Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Magic Boat (Chinese folktale)

December 2002
Folk Tales from around the world

A little boy named Chang, a name which means "honest", lived with his mother and a white cat.  He spent each day cutting firewood for his mother.  One day he saw an old man fall from a single log bridge into the river.  Chang rushed to save the old man.  The old man was impressed with Chang's courage and selflessness and gave him a small dragon boat.  When the old man said, "Grow bigger! Grow bigger!  May you brave the wind and water!"  the boat turned into a large boat.  When he said, "Grow smaller!   Grow smaller!  May you be a toy again!"  the boat became a toy again.  The old man left Chang with the toy boat and told him that if he ever needed help he was to call to the east, "Grandfather!  Grandfather!"  Then the old man disappeared.
   Soon the rains came.  It rained for ten days and ten nights.  The water began to rise.  Chang brought out his boat and speaking the magic words turned it into a big boat that he, his mother, and the cat could board.  As they sailed on the rising sea, they discovered an ant, a bee, and a crane that were drowning and they saved each of them.  They found a man who was struggling in the water and saved him too.  His name was Ying, which means "tricky".  Once aboard the boat he refused to help.  He stretched out on the deck and gave orders to the others.  When the rain stopped and the water receded, Chang returned to his village, and said the magic words that changed the boat into a toy.  Ying saw this and wanted this magic boat.
   Chang set about rebuilding his house that had been destroyed in the flood.  His mother, the cat and the other animals helped Chang.  Ying idd not do anything but give orders.  One day he suggested that Chang give him the magic boat so he could take it to the Emperor who would give a lot of money for it.  The money could be used to rebuild the house.  Chang believed Ying and gave the magic boat to him.  Time passed and Ying had not returned.  Chang went to look for Ying and the boat.  He searched for several days.  One day he heard a large procession coming and the announcement that the Prime Minister was approaching.  The Prime Minister was none other than Ying.  Chang was angry at Ying for stealing his boat, and Ying was fearful of Change, because he knew that he had cheated Chang.  He had Chang arrested.
   When Chang did not return home the animals went searching for him.  They found him hungry, dirty, and bruised.  They returned home with him and restored him to health.  They decided to returned to the Emperor and tell them their story.  But first they had to find a way to enter the palace.  Word was that the Emperor's daughter was ill and anyone who could cure her would be given one wish.  Chang disguised himself as a doctor and went to the palace.  Chang was taken before the Emperor.  Seated next to him was Ying, who recognized Chang and wanted him arrested.  The Emperor was very happy and gave Chang one wish.  His wish was for the return of his magic boat.  The Emperor was unwilling.  Ying and the Emperor decided to trick Chang.  If Chang could select the Princess from her seven maids when they were all disguised, then he could have the boat.  The Princess and her maidens were brought before Chang.  The queen bee buzzed around the head of the Princess so he could make the right selection.  The Emperor again refused to give him the boat.  The Emperor told Chang that he had to prove to him that the boat was his.  Chang remember the words of the old man and called to the east, "Grandfather!  Grandfather!"  The old man appeared riding a golden phoenix and told the Emperor that he had given the boat the Chang.  The Emperor and Ying refused again.  The animals began to chant, "Turn Ying into an old gray wolf and the Emperor into a big wild pig!"  And the old man did!  Chang retrieved his boat and returned home with his friends.  He used the boat to help others in times of need and to bring joy in times of peace.


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