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 7

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Secondary Scholarship | 1998
Transcription made for fun. Life is a sad, serious thing, in which fun is very apt to be
impertinence" (74). Finally, he says to her, "I shall never, Zulieme, cease to
repent the selfishness and weakness that made me marry you" (77). His desire
remains for pallid Olive Berkeley; Zulieme's loyalty remains for florid Harry.
Despite all the hurtful things Harry says to her in this particular one of the
typically prolonged and redundant confrontation scenes that occur in The
Cassique, stubbornly tenacious Zulieme appeals to him that "I would kill myself,
Harry, if harm should ever come to you" (81). She means this. When ashore
again she finally gets to mingle in an embryonic Charleston society of clumsy log
houses and sweaty people (93-96), some of whom already are socially "in" or
"out" (108, 134), Zulieme's dedication to Harry holds as true as it did that time at
the forest picnic when she rebuffed Molyneaux.
As Simms describes the historical situation at the time of his action in The
Cassique, Charleston society of 1684 was led by Mrs. Charlotte Anderson
Perkins. She was the wife of a successful fur trader whose commercial complicity
with the colony's Governor Quarry had made Perkins a fortune and provided an
entrance for Charlotte into the Company of the Governor's wife. Hence
Charlotte's social preeminence outside the Quarry's square-log hut (136).
Because, according to Simms's story, Harry has spurned her sexual advances
(154-147, 317), Charlotte accepts Zulieme as a houseguest in order to entrap her
in a sexual affair with a local fop and so get revenge on Harry. Charlotte's plan is
to present Zulieme to Charleston society as the exotic and available "Senorita
Zulieme de Montano of Florida" (182).
As Charlotte goes about setting up Zulieme for infidelity, Simms's
authorial voice always commenting on his characters' actions and thoughts
says of his heroine, "Zulieme is perhaps not half the fool which she appears"
(319). And, sure enough, with some bemusement at first, then alarm, and, finally,
tough anger, Zulieme sees through the comic efforts of Charlotte's foppish dupe,
the Honorable Mr. Cornwall Cavendish, to seduce her. Not cowed by "savage"
Harry aboard the Happy-go-lucky, Zulieme ashore is not deceived by the
"cunning" Charlotte (325). Initially however Zulieme appears to play into
Charlotte's hands by denigrating her husband to her hostess.
"'Harry has no love in him for anybody, ' she pouts to Charlotte as they
unpack Zulieme's beautiful clothes and jewels, taken from the ship's "stores" of
Harry's sea booty (335). He is "'one of your fierce, fighting, English brutes,'
Zulieme goes on, "'who takes pleasure in nothing but the sulks. He's a savage;