The Terrible Leak
by Yushiko Uchida
created by Linda Shaffer

Narrator 1 --- Old Man --- Boy --- Theif --- Wolf

Narrator 2 --- Tiger --- Monkey

Narrator 1 - One rainy night, long, long ago, a small boy sat with his grandmother and grandfather around a charcoal brazier. They told stories and talked of many things. Outside, the wind blew and the rain splattered on the thatched roof of the cottage.

Old man - I surely hope we don't have a leak. Nothing would be so terrible as to have to put up a new thatched roof now when we are so busy in the fields.

Narrator 1 - The little boy listened to the lonely wail of the wind as it whipped through the bamboo grove. He shivered, and turned to look at his grandfather's face. It was calm and smiling and unafraid.

Boy - Ojii-san, is there anything you're afraid of?

Old man - (laugh while saying) Why, of course, lad there are many things a man fears in life.

Boy - Well then what are you most afraid of in all the world?

Old man - (Say looking proud) Let me see. Among human beings, I think I fear a thief the most.

Narrator 2 - Now, at the very moment the old man was saying this, a thief had climbed onto the roof of the cowshed, hoping to steal one of the cows. He happened to hear what the old man said, and he thrust out his chest proudly.

Thief - So, I am the very thing the old man fears most in all the world. (Laugh)

Boy - Ojii-san, of all the animals in the world, which one are you most afraid of?

Old man - Of all the animals, I think I fear the wolf the most.

Narrator 2 - Just as the old man said this, a wolf was prowling around the cowshed, for he had come to see if there were some chickens he might steal. When he heard what the old man said, he laughed to himself.

Wolf - (Say looking proud) Ah-ha! So I am the animal the old man fears the most.

Narrator 1 - But inside the house the boy went on.

Boy - Ojii-san, even more than a thief or a wolf, what are you the most, most , most afraid of?

Narrator 1 - The old man sat thinking for a long while. He thought again how terrible it would be to have a leak in his roof.

Old man - Well, the one thing I fear most of all right now is a leak! And I'm afraid one may come along any minute!

Narrator 2 - Now when the thief and the wolf heard this, they didn't know the old man was talking about a leak in the roof.

Thief - A leak, what kind of terrible animal could that be? If the old man fears it more than a thief or a wolf, it must be a fearsome thing!

Narrator 1 -Down below the wolf thought the same thing.

Wolf - A leak must be a dreadful creature if the old man fears it more than me or a thief.

Narrator 1 - And he peered into the darkness, wondering if a leak might not spring out of the forest, for the old man had said one might come at any moment.

Narrator 2 - Up on the roof of the cowshed, the thief got so excited he slipped and tumbled down into the darkness. But instead of falling to the ground, he fell right on the back of the wolf. The wolf gave a frightened yelp. From somewhere above him in the dark night, something had leaped on his back and was clutching his neck.

Narrator 1 -Both the wolf and the thief had the same thoughts.

Wolf - This must be the terrible leak the old man talked about.

Thief - I must be on the back of the terrible leak the old man talked about.

Narrator 1 - Fearfully the thief closed his eyes and hung on to the wolf. The harder the thief clung to the wolf's neck, the faster the wolf ran. Finally, when he felt a big branch sweep past, he caught it and swung himself up into a tree. But the wolf did not know what had happened. When he finally stopped, he realized the thing on his back was gone.

Wolf - (say with a sigh of relief) Ah, the leak has dropped off somewhere.

Narrator 2 - The next morning, the wolf went to see his friend, the tiger.

Wolf - Mr. Tiger, Mr. Tiger! What a terrible fright I had last night. Do you know what kind of creature a leak is?

Tiger - (shake your head) Why, I don't believe I've ever heard of anything called a leak. What is it?

Wolf - It is something human beings fear more than anything else in this world. And do you know, one of those terrible creatures jumped on my back last night? I ran all night through the forest with this leak hanging onto my neck, for it clutched at me and almost choked me to death!

Tiger - Ah, how terrible that must have been.

Wolf - (Take a deep breath) The leak dropped off somewhere after I got into the forest, but I'm sure it must still be here. If we don't capture it, none of us will ever be safe again. Will you help me to find it?

Tiger - (nodding) Certainly, I'll help. Besides, I'd like to see what a leak looks like. I wonder if it has two heads.

Narrator 1 - And so the tiger and the wolf set off to look for the terrible leak. As they prowled through the forest, a monkey sitting in a tree peered through the leaves and saw them below.

Monkey - Say, Mr Tiger! Mr. Wolf! Where are you going with such worried frowns on your faces?

Tiger - We are searching for a leak.

Wolf - It is something so terrible that human beings fear it more than a thief or a wolf. It must surely be the most fearsome thing in the whole world, and we cannot live safely in this forest until we capture it.

Monkey - A leak? Why, I've never heard of such a creature. Surely, you must be mistaken.

Wolf - (shaking his head) No, no! I am not mistaken, for this very creature clutched at my throat and rode on my back all the way into the forest last night. It dropped off somewhere, and must be hiding near us this very minute!

Narrator 1 - Now the monkey had seen the wolf running through the forest the night before, with the thief hanging on to his neck. He suddenly realized that his terrible thing they feared was only a human being.

Monkey - Why, if that is the thing you are searching for, I can tell you where he is. He is sitting on one of the branches of the tree over there. In fact, I shall go and capture him single-handed if you want me to.

Narrator 2 - The tiger and the wolf looked over at the tree where the monkey pointed. Sure enough, there, on one of the branches sat a creature. The tiger growled and bared his long, sharp teeth. The wolf looked up at the sky and started to howl. The thief heard their cries, and fell off the branch into a hole in the trunk of the tree. As the three animals saw him fall, they ran over to the tree and stood around the hole where the thief was hiding.

Monkey - Now, how shall we go about capturing this leak?

Tiger - Whoever captures him will be king of the forest for he will surely be the bravest and strongest of all.

Monkey - That is an excellent idea.

Narrator 1 - The monkey marched right up to the hole in the tree trunk, thrust his tail inside, and flipped it about.

Monkey - Are you in there, Mr. Leak? Are you inside?

Thief - It will never do to let them capture me. For if they catch me they will surely kill me.

Narrator 2 - He decided he must do something to frighten them away, so he grabbed the monkey's tail and pulled as hard as he could. Then, he growled and shouted fiercely. He pulled so hard the monkey's tail broke off with snap.

Monkey - My tail, by tail! My beautiful tail!

Narrator 1 - And he ran off into the forest.

Wolf - The leak is certainly a fearful thing.

Narrator 2 - And he ran off into the forest.

Tiger - It is best to leave such fearful things alone.

Narrator 1 - And he ran off into the forest.

Narrator 2 - When all the animals had gone, the thief crept out of the tree trunk and ran as fast as he could out of the forest. The thief never learned that what he thought was the terrible leak was only a frightened wolf, and the wolf never discovered that what he thought was the most terrible thing in all the world was only a frightened thief.

Narrator 1 -The little boy and his grandmother and grandfather didn't have to be afraid of a leak in the roof after all, for in the stillness of the night the rain stopped, the moon came out bright and clear, and the next days were full of the promise of sunshine.