Solomon knew right away that he had nothing more to worry about. He dropped into a sound sleep with a pleasant smile upon his usually solemn face. And when he opened his eyes again it was time for Simon Screecher to arrive.
Yes! Solomon could hear his cousin’s whistle even then. So he hurried to his door; and there was Simon, sitting on a limb of the big hemlock waiting for him!
“It’s all right!” said Solomon to his cousin. “I agree to your suggestion. We’ll hunt together again to-night; and if you will give me one-third of all the mice you catch, I promise to give you two-thirds of all the mice that I capture.”
“Good!” said Simon Screecher. And he looked vastly relieved. “Just hoot when you have any mice for me!”
“Whistle when you have any for me!” Solomon Owl replied.
And at that they started out for their night’s sport. It was not long before Simon Screecher’s well known whistle brought Solomon hurrying to him. Simon already had three mice, one of which he gave to Solomon, according to their agreement.
That same thing happened several times; until at last Simon Screecher began to grumble.
“What’s the matter?” he asked his cousin. “You are not hooting, as you promised you would.”
“But I haven’t caught any mice yet!” Solomon Owl replied.
[Image: Illustration 3]
“It’s All Right,” Said Solomon
Again and again and again Simon’s call summoned Solomon. But not once did Solomon’s summon Simon. And all the time Simon Screecher grew more discontented. Toward the end of the night he declared flatly that he wasn’t going to hunt any more with his cousin.
“I’ve done exactly as I agreed!” Solomon Owl protested.
“You’re altogether too slow and clumsy,” Simon Screecher told him bluntly. “If I’m going to hunt with anybody after this I’m going to choose someone that’s as spry as I am. There’s no sense in my working for you. Here I’ve toiled all night long and I’m still hungry, for I’ve given you a third of my food.”
They parted then—and none too pleasantly.
In Simon’s whistle, as he flew away toward his home, there was unmistakable anger. But Solomon Owl’s answering hoots—while they were not exactly sweet—seemed to carry more than a hint of laughter.
One would naturally think that Solomon might have been even hungrier than his small cousin. But it was not so. He had had more to eat than usual; for he had been very busy catching locusts and katydids—and frogs, too. Solomon Owl had not tried to catch a single mouse that night.
You know now the idea that had come to him while he was lying awake in his house during the daytime. He had made up his mind that he would not hunt for mice. And since he had not promised Simon to give him anything else, there was no reason why he should not eat all the frogs and katydids and locusts that he could find.