“Oh Scarlett, how good of you to plan all this for us! You knew how I longed for home!”
As usual when confronted by Melanie’s habit of attributing worthy motives where no worth existed, Scarlett was ashamed and irritated, and suddenly she could not meet either Ashley’s or Melanie’s eyes.
“We could get a little house of our own. Do you realize that we’ve been married five years and never had a home?”
“You can stay with us at Aunt Pitty’s. That’s your home,” mumbled Scarlett, toying with a pillow and keeping her eyes down to hide dawning triumph in them as she felt the tide turning her way.
“No, but thank you just the same, darling. That would crowd us so. We’ll get a house― Oh, Ashley, do say Yes!”
“Scarlett,” said Ashley and his voice was toneless, “look at me.”
Startled, she looked up and met gray eyes that were bitter and full of tired futility.
“Scarlett, I will come to Atlanta. ... I cannot fight you both.”
He turned and walked out of the room. Some of the triumph in her heart was dulled by a nagging fear. The look in his eyes when he spoke had been the same as when he said he would be lost forever if he came to Atlanta.
After Suellen and Will married and Carreen went off to Charleston to the convent, Ashley, Melanie and Beau came to Atlanta, bringing Dilcey with them to cook and nurse. Prissy and Pork were left at Tara until such a time as Will could get other darkies to help him in the fields and then they, too, would come to town.
The little brick house that Ashley took for his family was on Ivy Street directly behind Aunt Pitty’s house and the two back yards ran together, divided only by a ragged overgrown privet hedge. Melanie had chosen it especially for this reason. She said, on the first morning of her return to Atlanta as she laughed and cried and embraced Scarlett and Aunt Pitty, she had been separated from her loved ones for so long that she could never be close enough to them again.
The house had originally been two stories high but the upper floor had been destroyed by shells during the siege and the owner, returning after the surrender, had lacked the money to replace it. He had contented himself with putting a flat roof on the remaining first floor which gave the building the squat.