The Jungle eBook

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

It would have been better if Jurgis had been really ill; if he had not been able to think.  For he had no resources such as most invalids have; all he could do was to lie there and toss about from side to side.  Now and then he would break into cursing, regardless of everything; and now and then his impatience would get the better of him, and he would try to get up, and poor Teta Elzbieta would have to plead with him in a frenzy.  Elzbieta was all alone with him the greater part of the time.  She would sit and smooth his forehead by the hour, and talk to him and try to make him forget.  Sometimes it would be too cold for the children to go to school, and they would have to play in the kitchen, where Jurgis was, because it was the only room that was half warm.  These were dreadful times, for Jurgis would get as cross as any bear; he was scarcely to be blamed, for he had enough to worry him, and it was hard when he was trying to take a nap to be kept awake by noisy and peevish children.

Elzbieta’s only resource in those times was little Antanas; indeed, it would be hard to say how they could have gotten along at all if it had not been for little Antanas.  It was the one consolation of Jurgis’ long imprisonment that now he had time to look at his baby.  Teta Elzbieta would put the clothesbasket in which the baby slept alongside of his mattress, and Jurgis would lie upon one elbow and watch him by the hour, imagining things.  Then little Antanas would open his eyes—­he was beginning to take notice of things now; and he would smile—­how he would smile!  So Jurgis would begin to forget and be happy because he was in a world where there was a thing so beautiful as the smile of little Antanas, and because such a world could not but be good at the heart of it.  He looked more like his father every hour, Elzbieta would say, and said it many times a day, because she saw that it pleased Jurgis; the poor little terror-stricken woman was planning all day and all night to soothe the prisoned giant who was intrusted to her care.  Jurgis, who knew nothing about the agelong and everlasting hypocrisy of woman, would take the bait and grin with delight; and then he would hold his finger in front of little Antanas’ eyes, and move it this way and that, and laugh with glee to see the baby follow it.  There is no pet quite so fascinating as a baby; he would look into Jurgis’ face with such uncanny seriousness, and Jurgis would start and cry:  “Palauk!  Look, Muma, he knows his papa!  He does, he does!  Tu mano szirdele, the little rascal!”

Chapter 12

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Project Gutenberg
The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.