Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Afterword >> Page 261

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Page 261

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription AFTERWORD 261
what's the use of talking generally about hunters, when here's the par-
ticular pusson before us, and we all know that he aint none of your
common hunters, and is a gentleman by natur. And natur kin make a
gentleman, sister Carter, quite as well as society. It's born in a man.
Each of these good ladies is also mirrored: Aunt Betsy is reflected by
Mattie Fuller, the Widow Carter by the Widow Fairleigh. Mattie is Sam
Fuller's wife, who becomes the surrogate mother of the Cub and is the
sister of hunter Mike Baynam. Both Aunt Betsy and Mattie Fuller speak
in the country vernacular, and Mattie is characterized by "a good deal
of low humor, and [she] possessed a coarse talent for mimicry, which, in
dealing with the stately Lady Carter, she put to the most mischievous uses
... and her imitations of the big dictionary language of the widow were
quite . . . ludicrous." Mattie's opinion of the Widow Carter is fully as low
as the Widow's opinion of the rustics: She is a "cantankerous, redickilous,
rheumatic, old head-twisted woman!"
If the Widow Carter suffers from "conceits and vanities" and would
be "finished . . . and polished ... of only the money was not wanting," she
is mirrored by Widow Flora Fairleigh. When the Widow Fairleigh calls
at Rosedale Cottage, she "proposed to take the Widow Carter by storm."
However, listening to Widow Carter attempt to counter-impress her with
Rose's accomplishments and education, "Mrs. Fairleigh was fairly over-
come, overwhelmed! Mrs. Carter had beaten her at her own weapons."
This false and pretentious conversation foreshadows Widow Fairleigh's
deception about Rose's companionship, which deteriorates into servi-
tude, a fraudulent marriage, and finally a midnight flight.
Mirror images also occur within the three pairs of men the yeoman
hunters, the foppish squirearchy, and the youths. The pairs confront each
other with the resulting clash of their value schemes when hunters and
fops cross paths, first in the courtship of Rose Carter in 1847 and again
on the hunting field in 1867. In the courting (or hunting) of Rose Carter,
young Fairleigh, seconded by Bulkley, is educated, pretentious, flashy,
selfish, aggressive, and savvy, while Mike Baynam, seconded by Fuller,
is uneducated, socially backward, indecisive, and ultimately melancholy.
Rose is seduced by the glamor of being companion to Widow Fairleigh
and her son, Edward, on the summer social circuit to New York and New
England, only to be abandoned by the son after a secret marriage per-
formed by a fake priest. The melodramatic ending to Rose's story is not
unexpected since she and her mother had the benefits of a protective
suitor and of Aunt Betsy's common sense.
The hunting motif, culminating with two hunts at the end of the