At first they think Shang is just in shock – he’s not helping gather money for the ransom, he’s not crying, he’s not strapping on his sword to go find his lovely wife, he’s just sitting quietly by the gate, smiling a little, and occasionally looking over at the water clock.
Finally his father approaches him. “Son, we know that this must be hard for you,” he begins, “but you cannot help your wife by this immobility!”
Shang nods. “Father,” he replies calmly, “on the contrary. I am giving her all the help that she needs.”
“Son, I do not understand.”
“Father, she will return to me, and when she does, she will find that I have waited and trusted in her skills and good sense. This will please her greatly.”
Shang’s father looks at his son as though the younger man has gone mad. “Son, she is a woman, and there were three of the ruffians! How is it that you believe she will return to you?”
Shang smiles and nods over at the gate; his father turns to look. A carriage has just pulled up – the same one which was used to kidnap Fa Mulan, in fact. But the ruffian who was driving it is no longer on the seat. Instead, he is clinging to the top of the carriage and sobbing; from within the carriage come small whimpers of pain. Fa Mulan, smiling, is sitting in the driver’s seat, reins in her hands. Her dress is torn a little, and her hair has come undone, but her makeup is still perfect.
Shang stands and strides over to help her down, gesturing for the house guards to take the carriage and its cargo away. Shang’s father draws close in time to hear his son murmur, “You return in good time, Mulan; dinner will be held shortly.”
“Do I have time to put on a new dress?” she replies. “One of them had a knife.” She draws a long knife out of her sash and flips it into the air, catching it effortlessly. “It’s actually not bad quality.”
Shang laughs and wraps an arm around her. “I shall have to find you an embroidered sword-belt,” he says fondly, and leads her away to their wing of the house to change.