Chapter X A TROUBLESOME WISHBONE
Solomon Owl had pains–sharp pains–underneath his waistcoat. And not knowing what else to do, he set off at once for Aunt Polly Woodchuck’s house under the hill, in the pasture, which he had not visited since the previous fall. Luckily, he found the old lady at home. And quickly he told her of his trouble.
“What have you been eating?” she inquired.
“I’ve followed your advice. I’ve been eating chickens,” said he–“very small chickens, because they were all I could get.”
Aunt Polly Woodchuck, who was an herb doctor–and a good one–regarded him through her spectacles.
“I’m afraid,” said she, “you don’t chew your food properly. Bolting one’s food is very harmful. It’s as bad as not eating anything at all, almost.”
Solomon Owl showed plainly that her remark surprised him.
“Why,” he exclaimed, “I always swallow my food whole–when it isn’t too big!”
“Gracious me!” cried Aunt Polly, throwing up both her hands. “It’s no wonder you’re ill. It’s no wonder you have pains; and now I know exactly what’s the matter with you. You have a wishbone inside you. I can feel it!” she told him, as she prodded him in the waistcoat.
“I wish you could get it out for me!” said Solomon with a look of distress.
“All the wishing in the world won’t help you,” she answered, “unless we can find some way of removing the wishbone so you can wish on that. Then I’m sure you would feel better at once.”
“This is strange,” Solomon mused. “All my life I’ve been swallowing my food without chewing it. And it has never given me any trouble before….What shall I do?”
“Don’t eat anything for a week,” she directed. “And fly against tree-trunks as hard as you can. Then come back here after seven days.”
Solomon Owl went off in a most doleful frame of mind. It seemed to him that he had never seen so many mice and frogs and chipmunks as he came across during the following week. But he didn’t dare catch a single one, on account of what Aunt Polly Woodchuck had said.
His pains, however, grew less from day to day–at least, the pains that had first troubled him. But he had others to take their place. Hunger pangs, these were! And they were almost as bad as those that had sent him hurrying to see Aunt Polly Woodchuck.
On the whole, Solomon passed a very unhappy week. Flying head foremost into tree-trunks (as Aunt Polly had instructed him to do) gave him many bumps and bruises. So he was glad when the time came for him to return to her house in the pasture.
Solomon’s neighbors had been so interested in watching him that they were all sorry when he ceased his strange actions. Indeed, there was a rumor that Solomon had become very angry with Farmer Green and that he was trying to knock down some of Farmer Green’s trees. Before the end of that unpleasant week Solomon had often noticed as many as twenty-four of the forest folk following him about, hoping to see a tree fall.
But they were all disappointed. However, they enjoyed the sight of Solomon hurling himself against tree-trunks. And the louder he groaned, the more people gathered around him.