I’m still around, but I can’t live with the likes of GONE WITH THE WIND, the biography of Scarlett O’Hara. It rewrites history, and portrays my papa, Rhett Butler, may he rest in peace, as a crook and playboy. Even his own grandchildren believe it.
The book called me “Rhett’s ward," as if I had no place in the man’s heart - - worse than a stepchild. Only Scarlett’s biographer, Mrs. Mitchell, knows why she wrote it that way, and only I know the harm it’s done to Papa and me, since it was published last year.
I'm his adopted son, and I was an eyewitness to most of GONE WITH THE WIND, back when it happened. I’ll be damned if I won’t tell Papa’s side of the story, for the sake of the grandchildren, before the book catches on.
Papa cared about no one but Scarlett, until Bonnie’s birth. He was too steadfast for his own good, allowing everyone their turn to betray him, including me. He seemed to consider my treachery against him a mere trifle, as compared to Scarlett’s treachery. That’s why he was able to salvage some of his fondness for me in the end. I’ll confess my own sins at the end of this memoir, lest anyone should take me to task.
The worst cheater of all was GONE WITH THE WIND’s author, Margaret Mitchell. She waited until now - 1936! - to slander Papa, when he can’t ridicule her in reply.
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“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful,” is the only true thing GONE WITH THE WIND says. It has to be true, since it’s the first sentence of the book, but everything that followed it is hogwash, as Papa would say, concocted by Mrs. Mitchell to make Scarlett seem pretty and clever as a parakeet. Scarlett, herself began rewriting history before
’s fires had died, in her own letters. She was still in her twenties! Feebler folks’ memories of the actual facts had already begun to fail. Rhett, however, remembered just fine, though near twenty years Scarlett’s senior. Unlike her, he didn’t care how folks remembered him. Scarlett’s letters traveled everywhere, to Suellen and Will Benteen at Tara, and to the Sherman kin. Enclosed were bribes such as perfumes and pressed flowers (store-bought) for the ladies, and cash, which Mr. Benteen needed for goods like lamp oil that he couldn’t barter for. Later, Mrs. Mitchell the biographer cobbled Scarlett’s letters together and called it GONE WITH THE WIND. Charleston
Scarlett’s versions of events continually sparked hot repartee with Papa and the guests that frequented their new Swiss Chalet on Peachtree Street, as they sipped gin and reminisced at the cocktail hour. Papa never cared to get the last word, but that is my aim now, because of GONE WITH THE WIND. I was an eyewitness and I kept my own notes. It was my habit, as a stenographer. Even my profession I owe to Rhett Butler, which I’ll explain later.