This Cantonese play is based on a fairytale. The Chinese believe people can be enlightened and have certain supernatural powers following many years' meditation and Taoist practice. Not only human beings, but also some animals — such as foxes, monkeys, snakes and other creatures — can have similar powers. In this play, a white snake envies the life of a mortal, so she comes into the world following a thousand years' meditation.
Accompanied by her close friend, a black snake, the white snake finally completes her long meditation and takes the shape of a beautiful and generous lady. She gives herself the name Bai Suzhen, which means "the white faithful one". One day at the West Lake, a famously beautiful resort in China, she encounters a young scholar whose name is Xu Xian, and they fall in love at first sight. They love each other deeply and are soon married. They live happily together, and everyone in the neighbourhood likes them.
On Duan Yan Jie Day — a traditional Chinese festival held on the fifth day of the fifth month each year to celebrate the victory of good over evil — a passing Buddhist monk stops Xu Xian on the street. The monk believes he has noticed something unusual, and that Xu Xian is not married to a human being. He convinces Xu Xian that his wife is a ghost. The monk demonstrates a way to tell spirits from human beings, and gives Xu Xian a specially brewed wine used in Buddhist practice. He challenges Xu Xian to put his accusation to the test, and Xu Xian accepts the challenge. He rushes back home and urges his wife to drink the wine. Bai Suzhen is confident, because she thinks her powers are strong enough to protect her. After drinking the wine, however, she reverts to her primary form as a white snake, right in front of Xu Xian. Xu Xian collapses in fright. When Bai Suzhen returns to human shape, she discovers that her husband has died of shock.
To rescue her husband, Bai Suzhen flies to Kunlun Mountain, where she risks her life to steal a medicinal herb from the gods: an immortal grass which grows only on Kunlun Mountain, heavily guarded by heavenly warriors. Bai Suzhen manages to bring the herb home and restores Xu Xian's life. The monk refuses to let the matter rest, however. He kidnaps Xu Xian and takes him to his temple, where he places him under the umbrella of forgetfulness in order to subvert the influence of the white snake. The white snake demands that the monk release her husband, and finally has no option but to use her supernatural powers to inundate the temple in a flood. The monk also has supernatural powers, however, and the white snake is defeated. She runs away, and on her way home she gives birth to a son under a broken bridge. She is finally caught by the monk and is put under a pagoda named Leifeng. Her son is raised by the black snake and, when he grows up, he attains the title of top scholar in the civil service examinations and becomes the primary candidate for an imperial appointment. Before he leaves for his post, he holds a ceremony in front of the Leifeng Pagoda for his mother the white snake, and tells the news to the spirit of his mother.
(For a similar story in this collection, please see the entry for The Temple of the Precious Lotus is in Flood.)