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.
One 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 home.
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 sunset.
Two of the men who had served with Mulan stopped by her home, on their way home. When Mulan came forth to greet them, they could not believe their eyes. One of them shouted, "You are not Mulan! What have you done with our friend?"
After recounting many memories, they finally believed that Mulan was a woman who had fought by their side in many a battle. They spread Mulan's story across China. Mulan's story inspired many young women, who demanded to learn how to ride a horse and use a sword.