[Cut to the Hua home. Mulan is in the kitchen cooking up dinner. Her mother walks in bringing General Li]

Mulanís mother: Daughter, General Li is here to visit. [Seeing Mulan is all mussed up from cooking] Why are you so disheveled? Donít you care we have a visitor?

Mulan [annoyed]: Mother, why did you bring a guest into the kitchen?

General Li: Actually, I asked your mother to bring me here. I was anxious to see you again.

Mulan [coyly]: You were in that much of a hurry to see me?

Mulanís mother: Daughter, is there anything you need my help with?

Mulan: No, Mother, the food is just about ready. Could you go set the table?

[Mulanís mother leaves hurriedly, leaving Mulan and General Li together alone]

Mulan: Guess what? I made your favorite dishes. [Picks up a dish of food] Hereís the braised picnic shoulder you like so much and hereís a plate of sweet and sour pork. It's sure to pique your taste buds.

[General Li keeps gazing at her with loving eyes; he shows no interest in the dishes she has prepared for dinner and instead keeps watching her tenderly but with a tinge of sadness]

Mulan [shyly]: Why are you staring at me like that?

General Li: The emperor has asked me to bring you back to his quarters. The litter is waiting outside, so it looks like weíll have to miss this dinner. You donít want to keep him waiting.

Mulan [crossly]: Why, does he want to play another round of weiqi? [Grumbles] If I don't go, I'll get in trouble, but if I do go, I have to put up with his endless praising of me to the skies. It's a no-win situation.

[They both head out the door, on their way to the Emperor's quarters]

[Cut to Emperor's temporary quarters. Empress is seated, with her servants around her and her two sons, the Crown Prince and Second Prince. Mulan is demonstrating tea-brewing techniques]

Mulan [as she steeps the tea and pours out three cups]: Your Majesty, tea must be brewed like so, then served hot. Here, try some. [Hands a cup to the Empress]

Empress [sips it]: Excellent! This tea has a really good flavor that I normally do not taste. My sons, try some of it.

Mulan: In the palace, it takes a while for tea to travel from the kitchen, across the palace, then to your Majesty. The tea has cooled by the time it reaches you, so of course it won't taste as good. Tea must be brewed freshly and drunk when it is hot.

Empress: Where did you learn so much about tea?

Mulan: My father taught me all I know about tea; he loves to drink it, so he always emphasized proper brewing and serving techniques when I was young.

[Emperor walks in with his entourage. Notices Empress looks like she is enjoying herself]

Emperor [grinning]: Well, I haven't seen you so happy in quite a while. What's the occasion?

Empress: Mulan is made of good material. She will do well.

Emperor: Then let it be so. [To the Empress] Have you told her yet?

Empress: Not yet.

[Mulan is a bit puzzled by this exchange, but says nothing. General Li looks more and more uncomfortable as time wears on. The Emperor beckons for Mulan to come forward]

Emperor: Since I couldn't have you for a son-in-law, I intend to have you join my family in another way. [Hands a scroll containing a royal decree to Mulan]

Mulan [really looking puzzled now]: Your Majesty, I don't understand.

Emperor: Read the scroll. Everything will make sense then.

[Mulan unrolls the scroll and reads it; her face turns a shade lighter when she realizes what is written. The Emperor has chosen her to marry the Crown Prince]

Mulan [in shock]: Your Majesty, I'm not worthy of this honor.

Emperor: Nonsense. Let me ask you three questions. You must answer them truthfully. First, are you educated in the classics?

Mulan: My father was strict about book learning and taught me all I know about the classics.

Emperor: Then, are you already engaged to anyone?

[Mulan looks to General Li with a bit of regret, while he looks forlornly back]

Mulan: No, your Majesty.

Emperor: Then, do you feel the Crown Prince is not worthy of your hand?

Mulan: Of course not, your Majesty. If anything, I'm not worthy of him.

Emperor: In that case, the engagement is on!

[Cut to Hua home. Mulan arrives home after leaving the Emperor's quarters. Jili and Hua Hu are playing a round of weiqi in the family sitting room. Tianci deliberately puts a hamster down Jili's shirt, making him dance around in good-natured dismay. Hua Hu sees that Mulan has returned with General Li]

Hua Hu [to Mulan]: So, what did the Emperor want with you?

[Mulan silently hands the scroll containing the royal decree to her father. He reads it, then looks up again with shock]

Hua Hu [stammering]: The Emperor has declared Mulan will be the bride of the Crown Prince.

[Stepmother and Mulan's mother are shocked, while only the latter is elated at the news. Mulan looks very sad, as does General Li]

Mulan's mother: Wow! This is even better than getting picked to marry the princess. The Crown Prince will be Emperor one day, so Mulan will become Empress. The Hua family will have great prestige, because they produced the Empress of China! And if she has a son who becomes Emperor, then that makes meÖ the Emperor's grandmother! How wonderful!

[Cut to bridge outside town, where Mulan first told General Li about her true identity. She is standing on the edge of the bridge, trying to think things through. General Li walks by, pauses as if he wants to speak to her, then continues on his way]

Mulan [grabbing General Li by the sleeve]: Stop! [He stops] You knew the Emperor's plans for me! How could you not tell me? [Starts to pummel him with her hands] You damn bastard! How could you be so unfeeling?

General Li [distantly]: Miss Hua, you must start behaving with more propriety since you are the Crown Prince's betrothed. You wouldn't want tongues to wag about such unladylike behavior. [He leaves, with Mulan watching brokenheartedly]

[Cut to Hua home. Mulan is in her bedroom, idly staring out the window. Hua Hu walks in, looking concerned]

Hua Hu: What's the matter, Mulan? Tell me, and I'll fix whatever is wrong.

Mulan [mumbles]: You can't fix my problems, father.

Hua Hu: Then at least let me lighten your load.

Mulan: Father, I donít want to worry you.

Hua Hu [chuckling]: Do you think a father can't read her daughter's mind? I know exactly what's bothering you. It'sÖ

Mulan [in no mood for her father's teasing]: This problem is driving me bananas. Oh Father, what am I going to do? [Hua Hu remains silent, reading her thoughts] Please, think of something!

Hua Hu [rather sadly]: Mulan, I'm of two minds. As a loyal subject of the Emperor, I want you to marry the Crown Prince. It is a great honor and privilege to be able to serve your family and country this way. However, as a fatherÖ well, I want you to be happy, to marry someone you love and live happily ever after. [Mulan smiles wanly at this] I'm sorry, but I have no solution to this tangle.

Stepmother [hurrying into room]: My lord, Eunuch Gui and General Li are here to escort Mulan back to the Emperor's quarters.

[Cut to the family sitting room of the Hua home. Eunuch Gui and General Li are waiting for Mulan to appear]

Eunuch Gui: His Majesty has requested that General Li and I escort Miss Hua back to the imperial quarters without delay. He worries lest she should suddenly decide to bolt before the wedding can take place.

Mulan's mother [eagerly]: Since we are about to become the Emperor's in-laws, when do we get to move to our new imperial quarters?

Eunuch Gui: Do not worry. It is still early yet. Everything will be arranged when the time comes. [Turning to Mulan] As the day is no longer youngÖMiss Hua, shall we? [He indicates for her to precede him out the door]

[Cut to the new quarters for Mulan. General Li is stationed in the rooms next to her. Servants arrive to help her settle her belongings]

[Cut to her Mulan's new bedroom. She awakens, a bit disoriented over her new surroundings]

Mulan [muttering]: My goodness, it's boring here. There's nothing to do. [Throws back the covers and gets up. Eunuch Gui arrives, along with several servant girls]

Eunuch Gui: Miss Hua, the servants are here to help you bathe and do your laundry.

Mulan [surprised]: Do what? I can bathe myself and do my own laundry. [She grabs a basin one of the servants has brought in, intending to start her laundry]

Eunuch Gui [entreats Mulan]: Miss, the servants can do that for you. We must follow the rules of the palace.

Mulan: But if I let someone else do these things, then what am I going to do with my time? Act useless?

Eunuch Gui [kindly]: Miss, I'd suggest you start acclimating yourself to your new surroundings, because the sooner you adapt, the sooner you'll feel at home here. After all, you may as well get used to it now that you are the Crown Prince's betrothed.

[Reluctantly, Mulan agrees and lets the servants bathe her. After her bath, she is taken to the dining room]

Mulan [seeing the table full of food]: Do you expect me to eat all that food? That's enough to feed several people? [Notices all the servants are standing around expectantly] Everyone, pull up to the table and dine with me. There's plenty to go around.

[The servants and Eunuch Gui drop to their knees. Eunuch Gui responds that it is not their place to sit at the same table with their superiors. She tries, but is unable to persuade them]

Mulan [to Eunuch Gui]: You know, I haven't seen General Li in a couple of days. Is he ill?

Eunuch Gui: Miss, General Li is in excellent health and is not ill.

Mulan: Well, then go fetch General Li and ask him to come to dine with me.

Eunuch Gui: Miss, I can't do that. No men (i.e.-"intact" men) are allowed to set foot inside these quarters. General Li is no exception.

Mulan [without batting an eye]: I know he is a man, and I know there are rules and regulations here, but you are also instructed to obey all my orders, is that not so?

Eunuch Gui [squirms]: Well, yes, that's true, Miss.

Mulan: Then go fetch him!

[Eunuch Gui hesitates a bit, then leaves to get General Li. He soon returns with General Li, who greets Mulan with a severely formal manner that nettles her somewhat]

Mulan [to Eunuch Gui]: You can all leave now. [She sees they are still standing, then says in a harsher tone] I said, leave us alone! [They leave] General Li, please sit down and eat this meal with me.

[Stiff as a board, General Li sits and stays at attention]

Mulan: Well, go ahead and eat.

[He begins to eat, but does not attempt to chat with her or otherwise acknowledge her existence. He acts as if he is only following orders and is not enjoying himself in the least. After several minutes of this, Mulan is starting to wonder what is going on. She notices General Li has stopped eating]

Mulan [not unkindly]: Why have you stopped eating? Is there something wrong with the food?

General Li [stiffly]: Miss, the food is excellent. It's much better than the food served in the military camp.

[They both remain silent for several more seconds. Eunuch Gui, uneasy about the silence, steps in]

Eunuch Gui [to Mulan]: Miss, it is almost time for the servants to begin preparing the evening meal. What would you like to have?

Mulan [very surprised]: But we haven't even finished this meal! Besides, I didn't ask you come in. Leave us alone! [Eunuch Gui hesitates, then leaves the room. Mulan turns her attention back to General Li] How can you eat at a time like this?

General Li: Why not? It isn't everyday a soldier gets to enjoy such wonderful food. It'd be a shame to leave any of it, especially since it seems mealtime is an all-day affair. [Starts to sail into the food, shoveling everything into his rice bowl and gorging himself. Mulan looks on in a mixture of amazement and dismay. Several minutes later, General Li has cleared the entire table]

General Li [sitting at attention]: Miss, I've finished eating. I'd like to take my leave now. [He gets up to leave]

Mulan [furious]: Who gave you permission to leave?

General Li: Do you have any orders for me, Miss?

Mulan [exasperated]: What is the matter with you? Why are you acting this way?

General Li: Miss, please remember your station. (i.e.-start acting more ladylike)

Mulan [really getting annoyed]: True! I've always been an unconventional woman, someone who doesn't care what other people think of me, and utterly without shame. But you've known me for a long time. You know this is what I am. If I had any sense of propriety and shame, do you think I would have run off to join the army and be surrounded by men? [General Li is still standing, looking like he is bored and would really rather not be with Mulan] I feel so discontented. I want you to answer me honestly: when you first found out I was a woman, did you ever consider trying to make me your wife? Answer me!

General Li: How do you want me to answer? I would never think of myself so highly compared to you.

Mulan [still furious]: I always thought you were a red-blooded man who wasn't afraid of anything. I want you to tell me the truth. Did you ever care for me? Tell me. Did you ever have feelings for me? Tell me, and I'll let you leave.

General Li [after several seconds]: No [he can't look her in her face]

Mulan [furious]: Liar! You're lying to me!

[Eunuch Gui, hearing the commotion, comes running inside, looking quite concerned]

Eunuch Gui: Miss, please remember that you are the Crown Prince's betrothed. I donít care what has happened in the past between you two, but let me tell you the following story. The Empress once had a niece she adopted and treated as her own daughter. This niece eloped with General Ling and became pregnant. The Empress was furious and mortified with her niece's disgraceful behavior. She had both her niece and General Ling executed, thus also killing her niece's unborn child. Don't cross her, miss!

[Mulan looks to General Li and both seem rather taken aback at this story. However, Mulan's fury is still raging]

General Li: I'm sorry, miss, if I ever misled you. As I have answered your question, I will take my leave now.

[General Li leaves the room, leaving Mulan alone with Eunuch Gui. She sits down, suddenly looking defeated and tired]

Mulan [to Eunuch Gui]: Do you think I'm a shameless hussy?

Eunuch Gui: My lady, you are a bird of another feather. Of course you do not behave like everyone else.

Mulan: But I'm so unhappy with everything. I hate the way he (General Li) is acting as if nothing is the matter and there is nothing between us.

Eunuch Gui: On my head, I promise I will not reveal what has happened here tonight to anyone. The Emperor and Empress must never hear of this!

Mulan [resolutely]: Never mind that. I donít care if they find out. I, Hua Mulan, have always had the guts to do whatever needed doing, and this time is no exception, regardless of the consequences.