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Chinese Fable: Chinese Zodiac
1 Long ago in China, the Jade Emperor, the almighty Chinese God, decided to have a race. The Jade Emperor was the ruler of the heavens. He announced that he would set up a system that runs in a 12-year cycle. He called it the Zodiac. He offered to hold a contest on his birthday. The first twelve animals of his kingdom to arrive at the finish line would receive the honor of having a year named after them. All the animals were very excited!
2 Rat was ambitious. It wanted to win the first prize. Yet, it had two problems. The first was about the timing. Because the race would start at the crack of dawn, Rat was afraid that it could not wake up on time. The second was about the route. As the finish line would be directly beyond a swift river, Rat needed to find a way to cross the current. Just when Rat was contemplating a solution, it bumped into its best friend, Cat. After a lengthy discussion, the two animals came up with a brilliant idea. They decided to solicit help from Ox. Rat and Cat figured that Ox - always being an early riser and a good swimmer - could wake them up before sunrise and carry them across the river. With their minds made up, Rat and Cat went to see Ox. Out of kindness, Ox agreed to help. Hence, the three animals formed an alliance. They promised to help each other, so they could share the first prize.
3 On the day of the race, Ox woke up Rat and Cat and put them on its back. Just when Ox was half way across the river, Rat had a second thought about the plan. It wondered, "Why should I share the glory with Cat? Look at it! It just lies on Ox's back sleeping! What a lazy animal Cat is! Come to think of it, what if Cat decides not to honor the agreement? It runs fast. Surely, it can get to the finish line before I do, once Ox reaches the bank." Eager to win, Rat decided to get rid of Cat. It quietly crept next to Cat and gave it a push. SPLASH! Cat fell into the river. Not knowing how to swim, Cat called out for help. To its horror, Rat pretended not to hear its pleas and urged Ox to keep on moving.
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