Chapter XXI AT HOME IN THE HAYSTACK
After what happened when he came to his door without remembering to take off his red nightcap, Solomon Owl hoped that Reddy Woodpecker would stop teasing him.
But it was not so. Having once viewed Solomon’s red cap, Reddy Woodpecker wanted to see it some more. So he came again and again and knocked on Solomon’s door.
Solomon Owl, however, remembered each time to remove his nightcap before sticking his head out. And it might be said that neither of them was exactly pleased. For Reddy Woodpecker was disappointed; and Solomon Owl was angry.
Not a day passed that Reddy Woodpecker didn’t disturb Solomon’s rest at least a dozen times. Perhaps if Solomon had just kept still inside his house Reddy would have grown tired of bothering him. But Solomon Owl—for all he looked so wise–never thought of that.
But he saw before a great while that he would have to make a change of some sort–if he wanted to enjoy a good, quiet sleep again.
For a long time Solomon Owl pondered. It was a great puzzle–to know just how to outwit Reddy Woodpecker. And Solomon almost despaired of finding a way out of the difficulty. But at last an idea came to him, all in a flash. He would take his daytime naps somewhere else!
Solomon spent several nights looking for a good place to pass his days. And in the end he decided on the meadow. It would be convenient, he thought, when he was hunting meadow mice at dawn, if he could stay right there, without bothering to go into the woods to sleep.
Since there were no trees in the meadow, but only a few scrubby bushes along the stone wall, one might naturally make the mistake of thinking that there could not possibly be a nook of any kind that would suit Solomon Owl, who could never sleep soundly unless his bedroom was quite dark.
But there was one hiding place that Solomon liked almost as well as his home in the hollow hemlock. And that was Farmer Green’s haystack. He burrowed into one side of it and made himself a snug chamber, which was as dark as a pocket–and ever so much quieter. What pleased Solomon most, however, was this: Nobody knew about that new retreat except himself.
Even if Reddy Woodpecker should succeed in finding it, he never could disturb Solomon by drumming upon the haystack. If Reddy tried that trick, his bill would merely sink noiselessly into the hay.
So Solomon Owl at last had a good day’s rest. And when he met Reddy Woodpecker just after sunset, Solomon was feeling so cheerful that he said “Good-evening!” quite pleasantly, before he remembered that it was Reddy who had teased him so often.
“Good-evening!” Reddy Woodpecker replied. He seemed much surprised that Solomon Owl should be so agreeable. “Can you hear me?” Reddy asked him.
“Perfectly!” said Solomon.
“That’s strange!” Reddy Woodpecker exclaimed. “I was almost sure you had suddenly grown deaf.” And he could not understand why Solomon Owl laughed loud and long.
“Wha-wha! Whoo-ah!” Solomon’s deep-voiced laughter rolled and echoed through the woodland.
But Reddy Woodpecker did not laugh at all.