This chapter is from the "Kittens: A Family Chronicle" book, by Svend Fleuron.
WHEN the wind brought word of human beings on the field-path, the kittens always stopped their play.
Grey Puss had warned them in their earliest days to beware of people, and as a rule her angry growling called them down into the hole. Now, however, when she spent less and less of her time at home, and the kittens were left to themselves, their behaviour varied according to their natures.
Big-puss and Tiny still ran for the hole; Black thrilled—he sank down on his loins and dragged himself along the ground, keeping a sharp lookout and disappearing periodically with a spitting noise. Grey and Red as a rule remained placidly lying still; but White stiffened her tail with delight and trotted to and fro, mewing and purring.
She was a merry and friendly little kitten, who made a joke of everything. Her strong desire for amusement and her inability to appreciate the stern realities of life expressed themselves at a very early stage of her existence. Just as she regularly seized the opportunity of chasing her mother's tail, so did she often make a plaything of the old cat's nipples, a sacrilege which more than once lost her her due share of milk.
She was not specially big or strong in appearance, but doubtless her grace and good humour would carry her far in the world.
She spent most of her time making her toilet. She could not bear the smallest piece of fluff on her coat without at once licking it off. If so much as a single hair of hers smelled slightly, she felt upset until she had succeeded in removing the cause of her indisposition. During her idle hours—and they were many—she would sit a little apart from the others, spit on her paw, with which she would wash her breast and stomach, freshen up her eyes, smooth the fur on her face, and make a parting right across the middle of her forehead.
In her charming little cat-face, with its soft, affectionate expression, were set two glistening, watery-blue eyes, which slanted as prettily as those of a clean and well-groomed little Geisha girl.
In company with Tiny she still took suck from her mother, and there was as yet no sign of this form of nourishment being abandoned. Being so much together with her little brother, she did her best to chum up with him. But the latter, who was cleverer than he looked, realized too well the disadvantage of such an entanglement, and rejected her advances point-blank; she should rather do as he did, find a big brother with whom to join forces.