Chapter V THE COLD WEATHER COAT
Yes! As he held up his new coat and looked at it, Solomon Owl was puzzled. He turned his head toward Mr. Frog and stared at him for a moment. And then he turned his head away from the tailor and gazed upon the coat again.
Mr. Frog was most uncomfortable–especially when Solomon looked at him.
“Everything’s all right, isn’t it?” he inquired.
Solomon Owl slowly shook his head.
“This is a queer coat!” he said. “What’s this bag at the top of it?”
“Oh!” exclaimed Mr. Frog. “That’s the hood! Knowing that you spend your winters here in Pleasant Valley, I made a hood to go over your head…. You’ll find it very comfortable in cold weather–and it’s the latest style, too. All the winter coats this year will have hoods, with holes to see through, you know.”
Solomon Owl looked relieved at Mr. Frog’s explanation. But there was still something more that appeared to trouble him.
“How shall I get into the coat?” he inquired. “It doesn’t open in front, as it should.”
“Another cold-weather style!” Mr. Frog assured him. “It’s wind-proof! And instead of buttoning the coat, you pull it on over your head.”
Solomon Owl said he didn’t like that style very well.
“Then I can easily change it,” the tailor told him. “But just try it on!” he urged. “It may please you, after all.”
So Solomon Owl pulled the coat over his head. And it fell down about him, almost reaching his feet. But the coat did not seem to suit him at all, for he began to splutter and choke.
“What’s the matter now?” Mr. Frog asked him.
“I can’t see–that’s what’s the matter!” Solomon Owl cried in a voice that sounded hollower than ever, because it was muffled by the hood, which covered his head.
“I declare–I haven’t cut the holes for your eyes!” the tailor exclaimed. “Just wait a moment and I’ll make everything satisfactory.” He clinked his shears together sharply as he spoke.
But Solomon Owl told him that he wouldn’t think of letting anybody use shears so near his eyes.
“I’ll take off the coat,” he said. “And I know now that you’re a very poor tailor, or you wouldn’t have made such a mistake.” He began to tug at the coat. But he soon found that taking it off was not so easy as putting it on. Solomon’s sharp claws caught in the cloth; and his hooked beak, too, fastened itself in the hood the moment he tried to pull the coat over his head. “Here!” he cried to Mr. Frog. “Just lend me a hand! I can’t see to help myself.”
But Mr. Frog did not even answer him.
“Don’t you hear me?” Solomon Owl shouted, as he struggled with his new coat, only to become tangled in it more than ever.
Still, the tailor said never a word, though something very like a giggle, followed by a splash, caught Solomon’s ear.
“He’s left me!” Solomon Owl groaned.
“Mr. Frog has left me to get out of this coat alone. And goodness knows how I’m ever going to do it.”
He threshed about so vigorously that he tripped himself and fell upon the bank of the brook, rolling over and over toward the water.
He had a very narrow escape. If he hadn’t happened to bring up against an old stump he would certainly have tumbled into the stream.
Though Solomon couldn’t see, he knew that he was in danger. So he lay on his back on the ground and carefully tore his new coat into strings and ribbons.
At last he was free. And he rose to his feet feeling very sheepish, for he knew that Mr. Frog had played a sly trick on him.
“Never mind!” said Solomon Owl, as he flew way. “I’ll come back to-morrow and ask Mr. Frog to make me a waistcoat and trousers. And then—-” He did not finish what he was saying. But there is no doubt that whatever it was, it could not have been very pleasant for Mr. Frog.
Just as he had planned, Solomon Owl returned to the brook the next day. And he was both surprised and disappointed at what he found.
The door of Mr. Frog’s tailor’s shop was shut and locked. And on it there was a sign, which said: TO LET. (note: This means it’s for rent.)
“He’s moved away!” cried Solomon Owl. And he went off feeling that he had been cheated out of a good dinner–to say nothing of a new waistcoat—and new trousers, too.
He had not been gone long when the door opened. And Mr. Frog leaped nimbly outside. He took the sign off the door; and sitting down cross-legged upon the bank, he began to sew upon Jasper Jay’s new blue suit, while his face wore a wider smile than ever.
He had suddenly decided not to let his shop, after all.