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 STRANGE as it may seem, there had never been any
Mourning Doves in the forest until this year, and when
a pair came there to live, the people were much
excited. They talked about the Doves' song, so sweet
and sad, and about their soft coats of brown and gray,
and they wondered very much what kind of home they
would build. Would it be a swinging pocket of hairs,
strings, and down, like that of the Orioles? Would it
be stout and heavy like the nests of the Robins? Or
 it be a ball of leaves and grasses on the
ground, with a tiny doorway in one side, like that of
You can see that the forest people were really very
much interested in the Mourning Doves, and so, perhaps,
it is not strange that, when the new couple built their
nest in the lower branches of a spruce tree, everybody
watched it and talked about it.
"Really," said one of the Blackbirds, who had flown
over from the swamp near by, "I never should think of
calling that thing a nest! It is nothing but a few
twigs and sticks laid together. It is just as flat as
a maple-leaf, and what is to keep those poor little
Doves from tumbling to the ground I can't see."
"I wouldn't worry about the little Doves yet," said a
Warbler. "I don't think there will ever be any little
Doves in that nest. The eggs will roll off of it long
before they are ready to hatch, and
 the nest will
blow to pieces in the first storm we have."
"Well," said the Blackbird, as she started for home, "I
shall want to know how the Mourning Doves get on. If
any of you are over my way, stop and tell me the news."
Some days after this, a Quail, passing under the Doves'
home, happened to look up and see two white eggs in the
nest. It was so very thin that she could see them
quite plainly through the openings between the twigs.
Later in the day, she spoke of this to a Grouse,
saying, "I came by the Mourning Doves' nest and saw two
white eggs through the bottom."
After she went away, the Grouse said to a wild Rabbit:
"The Quail told me that the Mourning Dove's eggs went
right through the bottom of her nest, and I don't
wonder. It wasn't strong enough to hold anything."
At sunset, the Rabbit had a short visit
 with Mrs.
Goldfinch, as she pulled a great thistle-head to pieces
and made her supper from its seeds. He told her he had
heard that the Mourning Dove's eggs had fallen through
the bottom of the nest and broken on the ground, and
Mrs. Goldfinch said: "Oh, that poor Mrs. Mourning Dove!
I must go to see her in the morning." Then she fled
home to her own four pearly treasures.
Now, of course the Rabbit was mistaken when he said
anybody had told him that those two eggs were broken;
just as much mistaken as the Grouse was when she said
somebody had told her that the eggs had fallen. They
both thought they were right, but they were careless
listeners and careless talkers, and so each one had
changed it a bit in the telling.
The next day it rained, and the next, and the next.
Mrs. Goldfinch did not dare leave her nest to make
calls, lest the cold raindrops should chill and hurt
 four tiny birds that lay curled up in their
shells. At last the weather was warm and sunshiny, and
Mrs. Goldfinch and some of her bird neighbors went to
call on Mrs. Mourning Dove. They found her just coming
from a wheat-field, where she had been to get grain.
"Oh, you poor creature!" they cried. "We have heard
all about it. Your poor babies! How sorry we are for
Mrs. Mourning Dove looked from one to another as though
she did not know what to make of it. "What do you
mean?" she cooed. "My babies are well and doing
finely. Won't you come to see them?"
Then it was the turn of the other birds to be
surprised. "Why," they chirped, "we heard that your
eggs had fallen through your nest and had broken and
killed the tiny Dove babies inside. Is it true?"
"Not a word of it," answered Mrs.
 Mourning Dove.
"The nest is all right, and the eggs were not broken
until my two little darlings broke them with their
"Here they are," she added, fondly. "Did you ever see
such pretty ones? See him open his bill, the dear!
And did you ever see such a neck as she has? Mr.
Mourning Dove thinks there never were such children."
"But do you feel perfectly safe to leave them in that
nest?" asked the Oriole politely. "My babies are so
restless that I should be afraid to trust them in it."
"That is what people always say," answered Mrs.
Mourning Dove, with a happy coo, "and I fear that I am
a rather poor housekeeper, but it runs in our family.
Mr. Mourning Dove and I have raised many pairs of
children, and they never rolled out, or tumbled
through, or blew away, and I do not worry about
 these. I shall never be thrifty like you good
builders, perhaps, but I'm sure you cannot love your
little ones any more than I do mine. It was very kind
of you to be so sorry for me when you heard I was in
trouble. I think I have the best neighbors in the
When her callers went away, they could not say enough
about Mrs. Mourning Dove's pleasant ways, and her
gentle, well-behaved children. "It is too bad she is
such a poor nest-maker," the Vireo said, "and I
understand now what she meant when she told me that
they sometimes used old Robins' nests for their young.
She said they flattened them out and added a few twigs,
and that they did finely. I thought it very queer in
them to do so, but perhaps if I had not been a good
builder I should have done the same thing."
"Perhaps we all would," the others agreed. "She
certainly is a very pleasant
 bird, and she is
bringing up her children well. Mr. Mourning Dove seems
to think her perfect. We won't worry any more about