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Copyright 2009 by Grace LinAll rights reserved. Except as permittedunder the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, nopart of this publication may bereproduced, distributed, or transmittedin any form or by any means, or stored ina database or retrieval system, withoutthe prior written permission of thepublisher.Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersHachette Book Group237 Park Avenue, New York, NY tle, Brown Books for Young Readers

is a division of Hachette Book Group,Inc.The Little, Brown name and logo aretrademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.First eBook Edition: June 2009The characters and events portrayed inthis book are fictitious. Any similarity toreal persons, living or dead, iscoincidental and not intended by theauthor.ISBN: 978-0-316-05260-3

ContentsCOPYRIGHTCHAPTER 1CHAPTER 2CHAPTER 3CHAPTER 4CHAPTER 5CHAPTER 6CHAPTER 7CHAPTER 8CHAPTER 9CHAPTER 10CHAPTER 11CHAPTER 12CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14CHAPTER 15CHAPTER 16CHAPTER 17CHAPTER 18CHAPTER 19CHAPTER 20CHAPTER 21CHAPTER 22CHAPTER 23CHAPTER 24CHAPTER 25CHAPTER 26CHAPTER 27CHAPTER 28CHAPTER 29CHAPTER 30CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32CHAPTER 33CHAPTER 34CHAPTER 35CHAPTER 36CHAPTER 37CHAPTER 38CHAPTER 39CHAPTER 40CHAPTER 41CHAPTER 42CHAPTER 43CHAPTER 44CHAPTER 45CHAPTER 46CHAPTER 47CHAPTER 48

AUTHOR’S NOTES

FOR ROBERTSPECIAL THANKS TO:ALVINA, CONNIE, LIBBY, JANET, MOM,DAD, AND ALEX

CHAPTER1Far away from here, following the JadeRiver, there was once a black mountainthat cut into the sky like a jagged pieceof rough metal. The villagers called itFruitless Mountain because nothing grewon it and birds and animals did not restthere.Crowded in the corner of whereFruitless Mountain and the Jade Rivermet was a village that was a shade offaded brown. This was because the landaround the village was hard and poor.To coax rice out of the stubborn land, the

fields had to be flooded with water. Thevillagers had to tramp in the mud,bending and stooping and planting dayafter day. Working in the mud so muchmade it spread everywhere and the hotsun dried it onto their clothes and hairand homes. Over time, everything in thevillage had become the dull color ofdried mud.One of the houses in this villagewas so small that its wood boards, heldtogether by the roof, made one think of abunch of matches tied with a piece oftwine. Inside, there was barely enoughroom for three people to sit around thetable — which was lucky because onlythree people lived there. One of themwas a young girl called Minli.

Minli was not brown and dull likethe rest of the village. She had glossyblack hair with pink cheeks, shining eyesalways eager for adventure, and a fastsmile that flashed from her face. Whenpeople saw her lively and impulsivespirit, they thought her name, whichmeant quick thinking, suited her well.“Too well,” her mother sighed, as Minlihad a habit of quick acting as well.Ma sighed a great deal, animpatient noise usually accompaniedwith a frown at their rough clothes,rundown house, or meager food. Minlicould not remember a time when Ma didnot sigh; it often made Minli wish shehad been called a name that meant goldo r fortune instead. Because Minli and

her parents, like the village and the landaround them, were very poor. They werebarely able to harvest enough rice tofeed themselves, and the only money inthe house was two old copper coins thatsat in a blue rice bowl with a whiterabbit painted on it. The coins and thebowl belonged to Minli; they had beengiven to her when she was a baby, andshe had had them for as long as shecould remember.What kept Minli from becomingdull and brown like the rest of thevillage were the stories her father toldher every night at dinner. She glowedwith such wonder and excitement thateven Ma would smile, though she wouldshake her head at the same time. Ba

seemed to drop his gray and workweariness — his black eyes sparkledlike raindrops in the sun when he begana story.“Ba, tell me the story aboutFruitless Mountain again,” Minli wouldsay as her mother spooned their plainrice into bowls. “Tell me again whynothing grows on it.”“Ah,” Minli’s father said, “you’veheard this so many times. You know.”“Tell me again, Ba,” Minli begged.“Please.”“Okay,” he said, and as he setdown his chopsticks his smile twinkledin a way that Minli loved.

THE STORY OFFRUITLESSMOUNTAINOnce when there were no riverson the earth, the Jade Dragon was incharge of clouds. She decided when andwhere the clouds would rain upon theland and when they would stop. She wasvery proud of her power and of thereverence the people of earth paid her.Jade Dragon had four dragon children:Pearl, Yellow, Long, and Black. Theywere large and strong and good and

kind. They helped Jade Dragon with herwork and whenever they flew in the skyshe was overwhelmed with love andpride.However, one day, as Jade Dragonended the rain and moved the cloudsaway from the land, she overheard somevillagers’ conversation.

“Ah, thank goodness the rain isgone,” one man said.“Yes,” another said, “I’m so tiredof the rain. I’m glad the clouds are goneand the sun is finally shining.”Those words filled Jade Dragonwith anger. Tired of rain! Glad theclouds were gone! Jade Dragon wasindignant. How dare the villagersdishonor her that way!Jade Dragon was so offended thatshe decided that she would never let itrain again. “The people can enjoy thesun forever,” Jade Dragon thoughtresentfully.Of course, that meant despair forthe people on earth. As the sun beatoverhead and the rain never came,

drought and famine spread over the land.Animals and trees withered and died andthe people begged for rain, but JadeDragon ignored them.But their suffering did not gounnoticed by Jade Dragon’s children.They were horrified at the anguish andmisery on earth. One by one, they wentto their mother and pleaded forgivenessfor the humans — but even their wordsdid not soften their mother’s cold heart.“We will never make it rain for thepeople again,” Jade Dragon vowed.Pearl, Yellow, Long, and Black metin secret.“We must do something to help thepeople,” Black said, “If they do not getwater soon, they will all die.”

“Yes,” Yellow said, “but what canwe do? We cannot make it rain. WecannotdishonorMotherwithdisobedience.”Long looked down at the earth. “Iwill sacrifice myself for the people ofearth,” he said. “I will lie on the landand transform myself into water for themto drink.”The others looked at him inastonishment, but one by one theynodded.“I will do the same,” Yellow said.“As will we,” Pearl and Blacksaid.So Jade Dragon’s children wentdown to earth and turned themselves intowater, saving the people on the earth.

They became the four great rivers ofland, stopping the drought and death ofall those on earth.But when Jade Dragon saw whather children had done, she cursed herselffor her pride. No longer would herdragon children fly in the air with her orcall her Mother. Her heart broke in griefand sadness; she fell from the sky andturned herself into the Jade River inhopes that she could somehow bereunited with her children.Fruitless Mountain is the brokenheart of Jade Dragon. Nothing grows orlives on the mountain; the land around itis hard and the water of the river is darkbecause Jade Dragon’s sad spirit is stillthere. Until Jade Dragon is no longer

lonely and reunited with at least one ofher children, Fruitless Mountain willremain bare.“Why doesn’t someone bring the waterof the four great rivers to the mountain?”Minli asked, even though she had askedthis question many times before. Everytime Ba told the story, she couldn’t helpthink how wonderful it would be to havethe mountain blooming with fruit andflowers, bringing richness to their needyvillage. “Wouldn’t that make JadeDragon happy?”“When Jade Dragon’s childrenturned themselves into water,” Minli’s

father said, “they were at peace and theirspirits were released. Their spirits areno longer in the water. So Jade Dragoncannot find them in the rivers. Over ahundred years ago, a man tried to reunitethem by taking stones from the mountainto the rivers.”“That man was not taking the stonefor a dragon spirit,” Minli’s mother cutin. She never quite approved of Ba’sstories as she felt they made Minliimpractical and caused her to daydream.“My grandmother told me he was anartist. He took the mountain rock tocarve into inking stones.”“Did he ever come back?” Minliasked.“No. It probably did not make good

ink,” Ma sighed. “He probably foundsomething finer elsewhere. I bet thebronze on his horse’s saddle was morethan we will ever have.”Ma’s sighs made Minli wish thatevery rock of Fruitless Mountain wasgold and she couldn’t help asking, “Sohow will Fruitless Mountain ever growgreen again?”“Ah,” her father said, “that is aquestion you will have to ask the OldMan of the Moon.”“Oh, tell that story next!” Minlibegged. “Whenever I ask somethingimportant, people say, ‘That is aquestion you have to ask the Old Man ofthe Moon.’ Someday, I will ask him.”“The Old Man of the Moon!

Another story! Our house is bare and ourrice hardly fills our bowls, but we haveplenty of stories.” Ma sighed again.“What a poor fortune we have!”“Maybe,” Ba said to Minli,glancing at Ma, “I should tell you thatstory tomorrow.”

CHAPTER2Every morning, before the sun rose,Minli, her mother, and father began workin the fields. It was planting season,which was especially grueling. The mudstuck to their feet like glue and eachseedling had to be painstakingly plantedby hand. When the hot sun burnedoverhead, Minli’s knees shook fromweariness. She hated the feeling of thick,soggy mud on her hands and face; andmany times she wanted to stop inirritation and exhaustion. But seeing herparents’ bent backs, patiently working,

made her swallow her complaints andcontinue.As soon as the sun began to set,Minli’s parents sent her home to makedinner and to rest while they continuedto work in the thick mud. They would notcome home until the sun had completelydisappeared from the sky.At home, Minli washed her faceand hands and feet; and even though allthe water in the basin turned brown, shestill felt like she was covered in mud.Her arms and legs were so tired that shefelt like an old crab crawling on rocks.As she looked at herself reflected in thedark water, she saw Ma’s frown on herface.Ma is right, Minli thought. What a

poor fortune we have. Every day, Baand Ma work and work and we stillhave nothing. I wish I could change ourfortune.At that very moment, Minli heard afaint murmuring sound that she had neverheard before, like a song chanted fromthe clouds. Curious, she opened the doorto see what the noise was.And there, on the road in front ofher house, she saw a small strangercalling out quietly. “Goldfish,” he wassaying softly, as if he were coaxing hisfish to swim. “Bring fortune into yourhome.”Minli and the villagers stared as hewheeled his cart. Even though thevillage was by a river, it had been many

years since anyone had seen a glimpse ofa goldfish. The fish in the Jade Riverwere brown and gray, like the village.The goldfish man’s cart was full ofbowls of flashing fish that glittered likejewels.His gentle calling drew Minli tohim like a moth to a lit lantern. “Howdoes a goldfish bring fortune into yourhome?” Minli asked.The goldfish man looked at her; thesun setting behind him made him glowbright red and yellow. “Don’t youknow?” he asked her. “Goldfish meansplenty of gold. Having a bowl ofgoldfish means your house will be full ofgold and jade.”As Minli stared into his bowls with

her shining black eyes, a brilliant orangefish stared back at her with its shiningblack eyes. And then quickly, so quicklythat Minli barely thought about it, sheturned into the house and grabbed thetwo copper coins from the white rabbitrice bowl.“I’ll buy that one,” Minli said, andshe pointed at the fiery orange fish withthe black eyes and fin that had caught hereye.

The other village children looked ather enviously while the watching adultsshook their heads. “Minli,” one neighborsaid, “don’t believe his impossible talk.A goldfish won’t bring fortune. Saveyour money.”But Minli was not discouraged andshe held out her copper coins to thegoldfish man. He looked at her andsmiled. Then he took one coin, picked upthe fishbowl, and gave it to her.“May it bring you great fortune,” hesaid. And with a small bow to thevillagers, he wheeled out of the village.In moments, he disappeared from viewinto the shadow of Fruitless Mountain,and if it wasn’t for the goldfish Minlihad in her hands, all would have thought

he was a dream.

CHAPTER3But the goldfish was real, and when herparents returned from the fields fordinner they were not happy to learn thatMinli had spent her money on it.“How could you spend your moneyon that!” Ma said, slapping the ricebowls on the table. “On something souseless? And we will have to feed it!There is barely enough rice for us as itis.”“I will share my rice with it,” Minlisaid quickly. “The goldfish man said thatit will bring fortune to our house.”

“Fortune!” Ma said. “You spenthalf the money in our house!”“Now, Wife,” Ba said, sittingquietly, “it was Minli’s money. It washers to do with as she wished. Moneymust be used sometime. What use ismoney in a bowl?”“It is more useful than a goldfish ina bowl,” her mother said shortly.“Who knows,” Ba said. “Maybe itwill bring fortune to our house.”“Another impossible dream,” Masaid, looking at the plain rice in herbowl with bitterness. “It will take morethan a goldfish to bring fortune to ourhouse.”“Like what?” Minli asked. “Whatdo we need to bring fortune here?”

“Ah,” Ba said, “that is a questionyou will have to ask the Old Man of theMoon.”“The Old Man of the Moon again,”Minli said, and she looked at her father.“Ba, you said you would tell me the OldMan of the Moon story again today.”“More stories!” Ma said, and herchopsticks struck the inside of her emptyrice bowl resentfully. “Haven’t we hadenough of those?”“Now, Wife,” Ba said again,“stories cost us nothing.”“And gain us nothing as well,” Masaid.There was a stony silence as Balooked sadly into his rice bowl. Minlitugged at his sleeve. “Please, Ba?” she

said.Ma shook her head and sighed, butsaid nothing, so Ba began.THE STORY OF THE OLDMAN OF THE MOONOnce there was a magistrate whowas quite powerful and proud. He wasso proud that he demanded constantrespect from his people. Whenever hemade a trip out of the city, no matter

what time of day or night, people wereto leave their homes, get on their knees,and make deep bows as he passed, orelse face the brutal punishment of hissoldiers. The magistrate was fierce inhis anger as well as his pride. It is saidhe even expected the monkeys to comedown from the trees to bow to him.The magistrate was harsh with hissubordinates, ruthless to his enemies,and pitiless to his people. All feared hiswrath, and when he roared his orders thepeople trembled. Behind his back, theycalled him Magistrate Tiger.Magistrate Tiger’s most covetedwish was to be of royal blood. Hisevery decision was crafted for thatpurpose; every manipulation was part of

a strategy to achieve acceptance into theimperial family. As soon as his son wasborn, he began to make trips andinquiries to gain influence, in hopes thathe could marry his son to a member ofthe imperial family.One night, as the magistratetraveled through the mountains (again ona trip to gain favor for his son’s futuremarriage), he saw an old man sittingalone in the moonlight. The old manignored the passing horses andcarriages, the silk brocade and thegovernment seal, and simply continuedreading a large book in his lap, placidlyfingering a bag of red string beside him.The old man’s indifference infuriatedMagistrate Tiger and he ordered the

carriage to stop. However, even thehalting noises did not make the old manlook up. Finally, Magistrate Tiger exitedhis carriage and went to the old man,still engrossed in his book.“Do you not bow to yourmagistrate?!” he roared.The old man continued to read.“What are you reading that is soimportant?” the magistrate demanded,and looked at the pages of the book. Itwas full of scribbles and scrawls thatwere not of any language the magistrateknew of. “Why, it’s just nonsensewritten in there!”“Nonsense!” the old man said,finally looking up. “You fool. This is theBook of Fortune. It holds all the

knowledge of the world — the past,present, and future.”The magistrate looked again at themarks on the page. “I cannot read it,” hesaid.“Of course not,” the man said. “ButI, the Old Man of the Moon, Guardian ofthe Book of Fortune, can read it. Andwith it, I can answer any question in theworld.”“You can answer any question inthe world?” the magistrate scoffed.“Very well. Who will my son marrywhen he is of age?”The Old Man of the Moon flippedthe pages of the book. “Hmm,” he said tohimself. “Yes, here it is your son’sfuture wife is now the two-year-old

daughter of a grocer in the next village.”“The daughter of a grocer!” themagistrate spat.“Yes,” the Old Man of the Mooncontinued. “Right now she is wrapped ina blue blanket embroidered with whiterabbits, sitting on the lap of her blindgrandmother in front of her house.”“No!” the magistrate said. “I won’tallow it!”“It’s true,” the Old Man said. “Theyare destined to be husband and wife. I,myself, tied the red cord that bindsthem.”“What red cord?” Magistrate Tigerdemanded.“Do you know nothing? I tietogether everyone who meets with these

red threads.” The Old Man sighed,holding up his bag full of red string.“When you were born, I tied your ankleto your wife’s ankle with a red thread,and as you both grew older the linebecame shorter until you eventually met.All the people you’ve met in your lifehave been brought to you by the redcords I tied. I must have forgotten to tiethe end of one of the lines, which is whyyou are meeting me now. I won’t do thatagain.”“I don’t believe you,” themagistrate said.“Believe or don’t believe,” the OldMan said, standing up and putting the bigbook on his back, “we have reached theend of our thread and I will now leave.”

Themagistratestaredindumbfounded silence as the Old Man ofthe Moon walked away up the mountain.“Crazy old man,” the magistratesaid finally. “What a waste of my time!”The magistrate returned to hiscarriage and continued on. But as theydrove through the next village, he saw anold blind woman holding a baby girl infront of a house. The girl was wrappedin a blue blanket embroidered withwhite rabbits, just as the Old Man of theMoon had said.Magistrate Tiger burned withanger. “I will not let my son marry agrocer’s daughter!” he vowed. So, afterhe arrived at his guesthouse, themagistrate secretly ordered one of his

servants to return to the grocer’s homeand stab the girl with a knife. That willtake care of her, he thought to himself.Many years later, Magistrate Tigerhad his dream fulfilled. He was finallyable to obtain a match for his son withoneoftheemperor’smanygranddaughters, and his son wouldinherit the rule of a remote city. On thewedding day, Magistrate Tiger braggedto his son about how he had arranged themarriage and outwitted the Man of theMoon. The son (who was not like hisfather) said nothing, but after thewedding ceremony, sent a trustedservant to find the grocer’s family tomake amends. In the meantime, hebecame acquainted with his bride and

was happy to find that both were pleasedwith each other. He found his new wifebeautiful, the only oddity about her beingthat she always wore a delicate floweron her forehead.“Dear Wife,” he said, “Why do youalways wear that flower? Even to sleep,you never remove it.”“It is to hide my scar,” she said,touching her forehead in embarrassment.“When I was a child no older than two, astrange man stabbed me with a knife. Isurvived, but I still have this scar.”And at that moment, the trustedservant came rushing in. “Master,” hesaid, “I made the inquiries you askedfor. In a flood many years ago, thegrocer’s family perished — except for

the daughter. The king of the city (theemperor’s ninth son) then adopted thedaughter and raised her as his own and that daughter is your wife!”“So the Old Man of the Moon wasright!” Minli said.“Of course he was,” Ba replied.“The Old Man of the Moon knowseverything and can answer any questionyou ask.”“I should ask him how to bringfortune to our house!” Minli said. “Hewould know, I’ll ask him. Where do Ifind him?”“They say he lives on top of Never-

Ending Mountain,” Ba said. “But no oneI have ever spoken to knows where thatis.”“Maybe we can find out,” Minlisaid.“Oh, Minli!” Ma said impatiently.“Bringing fortune to our house! MakingFruitless Mountain bloom! You’realways wishing to do impossible things!Stop believing stories and stop wastingyour time.”“Stories are not a waste of time,”Ba said.“Stories,” Ma said, slapping herhands against the table, making the waterin the fishbowl sway as she stood up andleft the table, “are what wasted moneyon this goldfish.”

Minli stared down at her rice bowl;the few white grains left sat likeprecious pearls at the bottom of herbowl. Ba patted her arm. “Eat all yourrice, Daughter,” he said, and with hisshaking hands, he scooped the last of hisown rice to feed the fish.

CHAPTER4That night Minli could not sleep. Ma’swords echoed in her ears and when sheclosed her eyes she saw Ba’s hand,shaking from hard work, feeding thegoldfish.“Ma is right,” Minli thought toherself, “the goldfish is just anothermouth to feed. I can’t let Ba feed thegoldfish. Ma and Ba work so hard forevery grain of rice, Ba shouldn’t have tofeed the goldfish too.”Minli slipped quietly out of her bedand crept to the table where the goldfish

was. They stared at each other and Minliknew what she had to do. Quickly,slipping on her shoes and jacket, shetook the goldfish and left the house.It was late. The village was quietlyasleep and the stars above filled the skylike spilled salt on dried seaweed.Minli’s footsteps seemed to hush thenight as she made her way toward theJade River.At the edge of the river, Minlilooked at her goldfish one last time. Themoon shone above so even in thedarkness of the night, the fish seemed toburn a bright orange. Its black eyessparkled at her.“I’m sorry I can’t keep you,” Minliwhispered. “I hope you will be all right

in the river.” And with those words, sheemptied the bowl into the water. For amoment the fish seemed shocked andwas still, like a flickering flame on amatch. Then it wiggled in the water andswam in circles, a joyful fire twirling inthe water.Minli watched it and sighed. As thesound faded into the night, Minlirealized it was an echo of her mother’simpatient, frustrated noise. “Ma willnever stop sighing unless our fortunechanges. But how will it ever change?”Minli asked ruefully. “I guess that is justanother question for the Old Man of theMoon. Too bad no one knows how to getto Never-Ending Mountain to ask himanything.”

The fish stopped swimming andlooked up at Minli.“I know where it is,” it said. Thefemale voice was high and soft, like thewind whistling through the reeds of thewater.Minli stared. “Did you saysomething?” she asked.“Yes,” the fish said. “I know howyou can get to Never-Ending Mountainand ask the Old Man of the Moon aquestion.”“You’re a talking fish?” Minliasked, her words tumbling into eachother with excitement. “How can youtalk?”“Most fish talk,” the fish said, “ifyou are willing to listen. One, of course,

must want to hear.”“I do,” Minli said, enthralled andeager. This was just like one of Ba’sstories! She bubbled with excitement.“How do you know the way to NeverEnding Mountain?”“I’ve swum all the oceans andrivers, except for one,” the fish said,“and on my way to the last, the goldfishman caught me. I despaired in his cart,for I have seen and learned much of theworld, including the way to NeverEnding Mountain. Since you have set mefree, I will tell you.”“You’ve swum all the oceans andrivers?” Minli asked. The questionsspilled like overflowing water. “Whichriver haven’t you seen? Why have you

traveled so much? Where is NeverEnding Mountain? When did ”“This river is the one river I havenot swum,” the fish interrupted, “and Ihave waited a long time to see it. So Iwould like to start as soon as possible.You can ask the Old Man of the Moonall your other questions. Let me tell youthe way to him so I can be off.”Minli nodded and asked no more.She realized she was having aconversation with a goldfish, which wasvery unusual, so she decided to listen.

CHAPTER5The next morning, Minli felt as if herhead was spinning with thoughts andplans. She was so busy thinking andplotting that she barely noticed herparents nodding sadly at each otherwhen they saw the empty fishbowl. Andin the fields, when Minli worked as if ina daze, her parents said nothing abouther slow and messy planting.When the sun began to set andMinli went home to make dinner, shequickly washed and made the rice. Thenshe set the table for two people, sat

down and wrote this note:Dear Ma and Ba,I am going to Never-EndingMountain to ask the Old Manof the Moon how I canchange our fortune. I mightbe away for many days, butdon’t worry, I will be fine.When I come back, we will beable to fill our house withgold and jade.Love your obedient daughter,MinliThe obedient part isn’t completely true,Minli thought to herself, as she knew her

parents would not be happy to find hergone. But it’s not false either. Theydidn’t say I couldn’t go, so I’m notbeing disobedient.Still, Minli knew that wasn’tentirely right either. But she shook awayher uneasy feelings and prepared for herjourney. On a blanket, she put:a needlea pair of chopsticksher white rabbit ricebowla small piece of driedbambooa hollow gourd full ofwatera small knife

a fishnetsome uncooked ricea large potand the one remainingcopper coinThen she wrapped her blanket into abag, tied it on her back, and took a lastlook at the shabby house. Through thewindow, Fruitless Mountain stood like ashadow, but Minli closed her eyes andimagined the house shimmering withgold and the mountain jade green withtrees, and smiled. Then, she opened thedoor and left.

CHAPTER6As Minli left the house, she was afraidsome of her neighbors would stop her orask where she was going. She felt shemust look mysterious, with a large bagon her back and full of excitement. Butno one noticed her. The neighbors keptsweeping their doorways, hanging theirlaundry, and preparing dinner. A boyand girl continued their fight over apretend feast of mud. When the mothercalled them for dinner, both refused tomove, each clinging to their dishes ofwet dirt; Minli had to smile at their

foolishness.So Minli walked right out of thevillage without causing a second glance.At the edge of the village, she turnedtoward Fruitless Mountain.At the bottom of the mountain, sheunwrapped her blanket and took out herknife, needle, rice bowl, bamboo piece,and jug of water. Then, trying toremember all of the goldfish’sinstructions, she cracked off a small bitof stone and rubbed it up and down theneedle 99 times before tossing it back tothe ground. Then she filled her rice bowlhalfway with water and let the bamboofloat in it. After that, she picked up theneedle and looked at the white rabbit onher bowl.

“Okay,” she said to the jumpingrabbit, “lead the way.” And she placedthe needle onto the bamboo. Like magic,the needle spun around. Minli smiled.“Thank you,” Minli said again tothe painted rabbit. “Now, I’ll followwhere you want me to go!”Minli packed up her things and,carefully holding the bowl in her hand,walked in the direction of the needle,past Fruitless Mountain. “Goodbye, JadeDragon,” Minli said as she left. “When Icome back I will know how to make youhappy again!”Minli walked and walked and thestony land slowly turned into forest.Even when the moon was high in the sky,she continued. “I want to make sure I

walk far enough that if Ma and Ba beginto look for me, they can’t find me,”Minli said to herself. The fallen leavesmade a soft carpet for her feet and thenight birds flew into the sky as shepassed. Only when the sky lightened togray and the sun began to peek over thehorizon did Minli sit down and restagainst a tall tree. She had traveled deepinto the forest, far from her village andher home. She was so tired that shequickly fell asleep.

CHAPTER7The sun had set and the moon was justbeginning to rise in the sky when Ma andBa returned home from the fields. Eventhough they could smell the steam fromthe rice cooking, they noticed the housewas strangely dark and quiet.“Why is Minli sitting in thedarkness?” Ma wondered as theyapproached the house.“Perhaps she is sad about giving upher goldfish,” Ba said as he shook hishead.“Can our fortune be any poorer?”

Ma sighed. “We cannot even feed agoldfish for our daughter.”But as Minli’s parents entered thehouse and read her note, Ma made anoise like a shrieking cat.“I spoke too soon,” Ma cried. “Ourfortune is now the worst, for our onlydaughter is gone!”“Quiet, quiet, Wife,” Ba hushedher. “If we move quickly, we can findher and bring her back home.”Ba hurriedly took out his cloth sackand gathered blankets and filled anempty bottle with water. “She has hadalmost half a day to travel ahead,” hesaid. “It might take us some time to findher.” Ma watched him and then began topack the cooked rice into a traveling

box. But she continued to weep. “It is allthe stories you told her,” Ma sobbed.“She believed them and now is lookingfor fairy tales.”Her words cut into Ba like slices ofa knife but, even though his face waspained, he said nothing and continued topack. His hands trembled as he tied thebag closed, but they were gentle when heput them on Ma’s shoulder. “Let us go,”he said.As they left the house, many of theirneighbors poked their heads out theirdoors. They had heard Ma’s screamthrough the thin walls of their closelyspaced houses and wante

this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. ISBN: 978--316-05260-3. Contents COPYRIGHT CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 2 CHAPTER 3 CHAPTER 4 CHAPTER 5 CHAPTER 6 CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER 8 CHAPTER 9 CHAPTER 10 CHAPTER 11 CHAPTER 12 CHAPTER 13. CHAPTER 14 CHAPTER 15 CHAPTER 16