Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Nine: Catstrophe—Conclusion >> Page 242

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 242 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
However much Squire Fairleigh might affect indifference, with
respect to his wife and her departure, he had not become so utterly bru-
tified as to be insensible to the discredit which necessarily would attach
to him from his savage assault upon her person; nor to the shame which
must follow from her desertion, especially assuming that her flight,
accompanied by his friend Bulkley, seemed to argue a long continued
illicit intercourse between these parties.
But, keeping up the appearance of indifference, he became more
reckless in the indulgence of his appetites than ever; and, for several days,
he continued in a state of absolute stupor, from his debaucheries in
drink.
Suddenly, however, and with a spasmodic effort, arousing himself
from this stupor, he sent out invitations to certain of his former associ-
ates, inviting them to a dinner party. But, of all these more than a dozen
in number but three attended; and these were of that accommodat-
ing class whom a good dinner and choice liquors will reconcile to any
associations.
There was still some old lurking vanity lingering in the heart and
brain of the unfortunate man, that did not suffer him to be wholly insen-
sible to this evident slight; but he welcomed the few who came, and, res-
olute to exhibit pluck, he added a new set to his circle, declining now
upon a lower range of associates than had ever been tolerated before at
Fairleigh Lodge.
Each week, once at least, and frequently twice a week, beheld a gath-
ering of the of polloi to dinner at the "Lodge;" and their revels, with less
restraint than ever, from the training of society, were carried to excesses
which threw into eclipse all the past follies of the squire.
His mother, though nearly worn out, had yet sufficient vitality, of
mind at least, to be duly sensible of the utter degradation of her son; but
she could only groan over it, not prevent; nor, indeed, had she the physi-
cal strength for the struggle. Her case, as well as her son's, was hopeless.
When not engaged with his dinner parties, which was only another
name for debauchery and not in a state of stupor, in the exhaustion
which his debaucheries produced Squire Fairleigh still made a show of
hunting, and his companions were not unwilling to join him in what was
frequently a fruitless chase, in order to enjoy the wines and viands which
usually closed the day and the hunt together.
It happened on one of these days, when his new set was gathered
about him, that one of the party, Elias Binkley, mentioned a discovery he
had made, of an obscure and little known region among the hills, where