Aunt Pauline sighed as she studied Scarlett's face. "Scarlett, I know being raised by two parents who were so different from each other must have been confusing to you-"
Scarlett shrugged distractedly. "I don't know, Auntie. Whenever I think of them or try to do anything they said, I can't .. all I have are impressions- Mother ..working hard and appearing so wise like Holy Mary and Pa , always so loud and hearty and vigorous. Sometimes, I think that between them, they didn't really care about how they appeared to their own children-"
Aunt Pauline clicked her tongue. "Now Scarlett, before you go judging your parents, you've got to realize these times aren't like the old times. You still can't take your parents words as sacred. You've got to weigh them.. some are good instructions.. some aren't. And if they said terrible consequences on certain things, then you've got to think if those consequences hold up in today's world or not-"
"Mother always wanted me to appear genteel and sedate- she said it was an attractive quality for a lady to possess. That and.. never appearing too intelligent, outspoken or headstrong-"
"Are those values holding up now?"
"I don't know" mumbled Scarlett, confused and worried. "That is just it, Auntie. Now when I am travelling around, helping people, I feel so afraid.. I always imagined someone would be with me when I finally stepped out and became more like my Mother-"
"You mean Rhett?"
Scarlett looked up and saw that knowing look in her Aunt's eyes. "Has he been here?"
"No. But I know that there has been some upset between you and Rhett Butler. He's been staying with his mother these past few months, hasn't he? Does he come to visit you?"
"Yes. Yes, he does. There isn't any upset between us-"
"Perhaps there is, perhaps there isn't- But let me tell you this, Scarlett. You've got to start sorting out the words of your parents and your own feelings regarding the way things are going with your life. I hear you talking of sending Wade to law school.. what is to happen to the store? Why didn't you give it up long ago? What about your house? Who is to live there and where will you raise Ella? And are you content to live in town? You must know where you are headed!"
"I always thought I would think and decide these things with Rhett by my side-"
"Never mind him. From what I heard from his mother, he was never himself after his little girl passed away. You must be strong for the both of you. You simply must. There is no other way-"
Deep down Scarlett knew her Aunt was right. But fear gripped her. It seemed strange and frightening to really step out and grip life by the horns and live it. Until now, the dream of winning Ashley over had sustained her through the troubles and trials of the post war and reconstruction era. Now, she could kindle any such fantastic dreams about Rhett. And yet there was a thin sliver of hope. Perhaps if she really took charge of her affairs, Rhett might have a change of heart and become madly in love with her.
And the longer Scarlett lay on her bed and remembered Rhett, the more she convinced herself that what she felt was the truth. Rhett would come to her. There is no other way.
Weeks later when Scarlett returned to Tara, she went riding out with Will and surprised him with her questions.
"You always told me I didn't know what was going on in people's minds-" said Scarlett, by way of explaining her intent.
Will stared at her calmly and after running his hand through his pinkish hair, he began to speak,
"Well, Scarlett.. since you want to know. I'll explain with Suellen as an example. Now, I know you think her silly to want a carriage and dresses during a time of poverty and famine as after the war. I know this for a fact because you told me so yourself. That is why I am referring to it."
"Now. Perhaps inside I agree with you. Perhaps I too think Suellen was spoiled and silly. But telling that to her face.. just like that.. won't make her feel any kinder towards me. You see Scarlett, if I speak my mind, I hurt her pride and make her feel small and then she would set out to prove me wrong. And that ain't useful to me at all."
"So, what are you saying?"
"What I am saying is, if you want Suellen to do anything for you, you've got to start genuinely taking interest in what she likes...even if it is only carriages and dresses.."
"Oh you mean flattery-" said Scarlett, rolling her eyes.
"No. I mean. Genuine interest like how I took a genuine interest in Tara-"
"But, didn't you-" Scarlett stopped. Until then she assumed that Will stayed on at Tara because he had no other place to go. That is what he said himself. But now she remembered he told her that after showing genuine interest in Tara.
Will nodded ahead.. he was following her thoughts. "I seemed interesting to you because I was first interested in Tara. That's the first secret to knowing other people.. I mean, understanding them. "
Scarlett ran these words through her head. "Then Rhett was wrong. According to you, everybody is selfish. Not just me and-" She stopped and blushed suddenly. "Now, Will... what would I get out of understanding Suellen's mind or any other person's mind.."
"Why, it saves you from being lonely. Why if you showed genuine concern for some woman's knitting ideas, she might show some interest in your own sawmill business-"
Scarlett looked surprised. "I think you are mistaken-"
"No, there are ladies like you. The only reason why they don't compliment you frankly is because you pretend their words don't matter and you make them feel small and unimportant."
"But they've always been so judgemental-"
"Yes, but you would be surprised by how quickly you could turn those opinions around!"