Summary: Roger the sheep is lost and found, and the flock doesn’t like it.
There was great distress among the sheep. Little Wally, the son of prominent flock members Drusilla and Arthur, was missing. The panic had begun in early afternoon, when he did not return from play. Soon, though, the shepherd found out that Wally was gone, and about nightfall he set out to search for him. Everybody knew and liked little Wally, and the whole night, while the shepherd searched, nobody slept a wink.
Nobody, that is, except for Roger. Even by sheep standards, Roger was a black sheep. Among other things, Roger had a very unpleasant, grating "baah." When it came time to move from one pasture to another, Roger always stayed at the very back of the flock and complained. And when it came time to be sheared, Roger would kick and thrash about so that it took twice as long to shear him as any other sheep.
So it wasn’t surprising that, while the rest of the flock stayed up, saying kind words to Drusilla and Arthur, giving them encouragement, Roger slept like a log.
Some weeks later, as everybody slept, a wolf crept up on the fold. He noticed that, while all the other sheep were sort of clumped together, one of them -- Roger, of course -- was off by himself, alone.
The wolf grabbed Roger by the scruff of the neck and began to drag him away, that he might eat him. Roger awoke, and began bleating in such a loud, harsh voice that it hurt the wolf’s sensitive ears. He also thrashed around so hard that the wolf eventually decided that trying to kill him and eat him up was not worth the effort.
The only trouble was, Roger was out in the middle of nowhere with no clue of where he was. He began to appreciate now that, while the other sheep were at best a necessary evil, the shepherd had been a good and valuable friend. The shepherd had shown him to fresh new pastures, and led him to cool clear streams, and had -- until the present moment, anyway -- kept him safe. But now he was out in this rocky, barren plain, with no idea how to get to food or water, and no hope of finding the rest of the flock..
He tried to go to sleep, but he kept dreaming about wolves and jackals and hyenas, and about starving to death. Aah well. He had lived alone, it only figured that he would die alone.
He dozed on and off, and about the time the sun was coming up he heard heavy, deliberate footsteps. Probably a bear. Well, at least it would be quick. He closed his eyes and waited for his neck to be torn limb from limb.
Meanwhile, back at the fold, things were hopping. A few of the sheep who were light sleepers had stirred just in time to see that the shepherd was leaving, and figured something was up.
The sheep ran the facts through their little sheep brains, and came up with only one conclusion: Somebody Was Missing!
Like a brushfire, the news flashed through the herd: Somebody’s missing! Somebody’s missing! All the parents checked their children; all the husbands check their wives, all the wives checked their husbands, and everybody checked on elderly relatives.
All present and accounted for. That was odd. Why would the shepherd leave us if no one was missing? They ran it through their little sheep brains again: HE’S ABANDONED US! The shepherd has abandoned us!
Within minutes, everybody had heard of their abandonment, and the fold was in a blind panic. The frenzy carried on until well after sunup, when Osgood, one of the particularly sharp-eyed sheep, saw the shepherd coming over a distant hill.
The sheep rejoiced. They gambolled and frolicked and bleated with joy even greater than that they felt when little Wally was returned.
But their celebration did not last long. There, on the shepherd’s shoulders -- it was ROGER! They had done their nose count, but Roger had alienated all the rest of the flock so badly that nobody even thought to look for him.
The sheep were dumbstruck. What was the big idea? The shepherd had left all the good, cooperative, well-meaning sheep to go rescue an obnoxious, unpleasant, anti-social one.
Finally, Arthur was appointed to take the flock’s complaint to the shepherd. They had it all written out:
Whereas, some days ago, the sheep were left alone to fend for ourselves, and
Whereas, we were given no indication that the shepherd intended to return and
Whereas, the uncertainty over the shepherd’s return caused serious distress amongst us, and
Whereas all this distress was caused over a sheep that really nobody really even hardly really liked very much in the first place really, even hardly. [The sheep had some trouble with the wording of this part.]