Once upon a time, there was a little Lamb who liked to play by herself, away from the flock. The Sheep who were her parents—and especially the Ram who was her father—kept warning her about Wolves, but she never listened.
One day, while she was hopping around near the forest, a Wolf did come out to her. “Hey, there, little Lamb,” said the Wolf. “You want someone to play with?”
But the Lamb was too clever for him. “I don’t need anyone to play with!” she said, “and least of all you, because you’re a Wolf!” And she boo’d and baa’d and stuck her tongue out, then hopped and skipped away, leaving the Wolf in the dust. “Well, now that was pretty rude,” said the Wolf, and no sooner had he said so than he heard someone laughing behind him. Upon closer investigation, it turned out to be an Older Wolf.
“Boy, you really are something,” said the Older Wolf. “expecting some lamb to fall for that old trick when she’s obviously smarter than you.”
“But I’m a Wolf!” said the younger one. “Wolves have to eat, don’t they?”
“Times change,” the Older Wolf explained. “You can’t pull that kind of wool over little lambs’ eyes anymore. You need something a little bit thicker.” And with that, he produced a cloak made out of sheeps’ woll and handed it over to the younger Wolf. “Nowadays,” said the older one, “to catch a decent Lamb, you gotta be a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.”
Meanwhile, the little Lamb ran home and found her father. When she finally saw him, she cried out “Daddy! Daddy! I saw him! I saw a wolf!”
“You saw a wolf?” said her father. “Well, what did he do?”
“He asked me to come and play with him,” said the Lamb. “But I said no and I ran the other way.”
“Good for you,” said her father. “That’s exactly how we act around wolves!”
But the Wolf had this new plan to work on, now, so he put on his Sheep’s Clothing and hovered at the edge of the woods.
“No, no, no,” said the Older Wolf. “You’re a sheep now! Go into the flock with the other sheep!”
So the bumbling Wolf in the wool stumbled over to the flock of Sheep, who baa’d and bleated at him in greeting. His mouth was watering, but he didn’t do anything because he remembered exactly what the Older Wolf had told him: “This time, you’re only out there to watch them,” he’d said. “Just learn what they’re all about. Trust me, it’ll help you in the long run.”
While he was out there, he saw the little Lamb he had met earlier and she didn’t recognize him. “Hello, sir,” she said. “My, my, what an awful lot of wool you have!”
The better to reel you in and eat you, thought the Wolf, but he didn’t say it because he knew that would blow his cover. “Thanks,” he said instead, then trying not to show how angry he was at the little Lamb for how she’d treated him before, he returned, “that’s not a bad coat yourself.”
“Thanks,” said the little Lamb, beaming that this cute, only slightly older sheep had actually given her a compliment.
But she was distracted by an all-too-familiar voice. “That’s my father calling,” she said. “I’d better go. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
I’m not a stranger, the sinister Wolf thought as she left. You’ve met me before. Or rather, I’ve met you…
So the Lamb’s father called her away, saying he had a Nice Young Ram to introduce her to, saying he was the Cleverest Nice Young Sheep in the whole flock, but the little Lamb thought only of the Mysterious Sheep with the thick wool coat that reminded her so much of her grandfather’s.
That night, the little Lamb continued to think about the Mysterious older Sheep she’d met, about how big and dark and handsome he had seemed, and all the old adventurousness she’d lost when she’d met that Wolf, came tumbling back.
Meanwhile, the Wolf went back to the forest after his excursion to brag to the Older Wolf. “That—went—splendidly!” said the Wolf in Sheeps’ Clothing.
“Tell me about it,” the Older Wolf invited.
“Oh, I met that damn Lamb again,” moaned the Wolf. “The one who spurned me! I gave her a piece of my mind and I’ll give her the rest of my belly, come morning.”
“You’ll do no such thing!” said the Older Wolf. “Have you no sense of style or art? The fun of it is in the hunt, man, not the kill!”
The Wolf wasn’t quite sure how to take that. But he thought about it and decided that maybe he should relish how this impudent Lamb who had once been so cruel to him was now fawning over him in his disguise as a sheep.
So, the next morning, he returned and found the Lamb again in her flock and they spoke and he listened and laughed at her jokes until it was time for her to go. And when she went, she was glowing at this Ram who liked her and he was gloating that the Lamb didn’t know.
And this went on, day after day after day, over and over they would talk until one day, the Wolf’s belly started to rumble and he realized how long it had been since he’d had a decent meal. Perhaps it was time, he thought.
So he lured the little Lamb away. “I want to go on an adventure,” he said. “I want to leave the flock and march right up to the edge of the woods, where no one will see us.”
“And what would we do there?” asked the little Lamb.
“Well,” said the Wolf, “I’ve heard they have the crispest, greenest you have ever tasted, right at the edge of the woods!”
“They do! They do!” cried the little Lamb. “I’ve even tasted it myself! You’re right, we should totally go! We should go right now! Wood grass! Yaay!”
And as the Lamb leapt off into the forest, the Wolf found himself sincerely smiling after her.
At the edge of the woods, the Lamb started crunching away happily at the blades of grass that grew there, while behind her the Wolf started licking his teeth.
But that was when the Wolf started to notice that his mouth wasn’t watering any more when he looked at the little Lamb and he realized that maybe, just maybe, he didn’t really want to eat her all that much anymore.
“What’s wrong?” asked the little Lamb. “Why aren’t you eating?”
“I’m not hungry anymore,” the Wolf lied. “Come on, let’s go back to the flock.”
That night, when the Wolf went back to the forest, his mentor was waiting there again. “So,” said the older wolf, “You’re probably thinking right now that your chase is close to over.”
“No,” said the Wolf. “I’ve given up the hunt for little Lambs.”
“Oh,” said the Older Wolf, “don’t tell me you’ve fallen for your prey. I thought you were better than that.”
“I found,” said the Wolf, “when it came to it, that I just couldn’t do it. She meant too much to me for me to settle on dinner. So I let her go.”
“Well, what will you do now, then?”
The Wolf thought for a moment until his growling stomach answered him. “I’ll go into the woods,” he said, “and hunt Rabbits. They’re easy enough to catch.”
And, without another word, the Wolf threw off his sheep’s clothing and dashed off into the forest.
That was when the Cleverest Nice Young Ram took off his Wolf’s Clothing and sighed: “Well, at least he’ll leave us alone now. That’s all I was after.” And he went home to win the heart of a little Lamb.
And they lived happily ever after.