Parted Forever: Madam Chen Xing Yuan

(Xing Yuan fen bie)

Volumes 1 and 2 of 8Volumes 5 and 6 of 8Volumes 7 and 8 of 8

Volumes 3 and 4 are not in the collection

This plot of this play comes from a popular folktale, "Er Du Mei", which means "the second blossoming of the plum flower". Its synopsis is similar to the plays, The Second Blossoming of the Plum Flower and Eulogies to the Plum Blossom at the Beginning of the Winter.

The story takes place during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907). Mei Bogao is magistrate of Shangdong Province. He is a dedicated officer who is known for his honesty and fairness. He refuses to bribe powerful high-ranking officials at the corrupt court, and has been sentenced to death by the Emperor based on evidence of rebellion forged by some disloyal subjects. Mei Bogao's entire family has also been sentenced to death. His only son, Mei Liangyu, manages to escape and, with the help of a Buddhist monk, finds Chen Dongchu's mansion, where he is hired as a household servant.

Chen Dongchu is a close friend of Mei Bogao, and also serves as a government official in another province. When he hears that Mei Bogao and his family have been falsely accused and unjustly executed, he becomes depressed over the fate of the Mei family. He prays for the Mei family before the plum tree in his garden, but the wind blows and the blossoms fall. He feels there is no hope for the corrupt government, and decides to become a Buddhist monk. Seeing this, his daughter Chen Xing Yuan prays to the plum tree and asks it to blossom again. The Goddess of Flowers observes their loyalty, and magically causes the tree to blossom the following day.

Mei Liangyu writes a poem on the wall when he sees the plum tree blossom for a second time. Chen Dongchu is surprised to see such a good poem on the wall in his garden. He asks his servants who wrote it, and learns that Liangyu is the son of his close friend Mei Bogao. He is overjoyed, and introduces his daughter to Mei Liangyu. His daughter is equally thrilled to know that Mei's son is still alive, and that he has been living amongst them as a servant.

Living under the same roof, Chen Xing Yuan and Mei Liangyu fall in love. Just before they marry, barbarians invade the country from the north. The imperial army is defeated, and the nation panics. Knowing it will be difficult to resist the invasion, the Emperor decides to negotiate with the barbarians and submits to their conditions. Among those conditions is the selection of beautiful women from across the country as tributes to the barbarian horde. Unfortunately, Chen Xing Yuan is among those selected, and is sent to the north.

The couple is torn apart. Mei Liangyu sees his fiancée off at Chong Tai, close to the border, and Chen Xing Yuan leaves him her golden hairpin as a souvenir. They take an oath to love one another forever, and part with tears. During the journey, Chen Xing Yuan remains alert for opportunities to escape, but no chance occurs. As the group approaches barbarian territory, Chen Xing Yuan notices that there is a cliff at the border. While the group is taking a break, she uses all her strength to jump from the cliff in order to commit suicide. As she falls, she feels something soft beneath her, and when she hits the ground, her landing is cushioned. She has been saved by the soul of another lady who had died on the same spot, for the same reason. The unfortunate woman's soul also sends Chen Xing Yuan back home, and Chen Xing Yuan and Mei Liangyu are finally married.