The meal was gay enough ielts reading and even Gerald, presiding absently at the head of the table, managedto evoke from the back of his dim mind some of the manner of a host and an uncertain smile. Themen talked, the women smiled and flattered—but Scarlett turning suddenly to Frank Kennedy toask him news of Miss Pittypat, caught an expression on his face which made her forget what sheintended to say.
His eyes had left Suellen’s and were wandering about the room, to Gerald’s childlike puzzledeyes, to the floor, bare of rugs, to the mantelpiece denuded of its ornaments, the sagging springsand torn upholstery into which Yankee bayonets had ripped, the cracked mirror above the sideboard,the unfaded squares on the wall where pictures had hung before the looters came, the scanttable service, the decently mended but old dresses of the girls, the flour sack which had been madeinto a kilt for Wade.
Frank was remembering the Tara he had known before the war and on his face was a hurt look, alook of tired impotent anger. He loved Suellen, liked her sisters, respected Gerald and had agenuine fondness for the plantation. Since Sherman had swept through Georgia, Frank had seenmany appalling sights as he rode about the state trying to collect supplies, but nothing had gone tohis heart as Tara did now. He wanted to do something for the O’Haras, especially Suellen, andthere was nothing he could do. He was unconsciously wagging his whiskered head in pity andclicking his tongue against his teeth when Scarlett caught his eye. He saw the flame QV Baby of indignantpride in them and he dropped his gaze quickly to his plate in embarrassment.
The girls were hungry for news. There had been no mail service since Atlanta fell, now fourmonths past, and they were in complete ignorance as to where the Yankees were, how theConfederate Army was faring, what had happened to Atlanta and to old friends. Frank, whose worktook him all over the section, was as good as a newspaper, better even, for he was kin to or knewalmost everyone from Macon north to Atlanta, and he could supply bits of interesting personalgossip which the papers always omitted. To cover his by Scarlett,he plunged hastily into a recital of news. The Confederates, he told them, had retaken Atlanta afterSherman marched out, but it was a valueless prize as Sherman had burned it completely.
“But I thought Atlanta burned the night I left,” cried Scarlett, bewildered. “I thought our boysburned it!”
“Oh, no, Miss Scarlett!” cried Frank, shocked. “We’d never burn one of our own towns with ourown folks in it! What you saw burning was the warehouses and the supplies we didn’t want theYankees to capture and the foundries and the ammunition. But that was all. When Sherman tookthe town the houses and stores were standing there as pretty as you please. And he  Neo skin labquartered hismen in them.”
“But what happened to the people? Did he—did he kill them?”