From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables.


Once there was a boy who had a keen pair of eyes and a particularly loud and piercing voice, so he was employed by a syndicate of sheep-owners to watch over their flock. “And if you see a wolf among the sheep,” the leader of the syndicate told him, “you shout ‘Wolf! Wolf!’ at the top of your lungs.”

The boy solemnly swore that he would keep a careful eye out and warn everyone the moment he saw a wolf, and he went to work watching the sheep with unflagging vigilance.

He had been watching most of the afternoon with nothing to report, when suddenly a wolf sprang out of the underbrush and, to his horror, began devouring one of the sheep.

“Wolf! Wolf!” the boy cried at the top of his lungs.

Immediately the leader of the syndicate came running.

“Look here, boy,” he said sternly, as the wolf continued his meal, “what are you trying to do? Do you want the whole village to think we don’t know how to take care of our sheep?”

“But the wolf is eating them!”

“That’s no excuse for such an unseemly ruckus. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” And the leader of the syndicate turned and walked away, leaving the wolf to eat mutton until he was satisfied.

The next day the boy was in position again, and once again the wolf leaped out of the brush and began tearing a sheep to pieces.

“Wolf! Wolf!” the boy cried in his piercing soprano.

The leader of the syndicate came running even faster than he had the previous day.

“Now, what did I tell you?” he demanded angrily. “You’re making the whole village think there are wolves about! Do you think that makes them feel secure?”

“But the wolf is right there,” the boy explained.

“I don’t want to be bothered with details! Now, not another peep from you, or there will be serious consequences.” And he turned and stomped away angrily, once again leaving the wolf to eat sheep until he could eat no more.

The next day, the boy was in his place, and once again the wolf leaped out of the shrubbery and began gobbling up sheep.

The boy was not at all certain what to do. He seriously considered just letting the wolf go about his business unmolested. But in the end he remembered that he had sworn a solemn oath to watch over the sheep, and he did what he knew was his duty.

“Wolf! Wolf!” the boy cried.

This time the leader of the syndicate simply called the police and had the boy arrested, and he is now serving six years in juvenile detention for disturbing the peace.

The wolf, meanwhile, ate all the sheep at his leisure; but the members of the syndicate decided that they had never liked sheep very much and were better off without them.

Moral: A comfortable lie beats immoderate truth any old day.