I hope you’re not going to do what I think you’re going to do. So you lost a sheep. We’ve all lost something once in a while. Even me. And I’m only a rope.
You should go to Harry, explain what happened, tell him to take it out your wages, or get rid of you. You’ll get another job. A better one. With a nicer boss. So what if Harry shouts? It’s not like he hasn’t done it before. What’s the worse that could happen?
That? Really that? So you’re thinking you might as well get it over and done with. The outcome’s the same. True, but I won’t be involved.
And, anyway, Harry’s not like that. He’s too temperamental, too passionate. He’ll fly off the handle, cuff you a bit, punch you, kick you, grab hold of a pitchfork and run it through you, clobber you with a mallet.
I take too much thought. Too much premeditation. He’d have to loop me up and tie me, and by then he would’ve run out of passion and changed his mind.
The knots might take too long and, you know Harry, he’d gauge the length all wrong so your feet would touch the floor once he’d hung you up. Unless of course his cruelty extends that far, making sure your feet can touch the ground only when you’re on tiptoes – is he really like that? Because I’ve never seen it.
No. Put me down. Leave me where I am. I’m not worth it and, anyway, don’t you think I can be put to better use? I can pull a cart out of the mud or be used as reins for a horse. I can tie things up. Yes, maybe you and your neck, but something better too. Something more practical, more useful.
What will making me into a noose achieve? One less mouth for your mother to feed. That’s all. She might be grateful in the long wrong, but she’ll lose your earnings.
No. She won’t be happy. She won’t be happy at all. You’re her son. She’d hate herself for even thinking it, though she might get over it. Eventually.
Look. I’m rough. I’m strong. I’ll snap your neck immediately. You won’t even get the chance to change your mind. I’m strong for a reason, you know, but that reason is not to make it easier for you to die.
Put me down. I don’t even like trees, especially not this one. Do you want me to be found here with you? What do you think Harry’ll do with me?
He’ll cut me up. Throw me on the ground. I’ll never be used again. People will walk by. See the tree. See me. They’ll know who I am and what I did and hurry past.
They’ll let the soil swallow me and the rain rot me. And they’ll tell stories to their children, your mother’s grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren about the lost sheep and the shepherd and the rope that’s still there so don’t go to that place, it’s haunted. It’s cursed.
And all the sheep will never have a shepherd like you again because Harry’ll hire some brute like himself instead of doing a favour for his brother-in-law, like he did with you, and that will be it.
Don’t do it. Think of me. The sheep. The tree. Harry. Yourself. Your mother. Your grandchildren. Your-
Why do I bother?
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