The Wolf and the Lamb in the Style of Louis-Ferdinand

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“Man is wolf to Man” as that other man said...

That’s how it began. It was nothing to do with me. Nothing. It was the curly one who started it. A sort of alpine poodle, a sheep, another mountain companion. Anyway, we met in the field with the stream. It was the afternoon. I looked at him. The idiot didn’t even see me... “So, fellow sufferer,” I began, “shall we quench our thirst? Are we starving, and in need of a good drink?” Then he looked up and saw me. He clocked that there was nobody around. Not a living soul. In fact, there never is anyone here. Too high up. Nobody has the energy to climb up to the stream. Despite the flowers, and the grass being so much greener... They’re all so lazy! They just graze as close by as they can. Even if they’re all on top of each other. With their noses in each other’s fleece. Climbing might do them in, with all the sweat that might ooze out through their ringlets. Same for the females with their little runts hanging from their udders like ticks clinging to a mutt. What a degenerate race they are! A failed gaggle of filthy wool, stinking, starving, eaten by moths, and gnawed by parasites on the inside. This one must have got lost. I repeated my question.

“I was really thirsty,” replied the woolly ball. “I thought I would never be able to stop drinking.” Then he started lapping my water again. “Well, don’t worry about it,” I shot back at him to show I was not his friend. “I can make room for you if you like,” he insisted. Very polite. I did not rise to it. I did not want to make the insult too obvious. I wanted to let him believe, just for one minute more, that life was in fact worth living. Before dying more copiously than a dog, as my friend Bardamu would have said... he’s a great character! “Your feet and your snout are in my stream,” I started again, “you’re making my drinking water all mucky.” Then he whined that that couldn’t be true, because he was lower down, and I was higher up, and water doesn’t flow upstream, or some such rubbish... Whatever. He was trying to find some common ground between us. Night had begun to fall without either of us noticing. My noggin was worn out by all this chitchat and a belly that was still empty. “You’re like a rotting carcass, you make everything you touch here dirty,” I insisted. “And so do all your filthy brothers and sisters...” It was my fault that the quarrel then started in earnest and became increasingly heated. As Bardamu always says, “You can never take enough care with words... You shouldn’t trust them, words, because bad things can follow.” And he is right. That‘s just what happened. The curly one really tried to argue his corner. You could see it was hurting his head in to find some lies to come out with. In the dusk his ‘velvet’ eyes became two tear-filled cavities, gleaming like pools of pus in the moonlight. You could hear the flock moving off in the distance with its crowd of whining morons. The dogs, those overexcited bastards, were yapping like panicky mothers who had discovered their child standing on the edge of a precipice. You would have thought it was the first time those mutts had ever seen the night.

And he was getting bogged down, that lump of meat. He was thrashing about messily. He was a coward like all the others. Then his fear turned to panic. He had never before felt his fate to be so sealed.
“Surely I am not the only stupid species who is starving on this earth?” I thought. “Persecuted by men, hunted by dogs, reviled by shepherds, ensnared at every turn? ... Like so many others...we were just like vermin.”
I sank my teeth into him. With my fangs, without my fangs, with my paws, without my paws. With all my strength as a carnivore. It was sordid. Tackling him as he screamed, tearing him to pieces, devouring his entrails. Hearing him panting, the little pet, as I was disemboweling him. Wiping him out, destroying him, gorging on his sweet blood. His warm guts making endless stains on the grass that was now black. I left all his venomous bile for the ants, all of it. Thanks to me he would no longer be a virgin to horror and I would have a full belly. That was all there was to it.

Translated by Wendy Cross

129

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