There Mrs. Bramton attempted to buy them off with tribute in the shape of cup-cakes.
“Sure, darlints, they do be starvin’ yez,” purred Mrs. Bramton. “Don’t I know the likes o’ them? Now roon away quietlike an’ ladylike——”
“Like a hen,” retorted Scott. “I want some preserves.”
“That’s all very well,” said Geraldine with her mouth full, “but we expected to skate about the kitchen and watch you make pastry. Kindly begin, Mrs. Bramton.”
“I’d like to see what’s inside of that chicken over there,” said Scott. “And I want you to give me some raisins, Mrs. Bramton——”
“I’m dying for a glass of milk,” added Geraldine. “Get me some dough, somebody; I’m going to bake something.”
Scott, who, devoured by curiosity, had been sniffing around the spice cupboard, sneezed violently; a Swedish kitchen-maid threw her apron over her head, weak with laughter.
“If you’re laughing at me, I’ll fix you, Olga!” shouted Scott in a rage; and the air was suddenly filled with balls of dough. Mrs. Bramton fled before the storm; a well-directed volley drove the maids to cover and stampeded the two cats.
“Take whatever is good to eat, Geraldine. Hurrah! The town surrenders! Loot it! No quarter!” shouted Scott. However, when Howker arrived they retired hastily with pockets full of cinnamon sticks, olives, prunes, and dried currants, climbing triumphantly to the library above, where they curled up on a leather divan, under the portrait of their mother, to divide the spoils.
“Am I bad enough to suit you?” inquired Geraldine with pardonable pride.
“Pooh! That’s nothing. If I had another boy here I’d—I’d——”
“Well, what?” demanded Geraldine, flushing. “I tell you I can misbehave as well as any boy. Dare me to do anything and you’ll see! I dare you to dare me!”
Scott began: “Oh, it’s all very easy for a girl to talk——”
“I don’t talk; I do it! And you know perfectly well I do!”
“You’re a girl, after all, even if you have got on my clothes——”
“Didn’t I throw as much dough at Olga and Mrs. Bramton as you did?”
“You didn’t hit anybody.”
“I did! I saw a soft, horrid lump stick to Olga!”
“Pooh! You can’t throw straight——”
“That’s a lie!” said Geraldine excitedly.
“If you say that again——”
“All right; go and get the boxing-gloves. You did tell a lie, Scott, because I did hit Olga!”
Scott hastily unstrapped his lone skate, cast it clattering from him, and sped up-stairs. When he returned he hurled a pair of boxing-gloves at Geraldine, who put them on, laced them, trembling with wrath, and flew at her brother as soon as his own gloves were fastened.
They went about their business like lightning, swinging, blocking, countering. Twice she gave him inviting openings and then punished him savagely before he could get away; then he attempted in-fighting, but her legs were too nimble. And after a while he lost his head and came at her using sheer weight, which set her beside herself with fury.