Poor scholar Gui is in love with Du, a maid in the household of Wang,a feudal lord. Court Historian Wang’s son is engaged to the princess, but the young man has committed murder and is on the run. Wang asksGui to take the place of his son without disclosing the engagement.
Gui finally agrees to marry the princess on the day of the wedding. Disappointed at his betrayal, Du leaves the Wang household. In order to hide the truth,Wang issues orders to eliminate the servant girl Du, who could potentially inform the princess of Gui’s true identity. Grass-roots hero Yi rescues Du and promises to take care of her.
One year later, Du gives birth to a daughter, whom she is to return to Gui. A man comes to avenge a murder perpetrated by Wang’s son, and Gui is wounded in the right hand by a poisoned arrow. Du arrives with the baby. Mistaking Du for the assassin, the household expels Du and her child. Word soon comes thatDu has informed the emperor about the ruse of the marriage. The princess dies with her baby stillborn.Gui is sentenced to fourteen years of military exile, andWang is relieved of his official rank and becomes a commoner.
Gui finally returns from his exile and meets with Du and her daughter. They find themselves still haunted, irreconcilably, by their past. Yi reveals that it is he who had informed the emperor in order to keep Du. Finally, Gui takes back his daughter. Du remains Yi’s wife.