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mares never foaled

“And why aren’t you riding today, Mrs. Tarleton? Sure, you don’t look yourself at all without Nellie. It’s a stentor, you are.”
 “A stentor, me ignorant broth of a boy!” cried Mrs. Tarleton, aping his brogue. “You mean a centaur. Stentor was a man with a voice like a brass gong.”
 “Stentor or centaur, ‘tis no matter,” answered Gerald, unruffled by his error. “And ‘tis a voice like brass you have, Ma’m, when you’re urging on the hounds, so it is.”
 “That’s one on you, Ma,” said Hetty. “I told you you yelled like a Comanche whenever you saw a fox.”
 “But not as loud as you yell when Mammy washes your ears,” returned Mrs. Tarleton. “And you sixteen! Well, as to why I’m not riding today, Nellie foaled early this morning.”
 “Did she now!” cried Gerald with real interest, his Irishman’s passion for horses shining in his eyes, and Scarlett again felt the sense of shock in comparing her mother with Mrs. Tarleton. To Ellen, mares never foaled nor cows calved. In fact, hens almost didn’t lay eggs. Ellen ignored these matters, completely. But Mrs. Tarleton had no such reticences.
 “A little filly, was it?”
 “No, a fine little stallion with legs two yards long. You dermes must ride over and see him, Mr. O’Hara. He’s a real Tarleton horse. He’s as red as Hetty’s curls.”
 “And looks a lot like Hetty, too,” said Camilla, and then disappeared shrieking amid a welter of skirts and pantalets and bobbing hats, as Hetty, who did have a long face, began pinching her.
 “My fillies are feeling their oats this morning,” said Mrs. Tarleton. “They’ve been kicking up their heels ever since we heard the news this morning about Ashley and that little cousin of his from Atlanta. What’s her name? Melanie? Bless the child, she’s a sweet little thing, but I can never remember either her name or her face. Our cook is the broad wife of the Wilkes butler, and he was over last night with the news that the engagement would be announced tonight and Cookie told us this morning. The girls are all excited about it, though I can’t see why. Everybody’s known for years that Ashley would marry her, that is, if he didn’t marry one of his Burr cousins from Macon. Just like Honey Wilkes is going to marry Melanie’s brother, Charles. Now, tell me, Mr. O’Hara, is it illegal for the Wilkes to marry outside of their family? Because if—”
 Scarlett did not hear the rest of the laughing words. For one short instant, it was as though the sun had ducked behind a cool cloud, leaving the world in shadow, taking the color out of things. The freshly green foliage looked sickly, the dogwood pallid, and the flowering crab, so beautifully pink a moment ago, faded and dreary. Scarlett dug her fingers into the upholstery of the carriage and for a moment her parasol wavered. It was one thing to know that Ashley was engaged but it was another to hear people talk about it so casually. Then her courage flowed strongly back and the sun came out again and the landscape glowed anew. She knew Ashley loved her. That was certain. And she smiled as she thought how surprised Mrs. Tarleton would be when no engagement was announced that night—how surprised if there were an elopement. And she’d tell neighbors what a sly boots Scarlett was to sit there and listen to her talk about Melanie when all the time she and Ashley—She dimpled at her own thoughts and Hetty, who had been watching sharply the effect of her mother’s words, sank back with a small puzzled frown.
 “I don’t care what you say, Mr. O’Hara,” Mrs. Tarleton was saying emphatically. “It’s all wrong, this marrying of cousins. It’s bad enough for Ashley to be marrying the Hamilton child, but for Honey to be marrying that pale-looking Charles Hamilton—”

Posted by bloodgut 20:36 Archived in Åland

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