فصل 14

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فصل 14

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Chapter fourteen

Tomorrow

Home! That was where she wanted to be. Home with Rhett! Rhett, with his strong arms to hold her. Rhett, who loved her! Melanie had known this, and with her last breath had said: ‘Be kind to him.’

‘I love him,’ Scarlett thought. ‘I don’t know how long I’ve loved him, but it’s true. Rhett’s loved me all the time, and I’ve been so nasty to him. But I’ll tell him I’ve been a fool and he’ll understand, he always has.’

She found him in the dining-room at home.

‘Is Miss Melanie dead?’ he asked.

Scarlett nodded, suddenly afraid that it may be too late.

‘She was the only completely kind person I ever knew,’ he said. ‘A very great lady.’ Then his voice changed. ‘So that makes it nice for you, doesn’t it?’

‘Oh, how can you say that!’ cried Scarlett, tears coming into her eyes. ‘You know how I loved her! And her last words were about you.’

He looked at her. ‘What did she say?’

‘Oh, not now, Rhett.’

‘Tell me,’ he said. His voice was cool but the hand he put on her wrist hurt.

‘She said - “Be kind to Captain Butler, he loves you so much,”’ Scarlett told him.

He stared at her and dropped her wrist. Suddenly he walked across to the window. ‘Is that all she said?’

‘She said - Ashley - she asked me to look after Ashley.’

He was silent for a moment and then he laughed softly. ‘How nice for you,’ he said. ‘Miss Melanie is dead and you can leave me and go to Ashley, and all your dreams can come true.’

‘Leave you?’ she cried. ‘No! No!’ She ran to him and held his arm. ‘Oh, you’re wrong! I don’t want to leave you, I-‘ She stopped, unable to find the right words.

‘You’re tired,’ he said. ‘You’d better go to bed.’

‘But I must tell you!’ she cried.

‘Scarlett,’ he said heavily, ‘I don’t want to hear.’

‘But you don’t know what I am going to say!’

‘My dear, it’s written plainly on your face,’ he said. ‘Something made you realize that you don’t love the unfortunate Mr Wilkes after all. And that same something made me seem more attractive suddenly.’ He shook his head. ‘But it’s useless to talk about it.’

‘But, Rhett!’ she said. ‘Oh, I love you so much! I was a fool not to know it! Rhett, you must believe me!’

‘Oh, I believe you,’ he said. ‘And did you ever know that I loved you as much as a man can love a woman? But I couldn’t let you know it. You’re so cruel to those who love you, Scarlett. I knew you didn’t love me when you married me, but I was a fool and thought I could make you care. I wanted to make you happy - the way I made Bonnie happy. But there was always Ashley. Every night I sat across the table from you, and knew that you were wishing Ashley was sitting in my place. But then Bonnie came, and she was like you - brave and pretty and full of life - and I gave her the love that you didn’t want. But when she died… she took everything.’

‘Rhett, there can be other babies-‘

‘Thank you, no,’ he said.

‘But Rhett-‘

‘I’m going away,’ he said. ‘I’ll come back often enough to stop people saying that your husband has left you, if that worries you, but I’m going away.’

‘Let me come with you!’

‘No,’ he said.

‘Where - where will you go?’ she said.

‘Perhaps to England - or Paris.’

‘But, if you go - what will I do?’ she cried.

He looked at her, and there was pity in his eyes. ‘My dear,’ he said, softly, ‘I don’t care what you do.’

She watched him go out of the room and knew that he was the last thing in her world that mattered. She had never understood either him or Ashley, the two men she had loved, and now she had lost them both.

‘I won’t think of it now,’ she told herself. ‘I’ll go crazy if I think of it now.’

She tried to find some way of stopping the pain.

‘I’ll - I’ll go home to Tara tomorrow!’ she thought. ‘Yes!’

Tara! She could see the white house, waiting to welcome her through the red autumn leaves. She could see the red earth of the fields and the dark beauty of the trees on the hills.

And Mammy would be there! Suddenly, she wanted Mammy the way she had wanted her when she was a little girl.

Scarlett lifted her chin. She could get Rhett back. There was no man she couldn’t get if she really wanted him.

‘I’ll think of it tomorrow, at Tara,’ she told herself. ‘Because tomorrow is another day.’

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