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Chapter 9

SCARLETT sat in the window of her bedroom that midsummer morning and disconsolatelywatched the wagons and carriages full of girls, soldiers and chaperons ride gaily out Peachtreeroad in search of woodland decorations for the bazaar which was to be held that evening for thebenefit of the hospitals. The red road lay checkered in shade and sun glare beneath the over-arching trees and the many hooves kicked up little red clouds of dust. One wagon, ahead of theothers, bore four stout negroes with axes to cut evergreens and drag down the vines, and the backof this wagon was piled high with napkin-covered hampers, split-oak baskets of lunch and a dozenwatermelons. Two of the black bucks were equipped with banjo and harmonica and they wererendering a spirited version of “If You Want to Have a Good Time, Jine the Cavalry.” Behind themstreamed the merry cavalcade, girls cool in flowered cotton dresses, with light shawls, bonnets andmitts to protect their skins and little parasols held over their heads; elderly ladies placid andsmiling amid the laughter and carriage-to-carriage calls and jokes; convalescents from thehospitals wedged in between stout chaperons and slender girls who made great fuss and to-do overthem; officers on horseback idling at snail’s pace beside the carriages—wheels creaking, spursjingling, gold braid gleaming, parasols bobbing, fans swishing, negroes singing. Everybody wasriding out Peachtree road to gather greenery and have a picnic and melon cutting. Everybody,thought Scarlett, morosely, except me.

  They all waved and called to her as they went by and she tried to respond with a good grace, butit was difficult. A hard little pain had started in her heart and was traveling slowly up toward herthroat where it would become a lump and the lump would soon become tears. Everybody wasgoing to the picnic except her. And everybody was going to the bazaar and the ball tonight excepther. That is everybody except her and Pittypat and Melly and the other unfortunates in town whowere in mourning. But Melly and Pittypat did not seem to mind. It had not even occurred to themto want to go. It had occurred to Scarlett. And she did want to go, tremendously.

  It simply wasn’t fair. She had worked twice as hard as any girl in town, getting things ready forthe bazaar. She had knitted socks and baby caps and afghans and mufflers and tatted yards of laceand painted china hair receivers and mustache cups. And she had embroidered half a dozen sofa-pillow cases with the Confederate flag on them. (The stars were a bit lopsided, to be sure, some ofthem being almost round and others having six or even seven points, but the effect was good.)Yesterday she had worked until she was worn out in the dusty old bam of an Armory drapingyellow and pink and green cheesecloth on the booths that lined the walls. Under the supervision ofthe Ladies’ Hospital Committee, this was plain hard work and no fun at all. It was never fun to bearound Mrs. Merriwether and Mrs. Elsing and Mrs. Whiting and have them boss you like you wereone of the darkies. And have to listen to them brag about how popular their daughters were. And,worst of all, she had burned two blisters on her fingers helping Pittypat and Cookie make layercakes for raffling.

  And now, having worked like a field hand, she had to retire decorously when the fun was justbeginning. Oh, it wasn’t fair that she should have a dead husband and a baby yelling in the nextroom and be out of everything that was pleasant. Just a little over a year ago, she was dancing andwearing bright clothes instead of this dark mourning and was practically engaged to three boys.

  She was only seventeen now and there was still a lot of dancing left in her feet. Oh, it wasn’t fair!

  Life was going past her, down a hot shady summer road, life with gray uniforms and jingling spurs and flowered organdie dresses and banjos playing. She tried not to smile and wave too enthusiasticallyto the men she knew best, the ones she’d nursed in the hospital, but it was hard tosubdue her dimples, hard to look as though her heart were in the grave—when it wasn’t.

  Her bowing and waving were abruptly halted when Pittypat entered the room, panting as usualfrom climbing the stairs, and jerked her away from the window unceremoniously.

  “Have you lost your mind, honey, waving at men out of your bedroom window? I declare,Scarlett, I’m shocked! What would your mother say?”

  “Well, they didn’t know it was my bedroom.”

  “But they’d suspect it was your bedroom and that’s just as bad. Honey, you mustn’t do thingslike that Everybody will be talking about you and saying you are fast—and anyway, Mrs.

  Merriwether knew it was your bedroom.”

  “And I suppose she’ll tell all the boys, the old cat.”

  “Honey, hush! Dolly Merriwether’s my best friend.”

  “Well, she’s a cat just the same—oh, I’m sorry, Auntie, don’t cry! I forgot it was my bedroomwindow. I won’t do it again—I—I just wanted to see them go by. I wish I was going.”

  “Honey!”

  “Well, I do. I’m so tired of sitting at home.”

  “Scarlett, promise me you won’t say things like that. People would talk so. They’d say youdidn’t have the proper respect for poor Charlie—”

  “Oh, Auntie, don’t cry!”

  “Oh, now I’ve made you cry, too,” sobbed Pittypat, in a pleased way, fumbling in her skirtpocket for her handkerchief.

  The hard little pain had at last reached Scarlett’s throat and she wailed out loud—not, as Pittypatthought, for poor Charlie but because the last sounds of the wheels and the laughter were dyingaway. Melanie rustled in from her room, a worried frown puckering her forehead, a brush in herhands, her usually tidy black hair, freed of its net, fluffing about her face in a mass of tiny curlsand waves.

  “Darlings! What is the matter?”

  “Charlie!” sobbed Pittypat, surrendering utterly to the pleasure of her grief and burying her headon Melly’s shoulder.

  “Oh,” said Melly, her lip quivering at the mention of her brother’s name. “Be brave, dear. Don’tcry. Oh, Scarlett!”

  Scarlett had thrown herself on the bed and was sobbing at the top of her voice, sobbing for herlost youth and the pleasures of youth that were denied her, sobbing with the indignation anddespair of a child who once could get anything she wanted by sobbing and now knows thatsobbing can no longer help her. She burrowed her head in the pillow and cried and kicked her feetat the tufted counterpane.

  “I might as well be dead!” she sobbed passionately. Before such an exhibition of grief, Pittypat’seasy tears ceased and Melly flew to the bedside to comfort her sister-in-law.

  “Dear, don’t cry! Try to think how much Charlie loved you and let that comfort you! Try tothink of your darling baby.”

  Indignation at being misunderstood mingled with Scarlett’s forlorn feeling of being out ofeverything and strangled all utterance. That was fortunate, for if she could have spoken she wouldhave cried out truths coached in Gerald’s forthright words. Melanie patted her shoulder andPittypat tiptoed heavily about the room pulling down the shades.

  “Don’t do that!” shouted Scarlett, raising a red and swollen face from the pillow. I’m not deadenough for you to pull down the shades—though I might as well be. Oh, do go away and leave mealone!”

  She sank her face into the pillow again and, after a whispered conference, the two standing overher tiptoed out. She heard Melanie say to Pittypat in a low voice as they went down the stairs:

  “Aunt Pitty, I wish you wouldn’t speak of Charles to her. You know how it always affects her.

  Poor thing, she gets that queer look and I know she’s trying not to cry. We mustn’t make it harderfor her.”

  Scarlett kicked the coverlet in impotent rage, trying to think of something bad enough to say.

  “God’s nightgown!” she cried at last, and felt somewhat relieved. How could Melanie be contentto stay at home and never have any fun and wear crêpe for her brother when she was only eighteenyears old? Melanie did not seem to know, or care, that life was riding by with jingling spurs.

  “But she’s such a stick,” thought Scarlett, pounding the pillow. “And she never was popular likeme, so she doesn’t miss the things I miss. And—and besides she’s got Ashley and I—I haven’t gotanybody!” And at this fresh woe, she broke into renewed outcries.

  She remained gloomily in her room until afternoon and then the sight of the returning picnickerswith wagons piled high with pine boughs, vines and ferns did not cheer her. Everyone looked‘happily tired as they waved to her again and she returned their greetings drearily. Life was ahopeless affair and certainly not worth living.

  Deliverance came in the form she least expected when, during the after-dinner-nap period, Mrs.

  Merriwether and Mrs. Elsing drove up. Startled at having callers at such an hour, Melanie, Scarlettand Aunt Pittypat roused themselves, hastily hooked their basques, smoothed their hair anddescended to the parlor.

  “Mrs. Bonnell’s children have the measles,” said Mrs. Merriwether abruptly, showing plainlythat she held Mrs. Bonnell personally responsible for permitting such a thing to happen.

  “And the McLure girls have been called to Virginia,” said Mrs. Elsing in her die-away voice,fanning herself languidly as if neither this nor anything else mattered very much. “Dallas McLureis wounded.”

  “How dreadful! chorused their hostesses. “Is poor Dallas—”

  “No. Just through the shoulder,” said Mrs. Merriwether briskly. “But it couldn’t possibly have happened at a worse time. The girls are going North to bring him home. But, skies above, wehaven’t time to sit here talking. We must hurry back to the Armory and get the decorating done.

  Pitty, we need you and Melly tonight to take Mrs. Bonnell’s and the McLure girls’ places.”

  “Oh, but, Dolly, we can’t go.”

  “Don’t say ‘can’t’ to me, Pittypat Hamilton,” said Mrs. Merriwether vigorously. “We need youto watch the darkies with the refreshments. That was what Mrs. Bonnell was to do. And Melly, youmust take the McLure girls’ booth.”

  “Oh, we just couldn’t—with poor Charlie dead only a—”

  “I know how you feel but there isn’t any sacrifice too great for the Cause,” broke in Mrs. Elsingin a soft voice that settled matters.

  “Oh, we’d love to help but—why can’t you get some sweet pretty girls to take the booths?”

  Mrs. Merriwether snorted a trumpeting snort.

  “I don’t know what’s the young people these days. They have sense of responsibility.Allthegirlswho(come) haven(over) ’talreadytakenboothshavemoreexcusesthan(no) you couldshake a stick at. Oh, they don’t fool me! They just don’t want to be hampered in making up to theofficers, that’s all. And they’re afraid their new dresses won’t show off behind booth counters. Iwish to goodness that blockade runner—what’s his name?”

  “Captain Butler,” supplied Mrs. Elsing.

  “I wish he’d bring in more hospital supplies and less hoop skirts and lace. If I’ve had to look atone dress today I’ve had to look at twenty dresses that he ran in. Captain Butler—I’m sick of thename. Now, Pitty, I haven’t time to argue. You must come. Everybody will understand. Nobodywill see you in the back room anyway, and Melly won’t be conspicuous. The poor McLure girls’

  booth is way down at the end and not very pretty so nobody will notice you.”

  “I think we should go,” said Scarlett, trying to curb her eagerness and to keep her face earnestand simple. “It is the least we can do for the hospital.”

  Neither of the visiting ladies had even mentioned her name, and they turned and looked sharplyat her. Even in their extremity, they had not considered asking a widow of scarcely a year to appearat a social function. Scarlett bore their gaze with a wide-eyed childlike expression.

  “I think we should go and help to make it a success, all of us. I think I should go in the boothwith Melly because—well, I think it would look better for us both to be there instead of just one.

  Don’t you think so, Melly?”

  “Well,” began Melly helplessly. The idea of appearing publicly at a social gathering while inmourning was so unheard of she was bewildered.

  “Scarlett’s right,” said Mrs. Merriwether, observing signs of weakening. She rose and jerked herhoops into place. “Both of you—all of you must come. Now, Pitty, don’t start your excuses again.

  Just think how much the hospital needs money for new beds and drugs. And I know Charlie wouldlike you to help the Cause he died for.”

  “Well,” said Pittypat, helpless as always in the presence of a stronger personality, “if you think people will understand.”

  “Too good to be true! Too good to be true!” said Scarlett’s joyful heart as she slippedunobtrusively into the pink-and yellow-draped booth that was to have been the McLure girls’.

  Actually she was at a party! After a year’s seclusion, after crêpe and hushed voices and nearlygoing crazy with boredom, she was actually at a party, the biggest party Atlanta had ever seen. Andshe could see people and many lights and hear music and view for herself the lovely laces andfrocks and frills that the famous Captain Butler had run through the blockade on his last trip.

  She sank down on one of the little stools behind the counter of the booth and looked up anddown the long hall which, until this afternoon, had been a bare and ugly drill room. How the ladiesmust have worked today to bring it to its present beauty. It looked lovely. Every candle andcandlestick in Atlanta must be in this hall tonight, she thought, silver ones with a dozen spranglingarms, china ones with charming figurines clustering their bases, old brass stands, erect anddignified, laden with candles of all sizes and colors, smelling fragrantly of bayberries, standing onthe gun racks that ran the length of the hall, on the long flower-decked tables, on booth counters,even on the sills of the open windows where, the draughts of warm summer air were just strongenough to make them flare.

  In the center of the hall the huge ugly lamp, hanging from the ceiling by rusty chains, wascompletely transformed by twining ivy and wild grapevines that were already withering from theheat. The walls were banked with pine branches that gave out a spicy smell, making the corners ofthe room into pretty bowers where the chaperons and old ladies would sit. Long graceful ropes ofivy and grapevine and smilax were hung everywhere, in looping festoons on the walls, drapedabove the windows, twined in scallops all over the brightly colored cheesecloth booths. Andeverywhere amid the greenery, on flags and bunting, blazed the bright stars of the Confederacy ontheir background of red and blue.

  The raised platform for the musicians was especially artistic. It was completely hidden fromview by the banked greenery and starry bunting and Scarlett knew that every potted and tubbedplant in town was there, coleus, geranium, hydrangea, oleander, elephant ear—even Mrs. Elsing’sfour treasured rubber plants, which were given posts of honor at the four corners.

  At the other end of the hall from the platform, the ladies had eclipsed themselves. On this wallhung large pictures of President Davis and Georgia’s own “Little Alec” Stephens, Vice-Presidentof the Confederacy. Above them was an enormous flag and, beneath, on long tables was the loot ofthe gardens of the town, ferns, banks of roses, crimson and yellow and white, proud sheaths ofgolden gladioli, masses of varicolored nasturtiums, tall stiff hollyhocks rearing deep maroon andcreamy heads above the other flowers. Among them, candles burned serenely like altar fires. Thetwo faces looked down on the scene, two faces as different as could be possible in two men at thehelm of so momentous an undertaking: Davis with the flat cheeks and cold eyes of an ascetic, histhin proud lips set firmly; Stephens with dark burning eyes deep socketed in a face that had knownnothing but sickness and pain and had triumphed over them with humor and with fire—two facesthat were greatly loved.

  The elderly ladies of the committee in whose hands rested the responsibility for the whole bazaar rustled in as importantly as full-rigged ships, hurried the belated young matrons andgiggling girls into their booths, and then swept through the doors into the back rooms where therefreshments were being laid out. Aunt Pitty panted out after them.

  The musicians clambered upon their platform, black, grinning, their fat cheeks already shiningwith perspiration, and began tuning their fiddles and sawing and whanging with their bows inanticipatory importance. Old Levi, Mrs. Merriwether’s coachman, who had led the orchestras forevery bazaar, ball and wedding since Atlanta was named Marthasville, rapped with his bow forattention. Few except the ladies who were conducting the bazaar had arrived yet, but all eyesturned toward him. Then the fiddles, bull fiddles, accordions, banjos and knuckle-bones broke intoa slow rendition of “Lorena”—too slow for dancing, the dancing would come later when thebooths were emptied of their wares. Scarlett felt her heart beat faster as the sweet melancholy ofthe waltz came to her:

  “Theyearscreepslowlyby,Lorena!

  Thesnow isonthegrassagain.

  Thesun’sfardownthesky,Lorena .

  ...”

  One-two-three, one-two-three, dip-sway—three, turn— two-three. What a beautiful waltz! Sheextended her hands slightly, closed her eyes and swayed with the sad haunting rhythm. There wassomething about the tragic melody and Lorena’s lost love that mingled with her own excitementand brought a lump into her throat.

  Then, as if brought into being by the waltz music, sounds floated in from the shadowy moonlitstreet below, the trample of horses’ hooves and the sound of carriage wheels, laughter on the warmsweet air and the soft acrimony of negro voices raised in argument over hitching places for thehorses. There was confusion on the stairs and light-hearted merriment, the mingling of girls’ freshvoices with the bass notes of their escorts, airy cries of greeting and squeals of joy as girlsrecognized friends from whom they had parted only that afternoon.

  Suddenly the hall burst into life. It was full of girls, girls who floated in butterfly bright dresses,hooped out enormously, lace pantalets peeping from beneath; round little white shoulders bare, andfaintest traces of soft little bosoms showing above lace flounces; lace shawls carelessly hangingfrom arms; fans spangled and painted, fans of swan’s-down and peacock feathers, dangling atwrists by tiny velvet ribbons; girls with masses of golden curls about their necks and fringed goldearbobs that tossed and danced with their dancing curls. Laces and silks and braid and ribbons, allblockade run, all the more precious and more proudly worn because of it, finery flaunted with anadded pride as an extra affront to the Yankees.

  Not all the Sowers of the town were standing in tribute to the leaders of the Confederacy. Thesmallest, the most fragrant blossoms bedecked the girls. Tea roses tucked behind pink ears, capejessamine and bud roses in round little garlands over cascades of side curls, blossoms thrustdemurely into satin sashes, flowers that before the night was over would find their way into thebreast pockets of gray uniforms as treasured souvenirs.

  There were so many uniforms in the crowd—so many uniforms on so many men whom Scarlettknew, men she had met on hospital cots, on the streets, at the drill ground. They were suchresplendent uniforms, brave with shining buttons and dazzling with twined gold braid on cuffs andcollars, the red and yellow and blue stripes on the trousers, for the different branches of the service,setting off the gray to perfection. Scarlet and gold sashes swung to and fro, sabers glittered andbanged against shining boots, spurs rattled and jingled.

  Such handsome men, thought Scarlett, with a swell of pride in her heart, as the men calledgreetings, waved to friends, bent low over the hands of elderly ladies. All of them were so younglooking, even with their sweeping yellow mustaches and full black and brown beards, so handsome,so reckless, with their arms in slings, with head bandages startlingly white across sun-browned faces. Some of them were on crutches and how proud were the girls who solicitouslyslowed their steps to their escorts’ hopping pace! There was one gaudy splash of color among theuniforms that put the girls’ bright finery to shame and stood out in the crowd like a tropical bird—aLouisiana Zouave, with baggy blue and white striped pants, cream gaiters and tight little redjacket, a dark, grinning little monkey of a man, with his arm in a black silk sling. He was MaybelleMerriwether’s especial beau, René Picard. The whole hospital must have turned out, at leasteverybody who could walk, and all the men on furlough and sick leave and all the railroad andmail service and hospital and commissary departments between here and Macon. How pleased theladies would be! The hospital should make a mint of money tonight.

  There was a ruffle of drums from the street below, the tramp of feet, the admiring cries ofcoachmen. A bugle blared and a bass voice shouted the command to break ranks. In a moment, theHome Guard and the militia unit in their bright uniforms shook the narrow stairs and crowded intothe room, bowing, saluting, shaking hands. There were boys in the Home Guard, proud to beplaying at war, promising themselves they would be in Virginia this time next year, if the warwould just last that long; old men with white beards, wishing they were younger, proud to march inuniform in the reflected glory of sons at the front In the militia, there were many middle-aged menand some older men but there was a fair sprinkling of men of military age who did not carrythemselves quite so jauntily as their elders or their juniors. Already people were beginning towhisper, asking why they were not with Lee.

  How would they all get into the hall! It had seemed such a large place a few minutes before, andnow it was packed, warm with summer-night odors of sachet and cologne water and hair pomadeand burning bayberry candles, fragrant with flowers, faintly dusty as many feet trod the old drillfloors. The din and hubbub of voices made it almost impossible to hear anything and, as if feelingthe joy and excitement of the occasion, old Levi choked off “Lorena” in mid-bar, rapped sharplywith his bow and, sawing away for dear life, the orchestra burst into “Bonnie Blue Flag.”

  A hundred voices took it up, sang it shouted it like a cheer. The Home Guard bugler, climbingonto the platform, caught up with the music just as the chorus began, and the high silver notessoared out thrillingly above the massed singing, causing goose bumps to break out on bare armsand cold chills of deeply felt emotion to fly down spines:

  “Hurrah!Hurrah!FortheSouthernRights,hurrah!

  HurrahfortheBonnieBlueFlag Thatbearsasinglestar!”

  They crashed into the second verse and Scarlett, singing with the rest, heard the high sweetsoprano of Melanie mounting behind her, clear and true and thrilling as the bugle notes. Turning,she saw that Melly was standing with her hands clasped to her breast her eyes closed, and tinytears oozing from the corners. She smiled at Scarlett, whimsically, as the music ended, making alittle moue of apology as she dabbed with her handkerchief.

  “I’m so happy,” she whispered, “and so proud of the soldiers that I just can’t help crying aboutit.”

  There was a deep, almost fanatic glow in her eyes that for a moment lit up her plain little faceand made it beautiful.

  The same look was on the faces of all the women as the song ended, tears of pride on cheeks,pink or wrinkled, smiles on lips, a deep hot glow in eyes, as they turned to their men, sweetheart tolover, mother to son, wife to husband. They were all beautiful with the blinding beauty thattransfigures even the plainest woman when she is utterly protected and utterly loved and is givingback that love a thousandfold.

  They loved their men, they believed in them, they trusted them to the last breaths of their bodies.

  How could disaster ever come to women such as they when their stalwart gray line stood betweenthem and the Yankees? Had there ever been such men as these since the first dawn of the world, soheroic, so reckless, so gallant, so tender? How could anything but overwhelming victory come to aCause as just and right as theirs? A Cause they loved as much as they loved their men, a Causethey served with their hands and their hearts, a Cause they talked about, thought about, dreamedabout—a Cause to which they would sacrifice these men if need be, and bear their loss as proudlyas the men bore their battle flags.

  It was high tide of devotion and pride in their hearts, high tide of the Confederacy, for finalvictory was at hand. Stonewall Jackson’s triumphs in the Valley and the defeat of the Yankees inthe Seven Days’ Battle around Richmond showed that clearly. How could it be otherwise with suchleaders as Lee and Jackson? One more victory and the Yankees would be on their knees yelling forpeace and the men would be riding home and there would be kissing and laughter. One morevictory and the war was over!

  Of course, there were empty chairs and babies who would never see their fathers’ faces andunmarked graves by lonely Virginia creeks and in the still mountains of Tennessee, but was thattoo great a price to pay for such a Cause? Silks for the ladies and tea and sugar were hard to get;but that was something to joke about. Besides, the dashing blockade runners were bringing in thesevery things under the Yankees’ disgruntled noses, and that made the possession of them manytimes more thrilling. Soon Raphael Semmes and the Confederate Navy would tend to those Yankeegunboats and the ports would be wide open. And England was coming in to help the Confederacywin the war, because the English mills were standing idle for want of Southern cotton. Andnaturally the British aristocracy sympathized with the Confederacy, as one aristocrat with another,against a race of dollar lovers like the Yankees.

  So the women swished their silks and laughed and, looking on their men with hearts bursting with pride, they knew that love snatched in the face of danger and death was doubly sweet for thestrange excitement that went with it.

  When first she looked at the crowd, Scarlett’s heart had thump-thumped with the unaccustomedexcitement of being at a party, but as she half-comprehendingly saw the high-hearted look on thefaces about her, her joy began to evaporate. Every woman present was blazing with an emotion shedid not feel. It bewildered and depressed her. Somehow, the hall did not seem so pretty nor thegirls so dashing, and the white heat of devotion to the Cause that was still shining on every faceseemed—why, it just seemed silly!

  In a sudden flash of self-knowledge that made her mouth pop open with astonishment, sherealized that she did not share with these women their fierce pride, their desire to sacrificethemselves and everything they had for the Cause. Before horror made her think: “No—no! Imustn’t think such things! They’re wrong—sinful,” she knew the Cause meant nothing at all to herand that she was bored with heating other people talk about it with that fanatic look in their eyes.

  The Cause didn’t seem sacred to her. The war didn’t seem to be a holy affair, but a nuisance thatkilled men senselessly and cost money and made luxuries hard to get. She saw that she was tired ofthe endless knitting and the endless bandage rolling and lint picking that roughened the cuticle ofher nails. And oh, she was so tired of the hospital! Tired and bored and nauseated with thesickening gangrene smells and the endless moaning, frightened by the look that coming death gaveto sunken faces.

  She looked furtively around her, as the treacherous, blasphemous thoughts rushed through hermind, fearful that someone might find them written clearly upon her face. Oh, why couldn’t shefeel like those other women! They were whole hearted and sincere in their devotion to the Cause.

  They really meant everything they said and did. And if anyone should ever suspect that she— No,no one must ever know! She must go on making a pretense of enthusiasm and pride in the Causewhich she could not feel, acting out her part of the widow of a Confederate officer who bears hergrief bravely, whose heart is in the grave, who feels that her husband’s death meant nothing if itaided the Cause to triumph.

  Oh, why was she different, apart from these loving women? She could never love anything oranyone so selflessly as they did. What a lonely feeling it was—and she had never been lonelyeither in body or spirit before. At first she tried to stifle the thoughts, but the hard self-honesty thatlay at the base of her nature would not permit it And so, while the bazaar went on, while she andMelanie waited on the customers who came to their booth, her mind was busily working, trying tojustify herself to herself—a task which she seldom found difficult.

  The other women were simply silly and hysterical with their talk of patriotism and the Cause,and the men were almost as bad with their talk of vital issues and States’ Rights. She, ScarlettO’Hara Hamilton, alone had good hard-headed Irish sense. She wasn’t going to make a fool out ofherself about the Cause, but neither was she going to make a fool out of herself by admitting hertrue feelings. She was hard-headed enough to be practical about the situation, and no one wouldever know how she felt How surprised the bazaar would be if they knew what she really wasthinking! How shocked if she suddenly climbed on the bandstand and declared that she thought thewar ought to stop, so everybody could go home and tend to their cotton and there could be partiesand beaux again and plenty of pale green dresses.

  For a moment, her self-justification buoyed her up but still she looked about the hall withdistaste. The McLure girls’ booth was inconspicuous, as Mrs. Merriwether had said, and there werelong intervals when no one came to their corner and Scarlett had nothing to do but look enviouslyon the happy throng. Melanie sensed her moodiness but, crediting it to longing for Charlie, did nottry to engage her in conversation. She busied herself arranging the articles in the booth in moreattractive display, while Scarlett sat and looked glumly around the room. Even the banked flowersbelow the pictures of Mr. Davis and Mr. Stephens displeased her.

  “It looks like an altar,” she sniffed. “And the way they all carry on about those two, they mightas well be the Father and the Son!” Then smitten with sudden fright at her irreverence she beganhastily to cross herself by way of apology but caught herself in time.

  “Well, it’s true,” she argued with her conscience. “Everybody carries on like they were holy andthey aren’t anything but men, and mighty unattractive looking ones at that.”

  Of course, Mr. Stephens couldn’t help how he looked for he had been an invalid all his life, butMr. Davis— She looked up at the cameo clean, proud face. It was his goatee that annoyed her themost. Men should either be clean shaven, mustached or wear full beards.

  “That little wisp looks like it was just the best he could do,” she thought, not seeing in his facethe cold hard intelligence that was carrying the weight of a new nation.

  No, she was not happy now, and at first she had been radiant with the pleasure of being in acrowd. Now just being present was not enough. She was at the bazaar but not a part of it. No onepaid her any attention and she was the only young unmarried woman present who did not have abeau. And all her life she had enjoyed the center of the stage. It wasn’t fair! She was seventeenyears old and her feet were patting the floor, wanting to skip and dance. She was seventeen yearsold and she had a husband lying at Oakland Cemetery and a baby in his cradle at Aunt Pittypat’sand everyone thought she should be content with her lot. She had a whiter bosom and a smallerwaist and a tinier foot than any girl present, but for all they mattered she might just as well be lyingbeside Charles with “Beloved Wife of” carved over her.

  She wasn’t a girl who could dance and flirt and she wasn’t a wife who could sit with other wivesand criticize the dancing and flirting girls. And she wasn’t old enough to be a widow. Widowsshould be old—so terribly old they didn’t want to dance and flirt and be admired. Oh, it wasn’t fairthat she should have to sit here primly and be the acme of widowed dignity and propriety when shewas only seventeen. It wasn’t fair that she must keep her voice low and her eyes cast modestlydown, when men, attractive ones, too, came to their booth.

  Every girl in Atlanta was three deep in men. Even the plainest girls were carrying on like belles—and, oh, worst of all, they were carrying on in such lovely, lovely dresses!

  Here she sat like a crow with hot black taffeta to her wrists and buttoned up to her chin, with noteven a hint of lace or braid, not a jewel except Ellen’s onyx mourning brooch, watching tacky-looking girls hanging on the arms of good-looking men. All because Charles Hamilton had had themeasles. He didn’t even die in a fine glow of gallantry in battle, so she could brag about him.

  Rebelliously she leaned her elbows on the counter and looked at the crowd, flouting Mammy’soft-repeated admonition against leaning on elbows and making them ugly and wrinkled. What did it matter if they did get ugly? She’d probably never get a chance to show them again. She lookedhungrily at the frocks floating by, butter-yellow watered silks with garlands of rosebuds; pinksatins with eighteen flounces edged with tiny black velvet ribbons; baby blue taffeta, ten yards inthe skirt and foamy with cascading lace; exposed bosoms; seductive flowers. MaybelleMerriwether went toward the next booth on the arm of the Zouave, in an apple-green tarlatan sowide that it reduced her waist to nothingness. It Was showered and flounced with cream-coloredChantilly lace that had come from Charleston on the last blockader, and Maybelle was flaunting itas saucily as if she and not the famous Captain Butler had run the blockade.

  “How sweet I’d look in that dress,” thought Scarlett, a savage envy in her heart. “Her waist is asbig as a cow’s. That green is just my color and it would make my eyes look— Why will blondestry to wear that color? Her skin looks as green as an old cheese. And to think I’ll never wear thatcolor again, not even when I do get out of mourning. No, not even if I do manage to get marriedagain. Then I’ll have to wear tacky old grays and tans and lilacs.”

  For a brief moment she considered the unfairness of it all. How short was the time for fun, forpretty clothes, for dancing, for coquetting! Only a few, too few years! Then you married and woredull-colored dresses and had babies that ruined your waist line and sat in corners at dances withother sober matrons and only emerged to dance with your husband or with old gentlemen whostepped on your feet. If you didn’t do these things, the other matrons talked about you and thenyour reputation was ruined and your family disgraced. It seemed such a terrible waste to spend allyour little girlhood learning how to be attractive and how to catch men and then only use theknowledge for a year or two. When she considered her training at the hands of Ellen and Mammy,she knew it had been thorough and good because it had always reaped results. There were set rulesto be followed, and if you followed them success crowned your efforts.

  With old ladies you were sweet and guileless and appeared as simple minded as possible, for oldladies were sharp and they watched girls as jealously as cats, ready to pounce on any indiscretionof tongue or eye. With old gentlemen, a girl was pert and saucy and almost, but not quite,flirtatious, so that the old fools’ vanities would be tickled. It made them feel devilish and youngand they pinched your cheek and declared you Were a minx. And, of course, you always blushedon such occasions, otherwise they would pinch you with more pleasure than was proper and thentell their sons that you were fast.

  With young girls and young married women, you slopped over with sugar and kissed them everytime you met them, even if it was ten times a day. And you put your arms about their waists andsuffered them to do the same to you, no matter how much you disliked it You admired their frocksor their babies indiscriminately and teased about beaux and complimented husbands and giggledmodestly and denied that you had any charms at all compared with theirs. And, above all, younever said what you really thought about anything, any more than they said what they reallythought.

  Other women’s husbands you let severely alone, even if they were your own discarded beaux,and no matter how temptingly attractive they were. If you were too nice to young husbands, theirwives said you were fast and you got a bad reputation and never caught any beaux of your own.

  But with young bachelors—ah, that was a different matter! You could laugh softly at them and when they came flying to see why you laughed, you could refuse to tell them and laugh harder andkeep them around indefinitely trying to find out. You could promise, with your eyes, any numberof exciting things that would make a man maneuver to get you alone. And, having gotten youalone, you could be very, very hurt or very, very angry when he tried to kiss you. You could makehim apologize for being a cur and forgive him so sweetly that he would hang around trying to kissyou a second time. Sometimes, but not often, you did let him kiss you. (Ellen and Mammy had nottaught her that but she learned it was effective.) Then you cried and declared you didn’t know whathad come over you and that he couldn’t ever respect you again. Then he had to dry your eyes andusually he proposed, to show just how much he did respect you. And then there were— Oh, therewere so many things to do to bachelors and she knew them all, the nuance of the sidelong glance,the half-smile behind the fan, the swaying of the hips so that skirts swung like a bell, the tears, thelaughter, the flattery, the sweet sympathy. Oh, all the tricks that never failed to work—except withAshley.

  No, it didn’t seem right to learn all these smart tricks, use them so briefly and then put themaway forever. How wonderful it would be never to marry but to go on being lovely in pale greendresses and forever courted by handsome men. But, if you went on too long, you got to be an oldmaid like India Wilkes and everyone said “poor thing” in that smug hateful way. No, after all itwas better to marry and keep your self-respect even if you never had any more fun.

  Oh, what a mess life was! Why had she been such an idiot as to marry Charles of all people andhave her life end at sixteen?

  Her indignant and hopeless reverie was broken when the crowd began pushing back against thewalls, the ladies carefully holding their hoops so that no careless contact should turn them upagainst their bodies and show more pantalets than was proper. Scarlett tiptoed above the crowd andsaw the captain of the militia mounting the orchestra platform. He shouted orders and half of theCompany fell into line. For a few minutes they went through a brisk drill that brought perspirationto their foreheads and cheers and applause from the audience. Scarlett clapped her hands dutifullywith the rest and, as the soldiers pushed forward toward the punch and lemonade booths after theywere dismissed, she turned to Melanie, feeling that she had better begin her deception about theCause as soon as possible.

  “They looked fine, didn’t they?” she said.

  Melanie was fussing about with the knitted things on the counter.

  “Most of them would look a lot finer in gray uniforms and in Virginia,” she said, and she did nottrouble to lower her voice.

  Several of the proud mothers of members of the militia were standing close by and overheardthe remark. Mrs. Guinan turned scarlet and then white, for her twenty-five-year-old Willie was inthe company.

  Scarlett was aghast at such words coming from Melly of all people.

  “Why, Melly!”

  “You know it’s true, Scarlet. I don’t mean the little boys and the old gentlemen. But a lot of themilitia are perfectly able to tote a rifle and that’s what they ought to be doing this minute.”

  “But—but—” began Scarlett, who had never considered the matter before. “Somebody’s got tostay home to—” What was it Willie Guinan had told her by way of excusing his presence inAtlanta? “Somebody’s got to stay home to protect the state from invasion.”

  “Nobody’s invading us and nobody’s going to,” said Melly coolly, looking toward a group of themilitia. “And the best way to keep out invaders is to go to Virginia and beat the Yankees there. Andas for all this talk about the militia staying here to keep the darkies from rising—why, it’s thesilliest thing I ever heard of. Why should our people rise? It’s just a good excuse for cowards. I’llbet we could lick the Yankees in a month if all the militia of all the states went to Virginia. Sothere!”

  “Why, Melly!” cried Scarlett again, staring.

  Melly’s soft dark eyes were flashing angrily. “My husband wasn’t afraid to go and neither wasyours. And I’d rather they’d both be dead than here at home— Oh, darling, I’m sorry. Howthoughtless and cruel of me!”

  She stroked Scarlett’s arm appealingly and Scarlett stared at her. But it was not of dead Charlesshe was thinking. It was of Ashley. Suppose he too were to die? She turned quickly and smiledautomatically as Dr. Meade walked up to their booth.

  “Well, girls,” he greeted them, “it was nice of you to come. I know what a sacrifice it must havebeen for you to come out tonight. But it’s all for the Cause. And I’m going to tell you a secret. I’vea surprise way for making some more money tonight for the hospital, but I’m afraid some of theladies are going to be shocked about it.”

  He stopped and chuckled as he tugged at his gray goatee.

  “Oh, what? Do tell!”

  “On second thought I believe I’ll keep you guessing, too. But you girls must stand up for me ifthe church members want to run me out of town for doing it. However, it’s for the hospital You’llsee. Nothing like this has ever been done before.”

  He went off pompously toward a group of chaperons in one corner, and just as the two girls hadturned to each other to discuss the possibilities of the secret, two old gentlemen bore down on thebooth, declaring in loud voices that they wanted ten miles of tatting. Well, after all, old gentlemenwere better than no gentlemen at all, thought Scarlett, measuring out the tatting and submittingdemurely to being chucked under the chin. The old blades charged off toward the lemonade boothand others took their places at the counter. Their booth did not have so many customers as did theother booths where the tootling laugh of Maybelle Merriwether sounded and Fanny Elsing’sgiggles and the Whiting girls’ repartee made merriment. Melly sold useless stuff to men who couldhave no possible use for it as quietly and serenely as a shopkeeper, and Scarlett patterned herconduct on Melly’s.

  There were crowds in front of every other counter but theirs, girls chattering, men buying. Thefew who came to them talked about how they went to the university with Ashley and what a finesoldier he was or spoke in respectful tones of Charles and how great a loss to Atlanta his death hadbeen.

  Then the music broke into the rollicking strains of “Johnny Booker, he’p dis Nigger!” andScarlett thought she would scream. She wanted to dance. She wanted to dance. She looked acrossthe floor and tapped her foot to the music and her green eyes blazed so eagerly that they fairlysnapped. All the way across the floor, a man, newly come and standing in the doorway, saw them,started in recognition and watched closely the slanting eyes in the sulky, rebellious face. Then hegrinned to himself as he recognized the invitation that any male could read.

  He was dressed in black broadcloth, a tall man, towering over the officers who stood near him,bulky in the shoulders but tapering to a small waist and absurdly small feet in varnished boots. Hissevere black suit, with fine ruffled shirt and trousers smartly strapped beneath high insteps, wasoddly at variance with his physique and face, for he was foppishly groomed, the clothes of a dandyon a body that was powerful and latently dangerous in its lazy grace. His hair was jet black, and hisblack mustache was small and closely clipped, almost foreign looking compared with the dashing,swooping mustaches of the cavalrymen by. He looked, and was, man of lusty and unashamedappetites.Hehadanairofutteras(near) surance,ofdispleasinginsole(a) nce about him, andthere was a twinkle of malice in his bold eyes as he stared at Scarlett, until finally, feeling his gaze,she looked toward him.

  Somewhere in her mind, the bell of recognition rang, but for the moment she could not recallwho he was. But he was the first man in months who had displayed an interest in her, and shethrew him a gay smile. She made a little curtsy as he bowed, and then, as he straightened andstarted toward her with a peculiarly lithe Indian-like gait, her hand went to her mouth in horror, forshe knew who he was.

  Thunderstruck, she stood as if paralyzed while he made his way through the crowd. Then sheturned blindly, bent on flight into the refreshment rooms, but her skirt caught on a nail of thebooth. She jerked furiously at it, tearing it and, in an instant, he was beside her.

  “Permit me,” he Said bending over and disentangling the flounce. “I hardly hoped that youwould recall me, Miss O’Hara.”

  His voice was oddly pleasant to the ear, the well-modulated voice of a gentleman, resonant andoverlaid with the flat slow drawl of the Charlestonian.

  She looked up at him imploringly, her face crimson with the shame of their last meeting, andmet two of the blackest eyes she had ever seen, dancing in merciless merriment. Of all the peoplein the world to turn up here, this terrible person who had witnessed that scene with Ashley whichstill gave her nightmares; this odious wretch who ruined girls and was not received by nice people;this despicable man who had said, and with good cause, that she was not a lady.

  At the sound of his voice, Melanie turned and for the first time in her life Scarlett thanked Godfor the existence of her sister-in-law.

  “Why—it’s—it’s Mr. Rhett Butler, isn’t it?” said Melanie with a little smile, putting out herhand. I met you—”

  “On the happy occasion of the announcement of your betrothal,” he finished, bending over herhand. “It is kind of you to recall me.”

  “And what are you doing so far from Charleston, Mr. Butler?”

  “A boring matter of business, Mrs. Wilkes. I will be in and out of your town from now on. I findI must not only bring in goods but see to the disposal of them.”

  “Bring in—” began Melly, her brow wrinkling, and then she broke into a delighted smile. “Why,you—you must be the famous Captain Butler we’ve been hearing so much about—the blockaderunner. Why, every girl here is wearing dresses you brought in. Scarlett, aren’t you thrilled—what’s the matter, dear? Are you faint? Do sit down.”

  Scarlett sank to the stool, her breath coming so rapidly she feared the lacings of her stays wouldburst. Oh, what a terrible thing to happen! She had never thought to meet this man again. Hepicked up her black fan from the counter and began fanning her solicitously, too solicitously, hisface grave but his eyes still dancing.

  “It is quite warm in here,” he said. “No wonder Miss O’Hara is faint. May I lead you to awindow?”

  “No,” said Scarlett, so rudely that Melly stared.

  “She is not Miss O’Hara any longer,” said Melly. “She is Mrs. Hamilton. She is my sister now,”

  and Melly bestowed one of her fond little glances on her. Scarlett felt that she would strangle at theexpression on Captain Butler’s swarthy piratical face.

  “I am sure that is a great gain to two charming ladies,” said he, making a slight bow. That wasthe kind of remark all men made, but when he said it it seemed to her that he meant just theopposite.

  “Your husbands are here tonight, I trust, on this happy occasion? It would be a pleasure to renewacquaintances.”

  “My husband is in Virginia,” said Melly with a proud lift of her head. “But Charles—” Hervoice broke.

  “He died in camp,” said Scarlett flatly. She almost snapped the words. Would this creature nevergo away? Melly looked at her, startled, and the Captain made a gesture of self-reproach.

  “My dear ladies—how could I! You must forgive me. But permit a stranger to offer the comfortof saying that to die for one’s country is to live forever.”

  Melanie smiled at him through sparkling tears while Scarlett felt the fox of wrath and impotenthate gnaw at her vitals. Again he had made a graceful remark, the kind of compliment anygentleman would pay under such circumstances, but he did not mean a word of it. He was jeeringat her. He knew she hadn’t loved Charles. And Melly was just a big enough fool not to see throughhim. Oh, please God, don’t let anybody else see through him, she thought with a start of terror.

  Would he tell what he knew? Of course he wasn’t a gentleman and there was no telling what menwould do when they weren’t gentlemen. There was no standard to judge them by. She looked up athim and saw that his mouth was pulled down at the corners in mock sympathy, even while heswished the fan. Something in his look challenged her spirit and brought her strength back in asurge of dislike. Abruptly she snatched the fan from his hand.

  “I’m quite all right,” she said tartly. “There’s no need to blow my hair out of place.”

  “Scarlett, darling! Captain Butler, you must forgive her. She—she isn’t herself when she hears poor Charlie’s name spoken—and perhaps, after all, we shouldn’t have come here tonight. We’restill in mourning, you see, and it’s quite a strain on her—all this gaiety and music, poor child.”

  “I quite understand,” he said with elaborate gravity, but as he turned and gave Melanie asearching look that went to the bottom of her sweet worried eyes, his expression changed, reluctantrespect and gentleness coming over his dark face. “I think you’re a courageous little lady, Mrs.

  Wilkes.”

  “Not a word about me!” thought Scarlett indignantly, as Melly smiled in confusion andanswered,“Dear me, no, Captain Butler! The hospital committee just had to have us for this booth becauseat the last minute— A pillow case? Here’s a lovely one with a flag on it.”

  She turned to three cavalrymen who appeared at her counter. For a moment, Melanie thoughthow nice Captain Butler was. Then she wished that something more substantial than cheeseclothwas between her skirt and the spittoon that stood just outside the booth, for the aim of thehorsemen with amber streams of tobacco juice was not so unerring as with their long horse pistols.

  Then she forgot about the Captain, Scarlett and the spittoons as more customers crowded to her.

  Scarlett sat quietly on the stool fanning herself, not daring to look up, wishing Captain Butlerback on the deck of his ship where he belonged.

  “Your husband has been dead long?”

  “Oh, yes, a long time. Almost a year.”

  “An aeon, I’m sure.”

  Scarlett was not sure what an aeon was, but there was no mistaking the baiting quality of hisvoice, so she said nothing.

  “Had you been married long? Forgive my questions but I have been away from this section forso long.”

  “Two months,” said Scarlett, unwillingly.

  “A tragedy, no less,” his easy voice continued.

  Oh, damn him, she thought violently. If he was any other man in the world I could simply freezeup and order’ him off. But he knows about Ashley and he knows I didn’t love Charlie. And myhands are tied. She said nothing, still looking down at her fan.

  “And this is your first social appearance?”

  “I know it looks quite odd,” she explained rapidly. “But the McLure girls who were to take thisbooth were called away and there was no one else, so Melanie and I—”

  “No sacrifice is too great for the Cause.”

  Why, that was what Mrs. Elsing had said, but when she said it it didn’t sound the same way. Hotwords started to her lips but she choked them back. After all, she was here, not for the Cause, butbecause she was tired of sitting home.

  “I have always thought,” he said reflectively, “that the system of mourning, of immuring women in crêpe for the rest of their lives and forbidding them normal enjoyment is just as barbarous as theHindu suttee.”

  “Settee?”

  He laughed and she blushed for her ignorance. She hated people who used words unknown toher.

  “In India, when a man dies he is burned, instead of buried, and his wife always climbs on thefuneral pyre and is burned with him.”

  “How dreadful! Why do they do it? Don’t the police do anything about it?”

  “Of course not. A wife who didn’t burn herself would be a social outcast. All the worthy Hindumatrons would talk about her for not behaving as a well-bred lady should—precisely as thoseworthy matrons in the corner would talk about you, should you appear tonight in a red dress andlead a reel. Personally, I think suttee much more merciful than our charming Southern custom ofburying widows alive!”

  “How dare you say I’m buried alive!”

  “How closely women clutch the very chains that bind them! You think the Hindu custombarbarous—but would you have had the courage to appear here tonight if the Confederacy hadn’tneeded you?”

  Arguments of this character were always confusing to Scarlett. His were doubly confusingbecause she had a vague idea there was truth in them. But now was the time to squelch him.

  “Of course, I wouldn’t have come. It would have been—well, disrespectful to—it would haveseemed as if I hadn’t lov—”

  His eyes waited on her words, cynical amusement in them, and she could not go on. He knewshe hadn’t loved Charlie and he wouldn’t let her pretend to the nice polite sentiments that sheshould express. What a terrible, terrible thing it was to have to do with a man who wasn’t agentleman. A gentleman always appeared to believe a lady even when he knew she was lying. Thatwas Southern chivalry. A gentleman always obeyed the rules and said the correct things and madelife easier for a lady. But this man seemed not to care for rules and evidently enjoyed talking ofthings no one ever talked about.

  “I am waiting breathlessly.”

  “I think you are horrid,” she said, helplessly, dropping her eyes.

  He leaned down across the counter until his mouth was near her ear and hissed, in a verycreditable imitation of the stage villains who appeared infrequently at the Athenaeum Hall: “Fearnot, fair lady! Your guilty secret is safe with me!”

  “Oh,” she whispered, feverishly, “how can you say such things!”

  “I only thought to ease your mind. What would you have me say? ‘Be mine, beautiful female, orI will reveal all?’ ”

  She met his eyes unwillingly and saw they were as teasing as a small boy’s. Suddenly she laughed. It was such a silly situation, after all. He laughed too, and so loudly that several of thechaperons in the corner looked their way. Observing how good a time Charles Hamilton’s widowappeared to be having with a perfect stranger, they put their heads together disapprovingly.

  There was a roll of drums and many voices cried “Sh!” as Dr. Meade mounted the platform andspread out his arms for quiet.

  “We must all give grateful thanks to the charming ladies whose indefatigable and patrioticefforts have made this bazaar not only a pecuniary success,” he began, “but have transformed thisrough hall into a bower of loveliness, a fit garden for the charming rosebuds I see about me.”

  Everyone clapped approvingly.

  “The ladies have given their best, not only of their time but of the labor of their hands, and thesebeautiful objects in the booths are doubly beautiful, made as they are by the fair hands of ourcharming Southern women.”

  There were more shouts of approval, and Rhett Butler who had been lounging negligentlyagainst the counter at Scarlett’s side whispered: “Pompous goat, isn’t he?”

  Startled, at first horrified, at this lese majesty toward Atlanta’s most beloved citizen, she staredreprovingly at him. But the doctor did look like a goat with his gray chin whiskers wagging awayat a great rate, and with difficulty she stifled a giggle.

  “But these things are not enough. The good ladies of the hospital committee, whose cool handshave soothed many a suffering brow and brought back from the jaws of death our brave menwounded in the bravest of all Causes, know our needs. I will not enumerate them. We must havemore money to buy medical supplies from England, and we have with us tonight the intrepidcaptain who has so successfully run the blockade for a year and who will run it again to bring usthe drugs we need. Captain Rhett Butler!”

  Though caught unawares, the blockader made a graceful bow—too graceful, thought Scarlett,trying to analyze it. It was almost as if he overdid his courtesy because his contempt for everybodypresent was so great. There was a loud burst of applause as he bowed and a craning of necks fromthe ladies in the corner. So that was who poor Charles Hamilton’s widow was carrying on with!

  And Charlie hardly dead a year!

  “We need more gold and I am asking you. for it” the doctor continued. “I am asking a sacrificebut a sacrifice so small compared with the sacrifices our gallant men in gray are making that it willseem laughably small. Ladies, I want your jewelry. I want your jewelry? No, the Confederacywants your jewelry, the Confederacy calls for it and I know no one will hold back. How fair a gemgleams on a lovely wrist! How beautifully gold brooches glitter on the bosoms of our patrioticwomen! But how much more beautiful is sacrifice than all the gold and gems of the Ind. The goldwill be melted and the stones sold and the money used to buy drugs and other medical supplies.

  Ladies, there will pass among you two of our gallant wounded, with baskets and—” But the rest ofhis speech was lost in the storm and tumult of clapping hands and cheering voices.

  Scarlett’s first thought was one of deep thankfulness that mourning forbade her wearing her precious earbobs arid the heavy gold chain that had been Grandma Robillard’s and the gold andblack enameled bracelets and the garnet brooch. She saw the little Zouave, a split-oak basket overhis unwounded arm, making the rounds of the crowd on her side of the hall and saw women, oldand young, laughing, eager, tugging at bracelets, squealing in pretended pain as earrings camefrom pierced flesh, helping each other undo stiff necklace clasps, unpinning brooches frombosoms. There was a steady little dink-clink of metal on metal and cries of “Wait—wait! I’ve got itunfastened now. There!” Maybelle Merriwether was pulling off her lovely twin bracelets fromabove and below her elbows. Fanny Elsing, crying “Mamma, may I?” was tearing from her curlsthe seed-pearl ornament set in heavy gold which had been in the family for generations. As eachoffering went into the basket, there was applause and cheering.

  The grinning little man was coming to their booth now, his basket heavy on his arm, and as hepassed Rhett Butler a handsome gold cigar case was thrown carelessly into the basket. When hecame to Scarlett and rested his basket upon the counter, she shook her head throwing wide herhands to show that she had nothing to give. It was embarrassing to



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