knowing the amount. Ashley can ride with the best and play poker with the best-that's me,
Puss! And I'm not denying that when he sets out to drink he can put even the Tarletons
under the table. He can do all those things, but his heart's not in it. That's why I say
Scarlett was silent and her heart sank. She could think of no defense for this last,
for she knew Gerald was right. Ashley's heart was in none of the pleasant things he did
so well. He was never more than politely interested in any of the things that vitally
interested every one else.
Rightly interpreting her silence, Gerald patted her arm and said triumphantly: "There
now, Scarlett! You admit 'tis true. What would you be doing with a husband like Ashley?
'Tis moonstruck they all are, all the Wilkes." And then, in a wheedling tone: "When I was
mentioning the Tarletons the while ago, I wasn't pushing them. They're fine lads, but if
it's Cade Calvert you're setting your cap after, why, 'tis the same with me. The Calverts
are good folk, all of them, for all the old man marrying a Yankee. And when I'm
gone-Whist, darlin', listen to me! I'll leave Tara to you and Cade-"
"I wouldn't have Cade on a silver tray," cried Scarlett in fury. "And I wish you'd quit
pushing him at me! I don't want Tara or any old plantation. Plantations don't amount to
She was going to say "when you haven't the man you want," but Gerald, incensed by the
cavalier way in which she treated his proffered gift, the thing which, next to Ellen, he
loved best in the whole world uttered a roar.
"Do you stand there, Scarlett O'Hara, and tell me that Tara-that land-doesn't amount to
Scarlett nodded obstinately. Her heart was too sore to care whether or not she put her
father in a temper.
"Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything," he shouted, his thick,
short arms making wide gestures of indignation, "for 'tis the only thing in this world
that lasts, and don't you be forgetting it! 'Tis the only thing worth working for, worth
fighting for-worth dying for."
"Oh, Pa," she said disgustedly, "you talk like an Irishman!"
"Have I ever been ashamed of it? No, 'tis proud I am. And don't be forgetting that you
are half Irish, Miss! And to anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them the land they live
on is like their mother. 'Tis ashamed of you I am this minute. I offer you the most
beautiful land in the world-saving County Meath in the Old Country-and what do you do?
Gerald had begun to work himself up into a pleasurable shouting rage when something in
Scarlett's woebegone face stopped him.
"But there, you're young. 'Twill come to you, this love of land. There's no getting
away from it, if you're Irish. You're just a child and bothered about your beaux. When
you're older, you'll be seeing how 'tis. ... Now, do you be making up your mind about
Cade or the twins or one of Evan Munroe's young bucks, and see how fine I turn you out!"
By this time, Gerald was thoroughly tired of the conversation and thoroughly annoyed
that the problem should be upon his shoulders. He felt aggrieved, moreover, that Scarlett
should still look desolate after being offered the best of the County boys and Tara, too.
Gerald liked his gifts to be received with clapping of hands and kisses.
"Now, none of your pouts, Miss. It doesn't matter who you marry, as long as he thinks
like you and is a gentleman and a Southerner and prideful. For a woman, love comes after
"Oh, Pa, that's such an Old Country notion!"
"And a good notion it is! All this American business of running around marrying for
love, like servants, like Yankees! The best marriages are when the parents choose for the
girl. For how can a silly piece like yourself tell a good man from a scoundrel? Now, look
at the Wilkes. What's kept them prideful and strong all these generations? Why, marrying
the likes of themselves, marrying the cousins their family always expects them to marry."
"Oh," cried Scarlett, fresh pain striking her as Gerald's words brought home the
terrible inevitability of the truth. Gerald looked at her bowed head and shuffled his
"It's not crying you are?" he questioned, fumbling clumsily at her chin, trying to turn
her face upward, his own face furrowed with pity.
"No," she cried vehemently, jerking away.
"It's lying you are, and I'm proud of it. I'm glad there's pride in you, Puss. And I
want to see pride in you tomorrow at the barbecue. I'll not be having the County
gossiping and laughing at you for mooning your heart out about a man who never gave you a
thought beyond friendship."
"He did give me a thought," thought Scarlett, sorrowfully in her heart. "Oh, a lot of
thoughts! I know he did. I could tell. If I'd just had a little longer, I know I could
have made him say-Oh, if it only wasn't that the Wilkes always feel that they have to
marry their cousins!"
Gerald took her arm and passed it through his.
"We'll be going in to supper now, and all this is between us. I'll not be worrying your
mother with this-nor do you do it either. Blow your nose, daughter."
Scarlett blew her nose on her torn handkerchief, and they started up the dark drive arm
in arm, the horse following slowly. Near the house, Scarlett was at the point of speaking
again when she saw her mother in the dim shadows of the porch. She had on her bonnet,
shawl and mittens, and behind her was Mammy, her face like a thundercloud, holding in her
hand the black leather bag in which Ellen O'Hara always carried the bandages and
medicines she used in doctoring the slaves. Mammy's lips were large and pendulous and,
when indignant, she could push out her lower one to twice its normal length. It was
pushed out now, and Scarlett knew that Mammy was seething over something of which she did
"Mr. O'Hara," called Ellen as she saw the two coming up the driveway-Ellen belonged to
a generation that was formal even after seventeen years of wedlock and the bearing of six
children-"Mr. O'Hara, there is illness at the Slattery house. Emmie's baby has been born
and is dying and must be baptized. I am going there with Mammy to see what I can do."
Her voice was raised questioningly, as though she hung on Gerald's assent to her plan,
a mere formality but one dear to the heart of Gerald.
"In the name of God!" blustered Gerald. "Why should those white trash take you away
just at your supper hour and just when I'm wanting to tell you about the war talk that's
going on in Atlanta! Go, Mrs. O'Hara. You'd not rest easy on your pillow the night if
there was trouble abroad and you not there to help."
"She doan never git no res' on her piller fer hoppin' up at night time nursin' niggers
an po' w'ite trash dat could ten' to deyseff," grumbled Mammy in a monotone as she went
down the stairs toward the carriage which was waiting in the side drive.
"Take my place at the table, dear," said Ellen, patting Scarlett's cheek softly with a
In spite of her choked-back tears, Scarlett thrilled to the never-failing magic of her
mother's touch, to the faint fragrance of lemon verbena sachet that came from her
rustling silk dress. To Scarlett, there was something breath-taking about Ellen O'Hara, a
miracle that lived in the house with her and awed her and charmed and soothed her.