Bedtime Stories #2

The Shepherd Boy and the Wolves

In summer time the shepherds used to drive their sheep out into the mountains some distance away from their homes, where the grass was green and tender and the sheep fattened rapidly.

But there was always some danger in this, for the wolves hid in the mountains and often came down and carried off the little lambs, and even killed the old sheep themselves. So the shepherds never thought it was safe to leave the flocks alone, and some young lad was always chosen to watch them during the day, while the shepherds worked on the little fields they cultivated near at hand. It wasn’t a hard task for the boy unless the wolves came in sight, and then he was so near that by calling loudly he could bring the shepherds to his aid.

One lad they sent out to do this work was a mischievous little chap, who thought it would be great sport to bring the shepherds about him even if no wolf was in sight. Accordingly, he ran up the side of a high rock, shouting at the top of his voice “Wolf! Wolf!” and swinging his arms wildly about.

The shepherds saw and heard him and came running to the spot, where they found nothing but the lively boy, laughing merrily. They reproved him for his mischief and went back to their work.

In a few days they had forgotten all about his prank, and when they saw him again upon the rock, swinging his arms and calling “Wolf! Wolf!” they ran a second time, with their hoes and spades in their hands to beat off the attack. Once more they found that the sheep were perfectly safe, and that no wolves were in sight, and the boy laughed noisily at their surprise. This time they were very angry and scolded the boy roundly for his deception.

More days passed, and nothing happened; but then, as the boy was lying idly in the warm sun, he saw the sheep huddle together in alarm and finally scamper off over the hill with wolves in close pursuit.

Frightened almost out of his wits at the very real danger, the boy climbed again upon the rock, shrieking “Wolf! Wolf!” at the top of his voice, waving his hands, stamping, and swinging his hat as though his very life depended on it.

The shepherds looked up and saw the boy, but returned to their work. They had been twice fooled and were not going to risk the chance again. No matter how loudly the boy called or how much he wept, they continued with their work, paying no further attention to what the lad said, even when he ran to them and assured them that he was telling the truth.

When the sheep did not return that night, the shepherds went out to find them, but though they hunted long and earnestly, they could discover nothing but torn and bleeding bodies, for every sheep had been killed.

Naturally they laid all the blame on the shoulders of the boy.

Good night boys and girls!

Happy Reading!

Story taken from Journeys Through Bookland, Volume I, 5th Edition

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