Folktales > The Four Dragons

Read along with the Act!vated Actors

Direct download: 4Dragons.mp3. Story begins at 4:07

The Four Dragons show notes

Narrator: Once upon a time, there were no rivers and no lakes on earth, but only the Eastern Sea, in which lived four dragons: the Long Dragon, the Yellow Dragon, the Black Dragon and the Pearl Dragon. One day the four dragons flew from the sea into the sky. They soared and dived, playing at hide-and-seek in the clouds.

The Pearl Dragon

Pearl Dragon: Hey guys, come over here and check it out.

Other Dragons : What is it, what's up, what's going on, etc.

Pearl Dragon: Those people down there are burning incense and putting out fruit and cakes.

Yellow Dragon: They seem to be praying. They must be having trouble.

Black Dragon: I bet they've been praying for rain. The earth has been dry for a long long time.

Long Dragon: The people will die if it doesn't rain soon.

Pearl Dragon: Let's go to the heavenly palace of the Jade Emperor, and ask if he'ill send rain down to the people.

Narrator: So they flew to the heavenly palace. You can do that if you happen to be a dragon. They went to see the Jade Emperor, who ruled over the heavens and earth. They found him hurling thunderbolts at clouds.

Black Dragon: Greetings, sire.

Emporer: What is this? A parade or something? All these dragons? You guys should be in the sea dragoning, or whatever dragons do.

Long Dragon: Sire, we've come to ask you to send rain down to earth. The people are very thirsty and the crops are drying up from lack of water.

Emporer: Oh. That happens sometimes, doesn't it?

Pearl Dragon: But sire, shouldn't you help them?

Emporer: Well, maybe. But I'm having such a good time right now. Ha, scored another one! Tell you what, I'll send some rain down there tomorrow. Yeah that's it. Or something like that.

Yellow Dragon: Oh thank you sire, I guess they can wait one more day.

Narrator: So the dragons went back down to the earth, and did whatever dragons do when they're not doing what dragons don't. But the next day as they were out and about again...

Yellow Dragon: Look, the land is still very parched. And the crops are still drying and dying.

Pearl Dragon: I thought the Jade Emperor was going to send rain.

Long Dragon: I guess he forgot. He must have been too busy Emporing.

Black Dragon: I guess we need to go pay him another visit.

Yellow Dragon: I was afraid you'd say that.

Narrator: So they went back up to see the Jade Emperor.

Emporer: You guys again. I thought you'd gone off to devour a few knights in shining armor or something.

Pearl Dragon: A few WHAT? I'm not quite sure what they are, but they sound crunchy and tasty.

Emporer: Never mind. Why are you here. Interrupting my boredom?

Long Dragon: Well sire, there is still no rain. The crops are still drying and the people are still crying, and the whole world is dying. We thought you were going to send some rain today.

Emporer: Oh, that. Well I was going to, but.. well you see, the rainbow has just been repainted and it still won't be dry for a couple of days. We'll try for Tuesday, maybe.

Black Dragon: But sire – the people on earth may all be dead by then.

Emporer: Well, if that happens, we'll just have to start all over. Maybe I can make the rabbits evolve into something else. Look, I can't help humans out every time they get into trouble. You ever hear the story of Hercules and the wagon stuck in the mud?

Pearl Dragon: Hercu who?

Emporer: Never mind, I guess that's a little after your time. The point is, I can't help humans out every time they have a problem. They'll never learn to be strong and independent that way.

Long Dragon: But sire, this time they really need help.

Emporer: Then they'll have to find it on their own. Now fly along and be good dragons, whatever that means.

Black Dragon: But sire-

Emporer: Am-scray! Before I lose my cool.

Narrator: So the dragons flew back down to earth. And they saw that the people were still very miserable indeed.

People: Water, water! Please, give us some water.

Black Dragon: We must do something for the people. If the Jade Emperor of the sky won't send water, we'll have to do it ourselves.

Pearl Dragon: How can we do that?

Black Dragon: How? Well, you have a big mouth.

Pearl Dragon: You're a fine one to talk.

Black Dragon: That's what I mean. We ALL have big mouths. So we can each carry a lot of water from the sea. And if we fly up into the sky, we can drop it on the land. It will be just like rain.

Yellow Dragon: Except rain doesn't have dragon spit in it.

Long Dragon: Yeah, I guess we could do that. But it'll take a lot of trips to the sea to haul that much water.

Black Dragon: So, what else are we gonna do all day? Sit around playing Dungeons and Humans or something? Come on. Let's roll!

Narrator: So the dragons swooped down to the sea, and scooped up big mouthfuls of water, then they swooped over the land and dropped the water. And the people were very happy.

People: Rain! We're saved! We're saved!

Farmer: We might even be in for a typhoon. Those are the fastest clouds I've ever seen.

Narrator: Again and again, the dragons dumped water on the land, until they knew the crops would be saved and the people would survive.

Yellow Dragon: Boy, my tonsils are soaked, it's going to take me a month to get the flames re-lit.

Narrator: But when the Jade Emperor heard about this, he was very displeased. So he summoned his imperial guards...

Emporer: Guards! I want you to arrest those four dragons

Guard: Arrest them? But sire... I don't think we have any handcuffs to fit their claws

Emporer: Whatever it takes, bring them back here.

Guard: Yes, sire. Right away sire.

Narrator: So the guards arrested the four dragons and brought them back to the Jade Emperor's palace.

Emporer: So, dragons! You have defied my orders! You shall pay dearly for that.

Yellow Dragon: B-b-but we didn't mean any harm, sire. We just -

Emporer: Silence! I had a plan about how things were going to work on earth, and you ruined my plans.

Black Dragon: But we only did it to save the people. I'm sure that if we were an endangered species they'd do they same for us.

Emporer: Well you've interfered in my plans for the last time. I'm going to have you separated, and each of you will be buried under a mountain.

Long Dragon: Don't bet on it. We'll be back.

Emporer: We'll see about that. Take them away.

Narrator: So they buried the dragons under mountains. But you can't keep a good dragon down, not even with a mountain. The dragons strained and heaved until they broke through the rock and soil. And in breaking free, they were all turned into mighty rivers. Now they are called the Yellow River, Black Dragon River, the Long River and the Pearl River. And they flow through China to make certain the people never again run out of water.

~ The End

Like this story?

Share it with your friends.

About this Story

A tale about how four dragons in very ancient times tried to persuade the Jade Emperor, the supreme god of ancient Chinese folklore, to send water to earth.

Rivers in China named after the Four Dragons
NOTE: The four largest rivers in China are the Heilongjian (Black Dragon), the Huanghe (Yellow River), the Changjiang or Yangtze, (Long River), and the Zhujiang (Pearl).

The Pearl Dragon

@ Your Library

For more great American Folk Tales and legendary heroes go to your local library. You will find Folk Tales in the 398 section (Dewey Decimal System)

Look for more stories about:

Like Dragons?


Want more dragon stories? Be sure to check out The Dragon of Krakow on YouTube.