Shippeitaro (Adaptation)

PEASANT

Once upon a time there was a brave young soldier who went out to seek his fortune in the wide, wide world.

FOREST DWELLER

But there came a day when he lost his way in a deep dark forest.

TREE 1

The young soldier wandered about until he came to a small clearing.

TREE 2

In the middle of the clearing stood a ruined temple.

TREE 3

The huge trees waved above its walls, and the leaves in the thicket whispered around them.

TREES

Whisper…Whisper…Whisper!

FOREST DWELLER

No sun ever shone in this place, and no human being lived there.

PEASANT

A storm was coming up, and the soldier took refuge among the ruins.

SOLDIER

Here is all I want. Here I shall have shelter from the storm-god’s wrath, and a comfortable place to sleep in.

FOREST DWELLER

He was soon fast asleep. But his slumbers did not last long.

CATS (Shrieking and screaming)

Eeeeooowwww! Wooooooo!

The SOLDIER jumps to his feet and looks out the door.

SOLDIER

What’s that? Who is out there?

A troop of monstrous cats march in front of the temple. They break into a wild dance, uttering shrieks, howls, and wicked laughs.

CATS (SINGING)

Whisper not to Shippeitaro, that the Phantom Cats are near.

Whisper not to Shippeitaro, Lest he soon appear!

TREE 1

The young soldier crouched low behind the door.

TREE 2

Brave as he was he did not wish the fearful cat creatures to see him.

CATS

Eeeeeoowwwwww!

They exit and all is quiet again.

FOREST DWELLER

The soldier lay down and went to sleep again, and did not wake until the next morning when the sun peered into the temple.

SOLDIER

I must find my way out of this forest.

TREE 2

He walked until he came to a cottage.

Sound of a MAIDEN crying

SOLDIER

Hello? Is anyone home?

The MAIDEN wipes her eyes as she answers the door.

MAIDEN

Yes, may I help you?

SOLDIER

I’m very hungry. May I please have some food?

MAIDEN

Of course. My parents and I are having breakfast. You may join us, for no one passes our door hungry.

SOLDIER

Thank you.

He enters the cottage and her parents stand to greet him. They are friendly but sad.

MUM

Welcome to our humble home.

DAD

You are most welcome to share our breakfast young man.

KID

The soldier ate heartily, and, when he was finished, rose to go.

SOLDIER

Thank you so much for this good meal, kind friends. May happiness always be yours.

The MAIDEN and MUM begin to cry.

DAD

Happiness can never be ours again!

SOLDIER

What’s this? You are in trouble? Tell me about it and perhaps I can help you in some way.

End of Excerpt

(c) Fiona Harris 2016

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