Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Eight: Playing the Trout >> Page 239

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription PLAYING THE TROUT 239
making the beloved one a possession. Now, sir, what is yours? I tell you
that I contemplate, under the protection and guaranty of law, to separate
from my late husband. What then?""You will then be mine. Nay, why should we wait the lingering pro-
cess of the law courts, when those of love are open to us? Suffer me, in
the meanwhile, to become your protector. Let me take you to the
dwelling of my cousin, Mrs. Clarkson, who will only be too happy to wel-
come you. There, at ease, secure under my protection, from all annoy-
ance, you will be happy. We shall both be happy, and ""But, Mr. Bulkley, will not that course be calculated to compromise
me; nay, to prejudice my appeal to the courts?""Are you not compromised already, Gabriella? What will the world
say of your midnight flight from your husband, under my escort? Of that
long and lonely ride through the darkness, from daylight till dawn
together? Of our lodging in the same public tavern, at the same time, and
at this long secret conference here without witnesses? I should think that
all these appearances would sufficiently compromise you with the
world.
"But, Mr. Bulkley, you were not with me in the carriage for one
moment during that long midnight drive.""That is true, Gabriella; but ""Nor did I see you, until the moment when I joined you at the car-
riage door, sir.""True, also, Gabriella; but ""And my maid, Bridget, was with me all the while in the carriage, and
before I entered it; and in a public house like this, where every movement
can be seen by scores of persons, one would reasonably suppose that the
evidence would be sufficient to secure me against suspicion.""Not so, Gabriella. The world is not so indulgent, not so ready to
believe in the testimony of a servant girl, and the very publicity ""And why did you not warn me of these dangers when I was about
to depart from `Fairleigh Lodge?' It seems, sir, that you have calculated
them with nice appreciation.""They but now occur to me. And you forget, again, that you never left
your chamber till noon, and your servant girl was absent for some time.
These facts will be held of suspicious character.""Well, sir, even were I compromised, as you phrase it, you, who know
all the facts, would, of course, acquit me by your testimony."
There was a little flash of malignant triumph in Bulkley's eye, as he
replied: