And when Uncle Henry finished—he had not forgotten a single thing Betsy had told him—and asked, “What do you think of that for a little girl ten years old today?” Cousin Ann opened the flood-gates wide and burst out, “I think I never heard of a child’s doing a smarter, grittier thing ... And I don’t care if she does hear me say so!”
It was a great, a momentous, an historic moment!
Betsy, enthroned on those strong knees, wondered if any little girl had ever had such a beautiful birthday.
“Understood aunt Frances”
About a month, after Betsy’s birthday, one October day when the leaves were all red and yellow, two very momentous events occurred, and, in a manner of speaking, at the very same time. Betsy had noticed that her kitten Eleanor (she still thought of her as a kitten, although she was now a big, grown-up cat) spent very little time around the house. She came into the kitchen two or three times a day, mewing loudly for milk and food, but after eating very fast she always disappeared at once. Betsy missed the purring, contented ball of fur on her lap in the long evenings as she played checkers, or read aloud, or sewed, or played guessing games. She felt rather hurt, too, that Eleanor paid her so little attention, and several times she tried hard to make her stay, trailing in front of her a spool tied to a string or rolling a worsted ball across the floor. But Eleanor seemed to have lost all her taste for the things she had liked so much. Invariably, the moment the door was opened, she darted out and vanished.
One afternoon Betsy ran out after her, determined to catch her and bring her back. When the cat found she was being followed, she bounded along in great leaps, constantly escaping from Betsy’s outstretched hand. They came thus to the horse-barn, into the open door of which Eleanor whisked like a little gray shadow, Betsy close behind. The cat flashed up the steep, ladder-like stairs that led to the hay-loft. Betsy scrambled rapidly up, too. It was dark up there, compared to the gorgeous-colored October day outside, and for a moment she could not see Eleanor. Then she made her out, a dim little shape, picking her way over the hay, and she heard her talking. Yes, it was real talk, quite, quite different from the loud, imperious “MIAUW!” with which Eleanor asked for her milk. This was the softest, prettiest kind of conversation, all little murmurs and chirps and sing-songs. Why, Betsy could almost understand it! She could understand it enough to know that it was love-talk, and then, breaking into this, came a sudden series of shrill, little, needle-like cries that fairly filled the hay-loft. Eleanor gave a bound forward and disappeared. Betsy, very much excited, scrambled and climbed up over the hay as fast as she could go.