小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 双语小说 » 飘 Gone With The Wind » Chapter 1
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Chapter 1

SCARLETT O’HARA was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charmas 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 anarresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel,starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black browsslanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin—that skin so prized bySouthern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgiasuns.

  Seated with Stuart and Brent Tarleton in the cool shade of the porch of Tara, her father’splantation, 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 theflat-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 fittingbasque showed breasts well matured for her sixteen years. But for all the modesty of her spreadingskirts, the demureness of hair netted smoothly into a chignon and the quietness of small whitehands folded in her lap, her true self was poorly concealed. The green eyes in the carefully sweetface were turbulent, willful, lusty with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor. Hermanners had been imposed upon her by her mother’s gentle admonitions and the sterner disciplineof her mammy; her eyes were her own.

  On either side of her, the twins lounged easily in their chairs, squinting at the sunlight throughtall mint-garnished glasses as they laughed and talked, their long legs, booted to the knee and thickwith saddle muscles, crossed negligently. Nineteen years old, six feet two inches tall, long of boneand hard of muscle, with sunburned faces and deep auburn hair, their eyes merry and arrogant,their bodies clothed in identical blue coats and mustard-colored breeches, they were as much alikeas two bolls of cotton.

  Outside, the late afternoon sun slanted down in the yard, throwing into gleaming brightness thedogwood trees that were solid masses of white blossoms against the background of new green. Thetwins’ horses were hitched in the driveway, big animals, red as their masters’ hair; and around thehorses’ legs quarreled the pack of lean, nervous possum hounds that accompanied Stuart and Brentwherever 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 theirconstant 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 ofthe three on the porch were neither slack nor soft. They had the vigor and alertness of countrypeople who have spent all their lives in the open and troubled their heads very little with dullthings in books. Life in the north Georgia county of Clayton was still new and, according to thestandards of Augusta, Savannah and Charleston, a little crude. The more sedate and older sectionsof the South looked down their noses at the up-country Georgians, but here in north Georgia, alack of the niceties of classical education carried no shame, provided a man was smart in the thingsthat mattered. And raising good cotton, riding well, shooting straight, dancing lightly, squiring theladies 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 theirnotorious inability to learn anything contained between the covers of books. Their family had moremoney, more horses, more slaves than any one else in the County, but the boys had less grammarthan most of their poor Cracker neighbors.

  It was for this precise reason that Stuart and Brent were idling on the porch of Tara this Aprilafternoon. They had just been expelled from the University of Georgia, the fourth university thathad thrown them out in two years; and their older brothers, Tom and Boyd, had come home withthem, because they refused to remain at an institution where the twins were not welcome. Stuartand 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 amusingas they did.

  “I know you two don’t care about being expelled, or Tom either,” she said. “But what aboutBoyd? He’s kind of set on getting an education, and you two have pulled him out of the Universityof Virginia and Alabama and South Carolina and now Georgia. He’ll never get finished at thisrate.”

  “Oh, he read law in Judge Parmalee’s office over in Fayetteville,” answered Brent carelessly.“Besi(can) des, it don’t matter much. We’d have had to come home before the term was outanyway.”

  “Why?”

  “The war, goose! The war’s going to start any day, and you don’t suppose any of us would stayin 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, AshleyWilkes 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, theYankees 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 shelled them out of Fort Sumter day before yesterday, they’llhave 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 tiredof 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 AbeLincoln till I get so bored I could scream! And that’s all the boys talk about, too, that and their oldTroop. There hasn’t been any fun at any party this spring because the boys can’t talk aboutanything else. I’m mighty glad Georgia waited till after Christmas before it seceded or it wouldhave 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 wasnot the chief subject. But she smiled when she spoke, consciously deepening her dimple andfluttering her bristly black lashes as swiftly as butterflies’ wings. The boys were enchanted, as shehad intended them to be, and they hastened to apologize for boring her. They thought none the lessof her for her lack of interest. Indeed, they thought more. War was men’s business, not ladies’, andthey took her attitude as evidence of her femininity.

  Having maneuvered them away from the boring subject of war, she went back with interest totheir 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 theyhad 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 earlythis morning before she got up, and Tom’s laying out over at the Fontaines’ while we came overhere.”

  “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 lastmonth 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 hisgroom on the way down here and he’d trampled two of Ma’s darkies who met the train atJonesboro. And just before we got home, he’d about kicked the stable down and half-killedStrawberry, Ma’s old stallion. When we got home, Ma was out in the stable with a sackful of sugarsmoothing 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 eatingout of her hand. There ain’t nobody like Ma with a horse. And when she saw us she said: ‘InHeaven’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’snervous, the big darling? I’ll tend to you four in the morning!’ So we went to bed, and this morningwe 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 tothe way small Mrs. Tarleton bullied her grown sons and laid her riding crop on their backs if theoccasion seemed to warrant it.

  Beatrice Tarleton was a busy woman, having on her hands not only a large cotton plantation, ahundred negroes and eight children, but the largest horse-breeding farm in the state as well. Shewas hot-tempered and easily plagued by the frequent scrapes of her four sons, and while no onewas permitted to whip a horse or a slave, she felt that a lick now and then didn’t do the boys anyharm.

  “Of course she won’t hit Boyd. She never did beat Boyd much because he’s the oldest andbesides he’s the runt of the litter,” said Stuart, proud of his six feet two. “That’s why we left him athome to explain things to her. God’lmighty, Ma ought to stop licking us! We’re nineteen and Tom’stwenty-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 saidthey 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’snothing worse than a barbecue turned into an indoor picnic.”

  “Oh, it’ll be clear tomorrow and hot as June,” said Stuart. “Look at Oat sunset I never saw oneredder. You can always tell weather by sunsets.”

  They looked out across the endless acres of Gerald O’Hara’s newly plowed cotton fields towardthe red horizon. Now that the sun was setting in a welter of crimson behind tin lulls across the FlintRiver, 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 peachblossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills. Alreadythe plowing was nearly finished, and the bloody glory of the sunset colored the fresh-cut furrowsof red Georgia clay to even redder hues. The moist hungry earth, waiting upturned for the cottonseeds, showed pinkish on the sandy tops of furrows, vermilion and scarlet and maroon whereshadows lay along the sides of the trenches. The whitewashed brick plantation house seemed anisland set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at themoment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into surf. For here were no long, straightfurrows, such as could be seen in the yellow clay fields of the flat middle Georgia country or in thelush black earth of the coastal plantations. The rolling foothill country of north Georgia wasplowed 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 landin the world. It was a pleasant land of white houses, peaceful plowed fields and sluggish yellowrivers, but a land of contrasts, of brightest sun glare and densest shade. The plantation clearingsand miles of cotton fields smiled up to a warm sun, placid, complacent. At their edges rose thevirgin forests, dark and cool even in the hottest noons, mysterious, a little sinister, the soughingpines 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 chainsand the shrill careless laughter of negro voices, as the field hands and mules came in from thefields. From within the house floated the soft voice of Scarlett’s mother, Ellen O’Hara, as shecalled to the little black girl who carried her basket of keys. The high-pitched, childish voiceanswered “Yas’m,” and there were sounds of footsteps going out the back way toward thesmokehouse where Ellen would ration out the food to the home-coming hands. There was the clickof 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 loathto face their mother and they lingered on the porch of Tara, momentarily expecting Scarlett to givethem an invitation to supper.

  “Look, Scarlett. About tomorrow,” said Brent. “Just because we’ve been away and didn’t knowabout the barbecue and the ball, that’s no reason why we shouldn’t get plenty of dances tomorrownight. 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 justwaiting 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 eatsupper with us. We’ll sit on the stair landing like we did at the last ball and get Mammy Jincy tocome tell our fortunes again.”

  “I don’t like Mammy Jincy’s fortunes. You know she said I was going to marry a gentlemanwith 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 andMelanie 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 thedepot and she stopped and talked to us, and she told us there was going to be an engagementannounced tomorrow night at the Wilkes ball.”

  “Oh, I know about that,” said Scarlett in disappointment. “That silly nephew of hers, CharlieHamilton, 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 youplenty.”

  “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’sAshley’s to Charlie’s sister, Miss Melanie!”

  Scarlett’s face did not change but her lips went white—like a person who has received astunning blow without warning and who, in the first moments of shock, does not realize what hashappened. So still was her face as she stared at Stuart that he, never analytic, took it for grantedthat she was merely surprised and very interested.

  “Miss Pitty told us they hadn’t intended announcing it till next year, because Miss Melly hasn’tbeen very well; but with all the war talk going around, everybody in both families thought it wouldbe 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 thebarbecue in the morning.”

  “What?”

  Stuart repeated his request.

  “Of course.”

  The twins looked at each other jubilantly but with some surprise. Although they consideredthemselves 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 promisedthem the whole of tomorrow—seats by her at the barbecue, all the waltzes (and they’d see to it thatthe dances were all waltzes!) and the supper intermission. This was worth getting expelled fromthe university.

  Filled with new enthusiasm by their success, they lingered on, talking about the barbecue andthe ball and Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton, interrupting each other, making jokes andlaughing at them, hinting broadly for invitations to supper. Some time had passed before theyrealized that Scarlett was having very little to say. The atmosphere had somehow changed. Justhow, the twins did not know, but the fine glow had gone out of the afternoon. Scarlett seemed to bepaying little attention to what they said, although she made the correct answers. Sensing somethingthey could not understand, baffled and annoyed by it, the twins struggled along for a while, andthen rose reluctantly, looking at their watches.

  The sun was low across the new-plowed fields and the tall woods across the river were loomingblackly in silhouette. Chimney swallows were darting swiftly across the yard, and chickens, ducksand 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 breathlesslyaround the house and out toward the tethered horses. Jeems was their body servant and, like thedogs, accompanied them everywhere. He had been their childhood playmate and had been given tothe twins for their own on their tenth birthday. At the sight of him, the Tarleton hounds rose up outof the red dust and stood waiting expectantly for their masters. The boys bowed, shook hands andtold Scarlett they’d be over at the Wilkeses’ early in the morning, waiting for her. Then they wereoff down the walk at a rush, mounted their horses and, followed by Jeems, went down the avenueof 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 hishorse to a stop under a clump of dogwood. Stuart halted, too, and the darky boy pulled up a fewpaces behind them. The horses, feeling slack reins, stretched down their necks to crop the tenderspring grass, and the patient hounds lay down again in the soft red dust and looked up longingly atthe chimney swallows circling in the gathering dusk. Brent’s wide ingenuous face was puzzled andmildly 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 youmake 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 dayhome 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 holdherself 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 looksort of sick. I could swear she was glad to see us when we came and was aiming to ask us tosupper.”

  “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 besidesScarlett 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 myown 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, Teems gave up further pretense of not having overheard the conversation andfurrowed his black brow.

  “Nawsuh, Ah din’ notice y’all say anything ter mek her mad. Look ter me lak she sho glad tersee you an’ sho had missed you, an’ she cheep along happy as a bird, tell ‘bout de time y’all got tertalkin’ ‘bout Mist’ Ashley an’ Miss Melly Hamilton gittin’ mah’ied. Den she quiet down lak a birdw’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 ittomorrow night and she was mad at him for not telling her, an old friend, before he told everybodyelse? 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 secretand a surprise, and a man’s got a right to keep his own engagement quiet, hasn’t he? We wouldn’thave known it if Miss Melly’s aunt hadn’t let it out. But Scarlett must have known he was going tomarry Miss Melly sometime. Why, we’ve known it for years. The Wilkes and Hamiltons alwaysmarry their own cousins. Everybody knew he’d probably marry her some day, just like HoneyWilkes 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 homeand 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 littlevarmint 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 soconfused that she gives up and tells him to save his voice for his law practice. But he ain’t had timeto get good started yet. Why, I’ll bet you Ma is still so excited about the new horse that she’ll nevereven realize we’re home again till She sits down to supper tonight and sees Boyd. And beforesupper is over she’ll be going strong and breathing fire. And it’ll be ten o’clock before Boyd gets achance to tell her that it wouldn’t have been honorable for any of us to stay in college after the waythe Chancellor talked to you and me. And it’ll be midnight before he gets her turned around towhere she’s so mad at the Chancellor she’ll be asking Boyd why he didn’t shoot him. No, we can’tgo home till after midnight”

  The twins looked at each other glumly. They were completely fearless of wild horses, shootingaffrays and the indignation of their neighbors, but they had a wholesome fear of their red-hairedmother’s outspoken remarks and the riding crop that she did not scruple to lay across theirbreeches.

  “Well, look,” said Brent. “Let’s go over to the Wilkes’. Ashley and the girls’ll be glad to have usfor 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 andbesides—”

  “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 onStuart’s brown cheeks. Until the previous summer, Stuart had courted India Wilkes with theapprobation of both families and the entire County. The County felt that perhaps the cool andcontained 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 hethought her mighty plain and tame, and he simply could not fall in love with her himself to keepStuart company. That was the first time the twins’ interest had ever diverged, and Brent wasresentful 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 bothsuddenly became aware of Scarlett O’Hara. They had known her for years, and, since theirchildhood, 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 themost charming one in all the world.

  They noticed for the first time how her green eyes danced, how deep her dimples were when shelaughed, how tiny her hands and feet and what a small waist she had. Their clever remarks sent herinto merry peals of laughter and, inspired by the thought that she considered them a remarkablepair, they fairly outdid themselves.

  It was a memorable day in the life of the twins. Thereafter, when they talked it over, they alwayswondered just why they had failed to notice Scarlett’s charms before. They never arrived at thecorrect answer, which was that Scarlett on that day had decided to make them notice. She wasconstitutionally unable to endure any man being in love with any woman not herself, and the sightof India Wilkes and Stuart at the speaking had been too much for her predatory nature. Not contentwith Stuart alone, she had set her cap for Brent as well, and with a thoroughness that overwhelmedthe two of them.

  Now they were both in love with her, and India Wilkes and Letty Munroe, from Lovejoy, whomBrent had been half-heartedly courting, were far in the back of their minds. Just what the loserwould do, should Scarlett accept either one of them, the twins did not ask. They would cross thatbridge when they came to it. For the present they were quite satisfied to be in accord again aboutone girl, for they had no jealousies between them. It was a situation which interested the neighborsand 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’llaccept both of you, and then you’ll have to move to Utah, if the Mormons’ll have you—which Idoubt. ... All that bothers me is that some one of these days you’re both going to get lickered upand jealous of each other about that two-faced, little, green-eyed baggage, and you’ll shoot eachother. 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 Indiaever reproached him or even indicated by look or gesture that she was aware of his abruptlychanged allegiance. She was too much of a lady. But Stuart felt guilty and ill at ease with her. Heknew he had made India love him and he knew that she still loved him and, deep in his heart, hehad the feeling that he had not played the gentleman. He still liked her tremendously and respectedher 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 andchangeable charm. You always knew where you stood with India and you never had the slightestnotion 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 fromCharleston. 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 shelled them out. All she’ll know about is the ballsshe 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 Yankeestepmother 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 shealways manages to say and do just exactly the wrong thing. She gives me the fidgets! And shethinks Southerners wild barbarians. She even told Ma so. She’s afraid of Southerners. Wheneverwe’retheres(are) he always looks scared to death. She reminds me of a skinny hen perchedon a chair, her eyes kind of bright and blank and scared, all ready to flap and squawk at theslightest 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 hardfeelings. Neither did Cathleen or Raiford or Mr. Calvert. It was just that Yankee stepmother whosqualled and said I was a wild barbarian and decent people weren’t safe around uncivilizedSoutherners.”

  “Well, you can’t blame her. She’s a Yankee and ain’t got very good manners; and, after all, youdid 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 onthat time Tony Fontaine shot you in the leg? No, she just sent for old Doc Fontaine to dress it andasked 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 rightthing 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 gethome tonight,” said Stuart gloomily. “Look, Brent. I guess this means we don’t go to Europe. Youknow 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’tshow us a thing we haven’t got right here in Georgia. I’ll bet their horses aren’t as fast or their girlsas 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’salways talking about it.”

  “Well—you know how the Wilkes are. They are kind of queer about music and books andscenery. Mother says it’s because their grandfather came from Virginia. She says Virginians setquite 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 girlto court and a bad girl to have fun with and anybody can have their Europe. ... What do we careabout missing the Tour? Suppose we were in Europe now, with the war coming on? We couldn’tget 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 theswamp 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 andfind 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 theTarletons owned a hundred negroes and, like all slaves of large planters, he looked down on smallfarmers 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 orWhite, throwing off on him. There ain’t a better man in this County, or why else did the Troopelect 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? Abel justain’t rich. He’s a small farmer, not a big planter, and if the boys thought enough of him to elect himlieutenant, then it’s not for any darky to talk impudent about him. The Troop knows what it’sdoing.”

  The troop of cavalry had been organized three months before, the very day that Georgia secededfrom the Union, and since then the recruits had been whistling for war. The outfit was as yetunnamed, though not for want of suggestions. Everyone had his own idea on that subject and wasloath to relinquish it, just as everyone had ideas about the color and cut of the uniforms. “ClaytonWild Cats,” “Fire Eaters,” “North Georgia Hussars,” “Zouaves,” “The Inland Rifles” (although theTroop was to be armed with pistols, sabers and bowie knives, and not with rifles), “The ClaytonGrays,” “The Blood and Thunderers,” “The Rough and Readys,” all had their adherents. Untilmatters 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 “TheTroop.”

  The officers were elected by the members, for no one in the County had had any militaryexperience except a few veterans of the Mexican and Seminole wars and, besides, the Troop wouldhave scorned a veteran as a leader if they had not personally liked him and trusted him. Everyoneliked the four Tarleton boys and the three Fontaines, but regretfully refused to elect them, becausethe 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 theCounty and because his cool head was counted on to keep some semblance of order. RaifordCalvert was made first lieutenant, because everybody liked Raif, and Abel Wynder, son of aswamp 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 asgood or better manners in the presence of ladies. There was little snobbery in the Troop. Too manyof their fathers and grandfathers had come up to wealth from the small farmer class for that.

  Moreover, Abel was the best shot in the Troop, a real sharpshooter who could pick out the eye of asquirrel 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 theyliked him, they made him an officer. He bore the honor gravely and with no untoward conceit, asthough it were only his due. But the planters’ ladies and the planters’ slaves could not overlook thefact that he was not born a gentleman, even if their men folks could.

  In the beginning, the Troop had been recruited exclusively from the of planters, agentleman’s outfit, each supplying his own horse,arms,equipment,unif(sons) orm and body servant.Butrichplanterswere(man) 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, ifthey were above the average of their class.

  These latter young men were as anxious to fight the Yankees, should war come, as were theirricher neighbors; but the delicate question of money arose. Few small farmers owned horses. Theycarried on their farm operations with mules and they had no surplus of these, seldom more thanfour. The mules could not be spared to go off to war, even if they had been acceptable for theTroop, which they emphatically were not. As for the poor whites, they considered themselves welloff if they owned one mule. The backwoods folks and the swamp dwellers owned neither horsesnor 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 ayear, and horses and uniforms were out of their reach. But they were as fiercely proud in theirpoverty as the planters were in their wealth, and they would accept nothing that smacked of charityfrom 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 largeplanter in the County with the one exception of Angus Macintosh, had contributed money to completelyoutfit the Troop, horse and man. The upshot of the matter was that every planter agreed topay for equipping his own sons and a certain number of the others, but the manner of handling thearrangements was such that the less wealthy members of the outfit could accept horses anduniforms without offense to their honor.

  The Troop met twice a week in Jonesboro to drill and to pray for the war to begin. Arrangementshad not yet been completed for obtaining the full quota of horses, but those who had horsesperformed what they imagined to be cavalry maneuvers in the field behind the courthouse, kickedup a great deal of dust, yelled themselves hoarse and waved the Revolutionary-war swords that hadbeen taken down from parlor walls. Those who, as yet, had no horses sat on the curb in front ofBullard’s store and watched their mounted comrades, chewed tobacco and told yarns. Or else engaged in shooting matches. There need to teach any of the men to shoot. Most Southernerswerebornwithgunsintheirha(was) nds,(no) and lives spent in hunting had made marksmen ofthem all.

  From planters’ homes and swamp cabins, a varied array of firearms came to each muster. Therewere 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 seenservice in 1812, in the Seminole wars and in Mexico, silver-mounted dueling pistols, pocketderringers, double-barreled hunting pieces and handsome new rifles of English make with shiningstocks of fine wood.

  Drill always ended in the saloons of Jonesboro, and by nightfall so many fights had broken outthat the officers were hard put to ward off casualties until the Yankees could inflict them. It wasduring one of these brawls that Stuart Tarleton had shot Cade Calvert and Tony Fontaine had shotBrent. The twins had been at home, freshly expelled from the University of Virginia, at the timethe Troop was organized and they had joined enthusiastically; but after the shooting episode, twomonths 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 welllost 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’sriver 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 thatwe won’t be home for supper.”

  “No, Ah ain’!” cried Jeems in alarm. “No, Ah ain’! Ah doan git no mo’ fun outer havin’ MissBeetriss 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’lllight on me lak a duck on a June bug, an’ fust thing Ah know Ah’ll be ter blame fer it all. Ef y’alldoan tek me ter Mist’ Wynder’s, Ah’ll lay out in de woods all night an’ maybe de patterollers gitme, ‘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 elseto talk about for weeks. I swear, darkies are more trouble. Sometimes I think the Abolitionists havegot the right idea.”

  “Well, it wouldn’t be right to make Jeems face what we don’t want to face. We’ll have to takehim. But, look, you impudent black fool, if you put on any airs in front of the Wynder darkies andhint that we all the time have fried chicken and ham, while they don’t have nothing but rabbit andpossum, 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’ MissBeetriss 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 splitrail 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 jumpedhigher 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 thedeepening 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 ...”

  思嘉·奥哈拉长得并不漂亮,但是男人们像塔尔顿家那对孪生兄弟为她的魅力所迷住时,就不会这样想了。她脸上有着两种特征,一种是她母亲的娇柔,来自法兰西血统的海滨贵族;一种是她父亲的粗犷,来自浮华俗气的爱尔兰人,这两种特征混在一起显得不太协调,但这张脸上尖尖的下巴和四方的牙床骨,是很引人注意的,她那双淡绿色的眼睛纯净得没有一丝褐色,配上乌黑的睫毛和翘起的眼角,显得韵味十足,上面是两条墨黑的浓眉斜在那里,给她木兰花般白皙的肌肤划上十分分明的斜线,这样白皙的皮肤对南方妇女是极其珍贵的。她们常常用帽子、面纱和手套把皮肤保护起来,以防受到佐治亚炎热太阳的暴晒。
  1861年四月一个晴朗的下午,思嘉同塔尔顿家的孪生兄弟斯图尔特和布伦特坐在她父亲的塔拉农场阴凉的走廊里,她的美貌显得更明媚如画了。她穿一件新绿花布衣裳,长长的裙子在裙箍上舒展着,配上她父亲从亚特兰大给她带来的新绿羊皮便鞋,显得很相称。她的腰围不过17英寸,是附近三个县里最细小的了,而这身衣裳更把腰肢衬托得更完整,加上里面那件绷得紧紧的小马甲,使她的只有16岁但已发育得很好的乳房便跃然显露了。不过,无论她散开的长裙显得多么老实,发髻梳在后面显得多么端庄,那双交叠在膝头上的小手显得多么文静,她的本来面目终归是藏不住的。那双绿色的眼睛生在一张甜美的脸上,却仍然是任性的,充满活力的,与她的装束仪表很不相同。她的举止是由她母亲和嬷嬷的严厉管教强加给她的,但她的眼睛属于她自己。
  她的两旁,孪生兄弟懒懒地斜靠在椅子上,斜望着从新装的玻璃窗透过来的阳光谈笑着,四条穿着高统靴和因经常骑马而鼓胀的长腿交叠在那里。他们现有19岁,身高六英尺二英寸,长长骨骼,肌肉坚实,晒得黑黑的脸膛,深褐色的头发,眼睛里闪着快乐的神色。他们穿着同样的蓝上衣和深黄色裤子,长相也像两个棉桃似的。
  外面,阳光斜照到场地上,映照着一簇簇的白色花朵在绿色的背景中显得分外鲜艳。孪生兄弟起来的马就拴在车道上,那是两匹高头大马,毛色红得象主人的头发;马腿旁边有一群吵吵嚷嚷一直跟随着主人的猎犬。稍稍远一点的地方躺着一条白色带有黑花斑的随车大狗,它把鼻子贴在前爪上,耐心等待着两个小伙子回家去吃晚饭。
  在这些猎犬、马匹和两个孪生兄弟之间,有着一种比通常更亲密的关系。他们都是年轻、健康而毫无思想的动物,也同样圆滑、优雅,两个小伙子和他们所骑的马一样精神,但都带有危险性,可同时对于那些知道怎样驾驭他们的人又是可爱的。
  虽然坐在走廊里的人,都同生在优裕的庄园主家庭,从小由仆人细心服侍着,但他们的脸显得并不懒散。他们像一辈子生活在野外、很少在书本上的乡巴佬一样,显得强壮而畗有活力。生活在北佐治亚的克莱顿县,与奥古斯塔、萨凡纳和查尔斯顿比较起来还有一点粗犷风味。南部开化得较早的文静居民不逊内地佐治亚人,可在北佐亚这儿,人们并不以缺乏高雅的传统文化教育为耻,只要在那些在他们认为重要的事情上学得精明就行了。他们心目中所关注的事,就是种好棉花,骑马匹得好,打枪打得准,跳舞跳得轻快,善于体面地追逐女人,像个温文尔雅的绅士喝酒。
  这对孪生兄弟在这些方面都很精通,但他们学习书本知识的无能也是出众的。他们家拥有比全县其他人家更多的钱、更多的马和更多的奴隶,可是两兄弟同他们的大多数穷邻居比起来,胸中的文墨更少得多。
  正是这个缘故,斯图尔特和布伦特在塔拉农场走廊里聊天,消磨这四月傍晚的大好时光。他们刚被佐治亚大学开除,而这是过去两年中把他们撵走的第四所大学了。于是他们的两个哥哥,汤姆和博伊德,也同他们一起回到了家里,因为在这所学校既然不欢迎那些孪生兄弟,两位做哥哥的也就不高兴在那里待下去了。斯图尔特和布伦特把他们最近一次的除名当做一个有趣的玩笑;而思嘉呢,她自从去年离开费耶特维尔女子学校以后就一直懒得去摸书本,所以也像他们那样觉得这是令人高兴的事。
  “我认为你们俩一点也不在乎被学校除名,汤姆也是这样,”她说。"可是博伊德怎么办?他一心想受教育,而你们俩接连把他从弗吉尼亚大学、亚拉巴马大学、南卡罗来纳大学拖了出来,如今又从佐治亚大学回来了。这样下去,他永远也将完不成他的学业!”“唔,他可以到费耶特维尔那边的帕马利法官事务所去学法律嘛,”布伦特漫不经心地答道。"并且,这没有什么关系。
  反正在学习结束之前我们不得不回家的。”“为什么?”“战争嘛!傻瓜!战争随时可能开始,战争打响之后难道你认为我们还会留在学校里吗?”“你明明知道不会有什么战争的,”思嘉生气地说。"那只是嘴上谈谈罢了。就在上个星期,艾希礼·威尔克斯和他父亲还对我爸说,咱们派驻华盛顿的专员将要同林肯先生达成--达成一个关于南部联盟的协议呢。况且不管怎样,北方佬从小害怕我们,根本不会有什么战争,谈它干什么,我讨厌听到关于战争的事情。”“不会有什么战争!"孪生兄弟如同他们被欺负了似的地喊起来。
  “亲爱的,战争当然会打起来的啊!"斯图尔特说。"北方佬可能害怕咱们,可是自从前天波尔格将军把他们赶出萨姆特要塞以后,他们只好打起来了,要不就会作为胆小鬼在全世界面前丢脸。什么,南部联盟--"听到这里,思嘉很不耐烦地嘟起嘴来。
  “只要你再说一声‘战争’,我就进屋去,把门关上,我这辈子还从来没有像对‘战争’这个词感到讨厌,除非那个词意味着'脱离联邦'。爸爸总是从早到晚谈论战争,战争,所有来看他的绅士们也叫嚷着什么萨姆特要塞、州权、亚伯·林肯,简直烦得我要大喊大叫!而且所有的男孩子也都在谈这些,还有他们的军队。今年春天,任何晚会上也没有听到这什么快乐的事情,因为男孩子再不谈别的了。我最高兴的是佐治亚要等到过了圣诞节以后才宣布脱离联邦,要不然会把圣诞晚会也糟蹋了。要是你再谈‘战争’我就马上进屋去了。”她说到做到,因为她从来就忍受不了不以她为主题的谈话。不过她说话时总是面带微笑,刻意加深脸的酒窝,同时把像蝴蝶翅膀似的两圈又硬又黑的睫毛迅速地扇动起来。小伙子们给迷住了,这正中她的心意,于是他们向她道歉,他们并不因为她对战争不感兴趣而丝毫轻视她。相反,他们更敬重她了。战争原来是男人的事,与女人无关,因此他们便把她的态度当成是女人味十足的特征。
  把他们从讨厌战争的话题支使开以后,她便饶有兴趣地回到他们当前的环境上来。
  “对于你俩再一次开除的事你母亲说了些什么呀?"小伙子显得有点不自在,想起三个月前他们从弗吉尼亚大学被请回家时母亲的那番表现。
  “唔,她还没有机会说呢,”斯图尔特答道。"今天一清早她还没起床,汤姆和我俩便出门了。汤姆半路上去方丹家了,我们便径直到这儿来了。”“昨天晚上你们到家时难道她什么话也没说吗?”“昨晚我们可有运气了。在我们快要到家的时候,上个月我妈在肯塔基买下的那匹公马给送来了,家里正热闹着呢。原来那畜生--它长得可真威武,思嘉,你一定得告诉你爸,叫他赶快去看看,那畜生一路上已经把马夫咬了两大口,而且踏坏了我妈的两个黑小子,他们是在琼斯博罗遇上的。而且,就在我们刚要到家的时候,它差点儿把我们的马棚给踢倒了,还捎带把我妈的那匹老公马草莓也踢了个半死。我们到家时,妈正在妈棚里拿着一口袋糖哄它,让它慢慢平静下来,还真起作用了。黑奴们躲得远远的,瞪着眼睛简直给吓坏了,可妈还在跟那畜生亲切说话,仿佛跟它是一家人似的,它正在吃她手里的东西呢。世界上谁也比不上我妈那样会跟马打交道,那时她看见了我们,便说:‘天哪,你们四个又回来干什么呀?你们简直比埃及的瘟疫还让人讨厌!'这时那匹公马开始喷鼻子直立起来,她赶紧说:‘从这里滚开罢,难道你们没看见这个大宝贝在生气了吗?等明天早晨我再来服侍你们四个!'于是,我们便上床睡觉了。今天一早,趁她还来不及抓住我们,我们便溜了出来,只留下博伊德一个人去对付她。”“你们认为她会打博伊德吗?”思嘉知道,瘦小的塔尔顿太太对她那几个已长大成人的儿子还是很粗暴的,她认为必要的时候还会用鞭子抽他们的脊背,对于这种情形,思嘉和县里的其他人都有点不大习惯。
  比阿特里斯·塔尔顿是个忙人,她经营一大片棉花地,一百个黑奴和八个孩子,而且还有个养马常她生性暴躁,非常容易就四个儿子经常吵架而大发雷霆。她一方面不许任何人打她的一骑马或一个黑奴,另一方面却认为偶尔打打她的孩子们,对他们并没有什么坏处。
  “她从来没有打过博伊德。这不仅因为他年龄最大,还是因为他是个矮子,”斯图尔特这样说,对自己那六英尺的个头儿自豪。"这是我们为什么把他留在家里去向妈交代一切的原因。老天爷明白,我们都19了,汤姆21了,可她还把我们当六岁孩子看待。妈应当不再打我们!”“你母亲明天会骑那匹新买来的马去参加威尔克斯家的野宴?”“她想骑的,但是爷说骑那匹太危险了。而且,无论如何,姑娘不会同意她骑。她们说,要让她至少像个贵妇人那样乘坐马车去参加宴会。”“希望明天别下雨,”思嘉说。"一星期几乎天天下雨。要是把野宴改成家餐,那才是扫兴不过的事呢。”“唔,明天准晴,还会像六月天那样炎热,”斯图尔特说。
  “你看那落日,我还从没过比这更红的太阳呢。用落日来判断天气,往往是不会错的。”他们都朝远方望去,越过奥哈拉家无边无际的新翻耕的棉花地,直到红红的地平线上。如今太阳在弗林特河对岸的群山后面一起汹涌的红霞中缓缓降落,四月白天的温暖也渐渐消退,隐隐透出丝丝的凉意。
  春天来得很早,伴随来的是几场温暖的春雨,这时粉红的桃花突然纷纷绽放,山茱萸雪白也似的繁花将河边湿地和山冈装点起来。春耕已快要结束,湿润的土地饥饿似的等待着人们把它翻开并撒上棉籽,它在犁沟的顶上显出是淡红色,在沟道两旁的地方则呈现出猩红和栗色来。农场那座粉刷白了的砖房如同落在茫茫红海中的一个岛屿,那是一起由新月形巨浪组成的大海,但是当那些带粉红红尖顶的水波分裂为浪花时,它立即僵化了。因为这里没有像佐治亚中部的黄土地或海滨种植场滋润的黑土地那样的长长的笔直的犁沟。北佐治亚连绵起伏的山麓地带被犁成了无数弯弯曲曲地垅沟,这样说,对自己那使肥沃的土壤不致被冲洗到河床里去。
  这一片土地红得耀眼,雨后更红得像鲜血一般,干旱时便成了满地的红砖粉,这是世界上最好的产棉地。这里有洁白的房屋,翻耕过的田地,缓缓流过的黄泥河水,但同时也是一个由阳光灿烂和阴翳深浓形成对比的地方。尚待种植的空地和绵延数英里的棉花田微笑着袒露在阳光之中。在这些田地的边缘上有着一片处女林,即使在最炎热的中午它们也是幽暗而清凉的,而且显得有点神秘,有点不那么和善,其中那些飕飕作响的松树好像怀着老年人的耐心在等待着,好像轻轻的叹息:“当心呀!你们原先是我们的。我们能够把你们要回来。”坐在走廊里的三个年轻人听到得得的马蹄声,马具链环的丁当声和黑奴们的欢笑声;那些干农活的人和骡马从地里回来了。这时从屋子里传来思嘉的母亲爱伦·奥哈拉温和的声音,她在呼唤提着钥匙、篮子的黑女孩,后者用尖脆的声调答道:“太太,来啦,”于是便传来从后面过道里走向薰腊室的脚步声,爱伦要到那里去给回家的田间劳动者分配食物。接着便听到瓷器当当和银餐具丁丁的响声,这时管衣着和膳事的男仆波克已经在摆桌子开晚饭了。
  听到这些声响,这对孪生兄弟知道他们该动身回家了。但是他们不想回去见母亲的面,便在塔拉农场的走廊里徘徊,盼望着思嘉邀请他们留下来吃晚饭。
  “思嘉,我们谈谈明天的事吧,”布伦特说。"不能因为我们不在,不了解野宴和舞会的事,就凭这理由不让咱们明儿晚上多多地跳舞。你没有答应他们大家吧,是不是?”“唔,我答应了!我怎么知道你们都会回来呢?我哪能冒险在一边等着,等着专门伺候你们两位呀?”“你在一边等着?"两个小伙子放声大笑。
  “亲爱的,你得跟我跳第一个华尔兹,末了跟斯图跳最后一个,然后我们一起吃晚饭。像上次舞会那样坐在楼梯平台上,让金西嬷嬷再来给咱们算命。”“我不可喜欢听金西嬷嬷算命。你知道她说过我会嫁给一个头发鸟亮、黑胡子很长的男人,但我是不喜欢黑头发男人的。”“亲爱的,你喜欢红头发的吗?”布伦特傻笑着说。"现在,快说吧,答应跟我们跳所有的华尔兹,跟我们一道吃晚饭。”“你要是肯答应,我们便告诉你一个秘密。"斯图尔特说。
  “什么?”思嘉叫着,一听到"秘密"这个词便像个孩子似地活跃起来。
  “斯图,是不是我们昨天在亚特兰大听到的那个消息?如果是,那你知道,我们答应过不告诉别人的。”“嗯,那是皮蒂小姐告诉我们的。”“什么小姐?”“就是艾希礼·威尔克斯的表姐。你知道,皮蒂帕特·波密尔顿的小姐,查尔斯和媚兰的姑妈,她住在亚特兰大。”“这我知道,一个傻老太婆,我一辈子也没见过比她更傻的了。”“对,我们昨天在亚特兰大等着搭火车回家时,她的马车正



欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533

鲁ICP备05031204号