Highly commended

The Gift

Annabelle Smith
Year 6 Vauvert School

Many years ago, in the depths of ancient China, a suffering kingdom cowered below a lonely mountain where a cold-hearted empress lived in her huge golden palace above. That year was like no other. The villagers’ precious crops ceased to grow, and their chickens laid no eggs. The people who lived there were slowly starving to death. Meanwhile, a silver-rimmed chariot arrived at the centre of the Kingdom. The villagers stared in wonder as the magnificent Empress appeared covered head to toe in the finest of blue silks and whose silver gems sparkled brightly around her neck like stars in the night sky. Stepping out of the chariot, she took a deep breath and announced, “I will provide fresh food and clean water to you if once a year you give me something that is precious to show me your gratitude.” This was repeated for many years until the Empress grew too fond of her gifts and demanded even more. The villagers were mortified and once again suffered, but this time from the greed of their Empress. They all lined up outside the glittering palace gates waiting to give up their valuables. First, an old man whose face was creased and dirty approached the Empress’ throne. He knelt before her and bowed his head to present his gift to her...it was a doll. Her eyes were fixed to the doll. Was this what she thought it was? Tears flooded her eyes. It was the doll she had once owned as a child and adored with all her heart. Taking it from the man’s hands, she said softly, “I have ruled this kingdom with a heart of stone, but I wish for one more thing - your forgiveness."

Back to stories

Previous competitions

Each year we set a different brief and receive hundreds of amazing entries.
View our previous competitions.