Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Chapter 63

The front door was slightly ajar and she trotted, breathless, into the hall and paused for a moment under the rainbow prisms of the chandelier. For all its brightness the house was very still, not with the serene stillness of sleep but with a watchful, tired silence that was faintly ominous. She saw at a glance that Rhett was not in the parlor or the library and her heart sank. Suppose he should be out — out with Belle or wherever it was he spent the many evenings when he did not appear at the supper table? She had not bargained on this.

She had started up the steps in search of him when she saw that the door of the dining room was closed. Her heart contracted a little with shame at the sight of that closed door, remembering the many nights of this last summer when Rhett had sat there alone, drinking until he was sodden and Pork came to urge him to bed. That had been her fault but she’d change it all. Everything was to be different from now on — but, please God, don’t let him be too drunk tonight. If he’s too drunk he won’t believe me and he’ll laugh at me and that will break my heart.

She quietly opened the dining-room door a crack and peered in. He was seated before the table, slumped in his chair, and a full decanter stood before him with the stopper in place, the glass unused. Thank God, he was sober! She pulled open the door, holding herself back from running to him. But when he looked up at her, something in his gaze stopped her dead on the threshold, stilled the words on her lips.

He looked at her steadily with dark eyes that were heavy with fatigue and there was no leaping light in them. Though her hair was tumbling about her shoulders, her bosom heaving breathlessly and her skirts mud splattered to the knees, his face did not change with surprise or question or his lips twist with mockery. He was sunken in his chair, his suit wrinkling untidily against his thickening waist, every line of him proclaiming the ruin of a fine body and the coarsening of a strong face. Drink and dissipation had done their work on the coin-clean profile and now it was no longer the head of a young pagan prince on new-minted gold but a decadent, tired Caesar on copper debased by long usage. He looked up at her as she stood there, hand on heart, looked quietly, almost in a kindly way, that frightened her.

“Come and sit down,” he said. “She is dead?”

She nodded and advanced hesitantly toward him, uncertainty taking form in her mind at this new expression on his face. Without rising, he pushed back a chair with his foot and she sank into it. She wished he had not spoken of Melanie so soon. She did not want to talk of her now, to re-live the agony of the last hour. There was all the rest of her life in which to speak of Melanie. But it seemed to her now, driven by a fierce desire to cry: “I love you,” that there was only this night, this hour, in which to tell Rhett what was in her mind. But there was something in his face that stopped her and she was suddenly ashamed to speak of love when Melanie was hardly cold.

“Well, God rest her,” he said heavily. “She was the only completely kind person I ever knew.”

“Oh, Rhett!” she cried miserably, for his words brought up too vividly all the kind things Melanie had ever done for her. “Why didn’t you come in with me? It was dreadful — and I needed you so!”

“I couldn’t have borne it,” he said simply and for a moment he was silent. Then he spoke with an effort and said, softly: “A very great lady.”

His somber gaze went past her and in his eyes was the same look she had seen in the light of the flames the night Atlanta fell, when he told her he was going off with the retreating army — the surprise of a man who knows himself utterly, yet discovers in himself unexpected loyalties and emotions and feels a faint self-ridicule at the discovery.

His moody eyes went over her shoulder as though he saw Melanie silently passing through the room to the door. In the look of farewell on his face there was no sorrow, no pain, only a speculative wonder at himself, only a poignant stirring of emotions dead since boyhood, as he said again: “A very great lady.”

Scarlett shivered and the glow went from her heart, the fine warmth, the splendor which had sent her home on winged feet. She half-grasped what was in Rhett’s mind as he said farewell to the only person in the world he respected and she was desolate again with a terrible sense of loss that was no longer personal. She could not wholly understand or analyze what he was feeling, but it seemed almost as if she too had been brushed by whispering skirts, touching her softly in a last caress. She was seeing through Rhett’s eyes the passing, not of a woman but of a legend — the gentle, self-effacing but steel-spined women on whom the South had builded its house in war and to whose proud and loving arms it had returned in defeat.

His eyes came back to her and his voice changed. Now it was light and cool.

“So she’s dead. That makes it nice for you, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, how can you say such things,” she cried, stung, the quick tears coming to her eyes. “You know how I loved her!”

“No, I can’t say I did. Most unexpected and it’s to your credit, considering your passion for white trash, that you could appreciate her at last.”

“How can you talk so? Of course I appreciated her! You didn’t. You didn’t know her like I did! It isn’t in you to understand her — how good she was —”

“Indeed? Perhaps not.”

“She thought of everybody except herself — why, her last words were about you.”

There was a flash of genuine feeling in his eyes as he turned to her.

“What did she say?”

“Oh, not now, Rhett.”

“Tell me.”

His voice was cool but the hand he put on her wrist hurt. She did not want to tell, this was not the way she had intended to lead up to the subject of her love but his hand was urgent.

“She said — she said — ‘Be kind to Captain Butler. He loves you so much.’”

He stared at her and dropped her wrist. His eyelids went down, leaving his face dark and blank. Suddenly he rose and going to the window, he drew the curtains and looked out intently as if there were something to see outside except blinding mist.

“Did she say anything else?” he questioned, not turning his head.

“She asked me to take care of little Beau and I said I would, like he was my own boy.”

“What else?”

“She said — Ashley — she asked me to look after Ashley, too.”

He was silent for a moment and then he laughed softly. “It’s convenient to have the first wife’s permission, isn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

He turned and even in her confusion she was surprised that there was no mockery in his face. Nor was there any more interest in it than in the face of a man watching the last act of a none-too-amusing comedy.

“I think my meaning’s plain enough. Miss Melly is dead. You certainly have all the evidence you want to divorce me and you haven’t enough reputation left for a divorce to hurt you. And you haven’t any religion left, so the Church won’t matter. Then — Ashley and dreams come true with the blessings of Miss Melly.”

“Divorce?” she cried. “No! No!” Incoherent for a moment she leaped to her feet and running to him caught his arm. “Oh, you’re all wrong! Terribly wrong. I don’t want a divorce — I—” She stopped for she could find no other words.

He put his hand under her chin, quietly turned her face up to the light and looked for an intent moment into her eyes. She looked up at him, her heart in her eyes, her lips quivering as she tried to speak. But she could marshal no words because she was trying to find in his face some answering emotions, some leaping light of hope, of joy. Surely he must know, now! But the smooth dark blankness which had baffled her so often was all that her frantic, searching eyes could find. He dropped her chin and, turning, walked back to his chair and sprawled tiredly again, his chin on his breast, his eyes looking up at her from under black brows in an impersonal speculative way.

She followed him back to his chair, her hands twisting, and stood before him.

“You are wrong,” she began again, finding words. “Rhett, tonight, when I knew, I ran every step of the way home to tell you. Oh, darling, I—”

“You are tired,” he said, still watching her. “You’d better go to bed.”

“But I must tell you!”

“Scarlett,” he said heavily, “I don’t want to hear — anything.”

“But you don’t know what I’m going to say!”

“My pet, it’s written plainly on your face. Something, someone has made you realize that the unfortunate Mr. Wilkes is too large a mouthful of Dead Sea fruit for even you to chew. And that same something has suddenly set my charms before you in a new and attractive light,” he sighed slightly. “And it’s no use to talk about it.”

She drew a sharp surprised breath. Of course, he had always read her easily. Heretofore she had resented it but now, after the first shock at her own transparency, her heart rose with gladness and relief. He knew, he understood and her task was miraculously made easy. No use to talk about it! Of course he was bitter at her long neglect, of course he was mistrustful of her sudden turnabout. She would have to woo him with kindness, convince him with a rich outpouring of love, and what a pleasure it would be to do it!

“Darling, I’m going to tell you everything,” she said, putting her hands on the arm of his chair and leaning down to him. “I’ve been so wrong, such a stupid fool —”

“Scarlett, don’t go on with this. Don’t be humble before me. I can’t bear it. Leave us some dignity, some reticence to remember out of our marriage. Spare us this last.”

She straightened up abruptly. Spare us this last? What did he mean by “this last”? Last? This was their first, their beginning.

“But I will tell you,” she began rapidly, as if fearing his hand upon her mouth, silencing her. “Oh, Rhett, I love you so, darling! I must have loved you for years and I was such a fool I didn’t know it. Rhett, you must believe me!”

He looked at her, standing before him, for a moment, a long look that went to the back of her mind. She saw there was belief in his eyes but little interest. Oh, was he going to be mean, at this of all times? To torment her, pay her back in her own coin?

“Oh, I believe you,” he said at last. “But what of Ashley Wilkes?”

“Ashley!” she said, and made an impatient gesture. “I— I don’t believe I’ve cared anything about him for ages. It was — well, a sort of habit I hung onto from when I was a little girl. Rhett, I’d never even thought I cared about him if I’d ever known what he was really like. He’s such a helpless, poor-spirited creature, for all his prattle about truth and honor and —”

“No,” said Rhett. “If you must see him as he really is, see him straight. He’s only a gentleman caught in a world he doesn’t belong in, trying to make a poor best of it by the rules of the world that’s gone.”

“Oh, Rhett, don’t let’s talk of him! What does he matter now? Aren’t you glad to know — I mean, now that I—”

As his tired eyes met hers, she broke off in embarrassment, shy as a girl with her first beau. If he’d only make it easier for her! If only he would hold out his arms, so she could crawl thankfully into his lap and lay her head on his chest. Her lips on his could tell him better than all her stumbling words. But as she looked at him, she realized that he was not holding her off just to be mean. He looked drained and as though nothing she had said was of any moment.

“Glad?” he said. “Once I would have thanked God, fasting, to hear you say all this. But, now, it doesn’t matter.”

“Doesn’t matter? What are you talking about? Of course, it matters! Rhett, you do care, don’t you? You must care. Melly said you did.”

“Well, she was right, as far as she knew. But, Scarlett, did it ever occur to you that even the most deathless love could wear out?”

She looked at him speechless, her mouth a round O.

“Mine wore out,” he went on, “against Ashley Wilkes and your insane obstinacy that makes you hold on like a bulldog to anything you think you want. . . . Mine wore out.”

“But love can’t wear out!”

“Yours for Ashley did.”

“But I never really loved Ashley!”

“Then, you certainly gave a good imitation of it — up till tonight. Scarlett, I’m not upbraiding you, accusing you, reproaching you. That time has passed. So spare me your defenses and your explanations. If you can manage to listen to me for a few minutes without interrupting, I can explain what I mean. Though God knows, I see no need for explanations. The truth’s so plain.”

She sat down, the harsh gas light falling on her white bewildered face. She looked into the eyes she knew so well — and knew so little — listened to his quiet voice saying words which at first meant nothing. This was the first time he had ever talked to her in this manner, as one human being to another, talked as other people talked, without flippancy, mockery or riddles.

“Did it ever occur to you that I loved you as much as a man can love a woman? Loved you for years before I finally got you? During the war I’d go away and try to forget you, but I couldn’t and I always had to come back. After the war I risked arrest, just to come back and find you. I cared so much I believe I would have killed Frank Kennedy if he hadn’t died when he did. I loved you but I couldn’t let you know it. You’re so brutal to those who love you, Scarlett. You take their love and hold it over their heads like a whip.”

Out of it all only the fact that he loved her meant anything. At the faint echo of passion in his voice, pleasure and excitement crept back into her. She sat, hardly breathing, listening, waiting.

“I knew you didn’t love me when I married you. I knew about Ashley, you see. But, fool that I was, I thought I could make you care. Laugh, if you like, but I wanted to take care of you, to pet you, to give you everything you wanted. I wanted to marry you and protect you and give you a free rein in anything that would make you happy — just as I did Bonnie. You’d had such a struggle, Scarlett. No one knew better than I what you’d gone through and I wanted you to stop fighting and let me fight for you. I wanted you to play, like a child — for you were a child, a brave, frightened, bullheaded child. I think you are still a child. No one but a child could be so headstrong and so insensitive.”

His voice was calm and tired but there was something in the quality of it that raised a ghost of memory in Scarlett. She had heard a voice like this once before and at some other crisis of her life. Where had it been? The voice of a man facing himself and his world without feeling, without flinching, without hope.

Why — why — it had been Ashley in the wintry, windswept orchard at Tara, talking of life and shadow shows with a tired calmness that had more finality in its timbre than any desperate bitterness could have revealed. Even as Ashley’s voice then had turned her cold with dread of things she could not understand, so now Rhett’s voice made her heart sink. His voice, his manner, more than the content of his words, disturbed her, made her realize that her pleasurable excitement of a few moments ago had been untimely. Something was wrong, badly wrong. What it was she did not know but she listened desperately, her eyes on his brown face, hoping to hear words that would dissipate her fears.

“It was so obvious that we were meant for each other. So obvious that I was the only man of your acquaintance who could love you after knowing you as you really are — hard and greedy and unscrupulous, like me. I loved you and I took the chance. I thought Ashley would fade out of your mind. But,” he shrugged, “I tried everything I knew and nothing worked. And I loved you so, Scarlett. If you had only let me, I could have loved you as gently and as tenderly as ever a man loved a woman. But I couldn’t let you know, for I knew you’d think me weak and try to use my love against me. And always — always there was Ashley. It drove me crazy. I couldn’t sit across the table from you every night, knowing you wished Ashley was sitting there in my place. And I couldn’t hold you in my arms at night and know that — well, it doesn’t matter now. I wonder, now, why it hurt. That’s what drove me to Belle. There is a certain swinish comfort in being with a woman who loves you utterly and respects you for being a fine gentleman — even if she is an illiterate whore. It soothed my vanity. You’ve never been very soothing, my dear.”

“Oh, Rhett . . .” she began, miserable at the very mention of Belle’s name, but he waved her to silence and went on.

“And then, that night when I carried you upstairs — I thought — I hoped — I hoped so much I was afraid to face you the next morning, for fear I’d been mistaken and you didn’t love me. I was so afraid you’d laugh at me I went off and got drunk. And when I came back, I was shaking in my boots and if you had come even halfway to meet me, had given me some sign, I think I’d have kissed your feet. But you didn’t.”

“Oh, but Rhett, I did want you then but you were so nasty! I did want you! I think — yes, that must have been when I first knew I cared about you. Ashley — I never was happy about Ashley after that, but you were so nasty that I—”

“Oh, well,” he said. “It seems we’ve been at cross purposes, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t matter now. I’m only telling you, so you won’t ever wonder about it all. When you were sick and it was all my fault, I stood outside your door, hoping you’d call for me, but you didn’t, and then I knew what a fool I’d been and that it was all over.”

He stopped and looked through her and beyond her, even as Ashley had often done, seeing something she could not see. And she could only stare speechless at his brooding face.

“But then, there was Bonnie and I saw that everything wasn’t over, after all. I liked to think that Bonnie was you, a little girl again, before the war and poverty had done things to you. She was so like you, so willful, so brave and gay and full of high spirits, and I could pet her and spoil her — just as I wanted to pet you. But she wasn’t like you — she loved me. It was a blessing that I could take the love you didn’t want and give it to her. . . . When she went, she took everything.”

Suddenly she was sorry for him, sorry with a completeness that wiped out her own grief and her fear of what his words might mean. It was the first time in her life she had been sorry for anyone without feeling contemptuous as well, because it was the first time she had ever approached understanding any other human being. And she could understand his shrewd caginess, so like her own, his obstinate pride that kept him from admitting his love for fear of a rebuff.

“Ah, darling,” she said coming forward, hoping he would put out his arms and draw her to his knees. “Darling, I’m so sorry but I’ll make it all up to you! We can be so happy, now that we know the truth and — Rhett — look at me, Rhett! There — there can be other babies — not like Bonnie but —”

“Thank you, no,” said Rhett, as if he were refusing a piece of bread. “I’ll not risk my heart a third time.”

“Rhett, don’t say such things! Oh, what can I say to make you understand? I’ve told you how sorry I am —”

“My darling, you’re such a child. You think that by saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ all the errors and hurts of years past can be remedied, obliterated from the mind, all the poison drawn from old wounds. . . . Take my handkerchief, Scarlett. Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.”

She took the handkerchief, blew her nose and sat down. It was obvious that he was not going to take her in his arms. It was beginning to be obvious that all his talk about loving her meant nothing. It was a tale of a time long past, and he was looking at it as though it had never happened to him. And that was frightening. He looked at her in an almost kindly way, speculation in his eyes.

“How old are you, my dear? You never would tell me.”

“Twenty-eight,” she answered dully, muffled in the handkerchief.

“That’s not a vast age. It’s a young age to have gained the whole world and lost your own soul, isn’t it? Don’t look frightened. I’m not referring to hell fire to come for your affair with Ashley. I’m merely speaking metaphorically. Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve wanted two things. Ashley and to be rich enough to tell the world to go to hell. Well, you are rich enough and you’ve spoken sharply to the world and you’ve got Ashley, if you want him. But all that doesn’t seem to be enough now.”

She was frightened but not at the thought of hell fire. She was thinking: “But Rhett is my soul and I’m losing him. And if I lose him, nothing else matters! No, not friends or money or — or anything. If only I had him I wouldn’t even mind being poor again. No, I wouldn’t mind being cold again or even hungry. But he can’t mean — Oh, he can’t!”

She wiped her eyes and said desperately:

“Rhett, if you once loved me so much, there must be something left for me.”

“Out of it all I find only two things that remain and they are the two things you hate the most — pity and an odd feeling of kindness.”

Pity! Kindness! “Oh, my God,” she thought despairingly. Anything but pity and kindness. Whenever she felt these two emotions for anyone, they went hand in hand with contempt. Was he contemptuous of her too? Anything would be preferable to that. Even the cynical coolness of the war days, the drunken madness that drove him the night he carried her up the stairs, his hard fingers bruising her body, or the barbed drawling words that she now realized had covered a bitter love. Anything except this impersonal kindness that was written so plainly in his face.

“Then — then you mean I’ve ruined it all — that you don’t love me any more?”

“That’s right.”

“But,” she said stubbornly, like a child who still feels that to state a desire is to gain that desire, “but I love you!”

“That’s your misfortune.”

She looked up quickly to see if there was a jeer behind those words but there was none. He was simply stating a fact. But it was a fact she still would not believe — could not believe. She looked at him with slanting eyes that burned with a desperate obstinacy and the sudden hard line of jaw that sprang out through her soft cheek was Gerald’s jaw.

“Don’t be a fool, Rhett! I can make —”

He flung up a hand in mock horror and his black brows went up in the old sardonic crescents.

“Don’t look so determined, Scarlett! You frighten me. I see you are contemplating the transfer of your tempestuous affections from Ashley to me and I fear for my liberty and my peace of mind. No, Scarlett, I will not be pursued as the luckless Ashley was pursued. Besides, I am going away.”

Her jaw trembled before she clenched her teeth to steady it. Go away? No, anything but that! How could life go on without him? Everyone had gone from her, everyone who mattered except Rhett. He couldn’t go. But how could she stop him? She was powerless against his cool mind, his disinterested words.

“I am going away. I intended to tell you when you came home from Marietta.”

“You are deserting me?”

“Don’t be the neglected, dramatic wife, Scarlett. The role isn’t becoming. I take it, then, you do not want a divorce or even a separation? Well, then, I’ll come back often enough to keep gossip down.”

“Damn gossip!” she said fiercely. “It’s you I want. Take me with you!”

“No,” he said, and there was finality in his voice. For a moment she was on the verge of an outburst of childish wild tears. She could have thrown herself on the floor, cursed and screamed and drummed her heels. But some remnant of pride, of common sense stiffened her. She thought, if I did, he’d only laugh, or just look at me. I mustn’t bawl; I mustn’t beg. I mustn’t do anything to risk his contempt. He must respect me even — even if he doesn’t love me.

She lifted her chin and managed to ask quietly:

“Where will you go?”

There was a faint gleam of admiration in his eyes as he answered.

“Perhaps to England — or to Paris. Perhaps to Charleston to try to make peace with my people.”

“But you hate them! I’ve heard you laugh at them so often and —”

He shrugged.

“I still laugh — but I’ve reached the end of roaming, Scarlett. I’m forty-five — the age when a man begins to value some of the things he’s thrown away so lightly in youth, the clannishness of families, honor and security, roots that go deep — Oh, no! I’m not recanting, I’m not regretting anything I’ve ever done. I’ve had a hell of a good time — such a hell of a good time that it’s begun to pall and now I want something different. No, I never intend to change more than my spots. But I want the outer semblance of the things I used to know, the utter boredom of respectability — other people’s respectability, my pet, not my own — the calm dignity life can have when it’s lived by gentle folks, the genial grace of days that are gone. When I lived those days I didn’t realize the slow charm of them —”

Again Scarlett was back in the windy orchard of Tara and there was the same look in Rhett’s eyes that had been in Ashley’s eyes that day. Ashley’s words were as clear in her ears as though he and not Rhett were speaking. Fragments of words came back to her and she quoted parrot-like: “A glamor to it — a perfection, a symmetry like Grecian art.”

Rhett said sharply: “Why did you say that? That’s what I meant.”

“It was something that — that Ashley said once, about the old days.”

He shrugged and the light went out of his eyes.

“Always Ashley,” he said and was silent for a moment.

“Scarlett, when you are forty-five, perhaps you will know what I’m talking about and then perhaps you, too, will be tired of imitation gentry and shoddy manners and cheap emotions. But I doubt it. I think you’ll always be more attracted by glister than by gold. Anyway, I can’t wait that long to see. And I have no desire to wait. It just doesn’t interest me. I’m going to hunt in old towns and old countries where some of the old times must still linger. I’m that sentimental. Atlanta’s too raw for me, too new.”

“Stop,” she said suddenly. She had hardly heard anything he had said. Certainly her mind had not taken it in. But she knew she could no longer endure with any fortitude the sound of his voice when there was no love in it.

He paused and looked at her quizzically.

“Well, you get my meaning, don’t you?” he questioned, rising to his feet.

She threw out her hands to him, palms up, in the age-old gesture of appeal and her heart, again, was in her face.

“No,” she cried. “All I know is that you do not love me and you are going away! Oh, my darling, if you go, what shall I do?”

For a moment he hesitated as if debating whether a kind lie were kinder in the long run than the truth. Then he shrugged.

“Scarlett, I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken — and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived. Perhaps, if I were younger —” he sighed. “But I’m too old to believe in such sentimentalities as clean slates and starting all over. I’m too old to shoulder the burden of constant lies that go with living in polite disillusionment. I couldn’t live with you and lie to you and I certainly couldn’t lie to myself. I can’t even lie to you now. I wish I could care what you do or where you go, but I can’t.”

He drew a short breath and said lightly but softly:

“My dear, I don’t give a damn.”

* * * * *



She silently watched him go up the stairs, feeling that she would strangle at the pain in her throat. With the sound of his feet dying away in the upper hall was dying the last thing in the world that mattered. She knew now that there was no appeal of emotion or reason which would turn that cool brain from its verdict. She knew now that he had meant every word he said, lightly though some of them had been spoken. She knew because she sensed in him something strong, unyielding, implacable — all the qualities she had looked for in Ashley and never found.

She had never understood either of the men she had loved and so she had lost them both. Now, she had a fumbling knowledge that, had she ever understood Ashley, she would never have loved him; had she ever understood Rhett, she would never have lost him. She wondered forlornly if she had ever really understood anyone in the world.

There was a merciful dullness in her mind now, a dullness that she knew from long experience would soon give way to sharp pain, even as severed tissues, shocked by the surgeon’s knife, have a brief instant of insensibility before their agony begins.

“I won’t think of it now,” she thought grimly, summoning up her old charm. “I’ll go crazy if I think about losing him now. I’ll think of it tomorrow.”

“But,” cried her heart, casting aside the charm and beginning to ache, “I can’t let him go! There must be some way!”

“I won’t think of it now,” she said again, aloud, trying to push her misery to the back of her mind, trying to find some bulwark against the rising tide of pain. “I’ll — why, I’ll go home to Tara tomorrow,” and her spirits lifted faintly.

She had gone back to Tara once in fear and defeat and she had emerged from its sheltering walls strong and armed for victory. What she had done once, somehow — please God, she could do again! How, she did not know. She did not want to think of that now. All she wanted was a breathing space in which to hurt, a quiet place to lick her wounds, a haven in which to plan her campaign. She thought of Tara and it was as if a gentle cool hand were stealing over her heart. She could see the white house gleaming welcome to her through the reddening autumn leaves, feel the quiet hush of the country twilight coming down over her like a benediction, feel the dews falling on the acres of green bushes starred with fleecy white, see the raw color of the red earth and the dismal dark beauty of the pines on the rolling hills.

She felt vaguely comforted, strengthened by the picture, and some of her hurt and frantic regret was pushed from the top of her mind. She stood for a moment remembering small things, the avenue of dark cedars leading to Tara, the banks of cape jessamine bushes, vivid green against the white walls, the fluttering white curtains. And Mammy would be there. Suddenly she wanted Mammy desperately, as she had wanted her when she was a little girl, wanted the broad bosom on which to lay her head, the gnarled black hand on her hair. Mammy, the last link with the old days.

With the spirit of her people who would not know defeat, even when it stared them in the face, she raised her chin. She could get Rhett back. She knew she could. There had never been a man she couldn’t get, once she set her mind upon him.

“I’ll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09