It was a savagely red land,blood-colored after rains,brick dust in
droughts,the best cotton land in the world.It was a pleasant land of
white houses,

Scarlett’s face did not change but her lips went white—like a person who
has received a stunning blow without warning and who,in the first
moments of shock,does not realize what has happened.So still was her
face as she stared at Stuart that he,never analytic,took it for granted
that she was merely surprised and very interested.

peaceful plowed fields and sluggish yellow rivers,but a land of
contrasts,of brightest sun glare and densest shade.The plantation
clearings and miles of cotton fields smiled up to a warm
sun,placid,complacent.At their edges rose the virgin forests,dark and
cool even in the hottest noons,mysterious,a little sinister,the soughing
pines seeming to wait with an age-old

“Miss Pitty told us they hadn’t intended announcing it till next
year,because Miss Melly hasn’t been very well;but with all the war talk
going around,everybody in both families thought it would be better to
get married real soon.So it’s tobe announced tomorrow night at the
supper intermission.

patience,to threaten with soft sighs:“Be careful!Be careful!We had you

Now,Scarlett,we’ve told you the secret,so you’ve got to promise to eat
supper with us.”

once.We can take you back again.”

“Of course I will,”Scarlett said automatically.

   To the ears of the three on the porch came the sounds of hooves,the

“And all the waltzes?”

jingling of harness chains and the shrill careless laughter of negro
voices,as the field hands and mules came in from the fields.From within


house floated the soft voice of Scarlett’s mother,Ellen O’Hara,as she

“You’re sweet!I’ll bet the other boys will be hopping mad.” “Let’em be
mad,”said Brent.“We two can handle’em. Look, Scarlett.Sit with us at the
barbecue in the morning.”

called to the little black girl who carried her basket of keys.The


high-pitched,childish voice answered “Yas’m,”and there were sounds of

Stuart repeated his request.

footsteps goingout the back way toward the smokehouse where Ellen  
would ration out the food to the home-coming hands.There was the click
of china and the rattle of silver as Pork,the valet-butler of Tara,laid
the    table for supper.

“Of course.”

   At these last sounds,the twins realized it was time they were
starting   home.But they were loath to face their mother and they
lingered on the   porch of Tara,momentarily expecting Scarlett to give
them an invitation    to supper.

The twins looked at each other jubilantly but with some
surprise.Although they considered themselves Scarlett’s favored
suitors,they had never before gained tokens of this favor so
easily.Usually she made them beg and plead,while she put them
off,refusing to give a Yes or No answer,laughing if they sulked,growing
cool if they became angry.And here she had practically promised them the
whole of tomorrow—seats byher at the barbecue,all the waltzes (and
they’d see to it that the dances were all waltzes!)and the supper
intermission.This was worth getting expelled from the university.

   “Look,Scarlett. About tomorrow,”said Brent.“Just because we’ve been
away and didn’t know about the barbecue and the ball,that’s no reason
why we shouldn’t get plenty of dances tomorrow night.You haven’t
promised   them all,have you?”

Filled with new enthusiasm by their success,they lingered on, talking
about the barbecue and the ball and Ashley Wilkes and Melanie
Hamilton,interrupting each other,making jokes and laughing at
them,hinting broadly for invitations to supper.Some time had passed
before they realized that Scarlett was having very little to say.The
atmosphere had somehow changed.Just how,the twins did not know,but the
fine glow had gone out of the afternoon.Scarlett seemed to be paying
little attention to what they said, although she made the correct
answers.Sensing something they could not understand, baffled and annoyed
by it,the twins struggled along for a while,and then rose
reluctantly,looking at their watches.

   “Well,I have!How did I know you all would be home?I couldn’t risk
being a wallflower just waiting on you two.”

The sun was low across the new-plowed fields and the tall woods across
the river were looming blackly in silhouette. Chimney swallows were
darting swiftly across the yard, and chickens,ducks and turkeys were
waddling and strutting and straggling in from the fields.

   “You a wallflower!”The boys laughed uproariously.

Stuart bellowed:“Jeems!”And after an interval a tall black boy of their
own age ran breathlessly around the house andout toward the tethered
horses.Jeems was their body servant and,like the dogs, accompanied them
everywhere. He had been their childhood playmate and had been given to
the twins for their own on their tenth birthday.At the sight of him,the
Tarleton hounds rose up out of the red dust and stood waiting
expectantly for their masters.The boys bowed,shook hands and told
Scarlett they’d be over at the Wilkeses’earlyin the morning,waiting for
her.Then they were off down the walk at a rush,mounted their horses
and,followed by Jeems,went down the avenue of cedars at a gallop,waving
their hats and yelling back to her.

   “Look,honey.You’ve got to give me the first waltz and Stu the last
one  and you’ve got to eat supper with us.We’ll sit on the stair landing
like we did at the last ball and get Mammy Jincy to come tell our
fortunes again.”

   “I don’t like Mammy Jincy’s fortunes.You know she said I was going to
   marry a gentleman with jet-black hair and a long black mustache,and I
don’t   like black-haired gentlemen.”


   “You  like’em  red headed,don’t  you,honey?”


grinned Brent.“Now,come on,  promise us all the waltzes and the supper.”


   “If you’ll promise,we’ll tell you a secret,”said Stuart.


   “What?”cried Scarlett,alert as a child at the word.


   “Is it what we heard yesterday in Atlanta,Stu?If it is,you know we
promised not to tell.”


   “Well,Miss Pitty told us.”


   “Miss Who?”


“You know,Ashley Wilkes’cousin who lives in Atlanta,Miss Pittypat
Hamilton—Charles and Melanie Hamilton’s aunt.”


   “I do,and a sillier old lady I never met in all my life.”


   “Well,when we were in Atlanta yesterday,waiting for the home
train,her carriage went by the depot and she stopped and talked to
us,and she told us there was going to be an engagement announced
tomorrow night at


the Wilkes ball.”


   “Oh,I know about that,”said Scarlett in disappointment.“That silly


nephew of hers,Charlie Hamilton,and Honey Wilkes.Everybody’s known


for years that they’d get married some time,even if he did seem kind of

lukewarm about it.”

   “Do you think he’s silly?”questioned Brent.“Last Christmas you sure
let him buzz round you plenty.”

   “I couldn’t help him buzzing,”Scarlett shrugged negligently.“I think
he’s an awful sissy.”

   “Besides,it isn’t his engagement that’s going to be announced,”said

Stuart triumphantly.“It’s Ashley’s to Charlie’s sister,Miss Melanie!”