The Earth Dragon Awakes, by Yep, Laurence
- ISBN: 9780060008468 | 0060008466
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 3/5/2008
The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
Tuesday, April 17, 1906
It is early evening in San Francisco. Streetlights come on. People hurry home. No one knows about the danger below.
Underneath their feet, the earth begins to stir.
Tuesday, April 17, 1906
Sacramento Street area
At that moment, the Travis family is too busy to worry. Henry's parents are going to the opera.
Henry's mother calls from upstairs, "Ah Sing, have you seen my silk shawl?"
Mr. Travis bellows, "Ah Sing, I need a new shirt. You've shrunk another one."
Mrs. Travis pats her husband's belly affectionately. "Don't blame Ah Sing, dear. It's time for a diet."
"I am not fat," Mr. Travis protests. "My stomach is as solid as the earth." His belly shows through the open hole on his shirt. It jiggles when he moves. "It's all Ah Sing's fault. He does something to my shirts. And that's why I keep losing buttons."
"Don't change shirts, dear," Mrs. Travis says. "We don't have time. Mr. Caruso will be so disappointed if you show up late for his Don José."
"I would rather go to the roller-skating carnival," Mr. Travis grumbles. "They're giving out a thousand-dollar prize for the best costume."
"I wish we could go roller-skating, too," says Henry. He was eager to try out his new skates. He'd gotten them for Easter two days before.
"We'll have a picnic next Sunday," Mrs. Travis suggests.
"Enrico Caruso should be grateful if I don't go tonight." Mr. Travis yawns. "I'm so tired from work. I'll just nap there. Even his bellowing won't keep me awake."
"If his singing doesn't, my elbow will," teases Mrs. Travis. "I had Ah Sing sharpen it today." She jabs him in the side.
Mr. Travis rubs his ribs. "That's why I need padding there."
"Maybe I could go to the skating carnival with Ah Sing," Henry says hopefully.
"I know you're dying to try your new skates," his mother says, "but the carnival's not for children."
Ah Sing and his son, Chin, come upstairs. Ah Sing is the Travises' houseboy. He cleans and cooks and helps around the house.
Chin has the cloak. Ah Sing has the sewing basket.
"Henry, help Ah Sing find the button," Mr. Travis orders.
Ah Sing has helped Mr. Travis get ready many times. "I got plenty," Ah Sing says. "I sweep. I find. I keep." From his pocket, he takes out a matching button. On his coat, he has stuck a needle with thread. It is the right color.
Ah Sing is like the captain of a ship in a storm. He tells Henry and Chin to hold Mr. Travis's shirt closed while he sews the button on.
Henry winks at Chin. Chin is nine and Henry is eight. They have become good friends. Though Chin has been in America for only two years, he already speaks English better than his father.
Suddenly Henry's pet dog, Sawyer, begins to howl.
Mr. Travis scrunches up his face. "You should take Sawyer. He can sing with Caruso."
"He's been doing that all day. I don't know what's wrong with him. We took him to the vet," Mrs. Travis says. "He's perfectly healthy."
Henry puts his dog in his room. Then he returns to help his parents some more. He fetches his mother's beaded purse. His father misplaces his top hat twice. Both times, Henry finds it.
Ah Sing, Chin and Henry manage to steer them to the front door. Mrs. Travis stops on the threshold. She picks an umbrella that matches her gown.
"There isn't a rain cloud in the sky," protests Mr. Travis.
"You never know when an umbrella will come in handy," his wife says calmly.
By the doorway, they have not one but two umbrella stands. They are filled with umbrellas.
"You have too many choices," Mr. Travis teases. "If your collection were smaller, it wouldn't take so long to pick one."
"If you didn't lose them, I wouldn't need so many," Mrs. Travis says. She finally selects two.
Somehow Ah Sing, Chin and Henry get them on their way.
Ah Sing begins to pick up the discarded shawls, capes and cloaks from the floor. He tells the boys to do their schoolwork.
Henry is on Easter vacation, but he has homework. Chin does not attend American school yet, but he hopes to go soon. At the moment, he goes to Chinese school in Chinatown. Because Chinese school does not celebrate Easter, he would normally have gone tonight. However, the Travises had asked Ah Sing and Chin to watch Henry.
Sawyer crouches in a corner of Henry's bedroom. He is terrified. Henry makes a place for Sawyer on his bed. Then, looking out the window, Henry begins his art assignment. He has to draw his neighborhood.
Chin lies on the floor and starts his essay about his home in China. He has almost too much to write. The Americans make it difficult for a Chinese man to bring his family to America. It has been hard enough for just Chin to come. He had to study for months and months before he got on the boat to America. He needed to know everything. He had to memorize every house in his village, every field, every window, every tree, every animal.
The immigration officials spent a week asking him questions. If he had made a mistake, they would have assumed he was lying. They would have sent him back to China. They would have sent his father back, too.
Chin would have liked to go home. But his father's salary is very important. An American dollar is worth so much more in China. Chin's father can support his mother, his grandparents and several other relatives.
Henry finishes his picture quickly. The wooden houses press against one another. They are all three stories high. The front doors are all one story from the ground. The houses all have bay windows. Except for the paint, they all look the same.The Earth Dragon Awakes
The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Copyright © by Laurence Yep. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 by Laurence Yep
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.