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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "How Footbinding Started"

How Footbinding Started

The beautiful maiden for whom Chow-sin had given up so many hundreds of his soldiers, would clearly have great power over the Emperor. She must be made to help in the punishment of her wicked husband. So Fox Sprite made himself invisible and travelled with the viceroy's party as it went from central China to the capital.

On the last night of their journey Su-nan and his daughter stopped for rest and food at a large inn. No sooner had the girl gone to her room for the night than Fox Sprite followed her. Then he made himself visible. At first she was frightened to see so strange a being in her room, but when Fox Sprite told her he was a servant of the great goddess, Lu-o, she was comforted, for she knew that Lu-o was the friend of women and children.

"But how can I help to punish the Emperor?" she faltered, when the sprite told her he wanted her assistance. "I am but a helpless girl," and here she began to cry.

"Dry your tears," he said soothingly. "It will be very easy. Only let me take your form for a little. When I am the Emperor's wife," laughing, "I shall find a way to punish him, for no one can give a man more pain that his wife can, if she desires to do so. You know, I am a servant of Lu-o and can do anything I wish."

"But the Emperor won't have a fox for a wife," she sobbed.

"Though I am still a fox I shall look like the beautiful Ta-ki. Make your heart easy. He will never know."

"Oh, I see," she smiled, "you will put your spirit into my body and you will look just like me, though you really won't be me. But what will become of the real me? Shall I have to be a fox and look like you?"

"No, not unless you want to. I will make you invisible, and you can be ready to go back into your own body when I have got rid of the Emperor."

"Very well," replied the girl, somewhat relieved by his explanation, "but try not to be too long about it, because I don't like the idea of somebody else walking about in my body."

So Fox Sprite caused his own spirit to enter the girl's body, and no one could have told by her outward appearance that any change had taken place.

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