Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Nine: The Chinquapin Hunt >> Page 89

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription THE CHINQUAPIN HUNT 89
It was as if an ice-bolt had shot to the heart of the melancholy
hunter.
He understood the whole at a glance.
This was a "CHINQUAPIN HUNT," one of the sports of the moun-
taineers, which is apt, in the animation of the scenes, incidental to it, to
become a sort of Charivari, before the close.
A regular Chinquapin Hunt, and he not invited!
How Mike writhed at the thought!
And these strangers, these nabobs, these tiptops, swellheads and
aristocrats, only yesterday known, they could be there; and, if not
invited, how should they know of the contemplated gathering?
And he, so long and constant a devotee, who had ministered, for
so long a time, in so many ways, to the comforts of the family at Rose
Dale, and of the young Beauty thereof; that he should be so soon and
carelessly cast off whistled down the wind, thrown upon the waters,
having no more uses, or attractions, the peel of the orange after the
juices have been all sucked out! There was the pang the misery!
Very bitter, as you may suppose, were the meditations of Mike
Baynam; but he sternly subdued himself to calm, and quietly riding
away from the eminence, from which he had discovered the parties, he
alighted from his horse, in a little hollow of the hills; fastened the ani-
mal from sight, in a thick shrubbery, and, knowing well the grounds
usually employed for the "Chinquapin Hunt," he made such a circuit,
as, taking him into the rear of the farmstead, would afford him the most
frequent glimpses of the several parties.
Mike was rather ashamed of this sort of espionage, but his heart
was too full of grief and suffering to permit his conscience, or even his head,
to assert itself in the regulation of his conduct.
Meanwhile, the Chinquapin Hunters are momently reporting
progress. The several groups are busied; the men gathering and hulling
the fruit, and the girls filling pockets, handkerchiefs and baskets. The
woods of Rose Dale were full of Chinquapin trees, and the place was
annually employed for this gathering and sport, at the opening of every
winter.
It is barely possible that some of our readers may need to be informed,
more particularly, of the sports accompanying the Chinquapin Hunt,
and possibly of the fruit itself. The nut, spelt "Chincapin" in the
Dictionaries, is a dwarf chestnut, called by Naturalists "Castanea pumila."
It is nearly oval of shape, about the size of a medium acorn, and is of a
deep purple black colour. It is sheathed in a prickly hull or shell, which