Chinese Folktales

29. The Dragon Emerging from Hibernation Once

there was a scholar Who Was reading a book on the upper floor of his house. It was a cloudy, dull day and it Was raining. Suddenly he noticed a small creature as brilliant as a glow-worm. It was crawling up the table. Wherever it passed it left a black singed trail, crooked like the trail of an earthworm. Slowly it crawled up on the scholar’s book and the book, too, turned black. It was Chen that it occurred to the scholar that this could Well be a dragon. He therefore carried the book to his door. There he stood watching it for a good while, but the small animal remained curled up, motionless.

Then the scholar said: ‘Let no one say that I am lacking in respect.’ With these words he carried the book bark and placed it on his table again. He then donned formal clothes, made a deep bow and conducted it outside. No sooner had he passed through the door than he saw the thing raise its head and suddenly straighten out. With a hissing sound it flew up from the book, describing a fiery streak. Once more it turned towards the scholar and by then its head was the size of a barrel and its body Was ten feet round.

One more snaking twist and with a terrifying clap of thunder the dragon soared up into the air.

The scholar returned and tried to trace the path of the small animal Its trail went this way and that, all the way back to his box of books.