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An Embroidered Robe
"An Embroidered Robe" was adapted by Xu Lin of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) from "The story of Lee Wa" by Pai Hsingchien of the Tang dynasty (618-907). It is a love story between Zheng Yuanhe, the son of a prefecture governor, and a prostitute named Lee Yahsien.
Zheng Yuanhe met the prostitute Lee Yahsien in Changan where he was waiting to take the government examination. He moved in with Lee and left the exam behind him. After a while, Zheng ran out of money and was thrown out by the procuress. To make a living, the penniless Zheng had to sing elegiac songs in a funeral home.
One day, Zheng's father, on the expiration of his term of governorship, arrived at Changan to report to the court. Seeing that Zheng had sunk so low, the furious father whipped his son to unconsciousness and dropped him in a deserted area outside the city. Zheng was rescued by a beggar, who also taught him the beggar's songs so that he might beg for food by singing.
On a snowy day, Zheng ran into Lee's maid while begging in Lee's neighborhood. Lee took him in and looked after him. She urged Zheng to study hard and wanted him to prepare for the government examination. To her disappointment, Zheng's diligence did not last long and he began to indulge himself again. In an effort to wake Zheng up from his foolishness, Lee pierced her eyes with a hairpin. Zheng, shocked by Lee's behavior, realized her expectations of him and decided to study hard.
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