Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Six: Clouds about the House >> Page 136

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Page 136

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 136 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
"Was ever the like heard? What a pertinacious woman!"
But we must return to Rose. Admitting her frequent indisposition
of late, and ascribing her present feebleness and faintness to the mal-
adie du mer, she diverted from herself all further comment and inquiry;
and succeeded, though with difficulty, in getting through that one day
and night, spent with her mother and aunt. We are sorry to express our
belief that she was really glad to get away from them, in that brief visit,
after a five months' absence at the North.
But, in returning to Fairleigh Lodge, she did not exhibit herself more
happy there than in the cottage of Rosedale. There were things and
thoughts that troubled her.
"Why?" she asked herself, "why was I not suffered to know that Edward
was not to return with us until we had got on board the vessel?"
She began to make other discoveries, and to ask other questions for
which the answer was not easy. These were all prompted by a painful con-
sciousness of her own which never suffered thought a moment of rest.
And was it fancy, or was there a real change in the carriage of Mrs.
Fairleigh towards her? She no longer bestowed on her those fine flatter-
ing speeches which had won her ear at first, and for a goodly season after.
Rose fancied that the tones of the lady were growing colder and colder
every day, and that her countenance had become somewhat stern of late.
Nay, were not the eyes of Mrs. Fairleigh turned more frequently upon
her with looks of earnest inquiry, amounting to curiousity; and had she
not reason to think that some painful suspicion rested upon her which
was slowly ripening to discovery!
What could be the nature of that suspicion?
Her heart sank as she asked herself the question; for she certainly had
a secret, the discovery of which made for her a perpetual fear.
What was that secret? Who shall say? These plotting women will dis-
cover it, no doubt, in due season. A secret suspected to exist, is already
half discovered.
How was it that Rose wrote weekly letters, and received none in
return? Why did she resort to certain arts to conceal from the household
the fact that she had correspondents, or sought them?
A thousand questions like these might be asked of Rose, which she
could not answer. She herself asked a thousand questions of her own
heart and head, the answers to which she dreaded to hear.
Did she, among other things, fancy, or really perceive, a something
blending the sneering and savage, in the prying eyes of Mrs. Sweetzer, the
housekeeper a sinister looking woman, with a perpetual grin upon her