“Yes, and generally there are some to be found lying on the sand outside of the nest; perhaps laid there by hens who came to lay in it but found another in possession; one who had got there before them.”
“I have often heard or read that the ostrich leaves her eggs lying in the sand to be hatched by the heat of the sun,” remarked Evelyn.
“Perhaps she does in those very hot countries,” said the exhibitor, “but not in California; though, as I’ve been telling you, she makes the male bird do the most of the setting.”
“Maybe that’s because the eggs are all his, but don’t all belong to any of the females,” laughed Walter.
“Perhaps that is it, sir,” returned the man.
“Can they run very fast?” asked Neddie. “I should think they could with such great long legs.”
“Yes,” said his father, “the ostrich is supposed to be able to run at the rate of sixty miles an hour when it first sets out, but is not able to keep up that rate of speed very long. And it has a habit of running in a curve instead of a straight line. It is thus possible for men on horseback to meet it and get a shot at it.”
“I think it’s a great pity to shoot them when they are not even good to eat,” remarked the little fellow in indignant tones. “Besides, they might save them to grow feathers.”
“Yes,” returned the exhibitor, “that’s what we’re raising them for in California.”
“Papa, I’d like to have some,” said Neddie as they walked away.
“Some what, son?”
“About how many?”
“Couldn’t we have an ostrich farm?” asked the little fellow after a moment’s consideration of the question.
“Well, not to-day, my son,” returned his father with an amused look. “There will be plenty of time to talk it over before we are ready to go into the business.”
“I think the little folks are getting tired,” said Harold. “and yonder on the lagoon is a gondola waiting for passengers. Shall we take it?”
Everybody seemed pleased with the suggestion, and presently they were in the gondola gliding over the water. They found it both restful and enjoyable.
It was past noon when they stepped ashore again, and Ned announced that he was hungry and wanted something to eat.
“You shall have it, my son,” said his father.
“And suppose we go to the New England Cabin for it,” suggested Grandma Elsie.
They did so and were served with an excellent repast, handsome young Puritan ladies in colonial costumes acting as waitresses.
After satisfying their appetites they visited the other room of the cabin, which was fitted up as the living room of a family of the olden time. It had log walls, bare rafters overhead, a tall old-fashioned clock in a corner, a canoe cradle, a great spinning-wheel on which the ladies, dressed like the women of the olden times, spun yarn, and gourds used for drinking vessels. Some of the ladies were knitting socks, some carding wool, while they talked together, after the fashion of the good, industrious dames of the olden time they represented.