So he set to work again and rapped and rapped until his head felt as if it would fly off, and his neck began to ache.
Still, Solomon Owl did not appear. And the party broke up in something very like a quarrel. For Reddy Woodpecker lost his temper when his friends teased him; and a good many unpleasant remarks passed back and forth.
Somehow, Reddy felt that it was all Solomon Owl’s fault, because he hadn’t come to the door.
Of course, Reddy had no means of knowing that all that time Solomon Owl was sleeping peacefully in Farmer Green’s haystack in the meadow, a quarter of a mile away.
It was a good joke on Reddy Woodpecker. And though no one had told Solomon Owl about it, he was not so stupid that he couldn’t guess at least a little that had happened.
Solomon Owl continued to have a very pleasant time living in the meadow. Since there were many mice right close at hand, little by little he visited the woods less and less. And there came a time at last when he hardly left the meadow at all.
Not flying any more than he could help, and eating too much, and sleeping very soundly each day, he grew stouter than ever, until his friends hardly knew him when they saw him.
“Solomon Owl is a sight—he’s so fat!” people began to say.
But his size never worried Solomon Owl in the least. When he became too big for his doorway in the haystack, it was a simple matter to make the opening larger—much simpler than it would have been to make himself smaller. And that was another reason why he was delighted with his new home.
At last, however, something happened to put an end to his lazy way of living. One day the sound of men’s voices awakened him, when he was having a good nap in the haystack. And he felt his bedroom quiver as if an earthquake had shaken it.
Scrambling to his doorway and peeping slyly out, Solomon saw a sight that made him very angry. A hayrack stood alongside the stack; and on it stood Farmer Green and his hired man. Each had a pitchfork in his hands, with which he tore great forkfuls of hay off the stack and piled it upon the wagon.
Solomon Owl knew then that his fine hiding place was going to be spoiled. As soon as the horses had pulled the load of hay away, with Farmer Green and the hired man riding on top of it, Solomon Owl crept out of his snug bedroom and hurried off to the woods.
He was so fat that it was several days before he could squeeze inside his old home in the hollow hemlock. And for the time being he had to sit on a limb and sleep in the daylight as best he could.
But to his surprise, Reddy Woodpecker troubled him no more. Reddy had drummed so hard on Solomon’s door, in the effort to awake him when he wasn’t there, that Aunt Polly Woodchuck told him he would ruin his bill, if he didn’t look out. And since the warning thoroughly alarmed him, Reddy stopped visiting the hemlock grove.