“What’s your difficulty?” Solomon asked them.
Mr. Crow looked at Jasper Jay. And then he looked at Solomon again.
“Maybe you won’t like to hear it,” he said. And he winked at Jasper. “But you’ve put out this sign—so we’ve come here.”
“You’ve done just right!” exclaimed Solomon Owl. “And as for my not liking to hear the trouble, it’s your dispute and not mine. So I don’t see how it concerns me—except to settle it.”
“Very Well,” Mr. Crow answered. “The dispute, then, is this: Jasper says that in spite of your looking so wise, you’re really the stupidest person in Pleasant Valley.”
“He does, eh?” cried Solomon Owl, while Jasper Jay laughed loudly. “And you, of course, do not agree with him,” Solomon continued.
“I do not!” Mr. Crow declared.
“Good!” said Solomon, nodding his head approvingly.
“No, I do not agree with Jasper Jay,” Mr. Crow said. “I claim that there’s one other person more stupid than you are—and that’s Fatty Coon.”
Well, Solomon Owl certainly was displeased. And it didn’t make him feel any happier to hear Jasper Jay’s boisterous shouts, or the hoarse “haw-haw” of old Mr. Crow.
“I hope you can decide which one of us is right,” Mr. Crow ventured.
“I am, of course!” cried Jasper Jay.
“You’re not!” Mr. Crow shouted. And to Solomon Owl he said, “We’ve been disputing like this all day long.”
Solomon Owl didn’t know what to say. If he announced that Jasper was right it would be the same as admitting that he was the stupidest person in the whole neighborhood. And if he said that old Mr. Crow’s opinion was correct he would not be much better off. Naturally he didn’t want to tell either of them that he was right.
“I’ll have to think about this,” Solomon observed at last.
“We don’t want to wait,” said Mr. Crow. “If we keep on disputing we’re likely to have a fight.”
Now, Solomon Owl hoped that they would have a fight. So he was determined to keep them waiting for his decision.
“Come back to-morrow at this time,” he said.
The next evening, just at dusk, Jasper Jay and old Mr. Crow returned to Solomon Owl’s house, looking much bedraggled. One of Mr. Crow’s eyes was almost closed; and Jasper Jay’s crest seemed to have been torn half off his head.
“What’s the matter?” asked Solomon, as soon as he saw them.
“We’ve had three fights,” said Jasper Jay.
“Yes! And I’ve whipped him each time!” cried Mr. Crow. “So I must be in the right. And you’d better decide our dispute in my favor at once.”
But Solomon Owl was still in no hurry.
“It’s a difficult question to settle,’ said he. ’I don’t want to make any mistake. So I shall have to ask you to come back here to-morrow at this time.”