only his due. But the planters' ladies and the planters' slaves could not overlook the
fact that he was not born a gentleman, even if their men folks could.
In the beginning, the Troop had been recruited exclusively from the sons of planters, a
gentleman's outfit, each man supplying his own horse, arms, equipment, uniform and body
servant. But rich planters were 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, if they were above the average of their class.
These latter young men were as anxious to fight the Yankees, should war come, as were
their richer neighbors; but the delicate question of money arose. Few small farmers owned
horses. They carried on their farm operations with mules and they had no surplus of
these, seldom more than four. The mules could not be spared to go off to war, even if
they had been acceptable for the Troop, which they emphatically were not. As for the poor
whites, they considered themselves well off if they owned one mule. The backwoods folks
and the swamp dwellers owned neither horses nor 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 a year, and horses and uniforms
were out of their reach. But they were as fiercely proud in their poverty as the planters
were in their wealth, and they would accept nothing that smacked of charity from 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 large planter in the County with the one exception of Angus Macintosh, had
contributed money to completely outfit the Troop, horse and man. The upshot of the matter
was that every planter agreed to pay for equipping his own sons and a certain number of
the others, but the manner of handling the arrangements was such that the less wealthy
members of the outfit could accept horses and uniforms without offense to their honor.
The Troop met twice a week in Jonesboro to drill and to pray for the war to begin.
Arrangements had not yet been completed for obtaining the full quota of horses, but those
who had horses performed what they imagined to be cavalry maneuvers in the field behind
the courthouse, kicked up a great deal of dust, yelled themselves hoarse and waved the
Revolutionary-war swords that had been taken down from parlor walls. Those who, as yet,
had no horses sat on the curb in front of Bullard's store and watched their mounted
comrades, chewed tobacco and told yarns. Or else engaged in shooting matches. There was
no need to teach any of the men to shoot. Most Southerners were born with guns in their
hands, and lives spent in hunting had made marksmen of them all.
From planters' homes and swamp cabins, a varied array of firearms came to each muster.
There were 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 seen service in 1812, in the Seminole wars and in Mexico, silver-mounted dueling
pistols, pocket derringers, double-barreled hunting pieces and handsome new rifles of
English make with shining stocks of fine wood.
Drill always ended in the saloons of Jonesboro, and by nightfall so many fights had
broken out that the officers were hard put to ward off casualties until the Yankees could
inflict them. It was during one of these brawls that Stuart Tarleton had shot Cade
Calvert and Tony Fontaine had shot Brent. The twins had been at home, freshly expelled
from the University of Virginia, at the time the Troop was organized and they had joined
enthusiastically; but after the shooting episode, two months 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 well lost 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's river 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 that we won't be home for supper."
"No, Ah ain'!" cried Jeems in alarm. "No, Ah ain'! Ah doan git no mo' fun outer havin'
Miss Beetriss 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'll light on me lak a duck on a June bug, an' fust thing Ah know
Ah'll be ter blame fer it all. Ef y'all doan tek me ter Mist' Wynder's, Ah'll lay out in
de woods all night an' maybe de patterollers git me, '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 else to talk about for weeks. I swear, darkies are more trouble. Sometimes I
think the Abolitionists have got the right idea."
"Well, it wouldn't be right to make Jeems face what we don't want to face. We'll have
to take him. But, look, you impudent black fool, if you put on any airs in front of the
Wynder darkies and hint that we all the time have fried chicken and ham, while they don't
have nothing but rabbit and possum, 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' Miss
Beetriss 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
He backed his big red horse and then, putting spurs to his side, lifted him easily over
the split rail 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 jumped higher 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 the deepening 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 ..."
WHEN THE TWINS left Scarlett standing on the porch of Tara and the last sound of flying
hooves had died away, she went back to her chair like a sleepwalker. Her face felt stiff
as from pain and her mouth actually hurt from having stretched it, unwillingly, in smiles
to prevent the twins from learning her secret. She sat down wearily, tucking one foot
under her, and her heart swelled up with misery, until it felt too large for her bosom.
It beat with odd little jerks; her hands were cold, and a feeling of disaster oppressed
her. There were pain and bewilderment in her face, the bewilderment of a pampered child
who has always had her own way for the asking and who now, for the first time, was in
contact with the unpleasantness of life.
Ashley to marry Melanie Hamilton!
Oh, it couldn't be true! The twins were mistaken. They were playing one of their jokes
on her. Ashley couldn't, couldn't be in love with her. Nobody could, not with a mousy
little person like Melanie. Scarlett recalled with contempt Melanie's thin childish
figure, her serious heart-shaped face that was plain almost to homeliness. And Ashley