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The Lion & the Lamb
Once upon a time, there was a little black lamb who was contentedly eating the green grass in his herd’s quiet pasture. He and the rest of the herd ate and ate and ate, until long after the sun went down. The shepherd never allowed them to eat grass for so long, and the little black sheep became worried.
“Oh, Father Sheep,” he said to the biggest sheep, “where is the shepherd?”
The ram took one look at the little lamb’s black fleece, turned up his nose, and snapped, “Your wool is as black as the night sky. Do not speak to me.”
The little black sheep bowed his head and walked over to the second-biggest sheep. “Oh, Mother Sheep, where is the shepherd? Do you know?”
The ewe took one look at the little lamb’s black fleece, turned up her nose, and snapped, “Your wool is as black as the coal in the farmer’s furnace. Do not speak to me.”
The little black sheep bowed his head and walked over to a small group of lambs as young as himself. “Oh, Brothers and Sisters,” he said, “where is the shepherd?”
The young lambs looked at their snow-white fleece, looked at the little black lamb’s fleece, and laughed in his face. “Your wool is so black,” they replied, “that when the sun is down, we can’t see you. Do not speak to us.”
Dejected and forlorn, the little black sheep walked away from the other sheep. His head was bowed, so he couldn’t see where he was going, until he ran, headfirst, into the door of the pen. He was about to turn around, when he remembered what the rams did when they wanted access to the wilder pastures. He steadied himself and lunged at the gate, knocking it wide open with his head. The other sheep paid him no mind so, with a heavy sigh, he left the pen.
The little black lamb wandered throughout the pasture for a long time before coming upon the barnyard, where the rams and ewes said the farmer stayed sometimes. The barnyard’s door was ajar, so he approached quietly, wanting to tell the farmer of his poor treatment by the other sheep, but having no desire to disturb him if he was busy. The little black sheep crept as close as he could to the door, peered inside, and just barely managed to stifle a bleating scream.
Inside the barn was a huge lion. It had a wild mane, long claws, razor-sharp fangs, and hungry, yellow eyes. The farmer was nowhere to be found.
Hoping the lion hadn’t seen him, his heart pounding in his chest, the little black lamb ran back to the pen as fast as he could.
“Baa! Baa!” he called to the biggest sheep. “Oh, Father Sheep, the farmer is gone! There is a huge, hungry lion in the barnyard! We must go!”
The ram took one look at the little lamb’s black fleece, turned up his nose, and snapped, “It is in your nature to lie, little black sheep; it is the darkness of your wool. Do not speak to me.”
Undeterred, the little black sheep hurried to the second-biggest sheep. “Baa! Baa!” he called to her. “Oh, Mother Sheep, the farmer is gone! A hungry lion is in the barnyard, looking for us! We must gather the other sheep and go! Please listen to me!” he pleaded.
The ewe took one look at the little lamb’s black fleece, turned up her nose, and snapped, “The lies you tell sicken me, little black sheep. Do not speak to me.”
The little black sheep was discouraged, but he was still hopeful that the other lambs might yet listen to him. He rushed to them. “Baa! Baa!” he cried. “Oh, Brothers and Sisters, there is a huge, hungry lion in the barnyard! We must go!”
The young lambs looked at their snow-white fleece, looked at the little black lamb’s fleece, and laughed in his face. “Little black sheep, your fleece is too dark; we cannot listen to you,” they replied. “Do not speak to us.”
Deeply saddened, but still determined to warn the others, the little black lamb raced about the pen, telling the other sheep about the hungry lion in the barnyard. One by one, they all looked at his black fleece, turned up their noses, and refused to listen to him. Able to hear the lion approaching, and aware that he could no longer stay to convince the others to come away with him, the little black sheep fled from the farm.
The other sheep stayed behind, laughing to each other about the foolish little black sheep who had the left the comfort and safety of the pasture. They laughed and laughed and laughed until midnight, when the little black lamb would have become invisible to their eyes. The hungry lion was just as invisible, and he snuck into the sheep’s pen and devoured each and every last one.