"It seems to me that the best relationships, the ones that last,
frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look
at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a
switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is
suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with."
He was amazed at what he had seen today. He had never expected Scarlett, his little xenophobe, to be here in Ireland of all places, even if it was the land of her ancestors. He had assumed that she was hiding somewhere in Georgia, somewhere familiar, not here in a place that she had only heard stories of from her blustering father. Perhaps he should track her down, see how she had been. This one change alone was enough to intrigue him. And she had always intrigued him from the first moment that he had witnessed her doling out her charm on the hapless and helpless swains of Clayton County.
He punched the pillow and made a hollow for his head, feeling that slight feeling of triumph as some of his frustration pushed the seams of the pillow to their limit as he pondered how he should go about finding her. It couldn't take that much effort surely. He couldn't imagine Scarlett living a simple and discreet enough life to hide in any place for long, let alone in this country that was a den of poverty. Yes , Scarlett was one who believed in ostentation and living a lavish life. She would be easy to track down.
He fell asleep imagining what kind of home that she was now living in, imaging it to be more grandiose and obnoxiously garish that even the Peachtree street house had been. The mental image that monstrosity made his eyes burn and he snorted as he imagined what his money and her questionable tastes had fashioned. A house, mansion, or even castle that overdone would hurt anyone's eyes. He snickered as he thought of someone mistakenly assuming that such house was in fact a whore house. He could picture Scarlett's again flaming at the very insinuation. Yes, he did need to look her up while he was here if for no other reason than to assuage his curiosity.
Even the next morning he was still snickering as he remembered her outlandish behavior of the previous day. Scarlett never ceased to amuse him. Apparently some things never changed. She was always doing something more bizarre and unexpected. He missed that. The bed was quiet this morning, it felt odd to be in a bed alone. He had never spent too many nights without a warm body beside him. And yet since Scarlett had disappeared no matter who was in the bed with him, it felt wrong and he might as well have been alone. His marriage to Anne had lasted for such a short time that it might very well have never happened. He was certain that Rosemary regretted finding the letter that informed him that the divorce had in fact not happened. The marriage to Anne was annulled, and Anne had decided to become a nun.
All of his hard work to earn back his good name had been in vain. He was a pariah once again. His mother and perhaps Sally Brewton were the only ones who would consider allowing them in their homes. How was he supposed to know that the divorce certificate had been a fabrication. It had looked official enough. But just the same an annulled marriage had ruined Anne. No one would have considered marrying her after that scandal. Ireland had been a welcome haven away from the gossip and the twittering that he had endured.
After readying for the day, he began to ask around, trying to find the information that he knew couldn't be that difficult to uncover. All he needed to do was ask about the person who was currently causing the most disruption and uproar and he would find her. He wondered if she would be pleased to see him, wondered if she would be receptive of the man who apparently was still her husband, though unbeknown to her.
He finally found his answer to the question of her whereabouts when one of the maids began rattling off about the O'Hara, the beautiful American who had built her own town. He could barely contain his laughter. Leave it to Scarlett, only his ex-wife, no wife, would go so far as to buy her own town. That sounded just about the right level of extravagance to suit her. He wondered if she had gone so far as to decorate the entire town or if she had only decorated the largest place in town as her own, gilt and draped in red velvet no doubt.
The maid told him of Ballyhara and gave him vague directions to find it, and he set off towards the interior towards a small town that hadn't even existed before Scarlett left Charleston after their unfortunate boating accident. Well, that wasn't quite true. It had been a ghost town if the girl was hoped to be believed. And he did hope that he could believe at least part of what she said since it was her directions that sent him off to destinations unknown. The stories that she relayed were quite grand and almost impossible to be believed.
The horse that he had borrowed from John Moreland was a well trained animal that oozed strength and vitality. If any animal would be ready to make this trek, this one would. There was an instant connection and almost immediately, Rhett was riding the beast as if he and the creature were one. And as he ride he couldn't help but think about all of the moments of his life with Scarlett. His life spread before him in brilliant color against the emerald hills undulating forward.
He imagined that she would have brought some of her more garish dresses with her. Certainly she hadn't been wearing one at the horse fair, but that was to be expected. She couldn't exactly wear something with feathers to buy a horse. Of course it couldn't be forgotten that she was pretending to be a widow.
When he made his way through another small village, he decided that he should take the time to stop and see if he was indeed traveling in the right direction. He swiftly and fluidly swung down from the borrowed animal and stopped a small man as he crossed the road.
"Sir," Rhett said briskly, "is this the quickest path to Ballyhara?"
The man gave him a particularly blank look. "I don't be understanding why you'd wanna go there."
"My wife, she lives there, owns the town apparently."
"She be your own wife and ye not be knowing where she is and what she owns?" The man countered.
"Sir, I have it on good authority that she is now called the O'Hara, and of our personal matters you need not take any mind."
"Well, be ye wanting the O'Hara or Castle Ballyhara?"
Rhett was growing impatient with the man, "Just tell me where Ballyhara castle is."
"Its a wee bit of Mullarkey."
"Malarky?" Rhett questioned. "So you're just pulling my leg?"
The man bristled at his comment. "I dinna touch you. I don't be knowing what it be your talking about. I was just a telling you that Castle Ballyhara be part of the Mullarkey estate."
"Thank you. I look forward to finding my wifes family there."
"Well I doubt that ye'll be finding much of anyone there. The O'Hara's haven't a lived there for many a years. Castle Ballyhara was once a grand castle I'd imagine, but ye'll be finding nothing other than wee bugs and spiders there in the rubble. No one ha lived there in as long as I've lived."
"But the girl that I talked to said that there was an American woman living in Ballyhara and calling herself the O'Hara."
"Well, she won't be living in Ballyhara Castle. I'd wager that she might be living over near Trim. That where be the only O'Hara clan that I be knowing lives." The man said with a smile.
"Well, fine. Then where is Trim?" Rhett replied coolly.
"Ach. It be back quite a piece from where you've already come."
Rhett huffed for a moment, angry that he had already lost precious time. "Could you be so kind as to tell me specifically how to get back to Trim, I would be much obliged."
The man's round face colored as he gave animated directions which were tedious to understand at best. But Rhett thanked him and turned and rode back in the direction that he had come from all the while muttering under his breath "it would be easier to catch one of their fabled leprechauns than to understand all of their gibberish".
It was nearly dark before he found himself in the town that locals identified as Trim. And none of the locals were particularly helpful, thinking that he was English. By the time he had obtained directions, the sun had completely set and there was distinctive chill in the air. But he would find her. He would find Scarlett. After all that he had already undergone to try and find her, he wasn't stopping now. And besides his body was not as young as it had once been. He wouldn't mind a warm bed with a warm body in it as well.