The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Jungle.
of his hand chopped off.  There were the “hoisters,” as they were called, whose task it was to press the lever which lifted the dead cattle off the floor.  They ran along upon a rafter, peering down through the damp and the steam; and as old Durham’s architects had not built the killing room for the convenience of the hoisters, at every few feet they would have to stoop under a beam, say four feet above the one they ran on; which got them into the habit of stooping, so that in a few years they would be walking like chimpanzees.  Worst of any, however, were the fertilizer men, and those who served in the cooking rooms.  These people could not be shown to the visitor,—­for the odor of a fertilizer man would scare any ordinary visitor at a hundred yards, and as for the other men, who worked in tank rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor, their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough of them left to be worth exhibiting,—­sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard!

Chapter 10

During the early part of the winter the family had had money enough to live and a little over to pay their debts with; but when the earnings of Jurgis fell from nine or ten dollars a week to five or six, there was no longer anything to spare.  The winter went, and the spring came, and found them still living thus from hand to mouth, hanging on day by day, with literally not a month’s wages between them and starvation.  Marija was in despair, for there was still no word about the reopening of the canning factory, and her savings were almost entirely gone.  She had had to give up all idea of marrying then; the family could not get along without her—­though for that matter she was likely soon to become a burden even upon them, for when her money was all gone, they would have to pay back what they owed her in board.  So Jurgis and Ona and Teta Elzbieta would hold anxious conferences until late at night, trying to figure how they could manage this too without starving.

Such were the cruel terms upon which their life was possible, that they might never have nor expect a single instant’s respite from worry, a single instant in which they were not haunted by the thought of money.  They would no sooner escape, as by a miracle, from one difficulty, than a new one would come into view.  In addition to all their physical hardships, there was thus a constant strain upon their minds; they were harried all day and nearly all night by worry and fear.  This was in truth not living; it was scarcely even existing, and they felt that it was too little for the price they paid.  They were willing to work all the time; and when people did their best, ought they not to be able to keep alive?

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Project Gutenberg
The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.