dilcey
understood.  She sank back in her chair.  If she could only be rid
of her tight stays, the collar that choked her and the slippers
still full of sand and gravel that blistered her feet.

The windlass creaked slowly as the rope wound up, each creak
bringing the bucket nearer the top.  Soon Mammy would be with her--
Ellen's Mammy, her Mammy.  She sat silent, intent on nothing, while
the baby, already glutted with milk, whimpered because he had lost
the friendly nipple.  Dilcey, silent too, guided the child's mouth
back, quieting him in her arms as Scarlett listened to the slow
scuffing of Mammy's feet across the back yard.  How still the night
air was!  The slightest sounds roared in her ears.

The upstairs hall seemed to shake as Mammy's ponderous weight came
toward the door.  Then Mammy was in the room, Mammy with shoulders
dragged down by two heavy wooden buckets, her kind black face sad
with the uncomprehending sadness of a monkey's face.

Her eyes lighted up at the sight of Scarlett, her white teeth
gleamed as she set down the buckets, and Scarlett ran to her,
laying her head on the broad, sagging breasts which had held so
many heads, black and white.  Here was something of stability,
thought Scarlett, something of the old life that was unchanging.
But Mammy's first words dispelled this illusion.

"Mammy's chile is home!  Oh, Miss Scarlett, now dat Miss Ellen's in
de grabe, whut is we gwine ter do?  Oh, Miss Scarlett, effen Ah wuz
jes' daid longside Miss Ellen!  Ah kain make out widout Miss Ellen.
Ain' nuthin' lef' now but mizry an' trouble.  Jes' weery loads,
honey, jes' weery loads."

As Scarlett lay with her head hugged close to Mammy's breast, two
words caught her attention, "weery loads."  Those were the words
which had hummed in her brain that afternoon so monotonously they
had sickened her.  Now, she remembered the rest of the song,
remembered with a sinking heart:


"Just a few more days for to tote the weary load!
No matter, 'twill never be light!
Just a few more days till we totter in the road--"


"No matter, 'twill never be light"--she took the words to her tired
mind.  Would her load never be light?  Was coming home to Tara to
mean, not blessed surcease, but only more loads to carry?  She
slipped from Mammy's arms and, reaching up, patted the wrinkled
black face.

"Honey, yo' han's!"  Mammy took the small hands with their blisters
and blood clots in hers and looked at them with horrified
disapproval.  "Miss Scarlett, Ah done tole you an' tole you dat you
kin allus tell a lady by her han's an'--yo' face sunbuhnt too!"

Poor Mammy, still the martinet about such unimportant things even
though war and death had just passed over her head!  In another
moment she would be saying that young Misses with blistered hands
and freckles most generally didn't never catch husbands and
Scarlett forestalled the remark.

"Mammy, I want you to tell me about Mother.  I couldn't bear to
hear Pa talk about her."

Tears started from Mammy's eyes as she leaned down to pick up the
buckets.  In silence she carried them to the bedside and, turning
down the sheet, began pulling up the night clothes of Suellen and
Carreen.  Scarlett, peering at her sisters in the dim flaring
light, saw that Carreen wore a nightgown, clean but in tatters, and
Suellen lay wrapped in an old negligee, a brown linen garment heavy
with tagging ends of Irish lace.  Mammy cried silently as she
sponged the gaunt bodies, using the remnant of an old apron as a
cloth.

"Miss Scarlett, it wuz dem Slatterys, dem trashy, no-good, low-down
po'-w'ite Slatterys dat kilt Miss Ellen.  Ah done tole her an' tole
her it doan do no good doin' things fer trashy folks, but Miss
Ellen wuz so sot in her ways an' her heart so sof' she couldn'
never say no ter nobody whut needed her."

"Slatterys?" questioned Scarlett, bewildered.  "How do they come
in?"

"Dey wuz sick wid disyere thing," Mammy gestured with her rag to
the two naked girls, dripping with water on their damp sheet.  "Ole
Miss Slattery's gal, Emmie, come down wid it an' Miss Slattery come
hotfootin' it up hyah affer Miss Ellen, lak she allus done w'en
anything wrong.  Why din' she nuss her own?  Miss Ellen had mo'n
she could tote anyways.  But Miss Ellen she went down dar an' she
nuss Emmie.  An' Miss Ellen wuzn' well a-tall herseff, Miss
Scarlett.  Yo' ma hadn' been well fer de longes'.  Dey ain' been
too much ter eat roun' hyah, wid de commissary stealin' eve'y thing
us growed.  An' Miss Ellen eat lak a bird anyways.  An' Ah tole her
an' tole her ter let dem w'ite trash alone, but she din' pay me no
mine.  Well'm, 'bout de time Emmie look lak she gittin' better,
Miss Carreen come down wid it.  Yas'm, de typhoy fly right up de
road an' ketch Miss Carreen, an' den down come Miss Suellen.  So
Miss Ellen, she tuck an' nuss dem too.

"Wid all de fightin' up de road an' de Yankees 'cross de river an'
us not knowin' whut wuz gwine ter happen ter us an' de fe'el han's
runnin' off eve'y night, Ah's 'bout crazy.  But Miss Ellen jes' as
cool as a cucumber.  'Cept she wuz worried ter a ghos' 'bout de
young Misses kase we couldn' git no medicines nor nuthin'.  An' one
night she say ter me affer we done sponge off de young Misses 'bout
ten times, she say, 'Mammy, effen Ah could sell mah soul, Ah'd sell
it fer some ice ter put on mah gals' haids.'

"She wouldn't let Mist' Gerald come in hyah, nor Rosa nor Teena,
nobody but me, kase Ah done had de typhoy.  An' den it tuck her,
Miss Scarlett, an' Ah seed right off dat 'twarnt no use."

Mammy straightened up and, raising her apron, dried her streaming
eyes.

"She went fas', Miss Scarlett, an' even dat nice Yankee doctah
couldn' do nuthin' fer her.  She din' know nuthin' a-tall.  Ah call
ter her an' talk ter her but she din' even know her own Mammy."

"Did she--did she ever mention me--call for me?"

"No, honey.  She think she is lil gal back in Savannah.  She din'
call nobody by name."

Dilcey stirred and laid the sleeping baby across her knees.

"Yes'm, she did.  She did call somebody."

"You hesh yo' mouf, you Injun-nigger!"  Mammy turned with
threatening violence on Dilcey.

"Hush, Mammy!  Who did she call, Dilcey?  Pa?"

"No'm.  Not yo' pa.  It wuz the night the cotton buhnt--"

"Has the cotton gone--tell me quickly!"

"Yes'm, it buhnt up.  The sojers rolls it out of the shed into the
back yard and hollers, 'Here the bigges' bonfiah in Georgia,' and
tech it off."

Three years of stored cotton--one hundred and fifty thousand
dollars, all in one blaze!

"And the fiah light up the place lak it wuz day--we wuz scared the
house would buhn, too, and it wuz so bright in this hyah room that
you could mos' pick a needle offen the flo'.  And w'en the light
shine in the winder, it look lak it wake Miss Ellen up and she set
right up in bed and cry out loud, time and again:  'Feeleep!
Feeleep!'  I ain' never heerd no sech name but it wuz a name and
she wuz callin' him."

Mammy stood as though turned to stone glaring at Dilcey but
Scarlett dropped her head into her hands.  Philippe--who was he and
what had he been to Mother that she died calling him?



The long road from Atlanta to Tara had ended, ended in a blank
wall, the road that was to end in Ellen's arms.  Never again could
Scarlett lie down, as a child, secure beneath her father's roof
with the protection of her mother's love wrapped about her like an
eiderdown quilt.  There was no security or haven to which she could
turn now.  No turning or twisting would avoid this dead end to
which she had come.  There was no one on whose shoulders she could
rest her burdens.  Her father was old and stunned, her sisters ill,
Melanie frail and weak, the children helpless, and the negroes
looking up to her with childlike faith, clinging to her skirts,
knowing that Ellen's daughter would be the refuge Ellen had always
been.

Through the window, in the faint light of the rising moon, Tara
stretched before her, negroes gone, acres desolate, barns ruined,
like a body bleeding under her eyes, like her own body, slowly
bleeding.  This was the end of the road, quivering old age,
sickness, hungry mouths, helpless hands plucking at her skirts.
And at the end of this road, there was nothing--nothing but
Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton, nineteen years old, a widow with a little
child.

What would she do with all of this?  Aunt Pitty and the Burrs in
Macon could take Melanie and her baby.  If the girls recovered,
Ellen's family would have to take them, whether they liked it or
not.  And she and Gerald could turn to Uncle James and Andrew.

She looked at the thin forms, tossing before her, the sheets about
them moist and dark from dripping water.  She did not like Suellen.
She saw it now with a sudden clarity.  She had never liked her.
She did not especially love Carreen--she could not love anyone who
was weak.  But they were of her blood, part of Tara.  No, she could
not let them live out their lives in their aunts' homes as poor
relations.  An O'Hara a poor relation, living on charity bread and
sufferance!  Oh, never that!

Was there no escape from this dead end?  Her tired brain moved so
slowly.  She raised her hands to her head as wearily as if the air
were water against which her arms struggled.  She took the gourd
from between the glass and bottle and looked in it.  There was some
whisky left in the bottom, how much she could not tell in the
uncertain light.  Strange that the sharp smell did not offend her
nostrils now.  She drank slowly but this time the liquid did not
burn, only a dull warmth followed.

She set down the empty gourd and looked about her.  This was all a
dream, this smoke-filled dim room, the scrawny girls, Mammy
shapeless and huge crouching beside the bed, Dilcey a still bronze
image with the sleeping pink morsel against her dark breast--all a
dream from which she would awake, to smell bacon frying in the
kitchen, hear the throaty laughter of the negroes and the creaking
of wagons fieldward bound, and Ellen's gentle insistent hand upon
her.

Then she discovered she was in her own room, on her own bed, faint
moonlight pricking the darkness, and Mammy and Dilcey were
undressing her.  The torturing stays no longer pinched her waist
and she could breathe deeply and quietly to the bottom of her lungs
and her abdomen.  She felt her stockings being stripped gently from
her and heard Mammy murmuring indistinguishable comforting sounds
as she bathed her blistered feet.  How cool the water was, how good
to lie here in softness, like a child.  She sighed and relaxed and
after a time which might have been a year or a second, she was
alone and the room was brighter as the rays of the moon streamed in
across the bed.

She did not know she was drunk, drunk with fatigue and whisky.  She
only knew she had left her tired body and floated somewhere above
it where there was no pain and weariness and her brain saw things
with an inhuman clarity.

She was seeing things with new eyes for, somewhere along the long
road to Tara, she had left her girlhood behind her.  She was no
longer plastic clay, yielding imprint to each new experience.  The
clay had hardened, some time in this indeterminate day which had
lasted a thousand years.  Tonight was the last time she would ever
be ministered to as a child.  She was a woman now and youth was
gone.

No, she could not, would not, turn to Gerald's or Ellen's families.
The O'Haras did not take charity.  The O'Haras looked after their
own.  Her burdens were her own and burdens were for shoulders
strong enough to bear them.  She thought without surprise, looking
down from her height, that her shoulders were strong enough to bear
anything now, having borne the worst that could ever happen to her.
She could not desert Tara; she belonged to the red acres far more
than they could ever belong to her.  Her roots went deep into the
blood-colored soil and sucked up life, as did the cotton.  She
would stay at Tara and keep it, somehow, keep her father and her
sisters, Melanie and Ashley's child, the negroes.  Tomorrow--oh,
tomorrow!  Tomorrow she would fit the yoke about her neck.
Tomorrow there would be so many things to do.  Go to Twelve Oaks
and the MacIntosh place and see if anything was left in the
deserted gardens, go to the river swamps and beat them for straying
hogs and chickens, go to Jonesboro and Lovejoy with Ellen's
jewelry--there must be someone left there who would sell something
to eat.  Tomorrow--tomorrow--her brain ticked slowly and more
slowly, like a clock running down, but the clarity of vision
persisted.

Of a sudden, the oft-told family tales to which she had listened
since babyhood, listened half-bored, impatient and but partly
comprehending, were crystal clear.  Gerald, penniless, had raised
Tara; Ellen had risen above some mysterious sorrow; Grandfather
Robillard, surviving the wreck of Napoleon's throne, had founded
his fortunes anew on the fertile Georgia coast; Great-grandfather
Prudhomme had carved a small kingdom out of the dark jungles of
Haiti, lost it, and lived to see his name honored in Savannah.
There were the Scarletts who had fought with the Irish Volunteers
for a free Ireland and been hanged for their pains and the O'Haras
who died at the Boyne, battling to the end for what was theirs.

All had suffered crushing misfortunes and had not been crushed.
They had not been broken by the crash of empires, the machetes of
revolting slaves, war, rebellion, proscription, confiscation.
Malign fate had broken their necks, perhaps, but never their
hearts.  They had not whined, they had fought.  And when they died,
they died spent but unquenched.  All of those shadowy folks whose
blood flowed in her veins seemed to move quietly in the moonlit
room.  And Scarlett was not surprised to see them, these kinsmen
who had taken the worst that fate could send and hammered it into
the best.  Tara was her fate, her fight, and she must conquer it.

She turned drowsily on her side, a slow creeping blackness
enveloping her mind.  Were they really there, whispering wordless
encouragement to her, or was this part of her dream?

"Whether you are there or not," she murmured sleepily, "good night--
and thank you."



CHAPTER XXV


The next morning Scarlett's body was so stiff and sore from the
long miles of walking and jolting in the wagon that every movement
was agony.  Her face was crimson with sunburn and her blistered
palms raw.  Her tongue was furred and her throat parched as if
flames had scorched it and no amount of water could assuage her
thirst.  Her head felt swollen and she winced even when she turned
her eyes.  A queasiness of the stomach reminiscent of the early
days of her pregnancy made the smoking yams on the breakfast table
unendurable, even to the smell.  Gerald could have told her she was
suffering the normal aftermath of her first experience with hard
drinking but Gerald noticed nothing.  He sat at the head of the
table, a gray old man with absent, faded eyes fastened on the door
and head cocked slightly to hear the rustle of Ellen's petticoats,
to smell the lemon verbena sachet.

As Scarlett sat down, he mumbled:  "We will wait for Mrs. O'Hara.
She is late."  She raised an aching head, looked at him with
startled incredulity and met the pleading eyes of Mammy, who stood
behind Gerald's chair.  She rose unsteadily, her hand at her throat
and looked down at her father in the morning sunlight.  He peered
up at her vaguely and she saw that his hands were shaking, that his
head trembled a little.

Until this moment she had not realized how much she had counted on
Gerald to take command, to tell her what she must do, and now--
Why, last night he had seemed almost himself.  There had been none
of his usual bluster and vitality, but at least he had told a
connected story and now--now, he did not even remember Ellen was
dead.  The combined shock of the coming of the Yankees and her
death had stunned him.  She started to speak, but Mammy shook her
head vehemently and raising her apron dabbed at her red eyes.

"Oh, can Pa have lost his mind?" thought Scarlett and her throbbing
head felt as if it would crack with this added strain.  "No, no.
He's just dazed by it all.  It's like he was sick.  He'll get over
it.  He must get over it.  What will I do if he doesn't?--I won't
think about it now.  I won't think of him or Mother or any of these
awful things now.  No, not till I can stand it.  There are too many
other things to think about--things that can be helped without my
thinking of those I can't help."

She left the dining room without eating, and went out onto the back
porch where she found Pork, barefooted and in the ragged remains of
his best livery, sitting on the steps cracking peanuts.  Her head
was hammering and throbbing and the bright, sunlight stabbed into
her eyes.  Merely holding herself erect required an effort of will
power and she talked as briefly as possible, dispensing with the
usual forms of courtesy her mother had always taught her to use
with negroes.

She began asking questions so brusquely and giving orders so
decisively Pork's eyebrows went up in mystification.  Miss Ellen
didn't never talk so short to nobody, not even when she caught them
stealing pullets and watermelons.  She asked again about the
fields, the gardens, the stock, and her green eyes had a hard
bright glaze which Pork had never seen in them before.

"Yas'm, dat hawse daid, lyin' dar whar Ah tie him wid his nose in
de water bucket he tuhned over.  No'm, de cow ain' daid.  Din' you
know?  She done have a calf las' night.  Dat why she beller so."

"A fine midwife your Prissy will make," Scarlett remarked
caustically.  "She said she was bellowing because she needed
milking."

"Well'm, Prissy ain' fixin' ter be no cow midwife, Miss Scarlett,"
Pork said tactfully.  "An' ain' no use quarrelin' wid blessin's,
'cause dat calf gwine ter mean a full cow an' plen'y buttermilk fer
de young Misses, lak dat Yankee doctah say dey' need."

"All right, go on.  Any stock left?"

"No'm.  Nuthin' 'cept one ole sow an' her litter.  Ah driv dem
inter de swamp de day de Yankees come, but de Lawd knows how we
gwine git dem.  She mean, dat sow."

"We'll get them all right.  You and Prissy can start right now
hunting for her."

Pork was amazed and indignant.

"Miss Scarlett, dat a fe'el han's bizness.  Ah's allus been a house
nigger."

A small fiend with a pair of hot tweezers plucked behind Scarlett's
eyeballs.

"You two will catch the sow--or get out of here, like the field
hands did."

Tears trembled in Pork's hurt eyes.  Oh, if only Miss Ellen was
here!  She understood such niceties and realized the wide gap
between the duties of a field hand and those of a house nigger.

"Git out, Miss Scarlett?  Whar'd Ah git out to, Miss Scarlett?"

"I don't know and I don't care.  But anyone at Tara who won't work
can go hunt up the Yankees.  You can tell the others that too."

"Now, what about the corn and the cotton, Pork?"

"De cawn?  Lawd, Miss Scarlett, dey pasture dey hawses in de cawn
an' cah'ied off whut de hawses din' eat or spile.  An' dey driv dey
cannons an' waggins 'cross de cotton till it plum ruint, 'cept a
few acres over on de creek bottom dat dey din' notice.  But dat
cotton ain' wuth foolin' wid, 'cause ain' but 'bout three bales
over dar."

Three bales.  Scarlett thought of the scores of bales Tara usually
yielded and her head hurt worse.  Three bales.  That was little
more than the shiftless Slatterys raised.  To make matters worse,
there was the question of taxes.  The Confederate government took
cotton for taxes in lieu of money, but three bales wouldn't even
cover the taxes.  Little did it matter though, to her or the
Confederacy, now that all the field hands had run away and there
was no one to pick the cotton.

"Well, I won't think of that either," she told herself.  "Taxes
aren't a woman's job anyway.  Pa ought to look after such things,
but Pa--  I won't think of Pa now.  The Confederacy can whistle for
its taxes.  What we need now is something to eat."

"Pork, have any of you been to Twelve Oaks or the MacIntosh place
to see if there's anything left in the gardens there?"

"No, Ma'm!  Us ain' lef' Tara.  De Yankees mout git us."

"I'll send Dilcey over to MacIntosh.  Perhaps she'll find something
there.  And I'll go to Twelve Oaks."

"Who wid, chile?"

"By myself.  Mammy must stay with the girls and Mr. Gerald can't--"

Pork set up an outcry which she found infuriating.  There might be
Yankees or mean niggers at Twelve Oaks.  She mustn't go alone.

"That will be enough, Pork.  Tell Dilcey to start immediately.  And
you and Prissy go bring in the sow and her litter," she said
briefly, turning on her heel.

Mammy's old sunbonnet, faded but clean, hung on its peg on the back
porch and Scarlett put it on her head, remembering, as from another
world, the bonnet with the curling green plume which Rhett had
brought her from Paris.  She picked up a large split-oak basket and
started down the back stairs, each step jouncing her head until her
spine seemed to be trying to crash through the top of her skull.

The road down to the river lay red and scorching between the ruined
cotton fields.  There were no trees to cast a shade and the sun
beat down through Mammy's sunbonnet as if it were made of tarlatan
instead of heavy quilted calico, while the dust floating upward
sifted into her nose and throat until she felt the membranes would
crack dryly if she spoke.  Deep ruts and furrows were cut into the
road where horses had dragged heavy guns along it and the red
gullies on either side were deeply gashed by the wheels.  The
cotton was mangled and trampled where cavalry and infantry, forced
off the narrow road by the artillery, had marched through the green
bushes, grinding them into the earth.  Here and there in the road
and fields lay buckles and bits of harness leather, canteens
flattened by hooves and caisson wheels, buttons, blue caps, worn
socks, bits of bloody rags, all the litter left by the marching
army.

She passed the clump of cedars and the low brick wall which marked
the family burying ground, trying not to think of the new grave
lying by the three short mounds of her little brothers.  Oh, Ellen--
She trudged on down the dusty hill, passing the heap of ashes
and the stumpy chimney where the Slattery house had stood, and she
wished savagely that the whole tribe of them had been part of the
ashes.  If it hadn't been for the Slatterys--if it hadn't been for
that nasty Emmie who'd had a bastard brat by their overseer--Ellen
wouldn't have died.

She moaned as a sharp pebble cut into her blistered foot.  What was
she doing here?  Why was Scarlett O'Hara, the belle of the County,
the sheltered pride of Tara, tramping down this rough road almost
barefoot?  Her little feet were made to dance, not to limp, her
tiny slippers to peep daringly from under bright silks, not to
collect sharp pebbles and dust.  She was born to be pampered and
waited upon, and here she was, sick and ragged, driven by hunger to
hunt for food in the gardens of her neighbors.

At the bottom of the long hill was the river and how cool and still
were the tangled trees overhanging the water!  She sank down on the
low bank, and stripping off the remnants of her slippers and
stockings, dabbled her burning feet in the cool water.  It would be
so good to sit here all day, away from the helpless eyes of Tara,
here where only the rustle of leaves and the gurgle of slow water
broke the stillness.  But reluctantly she replaced her shoes and
stockings and trudged down the bank, spongy with moss, under the
shady trees.  The Yankees had burned the bridge but she knew of a
footlog bridge across a narrow point of the stream a hundred yards
below.  She crossed it cautiously and trudged uphill the hot half-
mile to Twelve Oaks.

There towered the twelve oaks, as they had stood since Indian days,
but with their leaves brown from fire and the branches burned and
scorched.  Within their circle lay the ruins of John Wilkes' house,
the charred remains of that once stately home which had crowned the
hill in white-columned dignity.  The deep pit which had been the
cellar, the blackened field-stone foundations and two mighty
chimneys marked the site.  One long column, half-burned, had fallen
across the lawn, crushing the cape jessamine bushes.

Scarlett sat down on the column, too sick at the sight to go on.
This desolation went to her heart as nothing she had ever
experienced.  Here was the Wilkes pride in the dust at her feet.
Here was the end of the kindly, courteous house which had always
welcomed her, the house where in futile dreams she had aspired to
be mistress.  Here she had danced and dined and flirted and here
she had watched with a jealous, hurting heart how Melanie smiled up
at Ashley.  Here, too, in the cool shadows of the trees, Charles
Hamilton had rapturously pressed her hand when she said she would
marry him.

"Oh, Ashley," she thought, "I hope you are dead!  I could never
bear for you to see this."

Ashley had married his bride here but his son and his son's son
would never bring brides to this house.  There would be no more
matings and births beneath this roof which she had so loved and
longed to rule.  The house was dead and to Scarlett, it was as if
all the Wilkeses, too, were dead in its ashes.

"I won't think of it now.  I can't stand it now.  I'll think of it
later," she said aloud, turning her eyes away.

Seeking the garden, she limped around the ruins, by the trampled
rose beds the Wilkes girls had tended so zealously, across the back
yard and through the ashes to the smokehouse, barns and chicken
houses.  The split-rail fence around the kitchen garden had been
demolished and the once orderly rows of green plants had suffered
the same treatment as those at Tara.  The soft earth was scarred
with hoof prints and heavy wheels and the vegetables were mashed
into the soil.  There was nothing for her here.

She walked back across the yard and took the path down toward the
silent row of whitewashed cabins in the quarters, calling "Hello!"
as she went.  But no voice answered her.  Not even a dog barked.
Evidently the Wilkes negroes had taken flight or followed the
Yankees.  She knew every slave had his own garden patch and as she
reached the quarters, she hoped these little patches had been
spared.

Her search was rewarded but she was too tired even to feel pleasure
at the sight of turnips and cabbages, wilted for want of water but
still standing, and straggling butter beans and snap beans, yellow
but edible.  She sat down in the furrows and dug into the earth
with hands that shook, filling her basket slowly.  There would be a
good meal at Tara tonight, in spite of the lack of side meat to
boil with the vegetables.  Perhaps some of the bacon grease Dilcey
was using for illumination could be used for seasoning.  She must
remember to tell Dilcey to use pine knots and save the grease for
cooking.

Close to the back step of one cabin, she found a short row of
radishes and hunger assaulted her suddenly.  A spicy, sharp-tasting
radish was exactly what her stomach craved.  Hardly waiting to rub
the dirt off on her skirt, she bit off half and swallowed it
hastily.  It was old and coarse and so peppery that tears started
in her eyes.  No sooner had the lump gone down than her empty
outraged stomach revolted and she lay in the soft dirt and vomited
tiredly.

The faint niggery smell which crept from the cabin increased her
nausea and, without strength to combat it, she kept on retching
miserably while the cabins and trees revolved swiftly around her.

After a long time, she lay weakly on her face, the earth as soft
and comfortable as a feather pillow, and her mind wandered feebly
here and there.  She, Scarlett O'Hara was lying behind a negro
cabin, in the midst of ruins, too sick and too weak to move, and no
one in the world knew or cared.  No one would care if they did
know, for everyone had too many troubles of his own to worry about
her.  And all this was happening to her, Scarlett O'Hara, who had
never raised her hand even to pick up her discarded stockings from
the floor or to tie the laces of her slippers--Scarlett, whose
little headaches and tempers had been coddled and catered to all
her life.

As she lay prostrate, too weak to fight off memories and worries,
they rushed at her like buzzards waiting for death.  No longer had
she the strength to say:  "I'll think of Mother and Pa and Ashley
and all this ruin later--  Yes, later when I can stand it."  She
could not stand it now, but she was thinking of them whether she
willed it or not.  The thoughts circled and swooped above her,
dived down and drove tearing claws and sharp beaks into her mind.
For a timeless time, she lay still, her face in the dirt, the sun
beating hotly upon her, remembering things and people who were
dead, remembering a way of living that was gone forever--and
looking upon the harsh vista of the dark future.

When she arose at last and saw again the black ruins of Twelve
Oaks, her head was raised high and something that was youth and
beauty and potential tenderness had gone out of her face forever.
What was past was past.  Those who were dead were dead.  The lazy
luxury of the old days was gone, never to return.  And, as Scarlett
settled the heavy basket across her arm, she had settled her own
mind and her own life.

There was no going back and she was going forward.

Throughout the South for fifty years there would be bitter-eyed
women who looked backward, to dead times, to dead men, evoking
memories that hurt and were futile, bearing poverty with bitter
pride because they had those memories.  But Scarlett was never to
look back.

She gazed at the blackened stones and, for the last time, she saw
Twelve Oaks rise before her eyes as it had once stood, rich and
proud, symbol of a race and a way of living.  Then she started down
the road toward Tara, the heavy basket cutting into her flesh.

Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach again and she said aloud:  "As
God is my witness, as God is my witness, the Yankees aren't going
to lick me.  I'm going to live through this, and when it's over,
I'm never going to be hungry again.  No, nor any of my folks.  If I
have to steal or kill--as God is my witness, I'm never going to be
hungry again."



In the days that followed, Tara might have been Crusoe's desert
island, so still it was, so isolated from the rest of the world.
The world lay only a few miles away, but a thousand miles of
tumbling waves might have stretched between Tara and Jonesboro and
Fayetteville and Lovejoy, even between Tara and the neighbors'
plantations.  With the old horse dead, their one mode of conveyance
was gone, and there was neither time nor strength for walking the
weary red miles.

Sometimes, in the days of backbreaking work, in the desperate
struggle for food and the never-ceasing care of the three sick
girls, Scarlett found herself straining her ears for familiar
sounds--the shrill laughter of the pickaninnies in the quarters,
the creaking of wagons home from the fields, the thunder of
Gerald's stallion tearing across the pasture, the crunching of
carriage wheels on the drive and the gay voices of neighbors
dropping in for an afternoon of gossip.  But she listened in vain.
The road lay still and deserted and never a cloud of red dust
proclaimed the approach of visitors.  Tara was an island in a sea
of rolling green hills and red fields.

Somewhere was the world and families who ate and slept safely under
their own roofs.  Somewhere girls in thrice-turned dresses were
flirting gaily and singing "When This Cruel War Is Over," as she
had done only a few weeks before.  Somewhere there was a war and
cannon booming and burning towns and men who rotted in hospitals
amid sickening-sweet stinks.  Somewhere a barefoot army in dirty
homespun was marching, fighting, sleeping, hungry and weary with
the weariness that comes when hope is gone.  And somewhere the
hills of Georgia were blue with Yankees, well-fed Yankees on sleek
corn-stuffed horses.

Beyond Tara was the war and the world.  But on the plantation the
war and the world did not exist except as memories which must be
fought back when they rushed to mind in moments of exhaustion.  The
world outside receded before the demands of empty and half-empty
stomachs and life resolved itself into two related thoughts, food
and how to get it.

Food!  Food!  Why did the stomach have a longer memory than the
mind?  Scarlett could banish heartbreak but not hunger and each
morning as she lay half asleep, before memory brought back to her
mind war and hunger, she curled drowsily expecting the sweet smells
of bacon frying and rolls baking.  And each morning she sniffed so
hard to really smell the food she woke herself up.

There were apples, yams, peanuts and milk on the table at Tara but
never enough of even this primitive fare.  At the sight of them,
three times a day, her memory would rush back to the old days, the
meals of the old days, the candle-lit table and the food perfuming
the air.

How careless they had been of food then, what prodigal waste!
Rolls, corn muffins, biscuits and waffles, dripping butter, all at
one meal.  Ham at one end of the table and fried chicken at the
other, collards swimming richly in pot liquor iridescent with
grease, snap beans in mountains on brightly flowered porcelain,
fried squash, stewed okra, carrots in cream sauce thick enough to
cut.  And three desserts, so everyone might have his choice,
chocolate layer cake, vanilla blanc mange and pound cake topped
with sweet whipped cream.  The memory of those savory meals had the
power to bring tears to her eyes as death and war had failed to do,
and the power to turn her ever-gnawing stomach from rumbling
emptiness to nausea.  For the appetite Mammy had always deplored,
the healthy appetite of a nineteen-year-old girl, now was increased
fourfold by the hard and unremitting labor she had never known
before.

Hers was not the only troublesome appetite at Tara, for wherever
she turned hungry faces, black and white, met her eyes.  Soon
Carreen and Suellen would have the insatiable hunger of typhoid
convalescents.  Already little Wade whined monotonously:  "Wade
doan like yams.  Wade hungwy."

The others grumbled, too:

"Miss Scarlett, 'ness I gits mo' to eat, I kain nuss neither of
these chillun."

"Miss Scarlett, ef Ah doan have mo' in mah stummick, Ah kain split
no wood."

"Lamb, Ah's perishin' fer real vittles."

"Daughter, must we always have yams?"

Only Melanie did not complain, Melanie whose face grew thinner and
whiter and twitched with pain even in her sleep.

"I'm not hungry, Scarlett.  Give my share of the milk to Dilcey.
She needs it to nurse the babies.  Sick people are never hungry."

It was her gentle hardihood which irritated Scarlett more than the
nagging whining voices of the others.  She could--and did--shout
them down with bitter sarcasm but before Melanie's unselfishness
she was helpless, helpless and resentful.  Gerald, the negroes and
Wade clung to Melanie now, because even in her weakness she was
kind and sympathetic, and these days Scarlett was neither.

Wade especially haunted Melanie's room.  There was something wrong
with Wade, but just what it was Scarlett had no time to discover.
She took Mammy's word that the little boy had worms and dosed him
with the mixture of dried herbs and bark which Ellen always used to
worm the pickaninnies.  But the vermifuge only made the child look
paler.  These days Scarlett hardly thought of Wade as a person.  He
was only another worry, another mouth to feed.  Some day when the
present emergency was over, she would play with him, tell him
stories and teach him his A B C's but now she did not have the time
or the soul or the inclination.  And, because he always seemed
underfoot when she was most weary and worried, she often spoke
sharply to him.

It annoyed her that her quick reprimands brought such acute fright
to his round eyes, for he looked so simple minded when he was
frightened.  She did not realize that the little boy lived shoulder
to shoulder with terror too great for an adult to comprehend.  Fear
lived with Wade, fear that shook his soul and made him wake
screaming in the night.  Any unexpected noise or sharp word set him
to trembling, for in his mind noises and harsh words were
inextricably mixed with Yankees and he was more afraid of Yankees
than of Prissy's hants.

Until the thunders of the siege began, he had never known anything
but a happy, placid, quiet life.  Even though his mother paid him
little attention, he had known nothing but petting and kind words
until the night when he was jerked from slumber to find the sky
aflame and the air deafening with explosions.  In that night and
the day which followed, he had been slapped by his mother for the
first time and had heard her voice raised at him in harsh words.
Life in the pleasant brick house on Peachtree Street, the only life
he knew, had vanished that night and he would never recover from
its loss.  In the flight from Atlanta, he had understood nothing
except that the Yankees were after him and now he still lived in
fear that the Yankees would catch him and cut him to pieces.
Whenever Scarlett raised her voice in reproof, he went weak with
fright as his vague childish memory brought up the horrors of the
first time she had ever done it.  Now, Yankees and a cross voice
were linked forever in his mind and he was afraid of his mother.

Scarlett could not help noticing that the child was beginning to
avoid her and, in the rare moments when her unending duties gave
her time to think about it, it bothered her a great deal.  It was
even worse than having him at her skirts all the time and she was
offended that his refuge was Melanie's bed where he played quietly
at games Melanie suggested or listened to stories she told.  Wade
adored "Auntee" who had a gentle voice, who always smiled and who
never said:  "Hush, Wade!  You give me a headache" or "Stop
fidgeting, Wade, for Heaven's sake!"

Scarlett had neither the time nor the impulse to pet him but it
made her jealous to see Melanie do it.  When she found him one day
standing on his head in Melanie's bed and saw him collapse on her,
she slapped him.

"Don't you know better than to jiggle Auntee like that when she's
sick?  Now, trot right out in the yard and play, and don't come in
here again."

But Melanie reached out a weak arm and drew the wailing child to
her.

"There, there, Wade.  You didn't mean to jiggle me, did you?  He
doesn't bother me, Scarlett.  Do let him stay with me.  Let me take
care of him.  It's the only thing I can do till I get well, and
you've got your hands full enough without having to watch him."

"Don't be a goose, Melly," said Scarlett shortly.  "You aren't
getting well like you should and having Wade fall on your stomach
won't help you.  Now, Wade, if I ever catch you on Auntee's bed
again, I'll wear you out.  And stop sniffling.  You are always
sniffling.  Try to be a little man."

Wade flew sobbing to hide himself under the house.  Melanie bit her
lip and tears came to her eyes, and Mammy standing in the hall, a
witness to the scene, scowled and breathed hard.  But no one talked
back to Scarlett these days.  They were all afraid of her sharp
tongue, all afraid of the new person who walked in her body.

Scarlett reigned supreme at Tara now and, like others suddenly
elevated to authority, all the bullying instincts in her nature
rose to the surface.  It was not that she was basically unkind.  It
was because she was so frightened and unsure of herself she was
harsh lest others learn her inadequacies and refuse her authority.
Besides, there was some pleasure in shouting at people and knowing
they were afraid.  Scarlett found that it relieved her overwrought
nerves.  She was not blind to the fact that her personality was
changing.  Sometimes when her curt orders made Pork stick out his
under lip and Mammy mutter:  "Some folks rides mighty high dese
days," she wondered where her good manners had gone.  All the
courtesy, all the gentleness Ellen had striven to instill in her
had fallen away from her as quickly as leaves fall from trees in
the first chill wind of autumn.

Time and again, Ellen had said:  "Be firm but be gentle with
inferiors, especially darkies."  But if she was gentle the darkies
would sit in the kitchen all day, talking endlessly about the good
old days when a house nigger wasn't supposed to do a field hand's
work.

"Love and cherish your sisters.  Be kind to the afflicted," said
Ellen.  "Show tenderness to those in sorrow and in trouble."

She couldn't love her sisters now.  They were simply a dead weight
on her shoulders.  And as for cherishing them, wasn't she bathing
them, combing their hair and feeding them, even at the expense of
walking miles every day to find vegetables?  Wasn't she learning to
milk the cow, even though her heart was always in her throat when
that fearsome animal shook its horns at her?  And as for being
kind, that was a waste of time.  If she was overly kind to them,
they'd probably prolong their stay in bed, and she wanted them on
their feet again as soon as possible, so there would be four more
hands to help her.

They were convalescing slowly and lay scrawny and weak in their
bed.  While they had been unconscious, the world had changed.  The
Yankees had come, the darkies had gone and Mother had died.  Here
were three unbelievable happenings and their minds could not take
them in.  Sometimes they believed they must still be delirious and
these things had not happened at all.  Certainly Scarlett was so
changed she couldn't be real.  When she hung over the foot of their
bed and outlined the work she expected them to do when they
recovered, they looked at her as if she were a hobgoblin.  It was
beyond their comprehension that they no longer had a hundred slaves
to do the work.  It was beyond their comprehension that an O'Hara
lady should do manual labor.

"But, Sister," said Carreen, her sweet childish face blank with
consternation.  "I couldn't split kindling!  It would ruin my
hands!"

"Look at mine," answered Scarlett with a frightening smile as she
pushed blistered and calloused palms toward her.

"I think you are hateful to talk to Baby and me like this!" cried
Suellen.  "I think you are lying and trying to frighten us.  If
Mother were only here, she wouldn't let you talk to us like this!
Split kindling, indeed!"

Suellen looked with weak loathing at her older sister, feeling sure
Scarlett said these things just to be mean.  Suellen had nearly
died and she had lost her mother and she was lonely and scared and
she wanted to be petted and made much of.  Instead, Scarlett looked
over the foot of the bed each day, appraising their improvement
with a hateful new gleam in her slanting green eyes and talked
about making beds, preparing food, carrying water buckets and
splitting kindling.  And she looked as if she took a pleasure in
saying such awful things.

Scarlett did take pleasure in it.  She bullied the negroes and
harrowed the feelings of her sisters not only because she was too
worried and strained and tired to do otherwise but because it
helped her to forget her own bitterness that everything her mother
had told her about life was wrong.

Nothing her mother had taught her was of any value whatsoever now
and Scarlett's heart was sore and puzzled.  It did not occur to her
that Ellen could not have foreseen the collapse of the civilization
in which she raised her daughters, could not have anticipated the
disappearings of the places in society for which she trained them
so well.  It did not occur to her that Ellen had looked down a
vista of placid future years, all like the uneventful years of her
own life, when she had taught her to be gentle and gracious,
honorable and kind, modest and truthful.  Life treated women well
when they had learned those lessons, said Ellen.

Scarlett thought in despair:  "Nothing, no, nothing, she taught me
is of any help to me!  What good will kindness do me now?  What
value is gentleness?  Better that I'd learned to plow or chop
cotton like a darky.  Oh, Mother, you were wrong!"

She did not stop to think that Ellen's ordered world was gone and a
brutal world had taken its place, a world wherein every standard,
every value had changed.  She only saw, or thought she saw, that
her mother had been wrong, and she changed swiftly to meet this new
world for which she was not prepared.

Only her feeling for Tara had not changed.  She never came wearily
home across the fields and saw the sprawling white house that her
heart did not swell with love and the joy of homecoming.  She never
looked out of her window at green pastures and red fields and tall
tangled swamp forest that a sense of beauty did not fill her.  Her
love for this land with its softly rolling hills of bright-red
soil, this beautiful red earth that was blood colored, garnet,
brick dust, vermilion, which so miraculously grew green bushes
starred with white puffs, was one part of Scarlett which did not
change when all else was changing.  Nowhere else in the world was
there land like this.

When she looked at Tara she could understand, in part, why wars
were fought.  Rhett was wrong when he said men fought wars for
money.  No, they fought for swelling acres, softly furrowed by the
plow, for pastures green with stubby cropped grass, for lazy yellow
rivers and white houses that were cool amid magnolias.  These were
the only things worth fighting for, the red earth which was theirs
and would be their sons', the red earth which would bear cotton for
their sons and their sons' sons.

The trampled acres of Tara were all that was left to her, now that
Mother and Ashley were gone, now that Gerald was senile from shock,
and money and darkies and security and position had vanished
overnight.  As from another world she remembered a conversation
with her father about the land and wondered how she could have been
so young, so ignorant, as not to understand what he meant when he
said that the land was the one thing in the world worth fighting
for.

"For 'tis the only thing in the world that lasts . . . and to
anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them the land they live on is
like their mother. . . .  'Tis the only thing worth working for,
fighting for, dying for."

Yes, Tara was worth fighting for, and she accepted simply and
without question the fight.  No one was going to get Tara away from
her.  No one was going to set her and her people adrift on the
charity of relatives.  She would hold Tara, if she had to break the
back of every person on it.



CHAPTER XXVI


Scarlett had been at Tara two weeks since her return from Atlanta
when the largest blister on her foot began to fester, swelling
until it was impossible for her to put on her shoe or do more than
hobble about on her heel.  Desperation plucked at her when she
looked at the angry sore on her toe.  Suppose it should gangrene
like the soldiers' wounds and she should die, far away from a
doctor?  Bitter as life was now, she had no desire to leave it.
And who would look after Tara if she should die?

She had hoped when she first came home that Gerald's old spirit
would revive and he would take command, but in these two weeks that
hope had vanished.  She knew now that, whether she liked it or not,
she had the plantation and all its people on her two inexperienced
hands, for Gerald still sat quietly, like a man in a dream, so
frighteningly absent from Tara, so gentle.  To her pleas for advice
he gave as his only answer:  "Do what you think best, Daughter."
Or worse still, "Consult with your mother, Puss."

He never would be any different and now Scarlett realized the truth
and accepted it without emotion--that until he died Gerald would
always be waiting for Ellen, always listening for her.  He was in
some dim borderline country where time was standing still and Ellen
was always in the next room.  The mainspring of his existence was
taken away when she died and with it had gone his bounding
assurance, his impudence and his restless vitality.  Ellen was the
audience before which the blustering drama of Gerald O'Hara had
been played.  Now the curtain had been rung down forever, the
footlights dimmed and the audience suddenly vanished, while the
stunned old actor remained on his empty stage, waiting for his
cues.

That morning the house was still, for everyone except Scarlett,
Wade and the three sick girls was in the swamp hunting the sow.
Even Gerald had aroused a little and stumped off across the
furrowed fields, one hand on Pork's arm and a coil of rope in the
other.  Suellen and Careen had cried themselves to sleep, as they
did at least twice a day when they thought of Ellen, tears of grief
and weakness oozing down their sunken cheeks.  Melanie, who had
been propped up on pillows for the first time that day, lay covered
with a mended sheet between two babies, the downy flaxen head of
one cuddled in her arm, the kinky black head of Dilcey's child held
as gently in the other.  Wade sat at the bottom of the bed,
listening to a fairy story.

To Scarlett, the stillness at Tara was unbearable, for it reminded
her too sharply of the deathlike stillness of the desolate country
through which she had passed that long day on her way home from
Atlanta.  The cow and the calf had made no sound for hours.  There
were no birds twittering outside her window and even the noisy
family of mockers who had lived among the harshly rustling leaves
of the magnolia for generations had no song that day.  She had
drawn a low chair close to the open window of her bedroom, looking
out on the front drive, the lawn and the empty green pasture across
the road, and she sat with her skirts well above her knees and her
chin resting on her arms on the window sill.  There was a bucket of
well water on the floor beside her and every now and then she
lowered her blistered foot into it, screwing up her face at the
stinging sensation.

Fretting, she dug her chin into her arm.  Just when she needed her
strength most, this toe had to fester.  Those fools would never
catch the sow.  It had taken them a week to capture the pigs, one
by one, and now after two weeks the sow was still at liberty.
Scarlett knew that if she were just there in the swamp with them,
she could tuck up her dress to her knees and take the rope and
lasso the sow before you could say Jack Robinson.

But even after the sow was caught--if she were caught?  What then,
after she and her litter were eaten?  Life would go on and so would
appetites.  Winter was coming and there would be no food, not even
the poor remnants of the vegetables from the neighbors' gardens.
They must have dried peas and sorghum and meal and rice and--and--
oh, so many things.  Corn and cotton seed for next spring's
planting, and new clothes too.  Where was it all to come from and
how would she pay for it?

She had privately gone through Gerald's pockets and his cash box
and all she could find was stacks of Confederate bonds and three
thousand dollars in Confederate bills.  That was about enough to
buy one square meal for them all, she thought ironically, now that
Confederate money was worth almost less than nothing at all.  But
if she did have money and could find food, how would she haul it
home to Tara?  Why had God let the old horse die?  Even that sorry
animal Rhett had stolen would make all the difference in the world
to them.  Oh, those fine sleek mules which used to kick up their
heels in the pasture across the road, and the handsome carriage
horses, her little mare, the girls' ponies and Gerald's big
stallion racing about and tearing up the turf--  Oh, for one of
them, even the balkiest mule!

But, no matter--when her foot healed she would walk to Jonesboro.
It would be the longest walk she had ever taken in her life, but
walk it she would.  Even if the Yankees had burned the town
completely, she would certainly find someone in the neighborhood
who could tell her where to get food.  Wade's pinched face rose up
before her eyes.  He didn't like yams, he repeated; wanted a
drumstick and some rice and gravy.

The bright sunlight in the front yard suddenly clouded and the
trees blurred through tears.  Scarlett dropped her head on her arms
and struggled not to cry.  Crying was so useless now.  The only
time crying ever did any good was when there was a man around from
whom you wished favors.  As she crouched there, squeezing her eyes
tightly to keep back the tears, she was startled by the sound of
trotting hooves.  But she did not raise her head.  She had imagined
that sound too often in the nights and days of these last two
weeks, just as she had imagined she heard the rustle of Ellen's
skirts.  Her heart hammered, as it always did at such moments,
before she told herself sternly:  "Don't be a fool."

But the hooves slowed down in a startlingly natural way to the
rhythm of a walk and there was the measured scrunch-scrunch on the
gravel.  It was a horse--the Tarletons, the Fontaines!  She looked
up quickly.  It was a Yankee cavalryman.

Automatically, she dodged behind the curtain and peered fascinated
at him through the dim folds of the cloth, so startled that the
breath went out of her lungs with a gasp.

He sat slouched in the saddle, a thick, rough-looking man with an
unkempt black beard straggling over his unbuttoned blue jacket.
Little close-set eyes, squinting in the sun glare, calmly surveyed
the house from beneath the visor of his tight blue cap.  As he
slowly dismounted and tossed the bridle reins over the hitching
post, Scarlett's breath came back to her as suddenly and painfully
as after a blow in the stomach.  A Yankee, a Yankee with a long
pistol on his hip!  And she was alone in the house with three sick
girls and the babies!

As he lounged up the walk, hand on holster, beady little eyes
glancing to right and left, a kaleidoscope of jumbled pictures spun
in her mind, stories Aunt Pittypat had whispered of attacks on
unprotected women, throat cuttings, houses burned over the heads of
dying women, children bayoneted because they cried, all of the
unspeakable horrors that lay bound up in the name of "Yankee."

Her first terrified impulse was to hide in the closet, crawl under
the bed, fly down the back stairs and run screaming to the swamp,
anything to escape him.  Then she heard his cautious feet on the
front steps and his stealthy tread as he entered the hall and she
knew that escape was cut off.  Too cold with fear to move, she
heard his progress from room to room downstairs, his steps growing
louder and bolder as he discovered no one.  Now he was in the
dining room and in a moment he would walk out into the kitchen.

At the thought of the kitchen, rage suddenly leaped up in
Scarlett's breast, so sharply that it jabbed at her heart like a
knife thrust, and fear fell away before her overpowering fury.  The
kitchen!  There, over the open kitchen fire were two pots, one
filled with apples stewing and the other with a hodgepodge of
vegetables brought painfully from Twelve Oaks and the MacIntosh
garden--dinner that must serve for nine hungry people and hardly
enough for two.  Scarlett had been restraining her appetite for
hours, waiting for the return of the others and the thought of the
Yankee eating their meager meal made her shake with anger.

God damn them all!  They descended like locusts and left Tara to
starve slowly and now they were back again to steal the poor
leavings.  Her empty stomach writhed within her.  By God, this was
one Yankee who would do no more stealing!

She slipped off her worn shoe and, barefooted, she pattered swiftly
to the bureau, not even feeling her festered toe.  She opened the
top drawer soundlessly and caught up the heavy pistol she had
brought from Atlanta, the weapon Charles had worn but never fired.
She fumbled in the leather box that hung on the wall below his
saber and brought out a cap.  She slipped it into place with a hand
that did not shake.  Quickly and noiselessly, she ran into the
upper hall and down the stairs, steadying herself on the banisters
with one hand and holding the pistol close to her thigh in the
folds of her skirt.

"Who's there?" cried a nasal voice and she stopped on the middle of
the stairs, the blood thudding in her ears so loudly she could
hardly hear him.  "Halt or I'll shoot!" came the voice.

He stood in the door of the dining room, crouched tensely, his
pistol in one hand and, in the other, the small rosewood sewing box
fitted with gold thimble, gold-handled scissors and tiny gold-
topped acorn of emery.  Scarlett's legs felt cold to the knees but
rage scorched her face.  Ellen's sewing box in his hands.  She
wanted to cry:  "Put it down!  Put it down, you dirty--" but words
would not come.  She could only stare over the banisters at him and
watch his face change from harsh tenseness to a half-contemptuous,
half-ingratiating smile.

"So there is somebody ter home," he said, slipping his pistol back
into its holster and moving into the hall until he stood directly
below her.  "All alone, little lady?"

Like lightning, she shoved her weapon over the banisters and into
the startled bearded face.  Before he could even fumble at his
belt, she pulled the trigger.  The back kick of the pistol made her
reel, as the roar of the explosion filled her ears and the acrid
smoke stung her nostrils.  The man crashed backwards to the floor,
sprawling into the dining room with a violence that shook the
furniture.  The box clattered from his hand, the contents spilling
about him.  Hardly aware that she was moving, Scarlett ran down the
stairs and stood over him, gazing down into what was left of the
face above the beard, a bloody pit where the nose had been, glazing
eyes burned with powder.  As she looked, two streams of blood crept
across the shining floor, one from his face and one from the back
of his head.

Yes, he was dead.  Undoubtedly.  She had killed a man.

The smoke curled slowly to the ceiling and the red streams widened
about her feet.  For a timeless moment she stood there and in the
still hot hush of the summer morning every irrelevant sound and
scent seemed magnified, the quick thudding of her heart, like a
drumbeat, the slight rough rustling of the magnolia leaves, the
far-off plaintive sound of a swamp bird and the sweet smell of the
flowers outside the window.

She had killed a man, she who took care never to be in at the kill
on a hunt, she who could not bear the squealing of a hog at
slaughter or the squeak of a rabbit in a snare.  Murder! she
thought dully.  I've done murder.  Oh, this can't be happening to
me!  Her eyes went to the stubby hairy hand on the floor so close
to the sewing box and suddenly she was vitally alive again, vitally
glad with a cool tigerish joy.  She could have ground her heel into
the gaping wound which had been his nose and taken sweet pleasure
in the feel of his warm blood on her bare feet.  She had struck a
blow of revenge for Tara--and for Ellen.

There were hurried stumbling steps in the upper hall, a pause and
then more steps, weak dragging steps now, punctuated by metallic
clankings.  A sense of time and reality coming back to her,
Scarlett looked up and saw Melanie at the top of the stairs, clad
only in the ragged chemise which served her as a nightgown, her
weak arm weighed down with Charles' saber.  Melanie's eyes took in
the scene below in its entirety, the sprawling blue-clad body in
the red pool, the sewing box beside him, Scarlett, barefooted and
gray-faced, clutching the long pistol.

In silence her eyes met Scarlett's.  There was a glow of grim pride
in her usually gentle face, approbation and a fierce joy in her
smile that equaled the fiery tumult in Scarlett's own bosom.

"Why--why--she's like me!  She understands how I feel!" thought
Scarlett in that long moment.  "She'd have done the same thing!"

With a thrill she looked up at the frail swaying girl for whom she
had never had any feelings but of dislike and contempt.  Now,
struggling against hatred for Ashley's wife, there surged a feeling
of admiration and comradeship.  She saw in a flash of clarity
untouched by any petty emotion that beneath the gentle voice and
the dovelike eyes of Melanie there was a thin flashing blade of
unbreakable steel, felt too that there were banners and bugles of
courage in Melanie's quiet blood.

"Scarlett!  Scarlett!" shrilled the weak frightened voices of
Suellen and Carreen, muffled by their closed door, and Wade's voice
screamed "Auntee!  Auntee!"  Swiftly Melanie put her finger to her
lips and, laying the sword on the top step, she painfully made her
way down the upstairs hall and opened the door of the sick room.

"Don't be scared, chickens!" came her voice with teasing gaiety.
"Your big sister was trying to clean the rust off Charles' pistol
and it went off and nearly scared her to death!" . . .  "Now, Wade
Hampton, Mama just shot off your dear Papa's pistol!  When you are
bigger, she will let you shoot it."

"What a cool liar!" thought Scarlett with admiration.  "I couldn't
have thought that quickly.  But why lie?  They've got to know I've
done it."

She looked down at the body again and now revulsion came over her
as her rage and fright melted away, and her knees began to quiver
with the reaction.  Melanie dragged herself to the top step again
and started down, holding onto the banisters, her pale lower lip
caught between her teeth.

"Go back to bed, silly, you'll kill yourself!" Scarlett cried, but
the half-naked Melanie made her painful way down into the lower
hall.

"Scarlett," she whispered, "we must get him out of here and bury
him.  He may not be alone and if they find him here--"  She
steadied herself on Scarlett's arm.

"He must be alone," said Scarlett.  "I didn't see anyone else from
the upstairs window.  He must be a deserter."

"Even if he is alone, no one must know about it.  The negroes might
talk and then they'd come and get you.  Scarlett, we must get him
hidden before the folks come back from the swamp."

Her mind prodded to action by the feverish urgency of Melanie's
voice, Scarlett thought hard.

"I could bury him in the corner of the garden under the arbor--the
ground is soft there where Pork dug up the whisky barrel.  But how
will I get him there?"

"We'll both take a leg and drag him," said Melanie firmly.

Reluctantly, Scarlett's admiration went still higher.

"You couldn't drag a cat.  I'll drag him," she said roughly.  "You
go back to bed.  You'll kill yourself.  Don't dare try to help me
either or I'll carry you upstairs myself."

Melanie's white face broke into a sweet understanding smile.  "You
are very dear, Scarlett," she said and softly brushed her lips
against Scarlett's cheek.  Before Scarlett could recover from her
surprise, Melanie went on:  "If you can drag him out, I'll mop up
the--the mess before the folks get home, and Scarlett--"

"Yes?"

"Do you suppose it would be dishonest to go through his knapsack?
He might have something to eat."

"I do not," said Scarlett, annoyed that she had not thought of this
herself.  "You take the knapsack and I'll go through his pockets."

Stooping over the dead man with distaste, she unbuttoned the
remaining buttons of his jacket and systematically began rifling
his pockets.

"Dear God," she whispered, pulling out a bulging wallet, wrapped
about with a rag.  "Melanie--Melly, I think it's full of money!"

Melanie said nothing but abruptly sat down on the floor and leaned
back against the wall.

"You look," she said shakily.  "I'm feeling a little weak."

Scarlett tore off the rag and with trembling hands opened the
leather folds.

"Look, Melly--just look!"

Melanie looked and her eyes dilated.  Jumbled together was a mass
of bills, United States greenbacks mingling with Confederate money
and, glinting from between them, were one ten-dollar gold piece and
two five-dollar gold pieces.

"Don't stop to count it now," said Melanie as Scarlett began
fingering the bills.  "We haven't time--"

"Do you realize, Melanie, that this money means that we'll eat?"

"Yes, yes, dear.  I know but we haven't time now.  You look in his
other pockets and I'll take the knapsack."

Scarlett was loath to put down the wallet.  Bright vistas opened
before her--real money, the Yankee's horse, food!  There was a God
after all, and He did provide, even if He did take very odd ways of
providing.  She sat on her haunches and stared at the wallet
smiling.  Food!  Melanie plucked it from her hands--

"Hurry!" she said.

The trouser pockets yielded nothing except a candle end, a
jackknife, a plug of tobacco and a bit of twine.  Melanie removed
from the knapsack a small package of coffee which she sniffed as if
it were the sweetest of perfumes, hardtack and, her face changing,
a miniature of a little girl in a gold frame set with seed pearls,
a garnet brooch, two broad gold bracelets with tiny dangling gold
chains, a gold thimble, a small silver baby's cup, gold embroidery
scissors, a diamond solitaire ring and a pair of earrings with
pendant pear-shaped diamonds, which even their unpracticed eyes
could tell were well over a carat each.

"A thief!" whispered Melanie, recoiling from the still body.
"Scarlett, he must have stolen all of this!"

"Of course," said Scarlett.  "And he came here hoping to steal more
from us."

"I'm glad you killed him," said Melanie her gentle eyes hard.  "Now
hurry, darling, and get him out of here."

Scarlett bent over, caught the dead man by his boots and tugged.
How heavy he was and how weak she suddenly felt.  Suppose she
shouldn't be able to move him?  Turning so that she backed the
corpse, she caught a heavy boot under each arm and threw her weight
forward.  He moved and she jerked again.  Her sore foot, forgotten
in the excitement, now gave a tremendous throb that made her grit
her teeth and shift her weight to the heel.  Tugging and straining,
perspiration dripping from her forehead, she dragged him down the
hall, a red stain following her path.

"If he bleeds across the yard, we can't hide it," she gasped.
"Give me your shimmy, Melanie, and I'll wad it around his head."

Melanie's white face went crimson.

"Don't be silly, I won't look at you," said Scarlett.  "If I had on
a petticoat or pantalets I'd use them."

Crouching back against the wall, Melanie pulled the ragged linen
garment over her head and silently tossed it to Scarlett, shielding
herself as best she could with her arms.

"Thank God, I'm not that modest," thought Scarlett, feeling rather
than seeing Melanie's agony of embarrassment, as she wrapped the
ragged cloth about the shattered face.

By a series of limping jerks, she pulled the body down the hall
toward the back porch and, pausing to wipe her forehead with the
back of her hand, glanced back toward Melanie, sitting against the
wall hugging her thin knees to her bare breasts.  How silly of
Melanie to be bothering about modesty at a time like this, Scarlett
thought irritably.  It was just part of her nicey-nice way of
acting which had always made Scarlett despise her.  Then shame rose
in her.  After all--after all, Melanie had dragged herself from bed
so soon after having a baby and had come to her aid with a weapon
too heavy even for her to lift.  That had taken courage, the kind
of courage Scarlett honestly knew she herself did not possess, the
thin-steel, spun-silk courage which had characterized Melanie on
the terrible night Atlanta fell and on the long trip home.  It was
the same intangible, unspectacular courage that all the Wilkeses
possessed, a quality which Scarlett did not understand but to which
she gave grudging tribute.

"Go back to bed," she threw over her shoulder.  "You'll be dead if
you don't.  I'll clean up the mess after I've buried him."

"I'll do it with one of the rag rugs," whispered Melanie, looking
at the pool of blood with a sick face.

"Well, kill yourself then and see if I care!  And if any of the
folks come back before I'm finished, keep them in the house and
tell them the horse just walked in from nowhere."

Melanie sat shivering in the morning sunlight and covered her ears
against the sickening series of thuds as the dead man's head bumped
down the porch steps.

No one questioned whence the horse had come.  It was so obvious he
was a stray from the recent battle and they were well pleased to
have him.  The Yankee lay in the shallow pit Scarlett had scraped
out under the scuppernong arbor.  The uprights which held the thick
vines were rotten and that night Scarlett hacked at them with the
kitchen knife until they fell and the tangled mass ran wild over
the grave.  The replacing of these posts was one bit of repair work
Scarlett did not suggest and, if the negroes knew why, they kept
their silence.

No ghost rose from that shallow grave to haunt her in the long
nights when she lay awake, too tired to sleep.  No feeling of
horror or remorse assailed her at the memory.  She wondered why,
knowing that even a month before she could never have done the
deed.  Pretty young Mrs. Hamilton, with her dimple and her jingling
earbobs and her helpless little ways, blowing a man's face to a
pulp and then burying him in a hastily scratched-out hole!
Scarlett grinned a little grimly thinking of the consternation such
an idea would bring to those who knew her.

"I won't think about it any more," she decided.  "It's over and
done with and I'd have been a ninny not to kill him.  I reckon--I
reckon I must have changed a little since coming home or else I
couldn't have done it."

She did not think of it consciously but in the back of her mind,
whenever she was confronted by an unpleasant and difficult task,
the idea lurked giving her strength:  "I've done murder and so I
can surely do this."

She had changed more than she knew and the shell of hardness which
had begun to form about her heart when she lay in the slave garden
at Twelve Oaks was slowly thickening.



Now that she had a horse, Scarlett could find out for herself what
had happened to their neighbors.  Since she came home she had
wondered despairingly a thousand times:  "Are we the only folks
left in the County?  Has everybody else been burned out?  Have they
all refugeed to Macon?"  With the memory of the ruins of Twelve
Oaks, the MacIntosh place and the Slattery shack fresh in her mind,
she almost dreaded to discover the truth.  But it was better to
know the worst than to wonder.  She decided to ride to the
Fontaines' first, not because they were the nearest neighbors but
because old Dr. Fontaine might be there.  Melanie needed a doctor.
She was not recovering as she should and Scarlett was frightened by
her white weakness.

So on the first day when her foot had healed enough to stand a
slipper, she mounted the Yankee's horse.  One foot in the shortened
stirrup and the other leg crooked about the pommel in an
approximation of a side saddle, she set out across the fields
toward Mimosa, steeling herself to find it burned.

To her surprise and pleasure, she saw the faded yellow-stucco house
standing amid the mimosa trees, looking as it had always looked.
Warm happiness, happiness that almost brought tears, flooded her
when the three Fontaine women came out of the house to welcome her
with kisses and cries of joy.

But when the first exclamations of affectionate greeting were over
and they all had trooped into the dining room to sit down, Scarlett
felt a chill.  The Yankees had not reached Mimosa because it was
far off the main road.  And so the Fontaines still had their stock
and their provisions, but Mimosa was held by the same strange
silence that hung over Tara, over the whole countryside.  All the
slaves except four women house servants had run away, frightened by
the approach of the Yankees.  There was not a man on the place
unless Sally's little boy, Joe, hardly out of diapers, could be
counted as a man.  Alone in the big house were Grandma Fontaine, in
her seventies, her daughter-in-law who would always be known as
Young Miss, though she was in her fifties, and Sally, who had
barely turned twenty.  They were far away from neighbors and
unprotected, but if they were afraid it did not show on their
faces.  Probably, thought Scarlett, because Sally and Young Miss
were too afraid of the porcelain-frail but indomitable old Grandma
to dare voice any qualms.  Scarlett herself was afraid of the old
lady, for she had sharp eyes and a sharper tongue and Scarlett had
felt them both in the past.

Though unrelated by blood and far apart in age, there was a kinship
of spirit and experience binding these women together.  All three
wore home-dyed mourning, all were worn, sad, worried, all bitter
with a bitterness that did not sulk or complain but, nevertheless,
peered out from behind their smiles and their words of welcome.
For their slaves were gone, their money was worthless, Sally's
husband, Joe, had died at Gettysburg and Young Miss was also a
widow, for young Dr. Fontaine had died of dysentery at Vicksburg.
The other two boys, Alex and Tony, were somewhere in Virginia and
nobody knew whether they were alive or dead; and old Dr. Fontaine
was off somewhere with Wheeler's cavalry.

"And the old fool is seventy-three years old though he tries to act
younger and he's as full of rheumatism as a hog is of fleas," said
Grandma, proud of her husband, the light in her eyes belying her
sharp words.

"Have you all had any news of what's been happening in Atlanta?"
asked Scarlett when they were comfortably settled.  "We're
completely buried at Tara."

"Law, child," said Old Miss, taking charge of the conversation, as
was her habit, "we're in the same fix as you are.  We don't know a
thing except that Sherman finally got the town."

"So he did get it.  What's he doing now?  Where's the fighting
now?"

"And how would three lone women out here in the country know about
the war when we haven't seen a letter or a newspaper m weeks?" said
the old lady tartly.  "One of our darkies talked to a darky who'd
seen a darky who'd been to Jonesboro, and except for that we
haven't heard anything.  What they said was that the Yankees were
just squatting in Atlanta resting up their men and their horses,
but whether it's true or not you're as good a judge as I am.  Not
that they wouldn't need a rest, after the fight we gave them."

"To think you've been at Tara all this time and we didn't know!"
Young Miss broke in.  "Oh, how I blame myself for not riding over
to see!  But there's been so much to do here with most all the
darkies gone that I just couldn't get away.  But I should have made
time to go.  It wasn't neighborly of me.  But, of course, we
thought the Yankees had burned Tara like they did Twelve Oaks and
the MacIntosh house and that your folks had gone to Macon.  And we
never dreamed you were home, Scarlett."

"Well, how were we to know different when Mr. O'Hara's darkies came
through here so scared they were popeyed and told us the Yankees
were going to burn Tara?" Grandma interrupted.

"And we could see--" Sally began.

"I'm telling this, please," said Old Miss shortly.  "And they said
the Yankees were camped all over Tara and your folks were fixing to
go to Macon.  And then that night we saw the glare of fire over
toward Tara and it lasted for hours and it scared our fool darkies
so bad they all ran off.  What burned?"

"All our cotton--a hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth," said
Scarlett bitterly.

"Be thankful it wasn't your house," said Grandma, leaning her chin
on her cane.  "You can always grow more cotton and you can't grow a
house.  By the bye, had you all started picking your cotton?"

"No," said Scarlett, "and now most of it is ruined.  I don't
imagine there's more than three bales left standing, in the far
field in the creek bottom, and what earthly good will it do?  All
our field hands are gone and there's nobody to pick it."

"Mercy me, all our field hands are gone and there's nobody to pick
it!" mimicked Grandma and bent a satiric glance on Scarlett.
"What's wrong with your own pretty paws, Miss, and those of your
sisters?"

"Me?  Pick cotton?" cried Scarlett aghast, as if Grandma had been
suggesting some repulsive crime.  "Like a field hand?  Like white
trash?  Like the Slattery women?"

"White trash, indeed!  Well, isn't this generation soft and
ladylike!  Let me tell you, Miss, when I was a girl my father lost
all his money and I wasn't above doing honest work with my hands
and in the fields too, till Pa got enough money to buy some more
darkies.  I've hoed my row and I've picked my cotton and I can do
it again if I have to.  And it looks like I'll have to.  White
trash, indeed!"

"Oh, but Mama Fontaine," cried her daughter-in-law, casting
imploring glances at the two girls, urging them to help her smooth
the old lady's feathers.  "That was so long ago, a different day
entirely, and times have changed."

"Times never change when there's a need for honest work to be
done," stated the sharp-eyed old lady, refusing to be soothed.
"And I'm ashamed for your mother, Scarlett, to hear you stand there
and talk as though honest work made white trash out of nice people.
'When Adam delved and Eve span'--"

To change the subject, Scarlett hastily questioned:  "What about
the Tarletons and the Calverts?  Were they burned out?  Have they
refugeed to Macon?"

"The Yankees never got to the Tarletons.  They're off the main
road, like we are, but they did get to the Calverts and they stole
all their stock and poultry and got all the darkies to run off with
them--" Sally began.

Grandma interrupted.

"Hah!  They promised all the black wenches silk dresses and gold
earbobs--that's what they did.  And Cathleen Calvert said some of
the troopers went off with the black fools behind them on their
saddles.  Well, all they'll get will be yellow babies and I can't
say that Yankee blood will improve the stock."

"Oh, Mama Fontaine!"

"Don't pull such a shocked face, Jane.  We're all married, aren't
we?  And, God knows, we've seen mulatto babies before this."

"Why didn't they burn the Calverts' house?"

"The house was saved by the combined accents of the second Mrs.
Calvert and that Yankee overseer of hers, Hilton," said Old Miss,
who always referred to the ex-governess as the "second Mrs.
Calvert," although the first Mrs. Calvert had been dead twenty
years.

"'We are staunch Union sympathizers,'" mimicked the old lady,
twanging the words through her long thin nose.  "Cathleen said the
two of them swore up hill and down dale that the whole passel of
Calverts were Yankees.  And Mr. Calvert dead in the Wilderness!
And Raiford at Gettysburg and Cade in Virginia with the army!
Cathleen was so mortified she said she'd rather the house had been
burned.  She said Cade would bust when he came home and heard about
it.  But then, that's what a man gets for marrying a Yankee woman--
no pride, no decency, always thinking about their own skins. . . .
How come they didn't burn Tara, Scarlett?"

For a moment Scarlett paused before answering.  She knew the very
next question would be:  "And how are all your folks?  And how is
your dear mother?"  She knew she could not tell them Ellen was
dead.  She knew that if she spoke those words or even let herself
think of them in the presence of these sympathetic women, she would
burst into a storm of tears and cry until she was sick.  And she
could not let herself cry.  She had not really cried since she came
home and she knew that if she once let down the floodgates, her
closely husbanded courage would all be gone.  But she knew, too,
looking with confusion at the friendly faces about her, that if she
withheld the news of Ellen's death, the Fontaines would never
forgive her.  Grandma in particular was devoted to Ellen and there
were very few people in the County for whom the old lady gave a
snap of her skinny fingers.

"Well, speak up," said Grandma, looking sharply at her.  "Don't you
know, Miss?"

"Well, you see, I didn't get home till the day after the battle,"
she answered hastily.  "The Yankees were all gone then.  Pa--Pa
told me that--that he got them not to burn the house because
Suellen and Carreen were so ill with typhoid they couldn't be
moved."

"That's the first time I ever heard of a Yankee doing a decent
thing," said Grandma, as if she regretted hearing anything good
about the invaders.  "And how are the girls now?"

"Oh, they are better, much better, almost well but quite weak,"
answered Scarlett.  Then, seeing the question she feared hovering
on the old lady's lips, she cast hastily about for some other topic
of conversation.

"I--I wonder if you could lend us something to eat?  The Yankees
cleaned us out like a swarm of locusts.  But, if you are on short
rations, just tell me so plainly and--"

"Send over Pork with a wagon and you shall have half of what we've
got, rice, meal, ham, some chickens," said Old Miss, giving
Scarlett a sudden keen look.

"Oh, that's too much!  Really, I--"

"Not a word!  I won't hear it.  What are neighbors for?"

"You are so kind that I can't--  But I have to be going now.  The
folks at home will be worrying about me."

Grandma rose abruptly and took Scarlett by the arm.

"You two stay here," she commanded, pushing Scarlett toward the
back porch.  "I have a private word for this child.  Help me down
the steps, Scarlett."

Young Miss and Sally said good-by and promised to come calling
soon.  They were devoured by curiosity as to what Grandma had to
say to Scarlett but unless she chose to tell them, they would never
know.  Old ladies were so difficult, Young Miss whispered to Sally
as they went back to their sewing.

Scarlett stood with her hand on the horse's bridle, a dull feeling
at her heart.

"Now," said Grandma, peering into her face, "what's wrong at Tara?
What are you keeping back?"

Scarlett looked up into the keen old eyes and knew she could tell
the truth, without tears.  No one could cry in the presence of
Grandma Fontaine without her express permission.

"Mother is dead," she said flatly.

The hand on her arm tightened until it pinched and the wrinkled
lids over the yellow eyes blinked.

"Did the Yankees kill her?"

"She died of typhoid.  Died--the day before I came home."

"Don't think about it," said Grandma sternly and Scarlett saw her
swallow.  "And your Pa?"

"Pa is--Pa is not himself."

"What do you mean?  Speak up.  Is he ill?"

"The shock--he is so strange--he is not--"

"Don't tell me he's not himself.  Do you mean his mind is
unhinged?"

It was a relief to hear the truth put so baldly.  How good the old
lady was to offer no sympathy that would make her cry.

"Yes," she said dully, "he's lost his mind.  He acts dazed and
sometimes he can't seem to remember that Mother is dead.  Oh, Old
Miss, it's more than I can stand to see him sit by the hour,
waiting for her and so patiently too, and he used to have no more
patience than a child.  But it's worse when he does remember that
she's gone.  Every now and then, after he's sat still with his ear
cocked listening for her, he jumps up suddenly and stumps out of
the house and down to the burying ground.  And then he comes
dragging back with the tears all over his face and he says over and
over till I could scream:  'Katie Scarlett, Mrs. O'Hara is dead.
Your mother is dead,' and it's just like I was hearing it again for
the first time.  And sometimes, late at night, I hear him calling
her and I get out of bed and go to him and tell him she's down at
the quarters with a sick darky.  And he fusses because she's always
tiring herself out nursing people.  And it's so hard to get him
back to bed.  He's like a child.  Oh, I wish Dr. Fontaine was here!
I know he could do something for Pa!  And Melanie needs a doctor
too.  She isn't getting over her baby like she should--"

"Melly--a baby?  And she's with you?"

"Yes."

"What's Melly doing with you?  Why isn't she in Macon with her aunt
and her kinfolks?  I never thought you liked her any too well,
Miss, for all she was Charles' sister.  Now, tell me all about it."

"It's a long story, Old Miss.  Don't you want to go back in the
house and sit down?"

"I can stand," said Grandma shortly.  "And if you told your story
in front of the others, they'd be bawling and making you feel sorry
for yourself.  Now, let's have it."

Scarlett began haltingly with the siege and Melanie's condition,
but as her story progressed beneath the sharp old eyes which never
faltered in their gaze, she found words, words of power and horror.
It all came back to her, the sickeningly hot day of the baby's
birth, the agony of fear, the flight and Rhett's desertion.  She
spoke of the wild darkness of the night, the blazing camp fires
which might be friends or foes, the gaunt chimneys which met her
gaze in the morning sun, the dead men and horses along the road,
the hunger, the desolation, the fear that Tara had been burned.

"I thought if I could just get home to Mother, she could manage
everything and I could lay down the weary load.  On the way home I
thought the worst had already happened to me, but when I knew she
was dead I knew what the worst really was."

She dropped her eyes to the ground and waited for Grandma to speak.
The silence was so prolonged she wondered if Grandma could have
failed to comprehend her desperate plight.  Finally the old voice
spoke and her tones were kind, kinder than Scarlett had ever heard
her use in addressing anyone.

"Child, it's a very bad thing for a woman to face the worst that
can happen to her, because after she's faced the worst she can't
ever really fear anything again.  And it's very bad for a woman not
to be afraid of something.  You think I don't understand what
you've told me--what you've been through?  Well, I understand very
well.  When I was about your age I was in the Creek uprising, right
after the Fort Mims massacre--yes," she said in a far-away voice,
"just about your age for that was fifty-odd years ago.  And I
managed to get into the bushes and hide and I lay there and saw our
house burn and I saw the Indians scalp my brothers and sisters.
And I could only lie there and pray that the light of the flames
wouldn't show up my hiding place.  And they dragged Mother out and
killed her about twenty feet from where I was lying.  And scalped
her too.  And ever so often one Indian would go back to her and
sink his tommyhawk into her skull again.  I--I was my mother's pet
and I lay there and saw it all.  And in the morning I set out for
the nearest settlement and it was thirty miles away.  It took me
three days to get there, through the swamps and the Indians, and
afterward they thought I'd lose my mind. . . .  That's where I met
Dr. Fontaine.  He looked after me. . . .  Ah, well, that's been
fifty years ago, as I said, and since that time I've never been
afraid of anything or anybody because I'd known the worst that
could happen to me.  And that lack of fear has gotten me into a lot
of trouble and cost me a lot of happiness.  God intended women to
be timid frightened creatures and there's something unnatural about
a woman who isn't afraid. . . .  Scarlett, always save something to
fear--even as you save something to love. . . ."

Her voice trailed off and she stood silent with eyes looking back
over half a century to the day when she had been afraid.  Scarlett
moved impatiently.  She had thought Grandma was going to understand
and perhaps show her some way to solve her problems.  But like all
old people she'd gotten to talking about things that happened
before anyone was born, things no one was interested in.  Scarlett
wished she had not confided in her.

"Well, go home, child, or they'll be worrying about you," she said
suddenly.  "Send Pork with the wagon this afternoon. . . .  And
don't think you can lay down the load, ever.  Because you can't.
I know."



Indian summer lingered into November that year and the warm days
were bright days for those at Tara.  The worst was over.  They had
a horse now and they could ride instead of walk.  They had fried
eggs for breakfast and fried ham for supper to vary the monotony of
the yams, peanuts and dried apples, and on one festal occasion they
even had roast chicken.  The old sow had finally been captured and
she and her brood rooted and grunted happily under the house where
they were penned