SCARLETT O’HARA was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught
by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. In her face were too sharply blended the
delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy
ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square
of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly
black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows
slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin—that
skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils
and mittens against hot Georgia suns.
Seated with Stuart and Brent Tarleton in the cool shade of the porch of Tara, her
father’s plantation, that bright April afternoon of 1861, she made a pretty picture.
Her new green flowered-muslin dress spread its twelve yards of billowing material
over her hoops and exactly matched the flat-heeled green morocco slippers her
father had recently brought her from Atlanta. The dress set off to perfection the
seventeen-inch waist, the smallest in three counties, and the tightly fitting basque
showed breasts well matured for her sixteen years. But for all the modesty of her
spreading skirts, the demureness of hair netted smoothly into a chignon and the
quietness of small white hands folded in her lap, her true self was poorly
concealed. The green eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, willful, lusty
with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor. Her manners had been
imposed upon her by her mother’s gentle admonitions and the sterner discipline of
her mammy; her eyes were her own.