Day Six: Chapters 13-16

Rhett’s fall from grace in society irks Scarlett to no end. Aunt Pittypat’s house is the only house that will welcome him now. And that’s only cause Melanie is ‘fool’ enough to see the good in anybody and everybody. Scarlett enjoys his calls sure enough–how could she not?–especially when they always mean small presents for her. And Pittypat suffers through them nervously and anxiously. But what else is new?

However, life would be pleasanter if Rhett would recant his heresies. She wouldn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of seeing him cut openly when she walked down Peachtree Street with him.
“Even if you think such things, why do you say them?” she scolded. “If you’d just think what you please but keep your mouth shut, everything would be so much nicer.”
“That’s your system, isn’t it, my green-eyed hypocrite? Scarlett, Scarlett! I hoped for more courageous conduct from you. I thought the Irish said what they thought and the Divvil take the hindermost. Tell me truthfully, don’t you sometimes almost burst from keeping your mouth shut?”
“Well–yes,” Scarlett confessed reluctantly. “I do get awfully bored when they talk about the Cause, morning, noon and night. But goodness, Rhett Butler, if I admitted it nobody would speak to me and none of the boys would dance with me!”
“Ah, yes, and one must be danced with, at all costs. Well, I admire your self-control but I do not find myself equal to it. Nor can I masquerade in a cloak of romance and patriotism, no matter how convenient it might be. (196)

It’s in this thirteenth chapter that Rhett buys Scarlett out of mourning–bribes her with a new bonnet. A green bonnet. A conversation follows–she ‘shouldn’t’ really accept because it wouldn’t be ‘proper.’ But then again, she can’t refuse because it’s too ‘pretty’ to turn away. And there’s always the undercurrent of what is proper and improper and what folks will say if they know, when they know.

“Indeed? Well, I shall bring you presents so long as it pleases me and so long as I see things that will enhance your charms. I shall bring you dark-green watered silk for a frock to match the bonnet. And I warn you that I am not kind. I am tempting you with bonnets and bangles and leading you into a pit. Always remember I never do anything without reason and I never give anything without expecting something in return. I always get paid.”

His black eyes sought her face and traveled to her lips.  (201)

“Well, if you think I’ll marry you to pay for the bonnet, I won’t,” she said daringly and gave her head a saucy flirt that set the plume to bobbing.

His white teeth gleamed under his little mustache.

“Madam, you flatter yourself, I do not want to marry you or anyone else. I am not a marrying man.”
“Indeed!” she cried, taken aback and now determined that he should take some liberty. “I don’t even intend to kiss you, either.”
“Then why is your mouth all pursed up in that ridiculous way?”

This is a really great chapter. There’s Scarlett’s confusion on what a man like Rhett would want with her…and Rhett’s honest assessment of his intentions which Scarlett doesn’t hear because she’s too busy primping in front of a mirror.

“Can’t you see it? Ever since I met you at the bazaar, your career has been most shocking and I’m to blame for most of it. Who encouraged you to dance? Who forced you to admit that you thought our glorious Cause was neither glorious nor sacred? Who goaded you into admitting that you thought men were fools to die for high-sounding principles? Who has aided you in giving the old ladies plenty to gossip about? Who is getting you out of mourning several years too soon? And who, to end all this, has lured you into accepting a gift which no lady can accept and still remain a lady?” (203)

The chapter concludes with Melanie telling Scarlett that she’s accepted money from Belle for the Cause and that she’d be mortified if anyone found out. It ends with Scarlett finding out that Belle has his handkerchief and his gold to give away.

Chapter 14

War. War. War. I’m like Scarlett. It bores me. I have no love for “the Cause” anymore than Scarlett does. Towards the end of the chapter though, it gets more manageable. The women are all waiting for news, the lists of the dead to be printed. Ashley’s safe. But many or most of Scarlett’s former beaux are dead.

Chapter 15

Ashley comes home for Christmas. Melanie is always with Ashley. Scarlett is still pining away for him. Wanting to catch him alone. But in their one private conversation, he gets a promise out of her. To take care of Melanie. To watch out for her. To keep her safe. When she presses for more, he rejects her again. (Though not until after they kiss.)

Chapter 16

War. War. War. Melanie’s Pregnant. Ashley’s missing. Ashley a prisoner of war.

End of Part Two


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