Casey, McHale, and Sandy seized their nigh stirrups, shot them at their left toes, gripped saddle horns, and went up in an instant. Oscar, less expert, fumbled for a hold with his toe, hopping on his right leg as his horse sidled and backed. "Stand still, Ay tal you!" he gritted. "By Yudas, Ay club hal from you purty kvick!"
As for First Selectman Sproul, hot in his fight with Reeves for official supremacy, his league with Hiram, after an initial combat to try spurs, was instant and cordial as soon as he had understood a few things about the showman's character and purpose. "Birds of a feather!" gritted Reeves, in his confidences with his intimates.
"You can serve her far better, lad, in that way," he muttered hastily. "We shall not always be two to twelve." With teeth gritted to keep back the fierce anger that shook me, I strolled sullenly on, not even venturing to glance back lest I should give way. It was thus we reached the Fort gate, and entered, leaving our dusky escort to slink back into the night. An anxious crowd met us.
The conduct of Noble was sore in his mind. But, as the earth of the shore gritted under his boots, that trouble departed from him. The world, after all, was wider than the decks of the Etna; and in it, an item in its wonder and complexity, there lived and smiled the girl.
Stern's heart went sick within him A terrible rage welled up a hate such as he had never believed possible to feel. Wild imprecations struggled to be voiced. He snapped his lips together in a thin line, his eyes narrowed, and his face went gray. "The infernal little beasts!" he gritted. "Tried to trap us in the tower cut our boat loose afterward and now invading us!
Two miles, and he reached the unclimbable head of the coulee and no pinto. He pulled up and gazed incredulously at the blank, sandstone walls; searched long for some hidden pathway to the top and gave it up. He rode back slowly under the stars, a much disheartened Weary. He thought of Patsy's agony and gritted his teeth at his own impotence.
Then, without a word, he made off after his horse. The blind man's face was turned in his direction as he went, and when the sound of his footsteps had died away, he turned abruptly and tapped his way back to the door. At the threshold he turned upon the foreman. "Two days in succession I have been disturbed," he gritted out. "You are getting past your work, Jake Harnach."
And when he was nearly beaten by a three days' sand-storm so searching that even the flap-jacks and bacon gritted in his teeth and his blood-shot eyes smarted in his head like coals of fire and his skin felt as though it had been sand-papered, when he would have sold his soul for a bath and actually began to get his things together in readiness for the next wagon out, it was Pat, who, with the devilish ingenuity of an Irish imp, mocked and jeered at him for a quitter, "fit to act only as lady's maid or to serve soft dhrinks in a corner drug-sthore," until his fainting heart took fire and, cursing his tormentor with all the oaths he could muster, he offered to whip, single-handed, the whole grinning camp and stayed.
So he dropped down and lay silent, listening to the rattle of the huge chain and the vicious clash of the trap, and the Indian burst out scolding. "Whassa mala!" he gritted, "my foot get caught in trap. You come fixum fixum quick!" Wunpost rose up slowly and peered out through a crack and he caught the gleam of a gun.
I took the splendid prize in my rough, red, farmer's hand, and kissed it reverently. The touch of my lips on her sweet, smooth flesh made me tremble, and I knew the madness was creeping over me, but I gritted my teeth, and our eyes met again. The blush had gone, but not the smile. It was not now, however, the smile of a frank maiden but of an inscrutable and dominating woman.