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AND HER CREW,
OR THE ADVENTURES Of
THREE YOUNG NATURALISTS AND SPORTSMEN
ON THE BROADS AND RIVERS OF NORFOLK.
G. CHRISTOPHER DAVIES,
AUTHOR OF "MOUNTAIN, MEADOW, AND MERE;" "RAMBLES AND ADVENTURES OF
OUR SCHOOL FIELD CLUB;" "ANGLING IDYLLS ETC., ETC.
AND NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS.
FREDERICK. WARNE AND CO.,
BEDFORD STREET, STRAND.
A PREFACE is like the bow of an actor when he comes
on the stage, or like the hand-shaking of two friends
when they meet-the prelude to the entertainment,
-or the friendly conversation. I suppose, therefore, I
must follow the fashion, and say, How d'ye do ?" in
this way. I hope the answer will be, "Quite well,
thank you, and much the better for seeing you."
In a book of similar character to this one, which I
published a short time ago, I offered to reply to any
questions which any of my young readers, who wished
for further information upon any of the subjects men-
tipned in that book, might put to me, by means of
letters, addressed to me, to the care of the publishers.
I then hai the pleasure of answering many such letters,
and I n6w repeat the offer to the readers of this book.
I am indebted to my friend Mr. William Whitwell,
of Oxford, who is, like myself, a lover of boys, for the
chapter on the "LIFE OF A FERN.",
Greeting.-The Broad District.-Hickling Broad.-Felling a
Tree.-Dodging the Swallows.-Shooting the Crossbills.
-The Boat-house . .. . .
Stuffing the Crossbills.-The proposed Yacht.-An impaled
W oodcock .. . . . 8
A Momentous Decision . .. . .. .13
Digging for Pupe. Dick Carleton. Metamorphoses of
Butterfly .... ....... ...... 14
Building the Yacht.-The Launch.-Great Crested Grebe's
nest.-A floating Coot's nest.-Golden Crested Wrens.
-Their Migration.-The Flight of a Heron. .. .. 20
Mr. Meredith.-" Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it
with thy might."-A Botanical Lecture.-The Goat
Moth.-Blowing up a Tree.-An astonished Cow.-
Caterpillars in the Wood. .. . .. ... 31
A Trial Sail.-Preparing for a' Cruise.-Charging a Reed
Bed.-An explosion of Birds.-The First Adventure.-
Orange-Tip Butterfly.-No Salt.-How Salt is obtained. 36
An Eerie Night.-A Ghostly Apparition.- The Barn Owl.-
A Will-o'-the-Wisp.-The Ruff and Reeve.-Snaring
Ruffs.-A Nest.-Wroxham Broad.-Mud-boards and
Leaping-pole.-Wild Duck's Nest in a Tree .' 43
Chameleon.-Light-coloured Eggs.-Sitting Birds have no
Scent.- Forget-me-nots.- Trespassing.- The Owner.-
A Chase. Capture. Pintail Duck. Drumming of
Snipe.-Swallow-tail Butterfly.-A Perilous Adventure 51.
Moonlight.-Instinct and Reason.-Death's Head Moth.--
Bittern. Water-rail. Quail. -- Golden Plover-Hen-
Harrier and Weasel.-Preserving Bird-skins . 63
To the Rescue.-A Long-tailed Tit's Nest.-A Shower of
Feathers.. . . ... 75
Yarmouth.-The "Rows."-A Stiff Breeze.-An Exciting
Sail. Sparrow-hawk's Nest. -A .Nasty Fall. Long-
eared Owl.-Partridge.-Sandpiper . . 79
A Grizzly Bear.-Gossamers.-Strike only on the Box 88
Oulton Broad. Lateeners. Lowestoft. Ringed Plover's
Nest.--Oyster-catcher.-Shore-fishing.-A Perilous Sail 02
Animals which never die.-A Wonderful Tip to his Tail.-
Thunderstorm. Swan's Nest. -- Bearded Tit. -- Reed-
wrens and Cuckoo .. . . .. 97
Old School-fellows.-Tom-Tit's Nest in Boot.-Nuthatch.-,
Wryneck.-Ant-hill.-Marsh-Tit.-A Comical Fix 104
The Boat-race.-Winning.-Mr. Marston.-Nightingale and
Nest.-The noise of the Nightingales. . 113
A queer Umbrella.-Visit to Scoulton Gullery.--Driving
Tandem.-Running away.-Black-headed Gulls.-Col-
lecting the Eggs.--Carp.- Wood Argus Butterfly.-
Scarlet Pimpernel.-Grasshopper Warbler.-Chiff-Chaff.
-Gall-Fly.-Robins' Pincushions . .. 121
Back again.- Taken in Tow. Bobbing for Eels. Glow-
worms.-Home.-Urticating Caterpillars . .. 132
Golden Oriole.- Landrail.- House-martins in Trouble.-
Siskin.--Peacock and Red Admiral Butterflies.-Win-
chat's Nest.-Bitten by a Viper.-Viper and Snake.-
Slow-worm ... ............ 137
Fishing.-Jimmy's Dodge.-Bream-fishing.-Good Sport.-
Fecundity of Fish.-Balance Float.-Fish-hatching.--
Edith Rose.-A Night Sail. . . 149
Calling for Landrails.--Landrail Shamming Death.-Yellow-
Under-wing Moth and Wasp.-Dragon-Fly and Butter-
fly.-Stink-horn Fungus.-Sundcw .. 158
Setting Night-Lines.----An Encounter with Poachers 161
Water Insects.-Aquaria .. . 165
Making a Fern Case.-Ferns.-Harvest Mouse.-Mole.-
Ladybird.-Grasses ............ 176
The Life of a Fern ... ... I8
On the "War-path."--Rabbit-shooting.-Flapper-shooting.-
Duck-shooting. -Wood-pigeons.-Life in an Oak-tree.
worm .......... ....... 194
Purple Emperor.- His taste for Carrion.-Woodpecker.-
Blue and Small Copper Butterflies.-Buff-tip Moth.-
Moths at Ivy.-Strange-looking Caterpillars .. ... .202
How to Attract Perch.-Perch-fishing.--Pike.-Good Sport. P
-Plaster Casts.-Model Eggs . ... .. 209
Eel-fishing.-Setting the Nets.--Elvers.-The Merivale Float 214
Hawking ......... ........... 220
Heron-hawking.-Great Bustard.-Stock-Dove in Rabbit-
hole.-" Dowe" Dogs.-Search for Bustard's Egg,. .. 227
Water-hen swallowed by Pike. Casting-net. Trapping
Water-hen for Bait. -A Monster Pike ... .... 235,
Fishing on Stilts. A Capsize. Wild-fowl Shooting. A
Flare-up . . . . 239
Punt-shooting on Breydon.-A Narrow Escape .. 242
Drifted to Sea.-A Perilous Position-Rescue . .. 246
The Broad Frozen.-Skating.-Fish Frozen in Ice.-Birds
Frozen to the Ice.-Ice Ships ... .. 249
The Thaw.-Cromer.-Prehistoric Remains . 251
The Boys' Note Book.. . . 253
The Regatta.-The Waterlog's" Victory ... 259
The Conclusion . . . 264
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE BOYS HAWKING ON THE BROAD ..
CROSSBILL . . . .
WOODCOCK . . . .
METAMORPHOSES OF BUTTERFLY . .
THE PARK IN SUMMER .
WHITE HAWTHORN BUTTERFLY . .
BUILDING THE BOAT . .
A YARMOUTH YAWL .
THE COMMON COOT .
COMMON WREN AND EGG
HERON . .
THE BARN-OWL AND EGG
WILD DUCK ......
ROACH . .
S . 44
LIST OE ILLUSTRATIONS.
REDBREAST AND EGG .
YACHT . ....
COMMON SNIPE .. ..
SWALLOW-TAIL BUTTERFLY .
MOONLIGHT SCENE .
DEATH'S-HEAD MOTH .
BITTERN . .
AFRICAN BUSH QUAIL .
NEST OF GOLDEN PLOVER .
HEN-HARRIER . .
WEASEL . .
LONG-TAILED TIT AND EGG.
SPARROW-HAWK .. .
LONG-EARED OWL .
COMMON PARTRIDGE .
EGG OF COMMON PARTRIDGE
COMMON SANDPIPER .
LATEEN SAIL . .
RINGED PLOVER.. .
OYSTER-CATCHER .. .
SWAN'S NEST . .
. . 61
.. . 64
. . 68
. . 69
.. . 74
. . 78
. . . 82
.. . 84
. .. 85
. . . 87
. . . 987
S. .. 94
.. . 95
. . 100
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. xvii
...... . . 101
CUCKOO AND EGG .. . . 103
TOM-TIT AND EGG . .. . ... o106
NUTHATCH . . .. . 107
WRYNECK.. ........ ...... .. 08
WORKING ANT AND PORTION OF ANT-HILL . .. .109
EGG OF WRYNECK .... ........... 110
MARSH-TIT AND EGG . ; .. . III
PAIR-OARED BOAT . . . 6
MR. MARSTON'S HOUSE . . ... 117
NIGHTINGALE . ..... * 119
NIGHTINGALE'S NEST .... .. .. 120
COMMON GULL. . ... . 126
YOUNG GULLS COVERED WITH DOWN ........ 127
CARP . .. ... ... .. .. 128
CHIFF-CHAFF .. ............ 130
OAK-GALL FLY ... * * .. 131
GLOW-WORM .. .. . 136
ORIOLE ........ .........* 138
NEST OF AMERICAN SPECIES OF ORIOLE ..... 139
LANDRAIL OR CORNCRAKE ... . *140
HOUSE-MARTIN . ..... ... 14
Xvii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
SISKIN . . . .. .
PEACOCK BUTTERFLY, CHRYSALIS, AND CATERPILLAR
RED ADMIRAL BUTTERFLY .
WINCHAT AND EGG . .
VIPER . . .
COMMON RINGED SNAKE .
BREAM. . .
ANGLING . . .
TROUT . . .
DRAGON-FLY ... .
METAMORPHOSES OF FLESH-FLY
. .. . 143
. . 44
. . 146
. . 148
. . 150
. . . 53
. . 155
S . .. 159
. . . 166
WATER-BEETLE .. . . . .
PUPA AND COMPOUND EYE OF DRAGON-FLY . .
LARVA OF GNAT. ESCAPE OF GNAT FROM ITS PUPA-CASE
METAMORPHOSES OF PLUMED GNAT . ....
PUPA-CASE, LARVA, AND FLY OF CADDIS-WORM . .
MINNOW .. .. . . . .
SMOOTH NEWT .. ... .. ...
METAMORPHOSES OF NEWT .. . ......
WATER-FLEAS AND ANIMALCULE IN DROP OF WATER AS
SEEN UNDER THE MICROSCOPE .. ....
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
METAMORPHOSES OF FROG
SEA-WATER AQUARIUM. .
WALL SPLEENWORT .
FORKED SPLEENWORT .
OAK FERN ......
FRUCTIFICATION OF FERNS
WALL RUE, JERSEY FERN, M
HARVEST MOUSE AND NEST
MOLE . .
LADYBIRD AND ITS STAGES
FERN SPORES . .
SCALY SPLEENWORT OR R
. . 177
. .7. I 9
IARSH FERN .. ..... 18o
. . . 181
USTY BACK" . 191
WILSON'S FILMY-FERN, TUNBRIDGE FILMY-FERN
WILD RABBITS . . . .
WOOD-PIGEON. .. . .
SUSPENDED LEAF TENTS . . .
LACE-WINGED FLY . .. ..
STAG-HORNED PRIONUS AND DIAMOND BEETLE
GREEN WOODPECKER . .
BLUE BUTTERFLY .. . .
XX LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE HAUNT OF THE PURPLE EMPEROR . 205
PERCH AND GUDGEON .. .. . . 211
PIKE . .. ............ 212
EELS .. . . . 218
APPARATUS USED IN HAWKING .. . .. 221
COMMON HERON .. .. .. ... 228
GREAT BUSTARD .. . .. .. . 230
DOVES . .. . . . 231
WILD DUCK SHOOTING. . . . 244
MOLE CRICKET. ... ............ 254
COMMON LIZARD .... ..... .. .... 255
OSPREY ....... . 256
GREAT CRESTED GREBE ... ... ... 256
WHITE ANTS' NEST, ANTS, ETC. . . ... 257
HEDGEHOG . . 258
HONEY BUZZARD. .......... . 258
Greeting.-The Broad District.-Hickling Broad.-Felling a Tree.-
Dodging the Swallows.--Shooting the Crossbills.-The Boat-house.
WITH the same feeling of pleasure which one experiences
when one writes to an old friend, I commence to write this new
book, which I hope will be read by many a boy friend.
It is very pleasant to an author to feel that he has a large
circle of acquaintances whom he has never seen, and who
know him only through his books. It should be his aim and
endeavour to extend that circle of friends, and to increase the
good feeling which they bear towards him. Therefore, my
dear boys, I hope that after reading this book which I now
submit to your approval, you will conceive as affectionate
a regard for me as I have for you.
This is a story .of sport and adventure, natural history
and science, and the movers in it are three boys just like
yourselves; and that you may understand the better what they
did, I shall first describe the scene of their exploits. It is
the eastern part of Norfolk, and no better place could be found
as a field for the doings of three enterprising young naturalists
and sportsmen. It is known as the "Broad District," and it
consists almost entirely of lake, river, and marsh. If we take
Yarmouth on the sea-coast as the starting-point, and look
inland, we shall see first of all a large tidal lake known as
Breydon Water. From this radiate three rivers going north-
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
west, west, and south-west. The chief of them is the Yare,
which winds for thirty miles inward to the old city of Norwich.
On our right is the river Bure, or North River, which, after a very
long and winding course leaves the marsh, and enters a richly-
wooded country. To the south is the Waveney, a clear and
beautiful stream, which flows past Beccles and Bungay, two
towns in Suffolk. All these rivers are slow of current, wide
and navigable not only for yachts, but for vessels of large
burden, such as wherries, billy-boys, and small steamers. The
banks of the rivers are fringed with tall reeds, and they flow
through miles of level marsh, where, as far as the eye can
reach, there is nothing to be seen but the white sails of the
yachts and the dark sails of the wherries, and occasional wind-
mills which are used for pumping the water out of the drains
into the rivers. In order to deepen the channel of the river
for the purposes of navigation, the embankments have been
raised so high that the surface of the water is much above the
level of the drains which carry the water off the surrounding
marshes, and so the water has to be pumped into the river out
of the drains by means of pumps set in action by windmills.
Here and there amid the wide extent of marsh are large
lakes or lagoons, which are locally termed broads." These
are very numerous and many of them very large. Most of
them are connected with one or other of the rivers. Those on
the Yare, are Surlingham and Rockland Broads; on the Bure,
or connected with it by long dykes, are Filby and.Ormesby
Broads, Walsham, Ranworth, Hoveton, Wroxham, Barton,
Martham and Hickling Broads, and Heigham Sounds. All
these broads are full of fish, large pike and perch, and shoals of
enormous bream. They are all very shallow, and are surrounded
by dense aquatic vegetation, reeds, rushes, flags and bulrushes,
and these are the haunts of many rare birds, and swarm with
The great characteristic of this part of the county is its utter
loneliness and wildness, both qualities which are of especial
interest to the sportsman and naturalist. As it is also the
most eastern county of England, it is the first to receive many
of the rarer migrants on their passage to our shores, and more
rare birds are caught there each year than in any other part of
our tight little island."
It is on the shores of Hickling Broad, and on a bright
THE BROAD DISTRICT.
December day, the first of the Christmas holidays, that our story
7 opens. A tall large-limbed boy, about sixteen years of age,
yellow-haired, and blue-eyed, stands with his hands in his
pockets, looking over the waste of waters on which the wavelets
are dancing before a fresh breeze. His name is Frank Merivale,
and he appears deep in thought.
The broad waters he is gazing over are lonely and deserted
save for occasional flights of wild-fowl, a marshman slowly pulling
his boat across, and a wherry (as a Norfolk sailing barge is
called) beating to windward along the broad, making very slow
tacks to and fro, the reason of which would not be apparent to
one who did not know the broad. Why does she not take long
stretches which would take her more swiftly on her course?
The reason is this, the broad is not more than three feet deep
all over, save for a narrow channel in the middle, "which is
marked out by posts at long intervals, and if the wherry forsook
this channel she would run aground.
The Norfolk wherries are of very peculiar build and graceful
appearance.. They are long, low, and shallow, rather flat-
bottomed, but fine and sharp in the stem and stern, which
gives them a good hold of the water. They have one mast,
stepped well forward and weighted at the foot so that it can be
lowered to pass under bridges, and be easily raised again. This
mast supports one immense sail, tanned black or red-brown.
T 'hey sail wonderfully fast, even rivalling the yachts in their
speed, and they can go very close to the wind. They are gene-
rally worked by two men, who live and sleep in the little cabin
We left Frank Merivale very much absorbed in thought.
All at once a happy thought seemed to strike him, for he
started from his reverie, and began to execute a step something
between a walk and a war-dance. A clump of rushes put an
untimely end to this by tripping him up, and causing him to
measure his length upon the ground. With philosophical
composure he picked himself up, and walked off, whistling
merrily, towards a fir copse which stood upon the crest of a
rising, lying above. We should say that while the flat marsh
stretches between Hickling Broad and the sea, to the westward
and inland the country is diversified with woods, and slight
elevations forming a very pretty sylvan district. Reaching the
fir-wood Frank entered it, and after looking about for a little
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
time, he fixed upon a tall slender young larch-tree. He walked
round and round it, and examined it critically, finally lying
down on his back at its foot, and, with his eye close to its stem,
glanced up it to see if it were perfectly straight. Satisfied on
this point, he took out a large clasp-knife, and marked the
trunk with a huge cross. Then he crossed the hedge and took
his way through a large park, until he came to a paddock and
pleasant house nestling among some large lime-trees, and
surrounded by croquet lawns and well-kept gardens. It was
an old house, built with many wings and projections and in
many styles of architecture, the most prominent of which was
a heavily-timbered Elizabethan style. Around the two princi-
pal sides of the house ran a wooden veranda, which in summer
was luxuriantly hung with roses.
This was Frank Merivale's home, and vaulting over the gate
which separated the paddock from the lawn, he went into the
house. Coming down the broad staircase into the hall, he
met his two sisters; the eldest, a girl of thirteen, was like her
brother, blue-eyed and yellow-haired, with a face full of fun
and mischief. Her name was Mary. The younger sister bore
the same strong family likeness and was barely eleven.
"Well, merry Mary Merivale," said Frank, "is the pater
Yes. Frank, he is in the library."
"That's all right; and where are you going?"
We are going to dig pups for you," answered Mary.
Then you are a good little woman," replied Frank, catch-
ing her round the waist, and giving her a kiss.
Have you got a mat to kneel upon, so as not to catch
Yes, we have got a mat and a trowel, in this basket, and
we mean to get you a lot of moths. Don't we, Florrie ?"
Yes, ever so many."
Frank went along the passage, and entered the library. Mr.
Merivale was seated at the table.writing. He was a pale and
studious-looking man, with a very kind and genial expression
of face. He owned a small estate on the shores of the Broad,
and was a deep thinker and scholarly writer, writing books
which were intended chiefly for college libraries. He looked
up as his son entered, and said,-
Well, Frank, what is it ?"
FELLING A TREE. 5
"Please father, my birthday is next week."
I had not forgotten it, my boy."
"Well, sir, I suppose you are going to give me a present of
some sort as usual, and I thought, if you don't mind, that I
should like to choose my present this time for myself."
If you choose wisely, you shall have what you wish, Frank."
"Well, sir, all that 1 want is that you should let me have
one of the straight young larches by the Broad. I want to cut
it down at once that it may season by the spring."
It is rather a strange birthday present, Frank, but you may
have it, in addition to the one your mother and I were about
to get you, which was Morris's Britis/ Birds. "
Oh, father, I am so glad. That is just the book I have
Mr. Merivale did not ask his son what the larch-tree was
for. He thought that if Frank wished him to know he would
have told him at once. He had a most perfect trust in his
children, and he delighted to let them see that he had this
trust in them. Hence it was their pride to deserve the
confidence placed in them, and a happier family was not to
be found in all Norfolk. Mr. Merivale supposed his son had
good reasons for not making him a confidant in the matter of
the larch-tree, so forbore to ask him.
Frank quickly made his way to the outbuildings, where he
obtained a couple of axes and a long rope. Laden with these
he set off along a thickly-hedged lane until he came to a
cottage, set far back in an old-fashioned garden. Here lived
Jimmy Brett, his great friend, a boy about the same age as
himself, who lived with his grandmother, Mrs. Brett, in this
quiet little cottage.. As Frank went up the garden walk he
saw Jimmy perched on a ladder, engaged in painting a long
board, a foot wide, which he had fixed up the whole length
of the front of the cottage, just below the bed-room window.
"What on earth is that for, Jimmy?" cried Frank, in
Jimmy turned round, revealing himself as a slight, pale-
faced lad, with an eager and intelligent countenance, and
"Well, you see, the swallows build in such great numbers
in these wide old-fashioned eaves that they are rather a
nuisance, and grandmother does not like the mess they make
B THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
of the door-steps "and windows below, so I thought if I put a
board all the way along beneath their nests it would do away
with the nuisance."
"That is a clever idea, Jimmy; but do you not think that
the swallows will build below the board next year.; They will
think you put it there just on purpose for them."
I never thought of that, Frank," replied Jimmy, looking
rather blank; but now you mention it I think it is likely enough
they will;" and by way of parenthesis I may say that next
spring the swallows and house-martins did build under the
new board in great numbers, and so frustrated Jimmy's plan
What are you going to do with those axes and that rope,
Come and see; but first finish your painting, while I go
in and see the grandmother."
As the two boys walked off to the fir-copse, Frank told his
friend that he meant to cut down the tree, but he would not
tell him what it was that he wanted it for, and Jimmy's curiosity
was provoked to a great degree.
When they reached the wood they proceeded to the tree
which Frank had marked, and Jimmy was sent up to fasten the
rope to the top of it. Then while Frank took off his coat and
applied the axe vigorously to the bottom of the tree, making
the chips fly in all directions, Jimmy took the other end of the
rope over the fence, and kept a steady pull upon it. At last
the tree began to creak and groan, and then fell over with a
crash. Jimmy then took the other axe, and the two began to
lop off the branches. This was a long job, and when it was
finished they were very warm and tired, and sat down to rest
for a while on the fallen tree.
A clicking and cracking sound in the wood about them now
became audible to their quick ears. It might have been
heard before had it not been drowned by the noise of the
axes. They looked up, and to their great delight'they saw a
small flock of birds larger than a green linnet, and with
plumage of red, brown, and yellow. They were flitting about
the fir-trees, cutting off the fir-cones with their bills, and then
holding them on the branches with their claws, and cracking
them, and picking out the seeds, producing at the same time
the noise which had attracted the attention of the boys.
"What are they?" exclaimed Jimmy; "their beaks are
hooked, and cross each other. I never saw birds like them
"They are crossbills, as sure as we are here !" said Frank,
excitedly. Run to the boat-house as quick as you can, while
I watch them, and bring the gun."
Brett sped off like a deer, while Frank followed the move-
ments of the strange birds with interest.
Jimmy returned with the gun, and quite out of breath.
"Now," said Frank, "from the difference in colour there
are evidently males and females here, and we must get one of
each; and we must do it without disturbing the others, as if
we don't frighten them they may stay here and breed."
They watched for some time before they could get the
desired chance, and then two birds flew, toying with each
other, to some distance from the rest. They were evidently
male and female. Frank put the gun to his shoulder, a report
rang through the wood, and both the crossbills, for such they
were, fell dead to the ground.
Frank might have shot many more, but he was a thorough
naturalist, and, as such, he disliked the idea of indiscriminate
and useless slaughter. He had procured specimens sufficient,
and he humanely let the others go.
"Now, Jimmy, we have got a prize. Crossbills are not seen
every day. Let us go to the boat-house and skin them, and
read something about them in our books."
The boat-house, which belonged to Mr. Merivale, stood at
the edge of a little bay of the Broad. It was a large, sub-
stantial structure, projecting out into the water, and. having
a large room above,.approached by a staircase. This had been
appropriated by Frank as his den," and here it was that he
and his friend transacted all their private business, held their
natural history meetings, skinned and stuffed birds, and kept
their collection of birds' eggs and butterflies.
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
Stuffing the Crossbills.-The proposed Yacht. -An impaled Woodcock.
FRANK led the way up stairs, and unlocking the door they
entered the room, and piling up some brushwood in the grate
they lit it, and soon had a roaring fire. The room now pre-
sented a very cheerful appearance. A large window at one end
looked out over the glittering Broad. The room itself was
plainly furnished with a few deal chairs and a table, and at one
side of it was an old-fashioned bureau, in the drawers of which
the boys' natural history collections were stored. Around the
room were several shelves, on which were some very creditably
stuffed birds, flower-pots filled with mould And covered with
gauze bent over cane arches, the use of which will presently
appear, and a good number of books on natural history, chiefly
of a cheap and popular kind.
Frank got out a box containing knife-blades of various sizes
fastened into handles of wood, two pairs of scissors, pliers,
and other tools useful or necessary for skinning or stuffing
birds; while Jimmy Brett took down a book on birds, and
turned to the account of the crossbill; and as Frank was busy
at one end of the table skinning the birds, Jimmy at the other
end kept up a running commentary on his book for the benefit
of his friend, in the following manner:-
There is a lot about crossbills here, Frank. They are rare,
but they have been found at different times and in different
months of the year in many parts of the kingdom. They vary
greatly in size as well as in colour, according to age, sex, and
the time of the year. They are yellow, red, green, or brown
at different times, so if it were not for their cross bills it would
be rather hard to distinguish them. There are two pictures
of them here; one has a rose-coloured back and red-brown
wings, and the other has a green back and brown wings. The
beaks curve and cross each other, and appear to be par-
ticularly suited for breaking open the cones of fir-trees and
picking out the seeds, and they will cut open apples and other
STUFFING THE CROSSBILLS.
fruit to get at the pips. They come generally in the winter,
but often stay until the spring, and then they may breed here,
although it is very seldom that their nests are found. They
breed in Norway and Sweden, and nest very early in the year,
and their nest seems to be like a missel thrush's, and is placed
in fir-trees. Their eggs are white with just a touch of blue or
green, and spotted with brown spots."
i i .
.. ', :I4t .
..^ 1'. ./"
SThere, that is all that seems to be worth noticing, but we
have got a prize worth having. I am afraid they will not stop
and breed. There are not enough pine woods about, and
they appear to be fond of going from place to place, so that
it is not likely they will be here in the spring."
While he talked, Frank quickly and skilfully skinned and
cleaned the birds, and then he painted the inside of the skins
with a solution of corrosive sublimate dissolved in spirits of
wine, which is a most excellent preservative and much more
cleanly to handle than arsenical soap. Then he loosely stuffed
them with cotton-wool, smoothed the feathers, and placed them
on a shelf to dry.
Now, Frank," said Jimmy plaintively, what are you going
10 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
to do with that young larch-tree ? I have been very patient all
this time, so you may as well tell me now."
"Well, Jimmy, I have thought of a grand idea. You are
the inventive genius of us two, and I usually carry things out;
but I have invented something now which we must both help
to carry out. What do you think of having a yacht, Jimmy-a
large yacht, so that we could sail all over the Broad, and down
the rivers, and all over the country, and fish and birdnest, and
naturalize, and shoot wildfowl to our hearts' content? What do
you think of that, my boy ? "
It would be an awfully jolly thing, no doubt; but as far as
Hickling Broad goes, it is too shallow for any yacht. Why,
except in the Channel, it is not more than four feet deep
in any part, large as it is; and parts of it are only two feet
deep, so that if we had a yacht we should stick fast directly.
Besides, how are we to get a yacht ?"
How? It will be impossible."
We could not make a yacht of the usual shape, and if we
could, it would not suit our purposes. What I propose is that
we should build a double yacht. Just listen while I explain,
and don't interrupt. We will make two long pontoons, pointed
at both ends, and connect the two by cross-pieces, on which
we can lay a deck and build a small, low cabin. Such a boat
would not draw more than a foot of water, and to make
her sail to windward we should have a drop keel or centre
board, which we could let down or draw up according to the
depth of the water. Then I think a lug sail and mizen would
suit her best. We will build her ourselves. And inch deal is
cheap enough, so it cannot cost so much. I have saved my
pocket-money to buy a lot of books, but I can do without
them for a time "
I have a couple of sovereigns," eagerly interrupted Jimmy.
"That is right; then we can do it swimmingly. We will
build her in old Bell's yard, and he will lend us what tools we
have not got."
Jimmy warmly welcomed the idea, and, getting out some
paper and pencils, they began to draw plans and estimates of
cost with great enthusiasm.
"And now," said Frank, "we will go and see Bell and ask
him what he thinks of it."
AN IMPALED WOODCOCK.
Bell was a very eccentric old man, who lived on the shores
of a small and winding creek, which ran up from the Broad.
By trade he was a tailor, but he united to this the very different
occupation of a boat-builder, and filled up his spare time with
fishing and shooting wildfowl He was a close observer of the
habits of beasts, birds, and fishes, and was a great favourite
with the boys, whose visits he liked and encouraged.
Stepping into the boat that lay moored in the boat-house, the
two boys rowed across a bend of the Broad and up the creek to
his cottage. The old man was at work in his yard, repairing the
bottom of a boat, while his old wife might be seen at the
window of the house putting the finishing-touches to the
Sunday coat of some village beau.
Good morning, Bell; it is a fine day."
"Good morning, young master. Yes, it is a fine day, but it
will be finer to-morrow. Yon robin sings higher in the poplar
this afternoon than he did this morning, and that is a sure sign
that finer weather is coming."
I never knew that before," said Frank.
No, you have not lived so long in 'the world as I have,"
replied Bell; but I am glad you have come, for I have a very
strange sight to show you. Look here."
He went into the cottage, and returned, bringing with him a
dry and withered branch, one end of which had been torn and
slit, probably by the wind, so that it was a sharp and jagged
spike. On the end of this was impaled a fine woodcock, dead
of course, and with the sharp piece of wood imbedded in its
Poor thing, how did it get into that fix ?" Jimmy exclaimed.
Well, sir, you see it was in this way. The birds, as you
know, are now coming from abroad--I can hear great flocks of
them at night sometimes as they fly overhead calling to one
another-and last night you know was pitch dark, so that this
woodcock, coming over at a great speed, flew against this sharp
branch in the dark and spiked itself. When I got up this
morning I saw it in that oak-tree, and I sent my boy up to cut
off the branch, and knowing you would like to have it, I kept
it, just as it was."
We are very much obliged to you, Bell, and we will mount
it and stuff it, just as it is. It will be an interesting thing to add
to our museum, won't it, Jimmy?"
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
"I have often heard of birds flying against the telegraph
wires and being killed in the dark, and of their dashing against
windows, either attracted by the light, or not seeing the glass,
but I have not heard of anything so curious as this. One can-
not help feeling sorry for the poor bird. After a long and tiring
journey, and expecting to find all its troubles over, to meet with
a sad end like this !"
The boys then unfolded their plan to Bell. Anything out of
the common was sure to interest him, and hence, though he
was not so sanguine of success as the boys were, yet he thought
it might be done, and offered to help them as much as he could,
and to let them use his yard.
"There is nothing like making a beginning," said Frank,
who was quick and impetuous in action, and he took off his
coat and set to work vigorously to clear a space close by the
water's edge, where the keel of a yacht might be laid, while
Jimmy went through their calculations of cost with Bell.
A MOMENTOUS DECISION.
A Momentous Decision.
WHEN Frank went home one of the servants told him that his
father particularly wished to see him in the library as soon as
he came in. He went into the library, and found his father
and mother both there and looking rather serious.
Sit down, Frank," said his father. We have something
to say to you about which we wish you to think carefully before
you decide. Sir Richard Carleton has been here. He is not
only a neighbour but a friend of mine, although as I do not go
out much we seldom meet each other. He is a widower with
one son, a boy about your age. Do you know him? "
Very slightly, sir."
Well, this son of his, Dick Carleton, is very delicate; he has
grown very tall and beyond his strength, and the doctor says
he must not be sent to a public school. Now at home he has
no boy companions, and he is moping himself to death. Sir
Richard says he takes no interest in anything; he won't ride
or work, and if he goes on like this it will end in a serious
illness. What his father wants to do is to arouse in him some
,interest in his life, and to awake him out of the deadly
apathy he is in at present. Sir Richard knows your healthy
outdoor mode of life, and your fondness for Natural History
and sport, and he thinks you might, if you chose, be the means
of making his boy take some interest in the same sort of
thing, and if you did so you would in all probability save his
son's life. Now what he proposes is this : That you should
leave the Grammar School at Norwich, and that his son and
you should be placed under the tuition of our Rector until it
is time to go to college. Your education would be as well
attended to as at Norwich, and your mother and I could have
no objection to the arrangement, but we wish you to decide
Frank's decision was made at once. The life at the Grammar
School was very jolly, with its cricket and football and the
14 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
rowing matches on the river, but if this new arrangement were
carried out there would be far better opportunities of building
and sailing the projected yacht, and of sporting and naturalizing
on the broads and rivers, so he at once answered-
I shall be very willing to try it, sir; but Jimmy Brett
must be included in the arrangement. I could not desert
him, and he would be miserable without me at.school. It
would never do to separate us now, father."
"Well, but do you think his grandmother can afford it?
It will be more expensive than being at the Grammar
Then I tell you what, father and mother: the Rector must
only charge Jimmy the same as the Grammar School, and you
must make up the difference to him, and I will do with less
You shall not make that sacrifice, darling," said Mrs.
Merivale; "we will put that all right, and I will go and see
Mrs. Brett in the morning."
And so the matter was finally arranged, and that the boys
might become well acquainted with each other, Dick Carleton
was invited to stay at Mr. Merivale's. But before he comes
we will just go back a few hours and follow merry Mary
Merivale, as her brother called her, and her younger sister
Florrie, on their search for pupse.
Digging for Pupe.-Dick Carleton.-Metamorphoses of Butterfly.
ABOUT two miles further inland from Mr. Merivale's and in
the midst of a fine and well-wooded country, was Sir Richard
Carleton's house. Around it was a park with larger timber
trees than were to be found in the rest of the countryside.
Mary and Florence Merivale had fixed on this spot as the
scene of their labours in the cause of science, as represented
by the collections of their brother and Jimmy Brett. Leaving
DIGGING FOR PUPIE.
the path, they trespassed boldly in search of suitable trees for
their purpose. Frank had told them that the vicinity of houses
was the best, because moths, in all probability attracted by
the lights, laid their eggs on trees and shrubs near houses.
So the two girls went up as near the large house as they
thought they might venture without being seen, and commenced
A tall youth strolling languidly down a path through the
woods saw two kneeling figures in red cloaks at the foot of a
large willow-tree, and their movements aroused his curiosity,
and while he stands looking at them let us say what manner
.:. boy Dick Carleton is. He is very tall and thin, but he
i a figure that only wants filling out to be handsome. He
has a very beautiful face and head, and curly brown hair. His
large dark eyes and pale complexion make him look more
delicate than he really is, but he is afflicted with a listless
melancholy that shows itself in every movement. It was
this melancholy which had aroused his father's fears, and it
was plain that if it were not checked in time grave results
might follow. He stood for some time looking at the two
girls, wishing to ask what they were doing, but too shy to do
so. At last Mary caught sight of him, and rising, she said-
I hope we are not trespassing ?"
You are trespassing, but it does not matter," replied Dick,
taking off his hat. But may I ask what you are doing? "
We are digging for pupa," answered Mary.
"And what are pupa ?"
Don't you know ? asked Mary in surprise.
"Why they come into moths. The moth lays its egg, the
eggs turn into caterpillars, which feed on leaves and trees, and
then turn into these things," and she then showed him five or
six large red cylindrical objects which she had in her basket.
"When the spring comes these will turn into moths."
How wonderful," said Dick. I did not know that before;
but if the caterpillars feed on leaves, how is it that you dig
those from the ground ?"
The caterpillars of some moths go into the earth before
they change into the pupse state. I do not know why: I
suppose they think it safer."
Where did you learn all this ? said Dick, his eyes lighting
16 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
up with a new life and interest at this first glimpse of what
was to him a new and strange world.
From my brother Frank and Jimmy Brett. They are making
collections, and we are helping them as much as we can. My
brother is Frank Merivale, and I am Mary Merivale."
"And my name is Carleton'; but please tell me more about
these things. Will they turn into white butterflies ? "
They won't turn into butterflies at all, but into moths,
great ugly things with thick bodies; only Frank and Jimmy
"I should like to find some if you will show me how to
., ".. 1 j .
METAMORPHOSES OF BUTTERFLY.
dig for them. I suppose if I keep them they will turn into
moths some time."
"Yes; put them into a flower-pot full of mould and keep
it rather damp, and put something over so that the moths
sha'n't fly away, and in the spring they will come out; but it
is prettiest to see butterflies come out. They split open the
chrysalis at the back of its neck and creep out, but their
wings are all shrivelled up to nothing, and they climb up the
side of the box, and then their wings spread out, and get so
large and beautiful! I could find you plenty of the chrysalides
THE PARK IN SUMMER.
METAMORPHOSES OF BUTTERFLY.
of the white butterflies by your greenhouses, but if you want
moths, take this trowel and dig around the other side of this
tree about three inches from it and three inches deep. They
-do not breed on all trees; we have tried five to-day and found
nothing, but at this one we have got twelve."
More amused and interested than he had ever been before,
Dick knelt down and began to dig. Very soon he found a
large chrysalis, and, encouraged by this success, he dug more
vigorously, and very soon he had found five, while the girls
had increased their spoils to sixteen.
"Now, Miss'Merivale, will you come to the greenhouses
and show me how to get some butterfly chrysalides ? I shall
be very glad if you will, and I should like to introduce you
to my father, and I will ask him to ask your brother here,
then he could tell me more about these things."
( L ^ ''"
WHITE HAWTHORN BUTTERFLY.
Mary hesitated, but Florrie said, Oh, do go, Mary;" so
she consented, and they walked up through the gardens, and
Mary showed Dick where to look for the chrysalides of the
common white butterfly, which are to be found through the
winter attached by a silken thread to the sheltered sides of
walls, and under'the coping of greenhouses and buildings near
the gardens where the caterpillars have fed on the lettuces and
Sir Richard Carleton was in one of the conservatories, and
seeing him, Dick cried out-
"Father, these red things will turn into moths, and these
greenish-white ones into butterflies."
Yes, Dick, I know they will."
"But you never told me so before, father."
"Well, my boy, I never thought it would interest you, but I
Sam very glad it does interest you. This is Mary Merivale,
20 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
I think. How do you do, my dears? Come into the library
all of you, and I will show you some books on butterflies."
They went into the house and had some tea and cake, and
turned over the pages of a book on entomology with coloured
plates, which had lain dusty and forgotten on the shelves until
now, and Mary and her sister pointed out to Dick moths and
butterflies which their brother and Jimmy had in their collection.
Sir Richard saw with delight that the right chord had been
touched in his son's mind, and he no longer doubted the
success of the experiment he had urged Mr. Merivale to try.
The time slipped rapidly away, and when it was high time
to go, Mary and Florrie were driven home by Sir Richard's
groom, charmed with their visit, and full of praises of Sir
Richard and his son.
Dick Carleton was eager to know more of entomology, and
set to work at once to read about it with an energy he had
never displayed for anything before, and the father wrote off
to his booksellers to order a newer and more reliable book
upon the science than the one he possessed, to be given to
Building the Yacht.-The Launch.-Great Crested Grebe's nest.-A
Floating Coot's nest.-Golden Crested Wrens.-Their Migration.-
The Flight of a Heron.
WHEN Dick Carleton arrived at Mr. Merivale's to commence
the visit which was to initiate the friendship of the boys,
Frank and Jimmy were at the boat-house; and as soon as Dick
had been welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Merivale, Mary took him
off to the boat-house to introduce him to Frank and Jimmy,
and see that he was shown their collections. When they
opened the door they saw the two boys busy at the table, with
sheets of paper and drawing instruments before them. Dick
felt and looked rather shy and nervous, but Frank's hearty
greeting put him at his ease. Mary proceeded to do the honour
A NEW FRIEND. 21
of the place, and walked Dick about from side to side of the
room to show him their butterflies and birds' eggs, stuffed birds,
and the other natural history curiosities which the boys had
collected, while they were followed by Frank and Jimmy, who
smiled at her eagerness. They had a very fair collection of
eggs, including most of the common kinds, but their collection
of butterflies was not so good, as neither Frank nor Jimmy
cared so much for entomology as they did for ornithology.
"What are all these plans and drawings for ?" said Mary,
pointing to the litter on the table.
Shall we tell her Jimmy?" said Frank.
"Yes, why not ? She will know some time, so she may as
well know now. Besides, she can help us to make the sails,
you know. We sha'n't do the sewiug so well as the wood-
So the great project of the yacht was explained. Mary
danced about the room in glee, and already fancied herself
sailing about the broad. Dick said-
If it can be done, it would be the nicest thing one could
It shall be done," said Frank decisively, and Dick looked
up at him with admiring envy, and replied-
"Then I will help you all I can, and go shares with you in
"You are a brick," said Frank; "come and look at our
plans, and see if you can make any suggestions."
Later on,when Frank and Jimmy were left alone, Frank said-
He'll do, Jimmy."
Jimmy said, "Yes," but looked mournful.
"What's the matter, Jimmy ?"
"Two are company, but three are none; and you may like
him better than me."
Frank's hand descended heavily on his friend's shoulder, and
he shook him roughly.
"Don't be a fool, Jimmy," was all that he said, but in spite
of the rude speech and the rough action, Jimmy saw a mean-
ing beyond, and was quite satisfied. His face grew bright
again, and from that time forward a warm friendship existed
between the three boys, and was never broken or disturbed by
any twinge of jealousy.
They lost no time in commencing to build the boat. The
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
first thing to be done was to make two long pontoons or floats,
on which to erect the superstructure of the yacht. This was
a comparatively easy matter. They made two long wooden
boxes of the following sizes and dimensions. Each box was
twenty-four feet long, four feet wide in the middle portion and
tapering off at each end to a fine point, and two feet six inches
deep. It was made of one-inch deal, and strongly supported
and fastened together by ribs and cross-pieces of wood in the.
"'" -- ----.
:L'-~_~- I-~TL 54
Bun.DING THE BOAT.
interior. The seams were caulked with tow and a mixture of
red and white lead, and then covered or protected by slips of
wood nailed along them. These two pontoons were then laid
on the ground side by side with a space of three feet six
inches between their centres. They were then joined to-
gether by strong pieces of wood fastened the whole way across,
every two feet. On the top of these again, a flooring of planks
BUILDING THE YACHT. 23
was laid, and neatly finished off round the edges with a
bulwark of rope stretched on iron uprights. On this was
erected a cabin three feet six inches in height, nine feet long
and seven feet wide. This was fitted with a door at the aft
end, and a row of little windows along each side. Inside
were two low broad seats, which were also intended to serve as
beds when occasion should require.
Each pontoon was fitted with a rudder and a helm, and
these were connected by a cross-piece of wood, so that both
rudders were worked at once. On this cross-piece were two
iron loops, that the steersman, holding on by them, might
have greater power over the helm. Each pontoon had a
strong keel about two inches deep to protect its bottom from
injury. Such a keel was not sufficient to enable the boat to
sail to windward, so two drop-keels or centre-boards were
added, each about seven feet long and two feet six inches deep.
These were fixed in a line along the centre two-thirds of the
boat, and worked on strong pivots at their foremost corners,
so that by means of chains attached to their aft corners and
passing through holes in the deck they could be let down to
any required depth, or hauled up in the space between the
These were intended to give the yacht a greater hold on the
water when beating to windward. The main-mast was stepped
close to the bows. Its lower part was weighted with lead and
iron, and was so arranged that if it were requisite to pass
under low bridges, the mast could be lowered and raised with
great facility, working on a fulcrum three feet'six inches from
the deck.. There was no bowsprit, but the fore-stay was made
fast to the cross-piece connecting the bows. The mizen-
mast was attached to a cross-piece at the stern, and the mizen-
sail was worked by a sheet rove through a block at the end of a
fixed boom. The main-sail was a lug-sail with a large boom,
and did not require to be dipped every time a tack was made.
The above is a description of the yacht when completed,
but it must not be supposed that it was made straight off with
no labour. On the contrary, it took an immensity of time and
labour before it was completed. The three boys worked at it
manfully, Frank taking the lead and doing the major portion
of the work. Indeed, they would have given it up many times
had it not been for his pluck and determination. Unforeseen
24 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
difficulties fast presented themselves, and cost them no little
thought to overcome. When they had got the two pontoons
and the flooring done, they fell short of cash, and for two or
three days they went about very disconsolately, until Dick in-
formed them that his father's gardener was about to demolish
a summer-house in the garden, and that they might have the
wood. This enabled them to make the cabin, and by dint of
keeping their eyes open, and picking up every scrap of wood
or iron, and every nail or screw which they came across, they
got along pretty well until Frank's quarter-day came, and he
A YARMOOTH YAWL.
received his allowance of pocket-money. Mr. Merivale, who
of course soon found out what they were after, laughingly said
that they went about with such greedy eyes, and looked so
suspiciously at everything, that he was afraid they might take a
fancy to some part of him, as being useful for some part of
At last they had everything ready but the sails, and then
they had an unexpected stroke of good luck. Dick discovered
in an old lumber loft, a complete set of sails belonging to a yawl-
rigged yacht which was formerly the property of his grand-
THE LAUNCHING OF THE YACHT. 25
father. These his father willingly gave to him. Although so
old they were strong, and they were speedily converted into
sails for the yacht. Then the yacht was painted white, and a
small flat-bottomed punt with pointed bows was made to
accompany her, and all was ready for launching.
By this time the land was green with spring, and the boys
had commenced their studies with Mr. Meredith the Rector,-a
clever, sensible Welshman, just the man to attract and manage
three such boys as ours.
Saturday, being a holiday, was fixed for the launching, and
the boys were at Bell's yard by six o'clock in the morning,
getting everything in readiness for the great event, and excited
with the thought of a long day's sail in a yacht of their own
It was a warm, bright morning. The hedges were shining
wi*h a most brilliant green, and clothed in places with the
creamy white of the hawthorn blossoms. The broad lay still
and placid in the sunlight, and the pairing water-birds swam in
and out of its reed-fringed margin, and from one to another of
its dense 'ronds,' or islands of reeds.
There is not a breath of wind;" said Frank, wetting his
finger, and holding it up, to feel if possible by the increased
coldness on one side or another, from which quarter the wind
I think there's a slight air from the south," he said.
Yes," replied Bell, it will blow from the south or west to-
day, if it blows at all, and I think from the look of those
little fleecy clouds, that there will be a breeze before long."
"Well, I am sure the ancient mariner never longed for a
breeze as much as we do now to try our beautiful boat with,"
said Frank; but by the way, what shall we call her? We
have never thought of a name for her." Dick replied:
"Call her the Swan, because like the Swan on 'sweet St.
Mary's Lake,' she will float double."
"Bravo! that is not bad. We will call her the Swan then;
but come, let us launch her."
They set to work with a will, and, aided by Bell, they
quickly had her on the water. Jumping on board, they felt
the delight of being on board their own handiwork. They
pushed the yacht along the narrow channel, which was barely
wide enough for it, until they came to its outlet into the
20 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
broad, and then they found their progress barred. A little
promontory of rushes ran out across the dyke, and on the end
of this promontory was a coot's nest containing eight eggs. It
was necessary to cut away the promontory before the boat
could pass into the open broad. They were loth to destroy
the nest, so they carefully moved it from its position ; and as it
was very large and substantial, they allowed it to float,
thinking the old bird would come and fix it herself. Then
with beating hearts they hoisted their sails. Frank went to
the helm, Jimmy took the main-sail sheet, and Dick the mizen
sheet, while Bell sat on the cabin and whistled for a wind.
I am sure the leaves of the trees are rustling a little bit,"
And I think I see a ripple on the water," said Jimmy.
Frank looked back and saw that they were already fifty
yards from the shore, and that they were rapidly increasing the
Why, look she sails fast, without any wind at all," he said ;
but then they became sensible that there was a slight zephyr
from the south, which increased as they got out more into the
open water. A ripple arose on the water, and the yacht sailed
faster. A cheer broke from the boys as they saw their efforts
were crowned with success. The breeze increased, and they
sped along more quickly, passing over acres of shallow water
that sparkled as clear as glass over the bright yellow gravel.
Immense shoals of bream and perch, and many large pike,
darted away from them as they sailed on, and the Swan slipped
as softly through the water as they could desire. They went
the whole length of the broad, and then Frank cried out-
"Stand by, we are going about; haul in her sheet;" and
putting the helm over, the yacht swung round like a top, and
went across on the port tack up the broad.
They put about again across to the reed bed, and after one
more tack they came within hail of the boat house, where they
could see Mary and Florrie waiting for them, and waving
their handkerchiefs. Frank took his "line" steadily, and ran
her up in the wind's eye within ten yards of the boat-house ; and
Dick took the punt ashore for the two girls, who were loud in
their expressions of delight and amazement. With this addition
to their party they cruised about the broad for some hours,
learning how to handle their craft, and gaining confidence in
A FLOATING COOT'S NEST.
her. Towards noon it came on to blow very hard, and they
landed Mary and Florrie, and set to work to enjoy themselves
the more thoroughly as the breeze grew stronger. The boat
behaved admirably. She was as steady as a rock, heeling over
but very slightly even when the breeze blew strong on her beam.
She came about well, and if she hung fire or was in danger of
missing stays they had only to haul on the mizen-sheet; and
her head went round "in a jiffy." She drew little more than
a foot of water, so could, when her keels were drawn up, pass
over the shallowest part of the broad in safety.
"I say, this is fine," said Jimmy, rubbing his hands. Frank
said nothing, but his kindling eye and satisfied look showed
how thoroughly he enjoyed it all.
While making a long tack across the broad, they ran across
a straggling bed of rushes at a shallow portion. They offered
but little resistance to their passage, but as they charged through
them, Frank cried out-
I say, we passed over a great crested grebe's nest. I saw
the eggs roll out into the water;" and he ran the boat into the
wind and let her drift back stern foremost to the spot where
the nest had been.
"It was only a lump of rotting weed, all broken and dirty,"
That's what all grebe's nests look like," answered Frank
"they cover them with reeds, when they leave them, so that no
one can see the eggs, and few would think there were any
there. Here's the place, drive the boat-hook in and hold the
boat steady while I get up the eggs. There were five, but
two are broken. What a pity! We don't want any for our
collection, and the birds look so pretty on the broad, that it is
a shame to disturb them, but we must take them now I sup-
pose. Let's go back and see how the coot's nest is getting on."
They sailed back some way, and then to their great surprise,
they saw the coot's nest floating across the broad, and the old
bird swimming round it, and evidently very much puzzled to
know what to do.
"Let us tack near her and watch," said Jimmy. So they
sailed round at a distance and watched the poor bird, which
followed its boat-like nest as it drifted before the wind. At
length the boys were pleased to see the bird make an effort to
get on the nest, and so strongly built was it that it bore her
2.8 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
weight well. There she sat, and sailed before the wind at a
Did you ever see the like of that before ? "
"No," answered Bell, but I warrant you that the eggs must
have been hard set, and near to being hatched, or she would
never have done that."
"She deserves to hatch them, at any rate. Had we better
fix the nest or leave it alone ?"
Better leave it alone ; I think she will stick to it if it does
not sink below her."
THE COMMON COOT.
On Monday evening the boys sailed about the broad in
search of the floating coot's nest, and found it among the reeds
at the north end of the broad, and from the broken egg-shells
in it they had no doubt but that the coot had hatched her
young ones in safety, as she deserved to do.
After landing Bell they ran the yacht into a round of reeds,
and proceeded to eat their dinner, which they had brought
with them, and very happy and comfortable they were. The
sun shone brightly, the warm wind rustled through the reeds
and flags, the sky and the water were blue, their boat was a
GOLDEN-CRESTED WRENS. 29
success, and they sat and talked of cruises, and planned
expeditions, and were as merry and jolly as any boys need
desire to be.
While they were talking, half-a-dozen tiny little gold-crested
wrens alighted on the cordage of the mast. They seemed very
tame and tired, and descended to the deck to eat some crumbs
which were thrown to them.
What pretty little things they are, with their fiery yellow
heads," said Frank. "To think a tiny bird like that could
-:- _:: --__ _
COMMON WREN AND EGG.
make a long migration These birds have only just arrived,
Do gold crests migrate ?" asked Jimmy.
"Yes, they go south for the winter, and come back again in
the spring. I don't know how far they go, but they have been
taken some distance from land. More probably, however,
these have been blown from the coast, for I don't think they
cross the sea as a rule."
30 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
As they returned homeward, the boys in running round a
point of reeds, came upon a heron, which scuttled away in great
haste, and in a very undignified manner. It-seemed at first
as if they should catch him, as they followed him so closely,
but as he got fairly away, he rose in the air and distanced them.
How slowly he flaps his wings," said Dick.
How many times a minute do you think he flaps them ?"
Just about forty, at the outside," replied Dick.
Well, do you count, while I time you," and Jimmy took
out his watch and marked the time, while Dick counted one,
two, three, &c.
When he had counted 20 Jimmy said-
Stop, the minute is up. Aren't you astonished? "
"I am, and no mistake. How deceptive his flight is, and
just fancy at what a pace must the wings of the smaller
birds go! "
They brought the yacht to anchor in front of the boat-house,
and went home to relate the adventures of their voyage.
ONE THING AT A TIME, AND THAT DONE WELL. 31
Mr. Meredith.-" Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
-A Botanical Lecture.-The Goat Moth.-Blowing up a Tree.-An
astonished Cow.--Caterpillars in the Wood.
ON the morrow, after morning service, the three boys (Dick
having been invited to spend the day with Frank) were walking
from church and talking upon the sermon which Mr. Meredith
had just preached to them.
It was a beautiful morning-one of those days on which it
is a treat to live. The sun shone from a sky which was brilliant
in its blue and white, the waters of the lake sparkled diamond-
like under the stirring influence of a warm westerly wind. The
scent of the honeysuckle and the roses in the cottage gardens
filled the air with pleasant incense, and from every tall tree-top
a thrush or blackbird sang his merriest.
That wasn't a bad motto which Meredith took for his text :
'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,' "said
"I think it is a motto you endeavour to carry out, Frank,"
Well, I think if a fellow does that he can't be far wrong,"
replied Frank ; "but here is the parson himself."
A tall, broad-shouldered man came quickly up and said to
"Well, boys, I hope you are applying my sermon to your-
"We should be glad to do so if we were quite sure about
the application, Mr. Meredith," replied Frank.
Ah, you young rascal, you could not have been attending;
but seriously, what I meant was this: You boys, and especially
Master Frank, are very prone to take up a thing with all your
might when once you begin. Now that is very right and
proper. Whatever you do you should do your best to do well;
but what I want you particularly to understand is that before
taking up a thing, you should first of all think well and decide
32 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
whether it is the right thing to do, and it is not until that
question is settled that it becomes right to throw your whole
heart into it. Now the immediate application of this is
this : You are going head over heels into the study of Natural
History, and you are making collections as fast as you can.
Now it won't take you long to decide that Natural History is a
very right and proper thing for you to take up, and therefore
you may study it with all your might, and, I doubt not, to the
praise and glory of God; but be very careful about the col-
lecting part of the business. Don't let your zeal carry you too
far. Don't let collecting be your sole aim and object, or
you will become very low types of naturalists. Let it be only
secondary and subservient to observation. Let your aim be
to preserve rather than to destroy. Remember that God gave
life to His creatures that they might enjoy it, as well as fulfil
their missions and propagate their species. Therefore if you
come across a rare bird, do not kill it unnecessarily; if you
can observe its living motions it will interest you more and do
you more good than will the possession of its stuffed body
I quite understand what you mean, sir," replied Frank;
"and it is only what my father has often told me before. We
will try to follow our pursuits in moderation."
Just so; then, as you have heard me so patiently, I will
trouble you with another application of my sermon. Do what
you are doing well. Don't let your observation be too cursory.
Don't be Jacks of all trades and masters of none. This
district is teeming with bird, insect, and animal life. You boys
have peculiar opportunities for learning and discovering all
that is rare and interesting. You are sharp, young, and active,
and nothing can escape you. Now is the time for you to store
up facts which will always be valuable. Buy yourselves note-
books; put down everything in writing which seems to you to
be strange and noteworthy, and don't trust to your memories.
But above all, take up some one branch of study and stick to
it. It is well for you to know a little of everything, but it is
better for you to know a great deal of one thing. Therefore I
should advise each of you to take up a line that suits him and
to pay particular attention to it. Thus you, Frank, may take
up Ornithology; you, Dick, should go in for Entomology, and
Jimmy, why should you not take up Botany ?"
A FIRST LESSON IN BOTANY.
The boys quite concurred in the justice of his observations,
but Jimmy said :
There is nothing I should like better than to know some-
thing of Botany, but there seems so much to learn that I am
almost afraid to begin."
Oh, nonsense," exclaimed Mr. Meredith; let me give you
a first lesson in it now. I suppose you know the names of
all the most common flowers; but just look at their beauty.
See -how this hedge-bank is yellow with primroses, and yonder
you see the faint blue of the violets peeping from their bed
of dark-green leaves, and here is the white blossom of a straw-
berry, which I pluck to show you of what a flower consists. First
there is the root, through which it draws its nourishment from
the earth. Then there is the stem, and on the top of that is
this green outer whorl or circle of leaves, which is called the
calyx. Within the calyx is the corolla, which is formed of
petals, which in this case are of a beautiful white. The corolla
is the part in which the colour and beauty of a flower generally
resides. Within the corolla are the stamens, and within the
stamens are the pistils. The stamens and the pistils are the
organs of reproduction, and the yellow dust or pollen which
you see on most flowers is the medium by which the seeds are
fertilized. Now this flower which I have just plucked is the
wood-sorrel. Notice its threefold emerald-green leaf and the
delicate white flower with the purple veins. It is pretty, is it
not? See, if I strike it roughly, it shrinks and folds up some-
thing like a sensitive plant. It is a capital weather-glass. At
the approach of rain both its flowers and leaves close up, and
even if a cloud passes over the sun the flowers will close a
little; and, finally, its leaves taste of a pleasant acid. There,
you will have had, enough of my lecture for the present, but
I should like to tell you more about flowers some other time."
The boys were both pleased and interested with what he
had told them, and expressed their thanks accordingly; and
then Mr. Meredith left them and went home to dinner.
I say, he is a brick of a fellow," said Jimmy; if all parsons
were like that man everybody else in the world would have a
better time of it."
They went into the boat-house and sat at the open window
looking over the sparkling broad. Frank said :
I tell you what we must do. We must get Meredith to give
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
us part of our holiday at the end of May or beginning of
June, and we will take a cruise over all the rivers and
broads of Norfolk and Suffolk. We could do it nicely in three
weeks and scour every inch of the country in that time. What
do you say? I will undertake to get my father's consent
and Mrs. Brett's. What will Sir Richard say, Dick?"
If you go, Frank, I am sure he will let me go; he has
every confidence in you, and that you will keep us all out of
I will try. Then it is agreed that we go."
Most certainly. Frank will go in for birds'-nesting, Dick
will catch butterflies and moths, and I must try to do some-
thing in the way of botany."
And now it is time to go in; but before we go I just want
to say that there is an old willow-tree down by the Broad
which father thinks is an eyesore. I think that it is a likely
tree in which to find the caterpillars of the goat-moth, which
you know live on the wood of a willow, and eat long tunnels
and galleries in it. What do you say to blowing the tree up
with gunpowder ?-it is only good for firewood, and perhaps
we may find some caterpillars. Shall we get up early in the
morning, bore a big hole into the heart of the tree, and fill it
with gunpowder, set a train to it, and blow the whole affair up ?"
Such a proposal was sure to meet with consent, and at seven
o'clock the next morning the boys were down at the tree,
boring a large hole into it.
The caterpillar of the great goat-moth feeds upon the wood
of timber trees, notably oak, willow, and poplar. He is a
smooth, ugly fellow of a red and yellow colour, with black
feet and claws. He makes extensive galleries through the
heart of a tree, eating and swallowing all that he gnaws away
from the wood in his onward passage.
During the summer he eats his way slowly through the tree,
making numerous and winding galleries; but during the
autumn and winter he takes a siesta, first casing himself in a
strong covering made of chips of wood and the silk which he
weaves. The next summer he renews his work, and so he
lives and grows for the space of three years, and then turns into
the pupe state, and emerges about July a dark brown but not
unlovely moth, which lives for a few weeks and then lays its
eggs and dies.
BLOWING UP A TREE. 35
'The boring was completed and was rammed full of coarse
powder, and the mouth of the hole plugged up with a piece of
wood. Through this plug a small hole was bored, and through
this a long hollow straw made into a fuse was inserted.
Setting fire to this, they retired to some distance to await the
issue of their experiment.
There was unfortunately a cow in the same meadow, and this
cow was very much interested in their movements; so when
they left the tree the cow approached, its curiosity the more
aroused by the smoke rising from the burning fuse.
Now there is an instance of unreasoning curiosity which
animals possess. That cow will poke her nose into that tree,
and get blown up for her pains if we don't stop her. Let's
shy stones at her."
But stones in that marshy meadow were not easy to procure,
so they tore up clods of earth and threw them at the cow. She
scampered away, but went to the other side of the tree and
again approached it. The boys dared not go any nearer to the
old willow, because they momentarily expected the explosion,
and they were in a great fright lest the cow should suffer
damage. Just then, with a loud report and much smoke the
powder exploded. They threw themselves down to avoid
any errant fragments, and the cow scampered off unhurt, but
exceedingly astonished and frightened, jumped the ditch
which separated the meadow from the next one, and finally
landed herself in another ditch, from which she had to be
drawn with ropes and a vast deal of trouble by some of the
The first thought of the boys was to see after the cow, and
when they saw she was in a fair way of being pulled out, they
returned to their tree, and found it split and torn to pieces and
thrown about in all directions. It was quite a chance whether
they found any caterpillars in the tree or not, and, to tell the
truth, they hardly expected to be successful in their search.
What was their delight then to find, that not only were there
caterpillars there, but a great number of them. Three or four
they found dead and mangled by the force of the explosion,
but the many perforations in the wood showed that there were
many more caterpillars there. With the aid of a saw and axe
they dug out several caterpillars not yet full grown, and also
several pups which they knew would be out in two months'
30 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
time. They carried some large pieces of the wood up to the
boat-house for living caterpillars to feed on, and reinserted the
pupae in their wooden chambers, where they were safely kept
until their appearance in July.
The caterpillars of the white butterflies which Dick had
collected under Mary's instructions had some time since come
out, and it was a very pretty sight to see the chrysalis split at
the head and the insect creep out with its wings all wet and
crumpled, and then to watch them gradually expand to their
full size and dry and harden, until the perfect insect was ready
for flight, when with a few flaps of its wings, as if to try them,
it would launch into the sunshine with a strong swift flight.
A Trial Sail.-Preparing for a Cruise.-C .. ... a Reed Bed.-An explo-
sion of Birds.-The First Adventure.-Otange-Tip Butterfly-No Salt.
-How Salt is obtained.
THE project of the cruise was not allowed to drop. The more
the boys thought about it the more they determined to take it.
The first thing to do was to obtain the consent of their elders.
Mr. Merivale had no great objection to it. Sir Richard Carleton
was so pleased with the rapid improvement in the health and
spirits of his son that he would have consented to anything he
proposed. Indeed, he was so anxious to help the boys in all
their undertakings, that he would have spoilt them too much
had it not been for the advice of Mr. Merivale, who said to
Don't let the boys think they can have anything they like
for the asking, or you will spoil their independence of character.
Depend upon it they will find far more delight in making things
for themselves than in having them bought for them, and it will
do them more good."
Sir Richard saw the wisdom of this advice, but he insisted
upon giving them a book on botany ; and one day when the
PREPARING FOR THE VOYAGE. 37
boys went into the boat-house they saw on the shelves a nicely
bound copy of Ann Pratt's PFto-wering Plants of Great Britain
in six volumes. This was a great acquisition to them, and
Jimmy, in the fulness of his delight, got upon the table
with a volume under each arm, and executed a war-dance of
The consent of the ladies was far harder to obtain. Mrs.
Brett said she would see what Mrs. Merivale said; and Mrs.
Merivale was afraid that it would not be safe, and for some
days she hung back, and would not say "yes" or no,"
although Frank pleaded hard with her. His mother was very
much afraid of the water. She did not like to see yachts heel-
ing over as if they were going to be upset, and she thought the
boys were not old enough to manage a yacht by themselves.
Frank at last persuaded her to take a sail in the Swan, and see
for herself how safe it was, and a day was fixed when everyone
should have a sail on the Broad, and try the capacities both of
the yacht and of the boys as sailors. When the day arrived,
however, Frank put them off, saying it was not convenient.
Mr. Merivale smiled as he guessed the reason. It was blowing
a stiff breeze, and sailing on such a .day would not reassure a
timid woman. The next day, however, was fine, and came
with a gentle breeze, just rippling the surface of the water, and
with a confident air, Frank got his party on board. The sail
was quite a success. The yacht glided about on an even keel,
and Frank, who was at the helm, carefully avoided any abrupt
motion in tacking or gybing.
You see it is quite safe, mother," said he.
"Yes, my dear, I suppose it is, and I suppose you must go,
as you have set your heart upon it; but how can you possibly
think of sleeping in that small cabin ? "
"One of us will sleep at each side, and the third will sleep
in a hammock stretched across the middle."
But you will be suffocated, dear."
Have no fear, mother, we will see to the ventilation."
So they obtained permission to go, and, as time was an object,
they set to work with great vigour to prepare for their voyage.
They made a hammock out of an old sail. Their beds were
formed of cushions placed on the bunks on either side of the
cabin. To prevent the necessity of tucking in their bedclothes
they adopted a well-known dodge of yachtsmen; which is to
38. THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
double the sheets and blankets, and sew the sides and bottoms
together, so as to form a bag into which they could creep.
They took fishing-tackle with them, and also their old muzzle
loader. Dick took his butterfly net, Jimmy a quantity of
newspapers in which to dry plants, and Frank an opera-glass,
with which to watch the movements of birds at a distance.
Frank also took care to see to the eating department, and with
his mother's help he got a very fair stock of provisions on
board. The'day at length arrived for their departure. It was
the Monday in the last week of May. At eight o'clock in the
morning they bade farewell to, Mary and Florrie, who had
come to see them off, hoisted their sails, and away they went
before a light breeze from the northward. A cheer broke
from them as they found themselves fairly afloat, and the boat-
house grow smaller in the distance behind them, and the waving
handkerchiefs of the two girls could be seen no longer. It was
a beautiful morning, and their spirits were high. Holidays,
sport, and adventure lay before them, a stout boat under them.
There were no three happier boys in the world.
They sailed slowly through the narrow outlet of Hickling
Broad into Whiteslea Pool, and through another narrow passage
into Heigham Sounds.
A dyke called the Old Meadow Dyke ran from the Broad on
the left into Horsey Mere; and Frank proposed making a detour
along this and exploring Horsey Mere, but the other boys were
too anxious to get on. It was too near home to begin to
explore. In the middle of Heigham Sounds, which is a good
sized sheet of water, was a large bed of reeds, such as is locally
called a rond.'
Let us go slap-dash into that. We shall be sure to find
some nests," said Frank.
"All right," said both Jimmy and Dick. So Frank put the
helm up, and the yacht drove on before the wind, surging
through the rustling reeds, which bowed and bent before her.
until she came to a standstill well into the heart of the rond.
Down with the sails," said Frank, and the halyards were let
go and the sails came down with a run. As the yacht crashed
into the rond there was quite an explosion of birds from it.
Water-hens, coots, and marsh-tits flew out on both sides, and
from the centre of it rose a little duck with a bright, chestnut-
coloured head and neck.
A TEAL'S NEST.--HARD AND FAST.
That is a teal," said Frank, "we shall find her nest here,
so look carefully."
They jumped into the shallow water, having first taken off
their shoes and stockings, and began to hunt about for nests.
They speedily found several coots' and water-hens' nests, and
also a dab-chick's; but they wanted none of these, and con-
tinued their search for the teal's nest. At last-
Here it is," said Dick delightedly, and sure enough there
the nest was, in a small bush which grew in the very centre of
the rond, where the soil was pretty firm. The nest was large
and thickly lined with feathers, and it contained twelve cream-
coloured eggs. They took six of them, and then, satisfied with
their spoil, they went back to their yacht, and tried to push her
off again. But this was no easy task. They pushed and
pushed, until they were exhausted, and the only effect their
pushing seemed to have was to push their own legs deeper into
the mud. The yacht refused to be moved.
"Well, this is a pretty go, to be wrecked at the very beginning
of our cruise! We have run her almost high and dry. How
they will laugh at us at home !" said Jimmy.
They sha'n't have the chance of doing that. We will get
her off somehow or other. We ought to have gone to leeward
of the rond, and run her up in the wind's eye into it, and then
we could have backed her off with the sails," said Frank.
Live and learn," said Dick. I vote we strip and go over-
board again and try to lift her off. We can get the oars from
the boat, and use them as levers."
This was undoubtedly the best thing to do, and although the
water was not over warm, they took off their clothes and worked
and pushed away, until they made the mud around the yacht as
soft as a pudding, and themselves as black as negroes. Then
the yacht moved a little, and putting forth all their strength
they shoved her back into deeper water. Not waiting to dress
themselves, they ran the sails up and steered away for the
Kendal Dyke at the south-east end of the Broad. They meant
to 'stay at the mouth of the Broad to bathe and dress. There
was no one to see them, so it did not matter. As they neared
the mouth of the dyke, to their great dismay a yacht with
several people on board came out of it. The people stared in
blank astonishment at the strange double-bodied yacht and her
still stranger crew. Jimmy and Dick dived at once into the
40 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
cabin. Frank could not leave the helm, and yet could not
stay where he was; so without further thought he plunged into
the water at the stern of the yacht, and, holding on by the
rudder, he contrived to keep her on her course until Jimmy
reappeared with something thrown over him, and took hold of
the tiller. When they came to an anchorage in a secluded spot
among the reeds, they bathed and dressed.
"Well," said Dick, "if we go on having adventures at this
rate, we shall have plenty to tell when we get home."
[ like adventures, but these are not the sort I like," said
"Well, never mind, better luck next time," said Frank,
Sailing through Kendal Dyke, which in places was so narrow
that the Swan brushed the reeds on both sides as she passed
through, they reached the Hundred Stream, and, turning to the
south-westward, they sailed, with no further adventure, until
they came to Heigham Bridge, where they had to lower their
masts in order to get through. While Frank and Jimmy did
this, Dick took his butterfly net, and went after an orange-tip
butterfly, which he saw flying past. This butterfly is one of
the first which makes its appearance in the
spring, and it is one of the prettiest. It looks
I as if a bunch of red and white rose petals
S._i had taken to themselves wings and fled. It
.- -, is a small butterfly, having an orange-red tip
S on the ends of its forewings. The male only
BUTTERFLY. has this ornament. The female has only a
greyish black tip. The under surface of the
wings of this pretty insect is no less beautiful than the upper.
It is white, with bright green marblings, or what appear as
bright green to the naked eye. When looked at through the
microscope it will be found that the green appearance is caused
by the mixture of black and bright-yellow scales. (I suppose
that most of my boy readers will know that the dust which is
so easily rubbed off a butterfly's wings is in reality a coating of
scales arranged one over the other like feathers, and of very
exquisite shapes.) The caterpillar of the orange-tip is green,
with a white stripe on each side, and the chrysalis is very
peculiar in shape, tooth-like, and pointed at both ends.
Dick was a long time away ; and when he came back;, flushed
NO SALT.-A SALT MINE. 41
with exercise, he had no less than eight orange-tips in his net,
which he proceeded to kill and set there and then.
They sailed on very slowly, for the breeze had fallen, until
they came to the Thurne Mouth, and then they turned up the
Bure until they came to St. Benedict's Abbey, the ruins of
which stand on the northern bank of the river. Here they
determined to camp for the night, and accordingly ran their
boat into a marshy creek, and made her fast to the reeds.
They were much amused at the remarks of the people whom
they passed, whether on the bank or on board the wherries and
yachts. The like of the Swan had never before been seen on
Norfolk waters. She was a rara avis in terris and excited
any amount of appreciatory and depreciatory comment.
After making the boat snug and comfortable, the boys pro-
ceeded to cook their dinner. They bought out from the
lockers some cold beef and ham, and boiled the potatoes in a
small tin saucepan over the spirit-lamp. The meal was soon
ready, and they sat down to it with most excellent appetites.
Where have you put the salt, Frank? asked Dick.
The salt ? replied Frank, thoughtfully.
Yes, the salt."
"Well, let me see. Dear me, we must have forgotten it."
"But Frank, how can you-how can anybody eat beef
without salt ? said Jimmy reproachfully.
Never mind, we will get some to-morrow," said Frank,
"There are no shops about here, and there are no salt-
mines in the marsh," said Jimmy, who refused to be comforted.
"Talking about salt-mines, have you ever been down one ? "
said Frank, who was eager to turn the subject.
"No; have yu ?"
Yes, and a jolly sort of place it is."
"Then tell us all about it as a punishment."
"It was at Northwich, in Cheshire, last year, when I was on
a visit to my uncle. We drove over one day to look at the
mines. They get an enormous quantity of salt from that dis-
trict, and it is of two kinds, the white table salt and that dark
lumpy salt they put in fields for cattle. They get the white
salt from brine-pits, which are full of salt water. The water is
pumped up and put into basins until it evaporates, and the
white salt is left behind. There must be big holes in the
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
earth filled with salt water, for as it is pumped away the surface
of the earth caves in, and the houses lean against each other
in a very tumble-down sort of fashion. The brown or rock-
salt is dug out of mines, and we went down one of these. My
cousin and I went down in a tub hardly large enough to hold us,
and a workman clung to the rope above our heads. The shaft
was dirty, narrow, and crooked, and we bumped finely against
the sides. I didn't like i. at all, I assure you; and when we
cleared the shaft and hung suspended over a vast cavern, at
the bottom of which were some dim lights, I felt rather in a
funk. The man below reached up to us with a long pole, and
pulled us away from the end of the shaft for fear of falling
stones, and then we were lowered to the ground, and stepped
out of the bucket and looked abofit us. We were in a very
large cave, the roof of which was supported by immense square
pillars of the salt rock. It was brown, of course, but it was
quite translucent, and the light gleamed from it very prettily.
Our guide lit a piece of magnesium-wire, and I never saw any-
thing so magnificent in my life. The whole place seemed set
with precious stones, and the dirty, half-naked men, leaning on
their tools, looked as picturesque as you could well imagine.
Then one of the men had finished boring a blast hole, and we
waited while he filled it with powder and fired a shot. We
all huddled in one corner of the cave, and then there was such
a roar and smoke The rock under our feet heaved and shook,
and pieces of rock and stone flew about far too near for my
"I never knew how salt was got before," said Dick.
"Nor I," said Jimmy; "and as Frank has told us so well
we will forgive him for forgetting the salt."
AN APPARITION.-BARN OWL.
An Eerie Night.-A Ghostly Apparition.-The Barn Owl.-A Will-o'-the
Wisp.-The Ruff and Reeve.-Snaring Ruffs.-A Nest.-Wroxham
Broad.-Mud-boards and Leaping-pole.--Wild Duck's Nest in a Tree.
As the night fell the wind rose and moaned dismally over the
marsh, and black clouds covered the sky, so that the night
promised to be dirtier than usual at this time of the year.
Lonely marshes stretched far and wide, with nothing to break
their wild monotony save the ghostlike ruins of the Abbey in
the foreground. It was not a pleasant night for the boys to
spend out for the first time alone, and an eerie sort of feeling
crept over them in spite of their efforts to appear at ease.
At length Dick said-
I feel as if wild beasts were prowling about on the watch
for us, and that if we went to sleep we should be eaten up
So do I," admitted Frank ; "but I suppose it will wear
away in time. But what is that ?" he exclaimed, in a startled
tone, as an unearthly cry sounded among the ruins of the
Abbey, and a white shape was dimly seen gliding between the
The boys gazed in breathless silence at this apparition.
The cause of their alarm, however, was made plain to
them, as a white owl came forth on noiseless wings, and
fluttered stealthily over the marsh. They laughed heartily at
their fright, but their laugh sounded forced and unnatural. It
was so weird and lonely outside, that they went into the
cabin and lit the lamp, and strove to make a cheerful supper.
Then they undressed and tried to make themselves comfortable
for the night. Frank took the hammock, and Dick and Jimmy
the berths at each side. They left the lamp burning dimly
for company's sake, but they could not go to sleep. The
water lapping against the planks of the yacht and amid the
stems of the reeds, the wind sighing over the waste fen, and
44 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
the strange cries of the night-birds--the call of the water-hen,
the hoarse bark of the coot, the cackle of wild ducks, and the
host of other noises which they could not account for, kept
them awake and on the qui vive.
"What's that ?" said Dick, after they had been quiet for
A noise like a clap of thunder was to be heard, re-
peated at regular intervals, and growing louder, as if ap-
proaching them. They rushed on deck to see what was the
cause of it, and were relieved to find that it was only a belated
THE BARN OWL AND EGG.
wherry beating up to windward, her canvas flapping each time
she put about on a fresh tack. The men on board of her
shouted Good night" as they passed, and after this the boys
felt more comfortable, and again courted sleep. They were
just dropping off, when patter, patter," went something on
deck. Some one, or some thing had boarded them, and Frank
went out to see what it was. A coot had come aboard to see
if there might be anything eatable there, and she flew away as
, .1 -~:~
A WILL-O'-THE-WISP.-A RUFF. 45
Frank appeared. He looked about ere he went down again,
and to his astonishment he saw a spot of light dancing about
on the marshes in a place where he thought no human being
could be at this hour.
I say, Dick and Jimmy, here is a will-o'-the-wisp dancing
about on the marshes."
They came quickly on deck, and watched the strange light,
which now and then disappeared, and then again became
visible. It now shone bright, and then faint, and an uncertain
glimmer beneath it showed that it hovered over the water as
well as over the marsh.
"There is no such thing as zgnis fatuous nowadays," said
Jimmy, so what can it be ?"
"I vote we go and see," said Frank.
"You will only get bogged if you do. It is dangerous
enough to walk on the marsh in the daylight, and almost im-
possible by night."
It strikes me there is a narrow channel, or dyke, leading
from the river, which may lead to where that light is. I saw a
line of water about twenty yards off. We passed it as we were
about to anchor. Let us take the -boat and go up it, if you
wish to see what it is," said Jimmy.
His suggestion was approved of, and they dressed and
stepped into the punt, and after a little while they found the
dyke and pushed their way along it. They moved cautiously
and with little noise, and at last emerged upon a small open
piece of water, and as they did so, the light gleamed for a
moment and went out. They peered eagerly through the
gloom, but could see nothing. All was silent and still, and
It is no good staying here," said Frank; "let us go back
and try to sleep, or we shall not be fit to be seen to-morrow
when we meet the others at Wroxham."
So they rowed back, wondering what the cause of the light
had been. They tumbled into their berths again and got just
an hour's broken sleep before the dawn effectually aroused
them. It was very early, but they had no choice but to rise
and get something to eat. The morning was bright and
cloudless, the lark sang merrily in the sky, waterfowl swam on
the quiet stretches of the river in peaceful security, the fresh-
ness and charm which always accompanies the early dawn
46 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
of day in the country had its natural effect upon them; and their
spirits, which had been somewhat depressed by the uncom-
fortable night which they had passed, rose again to their
natural height. Dick now suggested that they should again
explore the windings of the creek, and try to find out the cause
of the mysterious light which had so puzzled them the night
before. They accordingly rowed up the lane of water as they
had done the previous night, until they came to the piece of
open water. Just as they were about to emerge from the
narrow opening in the belt of reeds which surrounded it,
Frank checked the motion of the boat by clutching hold of
the reeds, and warned his companions to be silent. Looking
in the direction in which he pointed, they saw the most curious
bird they had ever seen, or were ever likely to see. On a little
hillock on the edge of the reeds was a bird with a body like a
thrush, but with long legs. It had a long beak, staring eyes,
brown tufts of feathers on each side of its head, and a large
flesh-coloured ruff of feathers round its neck.
I know what that is; it is a ruff," said Jimmy.
Yes, yes, but be quiet and watch it."
They drew back behind the green fringe of reeds and
watched the movements of the ruff, for such it was. Its move-
ments were as strange as itself. It pranced up and down on
the little hillock and fluttered its wings, and uttered a defiant
cry. It seemed as if it were particularly desirous of attention
from one spot in the marsh, for towards that spot its glances
and movements were directed. Looking more eagerly towards
this spot the boys saw a smaller bird, with no ruff around her
neck, and clad in sober brown. This was a female, or reeve,
and the male was showing himself off before her and trying to
attract her attention, while she, with the tantalising nature of
her sex, appeared to be quite unconscious of his blandishments,
and went on composedly picking up her breakfast from the
insects and worms in the marsh. Presently another ruff ap-
peared on the scene, and, joining his rival on the little hillock,
he commenced to emulate his performances, and the two
danced a war-dance in the most amusing fashion, to the
great delight of the three observers. The natural consequence
of this rivalry soon followed, and the two ruffs began to fight
in good earnest, laying hold of each other with their bills, and
striking with their wings. The one drove the other to the
SNARING RUFFS.-A NEST. 47
bottom of the hill, and was apparently master of the field; but
instead of returning to his post on the top, he flew away,
leaving his adversary fluttering vainly, and evidently fast by the
leg. Then the rushes on the other side of the open space were
pushed aside, and a man in a rude boat made his appearance,
and proceeded to seize the ruff and kill it.
The mystery of the light is explained," said Frank.
" Hallo !' you there, what are you doing that for?"
The man started and looked round, answering surlily,
"What's that to you ?"
Oh, don't get into a wax. We only want to know for
information's sake. What will you sell that ruff for?"
Two shillings, sir," replied the man, in a much more civil
"Well, here you are. Are there many ruffs about here ?"
No, sir, I have not seen any for the last two years until
this spring. They used to be common enough when I was a
lad, and I have taken a score in one morning with these
snares. I have seen more than a dozen together on one hill,
and twice as many reeves around looking on. Those were fine
times for us fowlers, those were."
The boys asked to be allowed to look at his snares. They
were made of horsehair, and were set in this fashion :-A
length of hair with a running noose at each end was fixed by
the middle into the slit of a peg, which was then driven into
the ground. A number of these were set round the base of
the hill with the nooses projecting about an inch above the
surface of the herbage, and as the birds were driven off the
hill they were caught by them. It was necessary, the man
said, to keep a strict watch on the snares, for the birds some-
times broke away, or the rats and weasels, of which there are
plenty in the marshes, would be beforehand with the fowler
and seize the captured birds.
': I suppose you were setting your snares last night?"
"Ay, sir," replied the man, laughing; I heard you
coming after me, so I put my light out. I did not know what
sort of men you might be, and they make believe to pre-
serve these marshes now, and it is hard work for us to get
Don't you think there may be a ruff's nest somewhere
about?" said Jimmy.
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
I found one this morning with four eggs in it, but they are
Never mind that, we can blow them, if you will show us
where it is."
Get out of the boat, then, and come into this round; but
mind how you walk. Put your foot on the roots of the reeds,
or you will go up to your middle in mud directly."
The nest was made of coarse grass, and was placed in a
clump of sedges. It contained four eggs of an olive-green
colour, spotted with brown. As the man said that if they did
not take them he should, and sell them for what they would
fetch, the boys felt no hesitation in plundering the nest of all'its
contents, giving the man a gratuity of a shilling for showing
the nest to them.
This commercial transaction completed, they returned to
their yacht and made a second breakfast.
They had arranged to meet their elders at Wroxham Bridge
at twelve o'clock, and spend the rest of the day sailing and
pic-nicking on the Broad, so about ten o'clock they started.
The breeze was light, as it generally.is in the summer ; and as for
a portion of the way they had to beat to windward in a rather
narrow channel, it took them some time to reach Wroxham.
They found that the Swan was not so handy in tacking
as a single-hulled yacht would have been, and they had to use
the mizen to swing her round each time they put about.
Their progress was, therefore, slower than they had calculated
upon, and they did not reach '.i._. i ,,,- until 12.30. Their
way was past Ranworth Broad and the two Hovetons, besides
some smaller broads, all connected with the river by dykes,
half hidden by tall reeds, and looking deliciously lonely, and
inviting exploration. Although they were so close they could
see nothing of the broads' surface, and their existence was
only made manifest to them by the white sails of yachts which
were now and then to be seen gliding hither and thither through
forests of reeds.
Sir Richard, Mr. and Mrs. Merivale, Mrs. Brett, Mary and
Florrie, were all waiting for them on the staithe by the bridge,
and hailed their appearance with joy.
Well, boys, we thought you were lost," said Mr. Merivale.
No fear, father," answered Frank ; the Swan sails
grandly, and we have had no end of fun."
WROXHAM BROAD. 49
"And how did you sleep last night? Wasn't it very
lonely? said his mother.
The boys unanimously affirmed that it had been most
awfully jolly, and that they had been most comfortable.
Whilst the party were embarking, Frank went to the village
carpenter's and.got a stout leaping-pole with a block of wood
at the end, so that it might not sink into the mud when they
were jumping the ditches. He also obtained a pair of mud
boards to put on his feet when walking over soft ground.
These were pieces of wood a foot long by eighteen inches
wide, with rope loops to slip over the feet. He expected to
find them useful while bird-nesting on the marshes.
They sailed at a good pace down the river, and then, while
Mary was asking where the Broad was, Frank put the helm
over, and they sailed through a narrow channel, on either
side of which the reeds were seven feet high, and while
the question was still on Mary's lips, they were gliding
over the fine expanse of water which is known as Wroxham
They had a very pleasant afternoon, and as the breeze was
steady and the yacht behaved herself very well, the two elder
ladies lost much of the nervousness with which they had
regarded the boys' expedition. Dick was much impressed
with the loveliness of the Broad. On the one side the woods
came down to the water's edge, and on the other the wide
marsh stretched away miles on miles, with its waving reed
beds, tracts of white cotton-grasses, and many-coloured marsh
grasses, which varied in sheen and tint as the wind waved them
or the cloud-shadows passed over them. Here and there a
gleam of white showed where the river or a broad lay, but for
the most part the whereabouts of water was only shown by th'e
brown sails of tFwherries, or the snow-white sails of the
S.1. II .. -rff. lTI Ied and tacked about in a manner that seemed
"._.. I, terious, seeing that there was no water visible for them
to float on.
At one end of Wroxham Broad is a labyrinth of dykes and
pools, between wooded islands and ferny banks. The boys took
the two girls in the punt through this charming maze, and they
pushed their way through the large floating leaves of the water-
lily, and the more pointed leaves of the arrowhead, gathering
the many-coloured flowers which nestled amid the luxuriant
50 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
growth of plant-life that fringed the water, stooping to avoid
the trailing branches of the trees, and enjoying themselves
mightily in exploring.
Is that a crow's nest in yonder tree ? said Jimmy.
I expect so, and there is the bird on, but her head does
not look like a crow's. Hit the trunk with the oar," said
As the blow vibrated through the tree, the sitting bird flew
off, and what do you think it proved to be? A wild-duck/
., ..'* / -
The boys were astounded. They had heard of ducks build-
ing in hollow trees, and at some distance from water, but to
build a nest on the top of a high tree seemed incredible, so
Frank said he would climb up and see the eggs, but-
Let me go," said Dick, I have never climbed a tall tree,
and it looks an easy one, although it is tall, for there are plenty
Oh, please take care, Dick," said Mary.
Oh, he will be all right. You never tell me to take care,
young woman," said Frank, laughing, while Mary blushed.
DUCK'S NEST IN A CROW'S. 51
Dick was soon up the tree, showing skill worthy of a
practised climber, and rather to the surprise of his companions.
It is a duck's nest in an old crow's nest, and there are ten
eggs in," shouted Dick from his lofty perch.
"Bring two of them down then. We will write on them
where they were found. I wonder how the old birds get the
young ones down to the water? They can't fly for a long time
after being hatched, and they must take to the water soon, or
they will die."
The question which Frank put has never been satisfactorily
The young ones must either perch on their mother's back,
and hold on whilst they are being transported to their native
element, or the old bird must seize them in her bill, like a cat
does her kittens.
When the others left, the boys sailed down stream again
by the light of the red sunset, and as night stole over the
marshes, they anchored by Horning ferry, and so tired were they
that they fell asleep the moment they laid themselves down,
forgetting their fears of the night before. They turned in at
ten, and none of them awoke until eight the next morning.
Before breakfast Frank and Jimmy spent some time in
teaching Dick how to swim, and found him an apt pupil.
Chameleon.-Light Coloured Eggs.-Sitting Birds have no Scent.-
Forget-me-nots.-Trespassing.-The Owner -A Chase.--Capture.-
Pintail Duck.-Drumming of Snipe.-Swallow-tail Butterfly.-A
THE young voyagers had by this time discovered that sailing
about in the manner they were doing gave them tremendous
appetites, and on this particular morning they found they had
run short of bread and butter, so Jimmy was despatched to the
little shop at Horning to procure some.
After breakfast they were lounging on deck waiting for a
52 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
breeze. Dick was sprawling on the roof of the cabin basking
in the sun. Frank was fishing for roach in the clear slow
stream, and Jimmy was perusing the newspaper in which the
provisions had been wrapped. It was a still, lovely morning.
White clouds sailed quickly across the blue sky, but there was
no breeze to move the marsh grasses and reeds, or to ripple the
placid stream. A lark sang merrily far above them, filling the
air with melody. Small birds chirped in the sedges, and the
water-hens and white-headed coots sailed busily to and fro.
Jimmy looked up from his paper just as Frank pulled in a
good sized roach, and said,-
Do either of you know how the chameleon changes its
Upon receiving an answer in the negative he read as follows
from the paper in his hand :-
M. Paul Bert has laid before the French Academy a resumn
of the observations of himself and others on the colour-changes
of the chameleon. They appear to be due to change of
place of certain coloured corpuscles. When they bury them-
selves under the skin, they form an opaque background to the
cerulescent layer, and when they distribute themselves in super-
ficial ramifications, they either leave the skin to show its
yellow hue, or give it green and black tints. The movements
of the colour-corpuscles are directed by two orders of nerves,
one causing their descending, and the other their ascending,
motions. In a state of extreme excitation the corpuscles hide
below the skin, and do so in sleep, anesthesia, or death.
The nerves which cause the corpuscles to go under the skin
have the greatest analogy to vaso-constrictor nerves. They
follow the mixed nerves of the limbs, and the great sympathetic
of the neck, and do not cross in the spinal marrow. The
nerves which bring the corpuscles upwards resemble in like
manner the vaso-dilator nerves. Luminous rays'belonging to
the blue-violet part of the spectrum act directly on the con-
tractile matter of the corpuscles, and cause them to move
towards the surface of the skin."
Now, can you tell me the plain English of that? "
Read it again, Jimmy," said Frank.
Jimmy did so.
Well, I am no wiser. Read it again more slowly."
Jimmy did so again.
54 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
"I give it up," said Frank. What a thing it is to be a
scientific man !"
I take it," said Dick, rolling himself along the cabin roof
towards them, "that it means that different coloured rays of
light have corresponding effects upon coloured atoms in the
skin of the chameleon. The rays of light will be affected by
the colour of the place where the chameleon is, and the
chameleon will be affected by the changed colour of the rays
of light, so that if the beast were on a green lawn his colour
would be green, and if on a brown tree-trunk his colour would
"That is my idea," said Jimmy but what is the good of
using such stilted language, when the same thing might have
been said in simple English?"
I wonder why that water-hen keeps dodging about us in
such a fussy manner," said Frank.
"I don't," replied Dick, "for there is her nest not a yard
from our bows."
The mooring rope had parted the reeds, and discovered
her nest, and Dick, on going to the bows had seen it. It
contained twelve eggs, one of which was so light in colour as
to be almost white, and one so small that it was only half the
size of the others. Dick asked if it were because it was laid last,
and if the pale one was so for a similar reason. Frank replied,-
It may be so in this case, but it does not always happen so.
Last year I tried an experiment with a robin's nest. I took
out an egg each day, as it was laid, and still the bird went on
laying until I let her lay her proper number, five. She laid
fifteen eggs altogether, but they were all the same colour and
size. So I expect that it is only an accident when the eggs are
Bell told me the other day that sitting birds have no scent,"
said Dick, Is that true?"
"I am not quite sure, but I am inclined to think that they
have not so strong a scent as at other times. This same robin
which I have just been telling you about built in a hedge-bank
close by a house, and cats were always prowling about, and I
have seen puss walk right above the nest while the old bird was
on. If birds would only have the sense to shut their eyes, we
would often pass them over, but it is easy to see them with
their eyes twinkling like diamonds."
How pretty that clump of forget-me-nots is on the opposite
bank! They seem to smile at you with their blue eyes," said
Dick, who was keenly alive to all that was beautiful. But
what is that flower a little lower down, right in the water, with
thick juicy stems and blue flowers. Is that a forget-me-not ? "
"No, it is a brooklime, but it is one of the speedwells
There are more than a dozen sorts of speedwells, but the
forget-me-not is the prettiest. Another name for the forget-
me-not is water-scorpion, but it is too ugly a name for so pretty
a plant," said Jimmy, full of his recent learning.
-- -- i -- -- : -' _. l .-
_. ~ ~ ..- ---.
-_ .: . '
REDHREA.ST AND EUG.
Here comes a breeze at last," cried Frank, as their blue
flag fluttered, and the reeds in the surrounding marsh bent
their heads together and sighed. "Shall we explore Ranworth
Yes, but let us take Hoveton Great Broad first, and then
we can go to Ranworth as we come back," answered Jimmy.
So they hoisted sail, and glided up stream with a freshening
breeze, while swallows dipped in the river and whirled about
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
them as they passed. While they were sailing steadily along
with a breeze on their starboard beam, the flag became fouled
in the block through which the halyard of the mainmast was
rove, and Jimmy was sent up to put matters right. He
clambered up the mast as nimbly as a monkey, and shook
loose the flag from its ignominious position. When he had
finished this he looked about him, and from his greater height he
could see much further than his companions, whose view was
limited by the tall reeds which shut in almost every portion of
the rivers and broads. The boys did not know that they were
near any of the latter, but Jimmy saw on their left hand a
sheet of water sparkling in the sun and studded with many
reedy islands. He cried out,-
"There is such a jolly broad to leeward It looks so
quiet and still, and there are no -end of water-fowl swimming
about in it. A little further on I can see a channel leading
to it just wide enough for our yacht. What do you say to
paying it a visit?"
His friends had not the least objection. Its being unknown
to them was an additional reason for their including it in their
voyage of discovery. Jimmy said he should stay on his lofty
perch for a time and take the bearings of the country, but as
they neared the entrance to the broad and turned off before
going down the narrow channel, the boom swung further out,
and the jerk dislodged Jimmy, who was only saved from falling
by clutching at the shrouds, down which he came with a run.
They surged along through the dyke with the reeds brushing
their bulwarks, and tossing and swaying in the eddies which
followed their wake, and after several twistings and winding
they emerged upon the broad.
At the entrance to it was a pole with a notice-board upon it,
which stated that the broad belonged to Mr. and that
any persons found trespassing upon it would be prosecuted.
Hallo do you see that?" said Dick.
"Yes, I see it," replied Frank, "but we could not turn back
in that narrow channel, and now that we are on the broad we
may as well sail about a bit. What a number of water-fowl
there are "
"I know Mr. -- by sight," said Jimmy. "He has a big
The little lake was so picturesque with its islands and roundss "
THE BIG BLUE YACHT. 57
and broad floating lily-leaves, that the boys sailed about for
some time before they thought of leaving it, and when they
turned their faces again towards the river, what was their
surprise to see a large yacht creeping along the connecting
canal between them and the river. The reeds hid the body of
the yacht from them, but its sails betokened that it was one of
The boys wondered who it could be who had thought of
paying the sequestered little broad a visit, never for a moment
- -- -
thinking of the owner, when the yacht shot out into the open
water, and lo it was a bzg blue yacht.'
It is Mr. -- said Jimmy.
Now we shall get into a row for trespassing," said DIck.
They have got to catch us first. If we can only dodge
them, and get on to the river again, we can show them a clean
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
pair of heels," said Frank, taking a pull at the sheet and trying
to creep up to windward of the dyke. The blue yacht, how-
ever, stood by so as to meet them, and Frank saw, by the way
she went through the water, even when her sails were hauled
almost flat, that she could beat the Swan in sailing to windward.
A gentleman stood up in the strange yacht and called out,-
"Bear up alongside, you young rascals, and give me your
names and addresses. I shall summon you for trespassing."
Not if I know it," said Frank, bringing the Swan sharply
round on her heel, and scudding away before the wind, followed
by the other in full chase.
Now, Jimmy and Dick, stand by the sheets, and when we
get opposite the bottom of that long island, we will bring her
sharp round the other side, and then they can't get across and
meet us, and then we'll cut and run for the dyke."
They executed this manoeuvre very neatly, but the other was
too quick for them, and instead of following them round the
island, they turned back and made for the mouth of the dyke
to intercept them, and at a much better angle of the wind than
that at which the Swan had to sail.
We shall come into collision," said Jimmy, as he took a
hearty pull at the mizen sheet. We cannot both get through
Never mind. We'll cram her at it. Stand by with the
boat-hook to push the blue 'un off, Dick but as Dick stood
ready with the boat-hook to push off, a man stood in the other
yacht with his boat-hook to pull them in, and as Dick pushed,
his adversary pulled. The two boats ran alongside for a few
yards, and then were jammed together at the mouth of the
creek, and Mr. -- stepped on board.
Now what is the meaning of this ? he exclaimed angrily.
"We came into the broad out of curiosity, sir," said Frank;
"and we could not see the notice-board until we were in the
broad, and then we thought we might as well take a turn round
before going out, but we are sorry you have caught us."
Oh, are you really Well, I want to preserve the broad for
wild-fowl, so I don't like it to be disturbed; but where did you
get this strange boat built?"
"We built it ourselves," answered the boys,-and then in
reply to the inquiries, they told him all about it, and their
object, and by the time all was explained to him they found
PINTAIL DUCK.-SNIPE'S BLEATING. Sg
that he was a very jolly sort of fellow, and he found that they
were very pleasant, unaffected lads, and the end of it was that
they lunched with him on board his yacht, and had full
permission to go on the broad whenever they liked.
Frank's attention was arrested by a pretty, light grey duck
swimming about in the centre of the broad.
"Is that a pintail duck?" he inquired of Mr.--
Yes, and the only one on the broad, I am sorry to say.
Its mate has been killed, and my man found the deserted nest
with four eggs in it, among the reeds on the other side of the
broad. If he has not taken it you may have it."
His man had not taken it, and in a few minutes the boys
were the possessors of the eggs of this rare duck. The nest
and eggs were of the usual duck type, and did not correspond
in any degree with the extreme prettiness of the duck, which,
with its mottled grey back and red-brown head and neck, is
as fair to look at as it is good to eat.
The yachts were disengaged from their position without any
damage, and the boys took leave of their entertainer with a
cheer, and made for the river again.
I hope all our adventures will end as nicely as that one,"
The wish was echoed by the others; but that very day they
had an adventure which startled them considerably, and might
have had very serious and fatal consequences. But of this anon.
Presently Dick said,--"I have noticed whenever we see a
mud-bank that it is almost sure to be perforated by a number
of small holes. What is the reason of that? "
Oh, that is done by the snipes, when boring in search of
food. Woodcocks will do it as well, and the woodcock's upper
bill is so long and flexible that it can twist and turn it about
in the mud with the greatest ease," answered Frank, who was
always ready with an answer on ornithological subjects.
By and by Dick was observed to be looking all about with
a very puzzled and curious air, peeping into the cabin, and scru-
tinizing the deck and the banks with the utmost attention.
What is the matter, Dick ? said Jimmy at length.
"What on earth is that buzzing noise ? It seems to be
close to us, and I can't find out the cause of it. I did not
like to ask before-it seemed so simple. Is it a big bee, or
wasp, or what?"
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
Frank and Jimmy laughed heartily, and the former said,-
Look up in the air, Dick."
Dick did so, and saw a bird which he knew to be a snipe,
hovering somewhat after the manner of a kestrel, or wind-
hover, as the country people sometimes call it. It was evident
now that the noise came from it, but how was it produced, and
Frank cold not answer either of these questions. It was a
habit of the snipes in breeding time to rise and 'drum' in that
CoM ,M SNI E.
No doubt he does it for a lark, and no doubt he thinks
he does it as well as a lark, but no one seems to be sure how
it is caused by a vibration of the tail-feathers."
Look" cried Dick excitedly, diving into the cabin for his
butterfly net. Over the marsh there fluttered one of the
grandest of English butterflies, the swallow-tail. Large in
SWALLOW-TAIL BUTTERFLY. 61
size, being about four inches across the wings, which are of
a pale creamy-yellow, barred and margined with blue and black,
velvety in its appearance, and with a well-defined 'tail' to
each of its under wings, above which is a red spot, the swallow-
tail butterfly is one of the most beautiful of all butterflies. It
is rare save in its head-quarters, which are the fens of Norfolk
and Cambridge, and is justly considered a prize by a young
collector. Frank immediately ran the yacht ashore, and Dick
jumped out and rushed at the gorgeous insect with his net.
Alas he struck too wildly and missed it, and it rose in the air
and flew far away, leaving Dick lamenting. Frank laughed and
Ah, you went at it too rashly. You should have given it
SWAI LOW-TAIL BUTTERFLY.
him with more of the siaviter in modo and less of the foritier
in re. Here comes another. Let me have a try!"
Dick yielded up possession of the net to him, and he advanced
slowly and cautiously to where the swallow-tail was sunning
himself on an early tuft of meadow-sweet, which the warm
weather had tempted to bloom earlier than usual, and to perfume
the air with its strong fragrance on the last day of May.
Frank's approach had too much of the suaviter in modo, for the
butterfly flew away long before he reached it. Frank forgot all
about the suaviter in modo then. He dashed after it at the
top of his speed, making frantic dashes at it with his net, and
jumping over soft ground, with utter disregard to all dangerous
places. He followed it for some distance, and then he suddenly
disappeared, and to their dismay they heard him shouting
loudly for help.
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
He has got into a bog-hole," said Jimmy, come along as
fast as you can."
They ran with breathless speed to where he had disappeared,
and so deceptive are distances on flat surfaces, that they were
surprised to see how far he had gone. When they reached
him they saw him up to his waist in the soft bog, whose bright
vivid green would have shown its danger had he not been too
eager in his pursuit of the butterfly to notice it. He was
rapidly sinking deeper into the mud, which held him fast with
cruel tenacity, and sucked him further into its horrid embrace
the more he struggled to get out of it. He had taken a big
jump right into the very middle of it, and he was too far from
them to reach their hands. His face was pale, but he was cool
"All right," he said, "don't be frightened. I've got the
butterfly, and if you will do what I tell you; I will soon get
out of this fix. Dick, do you run to the yacht and get a rope,
and you, Jimmy, get some reeds, and pitch them to me to put
under my arms, and keep me from sinking further into this
Dick sped off like an arrow, and Jimmy tore up a bundle
of reeds and threw them to his friend, who had now sunk up
to his shoulders, and as the reeds broke beneath his weight
he sunk deeper still.
"I hope Dick won't be long, or it will be all up with me,
Jimmy," he said, and brave as he was, he could not keep his
lips from quivering. Jimmy was in an agony of excitement.
He took off his coat, and threw one end of it to Frank, but
he could not reach him. Then he did what even raised a smile
on Frank's face, imminent as was his danger. He took off
his trousers and threw one leg to Frank, retaining the other in
his hand. Pulling hard at this improvised rope, he held Frank
up until Dick came tearing up with the rope trailing behind liim.
"Thank God I" said Frank, and Jimmy then knew by his
fervent tone how great he knew the danger had been. .Clinging
to the rope, he was hauled out by his companions, and so tightly
did the mud hold him, that it took all their strength to drag him
out. They walked slowly and quietly back to the yacht, and
Frank changed his clothes, and lay down and was very quiet
for some time, and they none of them recovered their usual
spirits for some time after this occurrence.
INSTINCT AND REASON.
The butterfly was set, and ever afterwards kept apart in
Dick's collection as a memento of this time.
Before they went home again they had got several specimens
of this handsome butterfly, and still better, they discovered
numbers of the bright green caterpillars and chrysalides on
the meadow-sweet and wild carrot, which grew in the marsh,
and so were able to breed several fine specimens, enough for
their own collection and for exchange.
Moonlight.--Instinct and Reason.-Death's Head Moth. -Bittern.-
Water-rail. -Quail.--Golden Plover,--Hen-Harrier and Weasel.-
THEY anchored that night just inside Hoveton Great Broad.
The moon rose large and round, and lake and marsh slept
still in her mellow light. The boys sat on deck watching the
reflection of the moon in the water, and listening to the cries
of the night-birds around them and the splash of the fish in
the shallow margins. Dick said,-
Is it not wonderful that the butterfly knows on which plant
she is to lay her eggs ? How does the swallow-tail know that
she must lay them on the wild carrot or on the meadow-sweet ;
the death's-head moth on the potato ; and the white butterfly
on the cabbage P How is it that they select these plants, seeing
that it is all strange and new to them ? It is very wonderful "
Yes," said Jimmy, "and it cannot be reason, because they
can have no facts to reason from, so it must be instinct."
Well, I don't like talking anything like cant, and you won't
accuse me of that if I say that it seems to me that instinct is
a personal prompting and direction of God to the lower animals
for their good, and I don't believe we think of that enough,"
Frank replied,-" You are right, Dick, and while man has
04 THE SWAN AND HER CREW,
only reason, animals have instinct and reason too. At least I
believe that the larger kind of animals have some share of
reason. I have never told you about our colley bitch. Last
year she had pups, and she was very much annoyed by a cat
which would go prowling about the building where the bitch
was kept; so the bitch took the opportunity of one day killing
4. -. _
the cat. Now the cat had just had kittens, and all were
drowned but one. When the mother was killed, its kitten cried
most piteously, and had to be fed with milk by the servants.
The bitch had not known that the cat had kittens, until she
heard the kitten scream, and then she showed as plainly as
possible that she was sorry for what she had done, and took
THE BITTERN. 65
the kitten to her own young ones, and seemed quite fond of
it. Whenever it was taken away she would go for it and take
it back again, and the kitten grew up with the pups, and was
inseparable from them. Now I call that reason on the part
of the bitch, and the desire to make amends for the injury
she had done-But hark what is that ? "
A low booming sound not unlike the lowing of a bull, but
more continued, resounded through the marsh and then ceased.
Again the strange note was heard, and the boys looked at one
What can it be ?" said Jimmy, as the noise again quivered
on the moonlit air.
I know," said Frank, it is a bittern. If we can only find
its nest we shall be lucky. It does not often breed in England
now, although it is often shot here in winter. Let us listen
where the sound comes from."
They listened intently, and after an interval the sound was
again repeated. They believed that it came from a reed-covered
promontory which ran out into the broad on its eastern
"Let us take the punt and go over," said Frank; so they
rowed in the direction' of the sound. They rowed round the
promontory, and penetrated it as far as they could, and all
was still and silent, and they discovered nothing.
Early the next morning they renewed their search, and while
they were crashing through the very middle of the reed bed,
b6 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
the bittern rose with a hoarse cry, and flew away with a dull,
heavy flight. And there, as good luck would have it, was its
nest, a large structure of sticks, reeds and rushes, and in it
were four eggs, large, round, and pale brown in colour. It
was not in human nature (or at least in boy nature) to resist
taking all the eggs.
The bittern is a singular bird both in shape and habits.
Take a heron and shorten its legs, neck, and beak, and thicken
it generally, and then deepen its plumage to a partridge-like
brown, and you will have a pretty good idea of the bittern. At
one time it was common enough in England, but the spread of
"~."~:. 'W- Allj
cultivation, the drainage of the marshes, and the pursuit of
the collector have rendered it rare; and while at some seasons
it is pretty common all over the country where there are places
fit for its breeding-ground, in other years scarcely a specimen
can be seen, and its nest is now but rarely found. Its curious
note has often puzzled the country people. It has been said
to put its head under water or into a hollow reed, and then to
blow, and so make a noise something like that produced by
the famous blowing-stone in the Vale of the White Horse.
The fact, however, appears to be that the "noise is produced
in the usual manner, and Morris says that the bittern com-
monly booms when soaring high in the air with a spiral flight.",
When suddenly surprised, its flight is more like that of a
carrion crow when shot at in the air. If wounded, the bittern
can defend itself remarkably well, turning itself on its back, and
fighting with beak and claws. It cannot run well among the
reeds, so when surprised it takes refuge in flight, although it
is not by any means a good flier; and as the reeds grow too
closely together for it to use its wings among them, it clam-
bers up them with its feet, until it can make play with its
wings. It is essentially nocturnal in its habits, hiding close
among the reeds and flags by day.
Leaving Hoveton Broad, the boys sailed quietly down the
river to Ranworth Broad, without adventure. They turned
from the river along the dyke which led to the broad, and with
their usual enterprise they tried to take a short cut through a
thin corner of reeds growing in about two feet of water, which
alone divided them from the broad. They stuck fast, of course ;
but their usual good fortune attended them, and turned their
misfortune into a source of profit. A bird like a landrail, but
smaller, flew from a thick clump of vegetation near them.
Hallo, that is not a corn-crake, is it ? said Dick.
"No, but it is a water-crake, or water-rail rather, and I expect
its nest is in that clump," said Frank, and his shoes and stock-
ings were off in a moment, and he was wading to the place
whence the bird had flown.
"Yes, here it is, and there are eight eggs in it, very like a
landrail's, but much lighter in colour and a little smaller. I say,
if we hadn't seen the bird fly away we should never have found
the nest, it is so carefully hidden. I shall take four eggs. They
are not sat upon, and she will lay some more until she makes
up her full number, so it is not a robbery."
The water-rail is one of the shyest of water-birds. It creeps
among the herbage like a rat, and is very difficult to put to
flight. When it does fly, its legs hang down as if it had not
strength to hold them up, and it flies but slowly, yet during the
winter time it migrates long distances.
The boys spent but little time on the broad, for they were
anxious to get further away from home; so, as there was a
strong breeze from the west,,they ran before it as far as Acle,
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
where they had to lower their mast in order to pass under the
old grey stone bridge.
Leaving the yacht moored by the Hermitage Staithe, they
walked to Filby and Ormesby Broads, an immense straggling
sheet of water with many arms about three miles from the river.
They hired a boat, and rowed about for some time, seeing plenty
of wild-fowl, but meeting with no adventure worth recording.
The broad is connected with the river by a long dyke called by
the euphonious name of Muck Fleet, but, it is not navigable,
being so filled with mud and weeds. The growing obstruction
of this dyke is an illustration of the process which is going on
all over the Broad district day by day. Formerly a much larger
portion of it must have been water, but as the reeds grew they
decayed, and the rotten matter formed soil. This process was
repeated year after year and is going on now. The reeds extend
each year and form fresh soil each winter, and so the parts
which were always very shallow become filled up, and the extent
of marsh increases; and then, as the extent of marsh increases,
it is drained and becomes firm, and then is finally cultivated,
QUAIL'S NEST. 69
and waving corn-fields take the place of what was once a lake,
and then a marsh, and instead of pike and wild-fowl there are
partridges and pheasants.
On the way back to Filby the boys took it into their heads
to have a game of follow my leader.' Frank was chosen as
leader, and he led them straight across-country, scorning roads
and paths, and choosing the hardest leaps over dykes and
fences. Across a meadow Frank saw a very stiff thorn-fence
on the other side of which was a stubble-field. Collecting all
his strength, he made a rush at it, but failing to clear it,
his foot caught near the top, and he fell headlong into the next
and sprawled on the top of him; but Jimmy could only breast
the hedge, and sat down on the spot whence he had taken his
spring. Dick was up again in a moment, but Frank remained
kneeling on the ground with something between his hands.
"What is it, Frank?" said Dick.
smashed three of th s t th ere are five fe left."
70 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
Jimmy joined them, and asked what kind of a bird it was.
It was a bird of about eight inches in length, grey in colour,
plump, and with a shape which reminded them of the guinea-
fowl. They looked at the poor trembling bird, and at its
eggs, and came to the conclusion that it was a quail, a
supposition which turned out to be right. Quails, though
rare generally, were very common that year in Norfolk and
Suffolk, and many nests were found, two more by the boys
themselves. The nest is simply a collection of dry grass in
a hollow in the ground.
Morris says of the quail :-
"Quails migrate north and south in spring and autumn, and
vast numbers are taken by bird-catchers. As many as one
hundred thousand are said to have been taken in one day
in the kingdom of Naples. Three thousand dozen are re-
ported to have been purchased in one year by the London
dealers alone. They migrate in flocks, and the males are
said to precede the females. They are believed to travel
at night. They arrive here at the end of April or beginning
of May, and depart again early in September. Not being
strong on the wing, yet obliged to cross the sea to seek a
warmer climate in the winter, thousands are picked up by
the shores on their arrival in an exhausted state; many are
drowned on the passage, and some are frequently captured on
board of vessels met with in transitu"
I have seen them in poulterers' shops kept in large
cages, until they are wanted for the table, and they seemed
to be quite unconcerned at their captivity, feeding away
"What shall we do with the bird? I've broken her wing,
but I don't think she's much hurt anywhere else."
"Here's some thin twine," said Dick. "Let us tie
the bone to a splint of wood with it, and the wing may
They carried the suggestion out with great care, and the
quail, on being allowed to go, ran away with a drooping wing,
but otherwise little the worse.
"I suppose we must take all the eggs," said Frank, "for
she will not come back to her nest now, as it is all wet with
GOLDEN PLOVER. 7 I
Those are not lapwings flying above us, are they ? said
No, they are golden plovers. They are not half so pretty
as the lapwings; They have no crest, and are much plainer
in plumage, and they have more black on them. Look out
for their nests in this marshy spot."
"Here is one," said Dick.
No, that is only a lapwing's, and in a very clever place
too; the nest is made, or rather the eggs are placed on the
NEST 01 GOLDEN PLOVER.
top of a mud-hill, so that when the water rises the eggs will
be kept dry."
Here is a golden plover's, then," said Jimmy, pointing to
a depression in the ground, in which were four eggs of the
usual plover type, about the same size as the lapwing's, but
more blunt in outline, and lighter in ground colour.
"Yes, those are they. Take two of them."
It must not be supposed that I mention all the nests and
eggs the boys found in their rambles. Space forbids me to
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
notice more than those which are rare or unusual. For the
nest of one rare or uncommon bird they found a dozen of
the commoner sorts, for they were very quick observers.
The wind had fallen, and the water was as smooth as glass.
While prowling about the margin, seeking what they might
devour," Dick stooped to pick a flower which grew by the
water-side, and saw the head of a large eel protruding from
the mud on the bank, about two or three feet below the surface.
He called his companions' attention to it, and on looking
more closely they saw at intervals the heads of several more,
which poked two or three inches out of the mud. If the
water had not been so still and clear, they would not have
been able to see them.
What are they in that peculiar position for?" said Dick.
Oh, it is a habit of theirs. They are taking it easy, and
watching for any little nice morsel to float by them. When
the evening comes they will come out altogether. I will show
you how to sniggle them."
Do what ?" said Dick.
"Wait and see, old man."
They went back to the Hermitage, and Frank borrowed a
stocking-needle from a woman at the house. He next got
some fishing-line from the yacht and whipped one end of it
to the needle from the eye to the middle. He next got a
long pea-stick from the garden, and dug up some lob-worms,
and then went to the mud-bank where the eels were.
Frank baited his tackle by running the head of the needle
quite up into the head of the worm, letting the point come
out about the middle. Then he lightly stuck the point of
the needle into the end of the stick, and with the stick in
one hand and the loose line in the other, he went quietly to
the side, and selecting an eel, he presented the worm to its
nose. The eel opened its mouth and took the worm in.
Frank gently pulled the stick away and slackened the line,
and the eel swallowed the worm head first. When it had
disappeared down the eel's throat, Frank struck, and the needle,
of course, stuck across the eel's gullet. Frank kept a steady
hold upon him, and drew him out of his fastness inch by inch,
until he was clear of the mud, and then he lifted him out of
the water. It was a fine eel of two pounds in weight.
Why, what grand fun that is 1" said Dick. Let me try,"
HAWK AND WEASEL.
and so enthusiastically did he set to work, that in an hour's
time he had got eight large eels.
They now went on board to make their fourth meal that
day, it being then half-past four o'clock. Afterwards they all
wrote their letters home.
The next morning about nine o'clock they hoisted sail, and
started, intending to reach Yarmoutht that day. A strong
breeze, almost amounting to a gale, blew from the west, and
they were obliged to take in reefs in both the main-sail and
the mizen, and then they spun along at a very good rate, the
water foaming at their bows and surging in their wake.
Above them and to the eastward the sky was blue and with-
out a cloud, but in the west a huge black cloud was slowly
rising. Against its gloom, the sunlit marsh, the windmills,
and the white sails of the yachts stood out brilliantly clear,
and a number of gulls which were flying over the marsh
shone out dazzlingly white against it.
What bird is that ? It is a hawk no doubt, but it looks
so blue in this light," said Jimmy, pointing over the marsh
to where a large hawk was flying in circles uttering screams,
and every now and then swooping to the ground.
Frank got out his glass and took a long look at it.
"It must be a hen-harrier," he said. "I can see it quite
-clearly. It seems to be very angry with something on the
ground. Run the yacht up in the wind, Jimmy, and let us
"There is another harrier flying to join it as swift as the
wind. It is larger and browner, and must be the female,"
said Frank, describing their movements as he saw them through
The second comer swooped down to the ground and rose
with some long struggling object in its talons which seemed
to be a weasel or stoat. Frank then through his glass dis-
tinctly saw the weasel seize the hawk by the throat, and the
hawk, screaming wildly, rose high into the air-" towering," as
a sportsman would say-until it was almost a speck, and its
mate accompanied it, circling round it, and also uttering savage
screams. Then the hawk and weasel fell through the air,
turning over and over, and came plump upon the marsh.
The boys landed and went to the spot, while the other hawk
slowly circled far out of sight. On reaching the spot they
74 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
found the hawk dead, and the weasel still alive but stunned;
It was soon despatched, and they examined the beautiful hawk
he harre 's --- c t "w eas hai d b ee n rifui n 'we
t h U i
t i; "-
which had fallen a victim to its bravery. The weasel's jaws
were stained with egg-juice, and not far off they found the
S3 ^ --
hen-harrier's nest which the weasel had been rifling when
the hawk attacked it. The nest was built on the ground,
and was something like a coot's nest, large and strong in
structure. It contained four bluish eggs, two of which were
"I tell you what, Frank," said Jimmy, "we must stuff
the hawk and weasel, and mount them just as they appeared
in the air. It will make a grand group. I am sorry for
the hawk, but it is a lucky find for us and our museum never-
In the meantime they skinned the hawk and weasel, and
simply stuffed their skins with cotton-wool and laid them by in
the locker. It is not necessary to stuff birds in their natural
attitude to preserve them for a cabinet. They may be loosely
stuffed with cotton-wool and laid side by side in drawers and
labelled, just like eggs, and if at any time afterwards it is
desired to set them up in life-like positions, the skins can
be softened by letting them lie for a few days in a damp
They sailed at a great rate down to Yarmouth, and brought
up just outside a row of wherries which were moored to the
To the Rescue.-A Long-tailed Tit's Nest.-A Shower of Feathers.
WHEN they had made all snug, they set out for a walk through
the town, and as the quay-side was not so pleasant as the open
country, they determined not to sleep on board the yacht this
night, but to sleep at an hotel. They therefore went to one
by the beach and engaged beds. They then ordered and ate
an uncommonly good dinner, at the close of which the waiter
intimated to them that he had never seen any young gentlemen
before who had such good appetites. After a due amount of
rest they set out for a stroll. Presently they met a boy with a
nest in his hand, which was evidently that of a long-tailed tit.
THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
They watched the boy join a gang of other boys, and after some
conversation they took a number of tiny white eggs out of the
nest, and arranged them on the ground in a row.
By Jove, they are going to play hookey smash' with them.
What heathens said Frank. The boy who had brought the
eggs now took a stick and made a shot at one of the eggs, and
smash it went. Another boy took a stick and prepared to have
I say, I can't stand this, said Frank. Let us make a
rush and rescue the eggs," and suiting the action to the word,
he ran forward, and with a well-applied shove of his foot to
the inviting target which a stooping boy presented to him, he
sent him rolling into the gutter. Jimmy picked up the nest
and eggs, and then the three found themselves like Horatius
and his two companions when they kept the bridge against
Lars Porsena apd his host, "facing fearful odds in the shape
of a dozen yelling street-boys.
Frank was a big lad for his -age, and he stood in such an
excellent boxing position, his blue eyes gleaming with such a
Berserker rage, and Jimmy and Dick backed him so manfully,
that their opponents quailed, and dared not attack them save
with foul language, of which they had a plentiful supply at
command. Seeing that their enemies deemed discretion the
better part of valour, our three heroes linked themselves arm
in arm, and marched home with their heads very high in
air, and with a conscious feeling of superiority.
"What are you laughing at, Dick ? said Frank.
At the cool way in which you robbed those fellows of their
eggs. You had. no right to do so. They will wonder why
you did it."
Let them wonder. I was so savage at their spoiling those
beautiful eggs in such a brutal manner. At the same time I
acknowledge that it wasn't my business, no more than if it
were their own ha'pence they were smashing, but all the same
I feel that we have done a very meritorious action."
They now found themselves at the quay-side, and they stopped
there some time, being much struck by the scene which pre-
sented itself to them as they gazed out over Breydon Water.
The tide was flowing in rapidly, and Breydon was one vast
lake, at the further end of which, five miles away, the rivers
Waveney and Yare joined it, and, at the end near Yarmouth,
LONG-TAILED TIT'S NEST.
the Bure, down which they had just sailed. The breeze had
risen to a gale, and as it met the incoming tide it raised a sharp
popply sea. The sun was setting red and splendid over the
far end behind a mass of black fiery-edged cloud, through rents
in which the brilliant light fell upon the tossing waste of waters,
and tipped each wave-crest with crimson. Above the cloud
the sky was of a delicate pale green, in which floated cloudlets
or bars of gold, which were scarcely more ethereal-looking
than the birds which breasted the gale with wavering flight.
Out of the sunset light there came a gallant array of vessels
making for the shelter of Yarmouth. Dark-sailed wherries
with their peaks lowered and their sails half mast high, and
yachts with every possible reef taken in, all dashing along at a
great pace, notwithstanding the opposing tide, and each with a
white lump of foam at its bows. The parallel rows of posts
which marked the sailing course stood out gaunt and grim, like
warders of the sunset gates, and the whole scene was wild and
impressive. It so moved Dick, that when they got back to
their hotel he sat down, and tried his hand at making some
verses descriptive of it. They are not good enough to quote,
but Frank and Jimmy both thought them very good, only they
were not impartial critics.
As they were sitting in the coffee-room that evening, Jimmy
said that he should like to see how many feathers the long-
tailed tit's nest contained. It looked a regular hatful, and he
wondered how the tiny bird could have had the patience to
collect so many. So he drew a small table aside, and sat
himself down at it with the nest before him, and then set to
work to count the feathers, putting them in a pile at his right
side as he did so. Dick joined him, and the two worked away
for a long time at the monotonous task of counting. The
feathers as they were piled up loosely on the table formed a
Frank grew tired of watching them, and a wicked idea
entered his head. The window near which they sat encoun-
tered the whole force of the wind. Frank lounged up to it,
and, under cover of a question, undid the latch.
How many are there?" he asked.
"We have counted 2,000, and there are about 30o more.
We shall soon finish."
"Shall you, indeed," said Frank, as he opened the window.
78 THE SWAN AND HER CREW.
The wind rushed in, and catching the light feathers scattered
them all over the room, which was full of people, some reading,
some eating, and some enjoying a nightcap of toddy. The
feathers stuck everywhere-on the food, in the glasses, sticking
on hair and clothes, and tickling noses, and causing universal
LONG-TAILED TIT AND EGG.
Here's a pretty kettle of fish !" said Jimmy, looking up in
dismay. "How could you, Frank ? "
But Frank had vanished out of the window laughing incon-
tinently, and Dick and Jimmy were left alone to bear the
storm of expostulations and reproaches with which they were
favoured by the company, who thought the whole affair was