The Journey of Two Worms

Once, there were two young worms. The big brother was a do-er. The little brother was a thinker. One day, the big brother heard of an old worm who could turn them into dragons. “Let’s go to find her!” he said to his little brother.

18 The Journey of Two WormsSo the two worms set off across the rice paddy. Sure enough, they bumped into the old worm. “I will turn you into dragons,” she hissed. “But first you must obey me. Dig this mud!”

The worms set to work immediately. But six months later, they were still digging. It was dirty, grimy, gritty work and the worms began to argue. “We’re no closer to being dragons than when we started,” said the big brother. “I think that old worm is a fraud.”

“Hush,” said the little brother. “It’s rude to talk like that.”

“At least we could ask her how much longer we have to do this.”

The little brother finally agreed.

“You are near the end,” said the old worm. “Tomorrow, you must set off for the lake. Before you reach there, you will cross a large field which needs plowing. Plow for one hundred days then crawl down to the lake.”

But plowing was even more tiring than digging. On the ninety-ninth day, the big worm had had enough. “I’m going now,” he said.

The lake blinked in the late evening sun. The big brother wriggled faster. But then there was a terrific thunderstorm, and lightning struck. The worm’s head turned into a dragon, but not his body. He hid inside a cave.

The next morning, he watched his little brother transform into a magnificent dragon. The big worm was so embarrassed about his body, he stayed inside the cave forever.

This is an adaptation of an ancient Manchu story.

Illustrated by Bianca Lesaca

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