walked on eggs

Beauty and Pock Face

Beauty and Pock Face is a Chinese fairy tale collected by Wolfram Eberhard in Chinese Fairy Tales and Folk Tales.

It is classfied as Cinderella, Aarne-Thompson type 510A, the persecuted heroine; others of this type include The Sharp Grey Sheep; The Golden Slipper; The Story of Tam and Cam; Rushen Coatie; The Wonderful Birch; Fair, Brown and Trembling and Katie Woodencloak. Indeed, it is sometimes titled Cinderella in English translation.


The older of two sisters, the child of the first wife, was beautiful and called Beauty, but her younger sister, the child of the second wife, had a pocked face and was called Pock Face. The first wife had died when her child was young and come back as a yellow cow. The wicked stepmother abused Beauty and set her tasks. The yellow cow did them for her, but the stepmother found out and had the cow killed. Beauty collected the bones and put them in a pot. One day, her stepmother did not take her to the theater, so Beauty broke everything at home, including the pot; when she did that, a horse, a dress, and a pair of shoes come out. She put on the clothing and rode the horse, but she lost one shoe in the ditch. Men came by, she asked them to get her the shoe, and each one agreed if she would marry him. She refused a fishmonger for smelling of fish, a rich merchant for being covered with dust, and an oil merchant for being greasy, but agreed to marry a scholar.

Three days after the wedding, Beauty went to pay her respects to her parents. Pock Face lured her to the well, pushed her in, and sent word to the scholar that she had contracted small pox. After a time, she went herself and explained her looks by the illness. Beauty, however, had become a sparrow and came to taunt Pock Face while she was combing her hair; Pock Face taunted her back. The scholar heard and asked her to come to a cage if she were his wife; she came. Pock Face killed the sparrow and buried it. Bamboo shot up on the grave. The shoots tasted delicious to the scholar but gave Pock Face ulcers on her tongue. Pock Face cut the bamboo down and had a bed made from it, but though the scholar found it comfortable, it poked Pock Face with needles, so she threw it out. An old woman took it home. She found that dinner was cooked for her whenever she came home. In time, she caught Beauty, who had her give her some cooking things, which enabled her to appear.

Beauty gave the old woman a bag to sell by her husband's house. When she did so, the scholar questioned her and brought her back home. Pock Face proposed tests to determine who was the genuine wife. First they walked on eggs; Beauty did not break any, and Pock Face broke them all, but she would not admit it. Then they climbed a ladder of knives; Beauty did not cut her feet, and Pock Face did, but she would not admit it. Finally, they jumped into boiling oil; Beauty emerged alive, but Pock Face died. Beauty sent her body back to her stepmother, but her stepmother thought it was carp. When she saw it was her daughter, she fell down dead.


The series of transformations can not only be found in the similar The Story of Tam and Cam, but in other fairy tales, such as A String of Pearls Twined with Golden Flowers and The Boys with the Golden Stars; Sweetheart Roland includes fewer transformations, but also has the heroine appearing secretly to do housework for a benefactor.


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