Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell

   
 
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The Australian edition of Gone With The Wind is out of copyright.
Part 1
Chapter 1
   
   
 

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 lashe's 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

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 finishe'd 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 she'lled 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 lashe's 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 finishe'd, 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
whitewashe'd 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 she'lled 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 . . ."

 

 
     
Chapter2
 
 
 

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.

Flush e'd 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 pushe'd 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 gashe'd 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 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 she'epish 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 relinquishe'd 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 slashe'd 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 pushe'd 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, pushe'd 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.

 
     
     
Chapter3
     
 

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 she'ath 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 lashe's, 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 compassionate sexyly, 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 she'll.

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
marshe's.

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
establishe'd 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 whitewashe'd 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 MacIntoshe's 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 MacIntoshe's 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 MacIntoshe's. 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 washe'd 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 furnishe'd 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 crushe'd 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 she'epishly 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 bushe's 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 whitewashe'd brick, and it
joined with the pink crepe myrtle bushe's 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 pushe's 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 . . .

 
   
 
 
   

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