Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Seven: The Wedding Ring >> Page 139

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Page 139

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription THE WEDDING RING 139
grown suspicious of unfair play, and of espionage. The simple child, with
all her fancied art, was, however, no match for the keen, cunning, acrid
old maid, to whom her beauty and accomplishments were so many
offences. Mrs. Sweetzer suffered no moss to grow beneath her heels when
the game was once afoot, and she unleashed for the pursuit.
Some of the letters of Rose had gone successfully upon their way, and
she was waiting for replies that never came. She was on the anxious
benches as well as Mrs. Fairleigh. What a terrible condition of things,
with two women, in the same household, professing attachment to each
other, keeping up civil appearances at least, yet thus practising treach-
erously against each other's peace.
All were treacherous!
Rose not less so than the rest; but her treacheries had their excuse,
as we shall probably see and, unhappily, she was more conscious than
either! Conscious, and trembling at discovery. Her instincts told her that
suspicion haunted her footsteps, and had possibly found her tracks.
Weeks elapsed while such was the condition of things at Fairleigh
Lodge weeks in which poor Rose got no letters in answer to those she
had sent. Her anxieties increased, and she was now frequently indisposed.
More than once there was a whisper in her ears
"Go home to your mother, girl! Go home to Aunt Betsy."
Alas! she did not dare to go, save as an occasional visitor. When she
now went, she was unaccompanied. The stately rich Lady Fairleigh no
longer deigned to visit the equally stately, but poor obscure Jane Carter.
Meanwhile, winter had set in with unusual severity, with frost and
snow, and fierce storms from the northeast, bringing rain and sleet, and
ice, on their dreary wings.
But our Hunters on the hill heeded little how the winds blew and
the waters froze. They were prospering. Sam Fuller had been down to
Spartanburg and Greenville, supplying, according to contract, vast stores
of bear meat and venison hams; bear's grease, tallow and hides. He
brought home, in backwoods phrase, a "grand pile," with several wagon
loads of supplies, furniture, crockery, sugar, coffee, tea, and Heaven
knows what besides.
Aunt Betsy knew and saw it all. She had spent three days with Mattie
Fuller, who was an invalid; helped her to unpack and put away; receive
from her presents of tea and coffee, sugar and spices, for her own use,
which, of course, she shared with her sister, and very eloquent was the
good old maid, when she got home, in respect to the peace, plenty, and
comfort in that mountain cottage; groaning ever as she concluded: