Scarlett and Geraldine managed to go into town without a chaperone the following day. She had some dresses to pick up for Geraldine at Mrs. Talbot's that the woman had been unable to finish until now. It was the first moment she'd been alone with her daughter since they'd left for Charleston and she had to admit to enjoying it.
Scarlett was in a fitting room with Geraldine making sure the dresses, nightgowns, and bonnets fit when she heard women come into the area she was in talking. It was obvious from their hushed tones they were trying to be discreet and Scarlett was about to let them know she was there when she heard Rhett's name mentioned. She bid Geraldine keep quiet as she worked the buttons on the new winter coat she would be wearing this year as she tried to pay attention to what the women were saying.
Constance had come into Mrs. Talbot's to have the dress she had worn to the ball the night before let out a little bit. It had been a touch too constricting and for the ball it was fine, but she couldn't wear it to a dinner such as it was. Her friend Meredith was with her and they walked to the back room so that Meredith could help Constance into the dress.
She mentioned to Meredith Rhett's late afternoon visit, Meredith was aware of Constance's past relationship with Rhett and inquired as to whether those were Rhett's intentions last night. Meredith wouldn't have blamed him; she had gone on to say, after the way his wife had danced with every man but him at the ball.
Meredith had never cared for Rhett overmuch, but certainly felt he deserved better than a woman who treated him so poorly in front of his own people. Constance lowered her voice as she assured Meredith that was not what Rhett had come there for. She was embarrassed to admit it, but she admitted that she had tried to kiss him and Rhett had rebuked her. He and Scarlett apparently hadn't gotten along after the ball and he had wanted to talk.
Constance had to admit to being a little baffled that he had left, she had to admit that being Rhett's mistress had its appeal. The women giggled lightly as Constance finished by saying that she thought Rhett must really care for the girl; he had never turned her away before now. And not wanting to attribute the rejection to her personally, it had to be because of Scarlett.
Scarlett sat in silent disbelief hoping that Geraldine wouldn't make a sound until the two women had left. Rhett had often commented about eavesdropping being a valuable tool, but she didn't really enjoy overhearing the fact that her husband had called on another woman. Especially a woman that he had had more than a casual relationship with.
Scarlett took her time with Geraldine's clothes, heard Mrs. Talbot tend to the women as they came back in to the back area and then as they left. She just hoped Mrs. Talbot hadn't mentioned to the women she was here. How embarrassing that would be if they had known she was back here. After a few hours she returned to Rhett's parents home and after leaving Geraldine with Eleanor feigned a headache and went up to bed.
Changing out of her clothes and into a nightgown, she lay down in bed. Her mind was whirling. Her first instinct was to confront Rhett. To tell him what she had overheard and to tell him that she didn't appreciate his calling on prior mistresses. Even if it was just to talk to her, the last person Scarlett needed thinking her marriage had a chink in the armor was that woman.
He had other friends he could talk to, men friends. But why should he need to tell anyone their business anyway? The more she thought, the madder she got but she didn't know how to approach him. If she told him, he'd think she was jealous or would get upset with him for listening to the women's conversation to begin with. She had done everything she could to make it so that Rhett didn't feel the need to seek comforts elsewhere and while she understood that was the way of men she wanted to believe that he wouldn't have married her if he wanted to continue living his life that way.
Rhett grew concerned when he came home and his mother told him Scarlett had come home from Mrs. Talbot's and gone straight to bed complaining of a headache. Assuring Geraldine he'd be down as soon as he finished talking to her mother, he made his way up to their chambers. He sat on the edge of the bed, his concern growing when he saw that she was dressed for bed.
She did not answer him when he spoke. He knew she wasn't sleeping, but decided not to press the issue at the moment. There was no sense antagonizing her and making their trip home tomorrow miserable. He spent the evening with his parents and Geraldine, Rhett was pleased his father gave Geraldine his word that they would visit her at Tara soon. He didn't really care about his own relationship with his father, but felt that Geraldine had the right to know the only two grandparents she had.
The three of them arrived at Tara. Rhett and Scarlett were both pleased to be home and to see that Tara was still standing. It was a fear that they both shared even though neither spoke of it. Rhett had every confidence in Will and Big Sam, but knew that Suellen might be likely to do something foolish in Scarlett's absence.
The next month passed with Rhett and the men tending to the corn crop and seeing to the winter wheat and peanuts being planted. Rhett grew concerned at Scarlett's withdrawal from him. He had no idea what had happened to cause it and whenever he brought up the subject she dismissed him claiming she was fine. Rhett knew this not to be the case, and just hoped that with time she would seek him out to talk about whatever it was that obviously played heavily on her mind.
Geraldine seemed to sense her mother's mood as well and spent even more time with Rhett than she normally did. She didn't like her mommy when she was angry. She was never mean to her, but she wasn't as nice all the time either. And she didn't play with her and her dolls like she did when she was happy. So, Geraldine opted to toddle after her father or the dogs, all three of whom were all too happy to play with her and her dolls. Though the dolls always ended up wet with dog drool when they were done carrying them around.
October turned into November and Scarlett still couldn't get the thought out of her mind that Rhett had somehow betrayed her. She watched one morning as their daughter stretched her arms up for Rhett to pick her up and take her on his morning ride on Apollo. Scarlett asked Rhett if he would hitch up the carriage for her, she and Mammy were going to go into town.
An hour later, she went out the front door to find Daphne hitched up to the carriage waiting for Scarlett. It was at times like this she regretted distancing herself from Rhett; she knew he was aware of her current mood. Yet he continued doing kind things for her and she did nothing to reciprocate, had stopped saying thank you or even acknowledging these deeds.
She arrived in town shortly after one in the afternoon and after finishing her errands decided to call on Ashley. Maybe she could talk to him about what was troubling her and things would be better again between her and Rhett. Being told by Pitty that Ashley was at work at the mill Scarlett made her excuses and left.
She hadn't really planned on seeing Ashley and since she was here now she was glad that she had worn her blue velvet frock with the matching hat and her new white muff. She always liked to look nice when she saw Ashley and she had a whole closet full of frocks he had never seen her wear now. When she told Ashley she wished to speak with him about a private matter, he took her out of the office and for a walk through the mill.
Ashley was pleasantly surprised at Scarlett's visit, and told her instantly how beautiful she looked. He knew Scarlett enjoyed hearing those things, and it was very true. It was obvious Rhett was generous with her and allowed her the luxury of the clothes she so desired. Ashley couldn't help but shake his head as he thought of this. For once he found himself glad that it was Rhett married to Scarlett and not himself. After their small talk and pleasantries, he led her outside. He needed to tour the progress of the workers anyway and they would be afforded more privacy out there.
Scarlett was surprised at what a good listener Ashley was. She told him what she had overheard at Mrs. Talbot's. Told him how much it had upset her to think that Rhett had sought out the company of another woman regardless of the reason. She was happy with him she assured Ashley, not wanting him to get the wrong idea. He was good to her, never hurt her. But, she admitted, when she married him she had never been outside of Atlanta with him. She never gave thought to his having had a life before her and it was just a little overwhelming to have it all thrown at her at one time. They had returned to his office by now and Scarlett began to cry suddenly, she had no idea why.
Ashley put his arms around her to comfort her, he couldn't bear to see Scarlett cry and he resolved to talk to Rhett about this even if it meant Scarlett hated him for betraying their trust. It was obvious that Scarlett cared about the man, even if she didn't want to admit it to herself. And if it were him, he'd certainly want to know why Melanie was upset with him.
He tilted Scarlett's face by her chin to look at him. He reminded her that she was today doing the same thing that she was upset at Rhett for, seeking advice and a thoughtful ear from a long-time friend who happened to be of the opposite sex. He looked up suddenly as he heard the office door close, but there was no one there. Concerned at who had possibly overheard their conversation he walked across the room, up the few stairs and opened the door, there was no one there. He sighed heavily knowing he had closed the door when they had come in. Maybe it hadn't latched properly and the wind blew it shut. Noticing Mammy getting into the carriage he realized it must have been her checking on Scarlett.
Scarlett wiped her eyes dry while Ashley went to the door, collecting her thoughts. He was right of course; she had no one she could talk to about Rhett other than Ashley. Ashley knew the way her mind worked and would never get offended by something she said. He'd think her foolish or simple or silly, but he would never be offended. Of that she was guaranteed. After a few minutes she left, kissing Ashley's cheek politely thanking him for listening and providing her a shoulder to cry on when she needed it.
Rhett had been going to visit Ashley to check on the status of the mill since his absence and was surprised to see his carriage there. As he dismounted his horse, however, he realized he wasn't overly surprised after all. Mammy sat in the carriage and it was obvious that Scarlett had been shopping. He opened the door and was about to speak when he witnessed Ashley embracing Scarlett very much in the position to kiss her.
He said nothing; turned around and left telling Mammy not to mention to Scarlett he had been there. He couldn't be sure that Mammy would keep her silence, but he felt relatively comfortable she would.
She had grown to like Rhett and in some ways Rhett felt Mammy was more loyal to him than she was to Scarlett anymore. Damn, he cursed himself as he rode to Belle's and tethered Apollo off. For the first time since he'd been married he did not care that he left him where the whole damned town could see him. He talked to Belle briefly then went up to spend some time with Robert. He hadn't seen the boy since before he'd left for Charleston, more than three months ago. His birthday was coming up; he was going to be seven this year.
After spending an hour with Robert he returned downstairs and stopped to visit with Belle in her office. She was in a foul mood and he should have known to just leave and not bother talking to her when they were both in bad moods. But he didn't. She put him on the defensive right away when she brought up Robert needing new clothes. Rhett assured her he would make arrangements with the local tailor for Belle to take him to get fitted for new clothes.
"Why don't you take him, Rhett?"
"You know full well I can't do that, Belle. It's bad enough people suspect you're my mistress and that he's our child, if they saw him with me that would just fuel the gossips."
"Well, I think it's about time you stood up and claimed him. You're married now, who cares what anyone says. Or are you worried that Scarlett will leave you if she finds out I've borne you a child?"
"Leave Scarlett out of this, she has nothing to do with Robert. Just as you have nothing to do with Geraldine."
"Ah, but Robert has something to do with Geraldine, Rhett. He's her brother by way of the same father." Belle was tired of this game that Rhett played. He was entitled to a respectable life, to pretend he'd reformed, to carry on in Atlanta as if he had no baggage before he married Scarlett. Yet, Belle was doomed forever to the reputation she obtained even though she chose her line of work because she had little choice. Rhett could have chosen any of a dozen career paths.
"I'm not having this conversation with you, Belle."
"Well, I'm having it with you. You either take Robert to get fitted for his new clothes or you might just find me and Robert appearing on the porch steps of your precious plantation."
Rhett smirked slightly as he lit a cigarette. "Are you threatening me, Belle?"
"Just stating a fact, Rhett. The boy deserves to know who you are."
Rhett stood, dropping the match in the ashtray on Belle's desk and sat on the edge of her desk. He narrowed his eyes to look at her his voice was calm when he spoke but there was no hint of amusement.
"Maybe I should talk to my lawyer about my getting custody of the boy. I'm on record as his guardian. I could always say that I don't think it's fitting he's being raised in a whorehouse. I certainly have more resources open to me than you do. You wouldn't even be able to get him into a decent school without my name being on his paperwork. I don't think you want to get into a duel with me, Belle. I've been in quite a few and I'm still standing here unharmed, the same cannot be said for my opponents. And don't think I wouldn't do it. He's not a bargaining chip; he's your son. Either treat him accordingly or so help me God I'll take him from you so fast it will make your head spin. And don't think I won't do it, I don't say things I don't mean."
Belle leaned back in her chair, quite honestly startled. She never thought Rhett would make such a threat, and the fact that he had was disturbing. He was right, she had money of course. But who was going to represent her in a child custody case? And what judge would award her custody over Rhett, who on paper was a legitimate businessman. She stood and walked to the door.
"I don't think you need to come back here until his birthday, Rhett. If you're going to come in here as a customer, that's one thing. But I don't wish to speak with you right now."
He stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray and stood from her desk, bowing sarcastically. "Farewell then, Mrs. Watling. Your wish is my command."
He left Belle's and returned to Tara his mood worse than it had been when he walked in there. Scarlett and Mammy were home and by the look Mammy gave him he was somewhat reassured she had not said anything to Scarlett. He sat through dinner amazed at the sudden transference in Scarlett's attitude.
Just last night at dinner she barely said more than two words to anyone; today she was full of conversation. She even had the audacity to mention she had visited Ashley and mentioned how busy the mill looked to be. Rhett laughed slightly at that meeting Scarlett's questioning gaze with an unreadable gaze of his own. After dinner he spent the rest of the evening in the back parlor reading to Geraldine and playing with her and her wooden train set. Ever since their train rides to and from Charleston trains had fascinated her.
He joined Scarlett in bed after putting Geraldine to bed. He had no intentions of initiating lovemaking with her on this night, but he had to wonder if her good mood at dinner would transfer to a good mood in their bed.
Along with her cold mood since their return from Charleston she had been unresponsive and cold to him in their bed as well. She had refused on more than one occasion to sit astride him, though he was quite confident she had found it enjoyable in the past. He had eventually stopped worrying about it and though he tried to please her he allowed her to treat it like the duty she seemed to suddenly think it had become. He was pleasantly surprised when she was indeed responsive to him, returning his kisses and caresses as though she felt something.
He lay in bed with Scarlett the following morning suddenly wondering if Ashley was once again sharing their bed, and it was with this thought that he realized he couldn't live like that again. He refused to share his wife with another man, and from what he saw yesterday Ashley was finally willing to reciprocate. Maybe their time apart had made him realize what he had been missing.
Rhett didn't know, but he wasn't going to do it. He bathed, shaved and dressed going down for breakfast when he was ready to face the day. He spent the morning speaking with Will and Big Sam ensuring that if he were to be gone for a few months again everything was under control.
He returned to the house at lunch and then took Apollo into town to make his arrangements. Returning to Tara after dinnertime, he instructed Mammy to see that Geraldine's clothes were packed and went upstairs to pack his own things after telling Manigo to pack his things as well. He wasn't going to leave his man here, not when he didn't know if he was going to return.
Scarlett went up to their room and watched for a few minutes quietly as Rhett packed. "Where are you going?"
"I haven't quite decided yet. We're going to Savannah and then maybe London."
"London? You're taking my daughter to London without even telling me about it."
"She's my daughter, too, Scarlett. And I'll take her where I damned well please. I certainly don't need your permission to do so. Just remember, I very rarely exercise my rights as a husband, but on this I will. You will not stop me from taking her anyplace."
Scarlett got up and looked out the window. He was leaving her; she realized that's what he was doing even if he wasn't spelling it out. Just when she had talked to Ashley and resolved to make things right again.
She sighed; she had apparently made that decision too late. But then her thoughts went to last night, why had he made love to her if he was leaving? That made no sense, but this was Rhett and she knew he wouldn't need emotion as part of the process of lovemaking.
"You're leaving me? If that's what you're doing be man enough to tell me that's what you're doing. Don't take our daughter and tell me you're going away. Obviously if that was the case you'd bring me too."
He folded a shirt thinking about what she had just said. He really hadn't allowed himself to think about what it was exactly he was doing. "You're very perceptive, Scarlett. I'm leaving." Why was it so difficult for him to say those words? He should be relieved he was getting out before she made a complete fool out of him. But instead he found his gut tightening in response to his saying it out loud.
"Just like that?"
"Yes, just like that." He closed his suitcases and set them out in the hallway with Geraldine's luggage for Pork and Manigo to load. He returned to the room, took a look around and informed Scarlett he would be staying in one of the guestrooms that night.
Scarlett wanted to ask him why. Wanted to tell him she was sorry, but she didn't want to appear as if she was begging. And obviously whatever his thinking process was, he'd just think she was making excuses anyway. What had she done?
They were going to lose Tara. Everything she had worked so hard for was going to be lost just like that. She could never come up with the tax money on her own, the crops were profitable but not nearly that profitable with only four field hands. And how would she pay them? Feed them? God's nightgown, her worst fears were going to come true all because she had been too proud to tell him what she had overheard at Mrs. Talbot's.
Realizing there was little else to say she left the room and went downstairs to talk to Mammy. She had no idea why, but she needed to be hugged and held while she cried. Mammy was the closest thing she had to a mother anymore.
She told Mammy everything that had happened the last few weeks and that Rhett was now leaving her because of how she acted. Scarlett cried until she didn't have any tears left and nodded when Mammy told her she was going to make her some tea. She returned a few minutes later and Scarlett gratefully drank the tea tasting the whiskey in it, but saying nothing knowing Mammy's reasons.
Mammy had made it a point over the years not to get involved with her employers' personal lives. She made it her business to be involved in Miss Ellen's life and the three O'Hara girls' lives because that was her job as their mammy. But after seeing Rhett leave Ashley's office in such a rush that afternoon and having Scarlett come to her crying telling her Rhett was leaving she knew it was time for her to interfere.
She found Manigo and explained to him that he was to go find Mr. Ashley and tell him to be at that train depot before Rhett got on the train. Manigo left without hesitation, he had no great fondness for traveling to London. She returned to Scarlett and tucked her into bed just like she had when Scarlett was a little girl hoping that she had not done the wrong thing and upset Rhett. She loved that daughter of theirs and if her interference caused the two of them never to return to Tara, Mammy would never forgive herself.
The next morning, Rhett, Geraldine and Manigo left for town before the rest of Tara had woken up. They arrived at the train station where Manigo unloaded their luggage in a very distracted manner. Rhett had never seen Manigo appear to have his mind on other things and was about to ask the man what was wrong when he heard someone approach from behind.
He turned to look into the eyes of Ashley Wilkes. He looked to Manigo who simply shrugged innocently and returned his attention to their luggage while Rhett greeted Ashley. "What can I do for you this morning, Mr. Wilkes?"
"Your man asked me to be here this morning. Apparently Mammy requested my presence and I know Mammy wouldn't stick her neck out if she didn't think it was warranted." Ashley stuffed his hands in his front pockets a little nervous about where this conversation was going. "I understand you were at the mill yesterday."
He breathed out sharply as he waited for Rhett to respond. He had agonized over this conversation all night while he lay awake in bed. If Rhett had thought Ashley had done something dishonorable surely the man would have shot him. But instead he was leaving Scarlett and taking their child with him he realized when he saw the young girl staring wide-eyed at her daddy.
"Yes, I was there, Mr. Wilkes. My problem is not with you and I don't know that this is any of your business. Shouldn't you be relieved?"
"Ah, but it is, Mr. Butler. Your wife sought me out for advice. She was upset over a conversation she had overheard in Charleston between a young lady you had apparently been familiar with at some point in time. Apparently this young lady, I'm sorry I don't believe Scarlett mentioned her name if she did I don't recall it. But anyway, apparently the woman made mention of the fact you sought out her company one evening and Scarlett was a little put out by that. She knows that nothing happened between you and this woman - that wasn't her concern. Her concern was she felt somehow betrayed I think that you had chosen to speak with someone you had been intimate with previously about problems you were having with her."
Ashley paused, realizing that Rhett was listening intently he continued. "I assume you're the person I heard at my office door yesterday and that Mammy's appearing to get into the carriage was her way of covering for you. And while as a gentleman I'll apologize for handling your wife, as her friend I see no reason why I should have to apologize. She was crying because I pointed out to her that she was in fact doing the same thing you had done and I was simply comforting her. She just needed to talk to someone, Mr. Butler. And once she had her head straight she realized that she had been foolish and I believe she had planned on talking with you about it. At least that was the impression I received from her when she left yesterday. But with Scarlett you can never tell I realize."
"All right, Mr. Wilkes, assuming all of this is true. Why didn't she tell me this when she saw me packing my bags? Instead she said nothing."
"Rhett, forgive me for being informal, Mr. Butler, you know Scarlett better than I do by now. You of all people should know her pride would not allow her to make you think she was trying to make an excuse for you to stay. She inherited that Irish pride from her father probably more than any other trait, and while it's usually a positive thing I think in this instance it is not and that's why Mammy sent Manigo to me last night. If you felt the need to go she would let you go. I'm sure she'd spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to get you to return without you realizing she wanted you to return, but do you really need to leave and separate Scarlett from her daughter."
"She told you that she knows I didn't sleep with Constance that night?"
Ashley nodded slowly. "Yes, Mr. Butler, she admitted that the lady had stated I believe that you had resisted her advances stating you were there to talk and left."
"But why wouldn't she tell me this? I never saw Scarlett as holding her anger in. I just don't understand why this time she would."
"It was her first time meeting your family and friends; I think it was a little overwhelming. As she put it she had never been anywhere with you, I don't think she thought about your life before her. And I'm sure that your life in Atlanta constitutes, in her mind, life with her."
Rhett noticed Manigo had stopped unloading the carriage and was keeping Geraldine entertained. "Put the luggage back in the carriage, Manigo."
Rhett couldn't help but overhear the heavy sigh of relief that escaped Ashley's lips. "You're not out of the woods yet, Mr. Wilkes. I'm going to have to tell Scarlett why I was leaving her, and I was leaving her because I thought she had somehow taken up her infatuation with you again. And I'm going to have to betray your friendship with her and tell her what you've told me. It might be you who she's angry with later today." Rhett offered his hand to Ashley who took it.
"That's a chance I'll take to see her happy in the long run, she'll forgive me after a while. Good luck to you both, Mr. Butler." Ashley walked over to Geraldine and tousled her hair before leaving.
Rhett returned to Tara by mid morning and after leaving Geraldine with a very pleased Mammy went upstairs to find Scarlett. He pulled the covers from on top of her. "Mrs. Butler, do you make it a habit of allowing your husband to leave when you had the weaponry in your arsenal available to you to get him to stay?"
Scarlett hadn't slept at all that night she had heard as Rhett and Geraldine went downstairs. Had heard as the carriage was driven away. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying, which she didn't want Rhett to see. She didn't want him to know she cared that much whether he stayed or left. She didn't turn to face him, but she spoke clearly. "I didn't want you to stay thinking I was making excuses to get you to stay."
"So you've been acting like you don't give a damned about me for the past six weeks because of something you overheard Constance say. Tell me, if she had lied to her companion and told her we had relations would you still have been upset? Or is it just the fact I went to talk to her about you that upset you so?"
"Of course that would have upset me, Rhett. But that's what men do, I cringe when I think about it but I understand that's the way of men. Mother told me never to expect a man to remain faithful, but that still doesn't mean I'd like to have it obviously thrown in my face."
Now Rhett was upset. He sat on the edge of the bed, his head lowered into the upturned palms of his hands. "Let me get this straight. You think I have a mistress or mistresses somewhere? Is that right? What on earth did I ever do to make you think something like that?"
"Well, the life you led before you married me, Rhett. I just assumed you continued that path just more discreetly. You still go to Belle's."
"Sure I do, to play cards and drink whiskey now and then. If I were to have a mistress, Scarlett, I certainly wouldn't engage in such activities where anyone from Atlanta could see me. But I don't. I'm sure there are plenty of men who do engage in such behavior, but I vowed to remain faithful to you and though I'm not an overly religious man I do believe in keeping my promises." He looked at her, placing an arm on her shoulder.
"Please, Scarlett, promise me that the next time something like this happens you won't keep it to yourself. And I admit to being at fault too. I saw you yesterday with Ashley and assumed your good mood at dinner and response to me in our bed was because of him."
"You what?" Scarlett sat up, forgetting about the appearance of her eyes. "That's why you were leaving me? Because of Ashley? Oh Rhett, I just went there to talk to him."
Rhett raised his hand applying it gently against her lips. "I know, Scarlett. Apparently Mammy didn't want me to leave and she sent Manigo into town last night to tell Ashley to meet me at the depot. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions either, but just as you did and didn't tell me I should have told you." He chuckled lightly. "Besides it's not acceptable for my wife to have a lover."
"Rhett, I honestly don't even think of Ashley like that anymore. I realized that especially yesterday. It was so nice to be able to talk to him about you and when he told me that I was doing the same thing with him that you were probably doing with Constance I felt like such a fool. But I still don't like her. She was much too willing to share with her friend. I'd hate to think what would have happened if you had slept with her. The whole town would have known you were unfaithful to me."
"It won't happen, Scarlett. You saw the picture I drew of you on the ship. I had a lady friend with me onboard for about a month after I had drawn that picture. She refused to share my cabin with me because of that picture." Rhett chuckled lightly. "She overheard me tell one of the men that the drawing didn't do you justice and she said she felt like you were there in the room with us. Of course she had no idea who you were or that you had never been in my bed let alone in my cabin. My point is this; I really didn't mean to talk about another woman. Why on earth would I want someone else when I have you? Before you answer that, let me add to that. When I have the woman who was in my bed with me last night and the woman who was with me in my bed up until the last six weeks. The woman who was in my bed the last six weeks or so I might be tempted. Making love to someone who is just there because it's their duty is not fun at all."
"Oh Rhett such things you say." She sighed crossing her arms over her chest after pulling the covers back on top of her. "So I assume you're not leaving and that my daughter is somewhere in the house."
Rhett laughed, "Yes, Mammy was feeding her oatmeal when I came up here to talk to you." An idea occurred to him. "You should write Miss Miller a letter, telling her how you appreciate her being there for your husband in his time of need." He chuckled heartily. "That would be interesting, probably make her quite upset because she'd think I told you."
"You are bad, Rhett. I don't know that I'd do that, but you're right it does have some appeal." She lay back down on the bed. "I'm going to go back to sleep, I didn't sleep very well last night."
"Nor did I Scarlett, don't think that my leaving you was easy. But I wasn't about to compete with Ashley for your mind again." He kissed her cheek and smoothed down her hair. "Sleep well, there's nothing you need to get out of bed for today. Just stay and rest. I'll be in later to bring you something to eat."
Rhett left their room still not completely satisfied things would return to normal, but at least he was still at Tara and not on his way to Savannah. Christmas was approaching in a couple of weeks and his parents had sent a letter stating their intentions of visiting them over Christmas. It would be a houseful at Tara once again this year because the Wilkes' were coming too.
He went downstairs and after putting Geraldine's bonnet and coat on took her outside with him for their afternoon walk through Tara's land.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com