in the unaccustomed sunshine, while the big
speckled thrush in the acacia lifts up his
voice in an almost hysterical abandonment
of exhilaration, when the cocks in the farm-
yard are crowing their heads off and my
white turkeys start dodging and curveting
and chasing each other round the bushes
like a demented school-treat only then will
the dormouse sometimes thaw himself
sufficiently to come out and sneak round to
the store-cupboard for a little nourishment.
But why come out ? Has he not the
sense to store his supplies in the nest ready
to hand ? On the contrary, he has too much
sense to do any such thing. When it is
said that he lays up a store of food, the
picture conveyed no doubt to the average
mind is that of the little brown form lying
in a kind of miniature refreshment buffet,
packed in with acorns and nuts like herrings
in a barrel ... No, indeed ! The dor-
mouse has enemies enough without gra-
tuitously inviting interference at the hands
of any passing creature whose sharp sense
of smell could discover the proximity of
eatables, and would probably mete out rough
treatment to the luckless store-keeper in
addition. What he actually does is to select
a hiding-place at a short distance from the
nest, and if, then, thieves do break in and
steal at all events his own slumbers will
not be disturbed ! This proclivity of his
forms what is perhaps the only clue to the
whereabouts of his winter hiding-place.
Should one happen upon a little store of
nuts secreted in some mossy nook or cranny
amongst the interlacing roots of a tree, it
would be fairly safe to assume that a dor-
mouse has his nest not far away.
In this most defenceless of creatures we
have an example of the wonderful instinct
with which Nature has endowed the lower
animals. The dormouse knows that the
ripening of the nuts is a signal for him to
be up and doing. No mere idle pastime is
this winter sleep of his, but a serious
business, and in autumn he sets about his
preparations with a will, laying up store for
himself inside, as well as out, to such good
purpose that ere he folds his little hands to
sleep at length, the usually lithe brown form
has attained a degree of corpulence that
puts one forcibly in mind of some Tenniel
cartoon of an early- Victorian alderman.
Photo : Frances Pitt.
What young Dormice are like. It is not long before these wee furry imps will be
darting about the hedgerows in the warm nights of summer.
Photo: Alfred Taylor.
Though they do look so wise, these are not five little gnomes but five young Barn ?
Owls. They were hatched upon a beam in the great barn belonging to the farm where \
the children lived.
By OLIVE HOGKIN
III. What Happened to the Young Rats
NGE more the children were
out in the orchard.
Under a cherry-tree Topsy
| and Popsi were busy discussing
the sad fate of the young robins.
44 I wonder what Spring will
do about it?" said Topsy. " She
did promise that the rat should
44 Oh dear ! I do wish it had
chosen something else for its
babies' dinner ! " sighed Popsi,
torn between her interest in the
young rats (whose nest she her-
self had discovered in the attic)
and her grief for the little robins.
The children had watched that
robin's nest being built, taken
count of each egg as it was laid,
and visited them every day, until
at last the eggs chipped, and
the little naked, sprawling
O 00 000 0ooO o o
birdlings appeared. Then haa
come the tragic day when the
nest was discovered to be empty,
and the gardener reported having
seen a rat leave the nest early
that same morning.
44 Let's come and find Spring,"
said Boodles, coming up at the
moment. 44 I'm almost sure I
saw her just now, under the big
44 Gome on then!" said Topsy,
jumping up. 44 We'll get her to
tell us what she is going to do."
Away they all ran to the
boundary hedge where the great
chestnut held up its shining white
candles amidst a tangle of bramble
and oak and beam.
But what a lot goes on that
children never see !
Up above them in the
30000000 00000000 C
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
cherry -tree somebody was sitting, searching for their friend, and i
listening to all their talk a fluffy,
one with a curved beak and big
"O - ho!" said Tawny - owl
softly, looking very round -eyed
and wise. " Oo-hoo-oo ! " said
she. " Rats, is it ? A nest of
Photo: Stanley Crook.
"O ho!" said Tawny-owl softly.
young rats up in the attic !
That will do me fine I was
just at my wits' end to know what it's your tea-time now, too ! But
to give my squawkers for supper !
I'll be off and get them before
Mother Barn-owl comes to know
about it. It is really too bad the
I will give you a hint. To-
morrow morning, go up the hill
to the corner where the orchard
meets the pine wood. Then if
way she snaps things up, as if you search very carefully along
no one else in the world had any the bank you may find out some-
babies to feed ! "
So saying, she dropped from her
Next morning, accordingly, first
perch and skimmed silently over thing after breakfast, away ran
there, amongst the sun and
shadow of the chestnut, at last
they found her the laughing i
Fairy Spring. Boodles caught i
hold of one floating trail of sun-
shine, and they all clamoured
"No, no, children!" she pro-
tested, as they clambered in
among the branches, piling her
with questions. " I am really
much too busy to tell you about
it to-day. I have to work so
hard painting the apple -blossom.
You see," explained she, "it is
so many different shades of red
and pink ! You don't know how
careful I have to be if I want to
make a really lovely spring ! "
"Oh, but please " cried
Popsi, who could never take
" No " for an answer. " Just i
say if you have remembered to i
see about it, 'cos we really -
truly can't afford to lose any
more little birds ! "
"Why, yes," said Spring; "of
course I have ! And if you go
and look in the attic to-morrow
you will find there are no more
little rats in that nest ! "
" Oh ! Please tell us what has
happened to them," cried Topsy.
" Dear me ! You must really
try and find out something for
yourselves," said Spring. "And
the tree -tops.
Meanwhile the children were
the children to explore.
By this time they had learnt
There, amongst the sun and shadow of the Chestnut, they found her the laughing
THE PRGEKttT OF NATURE
to go warily when they were*
looking for wild things, so, creep-
ing along in single file, trying
not to rustle a twig, they made
their way along the bank.
Suddenly, just ahead of them,
out flew our friend Tawny -owl !
44 What was that ? " cried
Popsi, unable to keep silence
" Looked like a cat ! " said
44 Pooh, silly ! Cats can't fly ! "
44 Come on," said Boodles.
4 'Let's see where it came from."
On they crept till they came to
the spot from which the queer
cat-like creature had flown.
Poking and peering amongst
the hedge -growth on the bank,
all at once Boodles nearly fell
into a big rabbit -hole.
44 Look out ! " cried Topsy,
< there's something inside ! "
And looking in, what do you
think they found ?
Curled up together like one
great ball of fluff, blinking and
snoozing after an enormous meal,
were three round, white, fluffy
owlets ! And in front of them
lay the remnants of their feast
five long skinny tails of five
young rats !
And that was all that remained
of the rats that ate the robins !
Photo : T. M. Blai ki
This is Tawny-owl's nest in the entrance of the rabbit-hole. She does not trouble
to bui'd a nest, but lays hep eggs on dead grass OP decayed wood, OP anything she <
may find. Very often she lays in a hollow tpee, and sometimes she will use an old \
nest built by a pook OP a magpie. She has to wopk vepy hapd to bping hep children 9
enough to eat, and if it wepe not fop hep and othep bipds of ppey, the countpy would o ?|
soon be oveppun with pats and mice.
Oo c oOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooaoooooooooc
Photo: Henry In'ing.
The Hawthorn white is still the warm whiteness of abounding life, and its scent the
\ 7 ery breath of spring.
By TIGKNER EDWARDES
IN the deep of the scented pine-wood
the turtle-dove has been crooning
all the long May morning through.
Measured and slow, the soft notes stemmed
out upon the sunshine of the open lane ;
and though the quiet voice had but half the
power of any in the great Maytide festival
of song, it held the ear above all by its
serenity and sober sweetness.
Croo, Croo 00, Croo. Regular as a
minute-gun, the gentle deliberate refrain
stole out of the whispering darkness of the
pines, and sank away into the ringing
jubilance of the morning as a longshore
ripple subsides into the sands. Each slow
quatrain was overborne in a moment ; but
the singer, from her invisible perch deep in
the sighing fragrant gloom behind me, kept
on and on. And now it is high noon. One
by one the minstrels of field and hedgerow
have stilled their cheery pipes. Like a
magician's spell, the noontide silence has
fallen upon everything. Only the turtle-
dove croons on, and that as sweetly, as
insistently as ever. Croo, Croo 00, Croo.
Over. and over and over again. It might be
the drowsy golden midday sun dreaming,
and singing in its dreams.
To almost all other wild birds, indeed,
at this season of dawning summer, there
comes this momentary halt in the long day's
symphony. Yet the turtle-dove has not all
the music-making to herself. With the hush
of the torrid noon, the bees in the hawthorn-
hedge seem but to lift a richer, louder
chant than ever into the perfume-laden
air. These many days past, though I have
set out each time bent on a long morning's
ramble, I have never been able to get farther
than the hawthorn lane. The hedges here
are greater grown and more ancient than
any on this countryside. Unkempt, uncut,
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
for generations, they tower aloft loaded to
their summits with white hawthorn bloom
on the one hand the glowing barricade
of blossom silhouetted upon the darkness
of the pine-wood ; on the other the laden
bushes making a lofty screen against the
sun, within which the light interlaces its
glittering tangents like gold threads woven
into a bridal gown.
To pass this way in hawthorn time is to
put an end to any farther peregrinations
bridal-way than ever, but it will wear the
cold whiteness of a thing out of which life
has passed. It will be small comfort then
to think of autumn and the old lane shining
from end to end with scarlet fruit, food
enough for all the birds whose song makes
the gladness of each year's round. Doubt-
less it is true, in the ultimate, that what one
sows is not quickened except it die. But
that one is a fool indeed who wastes a single
moment of joy on mortality, for all its
Photo: y. T. New,
When the noontide silence has fallen upon everything, only the Turtle-dove croons
on, and that as sweetly and insistently as ever.
for the day. While the may lasts in its
full perfection of beauty, there is nothing
else that really matters. It will soon be
gone. To-day the mountains of white
blossom overhead still show that pristine
virgin warmth that holds while the anthers
of each flower retain their deep rosy hue ;
and there are yet a thousand buds to blow.
To-day the hawthorn white is still the warm
whiteness of abounding life, and its scent
the very breath of spring. But these winged
plunderers from the hives will soon have
wrought havoc with its loveliness. In a
day or two the rosy anthers will have yielded
up their glow of youth. To a casual eye,
the lane will be a whiter, more resplendent
present evident and inevitable use. The
instinct to take supreme beauty of flower
and song as a be-all in itself, is the true in-
stinct of one born to the eternal quickening.
It is the quiet noontide hour. The
thrush has laid down her silver pipe for the
nonce, and the blackbird has given over his
mellow tranquil fluting. The swifts no
longer weave their coal-black pattern against
the sky. In her cool dim nook within the
pine-wood, the turtle-dove croons on, yet
with a softer, drowsier cadence than ever.
And now the faint hot wind stirs in the tree-
tops, bringing back a long-forgotten sound
the lilt and surge and crisping ripple-song
of summer seas.
Photo: E. Step, F.L.S.
THE WHISPERING DARKNESS OF THE PINES.
Now every wandering zephyr can play upon their supple sappy growth as upon lute-
strings of tender resonance.
. ...,,,,..,. ,. : ,,,,.
While the May lasts, there is nothing else that really matters.
THE HAWTHORN IN ITS
It will soon be gone, but to-day,
while the anthers of each flower
Photo: Henry Irving
FULL PERFECTION OF BEAUTY.
the mountains of white blossom on the slopes still show that pristine virgin warmth that holds
retain their deep rosy hue.
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
The hedges towering aloft loaded to their summits with white Hawthorn bloom, made
a lofty screen against the sun, within which the light interlaces its glittering
tangents like gold threads woven into a bridal gown.
To the sojourner far inland used to sea-
sounds of old, this surging, swinging note
of wind in summer pines comes with almost
a startling sense of recognition. Winter
winds draw an altogether different voice
from the matted pine-boughs. Then,
though the trees are as densely green, their
myriad needle-leaves are old and dry, and
the fiercest blast can lash from them only
a wheezy brittle music. But now every
wandering zephyr can play upon their supple
sappy growth as upon lute-strings of tender
resonance. It is not storm with which the
wind in summer pines challenges the
memory, but the harmless jollity of wavelets
cresting into lazy foam over the slumbering
blue of mid-ocean, a sound mirthful and
free, of an easy indolence yet full of a sense
of giant strength laid by : for one, knowing
the deep sea of old, to loiter here in the lee
of pine -woods on a fine May morning,
hearkening to the tolling song of the dove
and the breath of the warm west wind in the
green woodland roof, is to live again maybe
many vanished years of youth soaked through
and through with ocean brine and old
" wind-jammer " memories.
Idling along between the shining pali-
sades of hawthorn bloom, and musing thus
on ancient ways and days, time passes for
one all unmarked. An hour has gone
swiftly by, and now the Maytide songs are
picking up again one after another. The
nightingale true daylight singer, for all
his conventional ascription in poesy is
almost the first to take up the broken theme.
He sits in the hedgerow deep within a bay
of blossom on the sunny side, so that I
cannot see him ; but there is no doubt
of the peerless song. It begins with half
a dozen low, long-drawn-out notes, per-
haps the saddest and sweetest sound that
ever rang from throat of bird. Now there
comes a telling pause, as though the singer
were at a loss to find tones grievous enough
to vent his melancholy. And now he
seems to give up the hopeless attempt, lets
himself go in one passionate outpouring of
melody a sudden tumultuous freshet of
silver notes poured out upon the sunshine
moment after moment as if the reckless
cataract of pure sound would never cease.
Then the low, slow, sorrowful refrain once
more ; again the eloquent pause : and again
the breaking flood-gates of music.
One listens to the nightingale year after
year, and familiarity only breeds a surer
faith in the matchless quality of his voice.
But, if the truth must be told, as a musician,
he has neither great competence nor any
really subtle sense of artistry. Listening
to him now amidst the fast re-awakening con-
certo of Maytide voices blackbird and
thrush, missel and chaffinch and robin
breaking out again on every hand one is
forced to concede that a minute of the King
Merle's masterly strain is worth long hours of
the nightingale's untimed, untutored medley.
Sweet it is, there is no gainsaying ; and pure
and free as any sound between earth and
sky. But on this abounding, overbrimming
May morning, the song fits in with human
need and hope little more than the bag of
pearls fitted in with the need of the starving
traveller on the desert. Mere quality of
tone is not enough ; the wanted thing is
meaning, meetness. The nightingale's
song, to me, is as though some child had
found by the wayside an instrument of
priceless worth, and were but ignorantly,
unthinkingly, strumming on it to beguile
a moment's tedium.
Down by the river, at this glowing time
of fulfilment, one comes upon much the
same thing in somewhat different guise.
Here it is, the little sedge-warbler fretting
out his soul deep in the waving jungle of
reeds. The May sun lords it in a cloudless
sky. The singing water flows through a
\vorld of beauty living sound and colour,
The plunderers from the hives will soon have wrought havoc with the loveliness of
the May. In a day or two the rosy anthers will have yielded up their glow
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
form and fragrance. There is joy in the
very air ; nothing breathes on earth but is
full of joy, from the larks carolling high up
against the blue sky to the tiniest atom of
insect life creeping in the amber heart of
any one of the myriad dandelions aglow in
the wayside dust. Only this restless,
flitting, unsatisfied creature, invisible in
Photo : Henry Irving'.
Clematis is steadily pushing up, and soon will
overflow the hedge in a cascade of green.
the thicket of green reeds, is at odds with
the morning. His fretful, chiding, care-
ridden note goes ceaselessly on, girding at
everything ; its very sweetness of tone
bringing its incongruity only into sharper
To lay to the score of wild natural life
these anthropomorphic traits with any
serious insistence, is, indeed, but to tread
on the skirts of folly. Yet, as all human earth
worshippers know, there is a sort of truest
comfort in this. If one can find one's own
fancies and foibles, and even little clever-
nesses, echoed in the life and ways of bird
or plant, it all goes for testimony towards
the one mysterious yet incontrovertible
fact of the unison in all creation. These
ancient hedgerows loaded to the skies with
blossom and green growth, give out a
perpetual echo and re-echo of all that
stirs in my own heart and head as I
wander down the shining alley of the old
lane. Gain of place, and assured leisure
for fruition, spiritual or material, in
human life, depend in the main on
whether adroitness wait rightly and
timely on opportunity. And in the
methods and little ingenuities dis-
*l| played by the hedgerow climbing
plants alone, one sees on every hand
one's own innate contrivances work-
ing out in leaf and stem, obedient
to the common principle. In-
dividualism, the master-seal and token
of all created life as we know it, is
as paramount here as in humanity's
thronging quickset hedge.
Honeysuckle and clematis, red and
black bryonies, nightshade and hops,
all are steadily pushing their green
bines upward through the shimmer-
ing labyrinth of hawthorn bloom.
In a month, when the white may-
radiance will be but a memory, all
will have over-reached the hedge-top
and be stretching out long arms to
the empty sunshine above. Each
depends on the close-knit, sturdy
thorn-branches for ultimate support ;
yet, in the task of winning a w r ay
through the wilderness of verdant
prickly growth, each follows its own
It is the nature of the hop plant
to twine round everything in its
The hop has no main stem, but
from the root divides itself into number-
less slender snake-like tentacles that, ever
gliding spirally forward, contrive a way
infallibly through the densest impasse of
leafage. Arrived at the uppermost limit
of the bush, the hop, of all other climbing
plants alone, has the means still to continue
an upward course. If there be an over-
hanging tree-bough within a yard or two, the
hop is bound to gain it, and thence clamber
indefinitely skyward. It performs this sur-
prising feat by erectly twining perhaps a
dozen of its lithe stems together. One of
the tender flexible wands could not by itself
I'hoto : Henry Irving.
In another 5 month the Bryony will have over-reached the hedge-top and be stretching
out long arms to the sunshine.
Photo: E. Step, F.L.S.
The snake-like tentacles of the hop ever gliding spirally forward, contrive a way
through the densest impasse of leafage.
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
bridge more than a few inches of space ;
but a number, tightly locked together in a
solid spiral green column, will mount
straight up a couple of yards into mid-air.
Black bryony and clematis depend for
their aspiring powers not on twining but
on clinging. Whenever one of their tough
leaf-stalks touches anything in its path, it
immediately takes a strong double-turn
about the obstruction, and uses this ful-
crum to impel its stem farther afield. Thus
these plants, indefinitely repeating the
manoeuvre in all directions, will bind a whole
bush into one solid mass of alien green.
The honeysuckle, relying on the amazing
strength of its stem, just pushes ahead regard-
less of all obstacles until it breaks through
the hedge-top at last like a thrust spear.
But the red bryony affords the most telling
instance of this hedgerow strategy. In
itself, the plant has no gripping or resisting
power of any kind, but it is endowed with
inveterate persistence. It succeeds in
smothering the whole bush with its delicate
vine-shaped foliage, and will hold its own
against the mightiest winds when far more
sturdy growths are beaten down.
To accomplish this, the plant throws out
an infinity of tendrils fine as a hair, branched
and rebranched, and each fashioned into
a delicate spiral spring throughout its
length. With the forked tendril-tips it lays
instant hold on every twig in its path,
the springs yielding yet never breaking
under any stress, and by sheer numbers ever
assuring to the plant safest anchorage and
And laying hold on life as these climbing
plants of the hedgerow lay hold of thorn or
brier whether I be born twiner, clinger,
bold headlong thruster, or master of deft
ju-jitsu art I am unspeakably, albeit per-
haps a little unwarrantably, comforted, to
see my own visage of mind and heart re-
flected in every sight and sound of nature's
Photo: A. M. C. NichotL
The little Sedge-warbler fretting out his soul in the deep waving jungle of reeds.
Wild Flowers and Their Ways
6.-THE TOILET OF THE IRIS
By A. HAROLD BASTIN
With photographs by the Author
HAS the reader ever witnessed the
unfolding of a flower not on the
screen of a picture palace, but in the
open air amid the glories of an early summer
, . morning? Of course
the " movies " provide
the more sensational
spectacle, for by their
aid we see crowded
together, within the
course of a few seconds,
the whole series of
changes which connect
the first swelling of the
bud with the perfectly
expanded bloom. Yet
the " real thing " is
indubitably more im-
pressive, more digni-
fied, above all more
eloquent of Nature's
sublime sufficiency and
We realize that this is
no chance happening,
planned to while away
an idle moment, but an
intensely serious busi-
ness which has been
long in preparation ;
that each movement
has been rehearsed (how
many billions of times
none may guess !) until
a machine-like precision
has been attained ; yet,
withal, that what we
see cannot be cramped
within the category of
mechanics : for is it not
life itself in action ?
The bud of the
at 7 a.m. A bud
at this stage of
become a perfect
bloom ere the day
is far advanced.
Iris type of the classical fleur-de-lis
ranks among the stateliest of blossoms.
Yet she is condescending, or, as the florists
phrase it, " of easy culture "; so that we may
find her thriving, in some
at least of her many
forms, even in the parks
and gardens of our great
cities. Thus, all those
who desire to witness her
toilet may readily do so,