Read "The Good Earth Trilogy The Good Earth, Sons, and A House Divided" by Pearl S. Buck available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your. Views KB Size Report. DOWNLOAD EPUB The House of Earth Trilogy 1 The Good Earth. Read more · Sons (Good Earth Trilogy, Vol 2). The blaze of the oven died down while Wang Lung thought of all the beds there good food, went often into the inner court at meal times, and she grew free.
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Not in United States? Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. See if you have enough points for this item. Sign in. The Pulitzer Prize—winning classic novel of China, together with its two sequels—by the Nobel Prize winner. They are blessed with sons, and save steadily until one day they can afford to buy property in the House of Wang—the very house in which O-lan used to work.
The barber came at once and began quickly to pour hot water, from a kettle on his pot of charcoal, into his brass basin. He commented upon Wang Lung as he shaved his upper forehead: The new fashion is to take off the braid.
When it was finished and the money counted into the barber's wrinkled, water-soaked hand, Wang Lung had a moment of horror. So much money! But walking down the street again with the wind fresh upon his shaven skin, he said to himself: When all had been bought, even two fresh squares of bean-curd, shivering in a jelly upon its leaf, he went to a candlemaker's shop and there he bought a pair of incense sticks.
Then he turned his steps with great shy- ness toward the House of Hwang. Once at the gate of the house he was seized with terror. He should have asked his father — ' his uncle — even his nearest neighbour, Ching — any one to come with him. He had never been in a great house before. How could he go in with his wedding feast on his arm, and say, 'I have come for a woman?
Two lions made of stone stood on guard, one at either side. There was no one else. He turned away. It was impossible. He felt suddenly faint.
He would go first and buy a little food. He had eaten nothing — had forgotten food. He went into a small street-restaurant, and putting twopence upon the table he sat down. A dirty waiting-boy with a shiny black apron came near and he called out to him, 'Two bowls of noodles! Wang Lung shook his head. He sat up and looked a-J bout. There was no one he knew in the small, dark, crowd- ed room full of tables.
Only a few men sat eating or drink- ing tea.
Pearl S. Buck
It was a place for poor men, and among them he looked neat and clean and almost well-to-do, so that a beggar passing, whined at him: He was pleased and he threw into the beggar's bowl two small cash, which are one-fifth of a penny, and the beggar pulled back with swift- ness his black claw of a hand, and grasping the cash, fum- bled them within his rags.
Wang Lung sat and the sun climbed upwards. The wait- ing-boy lounged about impatiently. Before he could turn it was there and the small boy demanded sharply: Then he saw entering the shop his neighbour whom he had invited to the feast, and he put the penny hastily upon the table and drank the tea at a gulp and went out quickly by the side door and was once more upon the street.
This time, since it was after nigh noon, the gates were ajar and the keeper of the gate idled upon the threshold, picking his teeth with a bamboo sliver after his meal. He was a tall fellow with a large mole upon his left cheek, and from the mole hung three long black hairs which had never been cut. When Wang Lung appeared he shouted roughly, thinking from the basket that he had come to sell something.
In the sunshine his face was wet. The gateman gave a great laugh. But I did not recognise you with a basket on your arm. But the gate- man did not move. At last Wang Lung said with anxiety: There was one silver piece and fourteen copper pence.
Wang Lung, in spite of anger at what had just hap- pened and horror at this loud announcing of his coming, could do nothing but follow, and this he did, picking up his basket and looking neither to the right nor to the left. Afterwards, although it was the first time he had ever been in a great family's house, he could remember nothing. With his face burning and his head bowed, he walked through court after court, hearing that voice roaring ahead of him, hearing tinkles of laughter on every side.
Then suddenly when it seemed to him he had gone through a hundred courts, the gateman fell silent and pushed him into a small waiting-room. There he stood alone while the gateman went into some inner place, returning in a mo- ment to say: How will you bow! But he did not dare to put the basket down because he was afraid something might be stolen from it. It did not occur to- him that all the world might not desire such delicacies as two pounds of pork and six ounces of beef and a small 16 pond-fish.
The gateman saw his fear and cried out in great contempt: Down a long, narrow veranda they went, the roofs sup- ported by delicate carven posts, and into a hall the like of which Wang Lung had never seen. A score of houses such as his whole house could have been put into it and have disappeared, so wide were the spaces, so high the roofs. Lifting his head in wonder to see the great carven and painted beams above him, he stumbled upon the high threshold of the door and would have fallen except that the gateman caught his arm and cried out: She looked at him out of small, sharp, black eyes, as sunken and sharp as a monkey's eyes, in her thin and wrinkled face.
The skin of her hand that held the pipe's end was stretched over her little bones as smooth and as yellow as the gilt upon an idol. Wang Lung fell to his knees and knocked his head on the tiled floor. Has he come for the woman? This roused Wang Lung and he looked with indigna- tion at the gateman. She bent and sucked greedily at the pipe for a moment and the sharpness passed from her eyes and a film of forgetfulness came over them. Wang Lung remained standing before her until, in passing, her eyes caught his figure.
It was as though she had forgotten everything. The gateman's face was immovable. He said nothing. What woman ' the old lady began, but the slave girl at her side stooped and whispered and the lady recovered herself. I remember we promised her to some farmer in marriage. You are that farmer? It was as though she was suddenly impatient to be done with all this and to be left alone in the stillness of the great room with her opium pipe. And in an instant the slave appeared leading by the hand a square, rather tall figure, clothed in clean blue cotton coat and trousers.
Wang Lung glanced once and then away, his heart beating. This was his woman.
The Good Earth
The woman answered slowly as an echo, 'Ready. It was a good enough voice, not loud, not soft, plain, and not ill-tempered. The ; woman's hair was neat and smooth and her coat clean. I He saw with an instant's disappointement that her feet were not bound. But this he could not dwell upon, for the old lady was saying to the gateman. I bought her in a year of famine when her parents came south because they had nothing to eat.
They were from the north in Shantung and there they returned, and I know nothing further of them. You see she has the strong body and the square cheeks of her kind. She will work well for you in the field and drawing water and all else that you wish. She is not beautiful, but that you do not need. Only men of leisure have the need for beautiful women to divert them.
Neither is she clever. But she does well what she is told to do and she has a good temper. So far as I know she is virgin. She has not beauty enough to tempt my sons and grandsons even if she had not been in the kitchen. If there has been anything it has been only a serving man.
But with the innu- merable and pretty slaves running freely about the courts, I doubt if there has been any one. Take her and use her well. She is a good slave, although somewhat slow and stupid, and had I not wished to acquire merit at the temple for my future existence by bringing more life into the world I should have kept her, for she is good enough for the kitchen.
But I marry my slaves off if any will have them and the lords do not want them. Bring the first child to me to see. They stood hesitating, and Wang Lung was greatly embarrassed, not knowing whether he should speak or what. This box he dropped down in the room where Wang Lung returned to find his basket and would carry it no farther, and indeed he disappeared without another word. She had a square, honest face, a short, broad nose with large black nostrils, and her mouth was wide, a gash in her face.
Her eyes were small and of a dull black in colour, and were filled with some sadness that was not clearly expressed. She bore patiently Wang Lung's look, without embarrassment or response, simply waiting until he had seen her. He saw that it was true there was not beauty of any kind in her face — a brown, common, patient face.
But there were no pock-marks on her dark skin, nor was her lip split. In her ears he saw his rings hanging, the gold-washed rings he had bought, and on her hands were the rings he had given her. He turned away with secret exultation. Well, he had his woman! Without a word she bent over and picking up one end of the box she placed it upon her shoulder and, staggering under its weight, tried to rise. He watched her at this and suddenly he said: Here is the basket.
He thought of the hundred courts he had come through and of his figure, absurd under its burden. Then she led the way through a small, unused court that was grown up with weeds, its pool choked, and there under a bent pine tree was an old round gate that she pulled loose from its bar, and they went through and into the street. Once or twice he looked back at her.
She plodded along steadily on her big feet as though she had walked there all her life, her wide face expressionless. In the gate of the wall he stopped uncertainly and fumbled in his girdle with one hand for the pennies he had left, holding the box steady on his shoulder with the other hand. He took out twopence and with these he bought six small green peaches.
She clutched them greedily, as a child might, and held them in her hand without speech. When next he looked at her as they walked along the margin of the wheat-fields she was nibbling one cautiously, but when she saw him looking at her she covered it again with her hand and kept her jaws motionless. And thus they went until they reached the western field where stood the temple to the earth.
This temple was ' a small structure, not higher in all than a man's shoulder and made of grey bricks and roofed with tile.
Wang Lung's grandfather, who had farmed the very fields upon which Wang Lung now spent his life, had built it, hauling the bricks from the town upon his wheelbarrow. The walls were covered with plaster on the outside and a village artist had been hired in a good year once to paint upon the white plaster a scene of hills and bamboo. But the rain of generations had poured upon this painting until now there was only a faint feathery shadow of bamboos left, and the hills were almost wholly gone.
Within the temple, snugly under the roof, sat two small, solemn figures, earthen, for they were formed from the earth of the fields about the temple. These were the god himself and his lady. They wore robes of red and gilt paper, and the god had a scant, drooping moustache of real hair. Each year at the New Year, Wang Lung's father bought sheets of red paper and carefully cut and pasted new robes for the pair.
And each year rain and snow beat in and the sun of summer shone in and spoiled their robes. At this moment, however, the robes were still new, since the year was but well begun, and Wang Lung was proud of their spruce appearance. He took the basket from the woman's arm and carefully he looked about under the pork for the sticks of incense he had bought.
He was anxious lest they were broken and thus make an evil omen; but they were whole, and when he had found them he stuck them side by side in the ashes of other sticks of incense that were heaped before the gods, for the whole neighbourhood worshipped these two small figures. Then fumbling for his flint and iron he caught, with a dried leaf for tinder, a flame to light the incense. Together this man and this woman stood before the gods of their fields. The woman watched the ends of the incense redden and turn grey.
When the ash grew heavy she leaned over and with her forefinger she pushed the head of ash away. Then as though fearful for what she had done, she looked quickly at Wang Lung, her eyes dumb. But there was something he liked in her movement. It was as though she felt that the incense belonged to them both; it was a moment of marriage.
They stood there in complete silence, side by side, while incense smouldered into ashes; and then because the sun was sinking, Wang Lung shouldered the box and they went home. At the door of the house the old man stood to catch the last rays of the sun upon him. He made no movement as Wang Lung, approached with the woman. It would have been beneath him to notice her.
Instead, he feigned great interest in the clouds and he cried: It will not come later than to-morrow night. He looked at it strangely.
Full text of "The good earth"
But the old man came to the door and said volubly: Wang Lung said nothing, but he went out and took the basket into the kitchen, and the woman followed him there. He took the food piece by piece from the basket and laid it upon the ledge of the cold stove and he said to her: Can you prepare food? It would not have been seemly. The woman answered in her plain voice: There were meats at every meal.
Two were men from the village, with whom Wang Lung exchanged seed and labour at harvest-time, and one was his next-door neighbour, Ching, a small, quiet man, ever unwilling to speak unless he were compelled to it. After they had been seated about the middle room with demurring and unwillingness to take seats, for politeness, Wang Lung went into the kitchen to bid the woman serve.
Then he was pleased when she said to him: I do not like to come out before men. He took the bowls from her hands at the kitchen door and he set them upon the table in the middle room and called loudly: It is not meet that other men see her until the marriage is consummated. There was straw in her hair when he roused her, and when he called her she put up her arm suddenly in her sleep as though to defend herself from a blow. When she opened her eyes at last, she looked at him with her strange, speechless gaze, and he felt as though he faced a child.
He took her by the hand and led her into the room where that morning he had bathed him- self for her, and he lit a red candle upon the table. In this light he was suddenly shy when he found himself alone with the woman and he was compelled to remind himself: The thing is to be done.
As for the woman, she crept around the corner of the curtain and began without a sound to prepare for the bed. Wang Lung said gruffly: But he was not sleeping. He lay quivering, every nerve of his flesh awake. And when, after a long time, the room went dark, and there was the slow, silent, creeping movement of the woman beside him, an exultation filled him fit to break his body.
He gave a hoarse laugh into the darkness and seized her. She rose and drew about her her loosened garments and fastened them closely about her throat and waist, fitting them to her body with a slow writhe and twist. Then she put her feet into her cloth shoes and drew them on by the straps hanging at the back. The light from the small hole shone on her in a bar and he saw her face dimly.
It looked unchanged. This was an astonishment 24 to Wang Lung. He felt as though the night must have changed him; yet here was this woman rising from his bed as though she had risen every day of her life. The old man's cough rose querulously out of the dusky dawn and he said to her: He would have liked to say, 'Certainly there must be tea-leaves.
Do you think we are beggars? In the House of Hwang, of course, every bowl of water was green with leaves. There, even a slave, perhaps, would not drink only water. But he knew his father would be angry if on the first day the woman served tea to him instead of water.
Besides, they really were not rich. He replied negligently, therefore: No — no — it makes his cough worse. He would like to have slept, now that he could but his.
He was still half ashamed to think of this woman of his. Part of the time he thought of his fields and of the grains of the wheat and of what his harvest would be if the rains came and of the white turnip seed he wished to buy from his neighbour Ching if they could agree upon a price. But between all these thoughts which were in his mind every day there ran weaving and interweaving the new thought of what his life now was, and it occurred to him, suddenly, thinking of the night, to wonder if she liked him.
This was a new wonder. He had questioned only of whether he would like her and whether or not she would be satisfactory in his bed and in his house. Plain though her face was and rough the skin upon her hands, the flesh 2 5 of her big body was soft and untouched, and he laughed when he thought of it — the short, hard laugh he had thrown out into the darkness the night before. The young lords had not seen, then, beyond that plain face of the kitchen slave. Her body was beautiful, spare and big-boned, yet rounded and soft.
He desired suddenly that she should like him as her husband, and then he was ashamed. The door opened and in her silent way she came in, bearing in both hands a steaming bowl to him.
He sat up in bed and took it. There were tea-leaves floating upon the surface of the water. He looked up at her quickly. She was at once afraid and she said: In himself there was this new exultation that he was ashamed to make articulate even to his own heart, 'This woman of mine likes me well enough! In reality he worked as he had always worked. He put his hoe upon his shoulder and he walked to his plots of land and he cultivated the rows of grain, and he yoked the ox to the plough and he ploughed the western field for garlic and onions.
But the work was luxury, for when the sun struck the zenith he could go to his house and food would be there ready for him to eat, and the dust wiped from the table, and the bowls and the chopsticks placed neatly upon it.
Hitherto he had had to prepare the meals when he came in, tired though he was, unless the old man grew hungry out of time and stirred up a little meal or baked a piece of flat, unleavened bread to roll about a stem of garlic.
Now whatever there was, was ready for him, and he could seat himself upon the bench by the table and eat at once. The earthen floor was swept and the fuel pile re- 26 plenished. The woman, when he had gone in the morning took the bamboo rake and a length of rope and with these she roamed the country-side, reaping here a bit of grass and there a twig or a handful of leaves, returning at noon with enough to cook the dinner.
It pleased the man that they need buy no more fueL In the afternoon she took a hoe and a basket and with these upon her shoulder she went to the main road leading into the city where mutes and donkeys and horses carried burdens to and fro, and there she picked the droppings from the animals and carried it home and jailed the manure in the dooryard for fertiliser for the fields.
These things she did without a word and without being commanded to do them. And when the end of the day came she did not rest herself until the ox had been fed in the kitchen and until she had dipped water to hold to its muzzle to let it drink what it would.
And she took their ragged clothes and, with thread that she herself spun on a bamboo spindle from a wad of cotton, she mended and contrived to cover the rents in their winter clothes. Their bedding she took into the sun on the threshold and ripped the coverings from the quilts and washed them and hung them upon a bamboo to dry, and the cotton in the quilts that had grown hard and grey from years she picked over, killing the vermin that had flourished in the hidden folds, and sunning it all.
Day after day she did one thing after another, until the three rooms seemed clean and almost prosperous. The old man's cough grew better and he sat in the sun by the southern wall of the house, always half-asleep and warm and content. But she never talked, this woman, except for the brief necessities of life.
Wang Lung, watching her move steadily and slowly about the rooms on her big feet, watching secretly the stolid, square face, the unexpressed, half-fearful look of her eyes, made nothing of her. At night he knew the soft firmness of her body. But in the day her clothes, her plain blue cotton coat and trousers, covered all that he knew, and she was like a faithful, speechless serving-maid, who is only a serving-maid and nothing more.
And it was not meet that he should say to her, 'Why do you not 2 7 speak? Sometimes, working over the clods in the fields, he would fall to pondering about her. What had she seen in those hundred courts? What had been her life, that life she never shared with him? He could make nothing of it. And then he was ashamed of his own curiosity and of his linterest in her. She was, after all, only a woman. But there is not that about three rooms and two meals a day to keep busy a woman who has been a slave in a great house and who has worked from dawn until midnight.
One day when Wang Lung was hard pressed with the swelling wheat and was cultivating it with his hoe, day after day, until his back throbbed with weariness, her shadow fell across the furrow over which he bent himself, and there she stood, with a hoe across her shoulder. The sun beat down upon them, for it was early summer, and her face was soon dripping with her sweat.
Wang Lung had his coat off and his back bare, but she worked with her thin garment covering her shoulders and it grew wet and clung to her like skin. Moving together in a perfect rhythm, without a word, hour after hour, he fell into a union with her which took the pain from his labour. He had no articulate thought of anything; there was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods.
The earth lay rich and dark, and fell apart lightly under the points of their hoes. Sometimes they turned up a bit of brick, a splinter of wood. It was nothing. Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth.
So would also their house sometime return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together — together pro- ducing the fruit of this earth — speechless in their movement together.
Her face was wet and streaked with the earth. She was as brown as the very soil itself. Her wet, dark garments clung to her square body. She smoothed a last furrow slowly. Then in her usual plain way she said, straight out, her voice flat and more than usually plain in the silent evening air: What was there to say to this thing, then! She stooped to pick up a bit of broken brick and threw it out of the furrow.
But to him — he could not say what it was to him. His heart swelled and stopped as though it met sudden confines. Well, it was their turn at this earth! He took the hoe suddenly from her hand and he said, his voice thick in his throat, 'Let be for now. It is a day's end. We will tell the old man. The old man stood at the door, hungry for his evening's food, which, now that the woman was in the house, he would never prepare for himself.
He was impatient and he called out: Although he spoke in a low voice it was to him as though he had shouted the words out louder than he would. The old man blinked for a moment and then com- prehended, and cackled with laughter. Just as the thought of a 29 grandson had made him forget his meal, so now the thought of food freshly before him made him forget the child. But Wang Lung sat upon a bench by the table in the darkness and put his head upon his folded arms.
Out of this body of his, out of his own loins, life! She was clearing away the bowls after the evening food. The old man had gone to his bed, and the two of them were alone in the night, with only the light that fell upon them from the flickering flame of a small tin lamp filled with bean-oil, in which a twist of cotton floated for a wick.
He was be- ginning now to be accustomed to these conversations with j her in which her part was little more than a movement of I head or hand, or at most an occasional word dropped un- willingly from her wide mouth. He had even come to feel no lack in such conversing.
I know nothing of these affairs. Is there none in the great house — no old slave with whom r you were friends — who could come? She turned on him. He dropped his pipe, which he was filling, and stared at her. But her face was suddenly as usual and she was collecting the chopsticks as though she had not spoken.
But she said nothing. For my father it is not fitting to enter your room — for myself, I have never even seen a cow give birth. My clumsy hands might mar the child.
Some one from the great house, now, where the slaves are always giving birth ' She had placed the chopsticks carefully down in an orderly heap upon the table and she looked at him and after a moment's looking she said: I shall have a red coat on him and red-flowered trousers and on his head a hat with a small gilded Buddha sewn on the front and on his feet tiger-faced shoes.
They came forth steadily and without fcreak, albeit slowly, and he realised that she had planned this whole thing out for herself. When she had been working in the fields be- side him she had been planning all this out!
How astonish- ing she was! He would have said that she had scarcely thought of the child, so quietly had she gone about her work, day in and day out. And instead she saw this child, born and fully clothed, and herself as his mother, in a new coat! He was for once without words himself, and he pressed the tobacco diligently into a ball between his thumb and forefinger, and picking up his pipe he fitted the tobacco into the bowl.
I shall make the cloth- dealer give me the last inch to the foot. The day before he had sold a load and a half of reeds from the pond in the western field to the town market and he had in his girdle a little more than she wished. He put the three silver dollars upon the table. But he never did more than linger about the tables and look at the dice as they clattered upon the table, fearful lest he lose if he played. He usually ended by spending his spare hours in the town at the storyteller's booth, where one may listen to an old tale and pay no more than a penny into his bowl when it was passed about.
After all, he is the first. Then she said in a half- whisper: V Wang Lung sat smoking, thinking of the silver as it had lain upon the table. It had come out of the earth, this silver — out of his earth that he ploughed and turned and spent himself upon.
He took his life from this earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung food from it, and from the food silver. Each time before this that he had taken the silver out to give to any one, it had been like taking a piece of his life and giving it to some one carelessly.
But now for the first time such giving was not pain. He saw, not the silver in the alien hand of a merchant in the town; he saw the silver transmuted into something worth even more than itself— clothes upon the body of his son. And this strange woman of his, who worked about, saying no- thing, seeming to see nothing, she had first seen the child Ijthus clothed! J She would have no one with her when the hour came.
She was working beside him in the harvest field. The wheat had borne and been cut and the field flooded and the young rice set, and now the rice bore harvest, and the ears were ripe and full after the summer rains and the! Together they cut the sheaves all day, bending and cutting with short-handled scythes. She had stooped stiffly, because of the burden she bore, and she moved more slowly than he, so that they cut unevenly, his row ahead and hers behind, She began to cut more and more slowly as noon wore on to afternoon and evening, and he turned to look at her with impatience.
She stopped and stood up then, her scythe dropped. On her face was a new sweat, the sweat of a new agony. Do not i come into the room until I call. The quick autumn darkness was falling then and he shouldered his scythe and went home.
She has stopped in her I labour to prepare them food! He said to himself that she was a woman such as is not commonly found. Then he went to the door of their room and he called out: But she did not. She came to the door and through the crack her hand reached out and took the reed.
She said no word, but he heard her panting as an animal pants which has run for a long way. The old man looked up from his bowl to say: I remember well when the first was born to me it was dawn before it was over. Ah, me, to think that out of all the children I begot and your mother bore, one after the other — a score i or so — I forget — only you have lived! You see why a woman must bear and bear.
But Wang Lung stood listening at the door to those heavy animal pants. A smell of hot blood came through the crack, a sickening smell that frightened him. The panting of the woman within became quick and loud, like whispered screams, but she made no sound aloud. When he could bear no more and was about to break into the room, a thin, fierce cry came out and he forgot everything. The thin cry burst out again, wiry, insistent. How quick it had all been! The food was long cold and the old man was asleep on his bench, but how quick it had all been!
He shook the old man's shoulder. Wang Lung took up the bowl of cold rice and began to eat. He was very hungry all at once and he could not get the food into his mouth quickly enough. In the room he could hear the woman dragging herself about and the cry of the child was incessant and piercing. When he had eaten all that he wished he went to the door again and she called to him to come in and he went in.
The odour of spilt blood still hung hot upon the air, but there was no trace of it except in the wooden tub. But into this she had poured water and had pushed it under the bed so that he could hardly see it. The red 34 candle was lit and she was lying neatly covered upon the. Beside her, wrapped in a pair of his old trousers, as the custom was in this part, lay his son. Buck Author Pearl S. Buck was a bestselling and Nobel Prizewinning author.
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