Meet the Little Sheep

Meet the Little Sheep

Or Don't.

The Little Sheep was fond of its Flock.

The Little Sheep did its best to stay with its Flock, but the Little Sheep often misunderstood The Great Shepherd's silent commands. And so it was that the Little Sheep often found itself far from the Flock.

The Little Sheep felt a chill wind, and it was then that the Little Sheep guessed that the rest of the Flock must be far below. For the most part, the Little Sheep was kept warm by its Uniform: a neatly trimmed wool jacket and sharp woolen trousers (which met its socks just below the knee) kept any cool breeze far from chilling; however, unexpected updrafts usually got its attention.

The Little Sheep forgot for a moment that it was lost, and thought instead of its Uniform, and how nice its Uniform was. The Little Sheep was one sheep who took pride in its Uniform. Gaffer, the oldest ram in the Flock, taught them about how to keep one's Uniform neat and trim for the Great Shepherd. Some sheep listened, and other sheep munched contendly on the nice grass outside the place where Gaffer usually took its post.

Gaffer never let anyone eat too close to him, though, unless they looked especially nice or unless they had just done something good to make the Great Shepherd especially pleased. 'The great Shepherd'll look eftir ye,' he used to say, 'only if ye'll look eftir yirsels.' And so the Little Sheep often tried to look especially nice, since it so frequently seemed to get lost from the Great Shepherd.

The Great Shepherd. Thinking of The Great Shepherd made the Little Sheep remember that it was, once again, lost. And Gaffer was always well pleased when lost lambs returned to the Flock on their own, without bleating and without the Great Shepherd needing to pick them up. And that meant that it was time for the Little Sheep to find its own way down.

The Little Sheep may not have understood the Great Shepherd too well too often, but it certainly understood it had never felt this cold nor seen this much Blue where the grass ought to've been. And The Little Sheep certainly knew that the sooner it returned to the Flock, the sooner the Great Shepherd would feed it. And late feeders seldom got good grass.

The Little Sheep had developed (through necessity) a method of discovering where it was without turning around. What it did was to lean far down as though it were getting the very bottom of some sweet grass, and then stretch its front legs out as wide as it could, and then it could see underneath itself to what was behind. The Little Sheep did this when it wasn't sure it could turn all the way around wherever it was, and the road sure looked narrow here. And there was an awful lot of Blue.

The Little Sheep saw two things: it saw that it could not turn around, and it saw a way to travel a bit further and meet back with the road it had been on when it last saw the Great Shepherd. The Little Sheep thought himself lucky: another little while on the road it was on, and it wouldn't have been able to see that spot.

So The Little Sheep took the looparound road, and as it rounded the bend it saw off to the right a House. The House was far off, but the Garden was pretty close, and it was getting pretty hungry. Although it knew it was wrong to take other people's things, pretty often Gardens had Children in it, which were like the Great Shepherd, only smaller and not quite as strong. And Children often fed hungry Little Sheep.

Sure enough, Children were playing in the Garden. They seemed quite large for Children; one of them looked almost like the Great Shepherd himself, only without the furry mask the Great Shepherd always wore. The Little Sheep remembered what Gaffer had always said about bleating out of turn, so it just walked to where the Children could see him and it stopped for a moment. Presently the Tallest Child noticed him.

'Hey there, li'l dude,' the Tallest Child said. 'You lost or somethin'? Let's see, where'd y'all come from?' The Tallest Child looked at the Little Sheep's left shoulder to see the Great Shepherd's personal tattoo. The Little Sheep was very proud of this tattoo. It meant that he was a part of 'Gaffer's ain regiment,' as he put it, which just meant part of Gaffer's Flock. Sheep who got a tattoo kept it forever, and they stayed with the Flock forever. As far as they knew, anyway. So every sheep in the Flock was proud of their tattoo.

'Hm. That's a Northern Expansion Ranch brand,' the Tallest Child said. 'You're okay; you're not that far from home. You ain't hungry, are ya, li'l dude?' he asked the Little Sheep. 'Here, we got some extra vegetables still. Maybe Old Man Olds will appreciate a bundle or two. Wait right here, ' he told the sheep, and put some of the vegetables down before the Little Sheep, who lost no time in setting to. There were potatoes and carrots and lettuce and onions and zucchini.

And oh, what wonderful zucchini! The Little Sheep had never tasted anything like it, except once not too long ago when The Little Sheep got very lost and it took days to get back to the Flock, and Gaffer wouldn't let The Little Sheep graze close to him at mealtimes for a week, no matter how nice the Little Sheep made its Uniform look. Wherever it had been then, the zucchini there was certainly unlike anything in this world. But this was the next best thing.

The Little Sheep had almost gotten to the end when the Tallest Child returned, and tied a bundle on its back. 'Okay, Small One,' said the tallest Child in a deep voice that the Little Sheep knew right away was an imitation of the Great Shepherd's, but it was nice and funny and serious all at the same time. 'Let's get you back home. And you shall be made to carry your friends' dinner for your troubles,' he finished, just like the Great Shepherd.

The Little Sheep didn't mind, though, if it meant eating more of that wonderful salad which came from the Tallest Child's garden. The Little Sheep walked confidently to the last spot where the Great Shepherd had been, and the Tallest Child, who could see much better than the Little Sheep, soon found the Great Shepherd and led The Little Sheep all the way back to the Great Shepherd and the rest of the Flock.

The Great Shepherd was very happy with the Tallest Child, although he didn't seem too pleased with the Little Sheep until the Tallest Child untied the bundle on The Little Sheep's back and presented the bundle to the Great Shepherd. 'Well,' said the Great Shepherd, looking at the boy very kindly and very seriously, 'Your parents have already been by to share some of your garden's yield, but this is a very nice thing for you to have done. I thank you kindly. Please stay and share our meal this evening, if you wish.

'I suppose,' he said, turning to the Little Sheep and fixing his gaze upon the lamb, 'that we should be grateful for the adventures of our lost Little Sheep, however much we may wish it could stay with the Flock.

'Since we have enough for the evening's meal,' he continued, still addressing the Little Sheep, 'you'd better take this small bundle back to Gaffer and let him divide it among you.' He sent the Little Sheep off with a small whack on the behind with his giant Oak Staff.

Gaffer had a string of recriminations on his lips, but as soon as the Little Sheep showed him what the Great Shepherd told it to, Gaffer's scowl became a smile as he addressed the other sheep and told them that only those sheep whose Uniforms were absolutely free of sticks and twigs would receive the extra treat.

'Ye've goat tae be seen by Greit Shephaird,' he told them all, 'And ye cannae dae that if ye're indistinguishable from a tree yirsils.' He knew nobody was really listening: no sheep ever changed. The ones who were always messy were always messy, and the ones who were always neat were always neat.

The neat ones called themselves Joint Company. They called themselves a Company because Gaffer always talked about the Company he was with during the War, back when he was a young sheep, before he was moved here to Norway with the rest of the Great Shepherd's family. They called themselves Joint Company because the Old Lady always used to say they were 'join't t'gether' because they were never seen out of each other's sight (except, of course, for the Little Sheep).

Gaffer was especially pleased with the Little Sheep at dinner, even though the Little Sheep had to look extra neat at dinnertime since the Little Sheep had, after all, gotten itself lost in the first place.

And that is the story of how the Little Sheep brought Rare Norwegian Mountain Zucchini to the Northern Expansion Joint Company.


The Little Sheep in the Forest.
The Little Sheep and the Smiling Man.
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