Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Nine: Catstrophe—Conclusion >> Page 247

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription CATASTROPHE-CONCLUSION 247
unhurt. But not for long. In thirty seconds after, Fairleigh hears the sharp
spang of a rifle, on the right and above him.
Who could it be? Who can have shot? He is on the extreme right of
the range of stands occupied by his party. There is no other. He staggers
to his horse, which had been fastened some fifty yards in the rear.
Meanwhile, there are several shots from below. Then there is an open
cry of the dogs, a pack of thirty noses to the earth, coming up the sides
of the mountains.
Bugles are rapidly blown. Every hunter seeks his horse, and soon fol-
lows a general stampede up the heights; the hunters converging from sev-
eral quarters, and making for the points whence the shots have been
heard.
This brings them towards the stand of Fairleigh, of the one party, and
our "Cub of the Panther" representing the extreme left of the other party.
Fairleigh, meanwhile, already feeling the effects of his repeated bev-
erages, has stumbled over a rock, and been precipitated to the ground,
losing his gun in the fall. When he has picked himself up, and finds his
way to the spot where he tethered his horse, he finds the animal has bro-
ken loose from his fastening, and though grazing but a few yards distant,
some time is lost in catching him. By the time he has mounted, and is
making his way to the hollow, or valley, between the two hills where our
"Cub" has been posted, most of the hunters are ascending the heights,
converging from opposite directions; the two rival parties of hunters now
mingling together. Baynam and Binkley have each secured his deer, and
Sam Fuller joins them, having shot a third which he has dropped while
on the drive, and when the buck was just starting out of his bed of rushes.
Most of the two parties, singly or in groups, have reached the table
land, and are almost in sight, at the moment when Fairleigh, descend-
ing to the valley between the two hills, has discovered our "Cub of the
Panther," whose rifle shot has been successful.
The boy has killed the beast in his tracks; has already passed his
couteau de chasse through his jugular, and sitting upon the body of the
buck, while kicking his sides with his heels, in exultation, he wipes the
bloody knife on the hide of the animal.
Now, it must not be forgotten that it was an old Norman custom, if
not law, that condign punishment awaited an outsider or interloper, who
crossed the path of a hunting party; or took any active share in its
proceedings.
This old Norman custom was brought to the colonies of the South
by our cavalier ancestry; and the hunter held it as a grievous offence,