The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about The Jungle.

“Where was this?”

“In the hallway—­at night—­after every one had gone.  I could not help it.  I thought of you—­of the baby—­of mother and the children.  I was afraid of him—­afraid to cry out.”

A moment ago her face had been ashen gray, now it was scarlet.  She was beginning to breathe hard again.  Jurgis made not a sound.

“That was two months ago.  Then he wanted me to come—­to that house.  He wanted me to stay there.  He said all of us—­that we would not have to work.  He made me come there—­in the evenings.  I told you—­you thought I was at the factory.  Then—­one night it snowed, and I couldn’t get back.  And last night—­the cars were stopped.  It was such a little thing—­to ruin us all.  I tried to walk, but I couldn’t.  I didn’t want you to know.  It would have—­it would have been all right.  We could have gone on—­just the same—­you need never have known about it.  He was getting tired of me—­he would have let me alone soon.  I am going to have a baby—­I am getting ugly.  He told me that—­twice, he told me, last night.  He kicked me—­last night—­too.  And now you will kill him—­you—­you will kill him—­and we shall die.”

All this she had said without a quiver; she lay still as death, not an eyelid moving.  And Jurgis, too, said not a word.  He lifted himself by the bed, and stood up.  He did not stop for another glance at her, but went to the door and opened it.  He did not see Elzbieta, crouching terrified in the corner.  He went out, hatless, leaving the street door open behind him.  The instant his feet were on the sidewalk he broke into a run.

He ran like one possessed, blindly, furiously, looking neither to the right nor left.  He was on Ashland Avenue before exhaustion compelled him to slow down, and then, noticing a car, he made a dart for it and drew himself aboard.  His eyes were wild and his hair flying, and he was breathing hoarsely, like a wounded bull; but the people on the car did not notice this particularly—­perhaps it seemed natural to them that a man who smelled as Jurgis smelled should exhibit an aspect to correspond.  They began to give way before him as usual.  The conductor took his nickel gingerly, with the tips of his fingers, and then left him with the platform to himself.  Jurgis did not even notice it—­his thoughts were far away.  Within his soul it was like a roaring furnace; he stood waiting, waiting, crouching as if for a spring.

He had some of his breath back when the car came to the entrance of the yards, and so he leaped off and started again, racing at full speed.  People turned and stared at him, but he saw no one—­there was the factory, and he bounded through the doorway and down the corridor.  He knew the room where Ona worked, and he knew Connor, the boss of the loading-gang outside.  He looked for the man as he sprang into the room.

The truckmen were hard at work, loading the freshly packed boxes and barrels upon the cars.  Jurgis shot one swift glance up and down the platform—­the man was not on it.  But then suddenly he heard a voice in the corridor, and started for it with a bound.  In an instant more he fronted the boss.

Project Gutenberg
The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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