Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XIII / The Bride of the Battle. A Tale of the Revolution. >> Page 261

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Page 261

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE RIVALS. 261
man was supposed to look with hungry eyes. And public con-
jecture did not err in its suspicions.
But Mat Dunbar was not without a rival. Richard Coulter
was the only native of the country present, Parson Fields ex-
cepted. He was a tall, manly youth, about the same age with
Dunbar. But he possessed many advantages over the latter,
particularly in respect to person. Tall, while Dunbar was short,
with a handsome face, fine eye, and a luxuriant shock of hair,
and a massive beard of the same color, which gave quite a mar-
tial appearance to his features, otherwise effeminate�the spec-
tator inevitably contrasted him with his rival, whose features,
indeed, were fair, but inexpressive ; and whose hair and beard
were of the most burning and unmitigated red. Though stout
of limb, vigorous and athletic, Mat Dunbar was awkward in his
movement, and wanting in dignity of bearing. Mentally, the
superiority of Coulter was not so manifest. He was more diffi.
dent and gentle than the other, who, experienced by travel, bold
and confident, never exhibited himself at less than his real worth.
These preliminaries must suffice. It is perhaps scarcely neces-
sary to say that Frederica Sabb made her comparisons between
the two, and very soon arrived at one conclusion. A girl of com-
mon instincts rarely fails to discover whether she is sought or
not ; and the same instincts leads her generally to determine be-
tween rivals long in advance of the moment when they propose.
Richard Coulter was certainly her favorite though her prudence
was of that becoming kind which enabled her easily to keep to
herself the secret of her preference.
Old Sabb treated his guests with good Dutch hospitality. His
wife and daughter were excellent housekeepers, and the table
was soon spread with good things for supper. Butter, milk, and
cream-cheeses, were not wanting ; pones and hoe-cakes made
an ample showing, and a few broiled chickens, and a large plat-
ter of broiled ham, in the centre of the table, were as much a
matter of course in that early day, in this favorite region, as we
find them among its good livers now. Of course, supper was
allowed to be discussed before the commissioners opened their
budget. Then the good vrow took her place, knitting in hand,
and a huge ball of cotton in her lap, at the door, while the guests
emerged from the hall into the piazza, and sweet Frederica Sabb,