In those long-ago days when men were real men, women were real women, and their clothing was all made from domestically manufactured wool, there dwelt a shepherd known to one and all as the Li’l Beau Peepster for his habit of sponsoring beauty contests and looking up the beauties’ skirts when he did, because when you’re a celebrity animal husbander, they let you do it. Now this shepherd had a herd of five hundred sheep and a dozen goats that he had inherited from his father, but through shrewd management, brilliant tax avoidance schemes, and the borrowing of enormous amounts of money, he had soon winnowed his herd down to one hundred sheep and five goats. That made him smart! Or anyway, that was the belief of quite a few of his countrymen in the Kingdom of Murrica, who were cretins themselves.
So in the fullness of time, the shepherd became King of Murrica and left the care of his animals to his sons, Prince Yokum and Prince Slocum. In this solemn duty, they were assisted by free access to the national grain storehouse, which the Li’l Beau Peepster quite rightly regarded as his own personal property. Unfortunately, after four thrilling years of a reign marked by attempts to expel half of his subjects, buy other kingdoms, insult his own courtiers, and introduce an interesting new plague into his kingdom, Li’L Beau Peepster was forced to abdicate in favor of the Great Pretender to the Throne.
“I’ll be back!” fumed the former king, shaking his fist at the palace after his own followers sacked and looted it in their anger at the Great Pretender. “But first, I shall see how much richer I have become by emptying the Murrican grain storehouse!” He paid a surprise visit to Prince Yokum and Prince Slocum, who sheepishly disclosed they had followed in his footsteps by reducing the herd to a baker’s dozen of sheep and a lone goat. But instead of getting angry at them, Li’l Beau Peepster became enraged at the goat, convinced that he had driven away the other animals with his sharp horns. Despite the poor animal’s protests, he had Prince Yokum slaughter it for dinner, which panicked all his remaining sheep into running away. But the former king could never admit when he was wrong, so he summoned his followers and told them they must follow his lead and rid Murrica of all goats.
The loyalists let out a great cheer and set out to do the shepherd’s bidding. As they marched, they chanted:
Goats cause trouble! Kill all goats!
Throw the Pretender in the moat!
When the more sensible Murricans pointed out that this was crazy, they were accused of being aristocratic fat cats, even though Li’l Beau Peepster was himself a nobleman. By the time all the trouble was over, the country was nearly goat free, and half the sheep had been slaughtered, too. News spread fast among the foxes, who polished off the rest of the livestock.
Moral: If a shepherd has lost his flock and doesn’t know where to find them, leave him alone and ignore his moans, for you’re a dupe if you mind him.