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 6

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Page 6

Secondary Scholarship | 1998
Transcription memory of all that is lost to me forever . . . Olive Masterson has children [sic],
and they are not mine . . . I committed the worst of all my errors; gave my hand to
this foolish child; married a woman who could move passion but not love—a toy,
not a woman" (36-38). So much for the mature, marital devotion of Zulieme's
And as the Happy-go-Lucky approaches Charleston and Olive, Harry even
starts neglecting Zulieme's normal conjugal expectations. Nevertheless, I have
suggested more than once that Zulieme is innately tough. She can be indifferent
too. Looking forward to Charleston's social diversions now, Zulieme appears
happy within herself and above Harry's neglect. She sinks into a complacency
and indifference of her own. Of Harry's conjugal inattention, Simms says in his
own recurring and sometimes caustic authorial voice that the reader is "not to
suppose that this occasioned her any concern" (66).
The next morning Zulieme boldly continues her verbal assault on Harry's
brooding aloofness to her and strangely agitated delay as skipper about landing at
Charleston. She gets in the last word: "Harry Calvert, you are a great sulky
cayman; and I'm only sorry that I ever saw you." He responds, flatly: "So am I,
Zulieme, very sorry." And she, with unflapable finality; "What do you mean by
that? you great alligator man! ...I hate you! ...I tell you I never Loved you, and
lied when I said so" (69).
Her courageous gorge rising as Harry sits below deck at his table
glowering over a paper he is writing while she talks to him, Zulieme the tigress
springs again. With one arm she sweeps the papers from the table. Harry's
physical response to this gives occasion for the only time in The Cassique that
Zulieme is cowed by him. Admittedly, she has gone too far in so drastically
disturbing a man in concentration over his writing. In response to her violence,
Harry "started to his feet, thrust the table from before him, and confronted her
with uplifted hand and clinched fingers. His brow was dark like a thunderstorm. .
.." When she begs him not to strike, he responds in a barely restrained, tooth-
grinding manner inferring to me that deadly violence toward his wife is something
he has been tempted with before. "'Strike you!' was the hoarsely spoken answer.
`Strike you!' and he drew himself up to his fullest height, and threw his arms
behind him, as if fearing to trust his own emotions" (73).
Then, obviously exercising great control, Harry reverts to his usual sour,
ponderous, aloof self. On her knees, Zulieme begs him, "Oh, Harry, it was all
fun." And he: "Life, Zulieme, is not a funny thing. Men and women are not