Chapter XI CURED AT LAST
“How do you feel now?” Aunt Polly Woodchuck asked Solomon Owl, when he had come back to her house after a week’s absence.
“No better!” he groaned. “I still have pains. But they seem to have moved and scattered all over me.”
“Good!” she exclaimed with a smile. “You are much better, though you didn’t know it. The wishbone is broken. You broke it by flying against the trees. And you ought not to have any more trouble. But let me examine you!” she said, prodding him in the waistcoat once more.
“This is odd!” she continued a bit later. “I can feel the wishbone more plainly than ever.”
“That’s my own wishbone!” Solomon cried indignantly. “I’ve grown so thin through not eating that it’s a wonder you can’t feel my backbone, too.”
Aunt Polly Woodchuck looked surprised.
“Perhaps you’re right!” said she. “Not having a wishbone of my own, I forgot that you had one.”
A look of disgust came over Solomon Owl’s face.
“You’re a very poor doctor,” he told her. “Here you’ve kept me from eating for a whole week–and I don’t believe it was necessary at all!”
“Well, you’re better, aren’t you?” she asked him.
“I shall be as soon as I have a good meal,” replied Solomon Owl, hopefully.
“You ought not to eat anything for another week,” Aunt Polly told him solemnly.
“Nonsense!” he cried.
“I’m a doctor; and I ought to know best,” she insisted.
But Solomon Owl hooted rudely.
“I’ll never come to you for advice any more,” he declared. “I firmly believe that my whole trouble was simply that I’ve been eating too sparingly. And I shall take good care to see that it doesn’t happen again.”
No one had ever spoken to Aunt Polly in quite that fashion–though old Mr. Crow had complained one time that she had cured him too quickly. But she did not lose her temper, in spite of Solomon’s jeers.
“You’ll be back here again the very next time you’re ill,” she remarked. “And if you continue to swallow your food whole—-”
But Solomon Owl did not even wait to hear what she said. He was so impolite that he flew away while she was talking. And since it was then almost dark, and a good time to look for field mice, he began his night’s hunting right there in Farmer Green’s pasture.
By morning Solomon was so plump that Aunt Polly Woodchuck would have had a good deal of trouble finding his wishbone. But since he did not visit her again, she had no further chance to prod him in the waistcoat.
Afterward, Solomon heard a bit of gossip that annoyed him. A friend of his reported that Aunt Polly Woodchuck was going about and telling everybody how she had saved Solomon’s life.
“Mice!” he exclaimed (he often said that when some would have said “Rats!”). “There’s not a word of truth in her claim. And if people in this neighborhood keep on taking her advice and her catnip tea they’re going to be sorry some day. For they’ll be really ill the first thing they know. And then what will they do?”