The Good Earth Chapter 27
After the wedding and the funeral, Ching wants to discuss the land with Wang Lung who has not had much time to think about the earth and the harvests lately. Ching tells him that there will probably be a flood this year. Wang Lung speaks irreverently of the gods, but Ching is fearful and does not dare to do the same. Following Ching to the fields, Wang Lung looks over his fields and finds them already wet and muddy. It is not yet summer, but when the summer rains come, there will certainly be a flood. Wang Lung continues to curse the god in heaven, but Ching tells him not to talk that way about the god who is more powerful than a human being. Wang Lung is a wealthy man, however, and this makes him careless and angry.
Just as they had expected, there is a flood that year. Attempts to mend the broken dam are unsuccessful when the new magistrate spends all the money that has been raised for the effort before killing himself. Soon, the whole country is under the water. The villages are like islands, and men get around in rafts made of tables and beds. As if that was not enough, it rains day after day.
Wang Lung's house is safe because it is on a hill, but his fields are completely immersed in water. That year, because there are no harvests, people starve. Some go south, and others join bandit groups. In order to protect the town from the robbers, soldiers keep watch in front of the gate. The famine continues because water does not recede in time for the seeds to be planted for next year's harvest.
Wang Lung tries to curb the spending of money in his own household, and as a result, frequently gets into fights with Cuckoo who insists on buying meat everyday. When the winter approaches, Wang Lung becomes strict about what is bought in the house, keeping track of everything they have with his eldest daughter-in-law. One day, Wang Lung releases all the workers because they are left idle. To Lotus who is used to being indulged, Wang Lung secretly gives oil and sugar.
Although Wang Lung wishes to keep it a secret, he is not as poor as he makes it seem. He has silver hidden in the room where his eldest son and the daughter-in-law sleep, and some money stowed away in other parts of the house. But everyone around him goes hungry, and he is aware of the fact that many resent him for having enough with which to survive. Because Wang Lung understands that he and his family would not be safe without his uncle, he is polite to the uncle and his family who soon understand the power they wield in the house. The uncle's wife and his son become increasingly demanding, and the uncle comes to Wang Lung to ask for money which he must yield. Soon, the uncle and his family receive the best treatment in the house.
Wang Lung's eldest son is dissatisfied because the uncle's son continuously peeps at his wife. Wang Lung also tells his son that he hates the uncle and his family as much as the son hates them, but that there is nothing to do because the uncle belongs to the Redbeards. The eldest son suggests that they push the uncle's family into the water, but Wang Lung, a softhearted man, cannot commit murder. Wang Lung wishes for a way to keep the uncle and his wife weak and "undesiring," and the son suggests that they buy them as much opium as they will have. Wang Lung is initially doubtful because opium is expensive and does not readily consent.
One day, after Wang Lung catches the son of the uncle grabbing his second daughter in the courtyard, he decides to send the daughter to the house of her husband-to-be. Liu agrees to keep the daughter in the house for safekeeping. On his way back home, Wang Lung sees a shop of tobacco and opium where he buys six ounces of opium for the uncle and his wife.