The magical scarf and the missing donkey

Once upon a time, there lived a hardworking though poor woodcutter in China.

All day and every day, Lee, for that was his name, worked from dawn to dusk to fell wood in deep jungles, which he then loaded on his faithful donkey’s back and trudged wearily to the market to sell them. Though he reached home late every day he didn’t mind it for his wife was a cantankerous woman.

One fateful day, as Lee made his way out of the jungle with a load of wood on his donkey’s back, a booming sound came from the sky. The terrified woodcutter stopped in his tracks. He shook in his shoes as he saw a ten-foot tall giant of a man standing before him. “How dare you cut wood from my jungle?” thundered the giant. “I am going to step on you and your precious donkey now!”

Lee knew that he had to think of something real quick. “You are a very clever man! You really took me by surprise! I didn’t see you coming! That’s mighty sneaky of you, Big Man!” The giant was pleased by Lee’s praise. “Ah, that’s nothing. You see, I have a magical scarf that makes me invisible when I wear it. I can creep up on anybody.”

“A magical scarf? Bah! I don’t believe you!” said Lee with a cunning gleam in his eyes.

“It is true. Really true. If you wish to be convinced, here, put it around your donkey’s neck,” replied the giant as he threw a red scarf on the donkey. Lee quickly climbed on his donkey’s back and draped the scarf around them both. Sure enough they became invisible.

“Hey, where are you? Give me back my scarf, you scoundrel!” screamed the furious giant. Lee trotted home quite pleased with himself.

The magical scarf turned the woodcutter’s life around on its head. He or his greedy wife would wear the scarf and help themselves to whatever they wanted without having to pay for it. They grew rich rather quickly and decided to leave town before they were found out.

It was a long walk to the nearest city. Both Lee and his wife were feeling hot and tired. The woollen scarf was too warm to wear.

“Here, you hold the scarf for some time,” said Lee to his wife.

“No way! You wear it. . . it’s yours, isn’t it?”

“It is yours too!” shouted Lee in anger.

And so the two quarrelled for a long time, until finally, in a fit of rage, Lee threw it on their donkey. Lo and behold! The donkey became invisible. And so did all their ill-gotten wealth!

The foolish couple called out to their precious animal but it was of no use. The donkey could never ever be found.

People in China say that even today, you might meet Lee and his wife waving their arms about as they call out to their donkey on their way to the city.

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