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 207

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Page 207

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription THE ADVENTURE OF THE CAVERN 207
Having resolved the matter fully, according to his judgment, he at
once proceeded to the adventure. He entered the narrow pathway that
long ledge of level, running all the way parallel with the edge of the
precipice, and within a few feet of it; with a great parapet of wall on the
other hand, perpendicular, which neither man nor beast could ascend.
Here and there, a great boulder broke the continuous level of the
pathway, requiring that he should climb over on all fours; and giving
awful glimpses of the terrible vacuum, the wilderness of gulf which
yawned below.
And thus, stealthy as a cat, as the race whose token he bore, he made
his way, half crouching, half of the time, and occasionally crawling upon
his belly, when any great inequality of the surface made it necessary to
exercise unusual caution.
There were some gaps, or slides, as they are called, where boulders had
become detached, and had slidden down the precipice, leaving hollows,
or breaks, in the ledge, which the surest-footed animal would need to
cross with fear and trembling.
But our "Cub" was fearless, and felt his way with a firm footstep, and
quite as firm a heart.
He had proceeded some three hundred yards, pursuing this perilous
causeway, when he reached one of these gaps made by a detached and
fallen boulder, over which he had to clamber.
This he had gained, but not crossed. He was peering over it with all
his eyes, in the very act to climb, having duly surveyed the securities
which he could command when safely alighted on the other side, when,
suddenly, he beheld the old bear emerge from her cavern, and make
towards him. But for interposition of the boulder, they were not twenty
steps asunder.
It was too late to use the rifle. In a few seconds of time, and the pow-
erful beast would be crossing the boulder over which he was preparing
to climb. What was to be done?
With wonderfully quick instinct, the "Cub" conceived his chances,
and his plan of operations. He persuaded himself, from the bear's evi-
dent composure, that he had not yet been seen. He crouched behind the
boulder accordingly; then, as he heard the near tread of the beast against
the boulder, he rose up with shout and shriek, and yell, and arms wide
extended, in the very face of the beast; the two confronting each other,
from the two opposite sides of the boulder.
Such a shriek and howl a blending, as it were, of the human and the