So Solomon Owl was the last to leave.
“There’s really nothing else I can do,” he remarked to himself. “I don’t know what Aunt Polly Woodchuck would say if she knew that I didn’t follow her advice to-night and eat a pullet for my supper.... But I’ve tried my best.... And that’s all anybody can do.”
Solomon Owl was upset all the rest of that night. And just before daybreak he visited the farmyard again, to see whether the strange man with the flaring head still watched the chicken house. And Solomon found that he had vanished.
So Solomon Owl alighted on the fence. There was nothing there except a hollowed-out pumpkin, with a few holes cut in it, which someone had left on one of the fence-posts.
“Good!” said he. “Maybe I can get my pullet after all!” He turned to fly to the chicken house. But just then the woodshed door opened again. And Farmer Green stepped outside, with a lantern in his hand. He was going to the barn to milk the cows. But Solomon Owl did not wait to learn anything more.
He hurried away to his house among the hemlocks. And having quickly settled himself for a good nap, he was soon fast asleep.
That was how Johnnie Green’s jack-o’-lantern kept Tommy Fox and Fatty Coon and Solomon Owl from taking any chickens on Hallowe’en.
Solomon Owl had pains—sharp pains—underneath his waistcoat. And not knowing what else to do, he set off at once for Aunt Polly Woodchuck’s house under the hill, in the pasture, which he had not visited since the previous fall. Luckily, he found the old lady at home. And quickly he told her of his trouble.
“What have you been eating?” she inquired.
“I’ve followed your advice. I’ve been eating chickens,” said he—“very small chickens, because they were all I could get.”
Aunt Polly Woodchuck, who was an herb doctor—and a good one—regarded him through her spectacles.
“I’m afraid,” said she, “you don’t chew your food properly. Bolting one’s food is very harmful. It’s as bad as not eating anything at all, almost.”
Solomon Owl showed plainly that her remark surprised him.
“Why,” he exclaimed, “I always swallow my food whole—when it isn’t too big!”
“Gracious me!” cried Aunt Polly, throwing up both her hands. “It’s no wonder you’re ill. It’s no wonder you have pains; and now I know exactly what’s the matter with you. You have a wishbone inside you. I can feel it!” she told him, as she prodded him in the waistcoat.
“I wish you could get it out for me!” said Solomon with a look of distress.
“All the wishing in the world won’t help you,” she answered, “unless we can find some way of removing the wishbone so you can wish on that. Then I’m sure you would feel better at once.”
“This is strange,” Solomon mused. “All my life I’ve been swallowing my food without chewing it. And it has never given me any trouble before.... What shall I do?”