THE LITTLE SPRUCE TREE

A Play for Radio

by

John Winter

Oak Tree              -    Deep Voice                      Little Spruce              -    Young Boy's Voice
Mother Spruce      -    Sweet Voice                    Boy                            -    Boy's Voice
Spruce 1            }                                              Soots Pine                  -    Scotch Accent
Spruce 2            }  -    High Girlish Voice           Rat                             -    Deep Hoarse Voice
Spruce 3            }                                              Wood-Cutter 1    }     -    Rough Country Voices
                                                                          Wood-Cutter 2    }

Copyright John Winter. First broadcast Wednesday October 10, 1956 at 5:10 pm.


Narration: At the edge of the Royal Forest in a small clearing stood a dear little spruce tree. Although it was surrounded by many trees it was a bit lonely. The little tree was a dwarf, but perfectly formed, the other trees were so tall and so elegant but the little spruce tree had the heart of a lion. So he held up his little head, spread out his little needles and stretched out his little rootlets to take in any moisture inadvertently passed over by the other trees. And the little tree listened carefully to everything and tried to learn the rather hard lessons given by the Oak Tree (who was very old and very wise) to the three young spruce trees which stood to the north of the clearing.   (Forest sounds, birds, etc.).

Oak Tree:                     Now listen spruce tree sisters, to-day we will learn about the weather and the clouds. Weather is the day to day conditions of the air about us.

Spruce 1:                      We want to play Uncle Oakie.

Spruce 2:                      We want to laugh Uncle Oakie.

Spruce 3:                      We want to day dream Uncle Oakie.

Oak Tree:                     Ah, you are all so young, you must persevere and learn all the weather signs.

Spruce 1:                      Mother dear we don’t want to learn.

Spruce 2:                      Mother dear do say we can play.

Spruce 3:                      Mother dear Uncle Oakie always wants us to work.

Mother Spruce:            Children, Children we know what is best for you.

Oak Tree:                     Now we will commence again. Here to the left we have perfect examples of cirrus clouds - see - as plain as one can see.

Spruce 1:                      It’s not plain to me Uncle Oakie.

Spruce 2:                      Not to me.

Spruce 3:                      Not to me.

Oak Tree:                     I told you yesterday about cirrus clouds, this denotes a warm front moving in.

Spruce 1:                      Oh, cripes!

Spruce 2:                      Shiver me timbers!

Spruce 3:                      Change me needles!

Oak Tree:                     Did you say anything children - no? - we will proceed - now -

Spruce 1:                      Uncle Oakie, I’m afraid I wasn’t listening.

Spruce 2:                      Uncle Oakie I was dreaming too.

Spruce 3:                      Does it matter weather we do or whether we don’t?   (they laugh together).

Mother Spruce:            Children, children you must listen carefully. Your Auntie Pine will hear you are all so naughty.

Scots Pine:                   Yes, Mrs. Spruce I can hear them - but they must learn, after all it is the trees that give the greatest pleasure to man-kind.

Mother Spruce:            Don’t look now my darlings but here comes a boy, I do hope he hasn’t got a penknife with him.

Oak Tree:                     I hope he hasn’t got a dreadful catapult with him.

Scots Pine:                   Oh, dear me.

Spruce 1:                      I wish we could hide.

Spruce 2:                      What a pity he can’t be sensible and stay put like us.

Spruce 3:                      I hope he won’t knock off Mother’s beautiful cones.

Mother Spruce:            Hush my darlings say no more here he comes.

Boy: (singing)                Up the airy mountain down the rushing glen etc.   (then says)   Here is the very loveliest place in the whole world, right beside the dear little spruce tree.

Narrator:                      An the little spruce tree shivered with fright.

Boy:                             Oh and what a lovely chestnut tree the little flowers look like ballet skirts on dancing ladies. Now this is the month of April, so I’ll call my poem
IN APRIL   (hesitatingly)
I am watching, can you see
Ladies on the chestnut tree?
Flashing, dashing, dancing, prancing,
Please come down and play with me.

In your frocks of green array
Oh so neat, and very gay,
Gliding, sliding, flying, sighing,
As the breezes come this way.

Narrator:                      The little spruce tree listened and wondered. Of course he saw many things the trees with their heads in the air never could see. He had gazed upon the feast laid out when the fairy Queen entertained the King of the leprechauns and he watched his friend the water Rat keep himself nice and damp by sitting in an old tin filled with water while sitting at the festive board.

Little Spruce Tree:        Yes Rat is quite a good little creature, once one gets to know him properly and really understand him - is that you Rat dear?

Rat:                              Yes, Little Spruce. I had a delightful swim. It is such a pity you can never know the pure delights of water or of lying in the sun afterwards.

Little Spruce:                I only catch a glimpse of the wonderful sun as it passes by. Yes, Rat, it would be a joy to feel its’ warmth.

Rat:                              Listen, little spruce I have a lot to tell you.

Little Spruce:                I am listening dear friend.

Rat:                              Wait a jiffy until I get into the water in the tin, oh, where is it, what a nuisance.

Little Spruce:                You’ll find it by the stream, a boy came and fished for tad-poles with it.

Rat:                              Interfering little beast - oh here it is - now that’s better - you know little spruce tree I usually swim down to the town where I can get more scarps to eat.

Little Spruce:                Yes, Rat I know.

Rat:                              Well, today I spotted some of my relatives so I had to run for it the other way, and soon I came to the wood-cutters hut, they were having a meal in the door-way, so naturally I hung around, if you know what I mean.

Little Spruce:                Yes, Rat I know.

Rat:                              The wood-cutters were saying - and oh what a long time they took to talk and eat, I thought they were never going to stop and they’d leave nothing for me - well they were saying tomorrow the tall one is to choose a spruce tree for the palace.

Little Spruce:                Oh Rat do you mean one of us.

Rat:                              I don’t want to hurt your feelings little spruce but you’d be too small.

Little Spruce:                Of course it is a great honour to be the chosen one but I’d rather stay here with you Rat.

Narrator:                      It was so happy in the woods. There were days and nights when the rain fell and the wind howled itself into a gale - but the trees were still gay.   (Rain lashing down wind howling).

Spruce 1:                      The rain is washing my needles clean.

Spruce 2:                      Tomorrow I shall be so beautiful.

Spruce 3:                      Tomorrow we shall all look ravishing.

Spruce 1:                      Oh, No. 3 you are tickling me.   (Laughs).

Spruce 2:                      No, No, No, 1 and 3 you are spreading your rootlets over me.

Spruce 3:                      Oh, No, you two are tickling me.   (All laugh together).

Mother Spruce:            My darlings a little quieter please - it was on such a night as this that tragedy befell us.

Scots Pine:                   Ah, yes I remember well dear friend.

Spruce 1:                      Oh Mother dear do tell us.

Spruce 2:                      We love to hear a story.

Spruce 3:                      Yes even when its sad.

Mother Spruce:            You tell them Scots Pine.

Scots Pine:                   Well, you know your roots are shallow and you are not always able to withstand a gale such as this.

Mother Spruce:            My Darlings, you must all hold your heads high and that will help you to balance yourselves.

Scots Pine:                   It was on such a night as this that your poor father fell over.

Spruce 1:                      Oh poor mother how dreadful for you.

Spruce 2:                      Oh poor mother and poor father.

Spruce 3:                      Did he really fall over?

Scots Pine:                   Yes children he fell over, and next day the woodcutters came and took him away.

Mother Spruce:            But Uncle Oakie and Auntie Pine have always been so kind to me and to you three too.

Oak Tree:                     Speaking of woodcutters I saw them looking at the spruces over on the right.

Mother Spruce:            The fall of the year is always a trying time. I am so afraid they will take one of my darlings - they are so elegant for their ages that is.

Oak Tree:                     Dear madame it would be too dreadful if they took you away from us.

Mother Spruce:            I don’t think they would choose me - now that my lower branches are ragged.

Scots Pine:                   We are not exactly in our first youth Mrs. Spruce.   (They laugh a little sadly).

Spruce 1:                      Mother dear is little spruce tree our cousin.

Spruce 2:                      Yes, you were always going to explain to us.

Spruce 3:                      Little spruce tree never seems to grow much.

Mother Spruce:            Dear children the little spruce is a wind child, he was carried by the wind when only a seedling.

Scots Pine:                   He is sitting on rather stony ground so his little rootlets are stunted, is that not so Oak Tree.

Oak Tree:                     Yes, he is indeed a wind child.   (Wind howls and whistles).

(Sound of birds singing).

Oak Tree:                     Isn’t this a truly splendid morning - perhaps we could continue our weather talks.

Spruce 1:                      Oh, dear me.

Spruce 2:                      Goodness, gracious.

Spruce 3:                      So early in the morning.

Mother Spruce:            Now my darlings hush.

Oak Tree:                     Very hot weather is often accompanied by thunder and lighting because of the evaporation which causes their capacity to be reduced, the clouds being charged with electricity.

Scots Pine:                   Excuse me but as the woodcutters may turn up today, tell the dear children about the human race.

Spruce 1:                      Oh yes please Uncle.

Spruce 2:                      You always said you would.

Spruce 3:                      We’ll listen very carefully.

Oak Tree:                     Humans live for such a short time compared with us. They have no time to live properly.

Scots Pine:                   Tall trees see so much life around, and they have time to consider all the implications.

Oak Tree:                     Then again would you believe it those humans are actually required to learn music. Why we can play naturally in wind or rain, no one could ever say we are out of tune or time either.

Scots Pine:                   The woodcutters are in the far clearing, and one is coming in this direction, no wait two are coming.

Mother Spruce:            Isn’t it such a good thing my darlings are looking so splendid.

Wood-cutter 1 (Joe):    Now here’s three fine specimens for yer, Bill.

Wood-cutter 2 (Bill):    Yes, I sees, but wait a mo, Jo, see here we’ll just take the little un.

Wood-cutter 1 (Joe):    Righty ho then.   (Digging is heard).

Wood-cutter 2 (Bill):    See you doesn’t damage the roots.

Wood-cutter 1 (Joe):    Jest a bit deeper.

Wood-cutter 2 (Bill):    We’ll set it right away in this pot ‘twill keep it safer Joe.

Narrator:                      And “The Wind Child” was taken to the Royal Palace, and hung with silver balls and gold trimmings, with a diamond star on top. The little tree had a lovely time and lived happily ever after at the palace steps, with plenty of sunshine and was admired by all who passed by.