If Solomon Owl chanced to hoot on those occasions, Jasper Jay would jump almost out of his bright blue coat. Then Solomon’s deep laughter would echo mockingly through the woods.
You see, though not nearly so wise as he appeared, Solomon Owl knew well enough how to frighten some people.
It was a warm summer’s evening—so warm that Mr. Frog, the tailor, had taken his sewing outside his tailor’s shop and seated himself cross-legged upon the bank of the brook, where he sang and sewed without ceasing—except to take a swim now and then in the cool water, “to stretch his legs,” as he claimed.
He was making a new suit of blue clothes for Jasper Jay. And since Jasper was a great dandy, and very particular Mr. Frog was taking special pains with his sewing.
Usually he did his work quickly. But now after every five stitches that he put into his work he stopped to take out ten. And naturally he was not getting on very fast. He had been working busily since early morning; and Jasper Jay’s suit was further than ever from being finished.
Since he was a most cheerful person, Mr. Frog did not mind that. Indeed, he was more than pleased, because the oftener he took a swim the fewer stitches he lost. So he sang the merriest songs he knew.
The light was fast fading when a hollow laugh startled Mr. Frog. It seemed to come from the willow tree right over his head. And he knew without looking up that it was Solomon Owl’s deep voice.
Mr. Frog tried to leap into the brook. But when he uncrossed his legs, in his haste he tangled them up in his sewing. And all he could do was to turn a somersault backward among some bulrushes, hoping that Solomon Owl had not seen him.
It is no secret that Mr. Frog was terribly afraid of Solomon Owl. Some of Mr. Frog’s friends had mysteriously disappeared. And they had last been seen in Solomon’s company.
As it happened, Mr. Frog had hoped in vain. For Solomon Owl only laughed more loudly than before. And then he said:
“What are you afraid of, Mr. Frog?”
The tailor knew at once that he was caught. So he hopped nimbly to his feet and answered that there was nothing to be afraid of, so far as he could see.
It was a true statement, too; because Mr. Frog had not yet discovered Solomon Owl’s exact whereabouts.
But he learned them soon; for Solomon immediately dropped down from the big willow and alighted on the bank near Mr. Frog—altogether too near him, in fact, for the tailor’s comfort.
Solomon looked at Mr. Frog very solemnly. And he thought that he shivered.
“What’s the matter? Are you ill?” Solomon Owl inquired. “You seem to be shaking.”
“Just a touch of chills and fever, probably!” replied Mr. Frog with an uneasy smile. “You know it’s very damp here.”