The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Jungle.

Little Ona is nearly ready to faint—­and half in a stupor herself, because of the heavy scent in the room.  She has not taken a drop, but every one else there is literally burning alcohol, as the lamps are burning oil; some of the men who are sound asleep in their chairs or on the floor are reeking of it so that you cannot go near them.  Now and then Jurgis gazes at her hungrily—­he has long since forgotten his shyness; but then the crowd is there, and he still waits and watches the door, where a carriage is supposed to come.  It does not, and finally he will wait no longer, but comes up to Ona, who turns white and trembles.  He puts her shawl about her and then his own coat.  They live only two blocks away, and Jurgis does not care about the carriage.

There is almost no farewell—­the dancers do not notice them, and all of the children and many of the old folks have fallen asleep of sheer exhaustion.  Dede Antanas is asleep, and so are the Szedvilases, husband and wife, the former snoring in octaves.  There is Teta Elzbieta, and Marija, sobbing loudly; and then there is only the silent night, with the stars beginning to pale a little in the east.  Jurgis, without a word, lifts Ona in his arms, and strides out with her, and she sinks her head upon his shoulder with a moan.  When he reaches home he is not sure whether she has fainted or is asleep, but when he has to hold her with one hand while he unlocks the door, he sees that she has opened her eyes.

“You shall not go to Brown’s today, little one,” he whispers, as he climbs the stairs; and she catches his arm in terror, gasping:  “No!  No!  I dare not!  It will ruin us!”

But he answers her again:  “Leave it to me; leave it to me.  I will earn more money—­I will work harder.”

Chapter 2

Jurgis talked lightly about work, because he was young.  They told him stories about the breaking down of men, there in the stockyards of Chicago, and of what had happened to them afterward—­stories to make your flesh creep, but Jurgis would only laugh.  He had only been there four months, and he was young, and a giant besides.  There was too much health in him.  He could not even imagine how it would feel to be beaten.  “That is well enough for men like you,” he would say, “silpnas, puny fellows—­but my back is broad.”

Jurgis was like a boy, a boy from the country.  He was the sort of man the bosses like to get hold of, the sort they make it a grievance they cannot get hold of.  When he was told to go to a certain place, he would go there on the run.  When he had nothing to do for the moment, he would stand round fidgeting, dancing, with the overflow of energy that was in him.  If he were working in a line of men, the line always moved too slowly for him, and you could pick him out by his impatience and restlessness.  That was why he had been picked out on one important occasion; for Jurgis had stood outside of Brown and

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The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.