Radio newscaster Paul Harvey used to amaze us with his weekly segment called “The Rest of the Story” Sometimes truth is actually stranger than fiction. Such is the case with the classic novel and movie, “Gone with the Wind.” For decades people wondered what might have happened next to Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. [A TV movie sequel called Scarlett was produced in 2006, but was not very well received.]
Yet what may people don’t know is that Margaret Mitchell’s original novel was based on the lives of real people. Yes, there was a Rhett Butler, through his real name was Rhett Turnipseed. (I can see why they changed that one for literary purposes). And there was a Scarlett O’Hara, through her real name was Emelyn Louise Hannon. And yes, Rhett really did walk out on her and join the Confederate army.
The history of what happened next has been kept by Rhett’s family, the Turnipseeds, a fine old South Carolina family. It was recounted in a column by Wesley Pruden in the Washington Times.
After the Civil War, Rhett Turnipseed became a drifter and a gambler, eventually ending up in Nashville. On Easter morning 1871, Rhett attended a Methodist revival meeting. He was moved by what he heard and converted to the Christian faith.
Soon after, Rhett attended divinity classes at Vanderbilt University. Eventually he became a Methodist preacher riding a circuit in rural Kentucky.
Did Rhett and Scarlett ever cross paths again? Yes, the Turnipseeds tell the following story. Reverend Rhett was worried about a young woman in his flock. She had run away, and rumor had it she was working in a house of prostitution in St. Louis. Reverend Rhett rode off to look for her.
He found the young woman, but he was told the madame of the house had no intention of letting her go. Asking to speak with the madame, Rhett discovered that she was none other than his former love, Scarlett. Excuse me – Emelyn Louise Hannon. Reverend Rhett challenged the madame to a game of cards. If he won, the young girl he had come to fetch would be free to leave. And win he did: with a royal straight flush – an ace king, queen, jack and ten of spades.
The story ends well for all concerned. The young girl married well. After her encounter with the reformed Rhett, Emelyn left prostitution, converted, and joined the Methodist church. Eventually she opened an orphanage for Cherokee children. She died in 1903, and her grave is marked to this day.
The true sequel of Scarlett and Rhett is more astonishing than any fictional account could ever be. It’s a story of grace. Or as Paul puts it in Ephesians 2:7 “The incomparable riches of his grace.” Your story and my story is just as incredible as that of Scarlett and Rhett. God went to incredible lengths to win us back from the clutches of Satan.
Why not take time to thank Him for His amazing grace.
Have a great week!