“You don’t look in the best of health—that’s a fact!” Solomon Owl remarked. “You appear to me to be somewhat green in the face.” And he laughed once more—that same hollow, mirthless laugh.
Mr. Frog couldn’t help jumping, because the sound alarmed him.
“Don’t be disturbed!” said Solomon Owl. “I like all the Frog family.”
At that remark, Mr. Frog started violently That was exactly the trouble! Solomon Owl was altogether too fond of frogs, whether they were old or young, big or little.
It was no wonder that Mr. Frog swallowed rapidly sixteen times before he could say another word.
While Mr. Frog was swallowing nothing rapidly, he was thinking rapidly, too. There was something about Solomon Owl’s big, staring eyes that made Mr. Frog feel uncomfortable. And if he had thought he had any chance of escaping he would have dived into the brook and swum under the bank.
But Solomon Owl was too near him for that. And Mr. Frog was afraid his caller would pounce upon him any moment. So he quickly thought of a plan to save himself. “No doubt——” he began. But Solomon Owl interrupted him.
“There!” cried Solomon. “You can speak, after all. I supposed you’d swallowed your tongue. And I was just waiting to see what you’d do next. I thought maybe you would swallow your head.”
Mr. Frog managed to laugh at the joke, though, to tell the truth, he felt more nervous than ever. He saw what was in Solomon Owl’s mind, for Solomon was thinking of swallowing Mr. Frog’s head himself.
“No doubt—” Mr. Frog resumed—“no doubt you’ve come to ask me to make you a new suit of clothes.”
Now, Solomon Owl had had no such idea at all. But when it was mentioned to him, he rather liked it.
“Will you?” he inquired, with a highly interested air.
“Why, certainly!” the tailor replied. And for the first time since he had turned his backward somersault into the bulrushes, he smiled widely. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do!” he said. “First, I’ll make you a coat free. And second, if you like it I will then make you a waistcoat and trousers, at double rates.”
Solomon Owl liked the thought of getting a coat for nothing. But for all that, he looked at the tailor somewhat doubtfully.
“Will it take you long?” he asked.
“No, indeed!” Mr. Frog told him. “I’ll make your coat while you wait.”
“Oh, I wasn’t going away,” Solomon assured him with an odd look which made Mr. Frog shiver again. “Be quick, please! Because I have some important business to attend to.”
Mr. Frog couldn’t help wondering if it wasn’t he himself that Solomon Owl was going to attend to. In spite of his fears, to work to cut up some cloth that hung just outside his door.
“Stop!” Solomon Owl cried in a voice that seemed to shake the very ground. “You haven’t measured me yet!”