Vandover and the Brute eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 299 pages of information about Vandover and the Brute.

He smoked the cigarette slowly, inhaling as much of the smoke as he could.  This quieted him for an hour, but he had the folly to smoke again at the end of that time, and at once—­as he might have known—­was hungry again.  Until dark he struggled along, drinking water continually, chewing chips of wood, toothpicks, bits of straw, anything so that the action of his jaws might cheat the demands of his stomach.  Toward half-past seven in the evening he returned to his room in the Reno House.  If he could get to sleep that would be best of all.  On the stairs of the hotel, while going up to his room, the strong smell of cooking onions came suddenly to his nostrils.  It was delicious.  Vandover breathed in the warm savour with long sighs, closing his eyes; a great feebleness overcame him.  He asked himself how he could get through the next twelve hours.

An hour later he went to bed, hiccoughing from the water he had been drinking all day.  By this time he had torn the paper from one of his cigarettes and was chewing the tobacco.  This was his last resort, an expedient which he fell back upon only in great extremity, as it invariably made him sick to his stomach.  He slept a little, but in half an hour was broad awake again, gagging and retching dreadfully.  There was nothing on his stomach to throw up, and now at length the hunger in him raged like a wolf.  Vandover was in veritable torment.

He could not keep his thoughts away from the money in his pocket, a nickel and two dimes.  He could eat if he wanted to, could satisfy this incessant craving.  At every moment the temptation grew stronger.  Why should he wait until morning?  He had the money; it was only a matter of a few minutes’ walk to the nearest saloon.  But he set his face against this desire; he had held out so long that it would be a pity to give in now; he was not so very hungry after all.  No, no; he would not give in, he was strong enough; as long as he used his will he need not succumb.  It was just a question of asserting his strength of mind, of calling up the better part of him.  Even better than eating would be the satisfaction of knowing that he had shown himself stronger than his lower animal appetite.  No; he would not give in.

Hardly a minute after he had arrived at this resolution Vandover found himself drawing on his coat and shoes making ready to go out—­to go out and eat.

The gas in the room was lit, his money, the nickel and the two dimes, was shut in one of his fists.  He was dressing himself with one hand, dressing with feverish, precipitate haste.  What had happened?  He marvelled at himself, but did not check his preparations an instant.  He could not stop, whether he would or no; there was something in him stronger than himself, something that urged him on his feet, that drove him out into the street, something that clamoured for food and that would not be gainsaid.  It was the animal in him, the brute, that would be fed, the evil, hideous

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Vandover and the Brute from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.