On the whole, the babies had grown. True, their coats were not quite in order, for the fur still stuck out patchily all over their bodies; but the hair was there right enough, and the colours too . . . the white was as white as day, and the black as black as night; even the cross stripes on the grey kitten showed up plainly.

Their hindquarters alone remained noticeably undeveloped; they were still quite conical and stunted, and jerked up stiffly and clumsily with every movement of the body. It would be a long time before that part attained perfection.

The imps were still far from being active and graceful! They reeled and rolled as they crawled over the lumps of touchwood; they could not jump at all, indeed they could scarcely walk. It seemed as if, once having acquired eyes, they had neglected everything else. They used them incessantly . . . and were never tired of looking and looking!

They had no opportunity to gormandize. They drank greedily, and soon sucked old Grey Puss dry. Then she shook them off and closed the milk-spring. This she effected by rolling herself into a ball and pressing her forepaws tightly to her breasts—and however much the little ones exerted themselves to widen the opening with their snouts so as to get inside and continue drinking, they never succeeded.

Then they had revenge by clambering up and nestling on her back and neck; where they lay licking their chops.

This sort of thing didn't upset her in the least. In fact, she was delighted at being mauled about by her offspring; she stretched herself at full length, purring and humming the while—she knew now that they had settled down for a while.

Occasionally she blinked her tight-shut eye-lids, twisted her head round, and fastened her keen, brassy orbs on the long row of funny little patches of colour on her back. There was every imaginable feline colour-scheme there, and she studied each one separately, noticing any peculiarity of colouring or divergence from type. . . .

Extraordinary. ... It seemed to her that she had seen all these little fellows before!