Hey y'all, this is foxy angel. I don't like writing disclaimers, but I'm sure we're all aware of who owns what around here! And, my story is loosely based on Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, so props to her for such an awesome plot. (For added fun, read Mansfield Park first and try to guess who's who!) So, without further ado...
A week of being back on the farm put many things in perspective on China's newest heroine. Of course, she was happy to be back with her family—she truly was—but, then her mind would occasionally wander to other things while she would do her household chores. What if she had taken that consul's position? But, scenarios such as these were immediately banished, and instead she reminded herself that she is happy here. With her family is where she belongs.
Over the dinner table, the aforementioned topic that had seized Mulan's thoughts had come out when Fa Zhou asked his daughter to divulge what else happened in the Imperial City. Her mother, father, and grandmother could not help but gape at Mulan in surprise.
"You refused?! Why?" Fa Zhou asked.
"I wanted to come home," Mulan replied half-assuredly.
"No," Fa Zhou shook his head grievously. "I cannot believe this."
Fa Li patted her husband. "Mulan, why have you upset your father like this?"
"Mama, what do you mean? All I wanted to do was to get back to all of you as soon as possible."
Fa Zhou looked up with a look of hurt pride. "I will not allow myself to hold back my daughter's happiness."
"Baba, I am happy," Mulan said, equally hurt by her father's words. "I am happy to be home, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
"Yes, but are you happy with your future's outlook? To remain what you are when you were offered something better?"
"I should hardly feel worthy of such a position," Mulan said, trying to defend her refusal.
"Mulan, I would have never known you to feel yourself unworthy of anything," Grandma Fa interjected.
Fa Li tried to put things in perspective. "Yes, we missed you, and we were worried out of our minds, and we prayed that you'd come back, but this is entirely different from your being in the army. You were destined for greatness, and you have achieved many things, but will you just let it all slip away like this? Will you be content in feeding the animals for the rest of your life?"
"What would you have me do?!" Mulan said, ready to cry. "I wanted to come back home. I wanted to be with all of you again."
"Don't think we don't want you here," Grandma Fa said. "But we don't want to see you live out the rest of your life in this crummy joint."
"Granny!" Fa Li exclaimed at the crudeness of her words.
Fa Zhou, now with a clear head, spoke rationally. "What your grandmother is trying to say is that we love you, and we want you to be successful. You are the only person who can decide whether to take that position or not, and don't be so foolish as to base it on anything else but yourself."
Mulan thought it over. "I don't know what I want."
"You don't have to decide right away," Fa Zhou said while getting up from the table. "Give it time. Just tell us when you're ready."
"This is all considering that the offer is still open to me," Mulan added, trying to get out of actually having to choose.
"Why wouldn't it be?" Fa Li said smiling. "You are always one to speak your mind."
Fa Zhou chuckled as he exited and said this in parting: "Yes, the only problem he will have is getting you to keep quiet."
That morning Mulan sought the advice of Khan, as he was always the one she would turn to in light of dire circumstances. She sat herself down on the hay, and Khan could tell by his master's desperate look that it was going to be one of THOSE talks. She explained it to him, and he paid attention as best as a horse could, snorting and whinnying when the situation called for it.
"Okay, how about this— I'll gather these grains of rice," she said while reaching into a bag of rice recently harvested. "Each grain will represent a good aspect, and there will be two piles—one made on the basis of staying here and one made on the basis of becoming a consul."
Mulan cleared the surrounding area of any dirt and then began laying her piles.
"I'll put three handfuls on the right, for my mother, father, and grandma," Mulan said, pleased that the pile of her preference was already coming out on top. "and another for Little Brother." She gathered up four heaping handfuls of rice into one pile on her right.
Khan snorted in dissatisfaction that she had not placed a pile for himself on the right pile.
"Khan, if I go, then I'll be taking you with me," Mulan said smiling. Upon hearing that, Khan sat up more proudly while she continued piling rice.
"I'll be richer, and I'll have a nicer room… two handfuls on the left. And I'll wear nicer clothes and eat better food," Mulan sighed. Khan whinnied in delight—better food for the master meant better leftovers for the horse. "two more on the left."
"And I'll be bringing much honor to the Fa name," Mulan said unenthusiastically while she reached her hand into the bag again and gathered up some rice to place on the left. "But, I'll miss this place, so…" she placed another handful on the right pile. Mulan looked at the two piles in despair, but soon brightened on a thought. "I think I'll take one away from the left and put it on the right, because I'll be working with Chi Fu."
Khan looked at her in a quizzical look but said nothing. "And I'll take another out because I'll be having to deal with those people who will look down on me." But as she was about to place that handful on the right, she stopped herself and put it back where it was. "Then again, I'll never have to see that Matchmaker again." Mulan let out a sigh of exasperation and began putting the two piles of rice bag into the bag. "Khan, do you think I should go or stay?"
Khan neighed his opinion of wanting to go. Better food, better stables, and more mares.
In Mulan's case, she had made up her mind from the beginning. The prospect of being useful to the Emperor was something too intriguing to ignore, and it had been the subject of many dreams the past week. But, it all came down to her feeling guilty—guilty that she could entertain such notions when she was supposed to be content in being back at home. Her duty was to her family, and she felt unwanted when her family had encouraged her to accept. It came down to her realization that, other than her missing her family, she had no reason for staying.
"Yes, you'll miss Little Brother," Mulan said, neglecting the tone and manner in which Khan directed his opinion.
"If I were to stay…" Mulan began thoughtfully. "Then my parents will always think that I turned down a better offer on account of them… and that will eat away at me too," she said despondently. "However, if I went, then my family would be happy, and I'll never have to ask myself 'what if.' But, this is all if the Emperor still wants me; and!— if I don't like it there, I could just tell him that I want to go back home, and he'd understand, right?" Mulan looked to Khan for some sort of response, but he gave her none. She already knew what she had to do, and she walked back to her house and told her parents.