Peter and the wolf: Two versions of that particular horror story (part 1)

Wait, did we approve the wrong resume for this job?  Whatever, let HR handle it.  I’m not gonna stick my neck out.

Version one:  Winter is coming

Everyone knew.  Surely wolves would flood to the countryside as food became scarce in the forest.  Winter made everyone hungry, the village elders told each other with knowing nods.

No one wanted to deal with the problem.  Nights remained mostly quiet; only rarely did the villagers hear howls.

A handful of the elders created the village’s duty roster each week–balancing labor and skills with jobs was a key part of the village’s survival.  Children must be trained to eventually do adult jobs, and adults must become skilled in things like tanning, the curing of meat, and construction.

The elders picked Peter to look after the village’s sheep and goats.  Peter was a known fool and often a comical liar–really more of a story-teller who enjoyed a group’s attention.  When the elders read the duty roster for that week, Peter’s mother laughed.

Peter was nearly 13 and often did a man’s job.  Mother thought watching sheep was a punishment, as did Peter and his few friends.  The village’s flock was remarkably important, but remarkably boring work.  Unless there were wolves–then no one wanted to deal with it.

The elders sent Peter to his work that night, saying little.  The first night was clear and shimmering with starlight.  Peter staved off boredom by building and keeping a fire.  The sheep envied the fire from their wooden pen.

The second night, Peter barely caught a glance of flashing silver fur before the wolf had already nearly bitten and worried a lamb in half.  He grabbed his bell and dashed down the short path to the village, ringing a crazy din.

No one believed him.  “Peter yelling about a wolf?  Already?  Bit early in the evening to play that particular joke, isn’t it?  Who wants to check?  I haven’t even heard a howl.”

Peter realized that wolves do not howl when they hunt.  “Idiots!  We’ve already lost at least a lamb!”

His mother slapped him.  “We can at least check in the morning,” she said.  “Liars lie.”

No one checked that morning.  No one wanted to deal with such a silly “problem.”  When Peter returned to his post later that evening, he practically prayed for wolves.  That would show them.  He could not abide that his mother had slapped him publicly.

Two different wolves answered his prayer and took two goats from the pen that night, and Peter gleefully refused to ring the alarm.  In the morning, he sauntered toward a village elder and asked:  “Would anyone like to check the sheep and goats?”

The elder rolled his eyes.  “Stop being a fool, Peter.  Go back to your child’s work tonight.  No one wants to deal with you or sheep.”

The last night, many wolves came to the sheep and goats of the foolish village.  After their feast, the people barely survived the winter, but learned a moral*.

Children should not lie…

… or…

If the adults never trusted Peter to begin with, why did they leave him with their vital sheep and goats?

*Only true children take no responsibility.

(With all knowledge that I’ve extensively borrowed the point of one of TLP’s best posts of all time.)


About Timber St. James

I used to be a galley slave, but now I race chariots.
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