Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Two: Elysian Prospects >> Page 113

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription ELYSIAN PROSPECTS 113
waltz by millionaires, and men high in station. What was Edward Fairleigh
to the thousand chances which such associations would afford to her? and
when she thought how the papers, the Heralds and the Mercuries of New
York would report daily and weekly the superior charms and attractions
of the superb Rose C , the mountain belle of North Carolina, she
was seized with a sudden fit, very like a physical collapse, which alarmed
the great lady, her companion. Her head fell on one side, she gasped
painfully, and Mrs. Fairleigh sprung to her assistance. She faintly waved
her hands, and motioned to a bottle which stood upon the toilet, mur-
muring as she did so;
"My drops!"
Mrs. Fairleigh hastened to relieve her, read the directions on the
bottle, gave her so many drops in a cup of water, and stood by, fanning
her. In a few moments she recovered sufficiently to speak.
"I am so troubled with these fainting turns," she said "it's the heart,
ma'am the heart, the doctor says. It is the vampire, Mrs. Fairleigh, the
terrible vampire which sits heavy on my heart.""The vampire!" said Mrs. Fairleigh, "what disease is that? I never
heard of it before."
Mrs. Carter, only half recovered from her exhaustion, exclaimed,
opening her eyes to their widest:
"Never heard of the vampire, madam? that fabulous bird of the
Orient, the gigantic bat, that flaps his wings over the sleeper, and sucks
all the life-blood from his heart. It is a figure, madam, in my case. Mine
is the vampire of sorrow, of grief, care, affliction, that preys upon my
heart, and ever and anon plunges its harpy teeth and talons into that vital
and susceptible region. I feel it there, madam, feel that one day it will
close upon its prey, and stifle all its pulsations forever.""God forbid!" was the responsive ejaculation.
It somewhat lessened the great lady in the esteem of the poor one,
that she knew nothing about the vampire. She, evidently, had read but
little of the poets.
But the poor invalid, full of her fancies, and eager for more exercise
in that sylvan dream which had possession of her, recovered amazingly
soon; as quickly almost as her momentary collapse had been. She
remembered her pride and dignity at the same time. It was essential that
she should assert them both; and, with solemn manner and lugubrious
emphasis, to the great surprise of Mrs. Fairleigh, she began thus:
"Mrs. Fairleigh, madam, as a Christian, I am the humblest of all God's
creatures. God forbid that I should forget my weakness in His presence.