Chapter VIII WATCHING THE CHICKENS
Solomon Owl and Fatty Coon couldn’t help laughing at what Tommy Fox said to them, as they sat in their tree near the farmhouse, looking down at him in the moonlight.
“I’m here to watch Farmer Green’s chickens for him–” said he–“to see that no rat–or anybody else–runs away with a pullet.”
“Farmer Green has someone else watching for him to-night,” said Solomon Owl, when he had stopped laughing. “There’s that strange man! You can see how he keeps his glaring eyes fixed on the chicken house. And unless I’m mistaken, he’s on the lookout for you.”
“No such thing!” Tommy Fox snapped. And he looked up at Solomon as if he wished that he could climb the tree.
“Here comes somebody else!” Fatty Coon exclaimed suddenly. His keen eyes had caught sight of Jimmy Rabbit, hopping along on his way to the vegetable garden, to see if he couldn’t find a stray cabbage or a turnip.
Solomon Owl called to him. Whereupon, Jimmy Rabbit promptly sat up and looked at the odd trio. If it hadn’t been for Tommy Fox he would have drawn nearer.
“Do you know that stranger?” Solomon Owl asked him, pointing out the horrible head to Jimmy.
“I haven’t the pleasure,” said Jimmy Rabbit, after he had taken a good look.
“Well,” said Solomon, “won’t you kindly speak to him; and ask him to go away?”
“Certainly!” answered Jimmy Rabbit, who always tried to be obliging.
“I hope the stranger won’t eat him,” remarked Tommy Fox, “because I hope to do that some day, myself.”
It was queer–but Jimmy Rabbit was the only one of the four that wasn’t afraid of those glaring features. He hopped straight up to the big round head, which was just a bit higher than one of the fence posts, against which the stranger seemed to be leaning. And after a moment or two Jimmy Rabbit called to Solomon and Fatty and Tommy Fox: “He won’t go away! He’s going to stay right where he is!”
“Come here a minute!” said Tommy.
Jimmy Rabbit shook his head.
“You come over here!” he answered. And he did not stir from the side of the stranger. He knew very well that Tommy Fox was afraid of the man with the head with the glaring eyes.
As for Tommy Fox, he did not even reply–that is, to Jimmy Rabbit. But he spoke his mind freely enough to his two friends in the tree.
“It seems to me one of you ought to do something,” said he. “We’ll eat no pullets tonight if we can’t get rid of this meddlesome stranger.”
Fatty Coon quite agreed with him.
“The one who was here first is the one to act!” Fatty declared. “That’s you!” he told Solomon Owl.
So Solomon Owl felt most uncomfortable.
“I don’t know what I can do,” he said. “I spoke to the stranger–asked him who he was. And he wouldn’t answer me.”
“Can’t you frighten him away?” Tommy Fox inquired. “Fly right over his head and give him a blow with your wing as you pass!”
Solomon Owl coughed. He was embarrassed, to say the least.
“He’s afraid!” Fatty Coon cried. And both he and Tommy Fox kept repeating, over and over again, “He’s afraid! He’s afraid! He’s afraid!”
It was really more than Solomon Owl could stand.
“I’m not!” he retorted angrily. “Watch me and you’ll see!” And without another word he darted out of the tree and swooped down upon the stranger, just brushing the top of his head. Solomon Owl knew at once that he had knocked something off the top of that dreadful head–something that fell to the ground and made Jimmy Rabbit jump nervously.
Then Solomon returned to his perch in the tree. “He hasn’t moved,” he said. “But I knocked off his hat.”
“You took off the top of his head!” cried Fatty Coon in great excitement. “Look! The inside of his head is afire.” And peering down from the tree-top, Solomon Owl saw that Fatty Coon had told the truth.