Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Appendix: Historical and Textual Commentary >> Page 277

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Page 277

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription HISTORICAL AND TEXTUAL COMMENTARY 277
himself into the belly of the bear, just in the region of the chest, and
drew the sharp edge downwards. . . . Her limbs fell, and, without a
struggle, she tumbled over, perfectly dead.
The climax echoes strikingly Simms's description in the lecture. The
major difference is, of course, that the Cub instead of the older hunter
kills the bear; the "coup de grace was . . . the bullet driven through her ears
by the `Cub,' and the prompt use of his knife simply cut short her dying
struggles."
In the same installment, the Cub rescues the amateur Fairleigh, who
is being attacked by a bear he has wounded. The Cub,
just as on a former occasion, when he came to the rescue of Sam Fuller,
darted up, swift and stealthy as a tiger cat, and before the beast was con-
scious of the approach of any other enemy, he had blown his bullet
through his ears... .
To finish him with his knife was the next movement of the boy,
who struck vigorously at the side of the beast .... The next stroke of
the weapon split the heart of the bear; and he rolled over with one
mighty wallow, and lay dead.
Besides these obvious parallels, other Fisher material provided details
of the "local color" variety in the novel. In addition to the lengthy
descriptions of the countryside, Simms included a few examples of local
customs. The professional hunters in The Cub engage in still hunting,
notes on which appear in the journal. The fictional mountain hunters
are very careful with their rifles, and their dogs have such names as Tear-
coat and Bruiser; though none of these names actually appears in the jour-
nal, Simms recorded more than once the names of several hunters' dogs
(Penn, Wonder, Guard) and their rifles (Sore Shins, Columbian Orator).
Names of people who actually appear in the journal keep cropping up as
part of the supporting cast in these later works: Langford, Henry, Mills,
Carson, Wood, Dolby, and Fisher. The material in Book Second, Chapter
Four of The Cub obviously derives from these mountain notes. For
instance, the fictional professional hunters make "annual contracts .. .
for five hundred hams of the deer . . . unconsciously browsing or cow-
ering within these thickets," and Mike Baynam "is not lazy, and sells his
five hundred deer hams every year to Walker in Spartanburg, and other
deer and bear meat, hams and shoulders, to other people in Asheville and
Greenville." The 1856 lecture reports that Fisher (like Baynam) con-
tracted "each season with the villages to furnish his five hundred venison
hams, at fifty cents apiece, from untamed foresters that are still free in