This time they had employed a girl.
The Wolf smiled to himself. This was going to be even easier than the last time.
The last shepherd had been a boy who had let the sheep wander into the meadow, which was practically the Wolf’s frying-pan. The boy himself was under a haystack and, despite the scratchy, potentially eye-poking nature of the hay, was fast asleep.
Little Boy Blue had eventually arrived, blowing his horn, but by then the Wolf had made off with a month’s supply of mutton, spare ribs and rack-of-lamb.
A quick detour through Mary, Mary Quite Contrary’s garden on the way home had got him some fresh mint to top the whole thing off.
The boy had been fired and they had advertised for a replacement. Since the only requirement was a willingness to be delighted by a red sky at night you’d have thought there’d have been lots of applicants, yet somehow they’d ended up with this young girl.
She had had the job for less than a day now, and seemed to have lost her sheep.
It’s not easy to see how she could do this, what sheep mainly do is follow, so you’d have thought she’d have been unable to shake them off unless she’d taken up rock-climbing, but there she was, and there the sheep weren’t.
The Wolf prowled the area, and after an hour or so he found them. They were on their way home, dragging their tails behind them, not an easy trick when your tail is three inches long.
A thought struck the Wolf. If can they find their way home, he thought, then why on earth do they need the girl?
A crook struck the Wolf. He turned in surprise.
The girl stood there, swinging the crook back for another go.
“I’m Little Bo Peep,” said the girl. “Leave my sheep alone.”
“Not a chance,” said the Wolf, “I’m in the mood for a kebab.”
“Then you’re wasting your time,” said Bo Peep. “I’ve seen the lump of meat they slice kebabs from, and none of my sheep have a leg that thick. Come to think of it, no sheep on the planet have a leg that thick. I think you’ve been eating elephant.”
She swung the crook again and caught the Wolf on the side of the head, the most painful thing to have happened to him since Little Red Riding Hood had punched him in the face. (Why is everyone called “Little” in this town, thought the Wolf as he fled, they’re all as strong as horses).
Eventually he stopped running, at the top of a hill overlooking a small valley. There were three small houses in the valley, and each house seemed to be built slightly differently, as if the local store carried only a very small stock of each type of building material. Three pigs (the Wolf just know that they would be called “Little” Pigs) were sitting chatting in the garden of one of the houses.
All thoughts of lamb vanished from the Wolf’s mind. It was time, he thought, to bring home the bacon.
Still huffing and puffing from his long run, he started down the hill.
Surely nothing could go wrong this time.