فصل 01

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فصل 01

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter one

Money Problems

On a cold January afternoon in 1868, Scarlett O’Hara was writing to Aunt Pitty when Will Benteen came into the room.

‘Miss Scarlett,’ he said, ‘how much money do you have?’

She stared at him, wondering if something was wrong. ‘I’ve gotten dollars in gold, the last of that Yankee’s money.’

‘That won’t be enough for the taxes,’ he said.

‘Taxes?’ said Scarlett. ‘We’ve already paid the taxes.’

‘Miss Scarlett, you don’t go to Jonesboro often and I’m glad you don’t,’ he said. ‘A lot of Yankees and Carpetbaggers are giving the orders now.’

‘But what’s that got to do with our taxes?’ said Scarlett.

‘They’re putting the value on Tara sky high and you’ll have to pay more tax,’ said Will. ‘If you can’t, Tara will be sold, and I’ve heard that somebody is hoping to get it cheap.’

Will and Ashley looked after any business in Jonesboro, and had agreed not to tell Scarlett the more worrying details of what was happening. But Will could not hide this from her.

‘Those Yankees!’ she cried. ‘Wasn’t it enough for them to win the war? How much extra do they want us to pay?’

‘Three hundred dollars,’ said Will.

‘Then we’ve got to get three hundred dollars somehow,’ she said. ‘They can’t sell Tara!’

Will looked angry. ‘They can and they’ll enjoy doing it. The country has gone to hell, if you’ll excuse my saying so, Miss Scarlett. Carpetbaggers and white trash can vote, and most Southern gentlemen can’t. Anyone who was on the tax books for more than two thousand before the war can’t vote - men like your Pa and Mr Tarleton. I could vote if I took their Oath and became a Yankee, but I’ll never do that! But people like Jonas Wilkerson and the Slatterys, they can vote, and they’re giving the orders now.’

‘Vote!’ cried Scarlett. ‘It’s taxes we’re talking about. Will, we could borrow money on Tara and-‘

‘And who has any money to lend you on this place? Only the Carpetbaggers who are trying to take it away from you.’

‘I’ve got the jewellery I took off the Yankee-‘

‘Miss Scarlett, who has money for jewellery round here?’ said Will. ‘Most people ain’t got enough money to buy meat.’

They were silent for several minutes.

‘Where is Mr Wilkes?’ she said.

‘He’s in the field, cutting wood,’ said Will.

Scarlett had not had a private talk with Ashley since his return because Melanie was always with him, but she found him alone in the field and told him the news.

‘Only one person we know has money,’ he said. ‘That’s Rhett Butler.’ A letter from Aunt Pitty had said that Rhett Butler was back in Atlanta, looking rich.

‘Don’t talk about him,’ said Scarlett. ‘What about us?’ Ashley stared across the fields.

‘What will happen to everybody in the South?’ he said. ‘I can’t help, Scarlett. The world I belonged to has gone, and I’m afraid. I can’t make you understand these things because you’re never afraid. You face the real world without wanting to escape it, but I can’t.’

‘Escape!’ cried Scarlett. ‘Oh, Ashley, I do want to escape! I’m so tired of it all! Let’s run away! We could go to Mexico - they want officers in the Mexican army. You know you don’t love Melanie! You told me you loved me that day at Twelve Oaks, and I know you haven’t changed.’

‘We were going to forget that day at Twelve Oaks,’ he said.

‘Do you think I could ever forget it?’ she said.

His voice was deadly quiet. ‘And do you think I could leave Melanie and the baby? Scarlett, you’re sick and tired, that’s why you’re talking this way. But I’m going to help you-‘

‘There’s only one way to help me,’ she said. ‘Take me away. There’s nothing to keep us here.’

‘Only honour,’ he said quietly.

She began to cry, and he took her into his arms and pressed her head against his chest, whispering, ‘You mustn’t cry.’ And he kissed her, hungrily, as if he could never have enough.

‘You do love me!’ she cried. ‘You do love me! Say it!’

He pushed her away. ‘Don’t!’ he said. ‘Or I shall make love to you now, here, in the field!’

She smiled, remembering the feel of his mouth on hers.

‘We won’t do this!’ he cried. ‘And it will never happen again, because I’ll take Melanie and the baby and go!’

‘Go?’ she cried. ‘Oh, no!’

‘Yes, by God!’ he said. ‘Do you think I’ll stay here now, when this might happen again?’

‘But, Ashley you can’t go. You love me!’

‘All right, I love you! And a moment ago I almost took you, like a-‘ He could not find the words.

Scarlett felt a cold pain in her heart. ‘If you felt like that and didn’t take me, then you don’t love me,’ she said.

‘I can never make you understand,’ he said.

‘There’s nothing left for me to fight for,’ she said.

He picked up some of the red earth at his feet. ‘There is something left,’ he said. ‘Something you love better than me. There’s Tara!’ And he pressed the wet earth into her hand.

She looked down at it. And suddenly she knew how very dear that red earth of Tara was to her - and how hard she would fight to keep it.

‘You needn’t go,’ she said. ‘It won’t happen again.’

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