Ashima is a brave and beautiful girl of the Sani people, beloved by all. One day as she is down at the lake to fetch water, she hears the sound of a shepherd's flute coming from the hills across the lake. She replies in song. The two trade music back and forth for several minutes but do not meet. Some time later the shepherd, a young man named Ahei, approaches a group of girls washing clothes in a lake and asks for Ashima. They tease him and do not tell him. One day the village has a festival with lots of dancing and music. At one point Ahei plays his flute. Ashima recognizes it, and the two fall in love. Azhi, the son of a rich man, is also attracted to Ashima. When he asks her to marry him, she refuses, telling him that poor girls do not marry rich boys. One day when Ahei is away tending his sheep, Ashima is kidnapped and taken away to the fortress of Azhi's father. Ahei, returning from the pastures, hears and rides off in pursuit. When he reaches Azhi's walled mansion, he ...