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The Landscape Gardener
by [?]

“I expect it is.”

“In fact, the tennis lawn—-” I looked round anxiously. I had a sudden fear that it might be the new deer-park. “It still is the tennis lawn?” I asked.

“Yes. Why, what about it?”

“I was only going to say the tennis lawn had quite a lot of shadows on it. Oh, there’s no doubt that the plantation is really asserting itself.”

Eleven o’clock found me strolling in the grounds with Miss Atherley.

“You know,” I said, as we paced Henry’s Walk together, “the one thing the plantation wants is for a bird to nest in it. That is the hall-mark of a plantation.”

“It’s mother’s birthday to-morrow. Wouldn’t it be a lovely surprise for her?”

“It would, indeed. Unfortunately this is a matter in which you require the co-operation of a feathered friend.”

“Couldn’t you try to persuade a bird to build a nest in the weeping ash? Just for this once?”

“You’re asking me a very difficult thing,” I said doubtfully. “Anything else I would do cheerfully for you; but to dictate to a bird on such a very domestic affair—- No, I’m afraid I must refuse.”

“It need only just begin to build one,” pleaded Miss Atherley, “because mother’s going up to town by your train to-morrow. As soon as she’s out of the house the bird can go back anywhere else it likes better.”

“I will put that to any bird I see to-day,” I said, “but I am doubtful.”

“Oh, well,” sighed Miss Atherley, “never mind.”

. . . . .

“What do you think?” cried Mrs. Atherley as she came in to breakfast next day. “There’s a bird been nesting in the plantation!”

Miss Atherley looked at me in undisguised admiration. I looked quite surprised–I know I did.

“Well, well!” I said.

“You must come out afterwards and see the nest and tell me what bird it is. There are three eggs in it. I am afraid I don’t know much about these things.”

“I’m glad,” I said thankfully. “I mean, I shall be glad to.”

We went out eagerly after breakfast. On about the only tree in the plantation with a fork to it a nest balanced precariously. It had in it three pale-blue eggs splotched with light brown. It appeared to be a blackbird’s nest with another egg or two to come.

“It’s been very quick about it,” said Miss Atherley.

“Of our feathered bipeds,” I said, frowning at her, “the blackbird is notoriously the most hasty.”

“Isn’t it lovely?” said Mrs. Atherley.

She was still talking about it as she climbed into the trap which was to take us to the station.

“One moment,” I said, “I’ve forgotten something.” I dashed into the house and out by a side door, and then sprinted for the plantation. I took the nest from the weeping and over-weighted ash and put it carefully back in the hedge by the tennis-lawn. Then I returned more leisurely to the house.

If you ever want a job of landscape-gardening thoroughly well done, you can always rely upon me.