Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Nine: The Panther in Pursuit >> Page 152

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 152 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
When the top of the eminence was reached, Michael Baynam again
paused, and wheeling round his horse, looked back again upon the route
over which they had passed, their tracks already effaced by the falling
snow.
The sky was sheeted with the ever-drifting snow currents, and noth-
ing was visible in the long distance in the direction in which he gazed but
the murky and misty gray of that dense atmosphere a perfect sea of
lead-like vapor.
Could he, from that height, have been able to penetrate, with mor-
tal eye, the space between, and once more behold the palatial abode of
the Lady Fairleigh, he might, at that very hour, have beheld such a spec-
tacle as would have frozen the blood in all his veins, while filling all his
brain with fire.
There, gliding outwards from a door in the rear of the dwelling, creep-
ing close along the wall of the basement, stealing outwards, now to the
cover of the garden shrubbery, and the thick hedge which encircles it, and
now darting forward in a run to the shelter of the great avenue of chest-
nut oaks, which conducted to the valley road, came the tall figure of a
woman, wrapped from head to foot in a great cloak or shawl, which
seemed to be worn rather for concealment than for protection from the
weather.
She seems not to heed the snow, now that she has gained the wood.
She proceeds with eager steps never once looking behind her, but mur-
muring ever as she goes; sometimes darting forward in a run, and then
stopping short as if in pain, and moaning and muttering at intervals,
unintelligibly, perhaps, even to herself!
And this is Rose Carter, the once so happy, and the still so beautiful!
She labors under temporary insanity. That last violent scene with Mrs.
Fairleigh has shocked her brain from its propriety.
"I must go!" she cried in the growing darkness of her chamber.
"I know they mean to kill me if I stay! They will do the deed this very
night! I see it in the face of that horrid Sweetzer! Hark! that noise! They
are O, my God! they are even now sharpening their knives! Both of
them! Two to one! And how can I struggle now? I must fly before they
come! I must `go!"go!"go!' Yes, the voice tells me, `go!' `go at once,'
it says! Yes, yes! I hear you! I will go! I will go! I dare not die yet!"
We have seen how she took her departure.
But whither would she go?
According to the rude mountain ballad, which records her history, and
which you may still hear sung by the mountain hunters, she had purposed