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After Frank’s funeral, Rhett brings news to Scarlett. She unburdens herself to him by telling him that she is afraid of going to hell for killing Frank and being so unkind to him. She claims that she should have done things differently. Rhett soon talks her out of her self-pity and tells her he is about to make a trip to England. He will be gone for some time and wants her to marry him when he returns. She tries to refuse as she thinks of Ashley, but Rhett kisses her passionately and melts her hesitation. She agrees to marry him, even though she doesn’t love him. She tells him it is partly his money and partly because she really is fond of him and realizes they have a lot in common.
When Rhett returns to Georgia, he brings Scarlett a ring so huge and gaudy that even she is almost embarrassed to wear it. Once he is home she announces her engagement. The very notion of her marrying the public rogue is enough to set old families against her, but she makes her engagement public at the same time as an election in which a Yankee governor is being forced on Georgia. The legislature had never accepted the right of blacks to vote, but under martial law, it is permitted anyway, and the blacks elect a Republican named Bullock. That fact that Bullock is a friend of Rhett’s angers the people even more. Even Mammy, whose good will Scarlett would like to have, objects to the marriage with "trash."
Rhett believes that Scarlett's sudden guilty conscience is only on account of getting "caught." She fears that other people will blame her for Frank's death, and she has no way of excusing herself. Rhett acts quickly because he fears that Scarlett would marry someone else before he had a chance to get her for himself if he doesn't speak up. When he kisses her, her body responds, and she enjoys the sensation. She is still too busy fantasizing over Ashley, however, to realize that she could be very much in love with Rhett if she would face reality in love with the same brutality that she has faced it in business or day-to-day activities. He does help her to see that regardless of any late attack of conscience, she could not have behaved any differently.