Then Solomon sat up and listened. He heard a scratching sound. And soon he saw a plump figure crawl right up into his tree-top.
It was Fatty Coon!
“What are you doing here?” Solomon Owl asked in a low voice, which was not any too pleasant.
“I’m out for an airing,” Fatty answered. “Beautiful night—isn’t it?”
But Solomon Owl was not interested in the weather. “I don’t suppose you’ve come down here to get a chicken, have you?” he inquired.
Fatty Coon seemed greatly surprised at the question.
“Why—no!” he exclaimed. “But now that you speak of it, it reminds me that Farmer Green’s saving a pullet for me. He was heard to say not long ago that he would like to catch me taking one of his hens. So he must have one for me. And I don’t want to disappoint him.”
At first Solomon Owl didn’t know what answer to make. But at last he turned his head toward Fatty.
“Why don’t you go and get your pullet now?” he asked.
“There’s that man down below, with the glaring eyes—” said Fatty Coon. “I’ve been waiting around here for quite a long time and he hasn’t looked away from the chicken house even once.... Do you know him?”
“No! And I don’t want to!” said Solomon Owl.
“S-sh!” Fatty Coon held up a warning hand. “Who’s that?” he asked, peering down at a dark object at the foot of their tree.
Then both he and Solomon saw that it was Tommy Fox, sitting on his haunches and staring at the big head, with its blazing eyes and nose and mouth.
“Not looking for chickens, I suppose?” Solomon Owl called in a low tone, which was hardly more than a whisper.
But Tommy Fox’s sharp ears heard him easily. And he looked up, licking his chops as if he were very hungry indeed. And all the while the stranger continued to stare straight at the chicken house, as if he did not intend to let anybody go
prowling about that long, low building to steal any of Farmer Green’s poultry.
It was no wonder that the three chicken-lovers (two in the tree and one beneath it) hesitated. If the queer man had only spoken they might not have been so timid. But he said never a word.
Solomon Owl and Fatty Coon couldn’t help laughing at what Tommy Fox said to them, as they sat in their tree near the farmhouse, looking down at him in the moonlight.
“I’m here to watch Farmer Green’s chickens for him—” said he—“to see that no rat—or anybody else—runs away with a pullet.”
“Farmer Green has someone else watching for him to-night,” said Solomon Owl, when he had stopped laughing. “There’s that strange man! You can see how he keeps his glaring eyes fixed on the chicken house. And unless I’m mistaken, he’s on the lookout for you.”
“No such thing!” Tommy Fox snapped. And he looked up at Solomon as if he wished that he could climb the tree.