Long, long ago, rain stopped falling in China. The people prayed for rain to the Jade Emperor, for it was he who looked after everything in heaven, on the land and in the sea, but no matter how much they prayed, rain did not fall.
Four dragons lived in the East China Sea in those days. They swam to shore to see what was happening, and saw people tearing grass from the caked ground, for the people had nothing else left to eat.
"We must do something," Long Dragon said, and Yellow Dragon nodded. "We must help them ourselves," said Pearl Dragon, "for the Jade Emperor will never answer their prayers."
They suddenly thought of a way to help. They started swimming this way and that, scooping up water with their bodies. Then all four leapt into the sky. Black Dragon flew to the north, Long Dragon flew to the west, Pearl Dragon flew to the southernmost tip of China, and Yellow Dragon flew to the very center of the vast country. All at once, they let the water fall from their mouths, arms, legs, and even their tails.
The people down below looked up, but they could not see the dragons. They could only see the rain falling from the sky -- drops of rain more beautiful than any jewel. "Rain!" they cried joyfully, and all the people and animals ran out into the rain and started to dance.
When the Jade Emperor saw the rain, he was furious. "Who dares to tamper with[干预] my world?" he shouted, and then saw the four dragons swooping around in the sky. "You will not escape!" he thundered, and summoning[招集] Mountain God, he ordered him to kill the dragons.
Mountain God sent four mountains tumbling after the dragons. The moment the creatures landed, the four mountains landed on top of them, crushing them. Then an odd thing happened. Suddenly four rivers formed, springing out from beneath the mountains and spreading across the whole country.
This, people say, is how the four great rivers of China were created: the Yangtze, the Yellow, the Pearl and the Heilongjiang are all that remain of the four great dragons who once saved the people of China.