Farewell at the Cavern
Prime Minister Wang Yun has three daughters. The eldest, JingQian, is the wife of SuLong, who works as an official for the Registrar; the middle daughter, YinQian, is married to YiFu, Assistant Minister of the Corps. The youngest daughter, the spoiled and willful BaoQian, holds a party at a crossroads in order to choose a husband. A tall facade is erected, upon which BaoQian will stand to toss a brocade ball. Whoever catches the ball will become her husband.
The ball is caught by the downtrodden pauper Xue Pinggui. In light of Xue's poverty and humble origins, Wang Yun refuses to give him BaoQian’s hand, but BaoQian stubbornly insists on honoring the outcome of the ball toss. BaoQian is disowned by her father and sets out after Xue. She finds him in a dilapidated temple, and they are married under the witness of Zhu ErXing. The couple makes their home in a cold cave.
A wild red steed, sent as tribute from Siberia in an attempt to be deliberately difficult, comes to the Emperor. When Xue is able to tame the wild horse, the Emperor decides to assign him to the logistics command. Wang Yun interferes, and instead convinces the Emperor to make Xue a foot soldier in the front guard. Learning that he is about to be deployed, Xue hurries back to the cave to say farewell. In sadness, BaoQian serves water wine for her husband’s departure, and vows to be loyal. After receiving three successive commands for Xue to report for duty, the couple is finally forced to part.
(Translated by Loretta Ling Yeung)