T ARO and Take were standing right beside their Father early one morning when the nurse came into the room with a bundle in her arms.
It was a queer-looking, knobby kind of a bundle, and there was something in it that squirmed!
The nurse looked so happy and smiling that the twins knew at once there must be something very nice in the bundle, but what it was they could not guess.
Taro thought, "Maybe it's a puppy." He had wanted a puppy for a long time.
And Take thought, "Perhaps it's a kitten! But it looks pretty large for a kitten, and it doesn't mew. Kittens always mew."
And they both thought, "Anyway, it's alive."
The nurse carried the bundle across the room. She knelt down on the floor before the Twins' Father and laid it at his feet.
The Twins' Father looked very much surprised, and as for Taro and Take, they felt just exactly the way you feel when you look at your stocking on Christmas morning.
They dropped down on their knees beside the bundle, one on each side of their Father. They wanted dreadfully to open it. They wanted so dreadfully to open it that they had to hold their hands hard to keep from touching it, but they never even laid a finger on it, because the nurse had given it to their Father!
Taro just said aloud: "Is it a puppy?"
At the very same moment Take said: "Is it a kitten?"
And then their Father said: "I haven't opened the bundle yet, so how can I tell? We must ask the nurse. What is it, Natsu?"
And Natsu, the nurse, put her two hands together on the matting in front of her, bobbed her head down nearly to the floor, and said: "It is a little son, Master. Will you accept him?"
Then the Father sat right down on the floor, too, between Taro and Take. He took the little squirming bundle in his arms, and turned back the covers—and there was a beautiful baby boy, with long, narrow eyes and a lock of hair that stood straight up on the top of his head!
"Oh! oh! Is he truly ours—a real live baby, for us to keep?" cried Take.
"Would you like to keep him?" her Father asked.
Take clapped her hands for joy. "Oh, yes, yes!" she said. "For then I can have a little brother of my own to carry on my back, just the way O Kiku San carries hers! I've never had a thing but borrowed babies before! And O Kiku San is not polite about lending hers at all! Please, please let me hold him!"
She held up her arms, and the Father laid the little baby in them very, very gently.
Taro was so surprised to see a baby in the bundle that he had not said a word. He just sat still and looked astonished.
"Well, Taro, how is it with you?" said his Father. "Would you like to keep the Baby, too?"
"I'd even rather have him than a puppy!" said Taro very solemnly. And that was a great deal for Taro to say, for he had wanted a puppy for ever so many weeks.
"So would I rather have him than a puppy," the Father said; "ever so much rather."
Just then the Baby puckered up his nose, and opened his little bit of a mouth—and a great big squeal came out of it! You would never have believed that such a big squeal could possibly come out of such a little mouth. And he squirmed more than ever.
Then Natsu, the nurse, said, "There, there, little one! Come to your old Natsu, and she will carry you to Mother again."
"Let me carry him," Take begged.
"No, let me," said Taro.
But Natsu said, "No, no, I will carry him myself. But you may come with me, if you want to, and see your Mother."
So Taro and Take and their Father all tiptoed quietly into the Mother's room, and sat down on the floor beside her bed.
They sat on the floor because everybody sits on the floor in Japan. The bed was on the floor, too.
It was made of many thick quilts, and the pillow a little block of wood! We should think it very uncomfortable, but the Twins' Mother did not think so. She lay with the wooden pillow under her head in such a way that her hair was not mussed by it—instead, it looked just as neat as if she were going to a party. And it was just as nice as a party, because they all had such a happy time together watching the new baby.
Bot'Chan acted just like all the other babies in the world. First he got his fist into his mouth by accident, and sucked it. Then he got it out again without meaning to, and punched himself in the nose with it—such a funny little nose, no bigger than a small button! Then he opened his mouth wide and yawned.
"See how sleepy the little mouse is," said the Mother. "Run out and play now, my children, and let him rest."
Taro and Take left the room softly and went out on the porch. They sat down on the top step to talk over the wonderful thing that had happened.