January 26, 2021

#08-041: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

drawing of a boy and a dog chasing a wolf as it runs away with a sheep in its mouth
A 1687 illustration of the fable

Note: The Greek author Aesop is famous for his fables, stories with a moral attached at the end. Though they often feature talking animals, they sometimes instead highlight the foolish behavior of real human characters.

Get Ready: Does a liar ever tell the truth? How can you be sure?

One fable by Aesop that features a human main character is "The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf," more commonly known as "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" for its main character's egregious behavior.

There once was a shepherd boy whose job was to tend his master's sheep. The pastureland was located between a village and the edge of a deep, dark forest. He hadn't much to do all day: just play with his dog, or practice tunes on his simple flute.

One day, growing bored, he came up with a prank. There were wolves in the forest, though he had never seen one, and he thought what a laugh it would be if he called out to the villagers that a wolf was attacking! Imagine how they would run out to drive it away, and the looks on their faces when they learned they had been tricked!

No sooner had he thought up this plan than he put it into action. "Help!" he cried, running toward the village. "Wolf! WOLF!"

And as he expected, out came the villagers in great excitement. Many were still carrying the tools of their trade: the butcher had his meat cleaver, the stable-keeper his pitchfork, the blacksmith his hammer, and so on.

But when they arrived, ready for action, there was no wolf. Just a mischievous boy doubled over with laughter!

It was so funny that, despite the scolding he had received, the shepherd boy just had to try it again a few days later. "Wolf!" he shouted. "WOLF!" And though they suspected another joke, the villagers felt it their duty to respond. Again, the boy had a good laugh at their expense.

Now, one evening, just as the sun was setting on the far side of the forest, a wolf really did creep out of the shadows and begin attacking the sheep! "Wolf!" the boy cried, this time in real terror. "WOLF!"

But the villagers, who had had enough of his tomfoolery, ignored his cries. The wolf ate all the sheep he wanted--and what's more, some say, he even ate the boy!

The moral of the story is: "Liars are not believed even when they speak the truth."


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Who_Cried_Wolf

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. cleaver
  2. creep
  3. egregious
  4. mischievous
  5. moral
  6. pitchfork
  7. prank
  8. suspected
  9. terror
  10. tomfoolery

  1. extremely bad
  2. silly behavior
  3. believed to be false
  4. move in a sneaky manner
  5. a tool with prongs for moving hay
  6. a large knife for cutting meat
  7. the statement of a lesson
  8. great fear
  9. causing annoyance or trouble
  10. a trick played on someone

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 26, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. f; 2. d; 3. a; 4. i; 5. g; 6. e; 7. j; 8. c; 9. h; 10. b