The Water of Life2019-01-17T02:27:33+00:00

The Water of Life

A Children’s Play
Of the Fairy Tale by that Name

by Chuck and Lola Wilcox

CHARACTERS:

All but the Hero and the Lady can be either male or female. We’ve indicated both casting choices within parentheses – just strike out what isn’t applicable. Many parts can be doubled.

King/Queen
Prime, the first brother/sister
T’wa, the second brother/sister
Hero (youngest son)

Old Wo/Man
Soldier
Musician
Lady of the Golden Road

SETTING: Modified Thrust or Round

PROPS: Everything is mimed with the exceptions of the horses who are indicated with Chinese opera style “whips”, and the medicine bottle for the Water of Life which in our mind is blue. The bread, the sword, the rings… all are mimed, and handed to the audience members who mime holding them.

TIMELINE: Could be medieval Europe or anytime, anyplace

******

(Music)

(Enter KING/QUEEN, coughing slightly. Sees audience and gathers self to speak authoritatively.)

KING/QUEEN: Welcome here, to my garden, full of bright flowers, both tall and small bushes, and a couple of very large trees. (Coughs, covering with elbow or as the children are taught.) I am the (King/Queen) of this land of mountains and plains, of sky and sea. I have three children. Well, not children, really, any longer. They’ve grown up. (Coughs) I’m getting older. (Sound of a bird) Listen! There’s a bird singing. Oh, there it is, see it! See the bright gold flashes there! It’s flitting among the bushes! (Starts to follow but dissolves into coughing fit.) If I felt better, I could follow that bird and get a closer look. I haven’t been feeling very well for quite some time now. Many doctors and wise people have tried to heal my sickness but not one has been able to help me get better. I feel like I get a little weaker every day. But I am happy, at least when I come into this garden. If I get much weaker, I won’t be able to come here and enjoy this.

(Enter the three siblings, calling… )

SIBLINGS: (Father/Mother!) (King/Queen!) Where are you?

KING/QUEEN: Here in the garden, my jewels. You’re my pearls, my rubies, my…

PRIME: Give it a break, (Dad/Mom)! We’re too old for that sentimental stuff.

T’WA: Prime, speak for yourself (brother/sister). I’m a pearl myself.

PRIME: Oh, really, T’wa. If you’re a pearl, I’m a diamond.

T’WA: I can agree with that – Prime, the prince as cold as ice.

HERO: Hey! You’re both forgetting what we want to tell (Father/Mother).

KING/QUEEN: What is it, my treasures? Tell me, Hero.

HERO: We met an old (wo/man) outside the castle. (S/he) said there is a way for you to get well.

PRIME: (S/He) said you should try the Water of Life.

T’WA: (S/he) said that if you drank some of the Water of Life, you’d get better immediately.

King/Queen: Who was this old (wo/man)? (Coughs)

HERO: We don’t know.

T’WA: Dressed in raggedy clothes; a long nose….

PRIME: Bent over; a funny old person.

HERO: Interesting face with bright eyes; a kind voice.

KING/QUEEN: Why should we listen to (him/her)? Apparently a wandering… (Coughs.)

HERO: We think (s/he) was telling the truth. We think we should go get this Water of Life and bring it to you so you can be well.

KING/QUEEN: Well, I’m tired of not feeling well. Let me meet this old person.

PRIME: No where to be found now.

T’WA: As soon as (s/he) gave the message, (s/he) disappeared.

KING/QUEEN: (Coughs) Where did this person say the Water of Life was to be found?

HERO: That’s a bit of a problem, for (s/he) said that water is far away, at the center of the world in Castle Healwell, beyond the three neighbor countries to the west.

KING/QUEEN: I’m not well enough to make such a long journey myself.

ALL: Oh, I’ll get it and bring it to you!

KING/QUEEN: You can’t all go. I’m afraid I’ll get worse while you’re gone.

PRIME: I’m the oldest. It’s only right that I go on this adventure.

T’WA: I’m the best fighter. The road to the center of the world sounds dangerous.

HERO: I don’t care who goes, just so you can drink the Water of Life and be well.

PRIME: As the oldest it’s my right to go first. And if I save your life, the life of the (King/Queen’s), the people will be happy. And if it doesn’t save your life, at least everyone will know I am ready to be the next ruler of this land.

KING/QUEEN: Such a journey will be dangerous. In the three countries to the west on the way to the center of the world there is war and poverty and hunger. (To audience) Should I let Prime go through all that just for a chance of healing for me? Yes or no? What do you think?

(All (in character) lobby the audience. Enough ‘yes’ opinions are acknowledged by the KING/QUEEN to lead to the following….)

KING/QUEEN: I’m still not sure anyone should go, but I suppose it will be all right. (To PRIME) Prime, you will go because you’re the oldest.

PRIME: Excellent! (Father/Mother), you won’t be disappointed.

T’WA: (Aside) And if Prime never comes back, it will be my turn. And I’ll inherit this land! I might wish some bad luck to Prime! No? Well, we’ll see what we will see.

HERO: Here’s your horse. (Gives PRIME a “horse”, a stick with ribbons similar to the Chinese Opera “Whip”convention.) I hope you have a safe journey. (Exits)

KING/QUEEN: Good-bye, (son/daughter). (Coughs) May your journey be speedy. (Exits)

PRIME: (Mounting ‘horse’) I shall not fail. And I’ll be back before you know it. (PRIME begins journey. Music.) I’m riding west through the Hungry Kingdom. The land here is very rocky! (Rides to one part of the audience.) None of these people have any food. I’m glad I have my food in my saddlebags; it means for me, so far, no difficulty.

Now I’m riding through the Poor Kingdom. (Rides to another part of the audience.) None of these people have any money. Not a problem for me.

Now I ride through the Weak Kingdom. (Rides to another part of the audience.) None of these people are strong enough to defend their country. Not a problem for me.

I should be almost there! I’ve been riding and riding and I still haven’t found the Castle Healwell, nor the Water of Life. I wonder where it could be? (Music out) I think I’ll just rest a little under this big tree. (Dismounts and has an audience member hold the ‘horse’. Enter the OLD WO/MAN)

OLD WO/MAN: Where are you going that it tires you out so, young one?

PRIME: What business is it of yours? (To audience) Should I tell this nosy old (biddy/codger)? I think I won’t tell her/him. (To OLD WO/MAN) Move along old (wo/man).

OLD WO/MAN: But perhaps I can help you.

PRIME: I don’t need your kind of help.

OLD WO/MAN: But I’m only trying to…

PRIME: This has nothing to do with you, so leave me alone. (Gets ‘horse’ and starts to leave.)

OLD WO/MAN: That’s not very friendly, my child. Slow down and learn a thing or two. I think you need to visit the Stuckfast Swamp. (Makes a noise or taps the horse with her/his stick or…) Perhaps you should be a little kinder to those you meet. (Exits)

PRIME: (Exiting as ‘horse’ bucks and rears.) Help! I don’t want to go into this swamp. Help me! Help me! I’m stuck in some sort of sticky stuff! I can’t get out! Help, help! (Lapses into silence and freezes in position.)

(Enter two remaining siblings.)

HERO: PRIME has been gone a long time. I hope nothing has happened to (him/her).

T’WA: If it has, that means I’m the oldest now and I have a chance to be (king/queen) of this land.

HERO: What did you say? I didn’t hear you.

(Enter KING/QUEEN)

KING/QUEEN: Ah, there you two are. I’m worried. I think Prime should have been to the Castle Healwell and back by now.

HERO: Yes, it’s very strange that we haven’t heard anything from (him/her).

KING/QUEEN: I’m worried. (Coughs) And I’m feeling very weak.

T’WA: Since I’m the oldest one left here now, I will go get the Water of Life for you.

KING/QUEEN: Maybe something has happened to your (brother/sister), and if you go that same thing might happen to you.

T’WA: I’m the best fighter of us all. Nothing will happen to me, and while I’m out there I could watch for my (brother/sister). (Aside) And if I don’t happen to find (him/her), well…

KING/QUEEN: But such a journey might be dangerous. (To audience) What do you think I should do? Should I send T’wa? (As above, takes ‘Yes’ answer.) I’m still not sure you should go but I suppose it will be all right.

T’WA: You won’t be disappointed in me, (father/mother).

HERO: Here’s your horse. (A different colored Chinese Opera horse) I hope you have a safe journey. Come back quickly. (Exits.)

KING/QUEEN: Good-bye, T’wa. May your journey be speedy.

T’WA: (Mounting ‘horse’) I shall not fail. And I’ll be back before you know it. (T’WA begins journey. Music.) I’m riding west through the Hungry Kingdom. The land here is very rocky! (Rides to one part of the audience.) None of these people have any food. I’m glad I have my food in my saddlebags; it means for me, so far, no difficulty.

Now I’m riding through the Poor Kingdom. (Rides to another part of the audience.) None of these people have any money. Not a problem for me.

Now I ride through the Weak Kingdom. (Rides to another part of the audience.) None of these people are strong enough to defend their country. Not a problem for me.

I should be almost there! I’ve been riding and riding and I still haven’t found the Castle Healwell, nor the Water of Life. I wonder where it could be? (Music out) I think I’ll just rest a little under this big tree. (Dismounts and has an audience member hold the ‘horse’. Enter the OLD WO/MAN.)

OLD WO/MAN: Where are you going that it tires you out so, young one?

T’WA: What business is it of yours? (To audience) Should I tell this nosy old (biddy/codger)? I think I won’t tell her/him. (To OLD WO/MAN) Move along old (wo/man).

OLD WO/MAN: But perhaps I can help you.

T’WA: I don’t need your kind of help.

OLD WO/MAN: But I’m only trying to…

T’WA: This has nothing to do with you, so leave me alone. (Gets ‘horse’ and starts to leave)

OLD WO/MAN: That’s not very friendly, my child. Slow down and learn a thing or two. I think you need to visit the Stuckfast Swamp. (Makes a noise or taps the horse with her/his stick or…) Perhaps you should be a little kinder to those you meet. (Exits)

T’WA: (Exiting as ‘horse’ bucks and rears) Help! I don’t want to go into this swamp. Help me! Help me! I’m stuck in some sort of sticky stuff! I can’t get out! Help, help! (Lapses into silence and freezes in position.)

(Enter HERO)

HERO: I haven’t heard anything from either Prime or T’wa. I hope nothing has happened to them.

(Enter KING/QUEEN)

KING/QUEEN: (Coughs) We haven’t heard anything from my second child for so long, I’m afraid that something’s happened to that one also. (Coughs) I’m afraid something has happened to both my children.

HERO: I want to go for the Water of Life myself.

KING/QUEEN: What? I don’t want to lose you too.

HERO: But (father/mother), you need the Water of Life. Only by drinking it can you become well.

KING/QUEEN: But, Hero, the journey to find it must be dangerous. Two of you have gone and two haven’t returned. What if it should become all three of you?

HERO: What choice do we have? I love and respect you. The best thing I can do for you, and for our people, is to find the Water of Life and bring it to you.

KING/QUEEN: Hero, you would do this even though it’s dangerous?

HERO: Of course, you’re my (father/mother).

KING/QUEEN: Very well, take your horse and go. (Coughs as HERO gets another differently colored Chinese Opera horse.) And watch out for your (brothers/sisters) on the way. (Exits)

HERO: Good-bye (mother/father), I’ll bring the Water of Life as soon as I can. And I’ll try to find my (brother/sister). (Mounting ‘horse’) I’ll do my best. And I’ll hurry back with the Water of Life for you. (HERO begins journey. Music.) I’m riding west through the Hungry Kingdom. The land here is very rocky. (Rides to one part of the audience.) None of these people have any food. Here, I don’t have much, but you can eat what I have.

Now I’m riding through the Poor Kingdom. (Rides to another part of the audience.) None of these people have any money. Here, I don’t have much, but you can use what I have.

Now I ride through the Weak Kingdom. (Rides to another part of the audience.) None of these people are strong. Here, I can help you at least. (Hands the “horse” to an audience member. Carries a box or helps push a cart. Remounts and rides on.) I don’t see how these people could defend themselves against a strong enemy. (Rides on.)

I should be almost there! I’ve been riding and riding and I still haven’t found the Castle Healwell, nor the Water of Life. I wonder where it could be? (Music out.) I think I’ll just rest a little under this big tree. (Dismounts and has an audience member hold the ‘horse’. Enter the OLD WO/MAN)

OLD WO/MAN: Where are you going that it tires you out so, young one?

HERO: (To audience) Should I tell this old (woman/man?) I think I’ll tell (her/him). (To OLD WO/MAN) I’m on my way to find the Water of Life for my (father/mother) who is ill.

OLD WO/MAN: Perhaps I can help you.

BROTHER/SISTER: Any help would be greatly appreciated.

OLD WO/MAN: Do you know where the Water of Life is?

HERO: I was told to go to the Castle Healwell. I’ve come a long way, through three kingdoms. And now that I’m here I can’t find the castle. Can you help me find it?

OLD WO/MAN: Well, you are not rude like some people I’ve met. And you are wise enough to know you need help. I will tell you how to find the Water of Life.

HERO: Thank you, (grandfather/mother).

OLD WO/MAN: You’re welcome, young one. The Water of Life can be found in a well in the courtyard of the Castle Healwell. It’s not very far from here, only three more bends in the road going west. But once you are there, you won’t be able to make your way to the water unless I give you this iron rod and these two loaves of bread. When you get to the castle strike its iron door three times with this iron rod and the door will open. Inside you will find two hungry lions. If you throw a loaf of bread to each of them, you will be able to pass them safely.

HERO: Thank you for your help, (grandfather/mother). Thank you for these gifts. I’ll use them just as you say.

OLD WO/MAN: There is a little more to know, Hero. The iron door will only stay open for a little time. Once inside, if the door closes, the rod will not open it for you. You would be trapped there and turned to stone.

HERO: I need to get there, get the Water of Life, and get out. Fast. I can do that. Is there anything else I should know?

OLD WO/MAN: Yes. Listen very carefully. Once you have the Water of Life, do not fall asleep.

HERO: Fall asleep? (Laughs.) I won’t fall asleep when I have to hurry! But thank you for the warning. And all the rest of the advice you’ve given me.

OLD WO/MAN: Go with my blessing, Hero.

HERO: (Journeys.) Bend in the road number one…. Bend number two…. Bend number three…and there it is! The Castle Healwell. It’s just as that old person told me. There’s the big iron door. (Gets off horse and entrusts it to an audience person.) I’m supposed to knock three times with this iron rod. (Does so in pantomime.) Listen! The door is swinging open. I’ll just step up to and through this door. There are the two hungry lions. Oh, they are big, and furry, and bright yellow! And they have sharp teeth! What was I supposed to do? (Audience response.) Oh yes, give these loaves of bread to them. (Does so in pantomime.) There. Look at that. They are lying down and eating the bread! I’ll just go on by.

Oh look! Here’s a big hall-way with statues. (Another part of the audience.) No, they’re people lying around as if they were in a trance! (Touches one.) Ooh, as cold as ice! (Touches another.) They have rings on their fingers. Do you think I should take them? (Audience response. Finally takes them.) I might need them – and if I don’t need them here, I’ll find a use for them later on. And there’s a table with a sword and two loaves of bread. I’ll take them too. I might find a use for the sword, and the bread might be for the lions. But where is the Water of Life?

(Music. Enter the LADY, singing.)

Many there are who have come here,
Some with courage and some with fear.
Young or old, wise or foolish, weak or strong…
For Castle Healwell’s Water of Life they long.
Who is here today? Fa, la, doodle de say.
For a hero, we pray. Fa, la, doodle de play.

HERO: Who’s this? Is this Queen a vision?

LADY: Welcome to the Castle Healwell. (She walks up to him and he kneels.)

HERO: My Lady! You are the Lady of Castle Healwell!

LADY: Please get up. It’s not necessary to kneel to me. In this place I am a student.

HERO: A student! What are you studying?

LADY: I am studying how to free Castle Healwell from its spell. After one more year I will have finished my study, and I will be able to free and keep this castle as my own.

HERO: Did you come by freewill or persuasion?

LADY: A little of both. I came first by persuasion, but stay of free will. I want to free the castle so it may truly heal all.

HERO: I am here because my (mother/father) is ill. I’m afraid (s/he) may die. I heard about the Water of Life and I came here to get some for (her/him). Do you know where I might find it?

LADY: Yes.

HERO: Is there some task I must perform for you to have some for my (mother/father)? – Slay a dragon, climb a glass mountain? Walk through burning coals?

LADY: You’ve done so much already – you’ve gotten this far. You are the first to do that in a very long time.

HERO: Then, Lady, where is the Water of Life?

LADY: Just through that archway you’ll come to a courtyard with a well in the middle of it. In that well you’ll find the water. Fill this little jar with water (Gives him a small jar, maybe a blue medicinal dropper bottle.) But be warned – you must quickly return to the front gate, for when the clock strikes twelve, the iron gate will swing shut and you’ll be trapped.

HERO: I’ll go at once. Thank you, my lady. (Bows.)

LADY: You’re welcome.

(She watches him as he turns to go. Then he turns back to her.)

HERO: I would like to come back once I’ve taken the Water of Life to my (father/mother). Provided, of course, you’d like me to return.

LADY: I would like you to come back. I have work to do here for a year and a day, and then my life will be my own. Come when you can.

HERO: I’ll come back as soon as my (father/mother) is well. Then my work also will be done. (Starts to go, turns back.) Perhaps I could speak to you of marriage.

LADY: Our marriage would be of two equal people, both wanting and able to care for our world. I will remember you, and await your return.

BOTH: Farewell. (HERO goes to edge of space or travels to courtyard. Music out.)

LADY: (To audience) I can’t do more to warn him! He came by all the other ones!
Oh, what if he too falls asleep? Surely he can stay awake? Of all who have come, let the one who stays awake be this hero I met today. (She moves to where she can watch, but he can’t see her.)

HERO: (Moves into acting area) There’s the courtyard and the well, just as she said. I’ll just fill this jar with the Water of Life. (Does so.) Now I will take it home and my (father/mother) will get well. Then I can return here. Oh, it makes me tired to think of it. All the way back through those three kingdoms! And I still have to find Prime and T’wa. Oh, look. I’m back in the room with the statues. Still frozen. And there’s a beautifully made bed. It looks so inviting. I’m very tired. My mission’s almost done. I’ll just rest here for a little. I’m sure to wake up when the bell starts to strike. (Lies down. Silence. Sound of the clock striking, going to twelve. If the audience wakes HERO up, he runs to the front gate just in time.) Oh, my, I made it with no time to spare. (Gets horse and journeys.)

(If audience doesn’t wake him, he wakes after the last strike and rushes to the gate too late.) Oh, the gate’s closed. What can I do now? Oh, I’m falling asleep! (He takes a small drink of the Water of Life, and wakes up.) I’m awake thanks to the Water of Life. But now what? I could help the Lady with her work. I wonder what would happen if I touched these statues with this water. Will they come to life? (Does so.) No. Not for me. And I have to get this Water of Life to my (father/mother) before (s/he) dies! What can I do? (Solicits audience for ideas about how to get out of the castle.) I’m getting sleepy again – I can’t drink any more of The Water of Life or there won’t be any for my (father/mother). (Stops, startled.) Look, right there by the door – a rod of silver. I wonder if it will open the door again. (Three strikes) Ah, it’s opening. Get the rings. Get the sword. Get the two loaves of bread. Get out the door. Get my horse! Thank you for taking such good care of my horse. (Last spoken to the holder. Gets on horse and journeys.)

LADY: (To audience) Others come to this castle for reasons that are not pure of heart. I’ll have a special test made that only one with a true heart can pass. I’ll make a road of gold, leading straight to the castle. This road will be bright, golden, and narrow. Whoever thinks only of their greed for the gold will not be admitted to the castle. Only the one who rides the Golden Road straight to me will be admitted. Let it be this hero I met today. (Exits.)

HERO: Here’s the Weak Kingdom. Here’s the sword I found. May it give you the strength to defeat your enemies. (Journeys) Here’s the Poor Kingdom. Here are the rings. May it pay all your debts. (Journeys) Here’s the Hungry Kingdom. Here’s the bread I found. Let it feed the people. (HERO moves out of playing space)

(Enter OLD WO/MAN)

OLD WO/MAN: Those two, Prime and T’wa, are doing just fine in the Stuckfast Swamp. Being stuck that way hasn’t taught them to be any less rude, however. I have a mind to leave them stuck there forever. It’s about time for their brother to get back from the Castle Healwell. I wonder what’s keeping him. (Sees HERO) Ah, there he is.

HERO: (Dismounts) Hello, (grandmother/father).

OLD WO/MAN: Hello, young man. Have you found the Water of Life?

HERO: Yes, it was in the castle just as you told me. Much thanks for your good advice. It kept me alive.

OLD WO/MAN: Aahhh…

HERO: But there was more at that castle than you said. (Gives horse to audience person) Beyond the door and the lions was a room full of people sitting like statues. From them I got some rings. And I found some bread and a sword on a nearby table. I met the loveliest, kindest Lady you could imagine. I hope to go back to her when my (father/mother) is well. On the way home, I passed through the kingdoms of the weak, the poor, and the hungry. In the Kingdom of the Weak, I learned that the sword I found could defeat any enemy who attacked. So I left the sword there. It is now the Kingdom of the Strong. I had rings enough to pay all the debts in the Poor kingdom and there were rings left over. It’s now the Kingdom of the Rich. I found my bread would feed all in the hungry country, and never run out. So it is now the Kingdom of the Full.

OLD WO/MAN: You’ve done much since I saw you.

HERO: But all the time, I kept remembering my ailing (father/mother). (S/he) needs the Water of Life and I must get it to her/him quickly.

OLD WO/MAN: That’s surely as you say.

HERO: So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll hurry on to my (father/mother).

OLD WO/MAN: (As HERO starts to exit) Now you must be very wise, young man.

HERO: (Turning back) Oh, I didn’t think to ask you when I saw you before. Have you seen my (brother/sister) who also set off to find the water?

OLD WO/MAN: They came by here before you did. They didn’t ask for help and were very rude besides. They ended up in the Stuckfast Swamp.

HERO: Where is Stuckfast Swamp?

OLD WO/MAN: Well, just now it’s right over there.

HERO: Oh, I see it. Oh, I see them! They’re stuck fast all right. How can I get them free?

OLD WO/MAN: Free them? I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You should leave them here with me. (To audience) Don’t you think?

HERO: If I return without them, what good will it do for my (mother/father) to be well? (She/he) will just feel sad.

OLD WO/MAN: It’s against my better judgment to let them go. They have greedy hearts and their minds are closed.

HERO: They are my (brother/sister). Please let them go!

OLD WO/MAN: Very well. I’ll set them free, but I tell you again – don’t fall asleep. (Old wo/man waves them loose, then exits.)

HERO: My mother/father will be so pleased that all (her/his) children have returned.
(Enter Siblings)

PRIME: That nasty old wo/man, how dare (s/he) send me to that swamp. (Collects horse from audience person.)

T’WA: If I get a chance, I’ll get even with (him/her). What goes around, comes around. (Collects horse from audience person.)

HERO: Hello (brothers/sister). I’m so glad to have found you.

PRIME: You found me? What do you mean?

T’WA: I’ve been right here for what seems like forever.

HERO: On the way home I came here and bargained for you to be freed from Stuckfast Swamp. I’ve been to the Castle Healwell and I found the Water of Life. Now we can all take it to our (father/mother).

PRIME: You found it?

T’WA: How did you do that?

HERO: I’ll tell you as we go along (They mount and ride. Music.) I met an old wo/man and asked his/her advice. I found Castle Healwell just as (s/he) said I would. And in the Castle was the Water of Life. Look, here it is. (Shows them)

PRIME: That’s very nice, brother.

T’WA: That Old (Wo/Man) told you the way? The same old (wo/man) who stuck me in the swamp?

HERO: I suppose so. At the Castle Healwell, I met a beautiful lady. After we cure our (mother/father), I’m going back to that castle to speak to her of marriage.

PRIME: How lucky for you, brother.

T’WA: Is there much land or riches that go with that lady, brother?

HERO: I don’t know. All I know is that we agreed to marry. She has to work a year and a day before she frees the castle and it becomes hers. That time is part-way spent already. There’s been much to do on the way home.

PRIME: A year and a day? And it’s part gone now?

T’WA: And then she owns Castle Healwell?

HERO: The Lady has work to do in that castle. After a year and a day, it will be hers. We’re getting close to home. Soon we’ll see (father/mother). Let’s hurry!

PRIME: It’s almost dark. I want to rest first.

T’WA: We want to look fresh when we first see our mother/father.

HERO: I think we should hurry on home.

PRIME: You haven’t spent months stuck in a swamp. I’m stopping here and washing my body and my clothes. (To audience person) Will you hold my horse?

T’WA: I’ve got food and drink left in my saddle bags. (To audience person) Will you hold my horse? (Coming back to Hero.) Here – eat and drink. (Hero begins to be sleepy.) Hero, you look so tired. If you like, you can rest under this tree. (To audience person) Will you hold his horse? (HERO sleeps.)

PRIME: (Aside to T’wa.) So our brother found the Water of Life….

T’WA: …while we were up to our necks in the Stuckfast Swamp.

PRIME: Our brother will get all the praise.

T’WA: And our (father/mother) will be so grateful, (s/he’ll) make our brother the next ruler of this land.

PRIME: Why should our brother be the one?

T’WA: Maybe he won’t be. I have a jar of salt sea water. I’ll just trade it for the one with the Water of Life. (Does so as s/he is talking) He’ll never know the difference and we’ll be the ones rewarded.

(Note: if audience tries to warn HERO, he should awaken slowly to allow his siblings time to finish.)

HERO: I can’t sleep any more. I’m so anxious to see (father/mother).

PRIME: Me too!

T’WA: So, let’s go.

(They mount and begin to ride as the King/Queen enters)

KING/QUEEN: My children, my children! You’ve all returned.

(The three greet him/her)

HERO: I’ve found the Water of Life and I’ve brought it so you can become well. (Offers jar with sea water.)

KING/QUEEN: I’m grateful to you my son. (Drinks. Spits it out) Phtah, that tastes awful! Like sea water. (Coughs. Starts to collapse.) I feel even worse than I did before.

PRIME: Here, try this water. (Offers jar with Water of Life.)

KING/QUEEN: (Drinks.) Yes, this tastes wonderful. (Slight cough; seems stronger immediately.) I feel almost well. I am well!

HERO: (To KING/QUEEN) I’m glad you’re better. (To Siblings) How did you come by that jar? It’s the jar from the Castle Healwell.

PRIME: (Tastes HERO’s jar) Why did you try to pass off salt sea water as the Water of Life? You traitor! You were trying to poison our (father/mother).

T’WA: You didn’t find the Water of Life at all. We have the real Water of Life.

PRIME: Banish him for his treachery. Isn’t that right?

T’WA: Yes, send him away from here.

KING/QUEEN: (Has been paying attention to the jar) Send him away? Hmmm. Tried to poison me? Hmmmn. Go get a soldier.

(PRIME winks at T’WA and Exits)

T’WA: No punishment is too harsh for someone who tries to kill our (father/mother).

HERO: Now just a minute. I…

T’WA: Death to all traitors! Isn’t that what you taught us, (father/mother)?

KING/QUEEN: Yes, I did. But death is a bit too harsh, I think… The Water of Life has made me well. Banishment. I’m in a good mood. See your brother leaves this country and doesn’t come back. (S/he exits)

PRIME: (Aside) I’ll make sure our brother leaves this country all right. I’ll see to it he can never come back…

SOLDIER: (Entering and bowing) You sent for me, O powerful one?

T’WA: Yes, soldier. Escort this traitor, once our brother, to the border of our country.

SOLDIER: On whose authority am I to do this?

T’WA: On the authority of no one else but the (King/Queen). Now hurry up about it! Don’t waste time!

SOLDIER: We will go right now.

PRIME: And soldier, to make sure he never comes back, get your sword and stab him two or three times.

SOLDIER: What?!

PRIME: And bring us back his bloody coat so we’ll know you’ve obeyed our orders. Now go! (SIBLINGS get their horses and EXIT.)

SOLDIER: I go. (To HERO who has been to one side trying to figure out what happened) Follow me, sir! (They travel; Hero takes his horse.)

HERO: I think a mistake has happened and a bigger mistake is about to happen.

SOLDIER: How’s that, sir?

HERO: Freeing my (brothers/sisters) from the Stuckfast Swamp was the first mistake. Killing me now is a second mistake.

SOLDIER: Frankly, sir, I can’t believe you’ve done anything that needs punishment by death.

HERO: Thank you! Let me live. I promise I’ll never come back to this country again. No one will ever know.

SOLDIER: I’m supposed to show your bloody coat as proof of your death. I know. Give me your princely coat. I’ll stain it and show it as proof you are dead.

HERO: That’s a good idea. (They exchange) Then you will have seemed to follow your orders. Thank you, kind soldier. I won’t forget you. (Exit)

SOLDIER: Thank you. Now I’ll go and stain his coat so they all think I’ve followed my orders. (Exits.)

(Enter KING/QUEEN and PRIME AND T’WA)

KING/QUEEN: I don’t think my youngest son tried to poison me. I was a little hasty with my orders, (to audience) don’t you think?

PRIME: I don’t think so. Remember his lies? And he tried to poison you.

(Enter SOLDIER)

KING/QUEEN: I wish I knew what happened to my youngest son.

SOLDIER: Your majesty, I must tell you that there are three wagons just outside the castle. Each is full of gold and precious stones.

KING/QUEEN: What? Why?

SOLDIER: They’re for your youngest son. On the way to and from the Castle Healwell, it seems he helped three neighbor kingdoms. These wagons are sent to him in thanks.

KING/QUEEN: (As PRIME AND T’WA exit stealthily) Maybe I was wrong. Maybe my son was innocent. If only he were here…

SOLDIER: Your majesty, he is still alive. I couldn’t find it in my heart to kill him.

KING/QUEEN: Kill him? Why? He was banished! (Turning to where SIBLINGS were.) Did you order him killed? What – gone? (To audience) What really happened? Who found the Water of Life? (Listens and summarizes)

Soldier, take this message to the West Queens and Kings – all of them who my son helped. I have falsely accused my youngest child and if he will forgive me, I would gladly have him come back home.

SOLDIER: Yes, your majesty. (Exits.)

KING/QUEEN: I’ve been so wrong. How could this happen? How could my other children lie about their brother? (Exits.)

PRIME: (Enters on horse. Music) It’s been almost a year since our brother found the Water of Life. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be the most important child of the King/Queen now. He ruined my plan. But he told me about the Lady in Castle Healwell who he’s going to meet. But I’ll go and get her first and then I’ll be King in that country. (Rides a little.) What’s this? This road looks like it’s made of pure gold. (Dismounts) It is! (Gets on knees) Oh, I want to break it up and take it with me. I’ll be rich forever. (Music out. Enter OLD WO/MAN) What are you doing here, Old Wo/man? Get out of my way. (OLD WO/MAN makes gesture) I’ll… (Horse and rider return to swamp.) No, don’t…I don’t want to get stuck in a swamp again! Aarghhh… (Exit PRIMO and OLD WO/MAN.)

T’WA: It’s been almost a year since our brother found the Water of Life. If it wasn’t for him, Primo and I would be our (father/mother’s) favorite. Hero ruined our plan. But he told me about the Lady in Castle Healwell who he’s going to meet. I’ll go and get her first and then I’ll be King in that country. (Rides a little.) What’s this? This road looks like it’s made of pure gold. (Dismounts) It is! (Gets on knees) Oh, I want to break it up and take it with me. I’ll be rich forever. (Music out. Enter OLD WO/MAN) What are you doing here, Old Wo/man? Get out of my way. (OLD WO/MAN makes gesture) I’ll… (Horse and rider return to swamp.) No, don’t…I don’t want to get stuck in a swamp again! Aarghhh… (Exit PRIMO and OLD WO/MAN.)

HERO: (Enters on horse. Music) It’s been a year and a day since I first met the Lady of Castle Healwell. It’s time to go to her as I promised. Oh, here is a Golden Road. I will ride it straight to her! (Begins riding on the golden road.) I remember everything about her, the color of her eyes, her hair. I remember how her voice sounds like musical strings sweetly played. I remember how kind she is, how helpful. I remember her warnings…

LADY: (Enters) Welcome to the Castle Healwell.

HERO: My Lady, I have ridden the Golden Road to come to you.

LADY: And I’ve finished my work. The castle is free of the spell.

HERO: And are you free to marry me? And will you?

LADY: I want you to know some things first. Your (brothers/sisters) tried to come here before you. Their hearts were not true and now they’re back in the Stuckfast Swamp. What would you have me do about them? You could have them killed for what they did to you.

HERO: No. I have no wish to take a life – then I would be like them. How about putting them on board a ship and sending them to a far away place where they can do no more harm.

LADY: Very well. That’s done. Next I’ll tell you that your (Father/Mother) sent a message. (S/He) knows that you were really the one who found the Water If Life. (S/he) would like to come here and beg your forgiveness.

HERO: I’ll be glad to welcome my (Father/Mother) to the Castle Healwell.

LADY: I see you understand both what to leave alone and when to forgive.

HERO: I have come here to marry you, and to help with Castle Healwell.

LADY: Then together we will drink the Water of Life. (Exit happily.)

The End