Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Five: ''It Needed But This'' >> Page 225

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription CHAPTER SIX
WHEN, AT A LATE hour in the day, Squire Fairleigh descended to the breakfast room, he found only his mother present, sitting in her easy chair, her hands folded in her lap, her eyes cast down and up alter-
nately, now shut as if to keep out light, now looking upward as if in appeal
to that heaven to which the appeals of her heart had been rarely made
before. She had been the merest worldling —a creature of pride, vanity
and fashion; haughty in her conscious wealth, and deriving all her men-
tal aliment from the association with worldlings like herself. And now,
in the day of her decrepitude, with the world failing her, with no longer
the capacity for society or company, and grown conscious of the empti-
ness of vanity, if not of the worthlessness of her past life, she was resource-
less in all soul or intellectual respects. The lifted eye indicated no aspira-
tion of the soul. Her worship, her prayer, her religion, if either of those
were in mind or heart, they were so through some mere mechanical pro-
cess, the result of a knowledge rather of church and social forms than of
any radical or decided conviction or impression of the soul. Haggard, lean
as a skeleton, with eyes and cheeks sunken and shrunken, a palsied frame,
toothless, and with skin turbidly yellow, as if dyed with saffron, she pre-
sented the aspect of a mockery, the most wretched that ever was found
to illustrate the vanity of wealth and the poverty of humanity.
When her son entered the room, coarse, bloated, with eyes red and
humid, and cheeks swollen and dyed to purple by his midnight pota-
tions, she gave him but a single glance; and, as the memories rolled over