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Love historyRipleyback to Tara. . . to Scarlett and Rhett. . . and to the greatest love story in all fiction. This is the book whose initial publication was - 77


“And don’t you dare laugh,” Colum ordered. “Any dark-haired person is good luck. The head of a clan is ten times over good luck.”was staggering when it was over. “Thank goodness there are still so many empty buildings,” she gasped. “I’m awash with tea and foundering from all the cake in my stomach. Did we really have to eat and drink in every single place?”
“Scarlett darling, how can you call it a visit if there’s no hospitality offered and received? If you were a man, it would have been whiskey and not tea.”grinned. “Cat might have loved that.” 1 was considered the beginning of the farm year in Ireland. Accompanied by everyone who worked and lived in Ballyhara, Scarlett stood in the center of a big field and, after saying a prayer for the success of the crops, sank a spade into the earth, lifted and turned the first sod. Now the year could begin. After the feast of applecake—and milk, of course, because February 1 was also the feast day of Saint Brigid, Ireland’s other patron saint, who was also patron saint of the dairy.everyone was eating and talking after the ceremony, Scarlett knelt by the opened earth and took up a handful of the rich loam. “This is for you, Pa,” she murmured. “See, Katie Scarlett hasn’t forgotten what you told her, that the land of County Meath is the best in the world, better even than the land of Georgia, of Tara. I’ll do my best to tend it, Pa, and love it the way you taught me. It’s O’Hara soil, and it’s ours again.”age-old progression of plowing and harrowing, planting and praying had a simple, hard-working dignity that won Scarlett’s admiration and respect for all who lived by the land. She had felt it when she lived in Daniel’s cottage and she felt it now for the farmers at Ballyhara. For herself as well, because she was, in her own way, one of them. She hadn’t the strength to drive the plow, but she could provide it. And the horses to pull it. And the seed to plant in the furrows it made.Estate Office was her home even more than her rooms in the Big House. There was another cradle for Cat by her desk, identical to the one in her bedroom, and she could rock it with her foot while she worked on her record books and her accounts. The disputes that Mrs. Fitzpatrick had been so gloomy about turned out to be simple matters to settle. Especially if you were The O’Hara, and your word was law. Scarlett had always had to bully people into doing what she wanted; now she had only to speak quietly, and there was no argument. She enjoyed the first Sunday of the month very much. She even began to realize that other people occasionally had an opinion worth listening to. The farmers really did know more about farming than she did, and she could learn from them. She needed to. Three hundred acres of Ballyhara land were set aside as her own farm. The farmers worked it and paid only half the usual rent for the land they leased from her. Scarlett understood sharecropping; it was the way things were done in the South. Being an estate landlord was still new to her. She was determined to be the best landlord in all Ireland.
“The farmers learn from me, too,” she told Cat. “They’d never even heard of fertilizing with phosphates until I handed out those sacks of it. Might as well let Rhett get a few pennies of his money back if it’ll mean a better wheat crop for us.”never used the word “father” in Cat’s hearing. Who could tell how much a tiny baby took in and remembered? Especially a baby who was so clearly superior in every way to every other baby in the world.the days lengthened, breezes and rain became softer and warmer. Cat O’Hara was becoming more and more fascinating; she was developing individuality.
“I certainly named you right,” Scarlett told her, “you’re the most independent little thing I ever saw.” Cat’s big green eyes looked at her mother attentively while she was talking, then returned to her absorbed contemplation of her own fingers. The baby never fussed, she had an infinite capacity to amuse herself. Weaning her was hard on Scarlett, but not on Cat. She enjoyed examining her porridge with fingers and mouth. She seemed to find all experience extremely interesting. She was a strong baby with a straight spine and high-held head. Scarlett adored her. And, in a special way, respected her. She liked to scoop Cat up and kiss her soft hair and neck and cheeks and hands and feet; she longed to hold Cat in her lap and rock her. But the baby would tolerate only a few minutes of cuddling before she pushed herself free with her feet and fists. And Cat’s small dark-skinned face could have such an outraged expression that Scarlett was forced to laugh even when she was being forcefully rejected.happiest times for both of them were at the end of the day when Cat shared Scarlett’s bath. She patted the water, laughing at its splashes, and Scarlett held her, jounced her up and down, and sang to her. Then there was the sweetness of drying the perfect tiny limbs, each finger and toe individually, and spreading powder over Cat’s silky skin and into each baby wrinkle.Scarlett was twenty years old, war had forced her to give up her youth overnight. Her will and endurance had hardened and so had her face. In the spring of 1876, when she was thirty-one, the gentle softness of hope and youth and tenderness gradually returned. She was unaware of it; her preoccupation with the farm and the baby had replaced her life-long concentration on her own vanity.
“You need some clothes,” Mrs. Fitz said one day. “I’ve heard there’s a dressmaker who wants to rent the house you lived in if you’ll fresh paint the inside. She’s a widow and well-fixed enough to pay a fair rent. The women in the town would like it, and you need it, unless you’re willing to find a woman in Trim.”
“What’s wrong with the way I look? I wear decent black, the way a widow should. My petticoats hardly ever peek out.”
“You don’t wear decent black at all. You wear earth-stained, rolled-sleeves, peasant women clothes, and you’re the lady of the Big House.”
“Oh, fiddle-dee-dee, Mrs. Fitz. How could I ride out to see the timothy grass is growing if I had on lady-of-the-house clothes? Besides, I like being comfortable. As soon as I can go back into colored skirts and shirts I’ll start worrying about whether they have stains on them. I’ve always hated mourning, I don’t see any reason to try and make black look fresh. No matter what you do to it, it’s still black.”
“Then you aren’t interested in the dressmaker?”
“Of course I’m interested. Another rent is always interesting. And one of these days I’ll order some frocks. After the planting. The fields should be ready for the wheat this week.”
“There’s another rent possible,” the housekeeper said carefully. She’d been surprised more than once by unexpected astuteness on Scarlett’s part. “Brendan Kennedy thinks he could do well if he added an inn to his bar. There’s the building next to him could be used.”
“Who on earth would come to Ballyhara to stay at an inn? That’s crazy. Besides, if Brendan Kennedy wants to rent from me, he should carry his hat in his hand and come talk to me himself, not pester you to do it.”
“Ach, well. Likely it was only talk.” Mrs. Fitzgerald gave Scarlett the week’s household account book and abandoned talk of the inn for the moment. Colum would have to work on it; he was much more persuasive than she was.
“We’re getting to have more servants than the Queen of England,” said Scarlett. She said the same thing every week.
“If you’re going to have cows, you’re going to need hands to milk them,” said the housekeeper.picked up the refrain “. . . and to separate the cream and make the butter—I know. And the butter’s selling. I just don’t like cows, I guess. I’ll go over this later, Mrs. Fitz. I want to take Cat down to watch them cutting peat in the bog.”
“You’d better go over it now. We’re out of money in the kitchen and the girls need paying tomorrow.”
“Bother! I’ll have to get some cash from the bank. I’ll drive in to Trim.”
“If I was the banker, I’d never give money to a creature dressed like you.”laughed. “Nag, nag, nag. Tell the dressmaker I’ll order the painting done.”not the inn opened, thought Mrs. Fitzpatrick. She’d have to talk to Colum tonight.Fenians had been steadily growing in strength and numbers throughout Ireland. With Ballyhara, they now had what they most needed: a secure location where leaders from every county could meet to plan strategy, and where a man who needed to flee the militia could safely go, except that strangers were too noticeable in a town that was hardly larger than a village. Militia and constabulary patrols from Trim were few, but one man with sharp eyes was enough to destroy the best-laid plans.
“We really need the inn,” Rosaleen Fitzpatrick said urgently. “It makes sense that a man with business in Trim would take a room this close but cheaper than in town.”
“You’re right, Rosaleen,” Colum soothed, “and I’ll talk to Scarlett. But not right away. She’s too quick-minded for that. Give it a rest for a bit. Then when I bring it up, she won’t wonder why we’re both pressing.”
“But Colum, we mustn’t waste time.”
“We mustn’t lose everything by hurry, either. I’ll do it when I believe the moment’s right.” Mrs. Fitzpatrick had to settle for that. Colum was in charge. She consoled herself by remembering that at least she’d gotten Margaret Scanlon in. And she hadn’t even had to make up a tale to do it. Scarlett did need some clothes. It was a shocking disgrace the way she insisted on living-the cheapest clothes, two rooms lived in out of twenty. If Colum weren’t Colum, Mrs. Fitzpatrick would doubt what he’d said, that not so long ago Scarlett had been a very fashionable woman.
“ ‘. . . and that diamond ring turns brass, Momma’s gonna buy you a looking glass,’ ” Scarlett sang. Cat splashed vigorously in the sudsy water of the bath. “Momma’s gonna buy you some pretty frocks, too,” said Scarlett, “and buy Momma some. Then we’ll go on the great big ship.”was no reason to put it off. She had to go to America. If she left soon after Easter, she could be back in plenty of time for the harvest.made up her mind on the day she saw the delicate haze of green on the meadow where she’d turned the first sod. A fierce surge of excitement and pride made her want to cry aloud, “This is mine, my land, my seeds burst into life.” She looked at the barely visible young growth and pictured it reaching up, becoming taller, stronger, then flowering, perfuming the air, intoxicating the bees until they could hardly fly. The men would cut it then, scythes flashing silver, and make tall ricks of sweet golden hay. Year after year the cycle would turn—sow and reap—the annual miracle of birth and growth. Grass would grow and become hay. Wheat would grow and become bread. Oats would grow and become meal. Cat would grow—crawl, walk, talk, eat the oatmeal and the bread and jump onto the stacked hay from the loft of the barn just as Scarlett had done when she was a child. Ballyhara was her home.squinted up at the sun, saw the clouds racing towards it, knew that soon it would rain, and soon after that it would clear again, and the sun would warm the fields until the next rain, followed by the next warming sunlight.’ll feel the baking heat of Georgia sun one more time, she decided, I’m entitled to that. I miss it sometimes so terribly. But, somehow, Tara’s more like a dream than a memory. It belongs in the past, like the Scarlett I used to be. That life and that person don’t have anything to do with me any more. I’ve made my choice. Cat’s Tara is the Irish Tara. Mine will be too. I’m The O’Hara of Ballyhara. I’ll keep my shares of Tara for Wade and Ella’s inheritance, but I’ll sell everything in Atlanta and cut those ties. Ballyhara’s my home now. Our roots go deep here, Cat’s and mine and Pa’s. I’ll take some O’Hara land with me when I go, some earth to mix into the Georgia clay of Gerald O’Hara’s grave.mind touched briefly on the business she had to deal with. All that could wait. What she must concentrate on was the best way to tell Wade and Ella about their wonderful new home. They wouldn’t believe she wanted them—why should they? In truth she never had. Until she discovered what it felt like to love a child, to be a real mother.’s going to be hard, Scarlett told herself many times, but I can do it. I can make up for the past. I’ve got so much love in me that it just spills over. I want to give some to my son and my daughter. They might not like Ireland at first, it’s so different, but once we go to Market Day a couple of times, and the races, and I buy them their own ponies . . . Ella should look darling in skirts and petticoats, too. All little girls love to dress up . . . They’ll have millions of cousins, with all the O’Haras around, and the children in Ballyhara town to play with . . .
“You cannot leave until after Easter, Scarlett darling,” said Colum. “There’s a ceremony on Good Friday that only The O’Hara can do.”didn’t argue. Being The O’Hara was too important to her. But she was annoyed. What difference could it possibly make who planted the first potato? It irritated her, too, that Colum wouldn’t go with her. And that he was away so much lately. “On business,” he said. Well, why couldn’t he do his fundraising in Savannah again, instead of wherever else he went to?truth was that everything irritated her. Now that she had decided to go, she wanted to be gone. She was snappish with Margaret Scanlon, the dressmaker, because it took so long to have her dresses made. And because Mrs. Scanlon looked so interested when Scarlett ordered dresses in colorful silks and linens as well as mourning black.
“I’ll be seeing my sister in America,” Scarlett said airily, “the colors are a gift for her.” And I don’t care whether you believe that or not, she thought crossly. I’m not really a widow, and I’m not about to go back to Atlanta looking drab and dowdy. Suddenly her utilitarian black skirt and stockings and shirt and shawl had become unspeakably depressing to her. She could hardly wait for the moment when she could put on the green linen frock with the wide ruffles thick creamy lace. Or the pink and navy striped silk . . . If Margaret Scanlon ever finished them.
“You’ll be surprised when you see how pretty your Momma looks in her new dresses,” Scarlett told Cat. “I’ve ordered some wonderful little frocks for you, too.” The baby smiled, showing her small collection of teeth.
“You’re going to love the big ship,” Scarlett promised her. She had reserved the largest and best stateroom on the Brian Boru for departure from Galway on the Friday following Easter.Palm Sunday the weather turned cold, with hard slanting rain that was still falling on Good Friday. Scarlett was soaking wet and chilled to the bone after the long ceremony on the open field.hurried to the Big House as soon after as she could, longing for a hot bath and a pot of tea. But there was not even time for her to put on dry clothes. Kathleen was waiting for her with an urgent message. “Old Daniel is calling for you, Scarlett. He took sick in the chest, and he’s dying.”drew in her breath sharply when she saw Old Daniel. Kathleen crossed herself. “He’s slipping,” she said quietly.O’Hara’s eyes were sunken in their sockets, his cheeks so hollow that his face looked like a skull covered by skin. Scarlett knelt by the austere fold-out bed and took his hand. It was hot, papery dry and weak. “Uncle Daniel, it’s Katie Scarlett.”opened his eyes. The tremendous effort of will it required made Scarlett want to weep. “I’ve a favor to ask,” he said. His breathing was shallow. 2010-07-19 18:44 Читать похожую статью
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