And then from somewhere in my heart, which had harbored the cuddle of the cold lamb babies against it, there rose a knowledge of first aid for the near-baby chickens.
“Oh, Bess,” I exclaimed, “let’s wrap the tray of eggs up in the quilt and take it up-stairs to bed with us. We are just as warm as the hen, and I’ll get Rufus to go for Polly at daylight to fix the lamp while we stay in bed and huddle them until the incubator warms up, as it does in just an hour after it’s lighted.”
“Ann, you are both maternal and intellectual,” said Bess, with the deepest admiration in her voice. “Let’s hurry or we’ll never get warmed up ourselves.”
And in very much less time than could be imagined Bess Rutherford and I were in the middle of the four-poster, sunk deep into the feathers with the precious pearls of life carefully imbedded between us.
“Now don’t joggle,” Bess commanded as we got all settled and tucked in.
“Mrs. Tillett lets little Tillett sleep with her cold nights,” I murmured drowsily.
“I don’t believe it; no woman would undertake the responsibility of human life like that,” Bess answered as she tucked in a loose end of cover under the pillow.
“Most of the world mothers sleep with their babies,” Adam said when I told him about little Tillett, “and—” I was answering when I trailed off into a dream of walking a tight rope over a million white eggs. In the morning Bess said she had dreamed that she was a steam roller trying to make a road of eggs smooth enough to run her car over.
Also Bess and I woke to find ourselves heroines. Matthew came to breakfast after he had seen the lamps in his mock hens burning brightly, and brought Polly with him to congratulate us on the rescue of our infant industry. Polly had told him of our brilliant coup against old Jack Frost, and he was all enthusiasm, as was also Uncle Cradd, while father beamed because he was hearing me praised and thought of something else at the same time. Later Owen Murray came out for Bess in his car, and insisted on buying six more of the eggs, because, he said, they had now become a sporting proposition and interested him. Bess agreed to board them to maturity in her conservatory for him at fifty cents a day per head and let him visit them at any time. He gave me a check immediately. He offered to buy six of Polly’s chicks at the same price, but Matthew refused to let her sell them at all, and also Bess refused to have any mixing of breeds in her conservatory. Polly didn’t know enough to resent losing the hundred and twenty dollars, because she had never had more than fifty cents in her life, and Matthew didn’t realize what it would have meant to her to have that much money, because he had more than he needed all his life, so they were all happy and laughed through one of Rufus’ worst hog effusions in the way of a meal