The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Jungle.
Company’s “Central Time Station” not more than half an hour, the second day of his arrival in Chicago, before he had been beckoned by one of the bosses.  Of this he was very proud, and it made him more disposed than ever to laugh at the pessimists.  In vain would they all tell him that there were men in that crowd from which he had been chosen who had stood there a month—­yes, many months—­and not been chosen yet.  “Yes,” he would say, “but what sort of men?  Broken-down tramps and good-for-nothings, fellows who have spent all their money drinking, and want to get more for it.  Do you want me to believe that with these arms”—­and he would clench his fists and hold them up in the air, so that you might see the rolling muscles—­“that with these arms people will ever let me starve?”

“It is plain,” they would answer to this, “that you have come from the country, and from very far in the country.”  And this was the fact, for Jurgis had never seen a city, and scarcely even a fair-sized town, until he had set out to make his fortune in the world and earn his right to Ona.  His father, and his father’s father before him, and as many ancestors back as legend could go, had lived in that part of Lithuania known as Brelovicz, the Imperial Forest.  This is a great tract of a hundred thousand acres, which from time immemorial has been a hunting preserve of the nobility.  There are a very few peasants settled in it, holding title from ancient times; and one of these was Antanas Rudkus, who had been reared himself, and had reared his children in turn, upon half a dozen acres of cleared land in the midst of a wilderness.  There had been one son besides Jurgis, and one sister.  The former had been drafted into the army; that had been over ten years ago, but since that day nothing had ever been heard of him.  The sister was married, and her husband had bought the place when old Antanas had decided to go with his son.

It was nearly a year and a half ago that Jurgis had met Ona, at a horse fair a hundred miles from home.  Jurgis had never expected to get married—­he had laughed at it as a foolish trap for a man to walk into; but here, without ever having spoken a word to her, with no more than the exchange of half a dozen smiles, he found himself, purple in the face with embarrassment and terror, asking her parents to sell her to him for his wife—­and offering his father’s two horses he had been sent to the fair to sell.  But Ona’s father proved as a rock—­the girl was yet a child, and he was a rich man, and his daughter was not to be had in that way.  So Jurgis went home with a heavy heart, and that spring and summer toiled and tried hard to forget.  In the fall, after the harvest was over, he saw that it would not do, and tramped the full fortnight’s journey that lay between him and Ona.

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The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.