Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Five: The Amiable Sisters >> Page 130

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 130 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
because of her own indebtedness. Her meanness in money matters is
awful. She's kept back from me my rightful dues, and pretends that she's
fed and clothed me beyond my salary."
Mrs. Childs had shot her arrow, carelessly perhaps, but it was in the
right direction. Rose was still a thing of vanity and feathers, and one gai-
ety after another sufficed, in her young head and heart, to subdue
thought for the present; but she already felt, in both, at times, the pres-
ence of a coRE, which, like a little cloud, might yet so grow as to cover all
her sky. She strove, by continued gaieties, and by freely yielding herself
to the vortex of dissipation, to prevent its growth. But it kept its place if
it did not grow, and still wore an ominous aspect, if it did not threaten.
Her spirits were evidently depressed frequently, and were only
aroused by some violent transition, or unnatural excitement. She was
eager after society, change, pleasure from the ball and dance, and the-
atricals, to the pic-nic party, and even to the chase. She, at least, would
sometimes ride out in the Park, whenever a deer was to be singled out
and shot.
And she had to reconcile all these pleasures, if so they may be called,
with courteous service. She must read to my lady when she is weary; she
must write out my lady's answers to her tenants, and see to other business
matters; make entries of charges and payments. In brief, she became quite
a clerk, keeping the accounts of the estate; but this did not lessen her tasks.
She must make the music, at any summons, for my lady's guests; and for
all this she must be heedful that my lady's caps, muslins, fine dresses, and
ribbons, shall be always ready, done up and fit for wear at a moment's call,
whether for an evening party or the regular performance of piety, as dis-
played every Sunday at the village church. Happy Rose!
We must suppose another winter to pass without any material change
to the eyes of mere spectators. Again the summer trip, not dissimilar to
the last, yet with some variations. Rose still floated in the light, gay, buoy-
ant spheres of fashion; and still her letters, at first, were wonderful
sources of delight and triumph, study and analysis for the complaisant
mother, who read them daily, commenting as she read, to Aunt Betsy,
or any visitor, and sustaining herself in the excitation which they occa-
sioned by a frequent resort to "the drops."
But, as the season advanced, the letters of Rose became less frequent,
were less copious of details, and even Aunt Betsy, obtuse as she was, in
respect to fine fashions and fine women, could not avoid perceiving, in
these letters, a deficiency of the wonted tone, the buoyancy of spirit, and
the light-hearted exuberance of the girl.