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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Gift

"Itís nice down here in the valley, isnít it Ho-Shing?"

"Yes," he answered. "I miss the mountains but it is nice to have a change. The only thing I donít like is that it rains more often here. My fur has barely dried out from the last rain and it looks like more on its way."

"I have a great idea. Why donít we use umbrellas?" Yong-Hu suggested.

"Umbrellas? Where might two pandas find umbrellas?" Ho-Shing asked.

"Iím sure we could find one in the village somewhere. When I used to sit with you on the boulder, I could see a village down below, not far from the river. Letís go there and see if we can find an umbrella. That way, if it rains, we can stay dry," Yong-Hu said.

"Iím not sure if weíll find one or not, but we can try," Ho-Shing added.

The pandas walked along the riverbank. Thick, gray clouds hid the sun. "Itís going to rain any minute," Yong-Hu said, looking up. "How much longer until we reach the village?"

"I think weíll be there shortly. I hear noises; village noises. We must be careful though, Yong-Hu," Ho-Shing warned. "People might be frightened if they see us. We are pandas and some are afraid of pandas."

They crept up to the village. Small huts made of wood and leaves, stood in a circle. A well sat in the center. "That must be how they get their water," Yong-Hu said.

"Yes. It is. I donít think they have any umbrellas in this village. Aside from the people, I see a few pigs, dogs and chickens. I see nothing else," Ho-Shing said, parting leaves on a bush and peeking through.

"The umbrellas would be inside their huts," Yong-Hu reminded Ho-Shing. It began to rain. The women, men, and children all ran into their huts. A small girl turned to look at the pandas before she went inside. "Do you think she saw us?" Yong-Hu asked.

"I think maybe she did. Sheís just a child. She wonít do anything," Ho-Shing said.

The pandas were drenched. The rain came down in torrents, soaking them in minutes. The trees surrounding the village didnít offer much protection. "I think we should just go back to our forest. I think you are right. There are no umbrellas here," Yong-Hu said, wiping water out of his eyes. Just then the small girl came out of the hut. "What is she doing? Is she coming towards us? Whatís that in her hands?"

"You ask too many questions, Yong-Hu! I donít know what she is doing. Stay still though," Ho-Shing warned.

The small girl walked right up to the pandas. She smiled at them. Ho-Shing and Yong-Hu stared at her. "My name is Li-Ming. I brought this umbrella for you," she said, handing Ho-Shing a bright red umbrella with golden lanterns painted on it. "You are getting very wet. I hope this helps you."

Ho-Shing reached out and took the umbrella from her hands. "Thank you," he said. Yong-Hu didnít say a word. He was so surprised by her kindness.

The girl ran back into her house and looked out of the window. She waved at the pandas. Yong-Hu and Ho-Shing waved back. They put the umbrella up and stood under it. "Now weíll not be so wet," Yong-Hu said. He looked down at his paws. They were covered in mud. So were Ho-Shings. "At least most of us wonít get wet." He laughed. The two pandas walked back to the forest.

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