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Helena is not nobility, and loves a count named Bertram. He rejects her, but she follows him to the court of the King of France. She offers to cure the monarch on a gamble: If he dies, she will submit to execution; if he lives, she can choose a husband from anyone in his court. She chooses Bertram, but he flees immediately after the ceremony to Italy to fight in the Tuscan Wars. He issues an impossible challenge: He will only be Helena's husband after she has borne his child and wears his family ring. In Italy, he distinguishes himself as a warrior and seducer of local girls. Helena tails him to Italy, befriending Diana, a virgin he is smitten with. Helena poses as Diana in his bedchamber, and Diana obtains Bertram's ring in exchange for one of Helena's. Helena then fakes her own death to lure Bertram home. Back in France, Bertram tries to marry the daughter of a Lord, but Diana breaks up the engagement with her revelations. Bertram, impressed by Helena's efforts, swears love to her.

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