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Scarlett returns to Tara to recuperate. Meanwhile Rhett creates a plot to loan Ashley the money to buy Scarlett’s mills. Melanie can’t bring herself to tell an outright lie to her husband, so Rhett arranges to mail the money from an "unidentified" source. When Scarlett returns to Atlanta, Rhett plays a bit of reverse psychology in telling Scarlett that Ashley came over to buy the mills, but he told him that she wouldn’t sell because she could never be happy unless she had her fingers in everyone else’s business. Scarlett responds angrily and blurts out that of course she will sell the mills to Ashley. She immediately regrets her words, but cannot back out.
That night she completes the sale of the mills. She overhears Ashley telling Rhett that the convicts will all go back. She and Ashley argue about it, but Ashley does not believe happiness can come from the misery of others. She reminds them of how poor they were during the war and of all that money has done for them, but when challenged by Rhett, she cannot bring herself to say that her money has actually made her happy.
For the duration of the story, Rhett has criticized Scarlett for any attempt to help Ashley or to give him any of the money he loans her. Now he helps Ashley himself. One reason is that Scarlett no longer needs the money she gets from the mills, and he wants to get her out of the environment that should be for men only. Another is that he has gotten better acquainted with Ashley as the two of them worked together to dissolve the Klan. They share similar views on many issues although the background of those views may be different. It will give Ashley a chance to be independent and will also give them a means of sending back the convicts. Finally, it will eliminate any chance Scarlett might have to see Ashley alone, although Rhett knows by this time that there is nothing physical between Ashley and Scarlett. Finally, it rewards Melanie for her years of loyalty and sacrifice.