Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Three: The Adventure of the Cavern in Whiteside Mountain >> Page 204

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 204 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
was pouring over "Robinson Crusoe," or some odd volume of this attrac-
tive order.
But he usually came in at night, and frequently brought home some
of the usual trophies of the chase. It was now a buck or doe, now a wild
turkey, and, not unfrequently, a fox; and his frequent absences in this way
occasioned no apprehension, so completely had he possessed all about
him with the conviction of his general competence and large resources
as a hunter. One day, however, he disappeared as usual, and did not
return that night. There might have been felt some uneasiness, but for
the strong impression which he had made of his capacity to take care
of himself. Besides, by this time, the "Cub" was well known to all the
country hillside that is, to all the plain farmers, graziers and hunters,
of the precinct. If the aristocracy knew or heard of him at all, it was as
a bold, adventurous, and somewhat savage boy, who was nearly as wild
as the beasts that he pursued. Of course, the "Cub" could find ready wel-
come and shelter at night at any of the score or two of plain people, dis-
persed over the region. He was now sixteen, and though slight of figure,
and even small, was so mannish, with such a perfect aplomb, that he had
pretty much ceased to be considered a boy; he was so quick, so cool, so
ready, so entirely at ease, no matter in whose presence he stood. But, with
these qualities, he had no airs, no pretensions, made no boasts, as is com-
mon with the hunters, was in no ways obtrusive, or exacting, and was
modest in the use of his tongue.
Well, one night he failed to return home; nor did he return till late on
the evening of the next day. He brought home the game, and was silent
and uncommunicative.
Mattie Fuller was disposed to ask him some questions, for she was
pleased whenever she could exercise authority; but Mike Baynam gave
her a look that silenced her, saying, as decidedly as look could say it
"If I do not ask any questions you may well spare yours!"
Mike had his own notions of hunter-training and hunter-character,
and had more than once sagely expressed the opinion, that where a lad
is disposed to be silent as to his proceedings, any calling upon him to
account might only tempt him to reply in a falsehood. He could see that
the "Cub" was unhurt; that he came home with pony and rifle, even as
he had gone forth; maintained his usual calm, quiet demeanor, and ate
heartily of his supper; and he cared to know nothing further. Nay, he
came to the conclusion that the boy had found some clues to an adven-
ture, which his pride, as a hunter, prompted him wholly to monopolize.
And he was right.