There once lived a shepherd named Ambrogio, who was so very, very kind and lived on the top of a long grey mountain.
One day while he was watering his sheep in a little stream, he noticed the twigs of small bush move and heard a soft, but gloomy wail. He was frightened and quietly crept towards the bush with his big docile hands in front of him, when he saw a wolf cub that was in a bad way; he gently took it and wrapped it in a piece of cloth, and then put it under his long cloak made of sacks and string.
After some time he picked up the cub to look at him, and the wolf cub stared at him with his little sick eyes, as if to ask him something- he had never seen a man before!
Who knows, maybe he had mistaken Ambrogio for his mother, and had thought that mothers were one thing and their children another? Bah, who knows? Who knows what those little eyes meant!
However, Ambrogio, who had or hadn’t understood, took some milk from a lovely sheep, and put it in a dish to try and get the little wolf cub to drink it. The cub drank a little bit and fell asleep, his wails smelling of milk.
As Ambrogio had found the little wolf cub, he thought he would take his sheep back to the fold earlier than usual. So he did, and after arriving back early to his village and settling the
sheep, he knocked on the door of his house.
“Who is it?” asked his wife.
“Ambrogio? And…why are you home so early, Ambrogio?”, asked his wife again.
“I found a little wolf cub mewing in a bush far, far up the mountain, and as it was already half-dead and I didn’t want it to be cold, I thought it would be good idea to bring it home where it is nice and warm.”
“A wolf cub? Are you mad Ambrogio? Don’t you know that as soon as it grows it will eat your sheep? Why didn’t you bury it? Where is it?”
“Here it is!” he said pulling it out from under his cloak.” Do you like it?”
“You are mad Ambrogio! A shepherd who raises a wolf cub and then sees it eat all his sheep? You are mad Ambrogio!”, his wife bawled.
“Hold you tongue! I’m not mad. Ambrogio is not mad!” he said, and went on: “It’s not a wolf for me, but just a cub! It’s only a cub. When it grows up it will become a wolf. Now it is only a cub, like all the puppies in this world of foolish people. Can’t you see it’s only little? So little that it doesn’t even know it’s a wolf, so how could I kill it! Ambrogio can’t kill a wolf that isn’t there. Can’t you see that it doesn’t exist? Wait…look, look: it’s licking my finger! See? It’s not a wolf! All the little animals who are born to all the animals of this world are only puppies, they have no identity, don’t you see?”
“What are you talking about Ambrogio? I…ide…identity? You read too many magazines Ambrogio.This is a wolf and it will eat your sheep!” his wife screeched. “The sheeeep!!!”
Ambrogio turned red in the face with anger, and went on: “I’m a shepherd, I could kill a wolf…but never a cub! Because this is only a cub for God’s sake! Can’t you see!…It’s a complicated matter, and it seems like I’m getting everything mixed-up…but the wolf would understand and accept this :it’s the law of nature! He would understand as well!”
“I told you to shut up, I can’t make this out anymore: all day long up on that cold mountain…I’ll look after this cub and when he grows to be a wolf, I’ll leave him to the woods, to the sheep and to the shepherds!”
Everything was clear in Ambrogio’s mind. Ambrogio was Ambrogio. He was kind. There!
And so even though everyone in the village made fun of him saying: “A shepherd who raises a wolf in his own house, which will then flay his sheep!!”, he brought up the little cub lovingly. But how could Ambrogio get them to see that it wasn’t a wolf, but just a cub! How could he get it into their big, fat ugly turnip-heads?
Ambrogio had never been to school, and so he had difficulty in expressing himself, but the idea of “civility” was right there, very clear in his head! And he didn’t even know that his just way of behaving was called “civility”.
Ambrogio was Ambrogio. He was kind. There!
The wolf cub was raised lovingly until it was just about to become a wolf, when a crying Ambrogio left it to the woods, to the sheep, and to the shepherds.
Oh, yes, to the shepherds! Those thick turnip-heads!
Ambrogio lived a very long life; to be more than one hundred years old, yet no one was able to take away his way of thinking from him!
Ambrogio was Ambrogio. He was kind.There!