The Fox Turns a Somersault

Once, there was a man who lived alone in a hut. Since losing all his money, he lived a quiet life growing vegetables. He dearly wanted a wife but couldn’t afford one.

25. The Fox Turns a SomersaultLittle did he know but a kindly fox spirit had been watching over him for many years. One day, when the man was out, she stole into his house and changed herself into a woman. Then she raced around cleaning up the place, washing the man’s clothes and cooking him a meal.

Click. At the turn of the front door key, she disappeared.

This went on for a while, until the man couldn’t resist hiding behind a water vat to see who was helping him. Before long, he saw the pointed nose of a fox. Swish! The fox did a somersault and landed on her feet in the form of a beautiful woman.

The fox skin lay on the floor. As soon as the woman went into the next room, the man seized the fur and hid it in his cellar.

The woman searched all over for her skin. Then she sat down, and said, “Now you know my secret, so let me be your wife.”

The couple lived happily together for many moons. Then one day, when the man was playing with one of their children, he pointed to his wife and said, “Your mother is really a fox.”

The little boy clung to his mother and cried.

Prove it!” said his wife angrily.

The man went down into the cellar to retrieve the fur, thinking that showing it to his son would make him laugh.

But as soon as his wife saw it, she turned a somersault, flipped back into the fox skin and bolted through the door.

Nobody saw her ever again.

This is a retelling of a ghost story from South China.

Illustrated by Bianca Lesaca

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