In Yangzhou, a merchant by the name of Wang Chunshan had a troupe of professional actors in his permanent employ. One member of this troupe was a Suzhou man, Zhu Erguan, who was not only a talented actor but also extremely handsome. Wang decided to reward this outstanding talent and arranged for Zhu to live in a private garden outside the Xuning Gate.
One day the house neighboring the garden caught on fire, and before long the blaze had spread to Zhu's garden. Zhu fled for his life to the lane outside. On the western side of this lane, Zhu saw two lovely women leaning against a doorway waving to him. He approached them and asked if he could take shelter in their house.
The two beauties explained to Zhu that they were distant cousins of the Wang clan, and were thus related to Wang Chunshan.
The three were just getting acquainted when suddenly a man about fifty years old walked in and declared that he was the father of the two women. He was dressed in a leopard-fur coat and wore a blue cap. Confronted with his daughters in such a compromising position, he insisted that Zhu set things right and marry the girls.
While it was true that Zhu did rather fancy the two beauties, he was in no position to marry them. He came from a poor family that had no possibility of finding the necessary betrothal gifts.
He told the man in the blue cap of his plight and received the brusque reply: "Don't worry about it. I'll cover the costs."
Zhu then requested permission to return to his parents in Suzhou to tell them his plans.
The man in the blue cap replied: "By all means tell your parents, but don't let them worry about money or status. My daughters place great value in your looks.
"I have one request, though. Don't mention your marriage to my nephew, Wang Chunshan."