In the early reign of Yongle Emperor during the Ming dynasty, the wicked Prime Minister Qiu frames loyal minister Shaoqing. The loyal minister’s entire family is implicated and punished. Shaoqing’s daughter is sold as a slave to Xu,a distinguished official, and is given the name Mochou. Her outstanding beauty and talent attract the son of the official,Xu Cheng, who falls in love with her at first sight. Learning about her family story, Cheng tries to console her with gentle words, relieving her sadness with his affection. They secretly vow to marry.
In order to make a powerful connection for the family, Cheng’s grandmother forces him to marry Caiyun, daughter of the wicked Minister Qiu. Cheng protests in vain and falls sick from desperation. On the wedding night, Cheng secretly meets Mochou in the pavilion at the center of a lake. They pour their hearts out to each other, and further cement their love.
Learning about their relationship,Caiyun is filled with hatred, but she treats Mochou with feigned courtesy. Knowing that her husband lovesMochou’s charming eyes, she secretly orders a famous physician to write a prescription requiring Mochou’s eyes as the medicine that will cure Cheng’s sickness. With her eyes plucked out, Mochou drowns herself in the lake. The incident intensifies the severity of Cheng’s illness. Finding life meaningless, Cheng follows his lover into death and plunges into the lake.