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This was written as a Readers Theater piece for my junior high school academic competition in 1998. It was the first thing I had written besides poetry since I was six. The idea came to me on a whim, and, despite the very little time it took to write (20 hours or so), people seemed to really enjoy it. I'll admit, the characters were written to be played by specific actors and actresses, so some of the effects may be lost in transition. It is intended primarily for younger audiences.


The Moose, the Mule, and the Milking Cow
by Nate Wood

Cast:
Billy (little boy)
Jane (little girl)
Mother (also the Narrator)
Edwina (a girl)
Lolita (a girl)
Moose (a very haughty fellow with a British accent)
Mule (kind of stupid, it seems, and talks slowly)
Cow (a Southerner, a little smarter than the Mule)


Billy: You cannot!

Jane: I can too!

Billy: No, you can't!

Jane: Yes, I can!

Mother: Kids, kids, what's going on here?

Jane: Mamma, tell Billy that I can play too.

Mother: Now, Billy. Why won't you let your sister play with you?

Boy: Because she's a girl, and I don't play with girls.

Mother: Billy, that's no way to be! If you go and fight with people just because they're different, then there'll be a lot of good people you'll never get to know. You might be missing out on many wonderful friendships. In fact, let me tell you a story about—

Jane: A story!

Mother: Yes, Jane, a story. Now sit down, and I shall begin my tale.

---------------------------------------------THE STORY--------------------------------------------

It happened in a forest, in a far-off land. Two little girls, Edwina and Lolita, cousins by birth, had found themselves lost in a thick entanglement. After hours of searching for a way home, they came upon a clearing—and in the midst of this clearing they saw a moose, a mule, and a milking cow locked in combat.

Lolita: Look, Edwina! Do you see that!

Then, the animals noticed the girls, and ended their little bout. The moose looked at them indignantly.

Moose: Who's this? I've never seen you before.

Lolita and Edwina: You- you can talk!

Moose: Of course I can talk!

Edwina: But that's not right. Moose can't talk.

Moose: And how did you come to that conclusion?

Edwina: Because I've never heard a moose talk before.

Moose: So you think we can't talk simply because you've never us talk before? What type of logic is that? Have you ever heard a moose tell you that he couldn't talk?

Edwina: Can't say that I have.

Moose: I rest my case. Now, who are you?

Edwina: I'm Edwina Endenhabeldango, and this is my cousin Lolita.

Moose: Rather peculiar names if you ask me. And for rather peculiar looking girls. Now, what are you doing treading upon my domain?

Lolita: We were playing in the woods when, suddenly, we were lost!

Moose: Lost, eh? Why that's jolly good!

Lolita: Jolly good?

Moose: Yes. Jolly good! You see, these two imbecile farm animals and I have gotten into a little quarrel. I can't understand their senseless babbling, so you two can be translators for us, so that we can settle this feud in a more civilized manner than violence.

Lolita: Well, we'll do our best, but I can't guarantee that we speak their language.

The moose stepped to the side, so the girls could talk with the farm animals. The mule turned to Edwina and cleared his throat.

Mule: Little girl, tell the moose that we are not to be blamed for our crime. We were simply unaware that it was against his law.

Edwina and Lolita stopped, befuddled at the present situation. They all spoke English!

Lolita: I don't understand why you need a translator if you all speak English.

Moose: It's matter of nationality, dears. Can you understand what a Chinaman says?

Edwina: No.

Moose: Of course not. Therefore, I don't know what farm animals are saying. Now do your job, or I'll eat you!

Edwina: Mr. Mule says that he and Ms. Cow were unaware that they had committed a crime against you, Mr. Moose.

Moose: Unaware! Unaware! Why, I put up signs at the entrance of the forest. How could they be unaware!

Lolita: Excuse me if you will, Moose—

Moose: That's Mr. Moose to you!

Lolita: Yes, well, Mr. Moose, but I didn't see any signs at the forest entrance.

Moose: That's because they're invisible signs.

Edwina: Mr. Mule. Ms. Cow. Mr. Moose says that he posted the rules on invisible signs at the forest entrance.

Cow: Invisible signs! I didn't see any invisible signs! That's unsense! Udder unsense!

Mule: Tell this moose that we are not guilty.

Edwina: Mr. Moose, the mule and the cow still deny that they are to be held guilty for what they have done.

Moose: Ah, enough with this petty talk. I propose a better way to solve our differences: a fight to the death!

Edwina: But Sir, I thought you wanted to use a manner more civilized than violence!

Moose: That was then, this is now, and violence is the modern method. I shall fight one of them—-preferably the female—-and you two shall be the referees.

Lolita: But someone might be hurt.

Moose: I believe that is the point.

Edwina: Perhaps we could do something a little less dangerous. A poetry contest, perhaps!

Moose: Perhaps, yes. I'm very good at poetry. Very well, a poetry contest to the death. Have the farm animals go first;
I need time to think.

Edwina: Mr. Mule, Ms. Cow, I believe you now have a chance to redeem yourselves.

Lolita: Through a poetry contest!

Mule: Poetry? I'm no good at poetry. Ms. Cow, I believe that I'll have to leave this one to you.

Cow: Wonderful! I love poetry! Why, just listen to this little bit my mother told me when I was but a calf. Hickory, dockery, dick. The mouse tripped over a stick. It scared him so, that he moved to Mexico, and changed his name to Antonio.

Edwina and Lolita were baffled, even more so than they had been before, upon hearing the twisted interpretation of the poem.

Lolita: That's not how it goes.

Edwina: Not at all. And it makes no sense!

Cow: What is it that you don't understand?

Lolita: Just what is a hickory-dockery-dick?

Mule: It is an expression that means "I feel so happy I could kiss a rock."

Edwina: Why ever would anyone want to kiss a rock?

Cow: Have you ever kissed a rock?

Edwina: No. That's disgusting.

Cow: How do you know what it's like to kiss a rock if you've never kissed a rock before?

Edwina: It's common sense that rocks are generally not kiss-worthy.

Cow: But what if you met a very special rock. For example, would you kiss slate?

Edwina: I'm quite certain that I wouldn't.

Lolita: This is nonsense, Edwina. Complete nonsense.

Cow: No, no, no. The word is unsense. This is unsense.

Edwina: Unsense? Please, try to make more sense with your senseless speech.

Mule: How can we make more sense if we haven't any sense to start with?

Cow: And if we did do that, our speech wouldn't be senseless anymore.

Mule: Exactly! Likewise, how could we make less sense? Well, my darlings, that's all quite possible.

Lolita: How could you have less sense than no sense?

Cow: With a little thing called unsense.

Edwina: That doesn't make a lick of sense! Now I've had enough nonsense, unsense, or whatever sense you call it. I rate Ms. Cow's poem a five out of ten, with points taken off for senselessness.

Lolita: Sounds about right to me. Now let's hear the moose's poem so we can get this over with.

Edwina: Your poem, Mr. Moose.

Moose: Ah, yes, my turn already? And so it goes: 'Twas midnight, one bright and beautiful day. Little Johnny went out to fly his kite, but, Alas! His kite, it flew away. He shed a bitter tear, for his heart was full of sorrow. Said his father, Never fear. I'll search for it on the morrow. The sun was hot that winter's day, as the man searched high and low.
But success never seemed to come his way, where ever he did go. And then, he died.

Lolita: What kind of a lousy ending is that?

Moose: I couldn't think of anything else. And who are you to comment on my poetry, anyhow?

Edwina: We do have a right to comment on your lame poetry! We are the judges, I would like to remind you.

Moose: Haughty little thing, aren't you. You think that just because you're the judges, you get everything your way. Now hurry up and tell me that I have won already! It's about time that these wretched farm animals meet a grisly demise.

Lolita: You mean you're actually going to kill them?

Moose: What other punishment is suitable for such a horrid crime?

Edwina and Lolita chose not to answer the Moose right away. This new element of death brought more tension to the situation.

Edwina: Ms. Cow, Mr. Mule. I have terrible news to report: the moose wishes to kill you for your crime.

Cow: Oh, oh dear! Threats such as that cannot be denied. We must prove ourselves innocent. Oh, Mule, we simply must.

Mule: Don't worry, Cow. I won't let him hurt you. We must think of something very witty to win him over.

Cow: Ah! I have it! Little girls, tell the moose that he has very handsome antlers.

Lolita: But I don't see how—

Mule: Just tell him, for crying out loud! Also, ask him how he keeps his hair so lovely.

Lolita: All right. Mr. Moose, Ms. Cow says that you have very handsome antlers.

Moose: Handsome antlers? Really?

Lolita: Don't forget the "very."

Moose: Well, I do try to keep them nice. In fact, if Ms. Cow's not busy tonight, you might ask her if— Wait a minute! They're just trying to flatter me, aren't they? Well tell them that using flattery in a court of law is not legal. Not to mention ethical.

Lolita: But we're not in a court of law. We're in a forest.

Moose: Hmm. I suppose you're right. But, even still, let's keep this strictly to the facts—the facts of how we are to exterminate these farm animals!

Then, in a stroke of genius, Edwina realized that one important piece of information was missing from this case. She motioned for Lolita, and the two talked privately for a second before turning back to the Mule and Cow.

Edwina: Excuse me for asking, but what exactly is your crime?

Mule: You know what? The moose never told us.

Cow: We don't know what we've done.

Mule: Things like this are not good. Downright bad, if you ask me.

Cow: This reminds me of a poem, "The Tyrannical Oppressionist and the Pussy Cat." I could recite it if you'd like.

Lolita: No, thank you. We've had quite our fill of twisted poetry today.

Mule: Are you implying that our poetry is twisted?

Lolita: Yes. Just as your logic is twisted.

Edwina: Logic? Cousin, that is hardly logic. It is closer to illogic.

Cow: So now you're saying that we're illogical?

Mule: Well, what if some logical person logically discovered that our illogical logic was in fact logical logic, and that your logic was more illogical than our illogic?

The girls did not even bother to answer. They turned back to the moose, hoping to end this nonsense.

Edwina: Excuse me, Mr. Moose, but what exactly was the mule and cow's crime?

Moose: Being farm animals, of course!

Edwina: Well it looks to me like you were fighting just for the sake of fighting. Being a farm animal is no crime, and they cannot be punished for such a non-crime.

Lolita: For shame! Mr. Moose. For shame!

Edwina: How dare you fight against your animal brethren. Don't farm animals have the same rights as the forest animals? Are you not the same deep down inside?

Lolita: For the sake of all that has hair, sir, look into your heart! Can you not find any room to love a few more animals? Can't you just get along?

There, in that forest clearing, a miracle took place. For the first time since the beginning of time, farm and forest animal found it in their hearts to live in harmony. And, if you looked hard enough, you could almost see a tear forming in the corner of the moose's eye.

Moose: Well... There's only one thing to do in a situation like this: let's make toast!

For you see, in the moosish culture, the eating of toast together was a sign of friendship.

Mule: I—I can understand you, Moose.

Edwina: Of course you can understand each other. You could all along. You were just too stubborn to listen.

Lolita: Now we must be on our way. It's getting pretty dark.

And, after saying goodbye, they were on their way.

Moose: Well, now that this is settled, let's go make some toast.

Cow: Without butter, of course.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mother: And so the three of them did, sitting hand-in-hand around a campfire, eating toast without butter, and singing happy songs of fun and friendship.

Billy: And, let me guess, they—

Mother: Yes, they did. The moose, the mule, and the milking cow lived happily ever after.



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by Nate Wood





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