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d he finished the first lines when two other voices, drunken voices, assailed him,enraged foolish voices that stumbled over words and blurred them together. There was a quickcommand from Captain Jaffery on the front porch and the rapid tramp of feet. But even beforethese sounds arose, the ladies looked at one another stunned. For the drunken voices expostulatingwith Rhett were those of Ashley and HughElsing.Voices rose louder on the front walk, Captain Jaffery’s curt and questioning, Hugh’s shrill withfoolish laughter, Rhett’s deep and reckless and Ashley’s queer, unreal, shouting: “What the hell!
What the hell!”
“That can’t be Ashley!” thought Scarlett wildly. “He never gets drunk! And Rhett—why, whenRhett’s drunk he gets quieter and quieter—never loud like that!”
Melanie rose and, with her, Archie rose. They heard the captain’s sharp voice: “These two menare under arrest.” And Archie’s hand closed over his pistol butt.
“No,” whispered Melanie firmly. “No. Leave it to me.”
There was in her face the same look Scarl http://www.chepsoc.co.uk/cl.asp ett had seen that day at Tara when Melanie had stoodat the top of the steps looking down at the dead Yankee, her weak wrist weighed down by theheavy saber—a gentle and timid soul nerved by circumstances to the caution and fury of a tigress.
She threw the front door open.
“Bring him in, Captain Butler,” she called in a clear tone that bit with venom. “I suppose you’vegotten him intoxicated again. Bring him in.”
From the dark windy walk, the Yankee captain spoke: “I’m sorry, Mrs. Wilkes, but your husbandand Mr. Elsing are under arrest.”
“Arrest? For what? For drunkenness? If everyone in Atlanta was arrested for drunkenness, thewhole Yankee garrison would be in jail continually. Well, bring him in, Captain Butler—that is, ifyou can walk yourself.”
Scarlett’s mind was not working quickly and for a brie christian louboutin outlet f moment nothing made sense. She knewneither Rhett nor Ashley was drunk and she knew Melanie knew they were not drunk. Yet here wasMelanie, usually so gentle and refined, screaming like a shrew and in front of Yankees too, thatboth of them were too drunk to walk.
There was a short mumbled argument, punctuated with curses, and uncertain feet ascended thestairs. In the doorway appeared Ashley, white faced, his head lolling, his bright hair tousled, hislong body wrapped from neck to knees in Rhett’s black cape. Hugh Elsing and Rhett, none toosteady on their feet, supported him on either side and it was obvious he would have fallen to thefloor but for their aid. Behind them came the Yankee captain, his face a study of mingled suspicionand amusem christian louboutin shoe sale ent. He stood in the open doorway with his men peering curiously over his shouldersand the cold wind swept the house.
Scarlett, frightened, puzzled, glanced at Melanie and back to the sagging Ashley and then half-comprehension came to her. She started to cry out: “But he can’t be drunk!” and bit back the words. She realized she was witnessing a play, a desperate play on which lives hinged. She knewshe was not part of it nor was Aunt Pitty but the others were and they were tossing cues to oneanother like actors in an oft-rehearsed drama. She understood only half but she understood enoughto keep silent.
“Put him in the chair,” cried Melanie indignantly. “And you christian louboutin boots , Captain Butler, leave this houseimmediately! How dare you show your face here after getting him in this condition again!”
The two men eased Ashley into a rocker and Rhett, swaying, caught hold of the back of the chairto steady himself and addressed the captain with pain in his voice.
“That’s fine thanks I get, isn’t it? For keeping the police from getting him and bringing himhome and him yelling and trying to claw me!”
“And you, Hugh Elsing, I’m ashamed of you! What will your poor mother say? Dr christian louboutin sale unk and outwith a—a Yankee-loving Scalawag like Captain Butler! And, oh, Mr. Wilkes, how could you dosuch a thing?”
“Melly, I ain’t so very drunk,” mumbled Ashley, and with the words fell forward and lay facedown on the table, his head buried in his arms.
“Archie, take him to his room and put him to bed—as usual,” ordered Melanie. “Aunt Pitty,please run and fix the bed and oo-oh,” she suddenly burst into tears. “Oh, how could he? After hepromised!”
Archie already had his arm under Ashley’s shoulder and Pitty, frightened and uncertain, was onher feet when the captain interposed.
“Don’t touch him. He’s under arrest. Sergeant!”
As the sergeant stepped into the room, his rifle at trail, Rhett, evidently trying to steady himself,put a hand on the captain’s arm and, with difficulty, focused his eyes.
“Tom, what you arresting him for? He ain’t so very drunk. I’ve seen him drunker.”
“Drunk be damned,” cried the captain. “He can lie in the gutter for all I care. I’m no policeman.
He and Mr. Elsin christian louboutin uk g are under arrest for complicity in a Klan raid at Shantytown tonight. A niggerand a white man were killed. Mr. Wilkes was the ringleader in it.”
“Tonight?” Rhett began to laugh. He laughed so hard that he sat down on the sofa and put hishead in his hands. “Not tonight, Tom,” he said when he could speak. “These two have been withme tonight—ever since eight o’c christian louboutin black lock when they were supposed to be at the meeting.”
“With you, Rhett? But—” A frown came over the captain’s forehead and he looked uncertainlyat the snoring Ashley and his weeping wife. “But—where were you?”
“I don’t like to say,” and Rhett shot a look of drunken cunning at Melanie.
“You’d better say!”
“Le’s go out on the porch and I’ll tell you where we were.”
“You’ll tell me now.”
“Hate to say it in front of ladies. If you ladies’ll step out of the room—”
“I won’t go,” cried Melanie, dabbing angrily at her eyes with her handkerchief. “I have a right toknow. Where was my husband?”
“At Belle Watling’s sporting house,” said Rhett, looking abashed. “He was there and Hugh andFrank Kennedy and Dr. Meade and—a christian louboutin bridal nd a whole lot of them. Had a party. Big party. Champagne.
Girls—”
“At—at Belle Watling’s?”
Melanie’s voice rose until it cracked with such pain that all eyes turned frightenedly to her. Herhand went clutching at her bosom and, before Archie could catch her, she had fainted. Then ahubbub ensued, Archie picking her up, India running to the kitchen for water, Pitty and Scarlettfanning her and slapping her wrists, while Hugh Elsing shouted over and over: “Now you’ve doneit! Now you’ve done it!”
“Now it’ll be all over town,” said Rhett savagely. “I hope you’re satisfied, Tom. There won’t bea wife in Atlanta who’ll christian louboutin wedding shoes speak to her husband tomorrow.”
“Rhett, I had no idea—” Though the chill wind was blowing through the open door on his back,the captain was perspiring. “Look here! You take an oath they were at—er—at Belle’s?”
“Hell, yes,” growled Rhett “Go ask Belle herself if you don’t believe me. Now, let me carryMrs. Wilkes to her room. Give her to me, Archie. Yes, I can carry her. Miss Pitty, go ahead with alamp.”
He to christian louboutin ok Melanie’s limp body from Archie’s arms with ease.
“You get Mr. Wilkes to bed, Archie. I don’t want to ever lay eyes or hands on him again afterthis night.”
Pitty’s hand trembled so that the lamp was a menace to the safety of the house but she held itand trotted ahead toward the dark bedroom. Archie, with a grunt, got an arm under Ashley andraised him.
“But—I’ve got to arrest these men!”
Rhett turned in the dim hallway.
“Arrest them in the morning then. They can’t run away in this condition—and I never knewbefore that it was illegal to get drunk in a sporting house. Good God, Tom, there are fifty witnessesto prove they were at Belle’s.”
“There are always fifty witnesses to prove a Southerner was somewhere he wasn’t,” said thecaptain morosely. “You come with me, Mr. Elsing. I’ll parole Mr. Wilkes on the word of—”
“I am Mr. Wilkes’ sister. I will answer for his appearance,” said India coldly. “Now, will youplease go? You’ve caused enough trouble for one night.”
“I regret it exceedingly.” The captain bowed awkwardly. “I only hope they can prove theirpresence at the—er—Miss—Mrs. Watling’s house. Will you tell your brother that he must appearbefore the provost marshal tomorrow morning for questioning?”
India bowed coldly and, putting her hand upon the door knob, intimated silently that his speedy retirement would be welcome. The captain and the sergeant backed out, Hugh Elsing with them,and she slammed the door behind them. Without even looking at Scarlett, she went swiftly to eachwindow and drew down the shade. Scarlett, her knees shaking, caught hold of the chair in whichAshley had been sitting to steady herself. Looking down cheap louboutins at it, she saw that there was a dark moistspot, larger than her hand, on the cushion in the back of the chair. Puzzled, her hand went over itand, to her horror, a sticky red wetness appeared on her palm.
“India,” she whispered, “India, Ashley’s—he’s hurt.”
“You fool! Did you think he was really drunk?” India snapped down the last shade and startedon flying feet for the bedroom, with Scarlett close behind her, her heart in her throat. Rhett’s bigbody barred the doorway but, past his shoulder, Scarlett saw Ashley lying white and still on thebed. Melanie, strangely quick for one so recently in a faint, was rapidly cutting off his blood-soaked shirt with embroidery scissors. Archie held the lamp low over the bed to give light and oneof his gnarled fingers was on Ashley’s wrist.
“Is he dead?” cried both girls together.
cheap christian louboutin “No, just fainted from loss of blood. It’s through his shoulder,” said Rhett.
“Why did you bring him here, you fool?” cried India, “Let me get to him! Let me pass! Why didyou bring him here to be arrested?”
“He was too weak to travel. There was nowhere else to bring him, Miss Wilkes. Besides—doyou want him to be an exile like Tony Fontaine? Do you want a dozen of your neighbors to live inTexas under assumed names for the rest of their lives? There’s a chance that we may get them alloff if Belle—”
“Let me pass!”
“No, Miss Wilkes. There’s work for you. You must go for a doctor— Not Dr. Meade. He’simplicated in this and is probably explaining to the Yankees at this very minute. Get some otherdoctor. Are you afraid to go out alone at night?”
“No,” said India, her pale eyes glittering. “I’m not afraid.” She caught up M jimmy choo elanie’s hooded capewhich was hanging on a book in the hall. “I’ll go for old Dr. Dean.” The excitement went out ofher voice as, with an effort, she forced calmness. “I’m sorry I called you a spy and a fool. I did notunderstand. I’m deeply grateful for what you’ve done for Ashley—but I despise you just thesame.”
“I appreciate frankness—and I thank you for it.” Rhett bowed and his lip curled down in anamused smile. “Now, go quickly and by back ways and when you return do not come in this houseif you see signs of soldiers about.”
India shot one more quick anguished

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