Mother, May I Wallow?

“Mother, May I Wallow?”

  by C. E. Henry


"One day a little lamb was taking a walk with its mother, and as they walked, they went by a pigpen. A pig was stretched out, grunting contentedly as he wallowed in the mud and muck of the pen. He looked so perfectly contented and comfortable that the little lamb was greatly impressed. Indeed, the lamb was led to believe that he had been missing something. He turned to his mother a little breathlessly because of the wonderful idea that had just come to him.


"Mother," he said, "may I wallow?"


The question rocked mother sheep back on her heels. She was both shocked and surprised to think that a child of hers would ask such a question. When she regained her composure, she answered quite firmly: 


"Of course not!  Sheep don't wallow."


But, little lamb was not convinced, and the minute his mother's back was turned, he darted over to the pigpen, slipped between the bars, and felt his feet sink into the cool mud. It was deeper than he had thought, and it smelled terrible. He tried to back out, but found the mud clinging to his feet. He began to be frightened, and he jerked frantically, but only got in deeper. By now he was terrified. He wished fervently that he hadn't come; that he had obeyed his mother. He threshed about in desperation, lost his balance, and sprawled on his side in the evil-smelling muck.


The pig looked over his way and grunted companionably, but little lamb was frantic. He could not move. He could only roll his eyes, and he thought every breath would be his last. Finally, just as he had bleated weakly for the last time and given up, the farmer came along and tenderly lifted the little lamb from his death trap, thoroughly cleaned him, and restored him to his mother.


His mother was terribly hurt because he had disobeyed her, yet even more concerned because her own child, a tiny white sheep, had tried to wallow.


"I feel that you have learned your lesson," she said. "Only pigs wallow. As a sheep, you are the one animal that sets the pattern of behavior above all other animals. Hogs are born to wallow, but sheep are different creatures from hogs, and sheep don't wallow."