فصل 01

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فصل 01

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter one

News of a Wedding

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men did not realize this when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. Her eyes were green, and her skin was that soft white skin which Southern women valued so highly, and covered so carefully from the hot Georgia sun with hats and gloves.

On that bright April afternoon of 1861, sixteen-year-old Scarlett sat in the cool shadows of the house at Tara, her father’s plantation. Stuart and Brent Tarleton sat each side of her. They were friendly young men with deep red-brown hair, and were clever in the things that mattered in north Georgia at that time - growing good cotton, riding well, shooting straight and behaving like a gentleman.

‘Don’t you two care about being sent home from the University of Georgia for bad behaviour?’ Scarlett was saying.

‘The war will start soon,’ said Brent. ‘You didn’t think we’d stay in university with a war going on, did you?’

‘There isn’t going to be a war,’ said Scarlett, looking bored. ‘Ashley Wilkes and his father told Pa just last week that our men in Washington will come to an agreement with Mr Lincoln about the Confederacy. Anyway, the Yankees are too frightened of us to fight. And if you say “war” once more, I’ll go inside the house and shut the door!’

They looked across the red earth of Gerald O’Hara’s land, which stretched away as far as the eye could see. The white house was like an island, sitting in a wild red sea, the earth blood-coloured after the rains of recent weeks.

‘Scarlett, you’ll promise to dance with us at the party at Twelve Oaks tomorrow, won’t you?’ said Brent.

‘If you do, we’ll tell you a secret,’ said Stuart.

‘What secret?’ asked Scarlett. ‘Who told you?’

‘Miss Pittypat Hamilton, Ashley Wilkes’ cousin who lives in Atlanta. Charles and Melanie Hamilton’s aunt,’ said Stuart.

‘She said that we’ll hear news of a wedding tomorrow night, at the party,’ said Brent.

‘Oh, I know that!’ said Scarlett, disappointed. ‘It’s about Charlie Hamilton and Honey Wilkes. Everyone knows they’ll get married some day.’

‘No, it’s about Ashley,’ said Stuart. ‘He’s going to marry Charlie’s sister, Miss Melanie!’

Scarlett’s face did not change but her lips went white - like a person who is in the first moments of shock.

‘They weren’t going to marry until next year,’ said Stuart, ‘but with all the talk of war, both families think it will be better if they’re married soon.’ He smiled. ‘Now, Scarlett, you must promise to eat supper with us at the party.’

‘Of course I will,’ said Scarlett automatically.

‘And give us plenty of dances?’

‘Yes.’ She spoke as if in a dream.

‘And sit with us at lunch, too?’ said Brent.

‘What?’ said Scarlett. ‘Oh, yes, of course.’

The twins were unable to believe their good luck. They talked on about the dance, and Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton. They laughed and joked, and waited for Scarlett to invite them to supper; and it was some time before they realized she was not listening to them.


Scarlett watched the twins ride away.

Ashley was going to marry Melanie Hamilton! Oh, it couldn’t be true! It was all a mistake. Ashley was in love with her, not Melanie!

Mammy came out of the house. She was a big old negro who loved Ellen O’Hara and her family. ‘Are the gentlemen gone?’ she asked. ‘Why didn’t you ask them to stay to supper?’

‘I didn’t want to listen to them talking to Pa about the war all through supper,’ said Scarlett.

‘You just ain’t polite, Miss Scarlett,’ said Mammy. ‘Now come into the house before you get cold.’

‘I want to watch the sun go down,’ said Scarlett. ‘I’ll sit here until Pa comes home. Just fetch me a light coat, Mammy.’

Mammy went back into the house and Scarlett made a sudden decision. ‘I’ll go and meet Pa,’ she thought. ‘He’ll be coming back from Twelve Oaks soon, and he’ll know about Ashley.’

As a child, Scarlett had not given Ashley Wilkes a single thought. But two years ago, he had arrived home after touring Europe - riding up to Tara with the sun so bright on his fair hair that it shone like silver. ‘You’ve grown up, Scarlett,’ he had said, kissing her hand. And from that moment on, she wanted him as simply as she wanted food to eat, and horses to ride, and a soft bed to sleep in.

For two years, he took her to dances and suppers, and a week did not go past without Ashley calling at Tara. It was true he never spoke to her of love, and his clear grey eyes never burned with that hot light Scarlett knew so well in other men. But she was sure that he loved her. She saw him looking at her sometimes, in that sad, strange way of his.

Scarlett heard the sound of Gerald O’Hara’s horse and saw him coming across the fields at full speed. Gerald was sixty years old, a small man with silver-white hair and hard little blue eyes. He was surprised to see her.

‘How is everyone at Twelve Oaks?’ she asked him.

‘They’re all talking about the war,’ he said, ‘and-‘

‘Did they speak about the party?’ Scarlett asked quickly.

‘Yes, I think they did,’ said Gerald. ‘Miss Melanie Hamilton and her brother Charles have come from Atlanta and-‘

‘Oh, so she did come!’ Scarlett’s heart became heavy. ‘Was Ashley there, too?’

‘Yes, he was.’ Gerald looked closely at his daughter. ‘That’s why you came to meet me, isn’t it? Why didn’t you say so before? Now what’s all this about you and Ashley?’

‘There’s nothing, Pa,’ she said.

‘Has he asked to marry you?’

‘No,’ said Scarlett, quietly.

‘And he won’t,’ said Gerald. ‘John Wilkes says that Ashley is to marry Miss Melanie. They’ll tell everyone tomorrow.’

A pain cut across Scarlett’s heart and she found it hard to breathe. Her father watched her, and looked uncomfortable.

‘Have you run after a man who’s not in love with you?’

‘No!’ said Scarlett.

‘You’re lying!’ said Gerald. Then went on in a kind way, ‘There are lots of other young men, Scarlett. I want you to be happy, and you wouldn’t be happy with him.’

‘Oh, I would! I would!’

‘The Wilkes are different from other people,’ said Gerald. They marry their cousins and keep their strangeness in the family. Look how they read books, and go to Boston and New York to see paintings and hear music.’

‘Nobody rides a horse better than Ashley!’ said Scarlett.

‘Oh, yes, Ashley can ride and drink with the best of men, but he cares nothing about those things,’ said Gerald. ‘Now listen, there are other fine boys to marry, Scarlett. And when I’m gone, I’ll leave Tara to you and-‘

‘I don’t want Tara!’ cried Scarlett, angrily. ‘Plantations don’t mean anything when-‘ She was going to say when you don’t have the man you want, but Gerald’s shout stopped her.

‘Not mean anything! Land is the only thing in the world that does mean anything!’ he cried. ‘It will come to you, Scarlett, this love of the land. It’s in your blood and there’s no denying it.’ He held her arm as they walked towards the house. ‘I’ll not worry your mother with this, and nor must you.’

They met Ellen O’Hara at the door. She was carrying the black bag in which she always kept the medicines she used for the slaves. Mammy was with her, and did not look pleased.

‘Mr O’Hara,’ Ellen said, ‘a baby is dying at the Slattery house and Mammy and I are going to see what we can do.’

‘The Slatterys!’ shouted Gerald. ‘Those white trash?’

‘She is always nursin’ negroes and white trash who could not look after themselves,’ said Mammy, annoyed.

‘Take my place at supper, Scarlett,’ said Ellen, touching her daughter’s cheek. She was a tall woman, with a quiet, gentle voice and a warm smile that charmed everyone.

There was something magical about her mother’s touch, thought Scarlett, and for a moment forgot all about Ashley.

But later an idea came to her. ‘Ashley doesn’t know I love him!’ she thought. ‘He thinks I love Brent or Stuart, and he’s marrying Melanie because he thinks he can’t have me!

I must tell him, then we can run off to Jonesboro and get married! By this time tomorrow night, I might be Mrs Ashley Wilkes!’

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