Then Solomon returned to his perch in the tree.
“He hasn’t moved,” he said. “But I knocked off his hat.”
“You took off the top of his head!” cried Fatty Coon in great excitement. “Look! The inside of his head is afire.”
And peering down from the tree-top, Solomon Owl saw that Fatty Coon had told the truth.
Solomon Owl was afraid of fire. And when he looked down from his perch in the tree and saw, through the hole in the stranger’s crown, that all was aglow inside his big, round head, Solomon couldn’t help voicing his horror. He “whoo-whooed” so loudly that Tommy Fox, at the foot of the tree, asked him what on earth was the matter.
“His head’s all afire!” Solomon Owl told him. “That’s what makes his eyes glare so. And that’s why the fire shines through his mouth and his nose, too. It’s no wonder he didn’t answer my question—for, of course, his tongue must certainly be burned to a cinder.”
“Then it ought to be safe for anybody to enter the chicken house,” Tommy Fox observed. “What could the stranger do, when he’s in such a fix?”
“He could set the chicken house afire, if he followed you inside,” replied Solomon Owl wisely. “And I, for one, am not going near the pullets to-night.”
“Nor I!” Fatty Coon echoed. “I’m going straight to the cornfield. The corn is still standing there in shocks; and I ought to find enough ears to make a good meal.”
But Solomon Owl and Tommy Fox were not interested in corn. They never ate it. And so it is not surprising that they should be greatly disappointed. After a person has his mouth all made up for chicken it is hard to think of anything that would taste even half as good.
“It’s queer he doesn’t go and hold his head under the pump,” said Solomon Owl. “That’s what I should do, if I were he.”
“Jimmy Rabbit had better not go too near him, or he’ll get singed,” said Tommy Fox, anxiously. “I don’t want anything to happen to him.”
“Jimmy Rabbit is very careless,” Solomon declared. “I don’t see what he’s thinking of—going so near a fire! It makes me altogether too nervous to stay here. And I’m going away at once.”
Tommy Fox said that he felt the same way. And the moment Fatty Coon, with his sharp claws, started to crawl down the tree on his way to the cornfield, Tommy Fox hurried off without even stopping to say good-bye.
“Haw-haw-haw-hoo!” laughed Solomon Owl. “Tommy Fox is afraid of you!” he told Fatty Coon.
But Fatty didn’t seem to hear him. He was thinking only of the supper of corn that he was going to have.
“Better come away!” Solomon Owl called to Jimmy Rabbit, turning his head toward the fence where Jimmy had been lingering near the hot-headed stranger.
But Jimmy Rabbit didn’t answer him, either. He was no longer there. The moment he had seen Tommy Fox bounding off across the meadow Jimmy had started at once for Farmer Green’s vegetable garden.