Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Book Third / Chapter One: The Lady of Fairleigh Lodge >> Page 103

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Page 103

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription THE LADY OF FAIRLEIGH LODGE 103
a piano, upon which she herself could not play, and required a musi-
cian who could play and sing as well for her own as for the amusement
of her company. She was fond of novel reading, but her eyes did not
permit her to indulge her desires of herself, and so she required a
reader.
Now, up to this time, she had been able to command both, and much
more, in the service of a Miss Hall, a damsel of uncertain age, but by no
means ill-looking or unamiable, who read to her by night, and played
and sang at call, for her own and the benefit of her visitors.
Miss Hall was a poor girl, of reduced family, who had received a much
better education than was common among the young women of the-
precinct. With a natural talent for music, she had acquired some of its
most important lessons from a scientific teacher during the better for-
tunes of her family. She read with ease, good taste and intelligence, and
without affectation. She was clever in other respects, especially in "doing
up" the muslins, ruffles, neckerchiefs and such other portions of the
female costume as required nice and tidy handling.
Miss Hall, for five years, had been an absolute "Godsend" to Mrs.
Fairleigh, and in gratitude for the "Godsend," she made the poor girl a
slave; giving her small compensation and exacting all manner of service,
which left her but little repose or leisure. From this bondage Miss Hall was
about to escape. She was about to marry; glad to exchange her abode, with
the rich widow in the grand house, for that of the son of an humble
farmer, in a little cottage, some nine miles away.
Of course, Mrs. Fairleigh was indignant; pronounced Miss Hall a fool,
and reproached the poor young woman with ingratitude! To all this the
latter made no reply, satisfied to escape, and, perhaps, quite as well sat-
isfied, in her own conscience, of the propriety of her course, and within
a few days after the Chinquapin hunt, the girl had packed her trunks and
taken her departure, going forth in a little wagon sent for her by farmer
Childs; the stately lady being quite too indignant at her ingratitude to
place any vehicle of hers at her disposal. When modestly asked to be sent,
her reply was a brutal denial.
"You may go as you came, young woman! Your conduct, in regard
to me, has been such as to deprive you of all claim upon my courtesy and
consideration. You will also please to remember that you have no claim
upon my recognition, and you will beware of all efforts to approach me,
in any way, or any of my family!"
And so ended a long history of servitude on one hand, and tyranny
on the other. Miss Hall was too well satisfied with the prospect of escape