Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Afterword >> Page 258

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 258 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
prosecute you with all the rigours of the law!" Sam replied, no doubt with
a wry smile: "What! all of them, good ma'am? That'll be hard upon a
poor hunter, who gits his meat out of the wild beasts only . . . all the rig-
gers of the law, you say, ma'am? all of 'em?"
There is also a gently comic-epic treatment of ridiculous episodes.
The best example of its use is in the misfortune occurring at the wedding
of Polly Blanton and Ben Fitch. Rose Carter danced with Edward
Fairleigh while the fat Mahala Scrymgeour frolicked with his compan-
ion Mr. Bulkley. For her own amusement, Rose Carter deliberately
tripped the jolly Mahala,
and down she went, with a pretty little scream, which did not declare
the whole extent of the disaster.
Her bodice burst! The warm and volumnious masses broke
through every frail impediment of stay and hook, and chintz, and
riband; and the prodigal display of buxom charms was such as to con-
found all witnesses, male and female.
Aunt Betsy's alertness rescued Mahala, and she returned to the party "in
time for the supper, which she would not have missed for any lover under
the sun." The delightful overstatement of the "voluminous masses" and
"prodigal display of buxom charms" is reminiscent of Trollope, whom
Simms admired.4 Mahala's good humor makes her the heroine of the
long-remembered evening, and it shows the reader Rose's real character,
even though only Aunt Betsy had seen Rose trip her.
Long neglected because of its unavailability, The Cub of the Panther
should finally find its way into serious study of Southern literature, local
color, and realism. Watson has called it a "definite advancement in Simms's
cultivation of the local-color style," a story on "one of the most popular
subjects of current mountain fiction," the courtship of a mountain girl
by a city slicker. "It is not too much to say," Watson claims, "that Simms
composed a story . . . which qualifies as a full-fledged local-color novel"
(37-39). It is clear that the local color elements were high among Simms's
priorities when writing the novel. The opening chapters move rapidly,
the narration is good, and the characters are interesting. The long descrip-
tion of the wedding party is excellent in its incorporation of local color
including dialect, customs, and especially humor. The theme of clashing
cultures prominent in local color fiction is explored by contrasting the
relative merits of the simple lives and manners of country folk with those
of the showy but shallow rich. Later, Simms seems to have become more
interested in the courting of Rose Carter by the yeomanly Mike Baynam