[Cut to Mulan's bedroom. Hua Hu is standing inside with Mulan, who is sitting at her table with a lit candle and sewing away at some clothing]

Hua Hu: These past few days, your mother's attitude toward you has completely changed from how she used to treat you. She has been helpful and always gives you a smile. She treats you like a blessed one; she can't seem to love you enough. Isn't this what you've always dreamed of? Then why are you sitting inside all day moping around?

Mulan [taking a deep breath]: She doesn't love me. She is trying to curry favor with me. She knows that I have done a great deed by saving the Emperor, so she is trying to ride my coattails. Even the mayor is getting in on it. That's the only reason he is treating me so well lately. Otherwise, Mother would still be scolding and beating me without end. I donít want her to treat me as if I'm made of gold just because of what I've done. I want her to love me honestly. [Sighs] Oh well, I don't care if she loves me or not.

Hua Hu [looking very concerned]: You hate her, don't you?

Mulan: Father, I'm not content. How come everyone else has a mother who loves them but I don't? If I were to suddenly become famous and her overlord, she'd only be my servant, not my mother.

Hua Hu: I've heard somewhere that it takes several lifetimes of luck and/or marital happiness to cultivate a completely happy family. If this is true, thenÖ maybe you were her mortal enemy in your previous life, so now you have to be her daughter in this life. That's why you have to put up with her. Heck, maybe in your previous life you killed her father, so of course she will be quite a bit harsher to you in this lifetime, right? You can understand that, can't you?

Mulan [smiling weakly]: I am not aware of what happened in my previous lifetime. Why should I have to suffer for something that happened then?

Hua Hu: Who knows what they did in a previous life? However, the world is full of filial people. No matter what, she still carried you for ten months before giving birth to you. Even if she is guilty of a hundred wrongs against you, you can still be more like how you were in the army, more generous and forgiving of others.

[Mulan silently nods in agreement]

[The Hua family has just received word that the Emperor has arrived and will visit them, in recognition of Mulanís previous deeds (she recently saved him from an assassin). The household is aflutter, with everyone nervous about the true reason for the imperial visit]

[Cut to the outside of the Hua home. The entire royal family has arrived, along with General Li. The Hua family genuflects before the Emperor, who asks them to rise. Hua Hu is so nervous he can barely speak and properly greet the Emperor]

Mulan [without missing a beat]: Your Majesty, my father is so overwhelmed with the honor you are bestowing upon us with this visit that he is tongue-tied. Please forgive his lack of courtesy towards your Majesty.

Emperor: Donít worry, Hua Hu. Just pretend Iím a common old man and treat me as such.

[Cut to the inside of the Hua home. The Emperor and Empress are seated, with everyone else standing. The Emperor begins to praise Mulanís warrior skills in defending him from the assassin, congratulating Hua Hu for having such an outstanding son. Mulanís mother urges her youngest child (and only son) to hand cups of tea to the Emperor and Empress. The Empress is charmed by the sight of the little boy and asks him for his name. She then asks him if he would like to be a government official and serve the empire when he grows up]

Tianci [artlessly replies]: Sure, but I want to be a bigger official than Fourth Eldest Sister (pointing to Mulan).

[The entire Hua family gasps in horror when they hear this, thinking that all is lost. Hua Hu looks like he is going to have a heart attack. Luckily, Mulan thinks quickly on her feet]

Mulan: Your Majesty, "Fourth Eldest Sister (i.e.- shi jie)" is my protective nickname (boys are sometimes given feminine nicknames to confuse evil spirits that wish to do harm to a familyís sons). I was the fourth child, with three older sisters, and my father worried that I wouldnít survive infancy since my mother had suffered two miscarriages before I was born. I was given this nickname.

[Everyone has a good chuckle, while the Hua family heaves a deep sigh of relief]

[Cut to an inner chamber of the Hua home after the imperial family has left]

Hua Hu [looking rather pale]: I almost died of fear when I heard Tianci say "Fourth Eldest Sister" to the Emperor. I declare, my heart felt like it was about to pop out of my chest.

Mulanís mother: We canít hide this secret much longer. Sooner or later, the Emperor will find out the truthÖ and then weíll all be executed!

[Mulan enters the room, dressed as a woman again]: Donít worry, mother, I hid my secret from the army the entire time I served. Weíll be fine.

Stepmother [not convinced]: But the Emperor is getting quite persistent about giving you a government post as a reward. You canít keep putting him off.

Mulan: I have already told him several times that Iím not interested.

Mulanís mother [in a fretful voice]: But if the Emperor keeps insisting, we canít refuse him. Weíll be executed when he finds out. I can just see what horrible deaths weíll have.

[Mulan noticeably wilts at these comments]

Mulanís mother [continuing to whine]: If only you were a son, none of this would be a problem. Itís such a pity you arenít a boy. Your father and I could bask in your limelight, enjoying the favor of the Emperor earned from your deed, but no. You are a girl, and because of that, weíre all going to die on your account. Youíre such a burden to us. Oh, why didnít the God of the Heavens notice the problems you would cause, being born into our family. If you were only a sonÖOh, weíre all going to die, weíre all going to dieÖ

[She keeps repeating this tack, ad nauseum, not caring that Mulan is obviously hurt from her comments]

Hua Hu [exasperated]: Would you quit saying weíre all going to die? If the Emperor doesnít execute you, Iíll do it myself.

Both parents [muttering]: Oh, weíre all going to die. Thereís no way outÖ

[Cut to the Hua home, early next morning. Mulanís mother is standing in the middle of the room, grimacing and gesturing continuously. She doesnít notice Mulan when she walks in and looks at her mother in puzzlement]

Mulan: What are you doing?

Mulanís mother [continuing to gesture and grimace]: Iím doing some stretching exercises for my face. It will help my skin stay nice and tight as I get older.

Mulan: Why are you doing them? Father is too old to have a roving eye anymore, so you neednít worry.

Mulanís mother: Youíre just a young woman. What do you know? If someone overheard you saying that, youíd be the laughingstock of the village.

Mulan: Iíve already dressed as a man to join the army (considered highly unconventional and potentially shameful); compared to that, Iím not worried about getting laughed at for minor things anymore.

Mulanís mother [seeing Mulan with the laundry basket]: Donít bother with the laundry. Iíll have your stepmother do it.

Mulan [protesting]: Stepmother is busy looking after Tianci. Let me do it.

Mulanís mother: Then Iíll do it, if sheís busy.

Mulan [looking her mother straight in the eye]: Mother, why are you treating me so nicely all of a sudden?

[Her mother looks startled at this question and unsure of how to answer her]

Mulan [smiling again]: I was just joking. But you donít let me do any chores anymore. All I do now is eat, sleep, then eat again. If I donít do something, Iíll end up as big as a house.

[Mulanís mother, unable to respond, allows her to take the laundry. Mulan heads out the door with the basket]

Mulanís mother [to herself]: Even the town mayor is helping us cover for Mulan. Weíd all be better off if she was a son and not a daughter. [Continues to do her exercises]

[Cut to a place just outside the Hua home. Mulan starts to head for the stream to do the family laundry. After she steps out the door, she spots General Li heading toward her home. She turns and bolts back to the house]

[Cut to just inside the Hua home. Mulanís mother is ushering General Li inside. Mulan is now dressed as a man and steps in the front room, appearing surprised at seeing General Li]

Mulan: General Li, what a nice surprise. What brings you here?

General Li: Well, when I came here yesterday with the imperial family, we hurriedly arrived and hurriedly left. I didnít get the chance to shoot the breeze with you.

Mulan [coyly]: So you decided to come here today, bright and early, to make up for it?

Mulanís mother: UhÖ son, let me go get some tea for General Li.

Mulan: That wonít be necessary, mother. General Li is a good friend, so we neednít make a fuss, right General Li?

Mulanís mother [shakes her head]: What kind of talk is that? Anyone who comes through our door is a guest, and will be treated like one. Iíll go get the tea. [She leaves the room]

General Li [towards Mulanís motherís retreating back]: Thank you.

Mulan: Have a seat. [Looks him over] You know, you look different. You seem awfully standoffish and stiff. When I first met you, you werenít like this.

General Li: How do you expect me to act? Do you want me to fall upon you, crying and hugging you?

Mulan [teasingly]: Thatíd be fine. At least itíd be better than what youíre doing now.

General Li [drawing himself up]: I think you misunderstand the closeness of our relationship. If you and I were really such close friends, you wouldnít have left camp for home with only a farewell letter, instead of telling me in-person.

Mulan [scowling]: Youíre still sore over that? I thought I explained in my letter that I donít do well with farewells.

General Li: Well, if we were really so close, you wouldnít have asked Su Jili to give the troops your farewell letter; you would have asked me to do it. Thus, we must not be that close.

Mulan [starts to smirk]: So, this is the real reason youíre still sore at me. Youíre jealous of Jili, arenít you? Sour grapes?

General Li: No, it isnít sour grapes. I just donít feel this friendship of ours is worth much, thatís all.

Mulan [smirking]: For all your talk about the importance of acting like large-hearted and a true man, you sound just like an old woman thatís full of sour grapes.

General Li: I told you, it isnít sour grapes.

Mulan: Really?

General Li: Sour grapes only happen in romantic relationships between men and women. Youíre not a woman, right?

Mulan [looking conspiratorial]: You know, I can help you get back at Jili, if youíre game.

[She starts to leave the room. General Li watches her, then gets up and follows]

[Cut to room further inside house. Jili is doing calisthenics when Mulan walks in]

Mulan [looking mischievous]: Jili, how are you doing today?

Jili [getting up]: Iím doing fine today.

Mulan: Guess whoís here?

[General Li walks in, looking very stern and authoritative]

General Li: Su Jili, so this is where youíve been all this time. Youíve got some nerve, deserting the army like that. Do you realize everyoneís been looking for you to have you arrested? Youíve even gotten Lieutenant Hua to hide you in his home. Well, what do you have to say for yourself?

Jili [rather sheepish]: Um, well, not much.

Mulan [grinning now]: Stop teasing him, General Li. Youíre not in any trouble, Jili. Iíve already spoken on your behalf to the Emperor; heís pardoned your desertion. He even gave you to me to serve as my personal servant. From now on, you are part of the Hua family.

Jili: Itís not that I mind becoming part of your family, I just donít like the thought that someone can just give me away to someone else. It sounds so embarrassing. Besides, Iím a subject of the Emperor above, and not the Emperor below (i.e.- Emperor of China).

[Mulan and General Li roll their eyes, thinking Jili is again suffering delusions of grandeur]

[Cut to a street in the bustling marketplace of the village. Mulan and General Li are walking together]

General Li [sighs]: You know, I much prefer staying back at camp to accompanying the Emperor on his travels. Itís so boring.

Mulan: Knowing you as I do, Iíd think you would have no problems keeping yourself occupied, if you put your mind to it. Iím not worried about you.

[Mulan starts to look blue, wrapped in her own thoughts]

General Li [concerned]: You look kind of sad. Is there something on your mind?

Mulan: I was just thinking about life back at the camp. While itís true there were tough moments, I still feel they were the happiest times of my life. In particular, Iím grateful I got to meet you and become your friend.

General Li: Such is life, Mulan. Just remember that if you ever have any troubles, you can come to me. Iíll help you solve them, no matter what they are.

Mulan [full of gratitude, but still looking sad]: After this visit, I donít know when weíll ever see each other again. Life goes on, weíll all go our separate ways, and it could be years, or never, before we meet again.

General Li: Then why donít we agree to meet again in five years, back at camp, and have a reunion of sorts? We can reminisce about old times and catch up on news.

Mulan [smiles weakly, but then looks even gloomier]: In five years, weíll be married, have families, etc. Meeting again might even hurt the good memories, not make new ones.

General Li [protesting]: Now wait a minute, how can you say that? My kids could visit your kids. Heck, if we have a boy and girl, they might even get married to each other. Our tie of friendship would become a tie of blood, extending this friendship into the next generation. Come, soldiers must part when the war is over.

[He starts to walk away, then says over his shoulder] Mulan, donít forget. We will meet in five years time back at camp.

[Mulan looks at General Liís retreating form, showing on her face the deep regret she feels that he will never know her true feelings towards him, nor so many other things she wants to say]

[Cut to the Emperorís temporary quarters. The Emperor and Empress are playing a round of weiqi. The Emperorís advisor announces the arrival of Hua Hu and Mulan. They step inside and greet the Emperor and Empress]

Mulan: Your Majesty, you requested my presence. What are your instructions for me?

Emperor [in surprise]: I did?

Empress [interrupts him]: Actually, I called you, Lieutenant Hua.

Mulan [to Empress]: Your Majesty, what can I do for you?

Empress [to Emperor]: I was thinking, our daughter is of marriageable age. Lieutenant Hua is of age, capable, and not awed with wealth and prestige. Theyíd make a perfect match.

[Mulan and Hua Hu are so surprised they start gaping at the Empress]

Emperor: I second the motion.

Mulan [awkwardly]: Your Majesty, I do not deserve the hand of the princess. Iím not a fit match.

Emperor [to Mulan]: As a reward for saving my life, Iím giving you a thousand pieces of gold (i.e.-a daughter). Nothing could be better.

Crown Prince: Great! I get to have you for my brother-in-law!

[Mulan looks to her father, silently pleading for him to think of something to say to the Emperor]

Hua Hu [bowing again]: Your Majesty, my son is really not fit to marry the princess. His martial skills are no better than those of a three-legged cat; it was pure luck that allowed him the honor of saving your Majesty.

Emperor: No, Hua Hu, I disagree. Lieutenant Hua has earned this honor. I now declare him the future husband of Princess Lanling. Let all know this fact.

Second Prince: Well, arenít you going to thank the Emperor for this honor?

[Mulan, seeing there is no easy way out, genuflects and offers her gratitude (with great chagrin) towards the Emperor and Empress]

[Cut to Hua home. The entire family is discussing Mulanís predicament]

Hua Hu [pacing back and forth]: What are we going to do? Someone think of something.

Mulan: Father, I should go to the Emperor and explain the whole situation to him.

Jili: No, that's not a good idea. Royalty doesnít always act fairly. He could turn around and execute you for lying to him all this time.

Stepmother: But would he be so unreasonable? I mean, Mulan IS his savior. Would he forget this debt?

Jili: Some people, when they become emperors, remember all the people who helped them gain the throne and thank them accordingly. Others are much more Machiavellian; they will repay kindness with a stab in the back, as long as they get what they want first.

Mulanís mother: Mulan, you had best not go see the Emperor; youíd be walking into a trap with no way out.

Hua Hu: Daughter, donít worry. I have a plan. Thereís more than one way to skin a cat.

[Cut to Emperorís temporary quarters]

Emperor: What did you say?

Hua Hu: Your Majesty, we originally wanted to keep this a secret longer, but we couldnít sacrifice the princessís future to our desire for wealth and prestige. You seeÖ well, my sonÖ heÖ heís sterile.

Emperor: Thatís such a pity, that a fine and upstanding young man like Mulan can no longer become my son-in-law. So, how did this happen?

Hua Hu: Well, itís my fault. You see, when Mulan was young, I forced him to practice martial arts day and night. As he got better with youth, I got worse with age. One day, when I was sparring with him, I missed and accidentally sliced him "down there." The doctors said there was nothing they can do.

[The Second Prince whispers something into the Empressís ear. She nods at his suggestion]

Empress: Lieutenant Hua, are you upset at this turn of events (i.e.-can no longer marry the princess)?

Mulan [trying to look disappointed]: Your Majesty, seeing all the hopes you pinned on me, which I am unable to fulfill, is what makes me disappointed.

Empress: You know, you look hale and hearty, which makes me quite surprised you are sterile. Are you sure the doctor you saw knew what he was doing? He might have misdiagnosed you. [Calls her servant] Please fetch the imperial physician and have him give Lieutenant Hua a thorough examination.

Hua Hu [gets on his knees]: Your Majesty, please forgive us and grant us a pardon. The true reason I donít want my son to marry the princess is for purely selfish motives. I am in poor health and need my son to care for me. Iíd miss him if he married the princess and lived in the imperial city. In truth, Mulan had his heart set on marrying the princess [Mulan starts at this], but I couldnít let him go. Thatís why I forced him to join me in hoodwinking the Emperor.

Mulan: Actually, your Majesty, this was all my doing. I donít wish to marry the princess because Iíd hate to have a wife who was greatly superior to me; itíd hurt my manly pride. I also wouldnít be able to take more than one wife. Thatís why I forced my father to join in this charade.

Second Prince: How dare you! Itís bad enough, Mulan, that you donít appreciate the honor we are bestowing upon you, but you also tried to lie to the Emperor.

Emperor: Thatís enough. Stop berating them. [To Mulan] Is the thought of becoming my son-in-law so frightening to you?

Hua Hu [speaking for Mulan]: Actually, your Majesty, my son is from a family of common folk. We are born common and brought up common; we are not a fit match for someone of the princessís caliber and breeding. Please, take back your imperial order (to have Mulan marry the princess).

Empress [getting angry]: Once the Emperor has given an imperial order, he cannot take it back, or chaos will result. The only way Iím letting you get out of this marriage is if you die before it can take place, otherwise, you WILL become my son-in-law, understood?

[Cut to courtyard in the Hua home. It is night. Mulan walks in, looking for Su Jili. He staggers in a few seconds later, obviously drunk]

Mulan: Hey, Jili, Iíve been looking for you. Where have you been?

Jili: Iím no use. Iím a worthless worm.

Mulan [getting alarmed]: Whatís the matter, Jili? Did someone pick on you? Tell me who did it, and Iíll go teach them a lesson. Was it my younger brother?

Jili: The Emperor wants to make you his son-in-law and I canít do a thing to protect you.

[He starts to punch himself in the face. Mulan tries to stop him]

Mulan: Jili, donít get so excited. I can handle my own problems.

[Cut to a view just outside the Emperorís temporary quarters in Mulanís home village. Mulanís stepmother (Hua Huís second wife) knocks on the door, asking to see General Li. He soon steps outside to speak with her]

Stepmother: Mulan asked me to give you a message. Please meet him at the bridge right outside town tomorrow morning. He has something important to discuss with you.

General Li [puzzled]: If itís so important, why couldnít he come and talk to me in-person?

Stepmother [looking very mysterious]: Youíll see. All will become clear then.

[Cut to the bridge outside the town. It is early morning, just after dawn. General Li is at the bridge, pacing around impatiently. He doesnít notice Mulan, dressed this time as a woman, sitting on the edge of the bridge with her back to him]

General Li [mutters]: Mulan, where are you? Youíre too old to be playing hide-and-go-seek.

[He starts to shout her name, but doesnít get a response. He starts to leave]

Mulan [calling from behind him]: Iím already here. Where are you going?

[Recognizing his friendís voice, General Li turns around, and does a double-take when he sees Mulan is in a womanís outfit. She smiles demurely. Rather crossly, he walks over to where she sits]

Mulan: Whoís interested in playing hide-and-go-seek with you?

General Li: Why the heck are you dressed as a woman again? (Referring to the undercover assignment she did several months ago) What are you up to now?

Mulan: Is that all you think about? Games? Youíre so dense. I AM dressed in my regular attire, just like I ought to be.

General Li [scoffs]: Youíre pulling my leg.

Mulan [earnestly]: Iím not joking. I joined the army in my fatherís place. My only brother is too young to serve, so I went instead, disguising myself as a man to do so.

General Li [incredulous]: You mean you really are a young lady?

[It finally begins to sink in to General Li that Mulan is telling the truth. He begins to light up visibly when he realizes the full import of what she has said]

General Li [grinning broadly now]: So thatís why you never liked people touching you in the army, didnít want anyone to see your chest wound (earned from protecting the Emperor from an assassin), insisted on all those rules of etiquette, and didnít want to marry the princess.

[General Li is obviously starting to plan how he is going to court Mulan, as this new revelation has opened up so many possibilities for him]

Mulan: Please mind your manners, sir.

General Li [abashed]: Of course, of course. I apologize for my lack of manners. Iím just deliriously happy. You know, Mulan, your charade really caused me a lot of suffering.

Mulan [looking rather happy herself]: Why are you so happy?

General Li: You knew full well how Iíd react to this news. Thatís why you asked me to come here, away from other people, to tell me the truth.

Mulan [soberly]: But thatís not why I told you. I need your help to come up with a plan.

General Li [still smiling]: For selecting a groom?

Mulan [slightly annoyed]: Iím on pins and needles, and all you can do is joke with me.

[Cut to Emperorís temporary quarters. The imperial family is getting ready to watch a play. The Empress is looking for the Crown Prince, who is nowhere to be found. He finally walks in, wearing a Mongolian herderís outfit. This causes the Emperor and Empress to look at him in dismay]

Emperor: What is the meaning of this? Why are you dressed as a barbarian?

Second Prince: Brother, the show is about to start. Youíd best change out of your outfit, or youíll miss the opening.

Crown Prince: Not to worry. The play has been canceled. Instead, I am going to provide the entertainment, acting in a play of my own. Itís called "Joining the Army."

[He begins to act, playing the role of a barbarian king of yesteryear. He sings of how he is a great warrior and even greater king, how he rules his subjects firmly, and deals harshly against transgressors. He sings of his disgust at discovering a lowly woman has infiltrated his army. General Li walks in next, dressed as a woman and singing an out-of-tune falsetto (really grates on the ear). He portrays a woman who dressed as a man to take her fatherís place in the army. This woman joined the army because her father was old and infirm, she had no elder brother to serve, and her younger brother was too young. The barbarian king declares the penalty for this is death, and executes her]

Crown Prince: So, what did you think?

Empress [laughing]: Preposterous! How could a woman join the army as a man and not be discovered? Itís impossible.

Crown Prince: Of course itís possible. I heard there really was such a person in the barbarian army. Her name is well known.

General Li: And she was quite comely to look at.

Empress: Did the barbarian king really execute her?

Crown Prince: Yes, he did.

Empress: Poor thing, she was born at the wrong place and time. If she had been born into our empire, we wouldnít give her such an awful fate.

Crown Prince: This woman dressed as a man, cavorted in the army, dishonored her family, and lied to her government. Donít you think that justifies her punishment?

Empress: She joined the army to take her fatherís place, not to live with loose morals. How can you call that disgraceful? In fact, Iíd call this woman a paragon of filial piety, donít you agree, Emperor?

Emperor: Itís too bad the barbarian king couldnít accept having a woman in his army under those circumstances. It proves he wasnít fit to be king.

Crown Prince: Mother, father, my thoughts exactly! [Turns to doorway] Miss Hua, you can come out now.

[Mulan steps into the presence of the imperial family. The Empress and Emperor are dumbfounded]

Empress: YouÖ youÖ really areÖ

Mulan [bowing]: Your Majesties, your lowly subject, Hua Mulan, greets you.

Empress: Hua Mulan, you really are a woman?

Mulan [still kneeling]: I realize that impersonating a man to serve in the army in my fatherís place was indecent and disrespectful to your Majesties. Please punish me as you see fit.

Crown Prince [gently chiding Mulan]: You know, you shouldnít be admitting this now. You should have confessed everything to their Majesties long ago and not waited until you were about to become my brother-in-law before finally confessing.

Mulan: I was too scared to do that. I was afraid of what your Majesty would do to me when you found out.

Crown Prince: Thatís where you are wrong. Their majesties are much more forgiving and understanding than you have given them credit for. They would never treat you cruelly.

Emperor [smiling]: Hua Mulan, you are an excellent subject. You played me like a violin virtuoso plays an Amati. Tell me, did you come up with the idea for this play of the Crown Princeís?

Mulan: I wouldnít dare to come up with this way to lie to your Majesty.

General Li: Actually, it was my idea; Mulan is not to blame.

[Everyone chuckles over the whole event. The Emperor pardons Mulan for all her transgressions]

[Cut to inside the Hua home. Tianci is wrestling with Jili and ends up kicking him in the crotch. Jili doubles over in pain while Tianci runs over to his father]

Tianci: Father, father, I won, I won.

Hua Hu [in no mood to laugh]: Hush. Canít you see everyone in the family is on pins and needles? And all you can do is play?

Tianci: Why shouldnít I play?

Hua Hu: Your sister has committed a grievous wrong, impersonating a soldier. If all does not go well with the Emperor, the entire household will lose their heads.

Stepmother [hugging Tianci]: Tianci, your sister has gone to see the Emperor and confess her true identity. If he gets angry, we will all feel his wrath. Your father is not in a good mood; please play quietly here and donít bother him.

[Mulan and General Li walk in the house at this point, looking grave and downcast. Catching her fatherís eye, she shakes her head]

Hua Hu: Mulan, how did the Emperor take the news.

[Mulan shakes her head and doesnít say anything]

Hua Hu [anxiously]: Did he pardon you?

[Mulan again shakes her head and remains silent]

Hua Hu [getting even anxious]: Would you quit shaking your head and tell me what the Emperor said?

[General Li is unable to hide a smile that is starting to creep across his face. All eyes in the room are on Mulan, though, who still maintains a straight face]

General Li [to Mulan]: Stop baiting your father. Tell him what happened so he can stop suffering.

Mulan: The Emperor said that while I ought to be punished for impersonating a soldier, the fact that I did it for my father, and that I once rescued the Emperor and Crown Prince, on separate occasions, offsets the wrong. In other wordsÖ he pardoned me!

Hua Hu [turning to General Li]: Is this true, General Li? Does she speak the truth?

General Li: Yes, itís true.

[The family erupts in cheers, happy that they have cheated the executionerís ax]

[Cut to Emperorís temporary quarters. The Emperor and Empress are trying to find the Crown Prince]

Empress [to Emperor]: How can you have the power to make thousands of people obey your orders, but you canít control our son. He goes and does whatever he wants and doesnít heed our wishes.

Emperor [sighing]: Iíve scolded him time and time again, but he just wonít listen. [To the Empress] Even you, the most capable manager around, canít handle him. If you canít, who can?

Second Prince: Iíve been thinking that my brother needs someone who is closer than Mother to manage him. If he had a wife, she would manage him best.

Empress: But who is fit to be the Crown Princeís wife AND is strong-willed enough to manage him?

Second Prince: How about Hua Mulan? We know she is strong-willed, unafraid to speak her mind, and courageous.

Emperor: Thatís an excellent idea.

Empress: They would make a perfect match.