decent if he wanted to

FEW FAMILIES in the north end of town slept that night for the news of the disaster to the Klan,and Rhett’s stratagem spread swiftly on silent feet as the shadowy form of India Wilkes slippedthrough back yards, whispered urgently through kitchen doors and slipped away in to the windydarkness. And in her path, she left fear and desperate hope.
From without, houses looked black and silent and wrapped in sleep but, within, voiceswhispered vehemently into the dawn. Not only those involved in the night’s raid but every memberof the Klan was ready for flight and in almost every stable along Peachtree Street, horses stoodsaddled in the darkness, pistols in holsters and food in saddlebags. All that prevented a wholesaleexodus was India’s whispered message: “Captain Butler says not to run. The roads will bewatched. He has arranged with that Watling creature—” In dark rooms men whispered: “But whyshould I trust that damned Scalawag Butler? It may be a trap!” And women’s voices implored:
“Don’t go! If he saved Ashley and Hugh, he may save everybody. If India and Melanie trust him—” And they half t nike air max canada rusted and stayed because there was no other course open to them.
Earlier in the night, the soldiers had knocked at a dozen doors and those who could not or wouldnot tell where they had been that night were marched off under arrest. René Picard and one of Mrs.
Merriwether’s nephews and the Simmons boys and Andy Bonnell were among those who spent thenight in jail. They had been in the ill-starred foray but had separated from the others after theshooting. Riding hard for home they were arrested before they learned of Rhett’s plan. Fortunatelythey all replied, to questions, that where they had been that night was their own business and notthat of any damned Yankees. They had been locked up for further questioning in the morning. Oldman Merriwether and Uncle Henry Hamilton declared shamelessly that they had spent the evenin nike air max 2013 gat Belle Watling’s sporting house and when Captain Jaffery remarked irritably that they were too old for such goings on, they wanted to fight him.
Belle Watling herself answered Captain Jaffery’s summons, and before he could make knownhis mission she shouted that the house was closed for the night. A passel of quarrelsome drunkshad called in the early part of the evening and had fought one another, torn the place up, brokenher finest mirrors and so alarmed the young ladies that all business had been suspended for thenight. But if Captain Jaffery wanted a drink, the bar was still open—Captain Jaffery, acutely conscious of the grins of his men and feeling helplessly that he wasfighting a mist, declared angrily that he wanted neither the young ladies nor a drink and demandedif Belle knew the names of her destructive custome nike air max 90 sale rs. Oh, yes, Belle knew them. They were herregulars. They came every Wednesday night and called themselves the Wednesday Democrats,though what they meant by that she neither knew or cared. And if they didn’t pay for the damageto the mirrors in the upper hall, she was going to have the law on them. She kept a respectablehouse and— Oh, their names? Belle unhesitatingly reeled off the names of twelve under suspicion,Captain Jaffery smiled sourly.
“These damned Rebels are as efficiently organized as our Secret Service,” he said. “You andyour girls will have to appear before the provost marshal tomorrow.”
“Will the provost make them pay for my mirrors?”
“To hell with your mirrors! Make Rhett Butler pay for them. He owns the place, doesn’t he?”
Before dawn, every ex-Confederate family in town knew everything. And their ne nike air max 95 groes, whohad been told nothing, knew everything too, by that black grapevine telegraph system which defieswhite understanding. Everyone knew the details of the raid, the killing of Frank Kennedy andcrippled Tommy Wellburn and how Ashley was wounded in carrying Frank’s body away.
Some of the feeling of bitter hatred the women bore Scarlett for her share in the tragedy wasmitigated by the knowledge that her husband was dead and she knew it and could not admit it andhave the poor comfort of claiming his body. Until morning light disclosed the bodies and theauthorities notified her, she must know nothing. Frank and Tommy, pistols in cold hands, laystiffening among the dead weeds in a vacant lot. And the Yankees would say they killed each otherin a common drunken brawl over a girl in Belle’s house. Sympathy ran high for Fanny cheap nike air max trainers , Tommy’swife, who had just had a baby, but no one could slip through the darkness to see her and comforther because a squad of Yankees surrounded the house, waiting for Tommy to return. nike air max And there wasanother squad about Aunt Pitty’s house, waiting for Frank.
Before dawn the news had trickled about that the military inquiry would take place that day. Thetownspeople, heavy eyed from sleeplessness and anxious waiting, knew that the safety of some oftheir most prominent citizens rested on three things—the ability of Ashley Wilkes to stand on hisfeet and appear before the military board, as though he suffered nothing more serious than amorning-after headache, the word of Belle Watling that these men had been in her house allevening and the word of Rhett Butler that he had been with them.
The town writhed at these last two! nike air max sale Belle Watling! To owe their men’s lives to her! It wasintolerable! Women who had ostentatiously crossed the street when they saw Belle coming,wond nike air max classic ered if she remembered and trembled for fear she did. The men felt less humiliation at taking their lives from Belle than the women did, for many of them thought her a good sort. But theywere stung that they must owe lives and freedom to Rhett Butler, a speculator and a Scalawag.
Belle and Rhett, the town’s best-known fancy woman and the town’s most hated man. And theymust be under obligation to them.
Another thought that stung them to impotent wrath was the knowledge that the Yankees andCarpetbaggers would laugh. Oh, how they would laugh! Twelve of the town’s most prominentcitizens revealed as habitual frequenters of Belle Watling’s sporting house! Two of them killed in afight over a cheap little girl, others ejected from the place as too nike air max 1 drunk to be tolerated even byBelle and some under arrest, refusing to admit they were there when everyone knew they werethere!
Atlanta was right in fearing that the Yankees would laugh. They had squirmed too long beneathSouthern coldness and contempt and now they exploded with hilarity. Officers woke comrades andretailed the news. Husbands roused wives at dawn and told them as much as could be decently toldto women. And the women, dressing hastily, knocked on their neighbors’ doors and spread thestory. The Yankee ladies were charmed with it all and laughed until tears ran down their faces. Thiswas Southern chivalry and gallantry for you! Maybe those women who carrie cheap nike air max d their heads so highand snubbed all attempts at friendliness wouldn’t be so uppity, now that everyone knew wheretheir husbands spent their time when they were supposed to be at political meetings. Politicalmeetings! Well, that was funny!
But even as they laughed, they expressed regret for Scarlett and her tragedy. After all, Scarlettwas a lady and one of the few ladies in Atlanta who were nice to Yankees. She had already wontheir sympathy by the fact that she had to work because her husband couldn’t or wouldn’t supporther properly. Even though her husband was a sorry one, it was dreadful that the poor thing shoulddiscover he had been untrue to her. And it was doubly dreadful that his death should occursimultaneously with the discovery of his infidelity. After all, a poor husband was better than nohusband at all, and the Yankee ladies decided they’d be extra nice to Scarlett But the others, Mrs.
Meade, Mrs. Merriwether, Mrs. Elsing, Tommy Wellburn’s widow and most of all, Mrs. AshleyWilkes, they’d laugh in their faces every time they saw them. That would teach them a littlecourtesy.
Much of the whispering that went on in the dark rooms on the north side of town that night wason this same subject. Atlanta ladies vehemently told their husbands that they did not care a rapwhat the Yankees thought. But inwardly they felt that running an Indian gantlet would be infinitelypreferable to suffering the ordeal of Yankee grins and not being able to tell the truth about theirhusbands.
Dr. Meade, beside himself with outraged dignity at the p nike air max 90 osition into which Rhett had jockeyedhim and the others, told Mrs. Meade that, but for the fact that it would implicate the others, hewould rather confess and be hanged than say he had been at Belle’s house.
“It is an insult to you, Mrs. Meade,” he fumed.
“But everyone will know you weren’t there for—for—”
“The Yankees won’t know. They’ll have to believe it if we save our necks. And they’ll laugh.
The ve cheap nike air max ry thought that anyone will believe it and laugh infuriates me. And it insults you because—my dear, I have always been faithful to you.”
“I know that,” and in the darkness Mrs. Meade smiled and slipped a thin hand into the doctor’s.
“But I’d rather it were really true than have one hair of your head in danger.”
“Mrs. Meade, do you know what you are saying?” cried the doctor, aghast at the unsuspectedrealism of his wife.”
“Yes, I know. I’ve lost Darcy and I’ve lost Phil and you are all I have and, rather than lose you,I’d have you take up your permanent abode at that place.”
“You are distrait! You cannot know what you are saying.”
“You old fool,” said Mrs. Meade tenderly and laid her head against his sleeve.
Dr. Meade fumed into silence and stroked her cheek and then exploded again. “And to be underobligation to that Butler man! Hanging would be easy compared to that. No, not even if I owe himmy life, can I be polite to him. His insolence is monumental and his shamelessness about hisprofiteering makes me boil. To owe my life to a man who never went in the army—”
“Melly said he enlisted after Atlanta fell.”
“It’s a lie. Miss Melly will believe any plausible scoundrel. And what I can’t understand is whyhe is doing all this—going to all this trouble. I hate to say it but—well, there’s always been talkabout him and Mrs. Kennedy. I’ve seen them coming in from rides together too often this last year.
He must have done it because of her.”
“If it was because of Scarlett, he wouldn’t have lifted his hand. He’d have been glad to seeFrank Kennedy hanged. I think it’s because of Melly—”
“Mrs. Meade, you can’t be insinuating that there’s ever been anything between those two!”
“Oh, don’t be silly! But she’s always been unaccountably fond of him ever since he tried to getAshley exchanged during the war. And I must say this for him, he never smiles in that nasty-niceway when he’s with her. He’s just as pleasant and thoughtful as can be—really a different man.
You can tell by the way he acts with Melly that he could be decent if he wanted to. Now, my ideaof why he’s doing all this is—” She paused. “Doctor, you won’t like my idea.”
“I don’t like anything about this whole affair!”
“Well, I think he did it partly for Melly’s sake but mostly because he thought it would be a hugejoke on us all. We’ve hated him so much and showed it so plainly and now he’s got us in a fixwhere all of you have your choice of saying you were at that Watling woman’s house and shamingyourself and wives before the Yankees—or telling the truth and getting hanged. And he knowswe’ll all be under obligation to him and his—mistress and that we’d almost rather be hanged thanbe obliged to them. Oh, I’ll wager he’s enjoying it.”
The doctor groaned. “He did look amused when he took us upstairs in that place.”

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