The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Jungle.
and besides, there were pictures of them all, as real as life.  One of these papers was as good as a circus, and nearly as good as a spree—­certainly a most wonderful treat for a workingman, who was tired out and stupefied, and had never had any education, and whose work was one dull, sordid grind, day after day, and year after year, with never a sight of a green field nor an hour’s entertainment, nor anything but liquor to stimulate his imagination.  Among other things, these papers had pages full of comical pictures, and these were the main joy in life to little Antanas.  He treasured them up, and would drag them out and make his father tell him about them; there were all sorts of animals among them, and Antanas could tell the names of all of them, lying upon the floor for hours and pointing them out with his chubby little fingers.  Whenever the story was plain enough for Jurgis to make out, Antanas would have it repeated to him, and then he would remember it, prattling funny little sentences and mixing it up with other stories in an irresistible fashion.  Also his quaint pronunciation of words was such a delight—­and the phrases he would pick up and remember, the most outlandish and impossible things!  The first time that the little rascal burst out with “God damn,” his father nearly rolled off the chair with glee; but in the end he was sorry for this, for Antanas was soon “God-damning” everything and everybody.

And then, when he was able to use his hands, Jurgis took his bedding again and went back to his task of shifting rails.  It was now April, and the snow had given place to cold rains, and the unpaved street in front of Aniele’s house was turned into a canal.  Jurgis would have to wade through it to get home, and if it was late he might easily get stuck to his waist in the mire.  But he did not mind this much—­it was a promise that summer was coming.  Marija had now gotten a place as beef-trimmer in one of the smaller packing plants; and he told himself that he had learned his lesson now, and would meet with no more accidents—­so that at last there was prospect of an end to their long agony.  They could save money again, and when another winter came they would have a comfortable place; and the children would be off the streets and in school again, and they might set to work to nurse back into life their habits of decency and kindness.  So once more Jurgis began to make plans and dream dreams.

And then one Saturday night he jumped off the car and started home, with the sun shining low under the edge of a bank of clouds that had been pouring floods of water into the mud-soaked street.  There was a rainbow in the sky, and another in his breast—­for he had thirty-six hours’ rest before him, and a chance to see his family.  Then suddenly he came in sight of the house, and noticed that there was a crowd before the door.  He ran up the steps and pushed his way in, and saw Aniele’s kitchen crowded with excited women.  It reminded him so vividly of the time when he had come home from jail and found Ona dying, that his heart almost stood still.  “What’s the matter?” he cried.

Project Gutenberg
The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.