The Deer of Five Colors
by Yushiko Uchida
created by Linda Shaffer

Farmer --- Lord --- Crow ---Five-colored deer

Narrator 1 --- Narrator 2 --- Narrator 3

Narrator 1 - Once long ago, there lived a deer more beautiful than any in the whole world, for his coat was five-colored, and his antlers were whiter than new-fallen snow. He lived alone deep in a forest of pine where no man ever walked, and his only friend was a jet-black crow. Theses two friends lived happily and peacefully, and were bothered by no living man.

Narrator 3 - One day, however, a farmer chanced to walk through the forest on his way back from a distant village. The farmer hurried as he walked along the river bank, and in his haste, his foot slipped into a swift river that carried downstream.

Farmer - (weakly) Help! Help!

Narrator 1 - But there was no one in the forest who could hear him.

Farmer - Help! Please save me! I'm drowning! I'm drowning!

Narrator 2 - And this time, the beautiful five-colored deer heard his pitiful cries.

Deer - I'll help this poor man.

Narrator The deer plunged into the icy water, caught the man by his coat, and pulled him safely to shore.
Narrator 3 - The man was so grateful, he clasped his hands together and bowed low before the deer.

Farmer - You have saved my life. What can I ever do to repay you? I shall be glad to do anything you say.
Deer - There is no need for you to do anything for me. The only thing I ask is that you promise not to tell anyone you saw me in this forest.

Farmer - (nodding) I shall never tell. But why do you make such a strange request?

Deer - Look at me. My coat is of five colors and my antlers are white. There is no deer anywhere on earth that looks like me. I know that men are greedy and cruel, and there are many who would kill me to sell my hide for gold. That is why I have hidden deep in this forest all these years, far away from the villages of men. You must promise never to tell anyone you saw me, for if you tell, surely someone will come to hunt me, and I shall be captured and killed.

Farmer - I promise! I promise! I promise! I shall never tell anyone that you live in the forest.

Narrator 1 - And then, bowing and waving to the beautiful deer, the farmer hurried home to his village.

Narrator 2 - One day a messenger from the king came bearing a notice that said the great lord had dreamed of a beautiful five-colored deer with antlers as white as snow.

King - Surely, if I have dreamed of such an animal, it must exist somewhere in this land of mine. I shall give a plot of land as well as gold and silver and precious jewels to any man who can lead me to this five-colored deer.

Narrator 3 - Now when the farmer heard this, he thought of the house he could build and the servants he could hire if he became a wealthy man.

Farmer - I wouldn't have to get up each morning before the sun and work till my back is about to break. I could eat whatever I pleased and live like the great lord himself.

Narrator 1 - As he mused about these things, he forgot the promise he had once made to the beautiful five-colored deer. He lift his plow in the field, and his oxen standing in the sun, and hurried to the palace of the great lord.

Farmer - I can lead the lord to the five-colored deer he saw in his dreams.

Narrator 2 - So the very next day, the farmer led the lord and his party to the forest where the deer lived. As the sound of the horses' hoofs thudded along the dirt road, the black crow of the forest heard, and hurried to the side of the five-colored deer.

Crow - Run! Run! The lord and his men are coming to kill you. Hide quickly!

Narrator 3 - But the deer was asleep in the sun , and would not wake up.

Crow - Quickly! Wake up! The lord and his hunters have come with bows and arrows!

Narrator 1 - At last the deer opened his eyes.

Crow - It is too late they are coming! Why do you not hide, my friend?

Deer - I will talk to this lord. I will not run, for if they see me running, they will only shoot me.

Narrator 2 -The hunters saw the deer and raised their bows and arrows ready to shoot.

Lord - Stop! Don't kill him! If he is bold enough to come into the open to meet the men who hunt him, he must surely have something to say.

Deer - I am the five-colored deer you seek. For many years now, I have hidden in this forest, for I knew that if I were discovered, men would kill me to sell my hide. How did you know where to find me?

Lord - (points to the farmer) He is the man who led us to your forest. It was he who told us that the five-colored deer I saw in my dream really lived in my land.

Deer - (turned to the farmer) Have you forgotten so soon? Do you not remember the day when I saved your life and you asked what you could do to repay me? I said then that I wanted nothing. All I asked was your promise that you would never tell anyone where I lived, for if you did, I would surely be captured and killed. I risked my own life that day in the icy waters of the river to save your life, and you have repaid my kindness today by leading these men to capture and kill me.

Lord - Is this true? Did this deer once save your life?

Farmer - It is true, and today I betrayed him because of my greed. When I thought of the gold and silver I would receive, I forgot the promise I once made to him.

Lord - Then you are a worthless man who does not deserve to be free.

Narrator 1 - The Lord commanded the farmer to be thrown in jail to live in the darkness of a cell the rest of his days.

Lord - You risked your own life to save the life of this man. Surely you are far nobler and kinder than this miserable creature who loves gold more than another's life. You shall not be captured today or ever after. Go back to your forest and live in peace. (Lord speaking to his men) Lower your bows and arrows. There shall be no deer hunted in my land, for I have learned today that a deer is an animal nobler than man.

Narrator 2 - Then the kind-hearted lord returned to his palace with his men. And from that day on, he and the people of his land prospered and lived in peace.

Narrator 3 - The beautiful five-colored deer returned to the forest he lived, and there, no longer fearing the huntsmen, he and his friend, the black crow, lived happily in the quiet peace of the hills.