|Chinese Fairy Tales
THE GIRL WITH THE HORSE’S HEAD
THE SILKWORM GODDESS
the dim ages of the past there once was an old man who went on a
journey. No one remained at home save his only daughter and a white
stallion. The daughter fed the horse day by day, but she was lonely and
yearned for her father.
So it happened that one day she said in jest to the horse: “If you will bring back my father to me then I will marry you!”
sooner had the horse heard her say this, than he broke loose and ran
away. He ran until he came to the place where her father was. When her
father saw the horse, he was pleasantly surprised, caught him and
seated himself on his back. And the horse turned back the way he had
come, neighing without a pause.
“What can be the matter with the
horse?” thought the father. “Something must have surely gone wrong at
home!” So he dropped the reins and rode back. And he fed the horse
liberally because he had been so intelligent; but the horse ate
nothing, and when he saw the girl, he struck out at her with his hoofs
and tried to bite her. This surprised the father; he questioned his
daughter, and she told him the truth, just as it had occurred.
“You must not say a word about it to any one,” spoke her father, “or else people will talk about us.”
And he took down his crossbow, shot the horse, and hung up his skin in the yard to dry. Then he went on his travels again.
day his daughter went out walking with the  daughter of a neighbor.
When they entered the yard, she pushed the horse-hide with her foot and
said: “What an unreasonable animal you were—wanting to marry a human
being! What happened to you served you right!”
But before she had finished her speech, the horse-hide moved, rose up, wrapped itself about the girl and ran off.
her companion ran home to her father and told him what had happened.
The neighbors looked for the girl everywhere, but she could not be
At last, some days afterward, they saw the girl hanging
from the branches of a tree, still wrapped in the horse-hide; and
gradually she turned into a silkworm and wove a cocoon. And the threads
which she spun were strong and thick. Her girl friend then took down
the cocoon and let her slip out of it; and then she spun the silk and
sold it at a large profit.
But the girl’s relatives longed for
her greatly. So one day the girl appeared riding in the clouds on her
horse, followed by a great company and said: “In heaven I have been
assigned to the task of watching over the growing of silkworms. You
must yearn for me no longer!” And thereupon they built temples to her
in her native land, and every year, at the silkworm season, sacrifices
are offered to her and her protection is implored. And the Silkworm
Goddess is also known as the girl with the Horse’s Head.