In Han times, or perhaps Sui times, but certainly before T’ang times, there lived a young girl named Mulan. Her father was a retired and famous general. He taught her to use a sword and ride a horse, which was most unusual. Boys were taught to fight and ride, not girls.
One day, the military posted scrolls in the village. The scroll announced that each family had to send one man to the army. Mulan’s father was too old to fight, but too honorable not to go. Mulan had no older brother to send in his place. Her baby brother was brave and strong, but much too young to be selected.
Girls did not fight in wars. If only she were a boy, Mulan thought to herself. It would be so simple. 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. Mulan fought for many years, some say as many as ten years. In all that time, no one knew that Mulan was a woman.
When the war ended, Mulan was called before the emperor to receive an award for her courage. The emperor offered Mulan a job that would make her rich. But Mulan wished to return to her family. She asked for a good horse instead, a request that was granted immediately.
Her family was happy to see her. Her brother had grown into a fine young man. Mulan gave him her warrior’s clothes. She dressed herself in woman’s clothes. 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, 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. Her story spread across China, to inspire girls everywhere. If you love enough and have courage enough, you can accomplish anything, no matter how impossible it might seem.