“I’ll scream out loud if you come near me. I will! I will—at the top of my voice! Get away fromme! Don’t you dare touch me!”
So Charles Hamilton spent his wedding night in an armchair in the corner, not too unhappily, forhe understood, or thought he understood, the modesty and delicacy of his bride. He was willing towait until her fears subsided, only—only— He sighed as he twisted about seeking a comfortableposition, for he was going away to the war so very soon.
Nightmarish as her own wedding had been, Ashley’s wedding was even worse. Scarlett stood inher apple-green “second-day” dress in the parlor of Twelve Oaks amid the blaze of hundreds ofcandles, jostled by the same throng as the night before, and saw the plain little face of MelanieHamilton glow into beauty as she became Melanie Wilkes. Now, Ashley was gone forever. HerAshley. No, not her Ashley now. Had he ever been hers? It was all so mixed up in her mind and hermind was so tired, so bewildered. He had said he loved her, but what was it that had separatedthem? If she could only remember. She had stilled the County’s gossiping tongue by marryingCharle but what did that matter now? It had seemed so important once, but now it didn’t seemimportant at all. All that mattered was Ashley. Now he was gone and she was only did not love but for whom she had an active contempt.
Oh, how she regretted it all. She had often heard of people cutting off their noses to spite theirfaces but heretofore it had been only a figure of speech. Now she knew just what it meant Andmingled with her frenzied desire to be free of Charles and safely back at Tara, an unmarried girlagain, ran the knowledge that she had only herself to blame. Ellen had tried to stop her and shewould not listen.
So she danced through the night of Ashley’s wedding in a daze and said things mechanically andsmiled and irrelevantly wondered at the stupidity of people who thought her a happy bride andcould not see that her heart was broken. Well, thank God, they couldn’t see!
That night after Mammy had helped her undress and had departed and Charles had emergedshyly from the dressing room, wondering if he was to spend a second night in the horsehair chair,she burst into tears. She cried until Charles climbed into bed beside her and tried to comfort her,cried without words until no more tears would come and at last she lay sobbing quietly on his If there had not been a war, there would have been a week of visiting about the County, withballs and barbecues in honor of the two newly married couples before they set off to Saratoga orWhite Sulphur for wedding trips. If there had not been a war,