You all know this tale differently, and only a part of it; an abridged version told to comfort our fear of acknowledgement of the truth, and the error of our ways. But I’ll tell you today what happened in our village in Miltonshire, England. It was a year of dread and terror.
There was a little shepherd boy named Gerald, whose mother died when he was born, and his father kicked the bucket when he was 11. Gerald’s father, William, was a strong athletic young man in his youth, and he used to stand guard for our village when marauders pillaged our harvests. He, and other young men protected us, and the village betrothed them with beautiful women whom they married. Gerald’s mother, Katherine had woollen hair, orange eyes, and her body was silken.
Gerald took his mother’s eyes, and his father’s spirit of protection. He started keeping his own sheep when he was 5, and by the time he was 7, he had a ravishing flock. William never recovered from the loss of his wife, and he fell into a great depression that lived in his heart for eleven years, before passing on.
Gerald moved to the border of our village because it was closer to the stream, and the vegetation there was lush and plentiful for his flock. Despite William’s sacrifices for the village, the village left Gerald to fend for himself, to protect himself, and to cater for his flock. Nobody looked after Gerald. Not even his Uncle Cole, who was William’s only surviving relative in the village.
As all children his age, Gerald was occasionally picked on, but boy was he tough! Only a few boys could wrestle Gerald without breaking a bone, and it made many angry Parents despise Gerald. But it made Gerald happy. Gerald did not like to be disturbed by constant bickering of people, and it nauseated him to be disturbed by parents of wimpy kids. So he stayed far away from the rest of us. He would rear his flock all summer, sell them off at the next village, disappear in autumn, and return in winter.
The devastation we speak of, happened in the summer of 1775, when Gerald was 19, and had returned to rear another flock. It was a period characterized by longer nights and shorter days, with the night sky being dominated by the howling of wolves. People shut their doors early, braced it with heavy objects to protect themselves from the howling creatures. But at night we would see a fire burning at the border of our village. Gerald, like his father, had become our protector, and kept the fire on every night to protect his flock, and inadvertently, the village.
One afternoon, Jack and Bolton, two rascals who had failed to beat Gerald as a kid, thought to play a prank on him. They went downstream to where his flock were, and gave them a chase. Gerald would have two options, to run after his flock or to chase the boys. The flock, meek and unperturbed by the madness, only moved around in circles. Gerald, sitting on a tree, saw the lunacy going on and laced his catapult with pebbles, firing at the boys. They went wild and howling into the Bush.
Determined to deal with Gerald for his insolence, they came back the next day. This time with a new plan. They would run around the village screaming wolf, and when they asked them where they saw wolves, they would say it was Gerald who told them. If they couldn’t reprimand Gerald on their own, the village would do it for them. They did set things in motion, and it worked out as envisaged. The men armed themselves to fight the wolves this one time. They hurried up to the stream where Gerald was having lunch, and talking to his flock.
The village was as shocked as he was. Nobody asked him what had happened, and they hurled cusses at him. Gerald was hurt by the accusations, and that night, he went to bed without igniting his beacon of protection. The wolves entered Miltonshire and devoured Gerald’s flock. The anger had sedated him in his sleep and it was late before he woke up to the growling in his pen.
He snuck out of his room and ran to the village under the light of the glistening moon. He ran around seeking for help, but nobody opened their doors. The village barked at him to get away with his pranks. They promised to deal with him in the morning. The wolves descended on the village, one pen at a time. Some people heard the growling wolves but knocked it off as a part of Gerald’s performance.
By the time the sun was up in the sky, the village reeked of loss and death. It was a devastation. Some men took their own lives because they lost everything they owned. Those who lived swore to murder Gerald and set bounties for his capture. But nobody ever saw the little shepherd again. When they write about Gerald today, they write only of how he had cried wolf, but nobody ever asked him why, or gave him to explain otherwise.