A Chinese Fairy Tale: Yeh-Shen

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Long ago, a cave chief had two wives. They each had a baby girl. Then the chief and one wife died. Her baby was named Yeh-Shen.

The only person left to take careof the baby was her stepmother. Yeh-Shen

was more kind and beautiful than the othergirl. The stepmother treated her poorly. Yeh-Shen had to do the most awful chores. Heronly friend was a fish with big golden eyes.The girl fed the fish every day. She didn’t have much food for herself, but she washappy to share. One day, the stepmother disguised herself and went to see the fish. She stabbed the fish and cooked it  for dinner. Then she told Yeh-Shen what she had done. Yeh-Shen sat crying, whensuddenly she saw a wise, old man. He said the bones of the fish had a powerful spirit. If she found herself in great need, she should kneel before the bones and tell them what

she needed. He gave her a warning not to waste this gift. Yeh-Shen got the bones from the trash and hid them in a safe place.

Spring Festival came. The young people would meet to find husbands and wives.

Yeh-Shen wanted to go, but her stepmother wouldn’t let her. She was afraid someone would pick Yeh-Shen instead of her own daughter. The stepmother and her daughter went to the festival. As soon as they left,

Yeh-Shen asked the bones for clothes to wear to the festival. Suddenly, she wore a beautiful gown and feather cloak. She had golden slippers on her feet. The bones warned her not to lose the slippers.

When Yeh-Shen arrived, everyone at the festival looked at her. Yeh-Shen was afraid her stepmother would recognize her. She ran out of the village so quickly that she lost one of the golden slippers. By the time she

got home, she wore her rags again. The bones fell silent. Sadly, she hid the one golden slipper in her bedstraw.

A merchant found the lost slipper. Seeing it had great value, he sold it to someone else who then gave it to the king. The king wanted to find the owner of the beautiful slipper. His men searched the kingdom, but

no one could wear the tiny slipper. He put the slipper on display to try to find the owner.

The king’s men waited just out of sight. The slipper did not fit anyone who tried it on.

One night, Yeh-Shen crept close and took the tiny slipper. She tried to escape, but the king’s men caught her. They took her to the king. He was angry and couldn’t believe that anyone in rags could be the owner of

the golden slipper. Then he noticed her tiny feet and great beauty. The king took her to her home, where she took the other slipper

from its hiding place. Once she put on the two slippers, her rags turned back to the beautiful gown and feather cloak.

The king married her, and they lived happily ever after. Yeh-Shen never allowed the stepmother and her daughter to visit.

They had to live in the cave all the rest of their days.


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