“Just a minute, Ma’m. Won’t you sit down here by the fire where it’s warm? I’ll go see what I can do about it. What is your name? He refused to see the―lady who called yesterday.”
She sank into the proffered chair, glaring at the discomfited fat captain, and gave her name dermes
. The nice young officer slipped on his overcoat and left the room and the others took themselves off to the far end of the table where they talked in low tones and pawed at the papers. She stretched her feet gratefully toward the fire, realizing for the first time how cold they were and wishing she had thought to put a piece of cardboard over the hole in the sole of one slipper. After a time, voices murmured outside the door and she heard Rhett’s laugh. The door opened, a cold draft swept the room and Rhett appeared, hatless, a long cape thrown carelessly across his shoulders. He was dirty and unshaven and without a cravat but somehow jaunty despite his dishabille, and his dark eyes were snapping joyfully at the sight of her.
He had her hands in both of his and, as always, there was something hot and vital and exciting about his grip. Before she quite knew what he was about, he had bent and kissed her cheek reenex
, his mustache tickling her. As he felt the startled movement of her body away from him, he hugged her about the shoulders and said: “My darling little sister!” and grinned down at her as if he relished her helplessness in resisting his caress. She couldn’t help laughing back at him for the advantage he had taken. What a rogue he was! Jail had not changed him one bit.
The fat captain was muttering through his cigar to the merry-eyed officer.
“Most irregular. He should be in the firehouse. You know the orders.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Henry! The lady would freeze in that barn.”
“Oh, all right, all right! It’s your responsibility.”
“I assure you, gentlemen,” said Rhett, turning to them but still keeping a grip on Scarlett’s shoulders, “my―sister hasn’t brought me any saws or files to help me escape.”
They all laughed and, as they did, Scarlett looked quickly about her. Good Heavens, was she going to have to talk to Rhett before six Yankee officers! Was he so dangerous a prisoner they wouldn’t let him out of their sight? Seeing her anxious glance, the nice officer pushed open a door and spoke brief low words to two privates who had leaped to their feet at his entrance. They picked up their rifles and went out into the hall, closing the door behind them.
“If you wish, you may sit here in the orderly room,” said the young captain, “And don’t try to bolt through that door Teeth whitening
. The men are just outside.”
“You see what a desperate character I am, Scarlett,” said Rhett “Thank you, Captain. This is most kind of you.”
He bowed carelessly and taking Scarlett’s arm pulled her to her feet and propelled her into the dingy orderly room. She was never to remember what the room looked like except that it was small and dim and none too warm and there were handwritten papers tacked on the mutilated walls and chairs which had cowhide seats with the hair still on them.