Butcher Yau borrows fifteen strings of copper coins from his aunt. Half-drunk, the butcher plays a joke on his stepdaughter, Shujuan, by saying that he has sold her for the money, and then he goes to sleep. Desperate, Shujuan leaves the house to seek help from her aunt. That night, hooligan Lou A-Shu breaks into the house, steals the fifteen stringed copper coins, and kills Yau. Shujuan, who is away, becomes the suspect.
Constable Xia spots Shujuan with merchant Xiong. Xia thinks the two are trying to escape and finds exactly fifteen strings of coins on Xiong. After being taken to the yamen (government office), the two confess under torture and are sentenced to death by decapitation.
District Magistrate Kuang is assigned to supervise the execution. Hearing Shujuan and Xiong’s cries of innocence, Kuang reopens the case. Giving his official rank and life as a pledge, District Magistrate Kuangobtains two weeks from his superior to reverse the verdict.
After an investigation into the crime, Kuang believes that Lou A-Shu is the real criminal. Dressed as a fortune-teller, Kuang makes A-Shu reveal the whole story. After sending his men after A-shu to obtain evidence, Kuang retries the case and reveals the truth.