Chapter One: Stubbornness
Mary Ellen O'Hara, known to her friends and family as Ella, was almost the spitting image of her, only very slightly younger, twin sister Katie Scarlett. The only dissimilarity between the sisters being their eyes; Ella's were a deep ocean blue, whereas Scarlett's were a dazzling emerald green. The twins had dark luscious hair which only enhanced their pale white skin, something all southern ladies strived for. Both had tiny waists which were the smallest in at least three counties and the envy of all the local girls.
Although their looks were matching, Ella's and Scarlett's personalities could not be more different. This very afternoon was a sure example of that. Ella was sitting by the window of her bedroom reading a very enlightening book about Europe, a place Ella wished she would have the opportunity to visit one day. Meanwhile Scarlett was entertaining two of her many beaux outside on the porch.
Scarlett was the belle of the county, not because she was one of the prettiest girls around, in fact she was rather unremarkable, but she had a way of charming all the local boys into fighting for her attention, and Scarlett had to be the centre of attention.
Ella was very different in that respect. She did not have her sister's charms and was not as confident in her feminine wiles. In fact, the most attention Ella received from the male species was when they mistook her for her sister.
As a result, Ella was shy and an avid reader, she loved to learn new things, whatever the subject. Without entertaining beaux taking up her time, Ella had the opportunity to educate herself. She read as many books on as many different topics as she could get her hands on. Europe was a special interest of hers, women weren't as repressed over there and Ella longed for that kind of freedom.
Ella, although still young, had already resigned herself to a lonely life, without a husband or children. No man had caught her interest and she had yet to catch the attention of any man. So Ella longed for the freedom to live her life as she pleased and believed that Europe was the only place she could do that. A whole other world was out there across the ocean, and Ella did everything she could to learn about it in preparation for her new life, in what she hoped was the not too distant future.
That's not to say Ella and her sister weren't close, they were twins after all and Ella was the only sister Scarlett was somewhat close to. Scarlett even, on the odd occasion, tried to subtly push one of her beaux in her sister's direction, but without Ella's cooperation nothing ever became of these plans. Scarlett was worried about her sister's lack of interest in the male species, but knowing stubbornness was something they shared, the sisters were at an impasse. Ella's stubbornness wouldn't let her accept her sisters help, while Scarlett's stubbornness wouldn't stop her from trying. This evening was one of those occasions.
It was the night before the Wilkes' barbeque at Twelve Oaks and after dinner three out of four of the O'Hara sisters excused themselves to their rooms to prepare for tomorrow. They scrutinised their choice of dresses, a day dress for the barbeque and an evening dress for the ball in the evening, they tried out different hair dos and made sure everything was perfect, after all they wanted to look their best. The fourth excused herself and went to her room to finish reading her book. Ella rolled her eyes at her sisters as she heard them argue about who's dress was prettiest and what hairstyle suited who best. Ella didn't share her sisters interest in appearance, she didn't see the point anymore.
Scarlett waltzed into Ella's room to find her reading. Scarlett felt a pang of sadness as she watched her sister. She could remember that when they were little Ella showed the same amount of enthusiasm about dresses and balls as Scarlett did and wondered what changed Ella's mind about such things. She hated the thought, but Scarlett knew it was her fault. Ella always had to compete with Scarlett for everyone's attention and being young and foolish Scarlett never noticed or cared when her twin was pushed aside and forgotten. After years of trying to impress everyone and be noticed by anyone, Ella stopped caring how she looked and retreated into herself, finding solace in her books.
"Ella, I think I've promised to eat barbeque with every male that is to be present at the Wilkes' tomorrow and all the dances to more partners than there will be songs!"
Seeing her sisters lack of interest, Scarlett frowned slightly, but continued.
"Would you take some of them off my hands for me Ella? It would be such a help."
"You know I have no interest in any of your many beaux, Scarlett."
"I still don't understand how that's possible Ella, don't you want to get married and have a family?"
"I might have once, but I no longer see that kind of life in my future."
Scarlett's heart went out to her sister at these words, but she only grew more determined to show Ella that it was possible for her to have that kind of future.
Ella internally winced as she noticed the effect her words had on Scarlett. She didn't want her sister to know she had resided herself to a lonely life and tried to appease her by playing along.
"In any case, all your beaux are boys. Only a man would be worth bothering for."
"A man you say. A man like Frank Kennedy perhaps?"
Ella threw the little cushion she was leaning on at her sister as they both laughed.
"Don't even make jokes like that Scarlett. You know I share your feelings about our younger sister's beaux. Suellen is the only female I know who sees Mr Kennedy as a fitting option for marriage. He may be classified as a member of the male species, but he is no man, he has no masculinity about him."
The sisters grimaced at the thought of being married to such a weak, fussy man.
"I still don't see what is wrong with any of my beaux."
"They are boys who have seen nothing of the world or of life. I am not naïve enough to think my reading habits make me any worldlier than them, but if I were to have a husband, it would be nice if he could teach me things, if he was knowledgeable about the world."
"I still don't quite understand sister, but I'll keep an eye out for any such men for you. Maybe such a man will be present at the Wilkes tomorrow."
"I doubt that very much, but thank you sister."
Satisfied with having gotten an appropriate response from her sister, Scarlett turned the conversation to something more light-hearted.
"So have you decided what you are wearing tomorrow, I just can't decide myself!"
"Scarlett you know green is your best colour."
"You're right of course, why I would consider any other colour I do not know!"
"As for me, I don't have any beaux to impress."
Sighing at her sister's disregard for her appearance she made her way to Ella's closet.
"You may not have any beaux now, but if your worldly man turns up tomorrow you don't want to be wearing something you just picked out without thinking!"
"Then why don't you choose for me Scarlett; you know I'm hopeless at such matters."
Ella knew dressing her would make her sister happy and distract her from Ella's lack of beaux.
"Blue is your colour as much as green is mine, here this will catch any man's attention you may wish to draw Ella."
Scarlett picked out a white day dress with a dark blue floral pattern and laid it on the bed, before going back in and coming out with a deep royal blue, off the shoulder evening dress which matched her sister's eyes perfectly.
"There, and that for the ball, you'll positively striking. Now promise not to steal all my beaux from me tomorrow!"
Scarlett gave Ella a sad smile as she left the room.
Ella sighed and let her head rest on the back of the chair she was sitting on. She didn't see why Scarlett insisted on pushing beaux in her direction. It had become a tiring charade keeping her future plans from her sister, but she knew she would never hear the end of it if Scarlett knew.
Unable to concentrate anymore Ella put her book down and got ready for bed. She was already dreading the barbeque the next day, maybe she could hide a book in her bag to pass the painful hours she was expected to socialise, or sneak into the Wilkes library without being noticed, hopefully the opportunity would present itself.