Scarlett stayed in her room for the next few days. Rhett had left the same evening of the barbeque party and his departure left Scarlett in low spirits. She felt gloomy and upset but somewhere in her mind, she marvelled at the ridiculous solution offered by Suellen for her ridiculous nightmare. It was a silly nightmare. Running through the mist.. why, there is no mist in Georgia. And things reaching out at her. And yet what a lovely, thoughtful solution - Pa's old hunting pistol.
And Suellen had been so kind. She had infinitely greater patience than Rhett.
It slowly dawned on Scarlett that the reason she had those nightmares was because she was unprepared to deal with her Mother's death and her own Pa losing his mind. With Suellen's patient, gentle promptings, she remembered how the others had cried and talked over Ellen's death and Gerald's state. They were honest with their feelings and found comfort in each other's company.
Scarlett had just repressed all those feelings and they had subconsciously ruled her mind for so many years. Suellen understood all this within just minutes. Scarlett found new respect for her sister. And she found it a huge relief to finally lean on someone with her cares - even if that person wasn't Rhett.
"Don't be too hard on him, Scarlett. Rhett just isn't his usual self after Bonnie's death. I know I haven't been with him much but when I first met him he had that gleam in his eyes, so alive and so powerful- He..he isn't like that now-"
"He ruined the party-" said Scarlett, glumly.
Suellen's cheeks flushed and she stayed quiet.
"Were your friends very much offended?" asked Scarlett, quietly.
"I think the Anderson family might not visit us..at least not until they get an apology." Suellen leaned back and sighed. "I was so much reminded of that last barbeque at Twelve Oaks. Rhett said something there too and offended all the men, didn't he? And he walked away after that. I guess some people never change-"
"You should have seen him in Atlanta- picking arguments and saying all those tart, clever things- making people look foolish- That's the reason I hated the very sight of him. He was so insolent and so confident- and there I was.. keeping my mouth shut and staying pleasant just so that I don't offend people into hating me- That's what Mother said- But no, Rhett just had to steal attention and then ruin everyone's good mood-"
Suellen chuckled. "Will.. I think you should talk to Will. He keeps taking Rhett's side and calling the Andersons as eager cats- He says its about time someone spoke bluntly to that woman who prides herself in patronizing the Old South like its some long, lost relic of the past-"
Scarlett remained dull.
"Cheer up, Scarlett. When you feel better, we can take the coach and visit them and make whatever amends we can-"
"That's no use. I wouldn't be able to do that-"
"You wouldn't understand. I don't get along with people like that- I.. that's what we both quarrelled on at first.. Rhett and I. I built that Peachtree mansion and I threw this grand crush and everyone avoided attending as though I was stealing their money or something- And I started bringing other friends- women who loved to have a good time but not exactly from our kind of society and Rhett didn't like that. We quarrelled.. I quarrelled.. truth is, I hated him then- he looked like he had a heart of ice - as though nothing would shake him- as if nothing mattered-"
"He seemed to dislike your friends-"
"Oh you don't know, Rhett- his friends aren't upright or trustworthy at all. He's always poked fun at the most decent families-"
"Strange that he should have quarrelled over your company then-"
"Well, he didn't quarrel- he just withdrew- stopped caring- as though he was just a visitor staying for a spell-"
"Oh, then if I know anything about men- your selection of company mattered a lot to him. Did you quarrel over that again-?"
Scarlett frowned as she sifted through troubled memories. "Several times, yes.. He was very particular that Bonnie should be accepted into the best families-" Suddenly she sat up in shock. "Suellen, you don't think-" Then Scarlett slumped back down again. "No, Rhett would only steal all the attention with his arguments and curt remarks and walk away laughing-"
"Then maybe that is why he is so afraid? Maybe he can't help himself? Maybe that is what he is?"
Scarlett laughed cynically at this. "Rhett is always like this. Always picking on things and seeing things that aren't there and he always comes up right- He's led such a strange, off-track life-"
"Men aren't so hard to figure out emotionally, Scarlett. They are far worse than us- just children-"
"Rhett isn't like that-"
"That's what you think. Just talk to him and you'd be surprised. The thing that makes them angry the most is what they feel sad about. For men, unexplained anger is always a good indicator of sadness- Just talk to him. You'd be surprised at how simple his heart is."