Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Ten: How Aunt Betsy Comes in at a Crisis >> Page 95

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 95

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
described them, partly from memory but mostly from notes made on
the spot about a quarter of a century ago.
We return to our legend.
Listeners, it is said, hear no good of themselves; and the spy is very
apt to see, in a hostile camp, much more than it pleases him to see. It
was so with our melancholy hunter. What he beheld seemed to fill to
overflow his cup of bitterness and humiliation. Of course all his watch
was concentrated upon the two figures who wandered off so constantly
by themselves, followed vainly and always at a long distance by the inde-
fatigable but feeble Aunt Betsy.
The art of Fairleigh was sufficient to baffle her close pursuit and
earnest watch; and, with the assistance of his clever friend, Bulkley, he
doubled upon her movements, by such ready changes of ground, as
afforded him all the opportunities he desired.
But the hunter art of Mike Baynam was not to be so baffled, and he
still kept the errant couple in his eyes of watch, though they burned
with a fever fire all the while.
The Chinquapin gathering, and hulling, and the petty plays which
were incident to these, afforded this couple a pretext for this wander-
ing, and, doubtless, the good natured company were not indisposed to
afford to the interesting young aristocrat all the opportunities which
he desired. They might call him "Nabob," or "Tip top," or "Swellhead"
or what they pleased, they might feel envy, and an occasional morti-
fication of self esteem, but they were still secretly pleased to have such
persons condescend to their sports and seek their association. The girls
naturally envied the Rustic Beauty her supposed conquest, and already
it was whispered along the countryside, that Rose Carter had caught or
would catch the wealthy Heir of Fairleigh Lodge. And this rumour
derived strength from the visit of the great lady to Rosedale Cottage.
At all events, by tacit consent, Rose and her gallant attendant, were
suffered to pursue their sports separately, and no eyes but those of the
jealous hunter beheld those gradually increasing freedoms which an
artful young man will indulge in, when, by the sanctions of a game, he
played with an artless country girl. Not that Rose was artless. On the
contrary. But to seem artless is within the province of art, and one of
its most adroit modes of exercise. How Fairleigh toyed with her fingers
in play; how he prized open the fingers, with a tender sort of violence,
to discover what was in her palms; how he held the palms clasped
within his fingers; how the chinquapins were thrown from her basket;
how they mutually scrambled, and in gathering them were thrown