Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Appendix: Historical and Textual Commentary >> Page 274

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 274

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 274 HISTORICAL AND TEXTUAL COMMENTARY
appetite for human blood." Then, as he frequently did when using fact
or popular legend, Simms wrote the following explanatory footnote:
It is the belief of the mountaineers, quite a faith, indeed for which
there may or may not be good grounds that the panther has a special
appetite for a woman in the situation of Rose Carter; and that he has
been known to follow a woman who is enciente, for a whole day, and
spring upon her at night. So subtle, according to the popular super-
stition, is this instinct and appetite of the beast, that he has been
known, for days, to circle around the dwelling of a female in this con-
dition, watching for her coming forth. Many are their narratives to this
effect.
The child born to Rose Carter while she is so intensely frightened of the
stalking panther is known as the "Cub of the Panther" because he bears
on his forehead a large, tawny birthmark in the shape of the animal. The
hunter who, hearing a voice in his sleep, discovers the dying mother and
saves the child is her unsuccessful suitor and the hero of the book, Mike
Baynam. He takes the child home to his sister and brother-in-law, giving
it his own name.
Simms had also met a hunter named Green (or Greene), and from
that hunter's adventure he apparently invented the "local tradition" of
Adam Eve. The entry in the 1847 journal reads:
Green has his dog met the bear coming down a narrow precipitous
ridge, there was no escape to one side or the other the precipice on
either side being an abrupt fall of at least forty feet. Green felt his dan-
ger & at once drew his bead upon the bear. The latter saw him at the
same moment & equally apprehensive wheeled quite round at the
moment that Greene fired. He received the ball in his rear. It traversed
his entire body & came out of his neck. The enraged brute again
wheeled, & this time upon his assailant. Darting headlong down the
ridge, Greene prepared himself for the desperate struggle in which he
saw no thing but death. There was no evasion of the encounter at the
moment when the grapple was expected the faithful slut passed
between & flung herself upon the bear, a terrible struggle followed &
in the agonizing efforts of the wounded monster, he drew his enemy
over the cliff with him. A single crash & dead fall, & all was silent.
Greene looked over the cliff. The bear lay upon the dog. The former
was dead. The latter still lived but with his bowels torn open.
This incident, probably already an embellishment by Green, was used
in the second Appalachian lecture with Adam Eve as the hero. Then it