11 October 2011 (Tue)
Butterfly and Red Pear
Zhao Ruzhou, a talented scholar, and Xie Suqiu, a famous courtesan, has developed a mutual admiration through the exchange of poems for a few years. They however did not have a chance to meet each other.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Wang is in collusion with the Jin nationality. He plots to send one hundred and twenty beauties including Suqiu, the leading beauty, to please the king of Jin. Fortunately, Liu Gongdao, an advisor of the prime minister, uses a ruse to save Suqiu. Unknowingly, Ruzhou chases after the cart in hopes of seeing Suqiu. When he finally catches up with the cart, he mistakes the dead beauty inside for Suqiu and is torn with grief.
It happens that both Ruzhou and Suqiu go and seek refuge with Qian Jizhi. For fear that Suqiu become an obstacle in Ruzhou’s career, Jizhi prevents the two from meeting each other. One day, Ruzhou runs after butterflies to the backyard and meets Suqiu by chance. She dares not disclose her identity. Yet, moved by Ruzhou’s sincerity, she plucks a red pear blossom as a gift for him. Not long after that, Ruzhou leaves for the capital to sit for the imperial examination. On the other hand, Suqiu, being betrayed by her fellow courtesan Shen Yongxin, is caught and escorted back to the prime minister’s mansion.
Ruzhou comes first in the imperial examination and is appointed the Inspector of Justice. He is tasked to collect evidence of the prime minister’s treachery. Upon arrival at the prime minister’s mansion, Ruzhou finds the hall decked with red pear blossoms. Jizhi then explains to him the whole story. In the end, with the prime minister pleading guilty and Suqiu throwing herself into his arms, Ruzhou wins both justice and love.
12 October 2011 (Wed)
The Marriage of Three Smiles
Tang Bohu, a native of Wu County in the Ming Dynasty, was a gifted scholar who was hailed collectively with Zhu Zhishan, Xu Zhenqing and Wen Zhengming as "the Four Talented Scholars in Wuzhong". With his superb talent and graceful bearing, Bohu won the admiration of many maidens from eminent families and Zhu's younger sister Xiufeng. However, he did not spare a glance for them, as they were only ordinary women in his eyes.
One day, he paid a visit of Huqiu where he met Madame Hua and her charming maidservant Qiuxiang on the way to the Tianzhu Temple. He hurriedly went there to disguise as a temple attendant in order to get close to Qiuxiang. As Bohu kept pestering Qiuxiang, she scolded him shyly and then returned home with Madam Hua by boat. Deeply bewitched by Qiuxiang's beauty, Bohu chased her all the way to Hua's mansion, but all the efforts to express his affection to her were in vain. He later learnt that Hua's family would want a servant. In order to approach Qiuxiang, he bartered away his esteem and sold himself to Hua's family. Bohu's blind infatuation left Qiuxiang a mixed feeling of happiness and hesitation.
Madam Hua happened to discover that Bohu was indeed a young man of great talent and profound knowledge. Viewing him with a more favourable light, she ordered him to give her son lessons on classics and history. Though Bohu could get close to Qiuxiang, she demonstrated an ambivalent attitude to him. As Qiuxiang already knew Bohu's background and worried that he was not serious, she dared not fall in love with him. Xiufeng learnt that Bohu had sold himself to Hua's family. She went there to tease him. Later, as she realized that Bohu was seriously in love with Qiuxiang, she tried her best to make a match for them. Having overcome many difficulties, Bohu eventually won the beauty's heart and the story of "the Marriage of Three Smiles" finally left a sweet memory behind.
15 October 2011 (Sat)
Crying on the Erlang Bridge
Jiang Xiezu is in love with Yang Chunxiang. Every evening, Xiezu walks across a dilapidated bridge to meet his lover. One mid-autumn night, Xiezu falls over the bridge into the river. To save Xiezu, his elder brother, Yaozu forgets about his own safety. He gets badly injured and his face disfigured. Later, having repaired the bridge, Yaozu renames the bridge as Erlang, the name his little brother is often called by.
Several years pass and the country is besieged by roving bandits everywhere. Xiezu has lost contact with Chunxiang and gone to seek refuge with an uncle living in the city. Chunxiang is betrothed by her mother to a nephew of Li Tongxuan in return for the money the old woman badly needs to pay for her medication and other debts. At the wedding the groom turns out to be none other than Yaozu. Xiezu has no alternative but to forsake his love for Chunxiang, now his sister-in-law. But in the bridal chamber, Chunxiang tells Yaozu all about her and Xiezu. Yaozu decides to leave.
Later, Chunxiang’s mother falls seriously ill. Chunxiang has to go to her maiden home to visit her. Xiezu sees her off at Shili Pavilion, the farthest they can travel to together allowed by feudal rules. On her own Chunxiang moves ahead and bumps into Jia, a rascal who waits no time to take advantage of the unchaperoned lady. In self-defence Chunxiang stabs him to death with a silver hairpin. The Jias family retaliates by accusing her of committing adultery with her brother-in-law. To avoid damage to Xiezu’s reputation, Chunxiang pleads guilty to the murder. Heartbrokenly, Xiezu sets off to the capital to look for Yaozu, who has been conferred a rank of nobility for having rescued the emperor in a mission. Yet in the attack by a revenge-seeking member of the Jias on the way, Xiezu is made blind and pushed down the cliff.
Knowing that Chunxiang is to be executed, Meizhu is prompted by her guilty conscience to look for help from Yaozu to save the condemned. When the axe is about to fall on Chunxiang, Xiezu manages to get back to Erlang Bridge and is devastated by the scene. Luckily Yaozu arrives in time, giving the one on the doorstep of death a glimpse of hope.
16 October 2011 (Sun)
Yu Shuye, a scion of a noble family, is an enthusiastic poet. His literary talents are greatly adored by a renowned courtesan named Mu Suhui. To get a chance to meet Shuye, Suhui writes a poem entitled Love of River Chu on a floral sheet and asks Liu Chuchu to deliver it to him. During their first rendezvous at West Mansion, Shuye and Suhui fall for each other and make a pledge to marry.
When Shuye’s father hears of his son’s infatuation with a courtesan, he immediately orders him home and demolishes West Mansion to expel all courtesans there. On the other hand, Chi Tong, son of the prime minister, bribes the procuress Liuniang with gold in order to have Suhui taken to his villa in Hangzhou that very night. Ignorant of the plot, Suhui writes a letter to Shuye asking him to meet her by the river. Yet in a great haste, a blank paper is put into the envelope instead. Meanwhile, Shuye falls ill and stays in his study after being ordered home. On receipt of the blank letter delivered to him by Suhui’s maid Hui, Shuye is baffled and faints away in despair. It happens that Chuchu comes over to see Shuye at this very moment. Mistaking that the unconscious Shuye is dead, she hurries off to tell Suhui. In fact, Shuye only drifts into a dream, in which he re-visits West Mansion and finds Suhui unfaithful to him. When he comes around, he follows the order of his father and sets off to attend the imperial examination.
Waiting by the river alone, Suhui is filled with anxiety, as Shuye does not show up. A cavalier named Xu Changgong, on learning her story, escorts her to Hangzhou. When Tong sees Suhui, he forces her to marry him. Suhui resists desperately by trying to kill herself. At this juncture, Chuchu arrives with the news of Shuye’s death. Suhui is so grief-stricken that she hardly wishes to live. She pretends to accede to Tong’s proposal on condition that she can offer funeral sacrifices to Shuye. When Suhui is mourning for Shuye at a monastery, Changgong, staggered to see Suhui being deceived, saves her out by asking his beloved concubine Qinghong to pass herself off as Suhui. On the day Shuye comes first in the imperial examination, he encounters Suhui on the street. After many twists and turns, their misunderstandings are dispelled, and they make a happy couple ever after.
30 October 2011 (Sun)
Goddess of the Ninth Heaven
Leng Shuangchan of Fuzhou, goes to see the dragon-boat races at the West Lake during the Dragon Boat Festival. There she meets a young man called Ai Jinglang who sells paintings in the street. Though they have affection for each other, it is a pity that no one is there to introduce for them. So they have to part reluctantly. Sometime later, they know from their teacher Master Gui that they live on the opposite sides of the river.
One day, Leng throws a bunch of lychee to Ai to show her affection. He then returns with a crimson peach and a verse expressing his yearning for love. She hints that he should invite Master Gui to be the matchmaker, or she may be selected as an imperial court maid to serve Prince Min. Unfortunately, on their wedding day, Prince Min forces to take the bride away. Master Gui, once the teacher of the Prince, tries to persuade him to set the bride free but in vain.
In desperation, Leng begs to see Ai for the last time. Deeply in love, the two are unwilling to separate and choose to die together. Finally, their unyielding love has moved the Jade Emperor who allows them to get married in heaven.