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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Water Wheel

The stream flowed quickly, passing tall oaks and mighty pines. As it cascaded over the edge, the water landed in small bamboo buckets attached to a waterwheel. When the water filled the bucket, it moved the wheel around in circles. The full buckets dumped themselves out into a trough that carried the water to the fields for irrigation purposes.

Sung-Ling sat under a tree watching the stream bubble as it went by. She laughed when drops of water jumped out of the stream into the pink lotus flowers. Her friend, Lieh, sat next to her. "Sung-Ling, do you see that frog?" she asked.

"Yes. Itís hopping from stone to stone in the stream," Sung-Ling replied.

"Why donít we chase it?" Lieh suggested.

"Itís hopping quickly and taking big leaps. Do you think we can catch it?" Sung-Ling asked.

"Yes, of course. Weíll never know unless we try," Lieh said. "Come on."

The girls stood up and ran along the side of the stream. "There it goes," Sung-Ling said as the frog hopped into one of the buckets of the water wheel. "Look at it," she giggled.

The frog plopped into the water as the wheel turned in circles. Around and around it went until it was dumped out the other side into the irrigation ditch. CROAK! CROAK! It stood in the shallow water, not knowing which direction to go. "Catch it!" Lieh called, but before they could get any closer, the frog hopped quickly into the bushes.

The girls were at the bottom of the water wheel. "Did you see the frog? It went around and around. That looks like fun. I wonder if we put something else in there, it would do the same thing?" Sung-Ling asked.

Lieh picked up a branch from the ground. It had several leaves attached. "You stand on the other side and Iíll put the branch in. Weíll see if it comes out like the frog," she said. Sung-Ling climbed over the stream and stood near the ditch. "Here it comes," Lieh said, dropping the branch into the stream. The water flowed and carried it to the water wheel. It was picked up in one of the small bamboo buckets and the wheel started to spin. "Wheeeeeeeee!" Lieh called.

Just then the branch spilled onto the ground near Sung-Lingís feet. "It did it! Try something else," she cried.

Lieh looked around for something else. She found a large stone shaped like a heart. "Here comes a stone!" But the stone was too heavy and didnít float. "It wonít work. Iíll have to try something else!"

Sung-Ling waited patiently while Lieh looked for something lighter. "Aha! Iíve found hollow piece of bamboo. That will float," she called to her friend. "Here it comes," she said, dropping the bamboo into the water. It floated down the stream and was picked up in one of the buckets. The water wheel spun around and around. "Wheeeeeeee!" cried Lieh.

The bucket of water spilled out near Sung-Lingís feet once more, this time dumping the piece of bamboo along with it. "Iíve got it," she called. "This is fun!"

There was nothing else on the ground that Lieh could see. She started looking in the trees. She spotted a birdís nest. She climbed up the tree and pulled it from the branches. Holding it carefully in her hands, she climbed down. "Iíve got something pretty for you," she called to Sung-Ling. "Here it comes," she said, setting the birdís nest down in the water. It floated quickly and was soon caught in the bucket. "Wheeeeeeee!"

Sung-Ling waited and watched as the water wheel spun around. The bucket dumped out near her feet and along with it, the birdís nest. Sung-Ling looked in horror. There were eggs in the nest and they broke into pieces as they were tossed to the ground by the water. "Lieh! What did you do?" she called.

Lieh came running over. "Itís just a birdís nest, Sung-Ling."

"Lieh, there were eggs in that nest and now they are broken. Look in the tree," Sung-Ling said, sadly.

Lieh looked up. The mother bird sat on the branch looking down at her nest and her broken eggs. A tear ran down Sung-Lingís face. "Lieh, this was supposed to be fun but now its not," Sung-Ling said and ran away.

Lieh stared at the mother bird. It chirped a sad song. Suddenly she felt very bad. She picked up the water-soaked nest and as many of the eggs as she could. Most of them were cracked and broken, but one of them was whole. "Look, Mother bird, Iíve got one of your eggs," Lieh said. She put it in the nest and walked back over to the tree. She carefully climbed and put it back where she found it, but this time it only had one egg in it instead of the six that were there before. The mother bird flew over to her nest and climbed inside. She sat on her egg. Lieh stood watching as water dripped from the nest. She felt very sad.

Every day she came down to the water wheel and looked at the mother bird. She made chirping sounds, trying to let the bird know she was sorry, but it ignored her. Sung-Ling wouldnít go near the water wheel.

One day, as Sung-Ling was sitting on her front grass, Lieh came running up to her. "Sung-Ling, you must come with me to the water wheel. You must come and see."

Sung-Ling was angry with Lieh and didnít want to go.

"Itís a surprise. Itís a happy surprise," Lieh promised. Sung-Ling went with her. "Look, in the tree," she said, pointing to the nest. Sung-Ling looked up. There was a baby bird in the nest. The mother bird was feeding it a plump, juicy worm. "Every day I bring worms and put them on the ground so the mother bird can have them to feed her baby," Lieh smiled.

Sung-Ling smiled. She knew that there should have been more babies, but was happy that the mother bird had one to take care of. From then on, Sung-Ling and Lieh didnít play near the water wheel. Never again did they chase frogs and never again did Lieh disturb a birdís nest.

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