Helena, the low-born ward of a French countess, is in love with the countess' son Bertram, who is indifferent to her. The King rewards Helena for saving his life, by marrying her to Bertram. However, just after the ceremony Bertram immediately goes to war in Italy without so much as a goodbye kiss. He says that he will only stay with Helena after she has borne his child and wears his family ring, which he of course refuses to give her. Sprinkle in some classic Shakespearean subterfuge and all in fact does end well.