فصل 11

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فصل 11

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Chapter eleven

Wonderful - and Wild

Rhett sent Scarlett home from the party alone, and she went to her room. Oh, how awful it had been! She could not forget Ashley’s face, full of shame. ‘Will he hate me now?’ she thought. ‘Now that Melanie’s love has saved us both? Melanie, who will always believe we were innocent.’

Scarlett got herself ready for bed, then went downstairs to get herself a drink. There was a light in the dining-room.

‘Rhett must have come in quietly and not gone to Belle Watling’s,’ she thought. ‘I’ll go without my brandy, then I won’t have to see him. And I’ll lock the door of my room.’

But the dining-room door opened and Rhett was standing there with a candle. ‘Do come and have your drink, Mrs Butler,’ he said. And she saw that he was very drunk.

‘I don’t want a drink. I heard a noise-‘

‘You heard nothing,’ he said. ‘Come here!’

Scarlett went down to the dining-room.

‘Sit down,’ he told her. Always before, life had seemed to be a joke to him, but now Scarlett saw that something mattered to him, and it mattered very much. He poured out a glass of brandy and put it in her hand. ‘You’re wondering if Miss Melanie knows all about you and Ashley. Well, someone told her, but she didn’t believe it. I don’t know what lie Ashley Wilkes told her - but any lie would do, for she loves him and she loves you.’

‘If you weren’t so drunk, I-‘

‘You locked me out of your bedroom because you didn’t want me, or my children!’ he shouted. ‘And all the time you were wanting Ashley Wilkes! Oh, how that hurt!’

She drank her brandy and stood up. ‘You don’t understand Ashley or me, and you’re jealous of something you can’t understand.’ She turned and walked towards the door but he came across the room and held her against the wall.

‘I’m sorry for you, my pretty little fool,’ he told her. ‘If I was dead, and Miss Melanie was dead and you had Ashley, do you think you could be happy with him? Hell, no! You would never know what he was thinking about. You would never understand his books or his music. But we, my dear wife, understand each other. I loved you, and I know you - and I want you!’ Suddenly, he lifted her off her feet and into his arms, and began to climb the stairs. ‘And this is one night you will not turn me out of your room!’

She screamed, but he kissed her so violently that everything was pushed from her mind. And then her arms were round his neck and her lips were shaking under his.


When Scarlett woke up the next morning, he was gone. But she remembered the wild and wonderful night.

Rhett did not appear for dinner, or for supper. And when a second day passed without news of him, she was disappointed and afraid. Had he been in an accident? After the second night, she decided to go to the police. But as she finished her breakfast in her room, she heard his feet on the stairs.

‘Oh, hello,’ he said, coming in.

‘Where - where have you been?’ she asked.

‘Don’t you know? I thought the whole town knew, after the police called at Belle’s the night before last-‘

‘Belle’s! You’ve been with that woman-?’

‘Of course,’ he said. ‘I hope you didn’t worry about me.’

‘You went to her from me, after - after-‘

‘Oh that,’ he said, carelessly. ‘I’m sorry for the way I behaved at our last meeting, Scarlett. I was very drunk.’

She wanted to cry. ‘He just used me when he was drunk, like he does the women in Belle’s house!’ she thought.

‘Get out!’ she told him.

‘Don’t worry, I’m going,’ he said. ‘I just came to say that I’m going to Charleston and New Orleans and - oh, a very long trip. I’m leaving today and I’m taking Bonnie with me. Get Prissy to pack her little things. I’ll take Prissy, too.’

‘You’ll never take my child out of this house,’ she said.

‘My child, too, Mrs Butler. Have her packed and ready in an hour, or what happened the other night will be nothing compared to what will happen,’ he said, his voice cold.

He was gone for three months and, during that time, Scarlett learned that she was going to have another baby - the result of that wild night with Rhett which still filled her with shame! But for the first time, she was glad, because now she had the time and the money for a child.

Rhett returned without warning. One day Scarlett heard Bonnie cry ‘Mother!’ and hurried from her room to the top of the stairs, where Bonnie threw herself into Scarlett’s arms.

Rhett was at the bottom. He looked up at her with his dark eyes, and suddenly she was just glad that he was home.

‘Where’s Mammy?’ asked Bonnie, and Scarlett let her go.

She watched Rhett come up the stairs and wondered if he would kiss her, but he did not.

‘You don’t look well, Mrs Butler,’ he said in a careless voice. ‘Does this mean that you’ve missed me?’

It made her angry, this careless way of his. She hadn’t wanted to tell him like this, but now the words rushed to her lips. ‘It’s because I’m going to have a baby!’ she said.

He looked surprised, and moved towards her, as if he was going to put a hand on her arm. Scarlett turned away from him with hate in her eyes - and his face hardened.

‘And who’s the happy father?’ he said coolly. ‘Ashley?’

Her voice shook with anger. ‘You know it’s yours! But I don’t want it any more than you do! No woman would want the baby of a man like you! I wish it was anybody’s but yours!’

She stepped forward to tear his face with her finger-nails. But he moved to one side quickly. Scarlett missed him and fell - over and over - to the bottom of the stairs.

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