Oh, but you have! Will couldn’t have—”
“I can split kindling very nicely now.”
“Oh, Ashley!” she cried despairingly, tears in her eyes at the jeering note in his voice. “What hashappened to you since I’ve been gone? You sound so hard and bitter! You didn’t used to be thisway.”
“What’s happened? A very remarkable thing, Scarlett. I’ve been thinking. I don’t believe I reallythought from the timeof the surrender until you went away from here. I was in a state ofsuspended animation and it was enough that I had something to eat and a bed to lie on. But whenyou went to Atlanta, shouldering a man’s burden, I saw myself as much less than a man—muchl christian louboutin wedding shoes ess, indeed, than a woman. Such thoughts aren’t pleasant to live with and I do not intend to livewith them any longer. Other men came out of the war with less than I had, and look at them now.
So I’m going to New York.”
“But—I don’t understand! If it’s work you want, why won’t Atlanta do as well as New York?
And my mill—”
“No, Scarlett This is my last chance. I’ll go North. If I go to Atlanta and work for you, I’m lostforever.”
The word “lost—lost—lost” dinged frighteningly in her heart like a death bell sounding. Hereyes went quickly to his but they were wide and crystal gray and they were looking through herand beyond her at some fate she could not see, could not understand.
“Lost? Do you mean—have you done something the Atlanta Yankees can get you for? I mean,about helping Tony get away or—or— Oh, Ashley, you christian louboutin outlet aren’t in the Ku Klux, are you?”
His remote eyes came back to her swiftly and he smiled a brief smile that never reached hiseyes.
“I had forgotten you were so literal. No, it’s not the Yankees I’m afraid of. I mean if I go toAtlanta and take help from you again, I bury forever any hope of ever standing alone.”
“Oh,” she sighed in quick relief, “if it’s only that!
“Yes,” and he smiled again, the smile more wintry than before. “Only that. Only my masculinepride, my self-respect and, if you choose to so call it, my immortal soul.”
“But,” she swung around on another tack, “you could gradually buy the mill from me and itwould be your own and then—”
“Scarlett,” he interrupted fiercely, “I tell you, no! There are other reasons.”
“You know my reasons better than anyone in the world.”
“Oh—that? But cheap louboutins —that’ll be all right,” she assured swiftly. “I promised, you know, out in theorchard, last winter and I’ll keep my promise and—”
“Then you are surer of yourself than I am. I could not count on myself to keep such a promise. Ishould not have said that but I had to make you understand. Scarlett, I will not talk of this anymore. It’s finished. When Will and Suellen marry, I am going to New York.”
His eyes, wide and stormy, met hers for an instant and then he went swiftly across the room. Hishand was on the door knob. Scarlett stared at him in agony. The interview was ended and she hadlost. Suddenly weak from the strain and sorrow of the last day and the present disappointment, hernerves broke abruptly and she screamed: “Oh, Ashley!” And, flinging herself down on the saggingsofa, she burst into wild crying.
She heard his uncertain footsteps leaving the door and his helpless voice saying-her name overand over above her head. There was a swift pattering of feet racing up the hall from the kitchen andMelanie burst into the room, her eyes wide with alarm.
“Scarlett … the baby isn’t … ?”
Scarlett burrowed her head in the dusty upholstery and screamed again.
“Ashley—he’s so mean! So doggoned mean—so hateful!”
“Oh, Ashley, what have you done to her?” Melanie threw herself on the floor beside the sofa andgathered Scarlett into her arms. “What have you said? How could you! You might bring on thebaby! There, my darling, put your head on Melanie’s shoulder! What is wrong?”
“Ashley—he’s so—so bullheaded and hateful!”
“Ashley, I’m surprised at you! Upsetting her so much and in her condition and Mr. O’Harahardly in his grave!”
“Don’t you fuss at him!” cried Scarlett illogically, raising her head abruptly from Melanie’sshoulder, her coarse black hair tumbling out from its net and her face streaked with tears. “He’s gota right to do as he pleases!”
“Melanie,” said Ashley, his face white, “let me explain. Scarlett was kind enough to offer me aposition in Atlanta as manager of one of her mills—”
“Manager!” cried Scarlett indignantly. I offered him a half-interest and he—”
“And I told her I had already made arrangements for us to go North and she—”
“Oh,” cried Scarlett, beginning to sob again, “I told him and told him how much I needed him—how I couldn’t get anybody to manage the mill—how I was going to have this baby—and herefused to come! And now—now, I’ll have to sell the mill and I know I can’t get anything like agood price for it and I’ll lose money and I guess maybe we’ll starve, but he won’t care. He’s somean!”
She burrowed her head back into Melanie’s thin shoulder and some of the real anguish wentfrom her as a flicker of hope woke in her. She could sense that in Melanie’s devoted heart she hadan ally, feel Melanie’s indignation that anyone, even her beloved husband, should make Scarlettcry. Melanie flew at Ashley like a small determined dove and pecked him for the first time in herlife.
“Ashley, how could you refuse her? And after all she’s done for us! How ungrateful you makeus appear! And she so helpless now with the bab— How unchivalrous of you! She helped us whenwe needed help and now you deny her when she needs you!”
Scarlett peeped slyly at Ashley and saw surprise and uncertainty plain in his face as he looked into Melanie’s dark indignant eyes. Scarlett was surprised, too, at the vigor of Melanie’s attack, forshe knew Melanie considered her husband beyond wifely reproaches and thought his decisionssecond only to God’s.
“Melanie …” he began and then threw out his hands helplessly.
“Ashley, how can you hesitate? Think what she’s done for us—for me! I’d have died in Atlantawhen Beau came if it hadn’t been for her! And she—yes, she killed a Yankee, defending us. Didyou know that? She killed a man for us. And she worked and slaved before you and Will camehome, just to keep food in our mouths. And when I think of her plowing and picking cotton, Icould just— Oh, my darling!” And she swooped her head and kissed Scarlett’s tumbled hair infierce loyalty. “And now the first time she asks us to do something for her—”
“You don’t need to tell me what she has done for us.”
“And Ashley, just think! Besides helping her, just think what it’ll mean for us to live in Atlantaamong our own people and not have to live with Yankees! There’ll be Auntie and Uncle Henry andall our friends, and Beau can have lots of playmates and go to school. If we went North, wecouldn’t let him go to school and associate with Yankee children and have pickaninnies in hisclass! We’d have to have a governess and I don’t see how we’d afford—”
“Melanie,” said Ashley and his voice was deadly quiet, “do you really want to go to Atlanta sobadly? You never said so when we talked about going to New York. You never intimated—”
“Oh, but when we talked about going to New York, I thought there was nothing for you inAtlanta and, besides, it wasn’t my place to say anything. It’s a wife’s duty to go where her husbandgoes. But now that Scarlett needs us so and has a position that only you can fill we can go home!
Home!” Her voice was rapturous as she squeezed Scarlett. “And I’ll see Five Points again andPeachtree road and— and— Oh, how I’ve missed them all! And maybe we could have a littlehome of our own! I wouldn’t care how little and tacky it was but—a home of our own!”
Her eyes blazed with enthusiasm and happiness and the two stared at her, Ashley with a queerstunned look, Scarlett with surprise mingled with shame. It had never occurred to her that Melaniemissed Atlanta so much and longed to be back, longed for a home of her own. She had seemed socontented at Tara it came to Scarlett as a shock that she was homesick.
“Oh Scarlett, how good of you to plan all this for us! You knew how I longed for home!”
As usual when confronted by Melanie’s habit of attributing worthy motives where no worthexisted, Scarlett was ashamed and irritated, and suddenly she could not meet either Ashley’s orMelanie’s eyes.
“We could get a little house of our own. Do you realize that we’ve been married five years andnever had a home?”
“You can stay with us at Aunt Pitty’s. That’s your home,” mumbled Scarlett, toying with apillow and keeping her eyes down to hide dawning triumph in them as she felt the tide turning herway.
“No, but thank you just the same, darling. That would crowd us so. We’ll get a house— Oh,Ashley, do say Yes!”
“Scarlett,” said Ashley and his voice was toneless, “look at me.”
Startled, she looked up and met gray eyes that were bitter and full of tired futility.
“Scarlett, I will come to Atlanta. … I cannot fight you both.”
He turned and walked out of the room. Some of the triumph in her heart was dulled by anagging fear. The look in his eyes when he spoke had been the same as when he said he would belost forever if he came to Atlanta.
After Suellen and Will married and Carreen went off to Charleston to the convent, Ashley,Melanie and Beau came to Atlanta, bringing Dilcey with them to cook and nurse. Prissy and Porkwere left at Tara until such a time as Will could get other darkies to help him in the fields and thenthey, too, would come to town.
The little brick house that Ashley took for his family was on Ivy Street directly behind AuntPitty’s house and the two back yards ran together, divided only by a ragged overgrown privethedge. Melanie had chosen it especially for this reason. She said, on the first mor christian louboutin sale ning of her returnto Atlanta as she laughed and cried and embraced Scarlett and Aunt Pitty, she had been separatedfrom her loved ones for so long that she could never be close enough to them again.
The house had originally been two stories high but the upper floor had been destroyed by shellsduring the siege and the owne http://www.chepsoc.co.uk/cl.asp r, returning after the surrender, had lacked the money to replace it.
He had contented himself with putting a flat roof on the remaining first floor which gave thebuilding the squat, disproportionate look of a child’s playhouse built of shoe boxes. The house washigh from the ground, built over a large cellar, and the long sweeping flight of stairs which reachedit made it look slightly ridiculous. But the flat, squashed look of the place was partly redeemed bythe two fine old oaks which shaded it and a dusty-leaved magnolia, splotched with white blossoms,standing beside the front steps. The lawn was wide and green with thick clover and border christian louboutin bridal ing itwas a straggling, unkempt privet hedge, interlaced with sweet-smelling honeysuckle vines. Hereand there in the grass, roses threw out sprangles from crushed old stems and pink and white crêpemyrtle bloomed as valiantly as if war had not passed over their heads and Yankee horses gnawedtheir boughs.
Scarlett thought it quite the ugliest dwelling she had ever seen but, to Melanie, Twelve Oaks inall its grandeur had not been more beautiful. It was home and she christian louboutin uk and Ashley and Beau were at lasttogether under their own roof.
India Wilkes came back from Macon, where she and Honey had lived since 1864, and took upher residence with her brother, crowding the occupants of the little house. But Ashley and Melaniewelcomed her. Times had changed, money was scarce, but nothing had altered the rule of Southernlife that families always made room gladly for indigent or unmarried female relatives.
Honey had married and, so India said, married beneath her, a coarse Westerner from Mississippiwho had settled in Macon. He had a red face and a loud voice and jolly ways. India had notapproved of the match and, not approving, had not been happy in her brother-in-law’s home. Shewelcomed the news that Ashley now had a home of his own, so she could remove herself fromuncongenial surroundings and also from the distressing sight of her sister so fatuously happy with a man unworthy of her.
The rest of christian louboutin shoe sale the family privately thought that the giggling and simple-minded Honey had done farbetter than could be expected and they marveled that she had caught any man. Her husband was agentleman and a man of some means; but to India, born in Georgia and reared in Virginiatraditions, anyone not from the eastern seaboard was a boor and a barbarian. Probably Honey’shusband was as happy to be relieved of her company as she was to leave him, for India was noteasy to live with these days.
The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely on her shoulders now. She was twenty-five andlooked it, and so there was no longer any need for her to try to be attractive. Her pale lashless eyeslooked directly and uncompromisingly upon the world and her thin lips were ever set in haughtytightness. There was an air of dignity and pride about her now that, oddly enough, became herbetter than the determined girlish sweetness of her days at Twelve Oaks. The position she held wasalmost that of a widow. Everyone knew that Stuart Tarleton would have married her had he notbeen killed at Gettysburg, and so she was accor christian louboutin black ded the respect due a woman who had been wantedif not wed.
The six rooms of the little house on Ivy Street were soon scantily furnished with the cheapestpine and oak furniture in Frank’s store for, as Ashley was penniless and forced to buy on credit, herefused anything except the least expensive and bought only the barest necessities. Thisembarrassed Frank who was fond of Ashley and it distressed Scarlett. Both she and Frank wouldwillingly have given, without any jimmy choo charge, the finest mahogany and carved rosewood in the store,but the Wilkeses obstinately refused. Their house was painfully ugly and bare and Scarlett hated tosee Ashley living in the uncarpeted, uncurtained rooms. But he did not seem to notice hissurroundings and Melanie, having her own home for the first time since her marriage, was sohappy she was actually proud of the place. Scarlett would have suffered agonies of humiliation athaving friends find her without draperies and carpets and cushions and the proper number of chairsand teacups and spoons. But Melanie did the honors of her house as though plush curtains andbrocade sofas were hers.
For all her obvious happiness, Melanie was not well. Little Beau had cost her her health, and thehard work she had done at Tara since his birth had taken further toll of her strength. She was sothin that her small bones seemed ready to come through her white skin. Seen from a distan cheap christian louboutin ce,romping about the back yard with her child, she looked like a little girl, for her waist wasunbelievably tiny and she had practically no figure. She had no bust and her hips were as flat aslittle Beau’s and as she had neither the pride nor the good sense (so Scarlett thought) to sew rufflesin the bosom of her basque or pads on the back of her corsets, her thinness was very obvious. Likeher body, her face was too thin and too pale and her silky brows, arched and delicate as abutterfly’s feelers, stood out too blackly against her colorless skin. In her small face, her eyes weretoo large for beauty, the dark smudges under them making them appear enormous, but theexpression in them had not altered since the days of her unworried girlhood. War and constant painand hard work had been powerless against their sweet tranquility. They were the eyes of a happywoman, a woman around whom storms might blow without ever ruffling the serene core of herbeing.
How did she keep her eyes that way, thought Scarlett, looking at her enviously. S christian louboutin he knew her own eyes sometimes had the look of a hungry cat. What was it Rhett had said once aboutMelanie’s eyes—some foolishness about them being like candles? Oh, yes, like two good deeds ina naughty world. Yes, they were like candles, candles shielded from every wind, two soft lightsglowing with happiness at being home again among her friends.
The little house was always full of company. Melanie had been a f christian louboutin boots avorite even as a child and thetown flocked to welcome her home again. Everyone brought presents for the house, bric-a-brac,pictures, a silver spoon or two, linen pillow cases, napkins, rag rugs, small articles which they hadsaved from Sherman and treasured but which they now swore were of no earthly use to them.
http://www.chepsoc.co.uk/ How did she keep her eyes that way
Oh, but you have! Will couldn’t have—”