When he told his friends where he had spent the day they were astonished.
“How did you ever dare do anything so dangerous as sleeping in Solomon Owl’s house?” they all asked him.
But Benjamin Bat only said, “Oh! There was nothing to be afraid of.” And he began to feel quite important.
It was several nights before Solomon Owl and Benjamin Bat chanced to meet again in the forest.
“Hullo!” said Solomon.
“Hullo!” said Benjamin Bat. “I’m glad to see you, because I want to thank you for letting me spend the day in your house, so I wouldn’t have to stay out in the storm.”
“You must be a light sleeper,” Solomon observed. (He did not tell Benjamin that he was welcome!)
“What makes you think that?” Benjamin Bat inquired.
“Why—you left my house before noon,” Solomon told him.
“Oh, no!” said Benjamin. “I slept soundly until sunset. When I came away the crickets were chirping. And I was surprised that you hadn’t waked up yourself.”
“You were gone before midday,” Solomon Owl insisted. And they had something very like a dispute, while Solomon Owl sat in one tree and Benjamin Bat hung head downward from another. “I ought to know,” said Solomon. “I was awake about noon; and I looked everywhere for you.”
“What for?” asked Benjamin.
Naturally, Solomon didn’t like to tell him that he had intended to eat him. So he looked wise—and said nothing.
“You didn’t look on the ceiling, did you?” Benjamin Bat inquired.
“No, indeed!” Solomon Owl exclaimed.
“Well, that’s where I was, hanging by my feet,” Benjamin Bat informed him.
Solomon Owl certainly was surprised to hear that.
“The idea!” he cried. “You’re a queer one! I never once thought of looking on the ceiling for a luncheon!” He was so astonished that he spoke before he thought how oddly his remark would sound to another.
When he heard what Solomon Owl said, Benjamin Bat knew at once that Solomon had meant to eat him. And he was so frightened that he dropped from the limb to which he was clinging and flew off as fast as he could go. For once in his life he flew in a straight line, with no zigzags at all, he was in such a hurry to get away from Solomon Owl, who—for all he knew—might still be very hungry.
But Solomon Owl had caught so many mice that night that he didn’t feel like chasing anybody. So he sat motionless in the tree, merely turning his head to watch Benjamin sailing away through the dusky woods. He noticed that Benjamin didn’t dodge at all—except when there was a tree in his way. And he wondered what the reason was.
“Perhaps he’s not so crazy as I supposed,” said Solomon Owl to himself. And ever afterward, when he happened to awake and feel hungry, Solomon Owl used to look up at the ceiling above him and wish that Benjamin Bat was there.