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Presently he found this clew cut in two by the railroad track; this was something he had never before seen; he paused, glanced up it, then down it, then at the highway across it, and quickly concluded this last was his course. On he went again, faster and faster.
He had now gone one half the distance and was getting tired. A little pool of water by the roadside caught his eye. Into it he plunged, bathed, drank, preened his plumage for a few moments, and then started homeward again. He knew his home was on the upper side of the road, for he kept his eye bent in that direction, scanning the fields. Twice he stopped, stretched himself up and scanned the landscape intently. Then on again ; it seemed as if an invisible cord was attached to him and he was being pulled down the road. · Just opposite a farm lane which led up to a group of farm buildings and which did indeed look like his home lane, he paused and seemed to be debating with himself. Two women just then came along; they lifted and flirted their skirts, for it was raining, and this disturbed him again
and decided him to take to the farm lane. Up the lane he went, rather doubtingly I thought.
In a few moments it brought him into a barnyard, where a group of hens caught his eye. Evidently he was on good terms with hens at home, for he made up to these eagerly as if to tell them his trouble; but the hens knew not ducks; they withdrew suspiciously, then assumed a threatening attitude, till one old dominic put up her feathers and charged upon him viciously.
Again he tried to make up to them, quacking softly, and again he was repulsed. Then the cattle in the yard spied this strange creature and came sniffing toward it full of curiosity.
The duck quickly concluded he had got into the wrong place, and turned his face southward again. Through the fence he went into a plowed field. Presently another stone fence crossed his path ; along this he again turned toward the highway. In a few minutes he found himself in a corner formed by the meeting of two stone fences.
Then he turned appealingly to me, uttering the
soft note of the mallard. To use his wings never seemed to cross his mind.
Well, I am bound to confess that I helped the drake over the wall, but I set him down in the road as impartially as I could. How well the pink feet knew the course! How they flew up the road! His green head and white throat fairly twinkled under the long avenue of oaks and chestnuts. .
At last we came in sight of the home lane which led up to the farmhouse, a hundred or more yards from the road. I was curious to see if he would recognize the place. At the gate leading into the lane he paused. He had just gone up a lane that looked like this, and had been disappointed. What should he do now? Truth compels me to say that he overshot the mark; he kept on hesitatingly along the highway.
It was now nearly night. I felt sure the duck would soon discover his mistake, but had not time to watch the experiment further. I went around the drake and turned him back. As he neared the lane this time he seemed suddenly to see some familiar landmark, and he rushed up it at the top of his speed. His joy and eagerness were almost pathetic.
I followed close. Into the house yard he rushed with uplifted wings, and fell down almost exhausted by the side of his mate. A half hour later the two were grazing together in the pasture, and he, I have no doubt, was eagerly telling her the story of his adventures.
THERE is a good deal said and written about the way birds build their houses. But really, birds do not build houses. Their houses or dwellings are built for them by Mother Nature, and are the trees and the bushes, and the sheltering rocks and the caves, and the cornices of our own houses.
What birds really do build are their cradles, — little crib beds, sometimes with rockers and sometimes without.
Birds do not make the cradle first and put the rocker on afterwards, as a cabinetmaker does. They first choose the best rockers in the market, and then make the cradle on top of the rockers.
Sometimes they do a very queer thing; they find the rockers, and then build the cradle under them. Birds have ways of their own, and they are very good ways, as you shall
NEST OF BALTIMORE
The rockers for a bird's cradle are of the branches of the syca
more, or apple or orange trees, or they are of twigs of the elm or cypress, or banana leaves. Any strong, firm twig or branch that will rock and tilt in the breeze makes a good rocker of the old-fashioned sort.
“ Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top,