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Remember that war Wang Lung's cousin went to join? Well, it looks like it made it's way to Wang Lung's hometown. At first Wang Lung's just curious because he's never seen a war before… but then he sees it. You've got to read this. It's like that scene in Lord of the Rings where the Orc army is streaming across Middle earth. Pretty scary.
Wang Lung and company try to close the gates, but guess who is leading the army? Wang Lung's cousin. Wang Lung won't mind if he and his buddies crash there for a while, will he? Maybe a month, two months, maybe a year or two—who knows?
Since they can't kick the army out, Wang Lung and his family hide the women. This doesn't work in the cousin's case, since as a family member, he gets to have free reign of the house.
So the cousin goes around looking at all the women in the house until the men decide that he has to have a wife in order to protect the rest of the women.
After a month and a half, it's time for the army to move on. Wang Lung's cousin leaves behind a wife, a child, and a totally messed-up great hall.