Part One


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I want your jewelry? No, the Confederacy wants your jewelry, the Confederacy calls for it and I know no one will hold back. How fair a gem gleams on a lovely wrist! How beautifully gold brooches glitter on the bosoms of our patriotic women! But how much more beautiful is sacrifice than all the gold and gems of the Ind. The gold will 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 of his 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 and black enameled bracelets and the garnet brooch. She saw the little Zouave, a split-oak basket over his unwounded arm, making the rounds of the crowd on her side of the hall and saw women, old and young, laughing, eager, tugging at bracelets, squealing in pretended pain as earrings came from pierced flesh, helping each other undo stiff necklace clasps, unpinning brooches from bosoms. There was a steady little dink-clink of metal on metal and cries of “Wait—wait! I’ve got it unfastened now. There!” Maybelle Merriwether was pulling off her lovely twin bracelets from above and below her elbows. Fanny Elsing, crying “Mamma, may I?” was tearing from her curls the seed-pearl ornament set in heavy gold which had been in the family for generations. As each offering 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 he passed Rhett Butler a handsome gold cigar case was thrown carelessly into the basket. When he came to Scarlett and rested his basket upon the counter, she shook her head throwing wide her hands to show that she had nothing to give. It was embarrassing to be the only person present who was giving nothing. And then she saw the bright gleam of her wide gold wedding ring.

For a confused moment she tried to remember Charles’ face—how he had looked when he slipped it en her finger. But the memory was blurred, blurred by the sadden feeling of irritation that memory of him always brought to her. Charles—he was the reason why life was over for her, why she was an old woman.

With a sudden wrench she seized the ring but it stuck. The Zouave was moving toward Melanie.

“Wait!” cried Scarlett. “I have something for you!” The ring came off and, as she started to throw it into the basket, heaped up with chains, watches, rings, pins and bracelets, she caught Rhett Butler’s eye. His lips were twisted in a slight smile. Defiantly, she tossed the ring onto the top of the pile.

“Oh, my darling!” whispered Melly, clutching her arm, her eyes blazing with love and pride. “You brave, brave girl! Wait—please, wait, Lieutenant Picard! I have something for you, too!”

She was tugging at her own wedding ring, the ring Scarlett knew had never once left that finger since Ashley put it there. Scarlett knew, as no one did, how much it meant to her. It came off with difficulty and for a brief instant was clutched tightly in the small palm. Then it was laid gently on the pile of jewelry. The two girls stood looking after the Zouave who was moving toward the group of elderly ladies in the corner, Scarlett defiant, Melanie with a look more pitiful than tears. And neither expression was lost on the man who stood beside them.

“If you hadn’t been brave enough to do it, I would never have been either,” said Melly, putting her arm about Scarlett’s waist and giving her a gentle squeeze. For a moment Scarlett wanted to shake her off and cry “Name of God!” at the top of her lungs, as Gerald did when he was irritated, but she caught Rhett Butler’s eye and managed a very sour smile. It was annoying the way Melly always misconstrued her motives—but perhaps that was far preferable to having her suspect the truth.

“What a beautiful gesture,” said Rhett Butler, softly. “It is such sacrifices as yours that hearten our brave lads in gray.”

Hot words bubbled to her lips and it was with difficulty that she checked them. There was mockery in everything he said. She disliked him heartily, lounging there against the booth. But there was something stimulating about him, something warm and vital and electric. All that was Irish in her rose to the challenge of his black eyes. She decided she was going to take this man down a notch or two. His knowledge of her secret gave him an advantage over her that was exasperating, so she would have to change that by putting him at a disadvantage somehow. She stifled her impulse to tell him exactly what she thought of him. Sugar always caught more flies than vinegar, as Mammy often said, and she was going to catch and subdue this fly, so he could never again have her at his mercy.

“Thank you,” she said sweetly, deliberately misunderstanding his jibe. “A compliment like that coming from so famous a man as Captain Butler is appreciated.”

He threw back his head and laughed freely—yelped, was what Scarlett thought fiercely, her face becoming pink again.

“Why don’t you say what you really think?” he demanded, lowering his voice so that in the clatter and excitement of the collection, it came only to her ears. “Why don’t you say I’m a damned rascal and no gentleman and that I must take myself off or you’ll have one of these gallant boys in gray call me out?”

It was on the tip of her tongue to answer tartly, but she managed by heroic control to say: “Why, Captain Butler! How you do run on! As if everybody didn’t know how famous you are and how brave and what a—what a—”

“I am disappointed in you,” he said.

“Disappointed?”

“Yes. On the occasion of our first eventful meeting I thought to myself that I had at last met a girl who was not only beautiful but who had courage. And now I see that you are only beautiful.”

“Do you mean to call me a coward?” She was ruffling like a hen.

“Exactly. You lack the courage to say what you really think. When I first met you, I thought: There is a girl in a million. She isn’t like these other silly little fools who believe everything their mammas tell them and act on it, no matter how they feel. And conceal all their feelings and desires and little heartbreaks behind a lot of sweet words. I thought: Miss O’Hara is a girl of rare spirit. She knows what she wants and she doesn’t mind speaking her mind—or throwing vases.”

“Oh,” she said, rage breaking through. “Then I’ll speak my mind right this minute. If you’d had any raising at all you’d never have come over here and talked to me. You’d have known I never wanted to lay eyes on you again! But you aren’t a gentleman! You are just a nasty ill-bred creature! And you think that because your rotten little boats can outrun the Yankees, you’ve the right to come here and jeer at men who are brave and women who are sacrificing everything for the Cause—”

“Stop, stop—” he begged with a grin. “You started off very nicely and said what you thought, but don’t begin talking to me about the Cause. I’m tired of hearing about it and I’ll bet you are, too—”

“Why, how did—” she began, caught off her balance, and then checked herself hastily, boiling with anger at herself for falling into his trap.

“I stood there in the doorway before you saw me and I watched you,” he said. “And I watched the other girls. And they all looked as though their faces came out of one mold. Yours didn’t. You have an easy face to read. You didn’t have your mind on your business and I’ll wager you weren’t thinking about our Cause or the hospital. It was all over your face that you wanted to dance and have a good time and you couldn’t. So you were mad clean through. Tell the truth. Am I not right?”

“I have nothing more to say to you, Captain Butler,” she said as formally as she could, trying to draw the rags of her dignity about her. “Just because you’re conceited at being the ‘great blockader’ doesn’t give you the right to insult women.”

“The great blockader! That’s a joke. Pray give me only one moment more of your precious time before you cast me into darkness. I wouldn’t want so charming a little patriot to be left under a misapprehension about my contribution to the Confederate Cause.”

“I don’t care to listen to your brags.”

“Blockading is a business with me and I’m making money out of it. When I stop making money out of it, I’ll quit. What do you think of that?”

“I think you’re a mercenary rascal—just like the Yankees.”

“Exactly,” he grinned. “And the Yankees help me make my money. Why, last month I sailed my boat right into New York harbor and took on a cargo.”

“What!” cried Scarlett, interested and excited in spite of herself. “Didn’t they shell you?”

“My poor innocent! Of course not. There are plenty of sturdy Union patriots who are not averse to picking up money selling goods to the Confederacy. I run my boat into New York, buy from Yankee firms, sub rosa, of course, and away I go. And when that gets a bit dangerous, I go to Nassau where these same Union patriots have brought powder and shells and hoop skirts for me. It’s more convenient than going to England. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult running it into Charleston or Wilmington—but you’d be surprised how far a little gold goes.”

“Oh, I knew Yankees were vile but I didn’t know—”

“Why quibble about the Yankees earning an honest penny selling out the Union? It won’t matter in a hundred years. The result will, be the same. They know the Confederacy will be licked eventually, so why shouldn’t they cash in on it?”

“Licked—us?”

“Of course.”

“Will you please leave me—or will it be necessary for me to call my carriage and go home to get rid of you?”

“A red-hot little Rebel,” he said, with another sudden grin. He bowed and sauntered off, leaving her with her bosom heaving with impotent rage and indignation. There was disappointment burning in her that she could not quite analyze, the disappointment of a child seeing illusions crumble. How dared he take the glamour from the blockaders! And how dared he say the Confederacy would be licked! He should be shot for that—shot like a traitor. She looked about the hall at the familiar faces, so assured of success, so brave, so devoted, and somehow a cold little chill set in at her heart Licked? These people—why, of course not! The very idea was impossible, disloyal.

“What were you two whispering about?” asked Melanie, turning to Scarlett as her customers drifted off. “I couldn’t help seeing that Mrs. Merriwether had her eye on you all the time and, dear, you know how she talks.”

“Oh, the man’s impossible—an ill-bred boor,” said Scarlett. “And as for old lady Merriwether, let her talk. I’m sick of acting like a ninny, just for her benefit.”

“Why, Scarlett!” cried Melanie, scandalized.

“Sh-sh,” said Scarlett. “Dr. Meade is going to make another announcement.”

The gathering quieted again as the doctor raised his voice, at first in thanks to the ladies who had so willingly given their jewelry.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to propose a surprise—an innovation that may shock some of you, but I ask you to remember that all this is done for the hospital and for the benefit of our boys lying there.”

Everyone edged forward, in anticipation, trying to imagine what the sedate doctor could propose that would be shocking.

“The dancing is about to begin and the first number will, of course, be a reel, followed by a waltz. The dances following, the polkas, the schottisches, the mazurkas, will be preceded by short reels. I know the gentle rivalry to lead the reels very well and so—” The doctor mopped his brow and cast a quizzical glance at the corner, where his wife sat among the chaperons. “Gentlemen, if you wish to lead a reel with the lady of your choice, you must bargain for her. I will be auctioneer and the proceeds will go to the hospital.”

Fans stopped in mid-swish and a ripple of excited murmuring ran through the hall. The chaperons’ corner was in tumult and Mrs. Meade, anxious to support her husband in an action of which she heartily disapproved, was at a disadvantage. Mrs. Elsing, Mrs. Merriwether and Mrs. Whiting were red with indignation. But suddenly the Home Guard gave a cheer and it was taken up by the other uniformed guests. The young girls clapped their hands and jumped excitedly.

“Don’t you think it’s—it’s just—just a little like a slave auction?” whispered Melanie, staring uncertainly at the embattled doctor who heretofore had been perfect in her eyes.

Scarlett said nothing but her eyes glittered and her heart contracted with a little pain. If only she were not a widow. If only she were Scarlett O’Hara again, out there on the floor in an apple-green dress with dark-green velvet ribbons dangling from her bosom and tuberoses in her black hair—she’d lead that reel. Yes, indeed! There’d be a dozen men battling for her and paying over money to the doctor. Oh, to have to sit here, a wallflower against her will and see Fanny or Maybelle lead the first reel as the belle of Atlanta!

Above the tumult sounded the voice of the little Zouave, his Creole accent very obvious: “Eef I may—twenty dollars for Mees Maybelle Merriwether.”

Maybelle collapsed with blushes against Fanny’s shoulder and the two girls hid their faces in each other’s necks and giggled, as other voices began calling other names, other amounts of money. Dr. Meade had begun to smile again, ignoring completely the indignant whispers that came from the Ladies’ Hospital Committee in the corner.

At first, Mrs. Merriwether had stated flatly and loudly that her Maybelle would never take part In such a proceeding; but as Maybelle’s name was called most often and the amount went up to seventy-five dollars, her protests began to dwindle. Scarlett leaned her elbows on the counter and almost glared at the excited laughing crowd surging about the platform, their hands full of Confederate paper money.

Now, they would all dance—except her and the old ladies. Now everyone would have a good time, except her. She saw Rhett Butler standing just below the doctor and, before she could change the expression of her face, he saw her and one corner of his mouth went down and one eyebrow went up. She jerked her chin up and turned away from him and suddenly she heard her own name called—called in an unmistakable Charleston voice that rang out above the hubbub of other names.

“Mrs. Charles Hamilton—one hundred and fifty dollars—in gold.”

A sudden hush fell on the crowd both at the mention of the sum and at the name. Scarlett was so startled she could not even move. She remained sitting with her chin in her hands, her eyes wide with astonishment. Everybody turned to look at her. She saw the doctor lean down from the platform and whisper something to Rhett Butler. Probably telling him she was in mourning and it was impossible for her to appear on the floor. She saw Rhett’s shoulders shrug lazily.

“Another one of our belles, perhaps?” questioned the doctor.

“No,” said Rhett clearly, his eyes sweeping the crowd carelessly, “Mrs. Hamilton.”

“I tell you it is impossible,” said the doctor testily. “Mrs. Hamilton will not—”

Scarlett heard a voice which, at first, she did not recognize as her own.

“Yes, I will!”

She leaped to her feet, her heart hammering so wildly she feared she could not stand, hammering with the thrill of being the center of attention again, of being the most highly desired girl present and oh, best of all, at the prospect of dancing again.

“Oh, I don’t care! I don’t care what they say!” she whispered, as a sweet madness swept over her. She tossed her head and sped out of the booth, tapping her heels like castanets, snapping open her black silk fan to its widest. For a fleeting instant she saw Melanie’s incredulous face, the look on the chaperons’ faces, the petulant girls, the enthusiastic approval of the soldiers.

Then she was on the floor and Rhett Butler was advancing toward her through the aisle of the crowd, that nasty mocking smile on his face. But she didn’t care—didn’t care if he were Abe Lincoln himself! She was going to dance again. She was going to lead the reel. She swept him a low curtsy and a dazzling smile and he bowed, one hand on his frilled bosom. Levi, horrified, was quick to cover the situation and bawled: “Choose yo’ padners fo’ de Ferginny reel!”

And the orchestra crashed into that best of all reel tunes, “Dixie.”
“How dare you make me so conspicuous, Captain Butler?”

“But, my dear Mrs. Hamilton, you so obviously wanted to be conspicuous!”

“How could you call my name out in front of everybody?”

“You could have refused.”

“But—I owe it to the Cause—I—I couldn’t think of myself when you were offering so much in gold. Stop laughing, everyone is looking at us.”

“They will look at us anyway. Don’t try to palm off that twaddle about the Cause to me. You wanted to dance and I gave you the opportunity. This march is the last figure of the reel, isn’t it?”

“Yes—really, I must stop and sit down now.”

“Why? Have I stepped on your feet?”

“No—but they’ll talk about me.”

“Do you really care—down in your heart?”

“Well—”

“You aren’t committing any crime, are you? Why not dance the waltz with me?”

“But if Mother ever—”

“Still tied to mamma’s apronstrings.”

“Oh, you have the nastiest way of making virtues sound so stupid.”

“But virtues are stupid. Do you care if people talk?”

“No—but—well, let’s don’t talk about it. Thank goodness the waltz is beginning. Reels always leave me breathless.”

“Don’t dodge my questions. Has what other women said ever mattered to you?”

“Oh, if you’re going to pin me down—no! But a girl is supposed to mind. Tonight, though, I don’t care.”

“Bravo! Now you are beginning to think for yourself instead of letting others think for you. That’s the beginning of wisdom.”

“Oh, but—”

“When you’ve been talked about as much as I have, you’ll realize how little it matters. Just think, there’s not a home in Charleston where I am received. Not even my contribution to our just and holy Cause lifts the ban.”

“How dreadful!”

“Oh, not at all. Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.”

“You do talk scandalous!”

“Scandalously and truly. Always providing you have enough courage—or money—you can do without a reputation.”

“Money can’t buy everything.”

“Someone must have told you that. You’d never think of such a platitude all by yourself. What can’t it buy?”

“Oh, well, I don’t know—not happiness or love, anyway.”

“Generally it can. And when it can’t it can buy some of the most remarkable substitutes.”

“And have you so much money, Captain Butler?”

“What an ill-bred question, Mrs. Hamilton. I’m surprised. But, yes. For a young man cut off without a shilling in early youth, I’ve done very well. And I’m sure I’ll clean up a million on the blockade.”

“Oh, no!”

“Oh, yes! What most people don’t seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one.”

“And what does all that mean?”

“Your family and my family and everyone here tonight made their money out of changing a wilderness into a civilization. That’s empire building. There’s good money in empire building. But, there’s more in empire wrecking.”

“What empire are you talking about?”

“This empire we’re living in—the South—the Confederacy—the Cotton Kingdom—it’s breaking up right under our feet. Only most fools won’t see it and take advantage of the situation created by the collapse. I’m making my fortune out of the wreckage.”

“Then you really think we’re going to get licked?”

“Yes. Why be an ostrich?”

“Oh, dear, it bores me to talk about such like. Don’t you ever say pretty things, Captain Butler?”

“Would it please you if I said your eyes were twin goldfish bowls filled to the brim with the clearest green water and that when the fish swim to the top, as they are doing now, you are devilishly charming?”

“Oh, I don’t like that. ... Isn’t the music gorgeous? Oh, I could waltz forever! I didn’t know I had missed it so!”

“You are the most beautiful dancer I’ve ever held in my arms.”

“Captain Butler, you must not hold me so tightly. Everybody is looking.”

“If no one were looking, would you care?”

“Captain Butler, you forget yourself.”

“Not for a minute. How could I, with you in my arms? ... What is that tune? Isn’t it new?”

“Yes. Isn’t it divine? It’s something we captured from the Yankees.”

“What’s the name of it?”

“ ‘When This Cruel War Is Over.’ ”

“What are the words? Sing them to me.”
^ Dearest one, do you remember

When we last did meet?

When you told me how you loved me.

Kneeling at my feet?

Oh, how proud you stood before me

In your suit of gray,

When you vowed from me and country

Ne’er to go astray.

Weeping sad and lonely.

Sighs and tears how vain!

When this cruel war is over

Pray that we meet again!”
“Of course, it was ‘suit of blue’ but we changed it to ‘gray.’ ... Oh, you waltz so well, Captain Butler. Most big men don’t, you know. And to think it will be years and years before I’ll dance again,”

“It will only be a few minutes. I’m going to bid you in for the next reel—and the next and the next.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t! You mustn’t! My reputation will be mined.”

“It’s in shreds already, so what does another dance matter? Maybe I’ll give the other boys a chance after I’ve had five or six, but I must have the last one.”

“Oh, all right. I know I’m crazy but I don’t care. I don’t care a bit what anybody says. I’m so tired of sitting at home. I’m going to dance and dance—”

“And not wear black? I loathe funeral crêpe.”

“Oh, I couldn’t take off mourning—Captain Butler, you must not hold me so tightly. I’ll be mad at you if you do.”

“And you look gorgeous when you are mad. I’ll squeeze you again—there—just to see if you will really get mad. You have no idea how charming you were that day at Twelve Oaks when you were mad and throwing things.”

“Oh, please—won’t you forget that?”

“No, it is one of my most priceless memories—a delicately nurtured Southern belle with her Irish up— You are very Irish, you know.”

“Oh, dear, there’s the end of the music and there’s Aunt Pittypat coming out of the back room. I know Mrs. Merriwether must have told her. Oh, for goodness’ sakes, let’s walk over and look out the window. I don’t want her to catch me now. Her eyes are as big as saucers.”
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