Afterward old Mr. Crow had to admit that he must have been forgetful. He had told Major Monkey to hide inside the hollow tree. And being a total stranger in the neighborhood, of course the Major didn't know that an owl lived there.
So he entered the dark hole boldly. And soon he came dashing out of it much faster than he had gone in, shrieking at the top of his voice.
Old Mr. Crow was poised on a branch, as if he were waiting for something. And he almost smiled as he looked at the Major and saw that he was shaking. The poor fellow's teeth were chattering, too.
"What's the matter?" Mr. Crow called to him.
"There's--there's a Tiger inside this tree!" Major Monkey stammered. "I know it's a Tiger, for I saw his eyes."
"Nonsense!" Mr. Crow exclaimed. And he burst into a loud haw-haw. "It's nothing but an old Owl. I forgot all about him. A fine soldier you are--afraid of an old Owl!"
Major Monkey straightened his cap and looked as soldierly as he could.
"You're mistaken, in a way," he told Mr. Crow. "I admit I was afraid. I was afraid I had frightened him, waking him up so suddenly. So I retreated."
Old Mr. Crow stopped laughing and looked very thoughtful. It occurred to him that Major Monkey was a somewhat slippery person. Certainly he could slip out of a hole about as easily as anybody Mr. Crow knew.
"You'll have to find some other place for me to hide," the Major announced. "I don't want to stay in this tree all day, for I shouldn't like to disturb a gentleman's rest."
Mr. Crow pondered for a few moments.
"You see that old haystack?" he said at last, pointing across the fields. "Go and burrow under that. And be back here exactly an hour before sunset."
Major Monkey saluted.
"That suits me," he said. And then he turned and scurried down to the ground, leaped quickly upon the fence, and galloped off along the topmost rails.
* * * * * * *
Mr. Crow spent a very busy day inviting everybody to his party, to meet his old friend, Major Monkey.
"He's a famous soldier," Mr. Crow explained, when people asked him questions. "And I hope you'll all wear your best clothes, because the Major himself is very handsomely dressed. There's gold braid on his coat, and on his cap, too."
The old gentleman talked so much about the Major's uniform that a good many of the neighbors thought that Mr. Crow ought to postpone his party for a few days, until they could get Mr. Frog, the tailor, to make them some new clothes.
But Mr. Crow wouldn't listen to them.
"No!" he said. "We mustn't wait. My friend the Major is a great traveller. There's no knowing when he will take it into his head to move on. And if you want to meet him there's no time like the present."
Well, people were so busy getting ready for the party that there was a great flurry everywhere all day long--except at the haystack, where Major Monkey was hiding. And even he did not have so dull a time as you might suppose.
Luckily, he had discovered a lone apple tree near-by. And being fond of fruit he crept out of the haystack every few minutes and gathered apples.
What he could eat, he ate greedily. And what he couldn't he hid under the stack.
And on the whole, he had rather a pleasant time.