Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Eleven: Buried in the Snow >> Page 165

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription BURIED IN THE SNOW 165
A new terror was now upon her one so novel to her experience, and
accompanied with so much physical suffering, that she half forgot the
voracious monster whom she knew to be tracking her footsteps.
Rose Carter asked herself, for a moment, what was the cause of these
novel pains which she felt; and, in the next moment, answered, herself,
the question. The natural instinct told her that she suffered from the
pains of labor; and with this consciousness, startling and terrible beyond
all that she had felt before, her shrieks were redoubled on the midnight
air, and summoned mother and aunt, and the discarded hunter indis-
criminately, to her succor. Had he really heard these cries?
What a terrible conflict! Life and Death, at the fearfulest wrestle that
ever tried the strength of woman! And, in place of soft couching and lov-
ing tendance, a couch so desolate; and in night so wild; and with such a
coverlet of snow momently accumulating its incumbent masses around
her prostrate and writhing form!
And the new birth the yet undeveloped Life was to be cradled in
the very lap of Death! No help for babe or mother! And the subtle sav-
age of the mountain gorges approaching stealthily with catlike tread
and agility, and raging with a demoniac appetite for human blood.*
What a condition to endure what a fate to contemplate! The human
sensibilities shrink from the spectacle, while the imagination conceives
fully all its terrors. It is in such cases that the poor suffering heart of
humanity invokes the supernatural agency demands of and expects,
while it implores, the interposition of a special Providence to rescue from
the operation of the general law. The necessity is such as to be worthy
of the interposition of a God.**
The wan light of a shrouded moon, though it softened none of the
gloom of the sky, yet served a better purpose, while the whole earth was
whitened with the snow, in showing the route, and opening the succes-
sive scenes, to the eyes of our hunters. Luckily, they had not brought their
horses, knowing how useless they would be with four feet of snow upon
the ground, and how dangerous their progress down the gorges, which
held great chasms, now filled with snow drift, between gigantic boulders.
* It is the belief of the mountaineers, quite a faith, indeed—for which there may or may not be good grounds—that the panther has a special appetite for a woman in the situation of Rose Carter; and that he has been known to follow a woman who is enciente, for a whole day, and spring upon her at night. So subtle, according to the popular superstition, is this instinct and appetite of the beast, that he has been known, for days, to circle around the dwelling of a female in this condition, watching for her coming forth. Many are their narratives to this effect.
** Nec Deus intersit, "nisi dignus vindice Nodus." Surely, our legend does not violate the rule of Horace.