Little boats on a stream.
A streants fascination.
Mice and moles.
17o What Shall We Do Now?
at the end with which to draw the ship to land. For suggestions as to making a useful and simple sailing-boat see p. 242.
Sailing boats in a stream is little good, because there is no steadiness of wind, but ordinary boats will float along in the current splendidly. It is interesting to launch one and follow its adventures from the bank. Sometimes it will be caught in a weed ; sometimes an eddy will sweep it into a back water ; sometimes, in shooting the rapids, it will be overturned. But a long stick can always put things right. Or one of you will go down the stream to a given point and the other will send down messengers—pieces of wood, walnut boats (see p. 245), paper boats (see p. 232), or whatever it may be.
But there is no absolute need for you to have boats in order to enjoy a stream. There are so many other things to do, not the least interesting being to make a dam and stop or divert the course of the water. And when tired of playing it is very good to sit quite still on the bank and watch things happening: perhaps a water-rat will swim along suspecting nothing, and then, seeing you make a movement, will dive and disappear, and suddenly come into view ever so far away on the other bank. Perhaps a moor-hen will bring her little ones to feed close by you, or a kingfisher will flash by or settle on a branch overhanging the water. Kingfishers grow more rare every year, owing to the merciless and unthinking zeal with which they are shot ; and maybe before long there will be no more to be seen anywhere.
Indeed, to keep absolutely quiet and watch things happening is for many people one of the most delightful occupations which the country holds. When there is no one else to play with it is as good a way of spending the time as can be found.
In a wood or in any place where there are old leaves, as in a dry ditch, you will usually get through the ear the first tidings of any moving thing. For instance, you will hear a shrew-mouse rustling long before you can see its queer pointed nose pushing its way through the dead leaves. Or it may be a