Trudging dejectedly from Rhett’s jail cell, Scarlett encounters Frank Kennedy in a new buggy. Frank says that he now owns a store and plans to buy a sawmill soon, which would be extremely profitable because of all the rebuilding needed in Atlanta. Despite Frank’s engagement to Suellen, Scarlett determines that she must marry Frank in order to pay the taxes on Tara. She tells Frank that Suellen is set to marry another man. Scarlett realizes that, contrary to most well-bred Southerners, she would rather have money than pride.
A startling thought this, that a woman could handle business matters as well as or better than a man. . .See Important Quotations Explained
Two weeks later, Frank marries Scarlett and gives her the money to save Tara. Scarlett ignores Suellen’s sadness and the neighbors’ malicious gossip. She manipulates Frank into making more profitable business decisions, fending off guilt with her practice of putting off worrying about things. Frank soon falls ill, and Scarlett takes advantage of his immobility, going to the store to see the account books. She quickly realizes that Frank runs the business badly—his friends owe him vast sums of money that he is too embarrassed to collect. Scarlett thinks she could do a much better job in the strictly male world of business and begins to think of acquiring a sawmill.
Rhett, who has blackmailed his way out of jail, enters the store and congratulates Scarlett on her marriage. After mocking her for still loving Ashley, Rhett changes his tone and agrees to loan her the money to buy the sawmill as long as she does not use the money to help Ashley.
To Frank’s chagrin, Scarlett quickly becomes a ruthless businesswoman, devoting all her time to the mill and turning a sizable profit by any means necessary. Scarlett is the only businesswoman in Atlanta, and the city gossips disapprovingly. Embarrassed and afraid of his wife, Frank hopes that a baby will take Scarlett’s mind off business.
Tony Fontaine, a planter’s son from Scarlett’s county, arrives one night in a panic. He has killed Jonas Wilkerson and a black man. He explains that Wilkerson was telling freed slaves they have the right to rape white women, and one such slave made a lewd comment to Tony’s sister-in-law. Ashley, who accompanied Tony on his revenge mission, advised him to seek help from Scarlett and Frank. Tony leaves, and Scarlett reflects that the South has become a dangerous place. She begins to fear losing everything to the powerful Yankee government and freed slaves, and she pins all her hopes for safety on making money. She tells Frank that she is pregnant. While Frank glows with pride and relief, Scarlett thinks of the Ku Klux Klan, a newly formed organization supposedly intended to protect whites against violent blacks. She feels grateful that Frank is not in the Klan because the government in the North has been gearing up to crush the organization.
Scarlett searches for the right man to run the mill while the birth and the baby occupy her. To the horror of old Atlanta, she also begins doing business with the Yankees, although she hates them. She shakes with anger when three Yankee women declare in front of Uncle Peter that blacks are untrustworthy. Scarlett begins to run into Rhett frequently, and she drinks brandy to soothe her nerves. News arrives that Gerald is dead, and Scarlett heads home with a heavy heart.