Characters: Narrator, Tonte Odett, Shooshoo, Pierre Le Blonc, and A Stranger.
Setting: Cottage (Tante Odette on the couch, Shoosshoo lays on the rug.)
N: Long ago in a village in Quebec, an old woman named Tante Odette lived with her cat, Shooshoo. Tante Odette was a careful, quiet woman. A pot of soup always boiled on her stove, and every day Tante Odette added more water and a few cabbage leaves. In this way she never had to throw the soup away.
N: On Sundays she baked a loaf of bread, and if by Thursday the bread was stale, she softened it by dipping it into the soup. Shooshoo was okay to live on cabbage soup and crumbs. Every evening after supper, Tante Odette sat down at her loom to weave. Shooshoo lay upon the striped rug at her feet and purred contentedly. Tante Odette smiled wistfully at Shooshoo.
T: What a perfect companion you are, Shooshoo, though sometimes I wish you could talk. (She winked).
Arrival of Pierre
N: One evening Tante Odette sat at her loom and Shooshoo lay on his rug. Suddenly they heard a thumping at the door. When Tante Odette opened it, she saw a strange old man wearing a bright red sash around his waist, a red-checkered shirt, and a cap with a black feather tucked in the brim.
P: Madame, I am Pierre LeBlanc, and I have come to offer my services to you as a workman. I am too old to trap furs or to work in lumber camps, and I am looking for a job in a nice cozy house like your own. (The man said it bowing slightly.)
N: Tante Odette pulled her shawl close.
T: I don’t need any help. I’m quite able to do all my work by myself. And besides, I have my cat, Shooshoo.
N: She began to close the door in Pierre’s face, but he reached out and held it open and looked at Shooshoo.
P: Aw ha. He looks like a very wise cat. Why don’t you ask him if you should take me in? All I ask for my services is shelter.
T: Ha! Ha!! Cats can’t talk.
N: Tante Odett laughed. But just then, to her surprise, Shooshoo began to speak.
S: I can indeed. I simply haven’t come upon a serious enough matter until now. This Pierre LaBlanc looks to me like a good, hard worker and an honest man. I think you should take him in.
N: Pierre LeBlanc’s mustache quivered and he smiled slightly. Tante Odette stared at Shooshoo and then at Pierre. After a long silence, she said,
T: Well, it is so rare for a cat to speak that I am certain I should listen to him when he does.
N: So Pierre LeBlanc walked inside and shut the door behind him. He looked longingly at the soup bubbling on the stove. Shooshoo speaks,
S: Offer the man some soup. He looks hungry.
N: Tante Odette was always careful not to squander anything, and this idea alarmed her. If she fed a stranger, the soup would not last the whole week. She thought for a while, and at last said,
T: It is rare indeed for a cat to speak, so I suppose I must offer you a bowl.
N: And she did. After Pierre finished eating, Shooshoo stared at Tante Odette.
S: Now give him a place to sleep. He looks exhausted.
N: This time Tante Odette quickly responded. After she had shown Pierre to the loft, she lifted Shooshoo in her arms. She looked into his big green eyes.
T: How amazing, that after all these years of silence you should begin to talk. What has come over you, dear Shooshoo?
N: Shooshoo did not reply. It simply swirled its tail and curled it around his sleek golden body, and fell fast asleep.
N: Weeks passed, and Tante Odette decided that Shooshoo’s advice had been good. Pierre LaBlanc worked hard. He kept the place in fine order, and he seemed content to sup on cabbage soup and bread. Shooshoo didn’t say another word. Then one night as Pierre ate his soup, Shooshoo spoke again.
S: Tante Odette, why do you feed Pierre only cabbage soup and bread? A man who works as hard as he needs meat pies.
T: But Shooshoo, meat costs money!
S: Money! money!! money!!!
N: Shooshoo said scornfully
… you cannot eat money. You cannot drink money. You cannot wear money, and you cannot burn money for heat. Money is good only if you spend it. Give Pierre some coins, and he will go to town to buy us things we need.
N: Once again Tante Odette followed Shooshoo’s advice, and after that the larder was filled with meats and sweets and other good things to eat. One day while Pierre was in the forest chopping wood, a stranger came galloping down the road. He too wore a red-checkered shirt and a red sash around his waist and a cap with a black feather tucked in the brim. He stopped at Tante Odette’s house and knocked upon the door.
F: Madame, (he said when Tante Odette opened the door) can you tell me if Pierre LeBlanc lives here?
T: Indeed he does.
N: Said Tante Odette cheerily
F: Of course, there are many men named Pierre LeBlanc in this world. Does this Pierre LeBlanc wear a bright red sash and checkered shirt like mine? And does this Pierre LeBlanc have a long moustache like mine?
T: That is the man!
F: And can this Pierre LeBlanc throw his voice?
N: Tante Odette looked curiously at the man.
T: What on the earth do you mean?
F: Only a few have the gift. (the man explained). Only one in thousands is the prevalence. But the Pierre LeBlanc I’m looking for can throw his voice behind trees and into boxes and upon roofs and across rooms, so that when he speaks, it seems as if someone else is speaking.
N: Tante Odette looked aghast.
T: I would never have such a man in my house. (She cried) I do not like magic.
A tilted truth
N: Just then Pierre LeBlanc appeared on the path to the house. When Pierre saw the stranger, he ran to him and they embraced.
F: Ah Pierre, where have you been all summer long? I want you to come back and trap with me again this winter
N: The strange friend and Pierre were joking and laughing and talking together at the kitchen table. Tante Odette looked at Shooshoo.
T: Dear Shooshoo, what can this mean? I am afraid this Pierre LeBlanc may be evil.
N: Shooshoo looked up at her and winked one green eye.
S: Oh, Tante Odette, don’t be silly. He is a marvelous man.
T: But this man has told me he can throw his voice.
S: Ha! I’ve never heard of such a foolish thing as that. No one can do such a thing.
N: Tante Odette sighed with relief, and she thought about all the work Pierre had done for her, and how happy she and Shooshoo were living with Pierre LeBlanc. She went to Pierre’s side.
T: You won’t be leaving us, will you? If you stay, I will even pay you coins from time to time.
N: Pierre smiled and his mustache quivered, and he stood and bowed low to Tante Odette and Shooshoo.
P: I will be happy to stay with you and your wise cat. And now I will go outside and unload the wood I have cut, and I will stack it neatly near the door.
N: His red sash swirled as he went out to finish his chores. Shooshoo lay down on his rug, winked one green eye and fell peacefully asleep.
S9E2 Gift of Coyote, A Native American folktale.
Characters: Coyote, Owl, Frog, Chipmunk, Monsters, Narrator, Animals
N: Long ago, winter came just as it always came. The animals’ coats grew thick, and they prepared their nests and warrens and caves for the chilly northern winter. But the humans were not prepared. Humans are not so adaptable. Their hair did not grow thick. Their homes were not warm. They feared they would not survive.
A: We must help the humans.
N: The animals said, but they were afraid.
F: In the mountains there lived three giant creatures known as the fire keepers. They had a stolen piece of the sun and guarded it fiercely. Even at night, one of the fire keepers kept watching the fire.
O: Hoo hoo can help the humans? (Owl lamented)
C: I will (said Coyote)
N: So, Coyote explained a clever plan to the others. Chipmunk, Frog, and the tallest tree in the forest agreed to help Coyote. That night, the animals put their plan into action.
C: Let’s go
N: Coyote, Chipmunk, and Frog climbed into the mountains. Upon reaching the fire keeper’s lair, coyote let out a long, mournful “Hooowwwwwlllll.”
M: Who’s there?
N: The fire keeper shouted. The coyote was hidden behind a rock. Chipmunk was waiting for this moment. As soon as the monster get distracted by the coyote’s howl he scampered in from the hidden place, and grabbed a flaming coal from the fire, and ran. The fire keeper saw Chipmunk and gave a chase. Before the fire keeper could grab the coal, Chipmunk tossed it to the Frog. The fire keeper’s fingers scratched Chipmunk’s back, leaving three white scars that have never healed. Now Frog had the coal, and he was leaping fast downhill.
N: The fire keeper hollered. He grabbed Frog by the tail, which tore off in the monster’s hand, and never grew back. Frog threw the coal to the tallest tree, which swallowed it whole. The fire keeper shrieked as he turned and raced back to his fire surrounded by brick.
F: Ok. What do we do now?
N: The animals asked, for the fire was trapped inside the tree.
C: I’ll show you.
N: The Coyote took two tree branches and rubbed them together. Fire came out of the branches. That night the animals gave human beings fire. The humans were so grateful to the animals for this precious gift, and they understood that all Earth’s creatures depend on each other.
N: Animals and human need each other to survive.