Reading Comprehension - Literature: "The Empty Pot"

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A test to grow a plant is given by the Chinese Emperor to determine whom he will choose as the heir to the throne, but Ping, unable to make his seed grow, submits an empty pot to the Chinese Emperor and gets surprisingly happy results.
a Chinese Folktale
long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything
he planted burst into bloom. Up came flowers, bushes, and even big fruit trees, as
if by magic!
Everyone in the kingdom loved flowers too. They planted them everywhere, and the air
smelled like perfume.
The Emperor loved birds and
animals, but flowers most of all, and he
tended his own garden every day. But
the Emperor was very old. He needed to
choose a successor to the throne.
Who would his successor be? And
how would the Emperor choose?
Because the Emperor loved flowers so
much, he decided to let the flowers
2. The next day a proclamation was
issued: All the children in the land were to
come to the palace. There they would be
given special flower seeds by the Emperor.
“Whoever can show me their best in a
year’s time,” he said, “will succeed me to
the throne.”
This news created great excitement
throughout the land! Children from all over
the country swarmed to the palace to get
their flower seeds. All the parents wanted their children to be chosen Emperor, and all the
children hoped they would be chosen
When Ping received his seed from the
Emperor, he was the happiest child of all.
He was sure he could grow the most
beautiful flower.
Ping filled a flowerpot with rich soil.
He planted the seed in it very carefully.
He watered it every day. He couldn’t
wait to see it sprout, grow, and blossom
into a beautiful flower!
Day after day passed, but nothing
grew in his pot.
Ping was very worried. He put new soil
into a bigger pot. Then he transferred the
seed into the rich black soil.
Another two months he waited. Still
nothing happened.
By and by the whole year passed.
3. Spring came, and all the children put on their best clothes to greet the Emperor. They
rushed to the palace with their beautiful flowers, eagerly hoping to be chosen.
Ping was ashamed of his empty pot. He thought the other children would laugh at him
because for once he couldn’t get a flower to grow.
His clever friend ran by, holding a great big plant. “Ping!” he said. “You’re not really
going to the Emperor with an empty pot, are you? Why couldn’t you grow a great big
flower like mine?”
“I’ve grown lots of flowers better than yours,” Ping said. “It’s just this seed that won’t
Ping’s father overheard this and said, “You did your best, and your best is good enough
to present to the Emperor.”
Holding the empty pot in his hands, Ping went straight away to the palace.
4. The Emperor was looking at the flowers slowly, one by one.
How beautiful all the flowers were!
But the Emperor was frowning and did not
say a word.
Finally he came to Ping. Ping hung his head
in shame, expecting to be punished. The
Emperor asked him, “Why did you bring an
empty pot?”
Ping started to cry and replied, “I planted
the seed you gave me and I watered it every
day, but it didn’t sprout. I put it in a better pot with better soil, but still it didn’t sprout. I
tended it all year long, but nothing grew. So today I had to bring an empty pot without a
flower. It was the best I could do.”
When the Emperor heard these words, a smile slowly spread over his face, and he put
his arm around Ping. Then he exclaimed to one and all, “I have found him! I have found the
one person worthy of being Emperor!
“Where you got your seeds from, I do not know. For the seeds I gave you had all been
cooked, so it was impossible for any of them to grow.
“I admire Ping’s great courage to appear before me with the empty truth, and now I
reward him with my entire kingdom
and make him Emperor of all the
The Empty Pot, a Chinese Folktale
New York, Henry Holt, 1996