The Jungle eBook

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

The other stared at him hard.  “Lemme see it,” he said.

“Will you change it?” Jurgis demanded, gripping it tightly in his pocket.

“How the hell can I know if it’s good or not?” retorted the bartender.  “Whatcher take me for, hey?”

Then Jurgis slowly and warily approached him; he took out the bill, and fumbled it for a moment, while the man stared at him with hostile eyes across the counter.  Then finally he handed it over.

The other took it, and began to examine it; he smoothed it between his fingers, and held it up to the light; he turned it over, and upside down, and edgeways.  It was new and rather stiff, and that made him dubious.  Jurgis was watching him like a cat all the time.

“Humph,” he said, finally, and gazed at the stranger, sizing him up—­a ragged, ill-smelling tramp, with no overcoat and one arm in a sling—­and a hundred-dollar bill!  “Want to buy anything?” he demanded.

“Yes,” said Jurgis, “I’ll take a glass of beer.”

“All right,” said the other, “I’ll change it.”  And he put the bill in his pocket, and poured Jurgis out a glass of beer, and set it on the counter.  Then he turned to the cash register, and punched up five cents, and began to pull money out of the drawer.  Finally, he faced Jurgis, counting it out—­two dimes, a quarter, and fifty cents.  “There,” he said.

For a second Jurgis waited, expecting to see him turn again.  “My ninety-nine dollars,” he said.

“What ninety-nine dollars?” demanded the bartender.

“My change!” he cried—­“the rest of my hundred!”

“Go on,” said the bartender, “you’re nutty!”

And Jurgis stared at him with wild eyes.  For an instant horror reigned in him—­black, paralyzing, awful horror, clutching him at the heart; and then came rage, in surging, blinding floods—­he screamed aloud, and seized the glass and hurled it at the other’s head.  The man ducked, and it missed him by half an inch; he rose again and faced Jurgis, who was vaulting over the bar with his one well arm, and dealt him a smashing blow in the face, hurling him backward upon the floor.  Then, as Jurgis scrambled to his feet again and started round the counter after him, he shouted at the top of his voice, “Help! help!”

Jurgis seized a bottle off the counter as he ran; and as the bartender made a leap he hurled the missile at him with all his force.  It just grazed his head, and shivered into a thousand pieces against the post of the door.  Then Jurgis started back, rushing at the man again in the middle of the room.  This time, in his blind frenzy, he came without a bottle, and that was all the bartender wanted—­he met him halfway and floored him with a sledgehammer drive between the eyes.  An instant later the screen doors flew open, and two men rushed in—­just as Jurgis was getting to his feet again, foaming at the mouth with rage, and trying to tear his broken arm out of its bandages.

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Project Gutenberg
The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.