Rightly interpreting her silence, Gerald patted her arm and said triumphantly: “There now, Scarlett! You admit ‘tis true. What would you be doing with a husband like Ashley? ‘Tis moonstruck they all are, all the Wilkes.” And then, in a wheedling tone: “When I was mentioning the Tarletons the while ago, I wasn’t pushing them. They’re fine lads, but if it’s Cade Calvert you’re setting your cap after, why, ‘tis the same with me. The Calverts are good folk, all of them, for all the old man marrying a Yankee. And when I’m gone—Whist, darlin’, listen to me! I’ll leave Tara to you and Cade—”
“I wouldn’t have Cade on a silver tray,” cried Scarlett in fury. “And I wish you’d quit pushing him at me! I don’t want Tara or any old plantation. Plantations don’t amount to anything when—”
She was going to say “when you haven’t the man you want,” but Gerald, incensed by the cavalier way in which she treated his proffered gift, the thing which, next to Ellen, he loved best in the whole world uttered a roar.
“Do you stand there, Scarlett O’Hara, and tell me that Tara—that land—doesn’t amount to anything?” Scarlett nodded obstinately. Her heart was too sore to care whether or not she put her father in a temper.
“Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything,” he shouted, his thick, short arms making wide gestures of indignation, “for ‘tis the only thing in this world that lasts, and don’t you be forgetting it! ‘Tis the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for—worth dying for.”
“Oh, Pa,” she said disgustedly, “you talk like an Irishman!”
“Have I ever been ashamed of it? No, ‘tis proud I am. And don’t be forgetting that you are half Irish, Miss! And to anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them the land they live on is like their mother. ‘Tis ashamed of you I am this minute. I offer you the most beautiful land in the world—saving County Meath in the Old Country—and what do you do? You sniff!”