A long, long time ago, the Jade Emperor was celebrating his birthday. Unfortunately, at that time there was no way of counting the years so he couldn't be sure how old he was. It was then that he decided to come up with a method for counting the years.
He sent his servant into the forest to announce that there would be a race amongst the animals with a special prize for the 12 winners. When the animals heard the news they all wondered what the prize would be.
On the day of the race, the emperor arrived on a golden chariot. As he cleared his voice to speak, the animals fell silent. "There will be a race across the river. The first 12 animals to reach the opposite bank will have a year named after them. The first year will be named after the first animal across, and so on," said the emperor.
On the day of the race all the animals lined up on the starting line. With the drop of a flag the race began and the animals sprinted toward the river. The first to arrive were the cat and the rat, but they soon realized that it was further than they had thought. In fact, it looked pretty dangerous. They sat around wondering what to do, when the ox arrived. Suddenly the rat had an idea. "Hey ox, do you mind carrying us across the river?" he asked. The ox was a kind animal, so he readily agreed. (John Phillips, staff writer)
? To be continued tomorrow... / 明日待續...