The Need for Vigilance

An Educational Fable for 7th Graders

Copyright 1999 by Hugo S. Cunningham
File added 990424
Last minor change 001201

The following story appears as an English-language reading lesson in
E. Belova and L. Todd,English: A Textbook of the English Language for the 7th Grade in 7-year and Secondary Schools (third edition)State Textbook and Pedagogical Publishers of the Ministry of Education of the RSFSR, Moscow, 1951; pp. 90-91.


A Fable

A wolf once saw some sheep feeding at the bottom of a hill. Wanting to eat some of them, he thought of a plan. He put on the skin of a sheep and in this way, going in among the sheep, he was able to kill many of them. The shepherd did not recognize his enemy because he had put on the skin of a sheep and looked like a sheep.

"Why do so many of my sheep disappear?" he asked himself. As he had never lost any sheep before, he was very angry. "I'll catch this thief," he said. "I shall get a thick rope and hang him."

But still, one by one, the sheep continued to disappear. When at last more than ten sheep had disappeared, the shepherd became really watchful. He walked about among the sheep night and day, and watched carefully. One night he saw a sheep which did not move and eat grass like a sheep.

"That's not a sheep," he said; "that's a wolf in sheep's clothing. That is the enemy who had killed my sheep!"

Taking the rope which he had brought with him, he quickly threw it round the wolf's neck. Then he took him to a tree that grew at the top of the hill and hanged him.

Two other shepherds were passing the place at that time, and they were very much surprised to see a sheep hanging from a tree at the top of the hill.

"What does that mean, brother?" asked one of the men in surprise. "Is it possible you hang sheep?"

"No," answered the shepherd, "but I hang wolves when I catch them, even if they are dressed in sheep's clothing."

"When the two men understood their mistake, and saw that what the shepherd had said was true, they said:

"You are quite right, brother. The most dangerous enemies are those who pretend to be friends.

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