It’s been almost a year since Tola, Pola and Rascal first met. Rascal decided to surprise his friends and give them some special gifts. He knew the kitten would like a new bag and the owl really wanted a lamp for her tree hollow. He decided that he would find the most beautiful bag and lamp in the world, especially for them.
One evening while saying goodbye to Pola, he gave her a big hug and slyly took out the compass from her pocket. Pola didn’t notice her precious thing was gone. Rascal squeezed it in his hand, put it into his backpack and ran into the forest. When he was sure no one would see him, he took out the magical compass and uttered the magical formula.
– „All that is good, all that is new, take us away, show us the truth”. Take me to Vietnam, near the biggest market with decorations and accessories.
The world whirled around him and Rascal found himself in the middle of a crowded market in Vietnam. Cats and dogs from all over the world were strolling around him. Animals came here to buy some unusual things. And because many markets in Vietnam open after twilight, Rascal knew he will be able to find dream gifts in the light shed by lamps and lanterns.
He started to walk along one of the alleys of the market. He stopped only next to those market stalls where he could see bags and lamps. All around him vendors were encouraging passersby to buy their goods.
– Hey doggy, come here, I have the most beautiful trousers. I’ll give you a discount – one gibbon was shouting.
– No, no! Come to me, my lamps are extraordinary. Come and check out! – !’ another vendor was shouting out loud.
Suddenly, a parrot with big black eyes tied a scarf around his neck and pulled him
–Maybe you want a scarf for you or your lady? –she asked.
– Are you crazy? Let me go, now! – barked the dog and jumped away from her. Unfortunately, he bumped into a gibbon whose stall was located in the middle of the alley.
– Spring rolls, spring rolls, delicious spring rolls, aah! – Mrs Gibbon turned around to Rascal, when she felt him hitting her. – Oh, I see the dog is hungry and wants to buy something. Here you are, three spring rolls for you.
– I’m sorry, but I don’t want them – said Rascal, shaking his head and jumping away once again.
– Wow, finding gifts will be much harder than I expected – he thought and speeded up, skilfully getting around vendors.
Finally, he stopped at a stall with beautiful bags. Prices were not too much and he was about to reach for his wallet to buy one of them, when he heard a whisper.
– Psst! Psst, doggy!
He looked around but saw no one.
– Psst! Psst, in here!
Rascal looked around one more time. It was hard to notice anything in the darkness beyond the stalls. Finally, he spotted a slim animal moving through narrow spaces between the nearest stalls. It was a python, one of the most dangerous snakes in Vietnam. One of his eyes was covered with an eye patch, just like a pirate. He also carried a huge sack in front of him.
– Instead of buying a trashy bag, look what I have in here. You won’t find such bags anywhere else. They are unique, the most beautiful in the world… – he hissed convincingly.
The python looked suspicious and Rascal felt shivers down his spine. He was about to refuse but at the same time the python opened his sack and started to take out his treasures and put them on a white blanket. Rascal has never seen such bags at the whole market. Some of them were made of shells, others were leather, some were patterned, others plain and unusually soft. They looked very original and Tola would certainly like them.
– How much are they? –asked intrigued Rascal, picking up a bag made of two hard shells, ornamented with minute beads.
– 50 coins.
– 50?! – repeated Rascal, obviously surprised – That’s a fortune! What are they made of? Gold?
– Sssss – hissed the python, suddenly very angry – it’s not gold but materials extremely hard to get. What you are carrying is the turtle shell, and here is the real crocodile’s skin.
– Woow! – Rascal was impressed but after a while, he added hesitantly. – Wait… aren’t they endangered species? Are you sure you can make bags out of their skin? – he asked weakly.
– Sssss! – the python hissed angrily once again. – Of course I can! It’s just extremely hard to get this kind of a bag because not many turtles are still alive. To find a turtle for this bag, I had to stroll on the beach for many, many weeks. To catch a Siamese crocodile for that bag, I had to walk through mud for several days, and put my life in danger to catch this reptile. You want to buy it or not?! – the python yelled at the end. – If not, it’s your choice, you won’t find such bags anywhere else.
The python took away the bag Rascal was carrying and started to pack his goods back into the sack.
50 coins was almost everything Rascal had. He wanted to buy Tola an unusual gift so he was about to reach for his wallet, when suddenly…
The alley lit up and huge headlamps started to switch on around Rascal and the python. Somebody talked loudly through a megaphone.
–Police! Freeze! Hands up!
At the same time, the python curled up and was about to flee, moving between stalls, but then a huge claw of the Siamese Crocodile Policeman pinned him to the ground.
-vYou’re arrested for an attempt to sell bags made of endangered animals’ skin. Don’t move and show us everything you have in your sack!
– But I don’t have anything, really, this sack is not mine! It’s this dog’s
– What?! Woof, woof,– barked nervous Rascal – I was just looking at the bags, I didn’t buy anything. It’s not my sack, believe me –he cried, seriously scared.
The Crocodile Policeman looked grimly.
– Don’t lie, you fraudster. I’m well aware of who you are. You are Python, the One-Eyed Bandit and you kill endangered animals. Boys, take him and throw him into a sack so that he won’t escape – he yelled.
Two other crocodiles quickly ran towards them and threw the python into a big sack labelled POLICE.
The Crocodile put his megaphone down and turned around to Rascal. For a while, he looked at him with suspicion but then spoke more calmly.
– I’m glad you didn’t take these bags. For years, One-Eyed Bandit has been selling bags and jewellery made of skin and crust of rare animals. We call these animals endangered because if they become extinct, which means that a few more of them die, there will be no more such animals in Vietnam. These animals are under special protection – nobody can touch them, and certainly not kill them to make jewellery. If you had bought such bag, I would have to put you in jail too…
Rascal got really scared. He almost got himself in jail. Instead of buying a special gift for Tola, he would be sitting behind bars with the python. Thinking about it, Rascal felt shivers down his spine.
– We have to go – said the Crocodile. He ordered his colleagues to switch off the headlamps and go back to police cars. – And you, if you’re looking for bags, find Mrs Gibbon, she sells handmade ones. They are beautiful and made in a traditional, Vietnamese way. You’d better stay away from accessories made from endangered animals.
Rascal nodded his head. He will never buy any illegal thing. When he cooled down, he went to find Mrs Gibbon’s stall and, as advised by the policeman, bought a pretty handmade bag and a lamp. During the next year, whenever he saw these gifts, he was the only one who knew the extraordinary story behind them…
Questions to careful listeners
- Which country did Rascal travel to?
- Which animals did he meet at the Vietnamese market?
- What things did the python encourage Rascal to buy? What were the things from his sack made of?
- Why did the policeman – the Siamese Crocodile – want to arrest the python?
- What does it mean that some species are endangered?
- Did Rascal buy the bag offered by One-Eyed Bandit? Why did he decide not to buy the bag made of turtle’s shell?