Thus continued week after week the happy family life on the mound.

Still no sign of any danger from without. The corn is now so tall that no "human" would think of tramping through it merely to approach a common, tumble-down burial-mound. It forms a stormless ocean round their island home.

The merry, light-hearted little pussies now begin to show signs of growth. Their faces are larger and more intelligent, their bodies smooth and supple, their legs disproportionately long, and their tails less short and scraggy. Each kitten's character and personality grows more apparent with every day that passes.

When evening comes they creep away from the mound to play, and all night long they prowl about near their home, exploring the immediate neighbourhood. They examine carefully everything of interest they find, and are soon well acquainted with the mouse's hiding-place and the small bird's favourite haunt.

In addition they make longer expeditions— sometimes in twos and threes, sometimes alone —down across the fields, through the plough-furrows, and along the hedge and ditch.

One day they make their first important catch—a mouse which has been left, half-crippled, by a crow. Grey hears the mouse first, Big springs upon it, while Black deals it a blow which makes it roll over. Red almost succeeded in bolting off with it, but White and Tiny blocked the road. Who finally ate the mouse could not be decided. One thing, however, they were all agreed on: a moment later there was no mouse left!

Some time afterwards, Black, who always preferred prowling about alone, was passing the place where the mouse had been slaughtered when he met the original captor of the mouse, long since digested.

It was a grey bird with black wings, and a black, long-nosed head. It fluttered superciliously backwards and forwards from one molehill to another. Several times it turned its head and looked attentively at the kitten; and, when Black continued to creep along in its wake, it hopped up on an adjacent molehill to get a closer view of its pursuer.

This put Black on his mettle! He dropped flat to the ground and crawled forward on his stomach; but just as he arrived within springing distance it spread its wings and flapped with ostentatious slowness to another molehill.

Thus ended Black's first encounter with the cunning old crow.