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Black, White and Gray A Story of Three Homes

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Two Good Homes.

“It’s as black as ink,” said Dennis, lifting one of the kittens out of its warm bed in the hay; “there’s not a single white hair upon it.”

“Madam’s never had a quite black one before, has she?” said his sister Maisie, who knelt beside him, before the cat and her family.

It was a snug and cosy home Madam had chosen for her children, in a dark corner of the hayloft, where she had hollowed out a sort of nest in the side of a truss of hay. Here she might well have fancied herself quite secure from discovery, for it was so dim and shadowy in the loft that it needed sharp eyes to see anything but hay and straw.

She had forgotten, however, that it was one of Dennis and Maisie’s favourite play-rooms when it was too wet to be out-of-doors, and it turned out that in the midst of their games to-day, they had caught sight of her white coat in her dusky retreat. Though she would rather not have been found, Madam took the discovery calmly, and made no difficulty, even when Dennis softly put in his hand and drew out the black kitten. She knew the children well, and was quite sure they would do no harm, so she lay lazily blinking her green eyes, and even purred gently with pleasure to hear her kitten admired.

It was such a very nice kitten. Not only because of its dense blackness, but its coat was as glossy and thick as that of a little mole, and its shape unusually stumpy and attractive.

“Isn’t it a beauty?” said Dennis, in a delighted whisper; “we must keep it.”

“We haven’t looked at the others yet,” said Maisie cautiously; “don’t let’s settle so soon.”

The black kitten was accordingly given back to Madam, who at once licked it all over from top to toe, and the others brought out one by one. There was a perfectly white one, much smaller than the first, and the other was a commonplace striped grey.

“I don’t care about either,” said Dennis; “they’re just like lots and lots of other kittens, and they grow up like lots and lots of other cats. Now the black’s uncommon.”

“I can’t bear settling which is to be drowned,” sighed Maisie. “I suppose we may really only keep one.”

“You’re a ninny,” said Dennis shortly.

In reality he did not like to doom the kittens any better than his sister, but he would have thought it womanly to show his feelings.

“I call it unfair,” continued Maisie, stroking the white and grey kittens with her little brown hand, “to drown them just because they’re not pretty. It’s not as if they were bad.”

“But you know we mustn’t keep them all,” said Dennis impatiently; “so what’s the good of going on like that? We must choose, and the black’s the best, isn’t it?”

“Well, then,” said Maisie reluctantly, “I think we ought to cast lots, so as to give them each a chance.”

This appealed to Dennis’s sense of justice, and was besides the usual way of settling differences between his sister and himself. He pulled out three pieces of hay of different lengths, and holding them tightly shut in his hand, with the ends sticking out in an even row, said shortly, “You choose.”

“Which is which?” asked Maisie, her face getting pink with excitement....