There once was an old, selfish man who owned a donkey. The man was not nice to the small donkey. He only used her to carry his burdens that he should have tended himself. “Carry this and walk faster,” he would demand. One particular day, the man went fishing on a small floating dock near the sea shore. The donkey accompanied him with two baskets upon her back. As the man caught fish, he sloppily threw them in the donkey’s direction. When it was time to leave, the man packed both of the donkey’s baskets very heavily. The donkey could tell that the baskets would break and spill if she tried to walk with them, so she refused to leave the dock. “Br-br-bray,” she tried to tell him. The old man grew impatient. He tugged the donkey and told her to start walking. But the donkey persisted in sitting for fear that she would spill the poorly packed baskets.
Eventually the man, who never tried to see the donkey’s point of view, grew most irritable. He threw down his fishing gear, and kicked the floating dock on which the donkey was sitting. This sent the dock and the donkey floating down stream. “Br-bray,” cried the donkey. The old man stomped angrily, while the donkey floated off with baskets of fish and a few other miscellaneous items. Now for a brief second, the old man had a realization that he might need that donkey again as well as his baskets of fish. “Come back,” he desperately yelled to the donkey. “I’ll be nice to you.” But it was too late. He had given the dock such an angry shove, that it quickly floated too far away. That was the last time that the donkey saw the spiteful old man. She was free from him, but she was also stranded in the water.
Donkeys don’t particularly like getting wet, so she was a bit scared at first. She also did not know where she was going, how long she would float, or where she would end up. She tried to make the best of it. She looked into the water and made a few friends. She saw a seahorse that had a head shaped like hers.
“Bray hello Seahorse. It’s a nice br-br-day for a swim. Bray. I seem to be stuck. Can you help me get to shore?”
“No silly donkey. You’re too big for me to carry, and my little side fins are too small to pull anything.”
“Bray. Thank you anyways,” answered the donkey.
She floated overnight and watched the stars. In the morning, she dug a bottle and old paper out of one of the baskets. She wrote a note asking for help, and tossed it into the sea. “Plop” went the bottle, and she watched it bob and float in the water as it drifted off.
In attempt to amuse herself, the donkey put her big snout into the water and blew bubbles. “Bl-bl-blurp. Bl-bl-blurp.” Some sparkly yellow fish swam up to inspect the bubbles.
“Bray hello Fishies. Can you help me get to shore?” asked the donkey.
“Not today donkey. We’re not headed in that direction. We have to swim forward so that the bigger fish don’t eat us. Good luck.”
“Bray. Thank you anyways,” answered the donkey.
Just then, she saw a turtle floating by.
“Hello bray Turtle. Can you help me get to shore?”
“Why don’t you act more like a horse and learn to swim?!” quipped the turtle.
The donkey hung her head and tried not to cry while she floated for another day. Meanwhile, her message floated far, far away. It eventually washed up at the foot of a snowy white iceberg.
The iceberg was filled with penguins. It was boisterous and crowded. The penguins talked and played and spoke to each other in high pitched voices. “Beegee Beegee Beeeee.” It seemed like everyone knew everyone else in this penguin land. Penguins are fond of huddling in big crowds, but there was one penguin who thought about life beyond the iceberg. Every so often he would turn away from the penguin parties, and he would look across the sky and its reflection in the vast sea. He loved being a penguin, but he felt like something was missing. One day, while he was standing by the edge of the iceberg, he felt something hard roll across his webbed foot. When he picked it up, he found a soggy message in a bottle. Upon reading the plea for help, the penguin was overwhelmed with desire to act. He knew little about the vague message or the donkey, but he was a stubborn and determined penguin. The other penguins begged him not to leave. “Beegee. Beegee. We’ll be so bored without you,” the penguins squeaked. But the penguin bid farewell and dove into the water.
The penguin swam purposely for miles. He mingled with some dolphins here and there. “Squeak squeak Pengi Penguin,” squealed the dolphins. Dolphins are usually quite pleasant and fun, so the penguin had to be careful not to become too distracted on his mission. He also talked to a few crustaceans about life, the sea and maybe something beyond it all. Though they offered a few minutes of good conversation, crustaceans are very crabby. So the penguin swam on. All the while, he searched for the donkey in distress. Finally, he came upon a seahorse who had remembered seeing the donkey. “Blub bloop,” said the seahorse as he pointed his nose in the donkey’s direction. The penguin swam for many, many more miles. He swam for days, looking for any sign of the donkey.
By this time, the donkey was very sad and alone. The swaying of the sea was making her dizzy, and she was too afraid to attempt swimming. She put her snout into the water and blew some more bubbles. “Bl-bl-blurp. Bl-bl-blurp.” However, no fish appeared this time. Rather, the glistening bubbles caught the attention of one frantically searching penguin! He swam to the floating dock and bobbed his head out of the water, where he awkwardly bumped faces with the donkey.
The donkey was so excited. She had never met a penguin before. The penguin had never met a donkey before (and the other penguins would have told him to stay away from such a clumsy land creature). Without the donkey needing to ask, the penguin knew that he had to get her to shore. Penguins are very good with direction in the water, so he was able to find the quickest path. The donkey and penguin worked together to tie the basket twine into a strap, and the very strong, heroic penguin pulled the donkey to the nearest shore.
Finally on land, the donkey and penguin talked for hours, as if they’d known each other for years. It’s unclear what they talked about, but it involved a lot of “brays” and “biddy begees.” The penguin slurped down both baskets of fish, which were well earned. They picked some wild berries and carrots for the donkey. She happily crunched and smacked her lips while she admitted that it was the first time in a long time that she had such a pleasant meal.
Although donkeys aren’t fond of the water, the penguin convinced her to tiptoe into the water with her clunky hoofs. She let out a “bray hee hee” and snorted at the cold, ticklish water. They splashed around without a care in the world… until the penguin got spooked by an eel that swam by. The accomplished sea bird squeaked and jumped into the air, and they both laughed until their cheeks hurt.