“What you got there?” she demanded, trying to take the basket.
Rilla resisted. “It’th for Mithter Meredith,” she lisped.
“Give it to me. I’ll give it to him,” said Mary.
“No. Thuthan thaid that I wathn’t to give it to anybody but Mithter Mer’dith or Aunt Martha,” insisted Rilla.
Mary eyed her sourly.
“You think you’re something, don’t you, all dressed up like a doll! Look at me. My dress is all rags and I don’t care! I’d rather be ragged than a doll baby. Go home and tell them to put you in a glass case. Look at me—look at me—look at me!”
Mary executed a wild dance around the dismayed and bewildered Rilla, flirting her ragged skirt and vociferating “Look at me—look at me” until poor Rilla was dizzy. But as the latter tried to edge away towards the gate Mary pounced on her again.
“You give me that basket,” she ordered with a grimace. Mary was past mistress in the art of “making faces.” She could give her countenance a most grotesque and unearthly appearance out of which her strange, brilliant, white eyes gleamed with weird effect.
“I won’t,” gasped Rilla, frightened but staunch. “You let me go, Mary Vanth.”
Mary let go for a minute and looked around here. Just inside the gate was a small “flake,” on which a half a dozen large codfish were drying. One of Mr. Meredith’s parishioners had presented him with them one day, perhaps in lieu of the subscription he was supposed to pay to the stipend and never did. Mr. Meredith had thanked him and then forgotten all about the fish, which would have promptly spoiled had not the indefatigable Mary prepared them for drying and rigged up the “flake” herself on which to dry them.
Mary had a diabolical inspiration. She flew to the “flake” and seized the largest fish there—a huge, flat thing, nearly as big as herself. With a whoop she swooped down on the terrified Rilla, brandishing her weird missile. Rilla’s courage gave way. To be lambasted with a dried codfish was such an unheard-of thing that Rilla could not face it. With a shriek she dropped her basket and fled. The beautiful berries, which Susan had so tenderly selected for the minister, rolled in a rosy torrent over the dusty road and were trodden on by the flying feet of pursuer and pursued. The basket and contents were no longer in Mary’s mind. She thought only of the delight of giving Rilla Blythe the scare of her life. She would teach her to come giving herself airs because of her fine clothes.
Rilla flew down the hill and along the street. Terror lent wings to her feet, and she just managed to keep ahead of Mary, who was somewhat hampered by her own laughter, but who had breath enough to give occasional blood-curdling whoops as she ran, flourishing her codfish in the air. Through the Glen street they swept, while everybody ran to the windows and gates to see them. Mary felt she was making a tremendous sensation and enjoyed it. Rilla, blind with terror and spent of breath, felt that she could run no longer. In another instant that terrible girl would be on her with the codfish. At this point the poor mite stumbled and fell into the mud-puddle at the end of the street just as Miss Cornelia came out of Carter Flagg’s store.