Five years is nothing in a man’s life except when he is very young and very old
Wang Lung, then, in the space of five years had four grandsons and three grand-daughters and the courts were filled with their laughter and their weeping.
Now five years is nothing in a man’s life except when he is very young and very old, and if it gave to Wang Lung these others, it also took away that old dreamer, his uncle, whom he had almost forgotten except to see that he and his old wife were fed and clothed and had what they wished of opium.
Now Wang Lung’s uncle and his wife had long since smoked all the flesh off their bones and they lay day in and day out on their bed like two dry old sticks, and there was no warmth in them. And Wang Lung heard his uncle could not sit up even any more in his bed and he spat blood whenever he moved at all, and he went out to see and saw that there were not many hours left for the old man. Then Wang Lung bought two coffins of wood good enough but not too good, and he had the coffins taken into the room where his uncle lay that the old man might see them and die in comfort, knowing there was a place for his bones. And his uncle said, his voice a quavering whisper,
“Well, and you are a son to me and more than that wandering one of my own.”