The Gullible Sheep and the Cunning Lion
By Oskar Freysinger
member of the Swiss parliament
On a green pasture lived a flock of sheep. One day a
lion appeared and asked to join them in eating some of the abundant grass.
The sheep, having never seen a lion before, bleated a welcome to him and
led him the best pasture.
The lion thanked them most graciously and began to
pretend to eat and smack his lips. When nightfall came and the herd was
asleep, he killed a sheep that had strayed from the rest and devoured it.
The next day he again mingled with the grass eaters and behaved as he had
done the day before, only to once again eat fresh meat that night.
So it followed that every night another sheep
disappeared, leaving nothing but traces of blood on the grass. The flock,
bewildered by these mysterious nocturnal murders, began to be afraid.
Then the lion turned to his sheep companions and
disclosed to them that at night he had seen a wolf prowling around the
pasture. He told them that the wolf belonged to a degenerate and
especially violent group of predatory animals and was probably responsible
for the sad disappearance of their fellows.
If they would trust him, he would soon put an end to
these sinister doings, since while himself belonging to the carnivorous
species, he was, as they would surely know, from the pleasant, civilised
and vegetarian-oriented kind.
There was no greater concern for him than to put an
end to this wolf terrorism, since it also caused great damage to his own
reputation. The flock bleated
their agreement and gratitude at this great self-sacrifice for the general
The next day a lioness appeared with her cubs. The
lion introduced them as his collaborators. The sheep were very thankful
for this reinforcement and gave the new members of their flock an
However, from this day onward more sheep disappeared
in spite of the untiring efforts of the big cats. The lion explained that
now, after sundown, whole packs of wolves were lurking around the pasture,
so that while he could indeed ward off the worst, he could not prevent
But he would continue fighting to assure the survival
of the grass eaters, whose view of life and whose eating habits had become
his own as well as those of his relatives. In saying this, he showed such
righteous anger for the perfidious behaviour of the wolves that the sheep
were moved by such dedication. They awarded him the Order of the Golden
Fleece and dubbed him the Knight of the Dandelion.
Some sceptics disturbed the investiture, because they
harboured distrust in their hearts and dared to claim that the lions
preached grass at day and fed on meat at night. They were, of course,
bleated down and muzzled.
It was regarded as a just punishment for their
ungracious and disrespectful behaviour that the following night they out
of all the others became victims of the wolves.
Then an old ram reminded his fellow species to
remember the long forgotten ritual of the sacrifice of meat as remission
for their lifelong grazing and to prepare their souls for the eternal
pastures of the prairie.
From now on the relatives of the lion, who day by day
became more numerous and integrated themselves with greater ease into the
world of the sheep, gave wise instructions to be strictly followed so as
to assure the survival of the flock.
It followed that the sheep, the number of which
continued to decrease constantly, submitted themselves to these new
regulations and even learned from the lions, to keep apart so as to be
less noticeable targets.
The so-called vegetarian cats also ordained that for
the purpose of better camouflage the sheep should grow manes and learn to
roar like lions. Those aims, however, were only partially achieved.
Now every night the short-maned flock scattered in
all directions, bleating and attempting to roar, only to reunite the next
day in even lesser numbers to complain about the wolves and to render
homage to the group of lions, in the middle of which they would soon form
a small white core surrounded by yellow manes.
When the last sheep was taken by the throat, it
willingly gave its blood in recompense to the lions for having protected
it for such a long time from the invisible wolves.
As for the lions, they picked out another flock to
begin their civilizing work again.