34            Not eren Chnirtnan Mtto could fovee the seeds to live...                                                    ...
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A fieldofrice buckps_1962
A fieldofrice buckps_1962
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A fieldofrice buckps_1962


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A fieldofrice buckps_1962

  1. 1. 34 Not eren Chnirtnan Mtto could fovee the seeds to live... PEAJRL S. BITCKWang Sart, headman in the village of San-li- suits a year it meant millions of suits, for if he So Wang San went on, although now a chillwan-tse. hstened with altention. The young had two suits, all other men must have two, of fear crept into his heart. He wet his lips.man who was speaking was an earnest young not to mention the women and children. It "You say the Americans plow their fieldsman, even a good young man, bul his igno- was impossible. deeply and they get great harvests. You sayrance was pitiful. Most pitiable of all was ihe Wang San replied to Comrade Li in his they have machines that plow, and Chair-evidence that he was too ignorant to know usual loud clear voice. "I wish to say that this man Mao has bought such machines fromthat he was ignorant. But he musl be heard, new way of planting rice will ruin our fields." our Russian brothers. With these machines,sitice he had been sent down from those Comrade Li was a thin, tall young man. He you tell us, we must now plow our fieldsabove, in Peking, and eeryone knows it is had a long, thin face, and his lips and eyes deeply. But the question is, do the Americansbest to listen to them, and if possible, without were narrow. "Comrade Wang," he said plant rice in their deeply plowedfields?Thereplying. coldly, "is it possible that you believe you question is " So far Wang San had restratned himself. know more than our Chairman Mao?" Comrade Lis patience broke. "The ques-He had said nothing. Now, however, standing Wang San felt a strong pull on the tail of tion is whether you, Wang San, will do as youhere on the village threshing floor, surrounded his jacket. He knew it to be the tug of his are told. I will answer this question for you.by silent neighbors, he felt determination wifes admonishing hand. She had followed You will do as you are told! All ofyou willdorising in his breast, an irrepressible reckless- him. Be qiiiel, she was trying to tell him. Re- as you are told. You are ignorant men. Youness that amounted to desperation. It was all nienibcr thai our village elders were shot for cannot even write your names. You cannotvery well to lisien when the talk wab of how ¡ess Ihuti Ihis ! He did not heed her. They could read instructions. Therefore I have come tofine a man Chairman Mao was, and how live without the village ciders, but not without your small village to tell you what you cannotwicked were the American imperialists. rice. He let his arms fall to his sides. He made read. The whole region, from Wan-li-hsiangWang San had never seen Chairman Mao nor his voice gentle and reasonable. to San-li-wan-tse is to become one great field "Comrade Li, there are many things that of rice. All boundaries are to be removed, andhad he ever seen an American. But rice he Chairman Mao knows which 1 do not know. the work will be done by the whole commune.knew. Yes, he knew all about rice, the garner- But rice is our livelihood and perhaps it is not For the present you will be allowed to live ining of the special seed, ils planling in lhe his. He is gentlefolk and I am not. His father your own houses, but the land is no longernarrow beds of rich earlh, the transplanting was a landowner, but mine was a farmer. yours. It belongs to all. You will receive in-lo the watery fields and, at last lhe reaping of structions from men trained abroad in agri-the harvest. No one could lell him anylhing And my grandfather was a farmer and my ancestral fathers before that. Thesefieldshave culture. We can no longer leave our preciousabout rice. He raised his voice, soil to be tended by ignorant men. Is your "Comrade Li!" been planted to rice for thousands of years. And not just lo any rice but to the special question answered. Comrade Wang?" The young man stopped talking and lookedabout for the voice. rice which grows best in our earth here." Wang San stared into the narrow eyes. In "It is I," Wang San said. He pushed his He stamped his right foot on the earth. his mind uncertainty mingled with fear. Per-way through lhe crowd of country folk. Comrade Li was listening, his mouth curved haps the young man was right. This deep "Wliat do you uish lo say?" Comrade Li in a thin downward smile. plowing had never been tried. There mightasked. "Go on. Comrade Wang," he said with be virtue in it. Yet had not his own father told Wang San slood with his legs apart and his ostentatious patience. him that rice fields were never to be plowed Comrade Li had been taught that he must deeply? No more than enough for the roots ofarms folded across his breast. His blue-cotton be patient with these land folk, but never the rice plants to be in the water while theirjacket and trousers were clean but patched in lenient. Let them talk and show their hearts. heads stood above it, his father had said!many places. One suit a year of blue cotton Then let unrelenting judgment be made. This and the careful choice of seeds were was alJ that could be expected nowadays, and The crowd stood in silence, all eyes down- what made a full harvest, "Rice is as willfullast years suit had gone to patch this years. as a woman," his father had told him often as But one suit is not enough. There was talk of cast, A womans wail broke the silence. Wang Sans wife had turned and run back through they transplanted the young seedlings. "Treattwo sutts as a necessity. In old times, when rice in the way it likes best and you will neverevery man v;as responsible for his own the crowd to their small earthen house. There was the sound of a wooden door slamming starve. Forget what it wants and it will witherclothes, it was easy enough to have several without harvest. The seed must be kept pure.suits at a time. One could then think only of and of a bar being drawn across it. Each region has its owii rice. Never mix thehimself and his family, in these new times "Go on, Comrade Wang," Comrade Li seed."this was not possible. If a man asked for two said again. ILLUSTRATION BY FRED MASON
  2. 2. 36 The Saturday Evening PosI this was not the fault of Comrade Li. Comrade Li had no parents? His own "About the rice fields -" He That young man was a patriot, laake no father was dead of a fever, but his old astonished to see what these few w o ^ mistake. He could have sat in some com- mother was still alive. could do. % fortable city otiicc, but instead he was "How did they die?" he asked gently. Comrade Li had leaped to his feet, RICE here in the country, eating plain food Comrade Li did not reply. He turned made his hands into lists, and he rushed Remembering his fathers words, Wang and sleeping on boards, enduring the his face away and stared at the earthen at Wang San.Snn wa5 about lo urge them upon Com- cold and the stink of the village in order wall. Wang San sighed In sympathy. "I "Do you want to be shot ou t there on th(rade Li. He would liiive done so if llic lo serve his country. It was certain, how- know how you feel. Comrade Li. A man threshing floor?" His voice was a belloävillagers h^id nol grown afraid. They ever, that he knew nothing about farming. without parents is a tree without roots. so loud that it cracked as he went onhustled him away, crying out to Comrade As he meditated Wang San decided to And you are so young lo be an orphan! "One word from me, you dog, and they*)!Li ihiil Wang San would obey, that ihey make one more effort. He would wait You work too hard. You are very thin stand you against the wall too! You ariould all obey. Only Ici Comrade Li until nigjit and then, while the village and pale, You are grieving for your my responsibility. It is my duty to see thaicontinue his instruciions and ihcy would slept, he would seek out Comrade Li in parents." you obey orders. My duty! My duty!^bo carried out. his room in the schoolmasters poor Comrade Li refused comfort. "1 am Wang San fled into the darkness, H( So Comrade Li coniinued. "The new house and reason with him, alone and not grieving," he muttered. "It was not could do no more. It was all too clear thajpious will arne on Unie. With ihom will wilh no villagers about lo spoil the my fault that they—it was nothing that Comrade Li couid not be changed. Aicome insiruciori to teach you how to use argument. I—they were given the chance to " he had said, he was simply doing hiithem. Meanwhile NOU must dig up tJie That nighl. Comrade Li sat by the Wang San was all but overwhelmed. duty. This matter of duty was dangerous;paths between the licids and make these wooden table in his room, writing a He had seen something of life as it was A man might commit any sort of crimepetty bits ot" land into one vast plain, report on the days work. Wang San lived these days. "You mean they " if he thought it was his duty. Yet Com-read> for tlie plows. You will see such came up to the open door and coughed. Comrade Li turned on him. "My father rade Li was at heart a good young man,a harvest as you hae neer seen beTore." Comrade Li looked up. was an absentee landovner. We lived in a patriot in these new times. He was do- • Wang San was now at the edge of the "Well?" he said curtly. the city. We were rich. He would not ing his best. It was entirely possible that ;crowd, still being pushed. He made a "You are ery busy," Wang San said reform. He would not confess. He would be was doing his best even when he be-Ijsl elTort 10 st;ind liis ground, "The politely. do nothing to change. He only laughed. trayed his own father. It all dependedseed!" he shouted. "Where ^hall wt get "I am always busy." Comrade Li re- He said he did not want to live. Very upon what one had been taught. Duty—athe seed?" plied. "What is It you want?" well then—he died. And my m o t h e r - dangerous word! It could fall upon a Wang San edged into the room. It was hung herself," man like a heavy sword and put an end "The seed will be provided!" Com- a small room and he felt too big. He Wang San was stricken. "What sor- to him. It could drive a man into mad-rade Li shouted back. laughed unhappily and scratched his head. row-, what sorrow!" he groaned. ness, thinking all the time that he was "But—but " Wang San could say right and all others were wrong. As, forno more. Strong hands pressed ocr his "Aboul the rice ñelds." he began. "1 tell you, he brought it on himself," Comrade Li slapped his pen down on Comrade Li retorted with sudden vio- e.xample, the matter of deep plowing in mouih, and he uas hurried across the the rice fields. Wang San shook his head,din street and into the ricld beiiind the the table. "What about the rice fields?" lence. "It was not necessary for them to he barkeO. die. They—it was cruel of them not to sighed and gave up. There was no one ; houses. now to whom he could protest. Even the "•> ou fool," a illager hissed at him. Wang San hesitated. Why had he begun think of me, their son. I explained to them. 1 begged them. 1 got down on gods were gone. The temple was empty of i "Are we all to be killed for your sake" with the rice fields? He should have made gods. Instead it was filled with soldiers. "You will starve." Wang San muttered. the usual courteous inquiries about Com- my—my knees. It makes me ashamed to "At least It will not be tomorrow," the rade Lis home, his health and his think ofthat." villager retorted, The left him there parents health. He began again. "Do not be ashamed," Wang San said. Thereafter no one could have discerned alone. "Comrade Li, where is your honorable "It was correct of you to beg your the slightest difference between Wang He squatted on his heels then, his back residence?" parents on your knees." San and the other villagers. Every morn- to the houses, jnd stared across the Comrade Li stared at him. "What is "It was not correct," Comrade Li ing they rose at dawn and marched out j fields. It was nearly spring. The seed beds that to vou?" shouted. "It was bourgeois! 1 atoned for tc the work of destroying the boundaries j must be prepared soon, and the rice Wang San went bravely on. "And it. I went to the—I told the authorities. between the fields. Hoe and spade, they planted. He had his ow-n slore of seed, how is >oLir honorable health?" t denounced my father. They came and worked without rest. Comrade Li driving hidden in a jar under the eaves ol his •Are you joking with me?" Comrade got him." them on, lhe soldiers behind him. house. Let it stay there. He would not Ll asked sternly. "Why are you here in •Prison?" Wang San asked. "All must be ready for the transplant- give it to anyone. A year, two years, ten the night, asking bourgeois questions?" "No," Comrade Li said. "A trial in ing of the riee," Comrade Li would shout. years, it would remain as it was, until "These questions may not now be our own house. It was all over in a few The seedbeds were doing well enough. some day he himself would plant it. As asked?" Wang San inquired. minutes—and—and he was shot in the Rice had been planted early, thanks to Tor Comrade Li and all such comrades, "Certainly not." Comrade Li snapped. courtyard." the early spring, and the beds were well if they would not listen to landlblk who "My home is wherever I work. At present "No wonder you are so thin," Wang fertilized, not only with manure but with had been farmers for thousands of years, it is this room. And my health does not said, mourning. "You cannot eat. You foreign fertilizer too. True, the seed was farmers who knew the soil as the> knew matter so long as I am able io do tbe are always thinking of him." mixed. That is to say. it was not pure. All their own ñesh, who could tell by the feel work required of me." "You are wrong," Comrade Li snapped. the local seed had been used, but to it of a grain of rice whether it was the right "1 never think of him. What happened had been added seed from other parts of "•> our parents " the country, for nowadays all the seed kind of seed, ihen let them slare loo. "I have no parents," Comrade Li said was right. I did my duty. Now go away Sooner or later they would learn by and leave me to continue doing my was stored together in great bins at coldly, central places. If a farmer had any seed, staraiion. "> ou mean " duty." Wang San realized that he had not ac- it was to be given over to the authorities, Nevertheless, Wang San felt a great "Siniply that ! have no parents," but Wang San had secretly disobeyedpity for Comrade Li as he thought of Wang San was horrified. How could complished what he came to do. He began again. and given only half of his store of seed.him starlng. The young man was not a u be pos-iible that a man as young as He wondered how many of his fellowbad young man. On the contrary, he was villagers had done the same thing, butgood, ll was simply that he wa.s mistaken. none dared confide in any other. TheseHe Lhought he was doing righl, bul he were not the old days when a friend andwas doing wrong. He had been mis- neighbor could be trusted. It was not ainformed by someone above. matter of blame. It was a matter of tor- Sitting there in lhe mild sunshine of lure and punishment. One lived as onelhe late winters day. a day on the edge could. Better to keep ones secrets!of spring, Wiing San considered Chair- Enough of the local riee seed had beenman Mao. Had Chairman Mao ever planted, however, so that the seedbedsplowed a ñeld. follow ing behind an ox or looked green. Vast seedbeds they werea water bulTalo Or had he. as the son of a too, for there was a vast field to bewell-to-do farmcr.merely.vfcn the harvests flooded for transplanting.come in, heaps of rice being poured into When all the boundaries had beenthe bins of his fathers storehouses, wheat smoothed away and the land lay flat asfilling the vats, pigs slaughtered for win- far as eye could see, the foreign plowster meat, cabbages salted down into were brought in trucks. They were at-greal pottery jars glazed inside to keep tached to foreign tractors, and youngthe vegetables swcct^ Ii made a great men rode the tractors and set to work ondifference how one had learned, A^ lor the great field. The villagers could onlythose Western peoples and iheir deep stand aside and watch, their faces anxiousplowing, who knew what they ate or and full of wonder.what they raised? Who knew anythingabout Ihem? One heard nowadays that "Ai ya," they groaned under theirthe Americans were evil. So why deep- THE S*TUnD*y CVENIMO POST breath. "Ai ya, ai ya."plow (he field.s here if that was what For what was happening to the landthe Americans did over there? Yet all I chickened out." was happening to their very flesh. This
  3. 3. 42 The Saturday Evening Post and at last the rice no longer needed "You cannot go to any city now," A water. By then the roots were strong, and Comrade Li said, "In the cities they de- they held the plants until they had grown pend on you, the farmers, for food. It is yellow with hiirvcsl. no longer possible for each small com- Now there was no clay bottom. The munity to think only of itself. We must land, tended by human hands for thou- earth dried long before the dry season, think of the wbole. When there is not sands of years, uas now rent and tor- and even tbe rains were not enough to enough food we are all hungry." tured by machines. The rich topsoil was keep the plants in water, As fast as the "How are the harvests elsewhere?" tossed this way and that, and beneath water fell in tbe sixth month, it seeped Wang San inquired. the lopsoil, the six inches of heavy clay away into lhe loose subsoil, and the river, "Not good," Comrade Li said shortly. that sered as a bottom to hold the though for a day or two it rose, could "The seed was not good." nourishing water for lhe young rice not maintain the level the rice plants Wang San received this fresh blow. plants was cut into strips ibis way and needed. The water ran down into the The seed ! The seed gathered from all tbat. Beneath the clay vviis only the cracked earth and flowed uselessly away. parts of tbe country bad been stored to- porous subsoil. Before the grain could head, the plants gether, hopele^ssly mixed. But rice, as "Never slice tbe skin of tho earth," the withered and began to droop. his father bad always said, rice is as old farmers had told their sons, genera- What was to be done now? The villag- willful as a woman. Each kind of rice must be kept pure in the seed, or there HOW TO tion after generaiion. "The skin of the earth is like the skin of our bodies. It ers were mute. They shook tbeir heads. Comrade Li forgot himself so far as to is no harvest.BECOME FAMOUS holds the eartb together as our skin holds our blood and bones," scream at them. "Why did you not tell me? Blockheads! "The people are hungry everywhere?" It was a question, and Wang San knew FOR YOUR Novv the skin was torn and useless, Truiiors! Vou were silent on purpose!" the answer. Comrade Li did not speak. COFFEE and tbe subsoil came spilling out—gray sand and pebbled sione The illagers Not one of them replied. Not one of ihem reminded Comrade Li tbat he had Wang San hesitated. Did he dare? But life was worth litlle indeed if lhe rice watched with desolalion m their hearts. been told but that he had not believed. failed. Comrade Li was writing his re- Tbey knew what would happen. U would Deep plowing might be all very well ports again as though he were alone. be as their forefathers had said. But not for foreign lands but not for this ancestral Wang San drew in his breath and tried,"Honestly, thii coflcc is the best Ive one villager spoke. Even Wang San was earth. They were afraid of his anger, yet in desperation, to say the one thing thatever tasted Mayl liac an^.ithcr cup?" silent. Of vvh;it use to speak now, when they were sorry for him. He had worked shoLld not be said, that could not be Ehe worst hiid been done. far beyond his strength, this thin young said.Those are treasured words—and heres Listlessly tbe v illagcrs continued to man. He had done his best. He had "In the old days," he said, his voicehow you can hear them often. obeyed his superiors, believing that they obey orders, und none worked more hoarse in bis throat, "the " doggedly than Wang San, knew w hat they were doing. The villagers Comrade Li looked at him, bis narrow Ahen vou buy coffee: •"les. Comrade Li," he said a hundred had no heart to reproach him. As for eyes full of hate. "Say nothing of thePick the grind thtii ii^ right for your those oLhcrs who should be reproached, times a day unlil Comrade Li almost old days," be shouted.type of coffee maker. Which brand is where were they? One could not see But Wang San could not stop. "In the approved of him. A faithful man, thisbest? The brand that t;istes best to village headman, one who had learned them anywhere. old days," he said, very loud and fast,you. Each brand is a blend of different his lesson. The day came when Comrade Li, too, "wben we had no food, the Amerieanscoffees, each chosen for its distinctive "Wang San. 1 «ill recommend you," could only remain silent. What was there sent us wheat and corn and "fiavor quality. If you hae already he said Lil last. to say? He was wrong. He could not He got no further. From under hisfound the brand that seems blended "Thank you. Comrade Li," Wang San acknowledge it, but he knew it, and all jacket Comrade Li took a small weapon.just for your taste, ^tay with it. said quietly. He had given up al! hope the villagers knew that he knew il. ll was scarcely bigger than bis hand. He leveled for the Iuture, The only question was Wang San who finally mustered enough it at Wang San, his finger on the trigger. When you meastjre coffee: what would happen to Comrade Li when courage to go to him, and even he did Wang San stiffened in terror. This was the worst wjs known? not speak until the rice plants had be- the moment of death! Then, as suddenlyNever skimp. The truth is that you come dry straws in the parched earth. He as he had lifted it. Comrade Li lowered Mcver had there been so fair a spring.just cant stretch coffeu flavor! Care- Rains feli and the river swelled. When went to Comrade Li one evening, as he his band.ful, consistent measuring ii mo5t im- early summer came, lhe seedbeds were had gone before. In the little room Com- "Why should 1 kill you? , . ." heportant. Each serving requires one full and green and then it was time tor rade Li sat as usual at his unpainted muttered, and he placed the little weapon Approved Coffee Measure of coffee transpijntmg. In the old days ihc river table, uriting reports. He looked up at at his own right temple.(or 2 level measuring tablespoons) water had been turned into the fields by Wang San. Before he could pull the trigger, Wangand th ree-q uarters of a meas- hand, by banks of clay raised to guide ••Well?" he inquired, but the sharpness San leaped forward, lt was not a matter uring cup of vsater. tbc Wilier and keep il at the exact deptb was gone from his voice. of thought. It was an impulse, ages old. needed for the rice. Now no hands were Wang San coughed behind his hand. He struck Comrade Lis hand and the needed. Three heay iron pumps were "In the old days," he said, "once in a weapon fell to the floor. brought m by trucks, and these were score of years or so, the harvest also "Why sbould you kill yourself?" Wang placed al various poinls along the river, failed. It was nol a matter of water, San asked gently. and from them the water spouted mio but—it happened." The two men gazed into each others the vast field. In two days the vhole For Ihc firsl time in many weeks Com- eyes. "Forget the old days," Comrade Li countryside was a lake, and the ^¡llagc rade Li showed interest. said at last, still muttering. "Go away." sat on an island in the middle, connected "Well?" he 5aid again. Wang San burried out, and Comrade with the mainland only by the raised Wang San continued. "In ihat time we Li sat in silence, staring down at the table When you hre» coffee: road. Inlo this lake swarmed hundreds where bis reports on tbe rice crop lay, had nothing to eiit. We starved unless weAlways start with fresh, cold water of workers, many o^ them also brought went south to some great city." unfinished. THE ENDin a clean coffee maker. If your coffee in by truck. Everywhere the blue-cladmaker isnt automatic, timing is workers stooped to transplant the rice,important. Percolators should perk and when they hiid finished, the lake wasgently 6 lo 8 minutes. In a vacuum all a deliciite green with the young rice. Comrade Li was pleiised and proud. Hecoffee maker, after the vsater has risen spent much time gà7-mz over the new-to the top section, it should be kept landscape, and he did nol dci^in to speakover low heat 1 to 3 minutes. lo Wiinii San. When you serve coffee: Ali might have gone well had it notImmediately after brewing, its at its been for the river. The trouble was withpeak of flavor. If you must prepare lhe river. Il was too sniüll. When the spring floods subsided, it became a creek,coffee ahead of time, keep it over very meandering among sandbanks. Tbelow heat. Never let it boil! pumps coughed up Lhe sandy water and then stopped, iheir inner parts clogged. When you judge coffee; Even Ihen. all might have been well ifPut it to this test: Is the flavor rich, the lieid could have held waier when raintrue coffee llavor? Does it have a fell again. In tbe old days each smallheady, tempting aroma? is tbe color field bad been a separate bowl, the clay bottom firm under the topsoil. Rain ordark and clear? If the answers are all no rain, river or no river, the fields re-"Yes," youre an e.Kpert, and your mained Hooded long enough to nourishfriends will be asking how you do it! the maturing rice. When the drought of TIICBATunDAV EVENINO late summer came, the fields dried slowly It has terrific pickup—watch this!" Pan-American Coffee Bureau