Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Book Second / Chapter One: The Melancholy Hunter >> Page 46

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 46 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
to do so, is not a matter over which human will possesses control. "Your
words are good," said the Seminole chief to the preacher, "but after all
that you have said, the pain is still here, here in the temples!"
Now, the hope upon which the affection of Mike Baynam was based,
was not actually lost, even in the opinion of Mike himself, but it was
endangered; and the doubt which overhung its fate was too serious not
to make him fear the worst. He felt keenly, and with bitterness, the treat-
ment which he had received from Rose Carter on the night of the mar-
riage of Ben Fitch to Polly Blanton. He could not be insensible to the
cruel levity which she had shown, and the prompt caprice which so
readily preferred, in every way, the attentions of the stranger; and so
recklessly displayed her preference, to the eyes not only of one whose
devotions had been so long continued, and had been so self-sacrificing
always, but of the whole company, hardly one of whom was ignorant
of the state of his affections. His pride was mortified; his heart was
pained and sore; his head was heavy; his hope, hovering and flitting
about its perch, without settling, and seeming every moment prepar-
ing to depart in flight forever! His love was too intense, his modest self-
estimate too humble, to allow him to brave his fate. He feared too much
for his hope, and the fearless hunter, whom man could not make suc-
cumb, was the veriest coward in all its approaches to a woman! Divided
between doubt and anxiety, and hope and fear his suspense was hardly
endurable; yet he could not muster up the necessary courage to bring
the matter to an issue. He feared to face his fate.
We have seen the condition of his mind, as he rode from the wed-
ding festival, to the obscure retreats of his mountain home. Here, for a
goodly week, the melancholy hunter sat by the ingleside, his pipe his
only consolation, or wandered along his cliffs, and among the great
chestnut oak forests, a sad and lonely man! His energies seemed to have
abandoned him. He no longer sought the chase. In jockey phrase, "he
was off his food;" ate but little, and that little with apparent indiffer-
ence, if not disgust. Night and morning, his brother-in-law, Sam Fuller,
would say to him:
"Are you for the trail to-morrow, Mike?" or, "Are you for a drive to-
day, Mike?" and scarcely get any answer. A shake of the head, the
simple monosyllable "No;" this was all.
Fuller would carelessly add, "The scent's keen, Mike;" but without
producing any effect. He himself (Fuller) brought home game almost
nightly; and, though confessing himself far inferior as a hunter to
Baynam, he was always tolerably successful. He was a dogged and tena-