Chen Jichang, the prefect of the city of Hungzhou, and his wife, Yu’e, attend the Song emperor’s spring banquet in the company of Grand Secretary Su Dongpo. During the banquet, Yu'e solves a party riddle and the emperor rewards her with a green jade coin; she asks the emperor for permission to hand the coin over to Jichang.
Not knowing that Jichang is henpecked, Dongpo invites him on an excursion to a brothel. Yu'e asks the emperor to punish Dongpo for his mischief, creating some emnity. Dongpo then meets his cousin Qincao, an unwilling candidate for the emperor's harem, and attempts to recommend her to Jichang as a concubine. At Dongpo's invitation, Jichang goes to the Orchid Pavilion for a view of the spring landscape and encounters Qincao seeking shelter from the rain. The prefect is fascinated by Qincao’s beauty; he obliges when she asks him to give her the green jade coin as a token of engagement.
Discovering the intrigue, Yu'e is so infuriated that she punishes her husband by ordering him to kneel by a willow-surrounded pond and repent. Urged on by Dongpo, however, Jichang still pursues the course of making Qincao as his concubine. Enraged, Yu'e asks her husband to write a letter of divorce and goes to the Ministry of Justice to show that she is not guilty of offending any of the seven conditions for a divorce. Since the Minister of Justice is also henpecked,Jichang can count on nobody but the emperor, who actually permits him to marry Qincao. Seeing that her husband is about to take a concubine,Yu'e attempts to swallow arsenic, but the empress has replaced the poison with white vinegar. Finally Jichang and Yu'e are reconciled and reunited.