Chapter XIII THE LUCKY GUEST
In the middle of the day Solomon Owl happened to awake. He was sorry that he hadn’t slept until sunset, because he was very hungry. Knowing that it was light outside his hollow tree, he didn’t want to leave home to find something to eat.
Then, suddenly, he remembered that he had brought Benjamin Bat to his house early that morning, so Benjamin might escape the storm…. Why not eat Benjamin Bat?
As soon as the thought occurred to him, Solomon Owl liked it. And he moved stealthily over to the bed of leaves he had made for his guest just before daybreak.
But Benjamin Bat was not there. Though Solomon looked in every nook and cranny of his one-room house, he did not find him.
“He must have left as soon as it stopped raining,” said Solomon Owl to himself. “He might at least have waited to thank me for giving him a day’s lodging. It’s the last time I’ll ever bring any worthless vagabond into my house. And I ought to have known better than to have anything to do with a crazy person like Benjamin Bat.”
Anybody can see that Solomon Owl was displeased. But it was not at all astonishing, if one stops to remember how hungry he was, and that he had expected to enjoy a good meal without the trouble of going away from home to get it.
Solomon Owl went to the door of his house and looked out. The sun was shining so brightly that after blinking in his doorway for a few minutes he decided that he would go to bed again and try to sleep until dusk. He never liked bright days. “They’re so dismal!” he used to say. “Give me a good, dark night and I’m happy, for there’s nothing more cheering than gloom.”
In spite of the pangs of hunger that gnawed inside him, Solomon at last succeeded in falling asleep once more. And he dreamed that he chased Benjamin Bat three times around Blue Mountain, and then three times back again, in the opposite direction. But he never could catch him, because Benjamin Bat simply wouldn’t fly straight. His zigzag course was so confusing that even in his dream Solomon Owl grew dizzy.
Now, Benjamin Bat was in Solomon’s house all the time. And the reason why Solomon Owl hadn’t found him was a very simple one. It was merely that Solomon hadn’t looked in the right place.
Benjamin Bat was hidden–as you might say–where his hungry host never once thought of looking for him. And being asleep all the while, Benjamin didn’t once move or make the slightest noise.
If he had snored, or sneezed, or rustled his wings, no doubt Solomon Owl would have found him.
When Benjamin awakened, late in the afternoon, Solomon was still sleeping. And Benjamin crept through the door and went out into the gathering twilight, without arousing Solomon.
“I’ll thank him the next time I meet him,” Benjamin Bat decided. And he staggered away through the air as if he did not quite know, himself, where he was going. But, of course, that was only his queer way of flying.
When he told his friends where he had spent the day they were astonished.
“How did you ever dare do anything so dangerous as sleeping in Solomon Owl’s house?” they all asked him.
But Benjamin Bat only said, “Oh! There was nothing to be afraid of.” And he began to feel quite important.