The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about The Jungle.

When the roundup was completed, the doors were opened and the party marched out.  Three patrol wagons were drawn up at the curb, and the whole neighborhood had turned out to see the sport; there was much chaffing, and a universal craning of necks.  The women stared about them with defiant eyes, or laughed and joked, while the men kept their heads bowed, and their hats pulled over their faces.  They were crowded into the patrol wagons as if into streetcars, and then off they went amid a din of cheers.  At the station house Jurgis gave a Polish name and was put into a cell with half a dozen others; and while these sat and talked in whispers, he lay down in a corner and gave himself up to his thoughts.

Jurgis had looked into the deepest reaches of the social pit, and grown used to the sights in them.  Yet when he had thought of all humanity as vile and hideous, he had somehow always excepted his own family that he had loved; and now this sudden horrible discovery—­Marija a whore, and Elzbieta and the children living off her shame!  Jurgis might argue with himself all he chose, that he had done worse, and was a fool for caring—­but still he could not get over the shock of that sudden unveiling, he could not help being sunk in grief because of it.  The depths of him were troubled and shaken, memories were stirred in him that had been sleeping so long he had counted them dead.  Memories of the old life—­his old hopes and his old yearnings, his old dreams of decency and independence!  He saw Ona again, he heard her gentle voice pleading with him.  He saw little Antanas, whom he had meant to make a man.  He saw his trembling old father, who had blessed them all with his wonderful love.  He lived again through that day of horror when he had discovered Ona’s shame—­God, how he had suffered, what a madman he had been!  How dreadful it had all seemed to him; and now, today, he had sat and listened, and half agreed when Marija told him he had been a fool!  Yes—­told him that he ought to have sold his wife’s honor and lived by it!—­And then there was Stanislovas and his awful fate—­that brief story which Marija had narrated so calmly, with such dull indifference!  The poor little fellow, with his frostbitten fingers and his terror of the snow—­his wailing voice rang in Jurgis’s ears, as he lay there in the darkness, until the sweat started on his forehead.  Now and then he would quiver with a sudden spasm of horror, at the picture of little Stanislovas shut up in the deserted building and fighting for his life with the rats!

All these emotions had become strangers to the soul of Jurgis; it was so long since they had troubled him that he had ceased to think they might ever trouble him again.  Helpless, trapped, as he was, what good did they do him—­why should he ever have allowed them to torment him?  It had been the task of his recent life to fight them down, to crush them out of him, never in his life would he have suffered from them again, save that they had

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The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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