Wolf Tracks Script
The old man's rocking chair creaked with the sound of the ages. As he put his pipe aside, Grandfather idly studied his grandson Peter, intensely reading a book.
The boy’s concentration was great and his imagination soared with the stories:
… Fairies with glittering wands.
… Fire-breathing dragons.
… And the tale of a young boy… and a wolf!
"Wolf," Grandfather sighed, closing his eyes. "Here we go again." His mind drifted back to his own childhood adventure and the wolf that played a part in it.
Suddenly Peter looked up from his books and shouted, his face aglow with dreams of conquest. "Grandfather, I am going to capture a wolf!"
"Leave those noble creatures in peace,” Grandfather answered. “Do you know what a 'habitat' is?"
"Is that smoking your pipe too much?" asked Peter.
"No, that's a 'habit'… and a bad one at that. A 'habitat' is a place where wolves live… but with their forests nearly gone, they've become hungry, desperate animals. Best leave them alone." With that, the old man nodded off.
The boy, however, had other thoughts. With a show of bravado, he split the air with a toy sword and threw on a bright yellow cape… the very same cape Grandfather had worn so many years ago. Taking advantage of the old man's sleep, Peter tiptoed outside.
The hinges of the wooden gate groaned as Peter ventured from the yard… proud… unafraid… whistling. Peter had just learned to whistle, but as yet had no recognizable repertoire. His tuneless effort, however, did attract the attention of two curious birds flying circles above his head. "Welcome!" he called, and again whirled his sword like a valorous knight of old.
As if to give his overhead companions a lesson in bravery, Peter puffed out his small chest and initiated a triumphal march into the woods…
Briskly at first, then a bit slower…
For it seemed the further he ventured, the stranger the forest became. And, unless it was his imagination, even the sky began to darken. In that moment, Peter's mouth went dry and soon his whistle deserted him. "Well, no matter. Lose a pucker, gain a wolf! That's my motto," he reassured himself.
But nothing in this forest looked quite as it should… not at all as in Grandfather's book. Hardly any life at all… just Peter and his two feathered friends.
"Well, that's neither here nor there, I came for a Wolf!" After thinking what he had just thought, Peter decided to name his two birds "Here" and "There". He called up to them, “Hey, Here and There, at least one wolf must be lurking around! Tell me if you spot anything!" Onward Peter continued… further, deeper… into the woods.
The scent of moss and decaying leaves penetrated Peter's nostrils…
Sunlight barely filtered through the trees and a gloomy pall covered the forest floor. Shadows danced in accompaniment to a cold breeze… Leaves rustled as if moved by unseen hands… Branches slapped his face as if warning him: Stay away… Stay away!
Meanwhile, on the far side of the forest, a thin gray Wolf ventured out from his family's den. The pack was hungry and it was time to hunt. With graceful stealth, he darted toward a shadowy knoll, then crept along the grassy cover at the edge of the forest glade. He paused, raised his head and sniffed the air.
Peter caught sight of the Wolf’s distant silhouette. His pulse quickened and Grandfather's admonition echoed in his head: Leave these noble animals in peace.
"Oh, come on, Grandfather," Peter reasoned with himself, "you can't expect me to put all of nature back into balance.”
Leave these noble animals in peace.
“Come on, grandfather, I didn't come all this way for nothing!"
Plotting a surprise encounter, Peter slowly circled the perimeter of the clearing and arrived at the very spot he expected to ensnare his prey. But all he saw were wolf tracks… no Wolf. In frustration he shouted, "Where-is-my-wolf?"
Hidden by an enormous dying oak, the Wolf's ears pricked up. A voice!…
A young human voice! Cautiously… curiously… the Wolf edged toward the sound. There stood a boy… waving some sort of sharpened stick. A weapon? The creature froze. Peter, sensing something quite near, whirled about and saw the startled animal.
Their eyes locked. Peter and the Wolf faced each other… motionless.
Peter collected himself and, raising his sword, declared, "You're mine, Wolf!"
But the Wolf turned and ran as fast as any wolf ever ran.
The boy gave chase!
Here and There followed, wheeling and swirling high above this frenzied blur of activity.
Issuing a warning cry that reverberated throughout the woodlands, the Wolf spun on his heels, altered course and took flight toward the safety of his den.
Sword upraised and yellow cape flying, Peter followed in swift pursuit. On and on they ran…
Across streams, over meadows, through the underbrush and stands of timber… a Boy and a Wolf… racing along the forest floor.
But as suddenly as it began, the tumult ended. Trapped among an outcropping of rocks close to his den, the Wolf had to stop and confront his pursuer. He planted his legs on stony ground, lowered his head and flashed his mighty teeth.
In one swift, wolf-conquering motion, Peter struck the earth with his sword. "I am the victor!"
The Wolf would risk capture -- even his life -- rather than lead a human to his family. For this reason alone… he surrendered.
With that the boy whipped the yellow cape from his shoulders and, in a flourish, threw it over the defeated animal.
After struggling a bit he quieted… and Peter bound him securely in the cape.
Here and There wanted to give Peter a round of applause but quickly discovered that birds can't clap. Instead, they twittered a little birdie fanfare.
"See, wolves aren't so dangerous," Peter announced, as he prepared to drag the yellow bundle homeward.
The journey proved lengthy, but the capture was complete and the load made lighter by the burst of pride Peter was feeling.
After a while, a soft muffled whimper came from inside the bundle. Peter halted momentarily… then, deciding to ignore the sound, trudged on.
Before long the whimper became a mournful bay… a sound almost human… and so sad that Peter put down his trophy and pulled back a small bit of cape. Haunted eyes peered out at him.
"You're looking at me like that…Why?" asked Peter. "I only set out for an adventure and now you… you are being one big load of trouble." The Wolf could only stare back.
For the first time the young boy saw the slate-blue beauty of his captive's eyes. Forgetting his triumph, Peter thought instead of… Fallen trees… Parched meadows… Choked streams… and of each and every wolf struggling for survival. With less and less wilderness to call home, small wonder this once proud animal now looked thin… hungry… defeated.
Peter again recalled Grandfather’s words and now understood their truth. “Grandfather is right,” he said out loud. “The time has come to leave the wolves in peace."
Carefully he removed the yellow cape and cried, "Okay, go! Run! Run free!"
Tossing a confused look in Peter's direction, the Wolf scampered to his feet… took his bearings and set out across the meadow… pausing only once… to howl a grateful goodbye.
Through the clearing Peter spotted the outline of the Wolf's waiting family. He was glad -- very glad -- that he had let his Wolf go free.
During the journey home Peter thought hard about how his Wolf must feel… his wolf was on the brink of losing the natural places -- the habitat -- needed for survival.
But wait… His Wolf? It wasn't really Peter's wolf at all. Wolves belong to the world… their world, our world of wonder, of nature’s splendor.
Soon Peter waved goodbye to Here and There, his faithful feathered friends. And in the blink of an eye, Here and There weren't anywhere.
Alone now, Peter wound along the road that led back home.
Entering quietly through the cottage door, Peter muted the latch as best he could. Even so, the sound stirred his dozing Grandfather, still reclining where Peter had left him. "Now, where was I?" he mumbled, unaware that any time at all had passed since his last coherent thought. "Leave the wolves in peace. Did I say the part about their habitat?"
"You see," continued the old man, "if you follow the path into the woods, there's a big oak on the edge of the meadow. Can't miss it. I loved that tree… carved my name in it. Used to be I'd go there once a year and gather a few acorns to make squash. But before long, there were no acorns. After that, no squirrels. See, in the forest, everything needs everything. No trees means no food, means no animals. Get the point?"
“But the forest is big," Peter said, not letting on he'd been there and back. "What can I do?"
"Enjoy the woods. Enjoy the animals. But leave them be. That's a start. Now, I think I'll take a nap before dinner."
In later years, we will find Peter sitting in the same rocking chair as had his grandfather before him, Peter’s own granddaughter now wearing the bright yellow cape and reading the exciting stories. Her imagination soars as she reads her very favorite... this story, the adventure of the wolf and Peter.
And each time this tale is told... somewhere... a noble wolf... will howl.
© Copyright 2002, Artemis Productions Ltd.