Chapter OneOn Atwood Hill
Wilson was Abigail Atwood’s friendliest sheep.
Wilson was Abigail Atwood’s woolliest sheep.
And Wilson was Abigail Atwood’s smartest sheep.
That is a lot for one sheep to be.
Every morning, Wilson waited for Abigail to climb the stony path that led from her little red house to the sheep pen and the pasture at the top of Atwood Hill.
And every morning, Wilson waited for Tippy, Abigail’s faithful and obedient Border collie, who always came right behind her.
“Good morning, Wilson,” Abigail Atwood always said.
“Baa,” Wilson would say, and then Abigail Atwood would open the gate from the sheep pen to the pasture, and twenty-six sheep would crowd through. None of them ever stopped on the way to the thick grass.
Except Wilson, the twenty-seventh sheep.
Wilson always stopped, because he was friendly. He would rub his woolly head against Abigail’s knee. Then—and Abigail Atwood was sure he did this—Wilson would wink at her.
When he did that, Abigail always bent down and patted him.
“How’s my friendliest, woolliest, smartest sheep today?” Abigail would ask.
Wilson would look up at Abigail.
“Baa,” he would say.
Then Abigail would always scratch under Wilson’s chin. And Wilson would always close his eyes with happiness.
“Be a good sheep today,” Abigail would say, and Tippy would touch noses with Wilson, and Abigail would close the pasture gate and check the latch. Then they would walk down the stony path and turn toward the little red house, Abigail in front, Tippy close behind.
And Wilson would watch them and think about Abigail on her front porch, patting Tippy’s black-and-white head before they went inside to the warm woodstove, where Tippy’s tail would thwack thwack thwack on the wood floor and Abigail’s rocking chair would creak creak creak back and forth.
And Wilson would bleat a soft baa that was a little bit lonely.