One fine day, a boy’s stepmother stuck her head out the door.
“Huang Xiang! Huang Xiang!” she hollered, clearly annoyed. Giving up, she closed the door and went back into the little cottage they lived in.
There, she complained to her husband,” I don’t even know where that stupid boy of yours is in this early morning! He doesn’t even know how to start the fire and cook the meals!” she whipped her finger at the boy’s father.” That boy of yours! I couldn’t stand him anymore! Hmph!”
The father replied,” When he comes back, I’ll scold him.” He sighed,” But he’s such a good boy, you should be nicer to him.”
“WHAT? I’m not good to him? You say I, the stepmother, is not good to him?! Fine! You two just get together and bully me!” She then sobbed,” My life of a stepmother is so hard!”
“I…I didn’t even really say anything.”
The stepmother once again whipped her finger at him,” You two are getting together to bully me! My life is so hard.” she once again sobbed.
Just then, Huang Xiang came in. His stepmother turned to him.
“Alright you little! Speak! Where have you been this whole morning?!”
Huang Xiang nodded to his father and stepmother,” Mother, Father. This morning I realized that we were out of wood. So I went to the mountains to chop some more.”
“Fine, fine. Now go and make our morning meal! Hmph!”
“Yes, I will go now.” Huang Xiang said, not reacting to his stepmother’s sharp tone.
When he left, the father sighed,” Oh, my poor child.”
The stepmother shot him a deathly glare,” What did you say?!” she demanded.
“Huh? Oh..er..I said nothing. Nothing at all.”
The rest of the day, Huang Xiang was bossed around by his stepmother.
“Huang Xiang, come here and sweep the floor!”
“Huang Xiang, go and get water!”
“Huang Xiang, go chop the wood!”
Soon winter came, the snow covering the roofs of houses and the ground like a thick, white blanket. The stepmother was horribly sick, coughing non-stop. Inside their little house, Huang Xiang’s father was cooking a pot of porridge.
“Mother, have some porridge.” said Huang Xiang, coming over to his mother’s bed.
“Porridge? Porridge again? There’s porridge everyday. Oh, my sickness is never going to go away!” she moaned.
His father replied,” Outside is a blizzard of snow that can knock down mountains! We’re lucky to have some hot porridge to eat.”
“Oh if only there was fish!”
So that very minute, Huang Xiang set off to the lake. Looking at the thick layer of ice, he thought,’If I crack the ice open with a rock, I would fall into the water. What could I do to remove the ice without drowning?’
For a moment he thought and thought until he thought that he could not think again. Then, he saw a bit of snow melt on his hand. That’s it. Huang Xiang took off his shirt and laid on top of the ice. But then suddenly, a strange golden glow lifted him off the ice. Then with an iridescent light, the ice melted away and two big fishes flopped onto the solid ice.
It turns out that it was a magical being, and Huang Xiang returned home with the two fishes and his stepmother never mistreated him again.