Quiet boys in a quiet lane

Chapter 7 continues (For the first 6 chapters click here 🙂 )

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The lane was quiet, the boys were quieter, until Luke noticed something.  As they approached the stile that led to the meadow that was crossed by the stream that was bridged by the bridge on which the boys had planned to play Pooh sticks, Luke saw a sheep.

The sheep was munching the long grass in front of the field gate next to the stile.  There were no sheep in the meadow at that time but Luke knew that sometimes there were.  He could only assume that this sheep had got separated from the rest when they were being moved to another field.

“A lost sheep!” said Joe when he looked up.

“Yeah,” said Luke, their discord forgotten.  They approached her slowly so as not to startle her.

“What should we do?” whispered Joe.

“I don’t know,” said Luke.

“I bet it belongs to Manor Farm,” Joe guessed, “I know they’ve got sheep.”

Luke was deep in thought.

“Maybe,” he said after a while, “but we can’t really be sure.”

“We should prob’ly go and tell the farmer at Manor Farm, then he could come and see it.  I think he’d know if it was one of his.”

Luke took his water bottle out of his lunch box.

Maybe,” he said again as he tipped what was left in the bottle onto the mud, “but then again, he’s prob’ly got hundreds of sheep and they prob’ly all look the same to ‘im.”

He rubbed his hand in the wet mud and then wiped it gently over the red dye mark on the sheep’s back.

“And it would be wrong to hand ‘er over to the wrong person.”

“Why are you doin’ that?” asked Joe.

“Jus’ coolin’ ‘er down. Wet mud really cools ’em down,” Luke explained, “don’t want ‘er to be hot an’ bothered.”

Since it was March, Joe was unconvinced by this explanation.  His friend was clearly up to something and he had a good idea what it might be.

“You can’t keep it Luke,” he said firmly, “it don’t belong to you.”

“An’ who does she belong to?  We don’t ezzactly know do we?”

That mark you just covered …”

“What mark?  I can’t see no mark!  Can you?”

“Not now, no.”

“No.  There’s on’y one thing we do know.”

“What’s that?”

“That whoever she does belong to wants to kill ‘er!  Do you want to give ‘er to someone who will kill ‘er? Would you do that Joe?  Would you?”

Luke was trying to keep it to a whisper so as not to frighten the sheep, but his hushed tones were still fierce.

“Well, you don’t actually know that,” Joe said cautiously.

“Don’t I?  Why do farmers keep animals?  Is it ’cause they love ’em?  Is it ’cause they want to play with ’em and cuddle ’em?”

Joe shook his head.

“No,” Luke agreed, “they keep ’em to make money out of ’em, and they make money out of  ’em by sellin’ ’em for meat.”

Joe couldn’t argue with that.  He nodded.

“So what can we do?” he asked.

Luke continued.

“Here is a brave sheep who has prob’ly bin hidin’ from the farmer for days or weeks.  And he prob’ly hasn’t even noticed she’s missin’; or he has noticed but he’s given up lookin’ for ‘er.  So she’s free.  She belongs to ‘erself.  I think she should be allowed to keep belongin’ to ‘erself, don’t you?”  He looked at Joe earnestly.

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continues tomorrow 🙂

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vegan children’s story, children’s book, books, children

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