Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Afterword >> Page 263

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription AFTERWORD 263
neous "opinion of Major Todd, as that of everybody besides, regarded the
flight of Mrs. Fairleigh as only the crowning act" of a long and treacher-
ous liaison between herself and Bulkley, and Todd insists that Fairleigh
has suffered a "mortal disgrace." Instead, Fairleigh proclaims his gratitude
at being relieved by Bulkley's apparent elopement with Gabriella of "a
most burdensome charge, of a great annoyance." Echoing the narrator,
Fairleigh recognizes that Todd is merely a "d d fire-eater, who is for
getting everybody into a fight to gratify his own vanity." Finally, the nar-
rator, using rhetoric associated with the highly charged political acrimony
preceding the Civil War, condemns a class whose honor needs defend-
ing by a duel. After Fairleigh drunkenly decries public opinion and
declares that money, good food, and liquor are the only requisites for
companionship, the narrator says he suffers from "imbecility,"8 and his
circle of acquaintance is "obtuse ... and greedy." In short, Fairleigh "had
declined . . . upon a lower range of companions, that class to whom the
phraseology of the present day has given the name of 'scallawags.'"
Simms was also in good control of several structural elements that
advanced his themes. Fairleigh's English wife, Gabriella, suffering under
his violence and fraud, learns (unlike Rose) to moderate her supposed
superiority, and like Rose, she flees on a winter night to the protection of
a benefactor. However, unlike the mountain girl who languishes in 1850
in childbirth in the snow and dies, Gabriella inherits Fairleigh Lodge in
1867 after Fairleigh's death by the hand of the Cub; Gabriella's mother-
in-law, upon learning of the mortal wounding of her son, predeceases
him by five hours. Widow Fairleigh's dying of shock is itself a repetition
of Widow Carter's sudden death in 1850 upon hearing that the unmar-
ried Rose had given birth and died in Mattie Fuller's cabin.
Other paired episodes and themes could be examined: two charivaris
(the wedding party and the chinquapin hunt), bear and deer hunts pre-
cursive to the climactic ones discussed above, the midnight flights from
Fairleigh Lodge, and so on. As they mature, the youths learn to respect
young Fuller's bookish and undextrous nature equally with the Cub's
stealthy but unacademic gifts. Toward the end of the novel the
unschooled master-hunter Mike Baynam validates education by send-
ing his nephew, young Fuller, to high school in Spartanburg for further
study to become a successful clergyman. All this sounds familiar it is
Simms doing what he has done before: exploring the social, economic,
and educational class differences false and true in domestic relations.
The final departure from Simms's prewar depiction of class is