The Eternal Peony
Li Hanyi is a poor scholar who cannot afford to attend the imperial examination. He makes a living by selling lucky posters and telling fortunes at the Chang’an market. One day, he strikes up a conversation with the flower girl, Shen Juxiang, and the two become fast friends. Just as Li is attending to some business, PrinceGui Shouling arrives at the market on his tour. He takes a fancy to Shen and offers to send her to an institution to be trained as songstress. Shen accepts the offer, believing that she can be of help to Li.
One year later, with the anonymous support of Shen, Li wins second place in the imperial examination and becomes a well-known scholar. Prince Gui Shouling’s sister, Gui Yanshang,has long admired Li and invites him to meet her at the institution. There Li meets Shen again and he is made to understand how she has been his benefactor.
Prince Gui Shouling intends to marry Shen; upon finding out that Li and Shen are lovers. He imprisons Li. In order that Shen can marry him, the prince has to agree to release Li and appoint him to an official post in Suzhou. He also agrees to allow Shen to accompany Li on his journey.
Behind their backs, Prince Gui sends a letter to the governor of Suzhou, Xie Baotong, instructing him to do violence to Li when he arrives. Unfortunately, the scribe assigned to write this letter, Ng Jonyung, is barely literate and writes the exact opposite instructions. Following the instructions given to him, the governor marries the pair. When the prince finds that out, though outraged, he is left with no choice but to accept their marriage.