Her misgivings had stung him deeply, and at the bottom of his indolence and indifference was a fiery pride, not easily kindled, but unquenchable. He flung the harness upon his old unkempt horse, and tackled him to the mud-encrusted buggy, for whose shabbiness he had never cared before.
Poor Ethel stepped on before with mud-encrusted heels, and her father speaking sharply in the weariness and soreness of his heart; her draggle-tailed petticoats weighing down at once her missionary projects at Cocksmoor, and her tender visions of comforting her widowed father; her heart was full to overflowing, and where was the mother to hear her troubles?
A detective, equipped with a certain amount of motor knowledge, might have been able to discern that the mud-encrusted monster was a Ford car. A tailor, whose technical training would help him to penetrate the disguise of thick slime, might have been able to recognize by the cut of their clothes that the first of the three figures was an R.A.F. driver and the other two were naval officers.
MacFarlane had been in favor of the old Maryland home, with Ruth's grandmother in charge, and the neighbors driving up in mud-encrusted buggies and lumbering coaches, their inmates warmed by roaring fires and roaring welcomes fat turkeys, hot waffles, egg-nogg, apple-toddy, and the rest of it. The Grande Dame of Geneseo did not agree with any of these makeshifts.
The comparisons over and found to be correct, "starting from a certain stone marked 'B' one hundred and eighty-seven feet East by South," etc., etc., the whole party, including a small boy to help carry the level and target and a reliable citizen who said he could find the property blindfold and who finally collapsed with a "Goll darn! if I know where I'm at!" the five jumped onto a mud-encrusted vehicle and started for the site.
At the close of a gloomy October day, six unshaven, mud-encrusted machine gunners, the surviving members of two teams, were gathered at the C Company gun emplacement. D Company's gun had been destroyed by a shell, and so we had joined forces here in front of the wrecked dugout, and were waiting for night when we could bury our dead comrades. A fine drenching rain was falling.
Bou had just made a proposition that we sneak over after dark and try to locate the devil-machine and blow it up, when we heard something moving below us in the mine-shaft, and a moment later a mud-encrusted face came up into the light.
Arising, he glanced at the heap beneath the blanket ringed with stones. "Time to eat!" he cried lustily, and whipped the blanket from the mud-encrusted Blunder. The colt raised its head, struggled, put out one stiff fore leg, and then the other. Collie grabbed the animal's tail and heaved. Blunder humped himself and was on his feet, wobbling, dizzy-eyed, scandalously "mussed up" but alive!
His shirt was dirty and ragged, and his breeches and shoes were of the most dilapidated character, the latter showing, through the gaping orifices in front, his dirty, mud-encrusted toes. Frank saw all this at a glance; but the poor fellow's face took his attention most, for it was pitiable, thin, and careworn, and would have been white but for the dirt with which it was smudged.
He had been turned out at daybreak with the rest of the division at the first alarm, and had had no time to attend to his toilette, such as it was in these rough campaigning days. Since then he had been in his saddle for several hours and constantly in the heat and turmoil of the fight. His clothes were torn, mud-encrusted, and bloodstained; his face was black and grimy with gunpowder smoke.