In Han times, or perhaps Sui times, but certainly before T’ang times, there lived a young girl named Mulan. She was the daughter of a general. Although these were not skills girls normally learned, her father had taught her to use a sword and ride a horse.
Life was very good in the village, until one day, warriors came. They posted scrolls with a list of names. Faced with the threat of war, each family in the village had to send one man to strengthen the army. In Mulan’s family, the man chosen to go was her father. The warriors were there to take the men listed away to fight.
Mulan’s father was a retired general. He was too old to fight, but too honorable not to go. Mulan had no older brother to send in his place. Her younger brother was a wonderful boy, brave and strong, but he was much too young to be selected.
If only she were a boy, Mulan thought to herself, it would be so simple. But girls did not fight in wars. Oh why oh why had she not been born a boy, Mulan thought angrily to herself.
An idea grew in Mulan’s mind. Could she do it? She had to. Mulan knew her father would die if he went to war again. That day, she bought a horse.
The next morning, Mulan stole her father’s armor and crept silently from home, disguised as a man. She reported for duty to the military leader. The leader had never met her father. Besides, he had his hands full, marching the men from all the villages to the camp.
Mulan fought for many years, some say as many as ten years. In all that time, no one knew she was not a man. When the war ended, Mulan was called before the emperor to receive a special award for her incredible courage. The emperor offered Mulan a job that would make her rich beyond her dreams. But Mulan wished to return home to her family. She asked for a good horse instead which was immediately granted.
Her family was so happy to see her. Her father was frail, but alive. Her brother had grown into a wonderful young man. Without regret, Mulan gave her warrior’s clothes to her little brother, and dressed in the clothes of a woman. She wrapped her hair in the style of the day. She added rouge to her cheeks. When she joined her family to watch the sun set, the warrior Mulan had transformed into a beautiful young woman.
Not long after, friends who had served with Mulan came to visit. Their eyes grew large when they saw the beautiful woman before them.
"Who are you?" they demanded to know. They could hardly believe their eyes when Mulan answered.
Her story spread across China, to inspire young girls everywhere. If you love enough and have courage enough, you can accomplish anything, no matter how impossible it might seem to others.
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