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The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf chapter – 2

2nd December 2023 | 3 Views

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The midday sun beat down relentlessly as Elijah made his way across the rolling meadow with his flock. After weeks without incident, the farmers’ anger towards his pranks seemed to have subsided. However, Elijah still felt the lingering unease of their warning. He knew one false cry from him could shatter the fragile trust he had rebuilt.  

As the sheep grazed amongst the tall grass and wildflowers, Elijah kept a close eye out for any threats. In the distance, the deep forest stretched as far as the eye could see, its gnarled trunks and twisting branches like the crooked fingers of a great slumbering giant. Somewhere within those woods prowled wolves, though Elijah had never seen one up close. 

The thought made him shudder. He may have felt bored with his duties before, but the responsibility of protecting his flock from harm now weighed heavy on his young shoulders. If only there was someone to share the watch with, so he did not have to face dangers alone. But his family could not afford a second shepherd, and the villagers had duties of their own to attend to.

Elijah’s wandering mind was snapped back to attention by a bleating cry from the flock. He rushed over to find a sheep entangled in a thorn bush, struggling vainly to break free. Gently, Elijah untangled the thread-like branches digging into woolly fleece, whispering soft words of comfort all the while. With the sheep freed, he scanned the surrounding grass for any others in distress.

All seemed well until a flash of grey darted at the edge of his vision. Elijah whirled around, heart in his throat, to see a small fox retreating back under the bushes – but not before snatching one of the newborn lambs in its jaws. “No!” Elijah cried, too late. He gave chase across the meadow but the thief easily outran him, disappearing into the woods with its prey. 

Dejected, Elijah sank to his knees amidst the grass. Though the fox posed no threat to the full-grown flock, he had failed in his task to protect the weak. If only he had been more attentive instead of idle daydreaming. Now one lamb’s life was lost due to his negligence. The farmers’ warning echoed bitterly in his mind. How could he ever face them, or his family, again?

From that day on Elijah redoubled his efforts, keeping a tireless watch even as dusk fell and the stars began to emerge. Still the grief and guilt remained, a constant reminder of his shortcomings. He could only hope no greater dangers would test him before he had proven himself a true, vigilant shepherd.

Pravin Kumar

@Pravin-Kumar

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