Early the next
morning before the sun was up he rose and commenced to crop the
choicest clover of the meadow. He did not eat it, but held it gently
in his mouth for the lion. Then without waking the flock, he set off
into the forest, where his mother had told him never, never to
venture. This had been the most earnest admonition she had ever
given him, so earnest that it had hardly been spoken before it
became a law of life, such as do not walk alone or do not eat meat.
The forest was
dark, and shadowy forms moved through the trees. There were strange
noises that seemed to threaten him and that made his heart leap with
terror. He could not open his lips to bleat, nor could he clench his
teeth to steel himself, for his mouth was full of tender clover.
Fear kept his mouth very dry, and for this, in a strange detached
kind of way, he was glad. It kept the clover fresh and crisp for the
But it soon
occurred to him that he did not know exactly where he was going. A
picture of himself rose in his mind. It was very vivid: a weak,
vulnerable little sheep lost in the terrible and forbidden forest.
And what made his plight worse was that it had come about through a
deliberate move on his own part. Anxiety beset him from within and
from without. He thought of the flock, whom he was, in a sense,
betraying, still sleeping in the safe and friendly meadow, free from
all care. He felt a rush of tenderness and longing for his mother,
to whom he had not even said goodbye. And he thought of. the lion
who had indeed spoken like a madman: 'You are
a lion!' It was madness. It was all madness.