And Solomon Owl wished that he, too, had stayed at home that night.
From midnight until almost dawn Solomon Owl sat there. Now and then he tried to fly. But it was no use. He could scarcely raise himself off the ground.
At last he decided he would have to walk home. Fortunately, a hard crust covered the soft snow. So Solomon started off on his long journey.
Flying, Solomon could have covered the distance in a few minutes. But he was a slow walker. By the time he reached his home among the hemlocks the sun was shining brightly—for the rain had stopped before daybreak.
Solomon wondered how he would ever succeed in reaching his doorway, high up in the hollow tree. He gazed helplessly upward. And as he sat there mournfully the bright sunshine melted the ice that bound his wings. After a time he discovered that he could move freely once more. And then he rose quickly in the air and in a twinkling he had disappeared into the darkness of his home—that darkness which to him was always so pleasant.
In the woods there was hardly one of Solomon Owl’s neighbors that couldn’t point out the big hemlock tree where he lived. And mischievous fellows like Reddy Woodpecker sometimes annoyed Solomon a good deal by rapping loudly on his door. When he thrust his head angrily out of his house and blinked in the sunlight, his tormentors would skip away and laugh. They laughed because they knew that they had awakened Solomon Owl. And they dodged out of his reach because he was always ill-tempered when anybody disturbed his rest in the daytime.
Solomon Owl did not mind so very much so long as that trick was not played on him too often. But after a time it became one of Reddy Woodpecker’s favorite sports. Not only once, but several times a day did he go to the hemlock grove to hammer upon Solomon’s hollow tree. And each time that he brought Solomon Owl to his door Reddy Woodpecker laughed more loudly than ever before.
Once Solomon forgot to take off his nightcap (though he wore it in the daytime, it really was a nightcap). And Reddy Woodpecker was so amused that he shouted at the top of his lungs.
“What’s the joke?” asked Solomon Owl in his deep, rumbling voice. He tried to look very severe. But it is hard to look any way except funny with a nightcap on one’s head.
As luck had it, Jasper Jay came hurrying up just then. He had heard Reddy Woodpecker’s laughter. And if there was a joke he wanted to enjoy it, too.
Jasper Jay, alighting in a small hemlock near Reddy Woodpecker, asked the same question that Solomon Owl had just put to his rude caller.
“What’s the joke?” inquired Jasper Jay.
Reddy could not speak. He was rocking back and forth upon a limb, choking and gasping for breath. But he managed to point to the big tree where Solomon Owl lived.