Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> Simms's Scarlett O'Hara: Zulieme de Montana Calvert of Panama in The Cassique of Kiawah >> Page 5

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Secondary Scholarship | 1998
Transcription something, I will ask, and somebody must answer" (29). Not getting her way into
Charleston immediately, she insists on having a picnic in the forest ashore.
Some of the seamen join her as guards and participants. Among these is
the ship's lieutenant, young and dashing Molyneaux, who sets out to seduce
Zulieme. (Later in the romance he tries to usurp authority over Harry's cruiser.
Harry eventually kills Molyneaux in a duel.) At her forest picnic, Zulieme dines
and drinks, albeit cautiously, with Molyneaux. But at one point she brags of her
love for her husband. Carelessly revealing her own sexual spark, she boasts to
Molyneaux that when Harry "made love to me, it was like a tiger" (54). Then
when overstimulated Molyneaux during their frolicsome forest dance suddenly
embraces her from behind and "snatches a kiss from her mouth," fiery Zulieme
becomes the tigress. She slaps him "quick as lightning," and tells him "very
cooly," burning dry ice, not to "try that again" (59). Zulieme might have
"wanton spirits," Simms explains, but "not wanton desires" (59). Such sexual
restraint does not happen to be the case with Harry. It is soon revealed in the
narrative that he has very "wanton desires" for another woman, Olive Berkely,
his brother the Cassique's wife.
Unhealthy Olive has borne Edward Berkeley one child. When Jack
Belcher, Harry's seaman-spy ashore, gives his captain this piece of news, Harry
falls back into an old despair of thwarted desire that now, with his marriage to
Zulieme, has become adultrous. His crass physical yearning stands in stark
contrast to Zulieme's determined marital loyalty, displayed in her violent rebuff
of Molyneaux at the picnic and in her rejection of other such advances that will b
made to her later in Charleston Society. A little over a year earlier, Zulieme had
nursed ill Harry back to health in Panama. On the rebound from word that his
beloved Olive had wed Edward, Harry married available and willing Zulieme.
Thus his gloomy and tiresome discontent, his nearly violent despair over what he
feels to be Zuelieme's sexual entrapment of him at a weak moment, and what he
perceives to be Edward's brotherly betrayal of him in a strong moment by taking
sad and lonely Olive in marriage while he was absent at sea.
Blonde, cool, aristocratic Olive was then a woman whose "heart was
mine," Harry wails to Jack Belcher, "mine only. But what are hearts to selfish
mothers ... a mother's ambition?" When Belcher reminds Harry that he has a
wife, Harry cries out with that distressing, patronizing condescension he assumes
toward long-suffering Zulieme throughout The Cassique: "a wife! A doll! A
painted baby! A poor child-creature, whose very smile mocks me with a cruel
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