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Chapter 13


There was one game of which Farmer Green's sheep never seemed to tire. They called it "Follow My Leader." And even the oldest members of the flock played it every day. Though they had grand-children—many of them—and were quite solemn and sedate, they still continued to run anywhere whenever somebody happened to lead the way.

You wouldn't suppose they could have enjoyed leaving good pasturage to go tearing off to goodness knows where, just because some empty-headed sheep chanced to break into a run.

When Snowball first joined the flock in the pasture he tried to do just as every one else did. So whenever he saw the flock get under way suddenly he hastened to keep up with the rest.

At first Snowball was curious to know why they were all running. But nobody could tell him the reason. And in time he ceased to wonder.

At last he decided, one day, to see if the flock would follow him. He looked about at his neighbors. They were feeding quietly.

"I hope they'll play the game when I start it," Snowball said under his breath.

And then, baaing his loudest, he began to run.

The flock stopped eating instantly. For a moment nobody moved.

"They aren't going to play!" thought Snowball.

But an old ewe suddenly wheeled about and followed him.

That was enough for the others. Out of the corner of his eye Snowball could see them all jump and come crowding after him.

He was headed for the stone wall. Beyond it lay a rough, rocky stretch of waste land, covered by a tangle of raspberry bushes.

"I wonder if they'll follow me over the wall!" Snowball muttered.

He didn't jump the wall. It was too high for that. But he scrambled over it without any trouble, for his little feet found plenty of footholds amid the jutting rocks.

Snowball had already landed on the further side of the wall when thud! thud! thud! other members of the flock came thumping down upon the ledge beside him. He moved aside a little way, because he didn't want to be stepped on.

Then, all at once, a squeaky, frightened voice cried, "What's the matter? Is there an earthquake?"

Though Snowball looked all about he couldn't see the speaker anywhere.

Meanwhile there sounded a patter, patter! patter! which came from hurrying feet in the pasture. And there sounded a click! click! click! which came from scrambling feet climbing over the wall. And there sounded further thuds which came from those same feet as they thundered down upon the ledge.

At last the slowest sheep had joined Snowball. He still searched for the squeaky voice.

"This is queer!" Snowball murmured. "I don't see where that odd voice came from!"

He soon found out. For as he picked his way to the foot of the ledge, to nibble at the grass that grew down below, he saw peering out of a hole in the ground the face of a fat old gentleman whom he had sometimes met in the pasture.

This person's name was Uncle Jerry Chuck. And he looked terribly scared. His teeth were chattering. His nose was twitching.

Somehow Uncle Jerry's fright seized Snowball, too. With a bleat of terror he turned and fled up the ledge, scurried over the wall, and ran back where he had just come from.

Like one sheep the whole flock turned tail and followed Snowball with frantic baas.

Arthur Scott Bailey

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