Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Eight: Playing the Trout >> Page 236

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 236 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
sexes in the days of chivalry, the affectations and stiltish professions of
which may be found faintly typified in this modern, or recent practice of
fashionable flirtation; a practice in which very earnest, and really pas-
sionate people, can never engage with safety; especially if they have not
had the training of circles or countries in which the practice has been
habitual from childhood, or through long periods of time.
It is no matter of surprise to us that Bulkley was deceived, and, with-
out any effort at deception on her part, by the gay and fashionable
English lady. The flattery which his passionate devotions embodied, was
naturally grateful to the feminine heart; and with her training, her
beauty, and her accomplishments, she could readily persuade herself that
they were so many honest tributes of admiration for which the wor-
shipper demanded no equivalent; or, that they were simply such forms
of courtesy and compliment, which, like the superlative welcome of the
Spaniard, which makes you possessor of all in his household, means no
more than that you should make yourself at home, with the usual privi-
lege of a respected guest.
But Bulkley either could not, or would not understand it so. Eager
and passionate himself, he had been flattered into obtuseness by the gra-
cious indulgence which permitted warm professions, and a manner of
equally warm empressement.
Taken aback by his treatment of the preceding night, and still more
so by the quiet coolness of manner which marked his present reception
by the lady, he was disquieted for awhile; lacking something of the ease
and assurance of his usual habit, and really at a loss what to say, an
embarrassment which was not very artfully covered from sight by the
usual commonplaces.
"How had she survived the fatiguing drive? How had she slept? How
did she feel?"&c.
All these questions, awkwardly put, and with an awkward manner,
were answered simply, and with great directness. Mrs. Fairleigh, herself,
seemed to suffer no discomposure. She took occasion to thank him for
his attention to her requisitions; for his attendance upon her as an escort;
and uttered something apologetic for the liberty she had taken in tax-
ing his services. This last sentence seemed to open the door to him for
more familiar language.
"Liberty, Gabriella? Do not, I pray you, use that word with me. It is for
you to command. I am too happy to obey. My very life is at your service.""Oh! thank you, Mr. Bulkley, but I trust that my need will never be
such as to call for such a sacrifice.""Gabriella, you are strangely cold to me," he said abruptly.