Both Jasper and Mr. Crow seemed disappointed. Although Mr. Crow had won each fight, he was very weary, for he was older than Jasper Jay.
As they went off, Solomon Owl began to feel much pleased with himself.
The following evening, at sunset, old Mr. Crow and Jasper Jay visited Solomon Owl once more. And they looked more battered than ever.
“We’ve had three more fights,” said Mr. Crow.
“Yes! And I won each time!” Jasper Jay piped up. “So I must be in the right. And you’d better decide in my favor without any further delay.”
Solomon Owl thought deeply for some time.
“Maybe I ought to wait until to-morrow——” he began.
But his callers both shouted “No!”
“Well,” said Solomon, “Mr. Crow has won three fights; and Jasper Jay has won three. So it is certain that each must be in the wrong.”
But that announcement did not satisfy Jasper and Mr. Crow. And they left the hemlock grove, disputing more loudly than ever.
And the next day, at dusk, they came back again.
“We’ve had three more fights; and I won!” they both cried at the same time.
“That proves my claim,” said Solomon Owl. “You’re both wrong.”
They whispered together for a few minutes.
“We don’t like your way of settling disputes,” Mr. Crow remarked shortly. “But we’ve decided to stop quarreling.”
“Good!” said Solomon Owl. “That shows that you are sensible.”
“Yes!” replied Jasper. “We’ve decided to stop quarreling and fight you!”
“Wait a moment!” said Solomon Owl hastily, as they drew nearer. “I don’t want my new suit spoiled.” And he ducked inside the hollow tree before they could reach him.
Jasper and Mr. Crow waited and waited. But Solomon Owl did not reappear. And since his two visitors did not dare follow him into the dark cavern where he lived, they decided at last that they would go home—and get into bed.
“Let’s take away his sign, anyhow!” Jasper Jay suggested.
So they pulled down Solomon’s sign, which said “Disputes Settled Within,” and they carried it off with them and hid it in some bushes.
That same night Solomon Owl hunted for it for a long time. But he never found it.
He decided not to hang out another, for he saw that settling disputes was a dangerous business.
Solomon Owl had a small cousin named Simon Screecher. He was unlike Solomon in some respects, because he always wore ear-tufts, and his eyes were yellow instead of black. But in some other ways he was no different from Solomon Owl, for he was a noisy chap and dearly loved mice—to eat.
It happened that the two met in the woods one fine fall evening; and they agreed to go hunting mice together.
Now, being so much smaller than Solomon, Simon Screecher was all the spryer. In fact, he was so active that he could catch mice faster than Solomon Owl could capture them. And they had not hunted long before Solomon discovered that Simon had succeeded in disposing of six mice to his three.