[Cut to courtyard in camp. Mulan is wandering around looking for Jili]

Mulan: Where are those rascals? It's about time for them to show up. [Jili saunters into the courtyard and deliberately ignores Mulan's presence. He is looking up at the sky and refuses to look in Mulan's direction. Mulan shouts in his ear] Su Jili, you're out of jail. [Sees he is stubbornly ignoring her still] Hey, Su Jili! [He still doesn't say anything so her voice gets stern] Look at me.

[Jili turns his head but shuts his eyes. Mulan pulls a whisker from his face to get his attention and he opens his eyes]

Mulan: What's the matter with you? Are you still mad at me about the incident with the cockroach?

Jili [gingerly rubs his cheek and looks away]: A cockroach doesn't fill you up.

Mulan: Oh…well, in a few minutes I'm going to General Li's home to participate in a birthday banquet. What do you say to that?

Jili [turns around and starts to salivate]: Boss! There's a birthday banquet to enjoy? You have to take me along. You must take me along. [Gets on all fours and starts to scratch the floor like a dog, whining and whimpering]

Mulan [smirks]: Look at you. As soon as we talk about food you start acting like a dog. Get up. [Jili gets to his feet] But you have to agree to a few things. No talking loudly.

Jili: No problem.

Mulan: No asking for more food.

Jili: Can do.

Mulan: Mind your manners.

Jili: Can do. Boss, as long as there is good food to eat, I'll agree to any of your conditions.

Mulan [smug]: In that case, all we need to do is wait for the other fellows to arrive, then we can head out.

[Monkey and a few other soldiers walk in, carrying a large stretcher with some large object underneath. There is a bright red cloth draped over it, hiding the contents]

Monkey: The present is here!

Mulan: What is that?

Monkey [lifts a corner of the cloth]: See for yourself. [Jili looks surprised while Mulan looks pleased] What do you think, Boss? This present didn't cost us anything, either. Will it suit?

Mulan [nods her head]: Let's head out!

Jili: Boss, after you.

[Cut to birthday banquet. Yiren's father is dragging Yiren through the crowd and leads her to a small cluster of high officials. He greets them eagerly while Yiren looks on looking like a lost child and starts staring at the floor]

Yiren's father: Honorable Mr. Zhao, Honorable Mr. Ho, General Lao  This is my daughter, Yiren. [Sees she continues to stare at the floor so he nudges her] Why are you still standing there gaping? Hurry up and wait on these gentlemen. [Yiren smiles then grabs her father's arm and drags him away from the crowd]

Yiren [annoyed]: Father! Stop introducing me to everyone willy-nilly.

Yiren's father: You silly wench, Honorable Mr. Ho has a son that is still unmarried. General Lao's wife just died. Honorable Mr. Zhao's wife is still living, but she can't even lay an egg. These men's positions are all higher than Li Liang. If any one of them takes a shine to you, that would be a wonderful event. Stop wasting your time mooning over Li Liang.

Yiren: I don't want to! [Turns and stalks out the door]

Yiren's father [chasing after her]: Stupid wench!

[Mulan and her troops noisily arrive at the door. She hustles them together and starts scanning the room for General Li, spotting him, she loudly hollers]

Mulan: General Li! [Waves her hand as General Li and Li Liang's mother turn their heads and come over]

General Li: Mother, I'd like to introduce someone to you.

Mulan [bowing deeply]: This must be Lady Li. How do you do?

General Li: This is Lieutenant Hua.

Li Liang's mother [dragging her son aside]: I don't remember putting a Lieutenant Hua on my guest list.

General Li [not noticing Mulan is trying to eavesdrop]: Mother, he's a good soldier of mine. I invited him to enjoy the festivities and bring some liveliness to the party.

Li Liang's mother [sniffing]: Well, whatever then.

Mulan [nudging her troops]: Aren't you going to greet Lady Li properly?

Soldiers [bowing]: Lady Li, how are you?

Jili: When can we eat? [Mulan roughly pokes him then pastes a smile on her face before turning to Li Liang's mother]

Mulan: Lady Li, I'm sorry you had to hear that. [Quickly changing the subject] We have a small token of our esteem in honor of your birthday. [Turns to soldiers] Come on, bring out the present. [The troops pull out the large bulky present on its stretcher. Li Liang's mother has some doubts about the nature of the gift. Mulan lifts the cover off and we see it's a large pine tree] Lady Li,
may you have a long and healthy life, just like the pine stays green year-round.

Li Liang's mother [aghast]: Oh my goodness! You are giving me a dead tree as a birthday present? [Hurriedly pats her mouth] Mustn't say such unlucky things. Mustn't say such things. (Reference pine trees as a symbol of longevity, because it stays green the entire year. A dead tree, of course, won't stay green)

Mulan [sheepish]: I'm sorry, Lady Li. I'll have my men take away this tree immediately. We'll fetch you one with roots.

Li Liang's mother: No… no, that won't be necessary. Have the kitchen start up the fire and make a really big fire, a nice and fortuitous fire, using this tree. (To counteract the bad luck of being given a dead tree as a birthday present?) [To servants] Take it away. [One of the servants hauls the tree off]

Mulan [saluting]: Lady Li, I have to hand it to you, using a bad luck tree to create a fortuitous flame, thus redirecting the bad luck. Clever. Very clever.

[Li Liang's mother walks off in a huff, leaving the soldiers and Mulan behind. General Li comes over and puts a hand on Mulan's shoulder]

General Li: Mulan, take a good look at someone like my mother. It's a good example of (li4 zhen1 kuang1 chen2 ni3 de xiong1 jian1). [Starts to playfully through a couple of punches in Mulan's directions] I engage!

Mulan [blocking]: I block!

General Li [throws another punch]: I re-engage!

Mulan [blocks again]: I block again!

General Li [chuckling when he sees Mulan ball up and cover her head]: Alright, that's enough playing for now. Go spend some time with your troops. [Walks off to meet and greet his other guests]

Monkey: Hey Boss, we should hurry up and find some seats so we can all sit together. It wouldn't look too impressive if we all got separated.

Mulan: Oh. Well, then go find a seat. [They all scamper off and leave her behind. Seeing she's the only one left, she hurries after them]

[They all walk into the adjoining room, where long tables have been set up for the banquet. Each table has a bright red tablecloth and several dishes of food, plus a jug or two of rice wine. The soldiers hurry to one table, looking very much like a troop of monkeys when they spy a fruit grove]

Mulan [sternly]: Hey! How can you people be so disrespectful? [She turns and looks towards the neighboring table, where she can see a hand reaching from underneath the table for a plate of chicken. She runs over and smacks the hand. It retreats, but then advances next towards a jug of wine. She unsuccessfully tries to fend off the wine from the unknown thief. Looking underneath
the table, she sees Jili with a large chunk of chicken in his mouth. She angrily grabs him] Jili, how can you be so rude! Come out at once! [Tries pulling him out but he won't budge. She keeps pulling and now her troops come join in the fray, causing the table to sway precariously. General Li walks out with his mother and eyes the commotion]

General Li: Lieutenant Hua. [Mulan stops pulling and looks like a kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar. General Li leans over and peers underneath the table, spotting Jili] Su Jili, come up to eat. The banquet's starting. You can eat your fill.

Mulan [tugs at Jili again]: Come out! [This time he comes out, but he still has a chunk of chicken stuffed in his mouth like a cork in a bottle. Mulan drags him upright by the collar and look embarrassed when she notices Li Liang's mother looking on disapprovingly] General Li, I'm sorry about all this.

General Li: That's quite all right. He hasn't eaten in several days, so he probably was so hungry he stopped thinking clearly. Let him eat.

Mulan: Well, then thank you, General Li.

General Li [to rest of guests]: Everyone, have a seat. The banquet's about to start. [Ushers the guests to another room. The room where Mulan's troops are sitting contains only two tables, so they are able to enjoy their meal in relative privacy. Her troops jump back to their seats at the table, with Jili literally diving into a chair. He still has the chicken in his mouth but starts grabbing food anyway. Mulan gingerly sits down and Monkey reaches over to give her some wine. With great gusto, they start sailing into the food and eating with their fingers and hands instead of the chopsticks on the table]

Li Liang's mother: Wait. Where's Yiren?

General Li: Yiren? I don't know.

[Yiren walks into the hallway with a big pout on her face. Her father follows behind her. Li Liang's mother takes Yiren aside]

Li Liang's mother: Yiren, where have you been? No matter. You come sit with me.  [The entire family goes to the main room, including the Marshal. Everyone sits down at the long table. Yiren's father deliberately takes a seat next to the Marshal, no doubt to try and curry some favor with him. Li Liang's mother speaks to the Marshal] Brother, I thank you for everything.

Marshal [picking up wine cup and looking in Li Liang's mother's direction]: Sister, I toast you. [The rest of the family all raise their cups in response]

[Cut back to room where Mulan's troops are eating. The adjoining table now contains officers who are all drinking and eating. Mulan's troops are starting to get loud from all the wine. Monkey and Pudgy in particular are playing with their chopsticks]

Mulan [swatting them]: Hey, stop that. No horseplay. Eat. [They sheepishly start concentrating on the food. The soldiers then all jump and start grabbing at the food. Jili is the worst of the bunch. He picks up a large bowl containing a whole steamed chicken and begins to drink the juices straight from the bowl. Exasperated, Mulan uses her chopsticks to swat at all her soldiers] What the heck are you guys doing?

Monkey [whining]: But you told us to focus on eating… [Mulan gets a frustrated look on her face but remains speechless, though her glare is stern]

Li Liang's mother [standing up at her table]: Honored guests…I'd like to first thank everyone for coming to help celebrate my birthday. [All the guests leave their seats and crowd into the room with the main table to better hear her speech] I'd also like to take the opportunity to tell everyone what's been on my mind lately.

[Mulan worms her way towards the front of the crowd to get a better view. Jili is still clutching a chicken drumstick and is happily gnawing away]

Li Liang's mother [continuing]: My son here, Li Liang, isn't a young boy anymore. He's old enough now to start his own family and settle down. But each time I get the matchmaker to find him someone, he always finds excuses why this girl or that girl isn't special enough. [She pats him on the shoulder. Yiren throws a shy glance in his direction, which Li Liang deliberately ignores. You can see he's heard all of this before and is bored by it all] Of course, my son is an intelligent and brave man who lives his life humbly. How could all those powdered and puffed ladies possibly be good enough for him? [Mulan grins at this. Li Liang starts to protest but his mother brushes him off] I'm no vaunter; there's no need for you to blush.

A General: General Li is a fine catch. I'm sure even the dukes are all interested in getting him to marry their daughters. [The troops all nod in agreement]

Li Liang's mother: But I don't want him to marry a noble daughter.

Marshal: Why not?

Li Liang's mother: Because those fair ladies have been brought up in the lap of luxury. It'd be easier to climb to the heavens than to expect such ladies to properly take care of their mother-in-law.

Marshal [chuckling and rising to his feet]: Sister, most people try any way they can to marry into royalty and nobility. They usually end up regretting it later. Not many are as sharp as you are.

Li Liang's mother: Well, I'm getting up in years, so I've learned a few things. I managed to put up with your mother, that is to say, my mother-in-law, up until two years ago when she passed on. Ever since I married into the Li family I've had to deal with her. I really didn't want to put up with someone like that again, so why would I deliberately have my son marry a rich and pampered girl?

Marshal: So your son isn't content with a "common" girl but yet you are not content with just a pretty face. Seems to me that Li Liang is destined to be a monk! [Loud laughter from all the guests]

Li Liang's mother: Oh, Fate couldn't bear to have my son become a mere monk, right? I'd like to take this opportunity to make a wonderful announcement about my son. [Mulan starts to get a sinking feeling in her stomach and her face falls, as she can guess
which direction Li Liang's mother is heading] This is my niece, Yiren. [She raises Yiren to her feet. Yiren continues to look shyly in Li Liang's direction] She is capable and well behaved, plus she waits on me so well. She is a match made in heaven for my son. It would make me supremely happy to have my son take Yiren's hand in marriage. [She takes Yiren's hand and grabs General Li's hand and puts them together. General Li is still sulkily sitting down, so this looks pretty odd. Mulan looks very sad at the news. Li Liang's mother pulls her son upright. He still has a dazed expression on his face, like a deer caught in headlights. As he stands up, the crowd loudly applauds this news, all except for Mulan, who looks like the world is falling down]

[Cut to hallway outside. General Li is angrily striding down the hall while his mother is trying to catch up]

Li Liang's mother: Li Liang, wait, listen to me first.

General Li: No, no, and no. [They both stop walking]

Li Liang's mother: What do you mean "no?"

General Li: Mother, I told you that I'm not ready to settle down and start a family.

Li Liang's mother: But I want to have grandchildren.

General Li: Yiren and I may be related, but I really don't know her very well.

Li Liang's mother: What is there to know? I know her temperament, age, and the star under which she was born.

General Li: Mother, you haven't been listening to me. I said that I didn't want to get married and settle down so early.

Li Liang's mother: Children are to listen to their parents in matters of marriage. As a son, all you need to do is obey me.

General Li [pouting]: Well, bottom line, I'm not doing it.

Li Liang's mother [takes another tack]: Your cousin is (xian2 liang2 su2 gui4: high-bred but not high maintenance) and she treats me with such filial piety. If the Li family can bring in a bride like this it's the accumulated good fortune of three lifetimes. What are you dissatisfied with?

General Li [patiently]: Mother, do you want me to tell you my honest opinion or do you want me to tell my false opinion?

Li Liang's mother: Go ahead, tell me your false opinion first.

General Li: In my opinion, Yiren is too good for me. I'm not a fit match for her.

Li Liang's mother: Then the honest opinion is?

General Li: She's not good enough for me.

Li Liang's mother [shocked]: What?

General Li: I said, she's not good enough for me.

Li Liang's mother [scolding]: Oh my, when did you become so arrogant and egotistical? [In a huff] My side of the family may not be as well-known as your father's, but we are still of honorable stock.

General Li: Mother, it's not an issue about your family's wealth and social stature. Don't you think, er…Yiren is a bit too common? Besides, don't you think your son ought to have a say in the matter?

Li Liang's mother: You, my dear, are like a dog that looks down upon his master. [Looks General Li up and down] You think you're so special just because you're a great general? So what type of bride would you want, a princess? Humph! What's so special about that? If you really married a princess, where would that put me?

General Li: Mother, I'm not after wealth and glory in a match, but don't you think if you're going to pick a bride for me, that it should at least be a young lady that makes my heart go "bumpity bump". I have absolutely no such feelings towards Yiren.

Li Liang's mother [scolding]: You little pervert. There is only one kind of women that make men's hearts flutter: prostitutes. When picking a bride, she must be able to take good care of her husband and have children. That's all you need for a good daughter-in-law.

General Li: Mother, I'm not saying that Yiren isn't pretty enough, it's just that I think…

Li Liang's mother [interrupting]: Don't think anything. Suffice it to say that I refuse to let you marry anyone but Yiren into the Li family.

General Li [pouts]: In that case, it looks like I'm going to be a monk. [Starts to walk away]

Li Liang's mother: What? You…you…Fine! Go and be your monk!

[Cut to mess hall. Mulan is sitting at the end of a long table eating by herself when Monkey and Pudgy come up. She glares at them when they start to sit down next to her]

Mulan [snappishly]: Go away! [Monkey gives Pudgy a look and they gingerly walk to another seat. Jili bounces over and tries to sit next to Mulan and she gives him a glare, too] I don't want to see you animals. [Points at Jili's face] I said, scram! [Turns her back on him]

Jili [ingratiatingly]: Uh…Boss, I'm sorry about last night. You see, I was so hungry that I no doubt looked bad the way I was eating. Come on, forgive me, please?

Monkey: Boss, we were only having fun last night. We weren't trying to make you lose face and spoil your evening on purpose.

Pudgy: That's right, Boss.

Mulan: Are you leaving or not? If you're not, then I'm leaving. [Gets up to move seats. Everyone notices General Li has walked in and they greet him]

General Li: That's all right. Let's eat. [He sits down next to Mulan, with Jili on his other side. Mulan is still pouting and trying to ignore the other soldiers]

Monkey: General Li, sir, we'd like to apologize about last night.

General Li [waves him away]: Oh, don't worry about that. My mother's just not used to seeing life on the battle lines.

Mulan: Oh, that reminds me, General Li. I haven't had the chance to congratulate you yet.

General Li: Congratulate me for what?

Mulan: Didn't your mother say she was getting you a bride?

General Li [scoffs]: Don't you listen to my mother. I turned it down.

Mulan: You did? [Face starts to light up then she it falls again] You're not pulling my leg, are you?

General Li: Of course not. I got my mother so mad she's threatening to send me off to join the priesthood.

Mulan [breaking into a big smile]: That's absolutely wonderful!

General Li [puzzled]: Why are you so happy to hear that I'm not getting married?

Mulan [thinking quickly]: I…er…I was just laughing that your mother wants you to become a monk. [Laughs at General Li] You asked for it!

General Li: Oh… so you also want me to become a monk, eh? [Starts to playfully chase her] I'm going to choke you for that one [Mulan starts running away from him. Jili looks on glumly and starts to chew on his rice bowl in frustration. He keeps trying to bite the bowl and ends up loosening a tooth]

[Cut to room inside house. Li Liang's mother is crying and raising a big fuss. Yiren is trying to calm her down but is unsuccessful so far]

Li Liang's mother: What good is it to have kids? If I raised a dog it'd at least have the courtesy to behave around me. I spend all this effort raising a son and he treats me like this? [Keeps blubbering loudly]

Yiren: Aunt, this is all my fault. If only I was prettier and more intelligent, Cousin wouldn't mind marrying me and he wouldn't get you so upset. He probably thinks I'm discounted goods and that since no one else wants me, you needed to palm me off to him. Aunt, every family arranges their children's marriages. Cousin really caused you to lose face today.

Li Liang's mother [slamming hand on table]: That damned rascal. [Slam] That damned rascal. [Slam] That damned rascal.

Yiren: Forget about it, Aunt. You'll cry yourself sick.

[Cut to field outside camp. Numerous soldiers are arrayed in formation with Sergeant Huang at the end of the line]

Jili: Uh, Sergeant Huang, why are we standing at attention here? What does General Li have planned for us?

Sergeant Huang: What's the hurry? You'll find out as soon as General Li arrives.

Monkey: In my opinion, we're going to do the same thing that the members of two other platoons are doing: to the hillside to plow rice fields.

Pudgy: Farming? That's my forte!

Monkey: Humph! It isn't as easy as you think. Farming is much harder than soldiering. You not only have to plow the land but also manure the fields, too. Brr…just thinking about it is making me tired.

General Li [walking over]: Good morning, everyone.

Soldiers: General, sir, good morning!

General Li: We may not have to fight the Tujue right now, but we must never let down our guard. I plan on building a new road from the east side of Youzhou to make it easier to transport men and materiel in the future. Do you think you can handle this mission?

[At this time, Yiren's father comes running through the field, calling for his nephew. General Li turns and spots his uncle]

Yiren's father: Li Liang! Come quickly, your mother is very ill!

General Li: What's wrong with my mother?

Yiren's father: Where can I start? Your mother is ill all over her body. She hurts all over.

General Li: What?

[Cut to quarters where Li Liang's mother is staying. General Li strides into his mother's bedroom and sees his mother in bed. Yiren is at her side and weeping]

General Li: Yiren, what's wrong with my mother?

Yiren: Ever since you left to return to camp, she's been crying day and night, washing her face with her tears, wailing that you are a most unfilial son. After several days of that, she started complaining that first her eyes hurt, then her back hurt, then her chest hurt. I told her to see the doctor but she refused. She said what's the use of living if she has such an unfilial son.

General Li [getting to his feet]: I've already told your father to fetch the doctor. [Leans over to talk to his mother] Mother.

Li Liang's mother [opening her eyes]: You! Get out! [Struggles to get up but Yiren and General Li hold her down] I don't have you for a son! Get out!

General Li: Mother, calm down. Don't try to get up.

Yiren: Aunt, don't get angry. Stay calm. [Li Liang's mother acts like her chest suddenly hurts and she wails. Yiren wails in response. In this chaos, Yiren's father comes in the room with the doctor in tow. General Li grabs the doctor and drags him over. He doesn't notice that Li Liang's mother and Yiren look at each other significantly]

General Li: Doctor, please hurry and examine my mother. Her chest is in great pain.

Doctor: We must stabilize her. Even if the sky is going to fall we have to stabilize her. (zhen4 ding4)

General Li [in a panic]: Stabilize her? How? Find out what's wrong with her first! [Li Liang's mother suddenly starts retching and ends up spitting out blood. General Li's eyes bulge when he sees that] Mother!

[He doesn't notice Yiren sneak towards her father and nod appreciatively at the effectiveness of Li Liang's mother's performance. She gives her father a thumbs-up sign and he pokes her in the ribs to remind her not to give everything away. She pastes a woebegone face on once more and starts to loudly weep again]

[Cut to adjacent room. General Li is sitting at a table while Yiren's father is nervously pacing back and forth. Every now and then he wails, then resumes his pacing]

Yiren's father: Oh, Sister! Oh, my sister!

General Li [losing his patience]: Uncle! Can you please sit down and keep still?

Yiren's father [dramatically drops to his knees]: Oh, Buddha above! Please protect my sister. Divert the bad luck, bring in the good luck, give her long life and keep her safe and sound, dear Buddha! I beg you!

[General Li looks like he wants to slap some sense into his uncle, but he refrains. A loud wail comes from the hallway outside the room. Yiren and the doctor walk in. General Li hurriedly goes to the doctor to find out how his mother is]

General Li: Doctor, how is my mother?

Yiren's father: Doctor, how is my sister? Can she be healed?

Doctor: Her? You'd best start making funeral arrangements for her.

General Li [alarmed]: What? Make funeral arrangements?

Yiren: Aunt spat up blood several times today; the doctor said she only has three months left to live.

General Li [paling]: Three…three more months?

Doctor: Your mother has been ill for a month already. Her liver is badly imbalanced with dark humor, and I warned her to stay calm and not let herself get stressed out, lest the dark humor spread and worsen. Now I see that somehow the dark humor has spread and branched out. It's so widespread that there is nothing I can do for her. Plus, she's always had that chronic fatigue syndrome

General Li: Chronic fatigue syndrome?

Doctor: She never told you?

Yiren: Aunt wanted me to keep it from you. She didn't want to worry you.

Doctor: Beside that, she also has many other things wrong with her body. There are so many illnesses in her body that even an immortal would have difficulty healing her.

Yiren's father [putting a hand on the doctor's mouth]: That's enough! Don't you see that her son is suffering from all your words? Let's go now. [Leads the doctor out. Yiren keeps wailing]

Yiren: Oh… Cousin…[Leans on General Li's shoulder. General Li has a lost look on his face]

[Cut to the Marshal's quarters. He is sitting at a desk going over military documents when Mulan walks up to him, carrying a stack of papers]

Mulan: Marshal, sir, Colonel Yu would like you to look over these.

Marshal: Just set them down over there. [Notices Mulan remains standing after she deposits the papers] Do you wish for me to look over them right now?

Mulan: Er…no, sir. [Tries to act casual] Er…we haven't seen General Li around camp the past few days. I wonder where he's been.

Marshal: The doctor says his mother has only three more months to live, so he took a leave of absence to spend more time with her.

[Cut to Li Liang's mother's chamber. She is sitting up in bed and Yiren is massaging her shoulders. When they hear someone coming, Yiren gestures to her aunt to turn on the waterworks. Li Liang's mother immediately starts whimpering and weeping as her son walks in the door. He is carrying a bowl of medicine and blows on a spoonful of it to cool it]

Li Liang: Mother, have some of your medicine. [He tries to give his mother some of the medicine but with an energetic swat of her hand, she knocks the bowl aside and sends it flying across the room]

Li Liang's mother: Let me die! I don't want you to pretend you're sorry about my health and put on the crocodile tears.

Li Liang [trying to soothe her]: Mother, don't be like that. The doctor says that as long as you take care of yourself, you will definitely recover from this illness. [Looks to Yiren for support]

Yiren: That's right. The doctor did say that.

Li Liang: Also, the doctor said that you must not get excited. To recover, you have to remain calm and unstressed. [Li Liang's mother doesn't say anything and turns her head away. Yiren's father walks in the room carrying a sheaf of papers]

Yiren's father: Sister, I finished the paperwork for that piece of land. Here, take a look. [He hands it to Li Liang's mother but Li Liang grabs it to look at it first]

Li Liang [surprised]: What land? [Reads it hurriedly] Mother, why are you buying land in Youzhou?

Li Liang's mother [starts wailing]: Who knew I would raise such an unfilial son as you are? How do you expect me to return to our home village and see all the Li family relatives? How can I bear to be buried with the rest of the family knowing I failed so horribly? Of course I have to buy a plot of land here! Do you want me to just pick a street corner? [Li Liang is looking like a whipped dog]

Yiren's father: Your mother is a smart woman. She sees how we have hovered around her the past several days trying to keep her spirits up. She knew something was up, so yesterday she scolded me roundly and forced me to tell her the truth about her condition. [A loud wail comes from Li Liang's mother and she clutches her chest. Li Liang is in a panic]

Li Liang [tells his uncle excitedly]: Go! Go fetch the doctor!

Li Liang's mother: No! Brother, don't go!

Li Liang [shoves his uncle towards the door]: Go! Go now!

Li Liang's mother [jumps out of bed]: No! Don't go! [Li Liang tries to restrain his mother but she seems to have suddenly gotten quite strong] I've been a failure at raising my son! Let me die! [Everyone tussles with everyone else, but Li Liang's mother still manages to holler above everyone else] Let me die! Emperor Milo, come take me away! I want to die! [She carries on and on (I won't keep repeating myself here) until finally Yiren's father pulls Li Liang aside and whispers to him]

Yiren's father: Li Liang, the county magistrate back in our home village took a shine to your mother a while ago. Your mother also expressed some interest. However, she was afraid that other people would say you were part of old baggage.  She turned down her chance to become Mrs. County Magistrate, opting instead to stay in the Li family as a sad widow. On top of it all, your grandmother would constantly accuse her to her face of putting bad karma on your fathers departed soul through her actions. [Li Liang's mother periodically interjects loud wails to emphasize her sacrifices for her son, even if they appear thankless] Your mother gave up her a new life for your sake. How can you bear to still be at odds with her? Give in to her. Even if marrying my daughter is a hellish situation for you, you should willingly make the sacrifice for your mother and bravely…jump in.

Li Liang [scoffs]: How can you call Yiren a torment? It's just that I don't think we are suited to each other.

Yiren's father: Well, if she's not a torment, then that makes things all the easier to handle. Now, with men, it's a commonplace to have multiple wives. All you need is the will, and you can even be a bridegroom at age ninety! So why are you being so fussy?

Li Liang: But I once made a vow to only take one woman to wife and that I would be faithful to her. I would treat her well and would never bring in another woman to compete with her for my affections and attention.

Yiren's father: Li Liang, your mother's biggest wish in her lifetime is to see you settled with a wife and family of your own. Are you saying you can bear to see your mother go to her grave with such bitterness just to satisfy your own selfish needs?

Li Liang [exasperated]: I meant that if I marry Yiren, I wouldn't take anyone else as a wife in the future.

Yiren's father [eyes light up]: That's the ticket, Li Liang! [Scampers over to Li Liang's mother] Sister! Get up! [She is sitting on the floor and wailing away] Li Liang has agreed to marry Yiren!

Li Liang's mother [laboriously getting to her feet, but still bawling]: Why didn't you agree sooner? You had to wait until things came to a head like this? I'll be able to see you get married but I won't be around to see my grandchildren. Oh, I have such a bitter life! [She keeps bawling with Yiren at her side, driving Li Liang to distraction]

Li Liang: Mother, come, let me help you back to bed so you can rest. [Yiren and Li Liang support Li Liang's mother back to her bed, but he doesn't notice the occasional triumphant looks Li Liang's mother and Yiren are throwing at each other]

[Cut to empty field outside camp. General Li is standing alone and he is deep in thought while the wind whistles around him. Mulan walks up and expresses some surprise to see him]

Mulan: General Li, sir, you're back. Why are you standing here where it's so cold?

General Li: I wanted to enjoy the breezes and let my mind clear up a bit.

Mulan: Are you worried about your mother's illness?

General Li: Then you know already.

Mulan: The Marshal told me. How is her condition?

General Li: She is very ill. The doctor says there isn't much hope for her. I have spent so much time away from home with the army and didn't spend more time with her. Now her days are numbered. I am such an unfilial son.

Mulan: Then you should spend as much time with her now that you can to make things easier on her.

General Li: The biggest wish she has is to see me settled down. The last thing I can do for her is to fulfill that wish. [Mulan looks saddened at the news but remains silent] I have already turned in my resignation papers. I return to my home village the day after tomorrow to marry my cousin.

[Cut to barricade that the troops are building. Jili is leaning against it and sighing in discontent]

Jili: We're soldiers. We are supposed to defend our country, not do hard physical labor like this.

Monkey: I'd much rather spend time fixing walls. At least if I'm fixing walls, I don't have to worry that any moment I might lose this monkey brain of mine.

Jili: True. [Sighs] I wish I would be discharged soon, then I wouldn't have to do either thing and I could do as I pleased.

Sergeant Huang [barking]: What's wrong with fixing walls? [Jili hurriedly stands up straight] What is tiring about fixing walls? Fixing the Great Wall is a tough task. Would you rather give that a try? Now get back to work! [Jili turns back to his task when Mulan walks up] Lieutenant Hua, do you have any orders for me?

Mulan: Er…I just came to help with fixing the wall.

Jili [runs over and grabs her arm]: Boss, I didn't hear you wrong, right? You are shunning the lap of luxury and are choosing to come here and toil with the rest of us?

Mulan: Colonel Yu went with the Marshal on an errand, so I don't have anything else to do. I decided to come here and get some physical exercise.

Jili [to Sergeant Huang]: Sir, since Boss is here, then that means I can take the day off and go back to camp to rest. Good bye. [Turns to leave but Sergeant Huang grabs his arm]

Sergeant Huang: No! The request is denied. Now get back to work! Hurry up! [Jili scampers back to work]

[We then see Mulan busily tying off a section of rope on the wall. She seems distracted and her mind flashes back to General Li's words, saying he was leaving the army and returning home to marry his cousin. For some reason, those words keep echoing in Mulan's head. She gets a sad and dissatisfied look on her face and she doesn't notice the post she is tying down has begun to slip. It falls and lands on her toe. She doesn't react initially but then lets out a loud bawl, partly out of physical pain and, I suspect, partly out of mental anguish]

[Cut to Mulan's quarters later that night. She is tying a large white bandage on her toe. Jili walks in a sees Mulan admiring her handiwork]

Jili: Here, let me retie that. It looks awful.

Mulan [shoving him]: Keep away! I spent a lot of time getting it to this point.

Jili: How could you hurt yourself?

Mulan [peevishly]: What's so strange? Haven't you ever accidentally injured yourself before?

Jili: Your duty now is only to keep Colonel Yu well tended and handle military affairs for him. You don't need to do anything else. Actually, you could stay here and enjoy yourself. Why do you want to go toil with the rest of us? You are really masochistic.

Mulan: I like physical labor. What's wrong with that?

Jili [skeptical]: You like labor? I don't think that's the case, eh? You have been very distracted lately, eh? You're spending time with us because you're trying to hide from something, eh?

Mulan [shortly]: Hide? What do I have to hide from?

Jili: Ever since Li Liang said he was going to marry his cousin your heart hasn't been in anything. It's like it decided to fly…somewhere, and no one knows where. You spend all day with your mind a million miles away.

Mulan: Hogwash.

Jili: Well, I've been there myself. My diagnosis is that you, without a doubt, that you are suffering from unrequited love.

Mulan [grabbing Jili by the ear]: Don't give me that! General Li and I are only good friends. I couldn't be happier that he's getting such a good woman for a wife.

Jili: Happy? Take a look at your face now. It looks like a dead dog's countenance. Let go!

Mulan [let's go of one ear but grabs the other]: Dead dog? Who looks like a dead dog?

Jili [whimpering]: I am. [Mulan lets him go gruffly]

Mulan: See if you ever go calling other people names like that.

Jili [gingerly rubs his ears]: I'm just concerned for you. You don't have to get violent.

Mulan: Please leave now. I'd like to go to sleep. [Jili starts to head toward the door but then turns around]

Jili: Comrade, a small piece of advice. You can't force affairs of the heart. It's no use wishing to hold the moon in your hand. [Mulan shoots Jili a glare, making him hurriedly cover both his ears, so she instead grabs his nose and chin and starts to tweak them]

Mulan: Get out!

Jili [rubbing his nose]: What's the matter with you? You're going to loosen all the parts of my face at this rate! I'm not going to play with you anymore.

Mulan: Get out! [He hurries out the door and she throws something in his direction] That bastard…

[Cut to General Li's quarters the next morning. General Li is giving Mulan some final instructions about his belongings]

General Li: Hua Mulan, I'm going to leave you all these tea accessories and my writing desk and inkwell.

Mulan: Thank you. [Salutes] General Li, sir, I haven't congratulated you. May you grow old together, share one heart, have an heir soon, have children and grandchildren galore, luck and longevity in tandem, reap a prosperous crop, and…

General Li [holds up a deprecating hand and smiles]: That's enough. Things will work themselves out. With some things, if they are too perfect it's not a good thing. Besides, you need some adversity in life to keep things interesting.

Mulan: So you have some regrets?

General Li: Of course. I didn't want to get married so soon. Besides, the Tujue treaty is still fairly new and I don't know if they are actually going to honor it. How can I leave with a light heart? Also...

Mulan: Also what?

General Li: I've not yet met a woman I truly like and have fallen in love with.

Mulan: But your cousin is quite lovely.

General Li: You know, I believe that men and women are fated to be with one another. That feeling when you find your soulmate should be something very special and apart from anything else. It should make you forget about food and lose sleep. [Mulan gets a silly grin on her face when she hears this] I just don't get that feeling with my cousin. What about you? Have you ever felt that before?

Mulan [embarrassed]: Um…

General Li [chuckling]: Of course you have. You told me before that you have your eye on someone. [Puts his hand on her shoulder] Mulan, you are much luckier than I am.

Mulan [sadly whispers]: I guess so. [Speaks louder] By the way, General Li, what kind of women do you like?

General Li: I don't know. But if I meet her, I'll know.

Mulan: I hope you do. Will we ever have a chance to meet again?

General Li: I doubt that I will have many opportunities to come back. That's really too bad, you know. [Puts hand on her shoulder again] I really was starting to like you.

Mulan [getting dopey smile again]: What do you like about me?

General Li: I like your personality, your kindness, your character, your strict fairness…suffice to say that I admire all your strong points. If we had some more time, we might even become sworn friends. [Puts arm around her shoulders. He doesn't notice Mulan looks a little uncomfortable] It's really too bad.

Mulan [murmuring]: Yes, it's really too bad.

General Li [removes his arm]: Well, I'm off. Take care of yourself.

Mulan [nods]: You, too! [General Li nods and leaves with his bundle. Mulan looks forlornly after him]

[Cut to courtyard of quarters where General Li and his family are staying. Yiren and Li Liang's mother are bustling down the hallway with packages in their arms, happily chattering away. They don't see Li Liang peeping from behind the doorway]

Li Liang's mother: This is such a deal! It's like I didn't even spend any money for all this.

Yiren: That's right, Aunt. We should have bought some more stuff.

Li Liang's mother: Oh, but we couldn't carry any more stuff.

Yiren: This was such a bargain!

Li Liang [coming forward]: Mother, where have you been? I've been looking everywhere for you.

Li Liang's mother: I've been purchasing things for your upcoming nuptials. See, I've bought you wedding candles, marital pillows, family bowls, and a whole slew of goods. Here, take them. [Hands two armfuls of packages to her son] If it weren't for Yiren, I would never have been able to bring it all home. [Yiren flutters her eyelashes shyly towards Li Liang] Oh, and there was one proprietor that was such fun. I had my eye on a comforter from this store, and originally he wanted three ounces of silver, but as soon as I said I was the mother of the great General Li, he said he would cut the price in half! I'm telling you, those two little words, "General Li," are of such immense use here. [Turns to Yiren] Wasn't there another owner who didn't even want to charge us anything for his wares?

Yiren: Yes, I remember him.

Li Liang's mother: Oh, this was all such fun. It was all so cheap. [She keeps happily chattering away, showing no sign of her previous feigned illness]

Li Liang: That's really a good price, Mother. You know, it's such an odd thing that the doctor said your illness was very severe and that if we weren't careful, you'd be gone with a puff of the wind. But now, I see you look the picture of health. You've even managed to go to the four corners to buy so much stuff. [Yiren and Li Liang's mother look worriedly at each other]

Li Liang's mother: Um…this is what's known as a temporary fix . Yes, that's it.

Li Liang [skeptically]: Temporary fix?

Li Liang's mother: Yes, you see, I'm very happy that I can still help you with your upcoming nuptials, so all my illness is temporarily gone.

Yiren: Yes! That's exactly it. I hear that sick people need to be filled with happiness to help them. Since Aunt found out about our upcoming wedding, she has improved greatly. This cure has worked wonders indeed.

Li Liang: Really?

Li Liang's mother: Oh, but this cure is only temporary. [Suddenly looks in pain] My head suddenly hurts.

Li Liang [concerned]: What's the matter, mother?

Yiren: Aunt?

[Without a warning, Li Liang's mother faints. Yiren and Li Liang grab her to keep her from falling]

Li Liang: Let's hurry and take her back to her room first!

[Cut to sitting room, where Li Liang and Yiren's father are eating a meal together]

Yiren's father: Li Liang, I hear from my sister that the wedding preparations are almost complete. When do you plan on starting the journey back to the home village?

Li Liang: Originally, I was thinking the sooner the better, but the journey is arduous and I was afraid it would be too hard for my mother.

Yiren's father [scoffs]: Oh, she can handle it. I'm definitely sure she can handle it. [Chuckles]

Li Liang: You're certain about that?

Yiren's father: Well, recently I've noticed that her energy has greatly improved. It's probably because she is filled with happiness over your upcoming wedding. That way, she feels less stressed and won't notice her suffering as much.

Li Liang: Oh, so that's it. Here, let us drink. [They toast and down their cups of wine, then Li Liang sighs] You know, I went to visit my uncle yesterday to turn in my resignation papers. He told me that Three Mile Camp is going to open a commissary for all the local troops. [Yiren's father's eyes light up and you can almost hear the cash register ringing in his head] If I wasn't going to resign from the army, he was planning on letting me run the commissary.

Yiren's father [jaw agape and dropping the food from his chopsticks]: That's a plum assignment! Commissary's buy and sell large quantities of supplies. Whoever gets the contract for that will be raking in the dough hand over fist! [Rubs his hands in glee]

Li Liang [sighs again]: It's really too bad that I'm leaving the army, otherwise, I could have helped you out a bit. [Yiren's father's face falls like a rock. With staring eyes, he turns to Li Liang]

Yiren's father: No! You can't leave the army. You absolutely cannot leave the army!

Li Liang: How can I do that? I need to go home to take Yiren's hand in marriage.

Yiren's father: That's no big deal. Marriages can be delayed and postponed.

Li Liang: Oh no, I can't do that. My mother doesn't have very many days left to live. I need to make sure I do the filial thing and hurry up and get married.

Yiren's father: Li Liang, don't worry about that! Your mother's illness is not fatal! I will vouch that she will live a long life.

Li Liang: Really?

Yiren's father: Of course! You can trust me!

Li Liang [smiling]: I see…

[Cut to house next morning. Li Liang and Yiren are escorting Li Liang's mother out the door to start their journey home]

Li Liang: Mother, the horse cart is awaiting us outside. How do you feel this morning?

Li Liang's mother: I'm feeling pretty good. When I think that you and Yiren will be married shortly, my spirits have lifted a hundred times.

Yiren: Cousin, I'll take care of Aunt on the trip back. She won't have any problems.

Li Liang: It seems like her health has improved day by day. [Prays to the heavens] Heavens above, I beg that you will help heal my mother, so I can have more time to do my proper duties as a filial son.

Li Liang's mother: Who knows? Maybe after you and Yiren get married, the sight of my first grandchild in my arms will be enough to cure me! [Flinches a little and puts a hand on her chest] Oh wait, I suddenly felt a little pain here.

Li Liang: You're in pain again?

Li Liang's mother: We'd best hurry back to the home village and get you two married quickly.

[Yiren's father comes barging in the front door with the doctor in tow]

Yiren's father [loudly talking]: Sister! I have wonderful news for you!

Yiren: Father, what good news?

Yiren's father: Doctor, this way please.

Doctor: Madam, let me check your pulse (traditional method of diagnosing illness is checking a person's pulse and detecting abnormalities based on it). Please have a seat. [They both sit down]

Li Liang's mother [shoots Yiren's father a warning look]: Brother, what are you doing?

Yiren's father: I told the doctor that you recently experienced a sudden improvement in your health. He said he suspects a dramatic change in your illness for the better.

Yiren: Father! [Li Liang's mother and Yiren throw questioning glances at Yiren's father but he ignores them]

Doctor: It's a miracle. It's an absolute miracle. Who would have guessed that your illness would magically disappear of its own accord? Congratulations, madam. My sincere congratulations.

Li Liang's mother [stands up and starts yelling]: Hogwash! Didn't you tell me earlier that I only had three months left to live?

Doctor: Well, that was then and this is now. [He smiles smugly at Li Liang's mother. She pull him aside and whispers to him]

Li Liang's mother: You accepted my payment of ten ounces of silver; how can you turn around and welch on me now?

Doctor: You may have given me ten ounces of silver, but General Li gave me fifty ounces of silver.

[Angrily, Li Liang's mother turns around and shoots a dirty look a first her son then at her brother, who is snickering openly. When her eyes alight on her brother, her blood starts boiling]

Li Liang's mother: Xu Fugui! This is all your fault! I'm going to kill you! [She starts chasing him around the room like a madwoman]

Li Liang: No, it wasn't my idea! [He keeps running away from his sister. Li Liang sits down and smiles at the crazy scene]

[Cut to the Marshal's quarters. Colonel Yu is presenting his proposal to his fellow officers. Mulan is holding up large placards with an organizational chart on them]

Colonel Yu: This is based on my readings of Jiang Ziya's writings. [He keeps describing in detail the chart and what the duties and responsibilities for each person are (I won't go into them because I can't understand it myself)]

[The door suddenly flies open and General Li appears. Mulan is the only one facing the door so she spots him first]

Mulan [hurriedly dropping her charts]: General Li! [Colonel Yu turns and sees Mulan almost run over to General Li's side. He looks a bit surprised at her eagerness] General Li, didn't you already leave Youzhou with your mother to go back to your home village?

General Li [puts a hand on her shoulder]: I couldn't bear to leave you.

Mulan [blushing]: Hogwash.

Marshal: Li Liang, what's this all about? What happened?

General Li [saluting the Marshal]: Sir, Marshal, sir, it turns out my mother was playing a huge joke on me. She pretended to be stricken with a mortal illness so that I'd return home with her and get married. In the end, I saw through her scheme.

Mulan [nervously]: So…uh…General Li, does this mean you aren't going home?

General Li [steps closer to her and eyes her significantly]: What do you think? [Mulan blushes even more while Colonel Yu glares his jealousy and displeasure]