Accompanied by her daughter Yingying, the wife of Prime Minister Cui escorts her husband’s coffin to the mausoleum. Mother and daughter lodge at a monastery. Scholar Zhang Junrui passes by the monastery during his travels and meets Yingying while touring the halls. The scholar and the young woman fall in love at first sight and exchange letters. Hearing of Yingying’sbeauty, a bandit by the name of Sun Feihu and his men besiege the monastery in an attempt to force marriage upon Yingying.
Yingying’s mother promises her daughter to anyone who can fight off the bandits. Zhang writes a letter to his good friend, the “Knight-on-a-white-horse,” for help. When the siege is relieved, Yingying’s mother breaks her promise; she only allows Zhang and Yingying to have a relationship as brother and sister.
The lovesick Zhang is confined to his bed, and Yingying sends her maid, Hongniang, to pay Zhang a visit.Zhang asks Hongniang to take a message toYingying. The lovers meet on a moonlit night and consummate their love. Seeing her daughter’s unusual bearing, Yingying’s mother extorts the truth from the go-between, Hongniang. Learning of their relationship, the mother has no choice but to consent to the marriage on condition that Zhang take the imperial examination at the capital and become an official. Finally,Zhang comes out first in the examination and married Yingying.