The Deer of Five
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
Farmer - Help! Please save me! I'm drowning! I'm drowning!
Narrator 2 - And this time, the beautiful five-colored deer heard his
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
Farmer - (nodding) I shall never tell. But why do you make such a
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
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
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
Narrator 3 - But the deer was asleep in the sun , and would not wake
Crow - Quickly! Wake up! The lord and his hunters have come with bows
Narrator 1 - At last the deer opened his eyes.
Crow - It is too late they are coming! Why do you not hide, my
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
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
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
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
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