Margaret mitchell – gone with the wind. part 4

PART FOUR

CHAPTER XXXI

On a cold January afternoon in 1866, Scarlett sat in the office
Writing a letter to Aunt Pitty, explaining in detail for the tenth
Time why neither she, Melanie nor Ashley could come back to Atlanta
To live with her. She wrote impatiently because she knew Aunt
Pitty would read no farther than the opening lines and then write
Her again, wailing: “But I’m afraid to live by myself!”

Her hands were chilled and she paused to rub them together and to
Scuff her feet deeper into the strip of old quilting wrapped about
Them. The soles of her slippers were practically gone and were
Reinforced with pieces of carpet. The carpet kept her feet off the
Floor but did little to keep them warm. That morning Will had
Taken the horse to Jonesboro to get him shod. Scarlett thought
Grimly that things were indeed at a pretty pass when horses had
Shoes and people’s feet

were as bare as yard dogs’.

She picked up her quill to resume her writing but laid it down when
She heard Will coming in at the back door. She heard the thump-
Thump of his wooden leg in the hall outside the office and then he
Stopped. She waited for a moment for him to enter and when he made
No move she called to him. He came in, his ears red from the cold,
His pinkish hair awry, and stood looking down at her, a faintly
Humorous smile on his lips.

“Miss Scarlett,” he questioned, “just how much cash money have you
Got?”

“Are you going to try to marry me for my money, Will?” she asked
Somewhat crossly.

“No, Ma’m. But I just wanted to know.”

She stared at him inquiringly. Will didn’t look serious, but then
He never looked serious. However, she felt that something was
Wrong.

“I’ve got ten dollars in gold,” she said. “The last of that
Yankee’s money.”

“Well, Ma’m, that won’t be enough.”

“Enough for what?”

“Enough for the taxes,” he answered and, stumping over to the
Fireplace, he leaned down and held his red hands to the blaze.

“Taxes?” she repeated. “Name of God, Will! We’ve already paid the
Taxes.”

“Yes’m. But they say you didn’t pay enough. I heard about it
Today over to Jonesboro.”

“But, Will, I can’t understand. What do you mean?”

“Miss Scarlett, I sure hate to bother you with more trouble when
You’ve had your share but I’ve got to tell you. They say you ought
To paid lots more taxes than you did. They’re runnin’ the
Assessment up on Tara sky high – higher than any in the County, I’ll
Be bound.”

“But they can’t make us pay more taxes when we’ve already paid them
Once.”

“Miss Scarlett, you don’t never go to Jonesboro often and I’m glad
You don’t. It ain’t no place for a lady these days. But if you’d
Been there much, you’d know there’s a mighty rough bunch of
Scallawags and Republicans and Carpetbaggers been runnin’ things
Recently. They’d make you mad enough to pop. And then, too,
Niggers pushin’ white folks off the sidewalks and – “

“But what’s that got to do with our taxes?”

“I’m gettin’ to it, Miss Scarlett. For some reason the rascals
Have histed the taxes on Tara till you’d think it was a thousand-
Bale place. After I heard about it, I sorter oozed around the
Barrooms pickin’ up gossip and I found out that somebody wants to
Buy in Tara cheap at the sheriff’s sale, if you can’t pay the extra
Taxes. And everybody knows pretty well that you can’t pay them. I
Don’t know yet who it is wants this place. I couldn’t find out.
But I think that pusillanimous feller, Hilton, that married Miss



Margaret mitchell – gone with the wind. part 4