Thank god, the story is finally starting to resemble that of Cinderella besides the fact that Xing Xing has a cruel stepmother and both of her biological parents are gone.
Xing Xing has arrived home with the medicine for Wei Ping's feet. The house is a disaster with filth and old spoiling food all over the place. Wei Ping is still on the kang, where she was when Xing Xing left, with stepmother laying beside her. Stepmother took the medicine from Xing Xing and fiddled around with it, but couldn't get the knot loose and began to breakdown. Xing Xing took cleaned the house from ceiling to floor and then washed up Wei Ping and Stepmother then Xing Xing took care of Wei Ping's feet. After month of caring for Wei Ping's feet they began to heal and look relatively normal. Stepmother and Wei Ping are in amazing moods because the cave festival is shortly coming up and there is said to be an unwed prince who will be attending.
After taking care of Wei Ping and Stepmother Xing Xing goes down to the fresh water stream and swims with the fish. She and the fish "encircled around each other like white ribbons, making the water swirl behind them. They slid past each other, touching wholly, like mother and child" (117). The fish is indeed a symbol for Xing Xing's mother, like in the Grimm version where the bird is a symbol for Cinderella's mother. These animals are to serve the girls like a mother would during hard times. It is with the fish and bird that Xing Xing and Cinderella find comfort that they cannot find with their stepmothers or stepsisters, they make life more bearable to deal with.
Some unusual events takes place in the house after Xing Xing cares for Wei Ping's feet. They respect her a little more, and she is called "Sister" by Wei Ping's or Xing Xing by Stepmother (usually calls her Lazy One). However, in a way they do this to manipulate Xing Xing in order to get what they want out of her. Stepmother has had a barrow made in order to wheel Wei Ping down to the cave festival and decided that Xing Xing will be the one to carry it. In order for Xing Xing to not feel used they give her the dress that Wei Ping was going to wear for the festival and Stepmother makes another for Wei Ping. Then they ask Xing Xing to represent the family in the poetry session of the festival and to represent their family. Xing Xing is more then elated, but in some way it's really upsetting. They use her and give her all the things she has ever wanted out of personal gain...and I can bet that they end up treating her just as horribly as they use to after the festival is over.
It's quite evident that there are some similarities and differences between this and the Grimm version. There's a festival going on, like the ball, and the girls get to go, including Xing Xing without any question because she has to push Xing Xing there unlike Cinderella who had to sneak out to the ball. Xing Xing's dress is made by Stepmother!!?!? What is this? Is stepmother showing some kind of heart towards Xing Xing, I highly doubt it, but we'll see.