Long ago, there lived in China a young boy called Chi Yu.

Chi Yu lived with his mother in a tiny house at the edge of the village. There were beautiful green meadows all around and tall hills. Every year after the rains, the fields looked greener and more beautiful than ever before.

Each morning as the sun peeped into his window, Chi Yu jumped out of bed. He ran to the fields to cut the fresh grass that had grown at night. He gathered it in his big round basket and took it to farmer Hieun Tse who wanted the freshest grass for his cows. And Chi Yu got a jar of rice in return.

One year the rains did not come.

Not a drop fell the following year and the year after too.

The meadows turned yellow and the hills brown.

Chi Yu roamed all day to find some fresh grass for farmer Hieun Tse. But there was not a blade of green anywhere.

One day he decided to search behind the tall hills. And there in a corner was a patch of the greenest grass he had ever seen. He cut it all.

The next day he found it had grown again.

He cut it day after day and fresh grass grew again and again and again.

One day just as Chi Yu was cutting the last bit with his sickle, his eyes fell on something shiny.
It was a lovely golden bead. He took it home and hid it in the rice jar.

And something happened.

The jar that had been almost empty the night before was full now. And each time Chi Yu took out some rice from the jar, it filled up again.

Chi Yu knew it was the bead.

It was a magic bead.

Not being a selfish boy he shared the rice with all the villagers. And they were very thankful.

But farmer Hieun Tse was not happy. Not only were his cows starving but no one was coming to him for rice anymore.

He wanted the magic bead for himself.

He offered Chi Yu all his money. He offered him his house — even his farms. But Chi Yu did not give him the bead.

One dark night when the moon had not yet risen, Hieun Tse crept into Chi Yu’s house. He was about to take the jar away when Chi Yu woke up. He ran to the jar, took out the bead and swallowed it.

How the Dragon Came to be [Illustrated by Kusum Chamoli]
How the Dragon Came to be [Illustrated by Kusum Chamoli]

But that was not a wise thing to do. For the bead began to burn inside him. He felt hot and fiery.

He felt so thirsty that he drank up all the water in the house.

He drank up all the water in the village.

He emptied the ponds and lakes.

But he still felt hot and fiery.

He sizzled and scorched.

He began to breathe fire.

Long flames orange and yellow and red came out of his mouth.

So he went to the river that flowed at the edge of the fields & drank it up too. But he did not cool down.

He felt hotter than ever before.

He had changed into a creature that breathed fire.

He knew he could not stay in the village anymore. So he went away — to a land far off beyond the hills, never to return.

571 words | 5 minutes
Readability: Grade 3 (8-9 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales
Tags: #farmers, #rains, #hills, #magic

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