Chapter XI WHAT A SNOWBALL DID
Jolly Robin was too frightened to laugh when he saw Johnnie Green’s second snowball strike the moon-faced stranger in the orchard. You see, the snowball hit one of the stranger’s arms. And to Jolly’s amazement, the arm at once dropped off and dashed upon the ground, breaking into a dozen pieces.
That alone was enough to startle Jolly Robin. But the moon-faced man paid not the slightest attention to the accident. There was something ghostly in the way he stood there, all in white, never moving, never once saying a word.
But Johnnie Green did not seem frightened at all. He set up a great shouting and began to let fly his snowballs as fast as he could throw them.
They did not all find the mark. But the very last one struck the silent stranger squarely upon his left ear. And to Jolly Robin’s horror, his head toppled off and fell horridly at his feet.
Jolly Robin fully expected the man in white to turn and chase Johnnie Green then–or at least to hurl his stick at Johnnie. But nothing of the sort happened. And Jolly did not wait for anything more. He felt that he had seen quite enough. So he flew away to the shelter of the woods, to find somebody to whom he could talk and tell of the strange thing that had happened in the orchard.
Over in the woods Jolly was lucky enough to meet Jimmy Rabbit, who was always very friendly toward him. And as soon as he had inquired about Jimmy Rabbit’s health (they had not seen each other since the previous fall, you know), Jolly related how he had seen Johnnie Green knock off the head of the man in the orchard.
“And the man never paid the slightest heed to what happened,” said Jolly Robin. “He had a stick in his hand; but he didn’t throw it.”
“There’s nothing queer about that,” Jimmy Rabbit remarked. “How could he see where to throw his stick, when he had no head?”
But Jolly Robin could not answer that question. And he looked more puzzled than ever.
“I don’t understand it,” he said with a shake of his own head. “The whole affair was very odd. I’m afraid I shall not care to live in the orchard this summer, especially if there’s a headless man there! For how can he ever see to leave the orchard?”
It was Jimmy Rabbit’s turn to look puzzled, for that was a question that he couldn’t answer.
“Maybe there is something queer about this case,” he said. “I’ll go over to the orchard to-morrow and take a look at that headless stranger and see what I think about him. If you’ll meet me here we can go together.”
Now, Jolly Robin had almost decided that he would never go near the orchard again. But he felt that if he went with Jimmy Rabbit there ought not to be much danger. So he agreed to Jimmy’s suggestion.
“I’ll be here before the morning’s gone,” he promised.