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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Let Me Sleep!

Night fell across the land. The sun lay down behind the horizon; people went into their homes to rest and silence filled the valley. Up on the top of the mountain, Yong-Hu and Ho-Shing, two pandas, curled up at the bottom of the bamboo canes and closed their eyes. Ho-Shing fell asleep quickly, as he normally did, but Yong-Hu lay awake. His mind was filled with thoughts about the dayís events and what tomorrow might bring.

CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! Yong-Hu heard a toad calling. He opened his eyes. He didnít know there were toads in the stream that ran near the bamboo forest. CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! He enjoyed listening to the noise. He imagined a large green toad with brown speckles, sitting on a lotus pad, calling to the other toads in the area. CROAK! CROAK! CROAK!

After an hour, Yong-Hu was beginning to tire. He wanted to go to sleep. He closed his eyes and got comfortable. He was just about asleep when he heard, CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! He didnít want to listen to the toad any longer. He wanted it to be quiet, but the toad had other ideas. The whole night long it went, CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! Yong-Hu lay awake, tossing and turning. He put his furry paws over his ears, but he could still hear the toad croaking. CROAK! CROAK! CROAK!

When the sun rose behind the mountains, the toad stopped. Yong-Hu yawned and fell asleep. He was awakened a few minutes later by Ho-Shing. "Yong-Hu, it is time to get up. You canít sleep the whole day away. I see some new bamboo shoots that look delicious. We talked about exploring some of the caves today. Yong-Hu, wake up!" Ho-Shing shook the sleepy panda.

"I donít want to get up. Iím tired," Yong-Hu complained.

"Why are you tired? We went to bed early," Ho-Shing wondered.

"It was the toad," Yong-Hu mumbled.

Not understanding what he was saying, Ho-Shing continued to shake his friend. "Get up, Yong-Hu."

Yong-Hu, seeing he was going to get no peace, sat up. He stretched and opened his eyes. "Iím tired, Ho-Shing."

"Letís eat something. Youíll feel better after nibbling on a few bamboo leaves," Ho-Shing encouraged the tired bear. He stood up and pulled a few leaves off. "Here. Eat these," Ho-Shing said, handing him the leaves. Yong-Hu munched away on them. He did feel a little better but he yawned all the time. "Why donít we go and find those caves now," Ho-Shing stated. "Weíll have a wonderful time. I hear there are precious jewels and gold in the caves, embedded in the walls. Maybe we shall find something beautiful."

He stood up and pulled Yong-Hu up. "Come on."

The two bears walked towards the cave. Yong-Hu stumbled a lot. When they got to the stream, he splashed water on his face. "That feels better," he said, waking up a little bit. "Where are those caves?" he asked, trying to act interested. All he really wanted to do was go back to the forest and sleep.

"They are up here," Ho-Shing said, galloping up the mountainside. "There they are," he said, stopping to point them out.

Soon they were at the entrance to the cave. "Itís dark in there," Yong-Hu said.

"Itís not that dark. Weíll be just fine," Ho-Shing assured him. They walked into the cave. "Look at the walls of the caves. Do you see the emeralds, rubies, and amethyst?"

Yong-Hu looked. It was rather pretty. He reached up to touch them. "How can we get them out?" he asked.

"We canít. We are just here to admire them, not to take them home. What would we do with jewels?" Ho-Shing asked.

Yong-Hu shrugged his furry shoulders. "Gold," he said, seeing a sparkly substance on the other side of the cave. "Weíve found gold!"

"Why, you are right, Yong-Hu. That is gold. Very good," Ho-Shing said.

"Can we take the gold?" he asked.

"No, it doesnít belong to us. It belongs to the cave. The jewels and gold are part of who and what the cave is. We must not disturb it," a wise Ho-Shing said.

After a while they left the cave. Yong-Hu had begun to yawn and Ho-Shing thought it might be better if he had some fresh air. They sat outside the cave, looking down on the valley. The sun was warm and there was only a gentle breeze. Yong-Hu began to get very sleep. He lay down on a rock. "I just want to rest for a short while," he told Ho-Shing.

"Yong-Hu? What is wrong with you? Why are you so tired?" he asked, but Yong-Hu was already asleep. Ho-Shing shook him. "Wake up."

Yong-Hu rolled over and yawned. He was not a happy panda. He wanted to sleep. "Lets go home, Ho-Shing. I want to sleep."

"I give up," said Ho-Shing. "All right. Weíll go home."

The two pandas went back to the bamboo forest. Yong-Hu was so tired that he lay right down and fell asleep. When the sun set, he was still sleeping. Ho-Shing lay down next to him. Yong-Hu was snoring, but that didnít bother Ho-Shing. Just then he heard, CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! It was the toad again. Like Yong-Hu the night before, Ho-Shing at first enjoyed listening to the toad. CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! He tried to imagine it sitting in the stream, catching flies with its long sticky tongue. When Ho-Shing wanted to fall asleep, he couldnít. The toad was making too much noise. CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! It went like that all night long. Ho-Shing lay awake all night long. When the sun rose behind the mountain the next morning, he was finally able to fall asleep because the toad hopped away.

"Time to get up," called Yong-Hu. He was feeling good. Heíd slept the whole night and felt refreshed and filled with energy.

But Ho-Shing didnít feel that way. He was sleepy. He was tired. "Leave me alone. I want to sleep," he said to Yong-Hu.

Yong-Hu remembered how heíd felt the day before. He remembered how tired heíd been, so he let Ho-Shing sleep for several hours before waking him up. That night the pandas didnít hear the toad croak. It had hopped off to another place in the stream. Both pandas were relieved. They lay there talking, ready to go to sleep when suddenly they heard, CHIRP! CHIRP! CHIRP!

"Oh no. A cricket!" sighed Ho-Shing, knowing both of them would lay awake all night long!

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