The Flower Dragon
A retelling of a Chinese folktale
One morning, a long, long time ago, the sun shone brightly on a little house in China. A small girl named Pear Blossom got up and went to wake her mother. Pear Blossom’s father had passed away, and she and her mother were very poor.
“Wake up, Mother,” said Pear Blossom.
Her mother looked up at her from her bed. “It is hopeless,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “We have no more money. We are almost out of food. Why should I get up? What will become of us?”
Pear Blossom sat beside her mother’s bed. She thought and thought about what to do.
“Mother, I know!” she exclaimed. “I will go to see your brother. He is very wealthy. He will help us. We are his family.”
“Pear Blossom, you can’t do that!” cried her mother. “My brother lives far away, in the city. It is very dangerous to travel there, especially by yourself.”
But Pear Blossom was a determined young lady. Once she made up her mind to do something, she did it. And so, her mother left her go.
“Don’t worry, Mother. I will travel carefully and quickly. I will be back soon and we will have money and food.”
Pear Blossom set out for the city. She walked and walked. Soon she turned a bend in the road and came upon the most beautiful garden she had ever seen.
“Look at all the marvelous red poppies!” exclaimed Pear Blossom. Three little girls were playing in the garden, dashing among the beautiful poppies.
Pear Blossom watched as a magnificent butterfly darted through the poppies. The little girls began to chase the butterfly, trying to catch it. The poor butterfly flitted about, trying to stay away from the grasping hands of the little girls.
“I must help that wonderful creature,” said Pear Blossom, and she ran into the garden, gently catching the butterfly.
“Who are you? Get out of our garden and give us back our butterfly!” shouted the three little girls.
Pear Blossom ran to the edge of the garden and released the butterfly. “Butterflies must be free to fly wherever they want,” she said to the girls.
“Are you a beggar?” the girls asked.
“No, I am not a beggar. I am traveling to the city to see my wealthy uncle,” said Pear Blossom.
The three girls laughed. “Traveling to the city? You will never make it,” they shouted together.
They told Pear Blossom about the Golden Dragon living in the mountains right outside the city.
“He is a terrible dragon. He breathes fire and eats anyone who dares to try to pass his cave. You will never make it past him,” they said and ran back to their house at the other end of the garden.
Pear Blossom walked away. “What can I do? A fire-breathing dragon is too much for me,” she thought. Her shoulders drooped and her steps were heavy with sadness.
Suddenly, she heard a whisper.
“Pear Blossom, I will help you just as you helped me,” said the tiny voice.
In front of Pear Blossom flew the Butterfly Fairy. “I know something about the Golden Dragon that will help you. He loves flowers but he can’t grow any because his breath burns them all up.”
Butterfly Fairy gave Pear Blossom a lovely bouquet of flowers. “Take these with you and when you see the dragon, give these to him and ask him to let you pass.”
Pear Blossom smiled. “Thank you, Butterfly Fairy.” She took the bouquet and ran down the road toward the city.
Soon she came to the mountain where the dragon lived.
“Who is trying to get past my mountain?” said a loud, terrible voice from within the cave. The Golden Dragon appeared at the opening, roaring with a deafening sound.
Pear Blossom was afraid. But she gathered her strength, and said, “Oh, Honorable Dragon. I have brought you this beautiful bouquet of flowers. If you would stop roaring and breathing fire, you could grow flowers as beautiful as these right here beside your cave.”
The dragon smelled the fragrant flowers. “Thank you, Pear Blossom, you have been so kind. No one has ever brought me a gift or been kind to me before.” The dragon looked at the flowers. “Stay here. I have something for you.” He disappeared into his cave.
Soon he was back, and gave her three jeweled necklaces, more beautiful than any jewelry Pear Blossom had ever seen. She thanked him and walked into the city, right to her rich uncle’s house.
When she saw her uncle, she told him how his sister and she lived in poverty and had no food. She asked him politely if he would help them.
Her uncle shouted in anger. “What? Do you think I have money to give away?”
Pear Blossom was sad. “Uncle, I have traveled many days and nights to come here. I met the Golden Dragon and he let me pass. I gave him a beautiful bouquet of flowers and he gave me these necklaces.”
The necklaces glittered and shone in front of the uncle. He could see how valuable they were.
The uncle ran into his house, without speaking to Pear Blossom, and grabbed the vase of flowers on his table. He rushed past her and ran to the mountain. Her uncle was a large man, and it took him quite awhile to run to the dragon’s cave.
When he got to the cave, he shouted to the dragon. “Come and look, Dragon. I have brought your flowers. Now, give me some jewels, too!”
The dragon appeared at the opening to his cave. He saw the uncle standing there with a ragged, wilted bouquet of almost dead flowers.
“Get off my mountain,” roared the dragon. The frightened uncle ran all the way back to the city.
Pear Blossom, in the meantime, had kept walking, wondering what she would do now that her uncle would not help her. Soon she came to the house of the Empress of China. News of the necklaces had reached the Empress and she sent for Pear Blossom to come show them to her.
Pear Blossom held out the necklaces for the Empress to see. “I have no need for these necklaces,” said Pear Blossom. “I can see you admire them greatly. Please accept them as a gift from my poor mother and myself.”
The Empress listened to Pear Blossom’s story about her journey, how she tamed the dragon, and how poor she and her mother were. The Empress was touched, and from that day forward Pear Blossom and her mother lived at the court with the Empress. They were never hungry or wanted for anything again.
Pear Blossom and the Butterfly Fairy often visited the Golden Dragon. He stayed calm and peaceful, and soon, a beautiful garden of flowers grew outside his cave.
Pear Blossom’s uncle never left his house again. When he tried to, the dragon would chase him back inside with his anger. “Go home, you greedy little man,” he shouted, remembering the wilted flowers the uncle had brought him.
I hope you enjoyed this tale. Have a great Tuesday!
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com