Once upon a time, a long time ago, there
lived a girl in ancient China named Mulan. Mulan's father was a retired
general. He had come home sick and frail. He was too old to fight, but
not too old to teach Mulan how to ride a horse and use a sword. Girls
usually did not learn these skills. But Mulan's father believed everyone
should know how to fight, even girls.
day, the government officials sent warriors to Mulan's village. War was
coming. Men were needed for the army. The military leader of the group
posted a list of names in the village square. Each name represented one
volunteer, one man from each family.
Mulan saw her father's name on the list. She
knew her father would never survive another battle. Mulan's brother was a
young child. There was only Mulan who could take her father's place. But the
military did not take girls as replacements for fighting men.
Quietly, the next morning, before her father
could report for duty, Mulan stole his armor. She disguised herself as a
man. She reported for duty. The warriors accepted "him" in her
father's place. Later that day, as the all men taken from the village
marched away, Mulan saw her father, standing by the side of the road,
shaking his head in confusion. He had reported for duty, but was told he was
not needed. That made no sense to him. He had not yet returned home. He did
not know that Mulan was missing.
Mulan was very careful over the years. No one
ever suspected that she was a girl. When the war was over, Mulan received a
special award from the emperor himself for her outstanding courage. The
emperor gave her a horse and a bagful of wealth, and wished her a safe trip
Her family greeted her with joy. Her
brother was delighted with gift of her military clothes. He dressed in
them immediately. Mulan dressed once again in the clothes of a woman.
That evening, Mulan and her family gathered together to watch the