Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Four: The Deer and Deer Hunters on the Trail >> Page 63

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Page 63

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Sam was nothing but a hunter. The delicate issues of love made no
part of his existence. He had a homely sort of affection for wife and
home; but that delicate atmosphere with which sentiment clothes and
refines passion, furnished nothing from brain to heart, keeping the one
feverish and wandering, and the other sensitive and suffering from
every caprice of the beloved one. The language which one of our
Southern poets describes, and subsequently puts into the mouth of one
of these mountain hunters, might very well be assigned to Sam; indeed,
was his ordinary language, though in his case delivered in plain prose.
As the poem to which we refer is but little known, and has been
rarely seen, we quote the passages, which, whatever the merits of the
verse, are eminently truthful in sentiment and description. The por-
trait of the hunter here spoken of is done to the life, as every one will
admit who ever knew old Jim Fisher, of the Hogback Mountain:
"A brave old man of seventy years,
Scarr'd deeply in the forest strife;
His cheek the panther's `token' wears,
The grapple nearly cost him life!
From head to foot, o'er back and breast,
The bear and wolf have left such trace,
As will, to life's last hour, attest,
His matchless trials in the chace;
How quick his hand, how great his skill,
How brave his heart, how firm his will;
What sinews bore him to the prey;
What courage nerved him in the fray;
How keen his sight, how sure his aim,
How swift his knife —a flash of flame
As, borne beneath the savage foe,
Half-smothered by his shaggy breast,
He felt where first to plant the blow,
Then made the keen steel do the rest.
And now, on foot, beside my steed,
With equal ease of step and speed,
He climbs the heights, and shows the way,
And cheers one at the close of day.
With promise of supper, good and soon.
Be sure I welcomed warm the boon!"