It was all silent now—the piercing, funny little squalls had stopped as suddenly as they began. On the top in a little nest lay Eleanor, purring so loudly you could hear her all over the big mow, and so proud and happy she could hardly contain herself. Her eyes glistened, she arched her back, rolled over and spread out her paws, disclosing to Betsy’s astounded, delighted eyes—no, she wasn’t dreaming—two dear little kittens, one all gray, just like its mother; one gray with a big bib on his chest.
Oh! How dear they were! How darling, and cuddly, and fuzzy! Betsy put her fingers very softly on the gray one’s head and thrilled to feel the warmth of the little living creature. “Oh, Eleanor!” she asked eagerly. “Can I pick one up?” She lifted the gray one gently and held it up to her cheek. The little thing nestled down in the warm hollow of her hand. She could feel its tiny, tiny little claws pricking softly into her palm. “Oh, you sweetness! You little, little baby-thing!” she said over and over in a whisper.
Eleanor did not stop purring, and she looked up with friendly, trusting eyes as her little mistress made the acquaintance of her children, but Betsy could feel somehow that Eleanor was anxious about her kitten, was afraid that, although the little girl meant everything that was kind, her great, clumsy, awkward human hands weren’t clever enough to hold a baby-cat the proper way. “I don’t blame you a bit, Eleanor,” said Betsy. “I should feel just so in your place. There! I won’t touch it again!” She laid the kitten down carefully by its mother. Eleanor at once began to wash its face very vigorously, knocking it over and over with her strong tongue. “My!” said Betsy, laughing. “You’d scratch my eyes out, if I were as rough as that!”
Eleanor didn’t seem to hear. Or rather she seemed to hear something else. For she stopped short, her head lifted, her ears pricked up, listening very hard to some distant sound. Then Betsy heard it, too, somebody coming into the barn below, little, quick, uneven footsteps. It must be little Molly, tagging along, as she always did. What fun to show Molly the kittens!
“Betsy!” called Molly from below.
“Molly!” called Betsy from above. “Come up here quick! I’ve got something up here.”
There was a sound of scrambling, rapid feet on the rough stairs, and Molly’s yellow curls appeared, shining in the dusk. “I’ve got a ...” she began, but Betsy did not let her finish.
“Come here, Molly, quick! Quick!” she called, beckoning eagerly, as though the kittens might evaporate into thin air if Molly didn’t get there at once. Molly forgot what she was going to say, climbed madly up the steep pile of hay, and in a moment was lying flat on her stomach beside the little family in a spasm of delight that satisfied even Betsy and Eleanor, both of them convinced that these were the finest kittens the world had ever seen.