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THE WISE MEN OF GOTHAM
OHN BLACK and Thomas Brown were two men of Gotham.
They were neighbors, but they were not good friends.
One day when Thomas was returning home from Nottingham
market he met John on Nottingham bridge and called out
roughly, "Where are you going, man"
"That's none of your business," replied John, "but I
don't mind tellingjou that I am going to Nottingham to
"Buy sheep!" said Thomas, "and which way will you bring
"Oh," responded John, "I will bring them over this
"No you won't," said Thomas. "I'm going to stay right
here and stop them."
"You'd better not try any tricks of that sort!"
exclaimed John, "or it will be the worse for you
"I'm not afraid of your threats!" shouted Thomas, "and
I say again, I'll never let you drive your sheep across
 "You will!" yelled John.
"I won't!" declared the other.
Each man carried a stout cane, and as they talked they
swung their canes in the air and thumped with them on
"If you act like that," said John, "you will make my
sheep jump over the side of the bridge into the water
and they will drown."
 "Let them drown," said Thomas. "I don't care. You
can take them home some other way."
"No, I shall not!" said John, "I shall bring them
across this bridge."
"You will get a rap on your head with my cane if you
do," said Thomas.
While they were quarrelling another man of Gotham came
from the market leading a horse with a bag of meal on
its back. He stopped on the bridge and listened to
learn what the trouble was between his two neighbors."
How is this?" said he, "you are ready to come to blows
over some sheep; but I see not a single sheep for you
to fight about."
"No," explained the other two, "they are not bought
"Ah, foolish men!" said the newcomer. "Where is your
common-sense? Here, lift this bag of meal from the
horse to my shoulders and I will show you what I think
They did as he suggested, and then he went to the side
of the bridge, untied the mouth of the bag and shook
all his meal out into the river.
"Now, neighbors," said he, "how much meal is there in
 "Why, surely," replied they, "there is none at
"Quite right!" said he, "and just as much wit is there
in your two heads to stir up a strife about a thing you
So the three men went their ways, and which was the
wisest of these three persons, do you think.