With the arrogant confidence of decades of tradition, they dismissed the unruly women.
The women declined to be dismissed. And word had spread. The number of angry women doubled quickly, and then the young unmarrieds were joined by their mothers and fathers. Parents wanted their daughters to have a chance to be courted by any male from another area. That there were two from a very long distance away, and bigger and stronger than the average, made their insistence even more predictable.
That two of the six officials were facing their own daughters did not help their position.
Finally the head official put his head back and howled for quiet. No one in New City had heard an official howl in years. The silence was immediate.
"All of you! What do you propose we do?"
A young woman that had arrived first and placed herself in the center of the congregation and a half step in front of the rest replied immediately.
"Allow them what they ask! Can it be so difficult?"
"If we give them the lumber they require, one of the other building projects will be delayed."
That met with a cacophony of suggestions about which project would be best delayed. There must have been over three dozen petitioners in the room by now, and it seemed each one had a different priority.
Finally, as they all tired of trying to growl, howl, or snarl above everyone else, a reluctant quiet allowed one voice to finally ask an intelligent question.
"What is it they have asked?"
"They wish lumber to build a floor into the public shelter to keep their possessions clean and dry if it rains."
One of the girls' fathers spoke up. "That is reasonable. The wet season is only a week or two away. It may take longer than that for one of them to realize my daughter is the best catch, with so many to choose from."
That started a round of angry replies. One or two of the other fathers even went so far as to bring the lips back, exposing all of his fangs in a challenge that often led to blood and even mauling.
Again the lead official quieted the group.
"Here is what I suggest. You parents put your gold and silver to back up your words. Or your work. Pay our woodsmen to cut the wood and then that into lumber, or go out and harvest the wood yourselves. Then no current projects will be delayed and the strangers will be able to construct the floor."
The leading young female asked, "How long will they be busy with that?"
One of the fathers answered. "If they know how to use tools and do the job correctly, perhaps two days. If they are not familiar with that kind of work, it may be a week or more."
One of the other young women asked, "Do they even have such tools? Will the city be able to lend them if they don't?"
And still another young female had an opinion. "Why doesn't the city do the job for them? With our excellent workmen it would take only a day or a little more. The handsome strangers could use their time better in pursuit of the reason they are here."
Her father, standing behind her, added, "Besides, after they choose two of our young ladies they will get work, build their own homes, and then the improved shelter will be a benefit to the whole city."
There was sudden silence. That proposal and the justification sounded good. After gathering the opinions of the other officials with head nods, the head official banged the two-foot ceremonial club down hard on the table and announced that it would be done!
The young women howled in delight and rushed from the building to inform their potential suitors that a solution had been found.