Just when it seemed to him that another turn of the screw would kill him, little Stanislovas stopped. “You cannot help us?” he said weakly.
Jurgis shook his head.
“They won’t give you anything here?”
He shook it again.
“When are you coming out?”
“Three weeks yet,” Jurgis answered.
And the boy gazed around him uncertainly. “Then I might as well go,” he said.
Jurgis nodded. Then, suddenly recollecting, he put his hand into his pocket and drew it out, shaking. “Here,” he said, holding out the fourteen cents. “Take this to them.”
And Stanislovas took it, and after a little more hesitation, started for the door. “Good-by, Jurgis,” he said, and the other noticed that he walked unsteadily as he passed out of sight.
For a minute or so Jurgis stood clinging to his chair, reeling and swaying; then the keeper touched him on the arm, and he turned and went back to breaking stone.
Jurgis did not get out of the Bridewell quite as soon as he had expected. To his sentence there were added “court costs” of a dollar and a half—he was supposed to pay for the trouble of putting him in jail, and not having the money, was obliged to work it off by three days more of toil. Nobody had taken the trouble to tell him this—only after counting the days and looking forward to the end in an agony of impatience, when the hour came that he expected to be free he found himself still set at the stone heap, and laughed at when he ventured to protest. Then he concluded he must have counted wrong; but as another day passed, he gave up all hope—and was sunk in the depths of despair, when one morning after breakfast a keeper came to him with the word that his time was up at last. So he doffed his prison garb, and put on his old fertilizer clothing, and heard the door of the prison clang behind him.
He stood upon the steps, bewildered; he could hardly believe that it was true,—that the sky was above him again and the open street before him; that he was a free man. But then the cold began to strike through his clothes, and he started quickly away.
There had been a heavy snow, and now a thaw had set in; fine sleety rain was falling, driven by a wind that pierced Jurgis to the bone. He had not stopped for his-overcoat when he set out to “do up” Connor, and so his rides in the patrol wagons had been cruel experiences; his clothing was old and worn thin, and it never had been very warm. Now as he trudged on the rain soon wet it through; there were six inches of watery slush on the sidewalks, so that his feet would soon have been soaked, even had there been no holes in his shoes.
Jurgis had had enough to eat in the jail, and the work had been the least trying of any that he had done since he came to Chicago; but even so, he had not grown strong—the fear and grief that had preyed upon his mind had worn him thin. Now he shivered and shrunk from the rain, hiding his hands in his pockets and hunching his shoulders together. The Bridewell grounds were on the outskirts of the city and the country around them was unsettled and wild—on one side was the big drainage canal, and on the other a maze of railroad tracks, and so the wind had full sweep.