The Little Sheep and the Smiling Man

The Little Sheep and the Smiling Man

It was the Smiling Man who had led The Little Sheep astray. The Little Sheep might have known better.

The Little Sheep had, once again, found itself Lost. While it had been daydreaming of wandering through the Labrynth of the Great Shepherd, it had awoke to find itself just as far from the Flock as if it had been in the center of the Labrynth.

The Labrynth was what Gaffer, the Old Ram, called the great square of Large Shrubbery which was to be found in the Garden of The Great Shepherd. The Large Shrubbery of the Labrynth went up as far as The Little Sheep could see, and it was very difficult to walk from one end to the other without getting hungry. For Shrubbery is what the Little Sheep liked best to munch.

And The Little Sheep had become Lost while thinking about this Great Labrynth and what the walls of tasty Shrubbery must be like. Gaffer said that there were more walls on the inside than on the outside. The Little Sheep could picture munching first one, then the other, and so on -- merely to be able to tell (perhaps by the flavor of the Shrubbery) where The Little Sheep might be in the Labrynth at any given moment. And of course from there it would be easy to find one's way Out.

But The Little Sheep was not now in the Labrynth, although it may well have been for all the good it did The Little Sheep. The Little Sheep was, once again, Lost.

The Little Sheep looked around itself. It had enough room to Turn Around, although The Little Sheep had once devised a clever way to look behind itself without Turning Around. It saw no signs of the Flock, nor of the Great Shepherd. It did, however, see a great deal of Trees. Since The Little Sheep was standing on the only visible Path, The Little Sheep reasoned that it must have found itself in a Forest.

The Little Sheep must have woken up, so to speak, because it now saw not one but two different Paths. The Little Sheep began wondering which Path led back to The Great Shepherd. The Little Sheep knew that one Path in this Forest led to the back porch of the House of the Great Shepherd. The Little Sheep knew this because The Little Sheep had been lost in this Forest before. And The Great Shepherd always seemed to know when that happened.

Now, of the two paths, one was was attractively worn down and free of Tangly Things, which had a nasty habit of attaching themselves to the Boots of one's Uniform. Gaffer always made all the Little Sheep take good care of their Uniforms, for he said it pleased the Great Shepherd. Whomever else it pleased, it certainly seemed to please Gaffer. Ordinarily, only the Sheep with the best-kept Uniforms were allowed to graze near Gaffer, and Gaffer always grazed the best grass.

As The Little Sheep thought about Gaffer, it looked at the two Paths before it. On one hoof, it had remembered lots of Tangly Things on the road to the back porch of the House of the Great Shepherd; but on the other hoof, the other Path seemed like it ought to lead to The Great Shepherd. Which Path was The Little Sheep to take?

As if it had heard the very thoughts of The Little Sheep, a Man dropped down from the branches of an overhead Tree. The Man seemed to be Smiling a great deal. He was dressed in an alarming suit of soft, sea-green clothes. The Smiling Man bowed low before The Little Sheep. (For a moment, The Little Sheep thought the Smiling Man was trying to see behind himself, but then The Little Sheep realized that The Smiling Man was just being polite.)

-- Wouldn't you like to take this path? asked the Smiling Man. The Little Sheep wasn't quite sure if the Smiling Man actually spoke, since the Smile never moved on his face. It was just a Smile. But The Little Sheep heard the words of the Smiling Man, all the same.

And The Little Sheep had to admit that it would like to take that Path. But it wanted to know where it went. The Little Sheep asked the Smiling man where this Path led.

"Does this path lead to the Great Shepherd?" asked The Little Sheep.

-- This Path leads Wherever you want it to lead, came the reply from the Smiling Man. To The Little Sheep that meant the Path must lead to the Great Shepherd. This distinction was not made by the Smiling Man. His Smile came to a crescendo as he cavorted in circles in his sea-green suit.

And The Little Sheep did not inquire too closely nor think too much more. The Little Sheep believed what it wanted to believe and The Little Sheep walked along the attractive Path while the Smiling Man did somersaults of celebration in his sea-green suit. The Little Sheep soon left the Smiling Man far behind.

And so it was that The Little Sheep found itself on a Path which was attractively free of Tangly Things but which unfortunately led to an arid Desert. There was not a single Tree in sight, and The Little Sheep found fewer and fewer ways to Turn Around as it went on. The Sand around The Little Sheep was astoundingly Hot, and it became concerned that it might Fall In, because some of the Sand looked less than Sturdy.

As The Little Sheep traveled on, Blind in the Faith in the words of the Smiling Man, it found itself thinking about those words. After all, The Little Sheep had been Lost in the Forest before. It had never seen anything like this Forest with No Trees. It didn't seem familiar. It didn't seem good for Little Sheep.

It was then that The Little Sheep began to wonder if the Smiling Man may not have known about the Great Shepherd. It was then that The Little Sheep began to wonder if the Smiling Man may not have cared about the Great Shepherd. It was then that The Little Sheep began to wonder if The Smiling Man may have cared for no one but himself. This was an attitude absolutely alien to The Little Sheep.

Presently, The Little Sheep found itself over a rise in the Sand and smack in a patch of some Shrubbery! The Little Sheep was terribly excited. Its Tail rattled to and fro as it climbed down the Sand Path as quickly as it dared. The Little Sheep couldn't help itself but to sample some of the Shrubbery as soon as it could. The Little Sheep was very thankful for this Shrubbery. It was delicious.

The Little Sheep got some water from the Shrubbery, but not enough. Presently it walked a little farther, and fell down. The Little Sheep was very tired and very very thirsty. The Desert grew silent. No sound reached the ears of The Little Sheep.

SQUAWK! The screech of a Vulture woke up The Little Sheep, and it Bleated in terror. The sound actually startled the Vulture, who jumped up and flew away. The Little Sheep lay down again and closed its eyes. The Little Sheep was very tired and very very thirsty.

SCREECH! The squawk of a Vulture awoke The Little Sheep. The Little Sheep blinked its eyes open, and saw a large Vulture standing nearby while two other Vultures circled overhead. Suddenly, The Little Sheep woke up and issued another Bleat, one which would often send both Gaffer and the Great Shepherd running, and the Vultures all scattered.

The Little Sheep was now frightened enough to be awake for a little while. If you have never seen a Vulture up close, then you may not know what I mean: they are very imposing birds, even the small ones. And these weren't the small ones.

But soon The Little Sheep grew more tired than it had ever been before. Finally, The Little Sheep lay down to its Final Rest, and found that it was suprisingly content. It had felt as though the Great Shepherd had finally welcomed The Little Sheep back into his arms, content and secure for ever and always without ever getting Lost again. The Little Sheep could just feel itself in the arms of the Great Shepherd ...

... and The Little Sheep opened its eyes and found itself in the arms of The Great Shepherd! That Bleat must have summoned the Great Shepherd Himself! The Great Shepherd fed a little water to The Little Sheep, and it fell asleep before it could even think anything else.

Gaffer had harsh words until he saw the Cactus stuck to The Little Sheep's Tunic of his Uniform. Ordinarily, this would be an Unforgivable breach of Discipline, but (lucky for The Little Sheep) next to Peat Moss, Cactus was what Gaffer liked best to eat. The Little Sheep grazed next to Gaffer all weekend because of that Cactus.

And that is the story of how The Little Sheep came to bring the Nectar of Cactus to Gaffer one day.


Meet The Little Sheep.
The Little Sheep in the Forest.
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