How a Mischievious and Magical Monkey Named Ho Saves Three Men from the Frigid Grip of Winter

Essay by squirrel9iHigh School, 11th grade May 2003

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Daniel Wang

On a lazy and sultry summer day, three men were busy laboring in the lush, green rice paddies of the Jiangsu province. They had been busy working in the fields since the sun first touched the land with its warm rays. The men were good friends and owned and worked the land jointly so that they could be more efficient. The men were usually amiable around each other, but today they were unusually cantankerous because they had to harvest the rice in time before the chilling winter arrived. Otherwise, the men would be late and hungry for the remainder of the long, frigid winter. The three men grumbled and complained as they worked under the knowledge of their dire predicament. Chen, the oldest and brashest of the three men, voiced his complaints vehemently, "I am tired and hungry! There is no way that we can finish the harvest before the onset of winter!"

"I agree.

We work in vain. It is better off that we stop working and go relax and eat something. There is no point in getting the harvest in if we cannot finish in time. Let us enjoy the last few moments before our fates are sealed by the coming winter," chimed Li, the second oldest of the men who looked up to Chen as his role model. Li is also somewhat of a sycophant to his older companion.

"You both are fools for giving up! With hope and dedicated effort, we can at least harvest some more rice and carefully ration the food throughout the winter," admonished Wang, the most logical, rational, wise, and yet youngest of the three.

"If we are going to die of the frigid winter, let us be full before we leave this world," retorted Chen.

"Well, I have to agree with Chen, if we are going to die, let us die on a full stomach. Let us eat while we still have something to eat," agreed Li.

"Why not at least give my idea a chance? We have nothing to lose, but we have everything to gain! If we double our efforts, we could have at least a bare minimum amount of food to sustain us throughout the coming winter. We do not have to starve! We do not have to die!" exclaimed Wang, his patience wearing thin.

"I wish there could be a way to magically harvest all the rice so that it can be done quickly and effortlessly," whined Li.

As soon as the last word left Li's tongue, a huge thunderstorm appeared over the rice paddies. Amidst all the thunder, lighting, and fierce winds, Wang noticed a shimmering object descending towards the three men.

"Look! There is something falling towards the earth. I think it is falling right at us," exclaimed Wang.

The three men squinted their eyes and stared very hard and to their amazement and bewilderment, they saw a monkey falling towards them.

"I do not believe it! I must surely be hallucinating. Is my vision ailing or playing tricks on me? It appears as if the monkey is clothed in a crimson silk robe, has a golden coronet, and is carrying a bamboo staff," observed Wang, fearful yet curious.

As the three men watched in wonder and curiosity, the monkey approached with lightning speed. Wang was correct; the monkey was clothed and wielded a bamboo staff. However, the monkey was not falling; he was riding a cloud towards the earth. What the men did not know was that the Heavens had sent this legendary monkey many years ago to accompany and protect a monk on his journey to India. This legendary monkey had many special powers and spells and could transform into anything, such as a man, horse, rock, etc. Although the monkey was benevolent in accompanying the monk, he would constantly deviate from his duty and play tricks and pranks on innocent people. The opportunity to pull a prank was presented to the magical monkey when he heard Li's wish. When the magical monkey was close to the ground, he leapt off of his cloud, performed several somersaults, and landed gracefully on his feet. The monkey then looked about, scratched his head, and then stared at each man in the eyes.

"Who are you?" all three men asked the monkey simultaneously.

"I am the great and powerful Ho! I have come to help you!" bellowed Ho. When Ho was speaking, however, he was chuckling too. Ho continued, "You are in quite a predicament, and I can help you men survive the winter and live a much richer and better life. I will give you my powerful bamboo staff for one year. During that whole year, you may use the staff to grant any wish you men may desire. However, by the end of this year, you must be able to answer a riddle of mine. If you accept my offer, I will lend you my staff for a year in return for a mere answer to a simple riddle. If you decline, then I wish you men good luck." The monkey was cackling the whole time he was talking, which made Wang feel uneasy with the monkey's offer.

Chen and Li were ecstatic at such a generous offer! Wang, however, was skeptical and reluctant to accept such a seemingly generous offer. Before Wang could question the nature of Ho's motives and why he was being so kind, Chen and Li agreed to the monkey's "altruistic" offer.

"Yes! We accept the offer!" blurted Chen and Li.

"What are you guys doing? What if cannot answer the riddle?" yelled Wang.

"But 'what do we have to lose?'" snickered Li, who was using Wang's own words against him.

At that moment, Wang could not think of any reason to not accept Ho's offers, so Wang acquiesced to the other two men's wishes.

"Excellent!" exclaimed Ho, "Then I present you my staff and the riddle: At night they come without being fetched, and by day they are lost without being stolen. Now that I have given you the riddle, you have unlimited wishes to grant for yourselves, and you men owe me an answer. To grant a wish, hold the staff in you right hand and wish away! I will see you in one year!"

The monkey placed two fingers into his mouth and whistled. The cloud reappeared and the monkey hopped on to return to the Heavens. Before he sailed off though, he stopped and told the men, "If you have no answer for me in one year, I will return and turn you three men into pebbles! Hahaha!"

"Look what kind of trouble you two buffoons have incurred! If we cannot answer that silly riddle, we will become a worthless rock! Imbeciles!" screamed Wang, who was turning red from anger.

The other two men took no heed of the riddle or Wang and commenced at once to grant themselves lavish wishes. They felt that since they were going to die at one point in time, then they might as well live lavishly and extravagantly now and worry about their fates and future later. Chen wished for a banquet and a mansion. Li wished for servants and an infinite supply of money. The consequence of not knowing the answer to the riddle weighed heavily upon Wang's mind and prevented him from wishing, eating, and sleeping. While the other to men lived carefree, Wang lived with an incredible burden. At most, Wang could only eat one bowl of rice and half a cup of tea in a week Night and day for a month he racked his brain for an answer, but the answer never came. One early morning before the sun had risen, Wang went outside and sat down upon the soft velvety earth to contemplate.

"What can the answer be? My friends are of no help. All they do is eat and enjoy themselves from daybreak to nightfall!" Wang cried in despair.

Wang then calmed down and tilted his head back to look at the vast and imposing night sky. As he looked at the sky and pondered about the origins of the universe, the twinkling lights caught Wang's attention. He began to name constellations and differentiate between stars and planets. After a while, the sun rose and benevolently doused the earth with its warm rays of light. Then the answer to the riddle hit Wang, "At night they come without being fetched, and by day they are lost without being stolen! I know the answer! The answer is 'the stars!'"

Wang stood up and ran faster than he had ever run back to his two friends. He joined them in merrymaking and indulging.

"Why are you suddenly so eager to join us in our reveling?" sneered Chen.

Wang replied, "If you men are going to live like kings, why cannot I? and if the wishes are limitless, what difference does it make if I join you two?"

"Oh," said Chen dumbfounded.

Wang ate and drank like never before and enjoyed the marvelous powers of the magical bamboo staff. Then the day came when the men were to provide the monkey with the answer to the enigmatic riddle.

"Well, it was great knowing you two. Let us part with a hug," said Chen melancholically, for he had wasted the whole year on indulging and not solving the riddle.

"Yes. Let us part as friends," echoed Li.

Wang began to chuckle and then erupted in laughter.

"What is so comical about our situation?" inquired Chen.

Wang replied, "While you two reveled the whole year away, I was able to solve the riddle. It was actually quite simple once you opened you eyes!"

"What is the answer?" asked Chen condescendingly.

"You will see," replied Wang with a grin.

The monkey then came down in the same apparel and on his magical cloud. "So have you three answer for me?" asked Ho with a mischievous smile on his face.

Wang stepped forward with the bamboo staff and replied, "Yes. The answer is 'the stars!'"

"How? How were you able to solve the riddle? I was not able to solve it and spent a century searching for the answer!" screamed Ho. Ho did not want someone on Earth to be equally as clever as himself, so Ho was determined to kill these three men. Ho transformed himself into a dragon and began to summon energy to create a Maelstrom of Inferno, an incendiary magical spell that would surely kill the three men.

As Ho was about to cast the spell, Wang made a wish, "I wish that this foolish and mischievous monkey would permanently turn into a golden statue!"

No sooner had Wang made the wish did Ho, the legendary monkey, turn into a gorgeous statue of gold. Chen and Li watched in awe as Wang cleverly saved everyone's lives and retained the magical bamboo staff. Chen and Li then out of reverence, respect, and gratefulness got on their knees and bowed for Wang. They vowed to never disrespect Wang ever again and cherish his friendship. The three men then lifted the golden statue and hauled it back to their mansion where they set it at the entrance as a reflection of their fiscal status and a token of "appreciation" for their troublesome "monkey-friend." Finally, all three went inside the mansion Chen had wished for and lived the rest of their days in friendship, comfort, and happiness.