Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Appendix: Historical and Textual Commentary >> Page 276

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 276

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 276 HISTORICAL AND TEXTUAL COMMENTARY
He is seventy years old scarred from head to foot in fight with bear
and panther; yet he daily takes the trail, afoot, after these `varmints' and
deer. . . . His sons share his skill with his employments. His daughters
... have shared in the mortal struggle with the Black Bear and the
Panther. You see that tall damsel who is now compounding for us the
peach and honey. She has darted in when her father and the Bear were
doubled together in such close embrace that she dared not attempt to
strike; when the old man, half strangled, has not breath enough to
speak. He has dropped his knife. The girl plucks it from the very feet
of the bear, and thrusts it into the old man's hands. "And may be," said
the old Hunter, "I didn't work sich a window in his buzzom as let out
the sperrit with a rush!"
The comment Fisher makes here in the lecture approximates Fuller's
understatement that he was in "a most oncomfortable sitivation"; it is
also echoed in the novel's Whiteside Mountain episode by the Cub's
remark, "How she eased of!" when the startled bear toppled over the cliff.
Several times in The Cub of the Panther, an animal too large to manage is
killed, reminiscent of the journal incident in which Fisher sent his
daughter for assistance with the huge bear.
This episode is used twice in the October installment of The Cub of
the Panther in the two chapters surrounding the adventure of Whiteside
Mountain. In the first instance, a 515-pound female bear, having received
three "telling" shots, "lay wallowing and struggling, but not, seemingly,
able to rise." The Cub's uncle, Sam Fuller, believing "that her vital
strength was exhausted," advanced to disembowel her, when "she sud-
denly rose up, upon her hind legs, making herself as tall as her assailant,
and caught him in an embrace more warm than loving." Fuller
was completely taken by surprise. . . . And, to his great horror, the knife
fell from his hand. . . . And thus they stood, in a wrestle, in which the man
was weaponless, and almost powerless, in the embrace of the bear... .
It was, as he phrased it afterwards, "a most oncomfortable
sitivation."
The Cub with loaded rifle rushed to rescue his uncle who
had only breath to murmur, rather than to speak:
"The knife, boy! the knife under me."
But the "Cub," not seeming to hear, clapped the muzzle of his rifle
to the very ears of the bear, not giving heed to the near neighborhood
of the bear's nozzle to that of his uncle, . . . he blew the bullet through
the head of the beast, then ... dropping on his knees, crawled between
the legs of the two combatants, grasped the knife . . . and . . . drove it