Peggy Mitchell Marsh was at a loss for words, and it could not have come at a worse time. Gerald was dead, killed by a fall from his horse, and there needed to be a proper eulogy spoken, but Peggy couldn’t think of anything to say. The mourners were gathered around the grave, their faces strained with emotion and flushed with the heat of the June sun, waiting for the words of comfort that only she could give. No one knew Gerald better than Peggy, or understood what his loss would mean to them all – more than the death of a man; the end of an era as well.
Suellen and Careen, Gerald’s two younger daughters, stood sobbing quietly, leaning on Melanie’s fragile shoulder, and Melanie was crying too. She had loved Gerald like a father though she was no real relation to him. Only Scarlett stood dry-eyed, alone and apart. She was Gerald’s eldest, the most like him, and the one most shattered by his death. But she had cried herself out last night and she couldn’t cry anymore.
Beside the grave, golden hair shining in the sun, Ashley stood with the Book of Prayer laid open in his hands. Scarlett watched him out of cat-green eyes and was glad that it was Ashley who would speak the service – his melodious drawl would be a comfort to her on this most awful of all days. Ashley raised his eyes and for a moment Scarlett thought he might look her way, but he gazed past her and nodded to Will, the new foreman who had taken over at Fontenoy Hall when the Yankee Wilkerson had been fired. Will nodded back to him, and Ashley cleared his throat and looked up at the waiting crowd…Continue reading