» Continued from yesterday / 接續昨日
t he cat and the rat jumped on the ox’s head and together they crossed the river. Just as they were about to make landfall on the opposite the bank, the rat jumped off the ox’s head making him the first one across. “Congratulations!” said the emperor. “The first year shall be named after you.” The ox was furious about being cheated, but as the second animal across he got the second year.
There was a long gap until the tiger arrived, exhausted after a difficult swim. The emperor was pleased with his efforts and named the third year after him. The tiger was followed by the rabbit, which surprised the emperor. “Everyone knows rabbits can’t swim. Surely you cheated!” The rabbit explained that it was true, he couldn’t swim, but he had managed to cross the river by jumping across the stones and sailing on a log. This impressed the emperor who awarded him the fourth year.
The emperor was delighted with what he had seen so far. All the animals had shown tremendous resourcefulness to cross the river, but he had expected the dragon, who could both swim and fly, to easily win. Yet the dragon was nowhere in sight. Just then a shadow descended over the animals as the dragon swooped in to land. “You finally made it. Where have you been?” asked the emperor. “I had to make it rain and then I saw a rabbit trying to cross the river on a log, so I had to create some wind to help him cross,” said the dragon. “Very well. You’re the fifth animal so you get the fifth year,” said the emperor. (JOHN PHILLIPS, STAFF WRITER)
ILLUSTRATIONS: COURTESY OF HO HUI-CHE
» To be continued tomorrow...