164 What Shall We Do Now?
lodgings in the country are close to a smithy. Some blacksmiths permit their friends to stand right inside the smithy, instead of just at the door, where strangers have to stay. Perhaps the blacksmith will ask you to blow his bellows while he is making a horse-shoe, and it may happen that if he has not much work on hand he will make you a hoop that will be far cheaper and stronger than a bought one (see p. 128). In hot weather the flies are so troublesome to horses which are being shod, and make them so restless, that some one has to stand beside them and flick the flies away with a handkerchief. This job might fall to you.
One of the advantages of being in the country in spring is that that is the time when birds build. In May the weather is not yet sufficiently warm to make sitting about out-of-doors very comfortable, but birds'-nesting can make up for that. It is of no use to say in this book, " Don't take the eggs," because it is possible only for one person here and there to be satisfied with merely finding a nest and then passing on to find another. But it is a pity for any one who is not a serious collector to take more than one egg. For your purposes one is enough, and the loss of a single egg rarely causes a bird to desert her nest. Of course if you know for certain that the nest is deserted, it is right to take all. You can find out by visiting it two or three times, and if the eggs remain cold or wet and there is no sign of the bird you may safely feel that she has abandoned them. Birds have so many natural enemies to fear that it is hard that we should harm them too. Last spring, for instance, in a lane in Kent there were no fewer than five robins' nests, not one of which came to anything. In three cases village boys took all the eggs, and in the other two the young birds were allowed to get a few days old, and then, at night, a cat who had been stealthily waiting his time crept up and killed old and young together.
To you who are birds'-nesting only for fun it is as exciting