That was the way they did it! There was not half an hour's warning-the works were closed! It had happened that way before, said the men, and it would happen that way forever. They had made all the harvesting machines that the world needed, and now they had to wait till some wore out! It was nobody's fault-that was the way of it; and thousands of men and women were turned out in the dead of winter, to live upon their savings if they had any, and otherwise to die. So many tens of thousands already in the city, homeless and begging for work, and now several thousand more added to them!
Jurgis walked home-with his pittance of pay in his pocket, heartbroken, overwhelmed. One more bandage had been torn from his eyes, one more pitfall was revealed to him! Of what help was kindness and decency on the part of employers-when they could not keep a job for him, when there were more harvesting machines made than the world was able to buy! What a hellish mockery it was, anyway, that a man should slave to make harvesting machines for the country, only to be turned out to starve for doing his duty too well!
It took him two days to get over this heartsickening disappointment. He did not drink anything, because Elzbieta got his money for safekeeping, and knew him too well to be in the least frightened by his angry demands. He stayed up in the garret however, and sulked-what was the use of a man's hunting a job when it was taken from him before he had time to learn the work? But then their money was going again, and little Antanas was hungry, and crying with the bitter cold of the garret. Also Madame Haupt, the midwife, was after him for some money. So he went out once more.
For another ten days he roamed the streets and alleys of the huge city, sick and hungry, begging for any work. He tried in stores and offices, in restaurants and hotels, along the docks and in the railroad yards, in warehouses and mills and factories where they made products that went to every corner of the world. There were often one or two chances-but there were always a hundred men for every chance, and his turn would not come. At night he crept into sheds and cellars and doorways-until there came a spell of belated winter weather, with a raging gale, and the thermometer five degrees below zero at sundown and falling all night. Then Jurgis fought like a wild beast to get into the big Harrison Street police station, and slept down in a corridor, crowded with two other men upon a single step.
He had to fight often in these days to fight for a place near the factory gates, and now and again with gangs on the street. He found, for instance, that the business of carrying satchels for railroad passengers was a pre-empted one-whenever he essayed it, eight or ten men and boys would fall upon him and force him to run for his life. They always had the policeman "squared," and so there was no use in expecting protection.
That Jurgis did not starve to death was due solely to the pittance the children brought him. And even this was never certain. For one thing the cold was almost more than the children could bear; and then they, too, were in perpetual peril from rivals who plundered and beat them. The law was against them, too-little Vilimas, who was really eleven, but did not look to be eight, was stopped on the streets by a severe old lady in spectacles, who told him that he was too young to be working and that if he did not stop selling papers she would send a truant officer after him. Also one night a strange man caught little Kotrina by the arm and tried to persuade her into a dark cellarway, an experience which filled her with such terror that she was hardly to be kept at work.
At last, on a Sunday, as there was no use looking for work, Jurgis went home by stealing rides on the cars. He found that they had been waiting for him for three days-there was a chance of a job for him.
It was quite a story. Little Juozapas, who was near crazy with hunger these days, had gone out on the street to beg for himself. Juozapas had only one leg, having been run over by a wagon when a little child, but he had got himself a broomstick, which he put under his arm for a crutch. He had fallen in with some other children and found the way to Mike Scully's dump, which lay three or four blocks away. To this place there came every day many hundreds of wagonloads of garbage and trash from the lake front, where the rich people lived; and in the heaps the children raked for food-there were hunks of bread and potato peelings and apple cores and meat bones, all of it half frozen and quite unspoiled. Little Juozapas gorged himself, and came home with a newspaper full, which he was feeding to Antanas when his mother came in. Elzbieta was horrified, for she did not believe that the food out of the dumps was fit to eat. The next day, however, when no harm came of it and Juozapas began to cry with hunger, she gave in and said that he might go again. And that afternoon he came home with a story of how while he had been digging away with a stick, a lady upon the street had called him. A real fine lady, the little boy explained, a beautiful lady; and she wanted to know all about him, and whether he got the garbage for chickens, and why he walked with a broomstick, and why Ona had died, and how Jurgis had come to go to jail, and what was the matter with Marija, and everything. In the end she had asked where he lived, and said that she was coming to see him, and bring him a new crutch to walk with. She had on a hat with a bird upon it, Juozapas added, and a long fur snake around her neck.
She really came, the very next morning, and climbed the ladder to the garret, and stood and stared about her, turning pale at the sight of the blood stains on the floor where Ona had died. She was a "settlement worker," she explained to Elzbieta-she lived around on Ashland Avenue. Elzbieta knew the place, over a feed store; somebody had wanted her to go there, but she had not cared to, for she thought that it must have something to do with religion, and the priest did not like her to have anything to do with strange religions. They were rich people who came to live there to find out about the poor people; but what good they expected it would do them to know, one could not imagine. So spoke Elzbieta, naively, and the young lady laughed and was rather at a loss for an answer-she stood and gazed about her, and thought of a cynical remark that had been made to her, that she was standing upon the brink of the pit of hell and throwing in snowballs to lower the temperature.
Elzbieta was glad to have somebody to listen, and she told all their woes-what had happened to Ona, and the jail, and the loss of their home, and Marija's accident, and how Ona had died, and how Jurgis could get no work. As she listened the pretty young lady's eyes filled with tears, and in the midst of it she burst into weeping and hid her face on Elzbieta's shoulder, quite regardless of the fact that the woman had on a dirty old wrapper and that the garret was full of fleas. Poor Elzbieta was ashamed of herself for having told so woeful a tale, and the other had to beg and plead with her to get her to go on. The end of it was that the young lady sent them a basket of things to eat, and left a letter that Jurgis was to take to a gentleman who was superintendent in one of the mills of the great steelworks in South Chicago. "He will get Jurgis something to do," the young lady had said, and added, smiling through her tears-"If he doesn't, he will never marry me."
The steel-works were fifteen miles away, and as usual it was so contrived that one had to pay two fares to get there. Far and wide the sky was flaring with the red glare that leaped from rows of towering chimneys-for it was pitch dark when Jurgis arrived. The vast works, a city in themselves, were surrounded by a stockade; and already a full hundred men were waiting at the gate where new hands were taken on. Soon after daybreak whistles began to blow, and then suddenly thousands of men appeared, streaming from saloons and boardinghouses across the way, leaping from trolley cars that passed-it seemed as if they rose out of the ground, in the dim gray light. A river of them poured in through the gate-and then gradually ebbed away again, until there were only a few late ones running, and the watchman pacing up and down, and the hungry strangers stamping and shivering.
Jurgis presented his precious letter. The gatekeeper was surly, and put him through a catechism, but he insisted that he knew nothing, and as he had taken the precaution to seal his letter, there was nothing for the gatekeeper to do but send it to the person to whom it was addressed. A messenger came back to say that Jurgis should wait, and so he came inside of the gate, perhaps not sorry enough that there were others less fortunate watching him with greedy eyes. The great mills were getting under way-one could hear a vast stirring, a rolling and rumbling and hammering. Little by little the scene grew plain: towering, black buildings here and there, long rows of shops and sheds, little railways branching everywhere, bare gray cinders underfoot and oceans of billowing black smoke above. On one side of the grounds ran a railroad with a dozen tracks, and on the other side lay the lake, where steamers came to load.
Jurgis had time enough to stare and speculate, for it was two hours before he was summoned. He went into the office building, where a company timekeeper interviewed him. The superintendent was busy, he said, but he (the timekeeper) would try to find Jurgis a job. He had never worked in a steel mill before? But he was ready for anything? Well, then, they would go and see.
So they began a tour, among sights that made Jurgis stare amazed. He wondered if ever he could get used to working in a place like this, where the air shook with deafening thunder, and whistles shrieked warnings on all sides of him at once; where miniature steam engines came rushing upon him, and sizzling, quivering, white-hot masses of metal sped past him, and explosions of fire and flaming sparks dazzled him and scorched his face. Then men in these mills were all black with soot, and hollow-eyed and gaunt; they worked with fierce intensity, rushing here and there, and never lifting their eyes from their tasks. Jurgis clung to his guide like a scared child to its nurse, and while the latter hailed one foreman after another to ask if they could use another unskilled man, he stared about him and marveled.
He was taken to the Bessemer furnace, where they made billets of steel-a domelike building, the size of a big theater. Jurgis stood where the balcony of the theater would have been, and opposite, by the stage, he saw three giant caldrons, big enough for all the devils of hell to brew their broth in, full of something white and blinding, bubbling and splashing, roaring as if volcanoes were blowing through it-one had to shout to be heard in the place. Liquid fire would leap from these caldrons and scatter like bombs below-and men were working there, seeming careless, so that Jurgis caught his breath with fright. Then a whistle would toot, and across the curtain of the theater would come a little engine with a carload of something to be dumped into one of the receptacles; and then another whistle would toot, down by the stage, and another train would back up-and suddenly, without an instant's warning, one of the giant kettles began to tilt and topple, flinging out a jet of hissing, roaring flame. Jurgis shrank back appalled, for he thought it was an accident; there fell a pillar of white flame, dazzling as the sun, swishing like a huge tree falling in the forest. A torrent of sparks swept all the way across the building, overwhelming everything, hiding it from sight; and then Jurgis looked through the fingers of his hands, and saw pouring out of the caldron a cascade of living, leaping fire, white with a whiteness not of earth, scorching the eyeballs. Incandescent rainbows shone above it, blue, red, and golden lights played about it; but the stream itself was white, ineffable. Out of regions of wonder it streamed, the very river of life; and the soul leaped up at the sight of it, fled back upon it, swift and resistless, back into far-off lands, where beauty and terror dwell. Then the great caldron tilted back again, empty, and Jurgis saw to his relief that no one was hurt, and turned and followed his guide out into the sunlight.
They went through the blast furnaces, through rolling mills where bars of steel were tossed about and chopped like bits of cheese. All around and above giant machine arms were flying, giant wheels were turning, great hammers crashing; traveling cranes creaked and groaned overhead, reaching down iron hands and seizing iron prey-it was like standing in the center of the earth, where the machinery of time was revolving.
By and by they came to the place where steel rails were made; and Jurgis heard a toot behind him, and jumped out of the way of a car with a white-hot ingot upon it, the size of a man's body. There was a sudden crash and the car came to a halt, and the ingot toppled out upon a moving platform, where steel fingers and arms seized hold of it, punching it and prodding it into place, and hurrying it into the grip of huge rollers. Then it came out upon the other side, and there were more crashings and clatterings, and over it was flopped, like a pancake on a gridiron, and seized again and rushed back at you through another squeezer. So amid deafening uproar it clattered to and fro, growing thinner and flatter and longer. The ingot seemed almost a living thing; it did not want to run this mad course, but it was in the grip of fate, it was tumbled on, screeching and clanking and shivering in protest. By and by it was long and thin, a great red snake escaped from purgatory; and then, as it slid through the rollers, you would have sworn that it was alive-it writhed and squirmed, and wriggles and shudders passed out through its tail, all but flinging it off by their violence. There was no rest for it until it was cold and black-and then it needed only to be cut and straightened to be ready for a railroad.
It was at the end of this rail's progress that Jurgis got his chance. They had to be moved by men with crowbars, and the boss here could use another man. So he took off his coat and set to work on the spot.
It took him two hours to get to this place every day and cost him a dollar and twenty cents a week. As this was out of the question, he wrapped his bedding in a bundle and took it with him, and one of his fellow workingmen introduced him to a Polish lodginghouse, where he might have the privilege of sleeping upon the floor for ten cents a night. He got his meals at free-lunch counters, and every Saturday night he went home-bedding and all-and took the greater part of his money to the family. Elzbieta was sorry for this arrangement, for she feared that it would get him into the habit of living without them, and once a week was not very often for him to see his baby; but there was no other way of arranging it. There was no chance for a woman at the steelworks, and Marija was now ready for work again, and lured on from day to day by the hope of finding it at the yards.
In a week Jurgis got over his sense of helplessness and bewilderment in the rail mill. He learned to find his way about and to take all the miracles and terrors for granted, to work without hearing the rumbling and crashing. From blind fear he went to the other extreme; he became reckless and indifferent, like all the rest of the men, who took but little thought of themselves in the ardor of their work. It was wonderful, when one came to think of it, that these men should have taken an interest in the work they did-they had no share in it-they were paid by the hour, and paid no more for being interested. Also they knew that if they were hurt they would be flung aside and forgotten-and still they would hurry to their task by dangerous short cuts, would use methods that were quicker and more effective in spite of the fact that they were also risky. His fourth day at his work Jurgis saw a man stumble while running in front of a car, and have his foot mashed off, and before he had been there three weeks he was witness of a yet more dreadful accident. There was a row of brick furnaces, shining white through every crack with the molten steel inside. Some of these were bulging dangerously, yet men worked before them, wearing blue glasses when they opened and shut the doors. One morning as Jurgis was passing, a furnace blew out, spraying two men with a shower of liquid fire. As they lay screaming and rolling upon the ground in agony, Jurgis rushed to help them, and as a result he lost a good part of the skin from the inside of one of his hands. The company doctor bandaged it up, but he got no other thanks from any one, and was laid up for eight working days without any pay.
Most fortunately, at this juncture, Elzbieta got the long-awaited chance to go at five o'clock in the morning and help scrub the office floors of one of the packers. Jurgis came home and covered himself with blankets to keep warm, and divided his time between sleeping and playing with little Antanas. Juozapas was away raking in the dump a good part of the time, and Elzbieta and Marija were hunting for more work.
Antanas was now over a year and a half old, and was a perfect talking machine. He learned so fast that every week when Jurgis came home it seemed to him as if he had a new child. He would sit down and listen and stare at him, and give vent to delighted exclamations-"Palauk! Muma! Tu mano szirdele!" The little fellow was now really the one delight that Jurgis had in the world-his one hope, his one victory. Thank God, Antanas was a boy! And he was as tough as a pine knot, and with the appetite of a wolf. Nothing had hurt him, and nothing could hurt him; he had come through all the suffering and deprivation unscathed-only shriller-voiced and more determined in his grip upon life. He was a terrible child to manage, was Antanas, but his father did not mind that-he would watch him and smile to himself with satisfaction. The more of a fighter he was the better-he would need to fight before he got through.
Jurgis had got the habit of buying the Sunday paper whenever he had the money; a most wonderful paper could be had for only five cents, a whole armful, with all the news of the world set forth in big headlines, that Jurgis could spell out slowly, with the children to help him at the long words. There was battle and murder and sudden death-it was marvelous how they ever heard about so many entertaining and thrilling happenings; the stories must be all true, for surely no man could have made such things up, and besides, there were pictures of them all, as real as life. One of these papers was as good as a circus, and nearly as good as a spree-certainly a most wonderful treat for a workingman, who was tired out and stupefied, and had never had any education, and whose work was one dull, sordid grind, day after day, and year after year, with never a sight of a green field nor an hour's entertainment, nor anything but liquor to stimulate his imagination. Among other things, these papers had pages full of comical pictures, and these were the main joy in life to little Antanas. He treasured them up, and would drag them out and make his father tell him about them; there were all sorts of animals among them, and Antanas could tell the names of all of them, lying upon the floor for hours and pointing them out with his chubby little fingers. Whenever the story was plain enough for Jurgis to make out, Antanas would have it repeated to him, and then he would remember it, prattling funny little sentences and mixing it up with other stories in an irresistible fashion. Also his quaint pronunciation of words was such a delight-and the phrases he would pick up and remember, the most outlandish and impossible things! The first time that the little rascal burst out with "God damn," his father nearly rolled off the chair with glee; but in the end he was sorry for this, for Antanas was soon "God-damning" everything and everybody.
And then, when he was able to use his hands, Jurgis took his bedding again and went back to his task of shifting rails. It was now April, and the snow had given place to cold rains, and the unpaved street in front of Aniele's house was turned into a canal. Jurgis would have to wade through it to get home, and if it was late he might easily get stuck to his waist in the mire. But he did not mind this much-it was a promise that summer was coming. Marija had now gotten a place as beef-trimmer in one of the smaller packing plants; and he told himself that he had learned his lesson now, and would meet with no more accidents-so that at last there was prospect of an end to their long agony. They could save money again, and when another winter came they would have a comfortable place; and the children would be off the streets and in school again, and they might set to work to nurse back into life their habits of decency and kindness. So once more Jurgis began to make plans and dream dreams.
And then one Saturday night he jumped off the car and started home, with the sun shining low under the edge of a bank of clouds that had been pouring floods of water into the mud-soaked street. There was a rainbow in the sky, and another in his breast-for he had thirty-six hours' rest before him, and a chance to see his family. Then suddenly he came in sight of the house, and noticed that there was a crowd before the door. He ran up the steps and pushed his way in, and saw Aniele's kitchen crowded with excited women. It reminded him so vividly of the time when he had come home from jail and found Ona dying, that his heart almost stood still. "What's the matter?" he cried.
A dead silence had fallen in the room, and he saw that every one was staring at him. "What's the matter?" he exclaimed again.
And then, up in the garret, he heard sounds of wailing, in Marija's voice. He started for the ladder-and Aniele seized him by the arm. "No, no!" she exclaimed. "Don't go up there!"
"What is it?" he shouted.
And the old woman answered him weakly: "It's Antanas. He's dead. He was drowned out in the street!"
Jurgis took the news in a peculiar way. He turned deadly pale, but he caught himself, and for half a minute stood in the middle of the room, clenching his hands tightly and setting his teeth. Then he pushed Aniele aside and strode into the next room and climbed the ladder.
In the corner was a blanket, with a form half showing beneath it; and beside it lay Elzbieta, whether crying or in a faint, Jurgis could not tell. Marija was pacing the room, screaming and wringing her hands. He clenched his hands tighter yet, and his voice was hard as he spoke.
"How did it happen?" he asked.
Marija scarcely heard him in her agony. He repeated the question, louder and yet more harshly. "He fell off the sidewalk!" she wailed. The sidewalk in front of the house was a platform made of half-rotten boards, about five feet above the level of the sunken street.
"How did he come to be there?" he demanded.
"He went-he went out to play," Marija sobbed, her voice choking her. "We couldn't make him stay in. He must have got caught in the mud!"
"Are you sure that he is dead?" he demanded.
"Ai! ai!" she wailed. "Yes; we had the doctor."
Then Jurgis stood a few seconds, wavering. He did not shed a tear. He took one glance more at the blanket with the little form beneath it, and then turned suddenly to the ladder and climbed down again. A silence fell once more in the room as he entered. He went straight to the door, passed out, and started down the street.
When his wife had died, Jurgis made for the nearest saloon, but he did not do that now, though he had his week's wages in his pocket. He walked and walked, seeing nothing, splashing through mud and water. Later on he sat down upon a step and hid his face in his hands and for half an hour or so he did not move. Now and then he would whisper to himself: "Dead! Dead!"
Finally, he got up and walked on again. It was about sunset, and he went on and on until it was dark, when he was stopped by a railroad crossing. The gates were down, and a long train of freight cars was thundering by. He stood and watched it; and all at once a wild impulse seized him, a thought that had been lurking within him, unspoken, unrecognized, leaped into sudden life. He started down the track, and when he was past the gate-keeper's shanty he sprang forward and swung himself on to one of the cars.
By and by the train stopped again, and Jurgis sprang down and ran under the car, and hid himself upon the truck. Here he sat, and when the train started again, he fought a battle with his soul. He gripped his hands and set his teeth together-he had not wept, and he would not-not a tear! It was past and over, and he was done with it-he would fling it off his shoulders, be free of it, the whole business, that night. It should go like a black, hateful nightmare, and in the morning he would be a new man. And every time that a thought of it assailed him-a tender memory, a trace of a tear-he rose up, cursing with rage, and pounded it down.
He was fighting for his life; he gnashed his teeth together in his desperation. He had been a fool, a fool! He had wasted his life, he had wrecked himself, with his accursed weakness; and now he was done with it-he would tear it out of him, root and branch! There should be no more tears and no more tenderness; he had had enough of them-they had sold him into slavery! Now he was going to be free, to tear off his shackles, to rise up and fight. He was glad that the end had come-it had to come some time, and it was just as well now. This was no world for women and children, and the sooner they got out of it the better for them. Whatever Antanas might suffer where he was, he could suffer no more than he would have had he stayed upon earth. And meantime his father had thought the last thought about him that he meant to; he was going to think of himself, he was going to fight for himself, against the world that had baffled him and tortured him!
So he went on, tearing up all the flowers from the garden of his soul, and setting his heel upon them. The train thundered deafeningly, and a storm of dust blew in his face; but though it stopped now and then through the night, he clung where he was-he would cling there until he was driven off, for every mile that he got from Packingtown meant another load from his mind.
Whenever the cars stopped a warm breeze blew upon him, a breeze laden with the perfume of fresh fields, of honeysuckle and clover. He snuffed it, and it made his heart beat wildly-he was out in the country again! He was going to live in the country! When the dawn came he was peering out with hungry eyes, getting glimpses of meadows and woods and rivers. At last he could stand it no longer, and when the train stopped again he crawled out. Upon the top of the car was a brakeman, who shook his fist and swore; Jurgis waved his hand derisively, and started across the country.
Only think that he had been a countryman all his life; and for three long years he had never seen a country sight nor heard a country sound! Excepting for that one walk when he left jail, when he was too much worried to notice anything, and for a few times that he had rested in the city parks in the winter time when he was out of work, he had literally never seen a tree! And now he felt like a bird lifted up and borne away upon a gale; he stopped and stared at each new sight of wonder-at a herd of cows, and a meadow full of daisies, at hedgerows set thick with June roses, at little birds singing in the trees.
Then he came to a farm-house, and after getting himself a stick for protection, he approached it. The farmer was greasing a wagon in front of the barn, and Jurgis went to him. "I would like to get some breakfast, please," he said.
"Do you want to work?" said the farmer.
"No," said Jurgis. "I don't."
"Then you can't get anything here," snapped the other.
"I meant to pay for it," said Jurgis.
"Oh," said the farmer; and then added sarcastically, "We don't serve breakfast after 7 A.M."
"I am very hungry," said Jurgis gravely; "I would like to buy some food."
"Ask the woman," said the farmer, nodding over his shoulder. The "woman" was more tractable, and for a dime Jurgis secured two thick sandwiches and a piece of pie and two apples. He walked off eating the pie, as the least convenient thing to carry. In a few minutes he came to a stream, and he climbed a fence and walked down the bank, along a woodland path. By and by he found a comfortable spot, and there he devoured his meal, slaking his thirst at the stream. Then he lay for hours, just gazing and drinking in joy; until at last he felt sleepy, and lay down in the shade of a bush.
When he awoke the sun was shining hot in his face. He sat up and stretched his arms, and then gazed at the water sliding by. There was a deep pool, sheltered and silent, below him, and a sudden wonderful idea rushed upon him. He might have a bath! The water was free, and he might get into it-all the way into it! It would be the first time that he had been all the way into the water since he left Lithuania!
When Jurgis had first come to the stockyards he had been as clean as any workingman could well be. But later on, what with sickness and cold and hunger and discouragement, and the filthiness of his work, and the vermin in his home, he had given up washing in winter, and in summer only as much of him as would go into a basin. He had had a shower bath in jail, but nothing since-and now he would have a swim!
The water was warm, and he splashed about like a very boy in his glee. Afterward he sat down in the water near the bank, and proceeded to scrub himself-soberly and methodically, scouring every inch of him with sand. While he was doing it he would do it thoroughly, and see how it felt to be clean. He even scrubbed his head with sand, and combed what the men called "crumbs" out of his long, black hair, holding his head under water as long as he could, to see if he could not kill them all. Then, seeing that the sun was still hot, he took his clothes from the bank and proceeded to wash them, piece by piece; as the dirt and grease went floating off downstream he grunted with satisfaction and soused the clothes again, venturing even to dream that he might get rid of the fertilizer.
He hung them all up, and while they were drying he lay down in the sun and had another long sleep. They were hot and stiff as boards on top, and a little damp on the underside, when he awakened; but being hungry, he put them on and set out again. He had no knife, but with some labor he broke himself a good stout club, and, armed with this, he marched down the road again.
Before long he came to a big farmhouse, and turned up the lane that led to it. It was just suppertime, and the farmer was washing his hands at the kitchen door. "Please, sir," said Jurgis, "can I have something to eat? I can pay." To which the farmer responded promptly, "We don't feed tramps here. Get out!"
Jurgis went without a word; but as he passed round the barn he came to a freshly ploughed and harrowed field, in which the farmer had set out some young peach trees; and as he walked he jerked up a row of them by the roots, more than a hundred trees in all, before he reached the end of the field. That was his answer, and it showed his mood; from now on he was fighting, and the man who hit him would get all that he gave, every time.
Beyond the orchard Jurgis struck through a patch of woods, and then a field of winter grain, and came at last to another road. Before long he saw another farmhouse, and, as it was beginning to cloud over a little, he asked here for shelter as well as food. Seeing the farmer eying him dubiously, he added, "I'll be glad to sleep in the barn."
"Well, I dunno," said the other. "Do you smoke?"
"Sometimes," said Jurgis, "but I'll do it out of doors." When the man had assented, he inquired, "How much will it cost me? I haven't very much money."
"I reckon about twenty cents for supper," replied the farmer. "I won't charge ye for the barn."
So Jurgis went in, and sat down at the table with the farmer's wife and half a dozen children. It was a bountiful meal-there were baked beans and mashed potatoes and asparagus chopped and stewed, and a dish of strawberries, and great, thick slices of bread, and a pitcher of milk. Jurgis had not had such a feast since his wedding day, and he made a mighty effort to put in his twenty cents' worth.
They were all of them too hungry to talk; but afterward they sat upon the steps and smoked, and the farmer questioned his guest. When Jurgis had explained that he was a workingman from Chicago, and that he did not know just whither he was bound, the other said, "Why don't you stay here and work for me?"
"I'm not looking for work just now," Jurgis answered.
"I'll pay ye good," said the other, eying his big form-"a dollar a day and board ye. Help's terrible scarce round here."
"Is that winter as well as summer?" Jurgis demanded quickly.
"N-no," said the farmer; "I couldn't keep ye after November-I ain't got a big enough place for that."
"I see," said the other, "that's what I thought. When you get through working your horses this fall, will you turn them out in the snow?" (Jurgis was beginning to think for himself nowadays.)
"It ain't quite the same," the farmer answered, seeing the point. "There ought to be work a strong fellow like you can find to do, in the cities, or some place, in the winter time."
"Yes," said Jurgis, "that's what they all think; and so they crowd into the cities, and when they have to beg or steal to live, then people ask 'em why they don't go into the country, where help is scarce." The farmer meditated awhile.
"How about when your money's gone?" he inquired, finally. "You'll have to, then, won't you?"
"Wait till she's gone," said Jurgis; "then I'll see."
He had a long sleep in the barn and then a big breakfast of coffee and bread and oatmeal and stewed cherries, for which the man charged him only fifteen cents, perhaps having been influenced by his arguments. Then Jurgis bade farewell, and went on his way.
Such was the beginning of his life as a tramp. It was seldom he got as fair treatment as from this last farmer, and so as time went on he learned to shun the houses and to prefer sleeping in the fields. When it rained he would find a deserted building, if he could, and if not, he would wait until after dark and then, with his stick ready, begin a stealthy approach upon a barn. Generally he could get in before the dog got scent of him, and then he would hide in the hay and be safe until morning; if not, and the dog attacked him, he would rise up and make a retreat in battle order. Jurgis was not the mighty man he had once been, but his arms were still good, and there were few farm dogs he needed to hit more than once.
Before long there came raspberries, and then blackberries, to help him save his money; and there were apples in the orchards and potatoes in the ground-he learned to note the places and fill his pockets after dark. Twice he even managed to capture a chicken, and had a feast, once in a deserted barn and the other time in a lonely spot alongside of a stream. When all of these things failed him he used his money carefully, but without worry-for he saw that he could earn more whenever he chose. Half an hour's chopping wood in his lively fashion was enough to bring him a meal, and when the farmer had seen him working he would sometimes try to bribe him to stay.
But Jurgis was not staying. He was a free man now, a buccaneer. The old wanderlust had got into his blood, the joy of the unbound life, the joy of seeking, of hoping without limit. There were mishaps and discomforts-but at least there was always something new; and only think what it meant to a man who for years had been penned up in one place, seeing nothing but one dreary prospect of shanties and factories, to be suddenly set loose beneath the open sky, to behold new landscapes, new places, and new people every hour! To a man whose whole life had consisted of doing one certain thing all day, until he was so exhausted that he could only lie down and sleep until the next day-and to be now his own master, working as he pleased and when he pleased, and facing a new adventure every hour!
Then, too, his health came back to him, all his lost youthful vigor, his joy and power that he had mourned and forgotten! It came with a sudden rush, bewildering him, startling him; it was as if his dead childhood had come back to him, laughing and calling! What with plenty to eat and fresh air and exercise that was taken as it pleased him, he would waken from his sleep and start off not knowing what to do with his energy, stretching his arms, laughing, singing old songs of home that came back to him. Now and then, of course, he could not help but think of little Antanas, whom he should never see again, whose little voice he should never hear; and then he would have to battle with himself. Sometimes at night he would waken dreaming of Ona, and stretch out his arms to her, and wet the ground with his tears. But in the morning he would get up and shake himself, and stride away again to battle with the world.
He never asked where he was nor where he was going; the country was big enough, he knew, and there was no danger of his coming to the end of it. And of course he could always have company for the asking-everywhere he went there were men living just as he lived, and whom he was welcome to join. He was a stranger at the business, but they were not clannish, and they taught him all their tricks-what towns and villages it was best to keep away from, and how to read the secret signs upon the fences, and when to beg and when to steal, and just how to do both. They laughed at his ideas of paying for anything with money or with work-for they got all they wanted without either. Now and then Jurgis camped out with a gang of them in some woodland haunt, and foraged with them in the neighborhood at night. And then among them some one would "take a shine" to him, and they would go off together and travel for a week, exchanging reminiscences.
Of these professional tramps a great many had, of course, been shiftless and vicious all their lives. But the vast majority of them had been workingmen, had fought the long fight as Jurgis had, and found that it was a losing fight, and given up. Later on he encountered yet another sort of men, those from whose ranks the tramps were recruited, men who were homeless and wandering, but still seeking work-seeking it in the harvest fields. Of these there was an army, the huge surplus labor army of society; called into being under the stern system of nature, to do the casual work of the world, the tasks which were transient and irregular, and yet which had to be done. They did not know that they were such, of course; they only knew that they sought the job, and that the job was fleeting. In the early summer they would be in Texas, and as the crops were ready they would follow north with the season, ending with the fall in Manitoba. Then they would seek out the big lumber camps, where there was winter work; or failing in this, would drift to the cities, and live upon what they had managed to save, with the help of such transient work as was there the loading and unloading of steamships and drays, the digging of ditches and the shoveling of snow. If there were more of them on hand than chanced to be needed, the weaker ones died off of cold and hunger, again according to the stern system of nature.
It was in the latter part of July, when Jurgis was in Missouri, that he came upon the harvest work. Here were crops that men had worked for three or four months to prepare, and of which they would lose nearly all unless they could find others to help them for a week or two. So all over the land there was a cry for labor-agencies were set up and all the cities were drained of men, even college boys were brought by the carload, and hordes of frantic farmers would hold up trains and carry off wagonloads of men by main force. Not that they did not pay them well-any man could get two dollars a day and his board, and the best men could get two dollars and a half or three.
The harvest-fever was in the very air, and no man with any spirit in him could be in that region and not catch it. Jurgis joined a gang and worked from dawn till dark, eighteen hours a day, for two weeks without a break. Then he had a sum of money that would have been a fortune to him in the old days of misery-but what could he do with it now? To be sure he might have put it in a bank, and, if he were fortunate, get it back again when he wanted it. But Jurgis was now a homeless man, wandering over a continent; and what did he know about banking and drafts and letters of credit? If he carried the money about with him, he would surely be robbed in the end; and so what was there for him to do but enjoy it while he could? On a Saturday night he drifted into a town with his fellows; and because it was raining, and there was no other place provided for him, he went to a saloon. And there were some who treated him and whom he had to treat, and there was laughter and singing and good cheer; and then out of the rear part of the saloon a girl's face, red-cheeked and merry, smiled at Jurgis, and his heart thumped suddenly in his throat. He nodded to her, and she came and sat by him, and they had more drink, and then he went upstairs into a room with her, and the wild beast rose up within him and screamed, as it has screamed in the Jungle from the dawn of time. And then because of his memories and his shame, he was glad when others joined them, men and women; and they had more drink and spent the night in wild rioting and debauchery. In the van of the surplus-labor army, there followed another, an army of women, they also struggling for life under the stern system of nature. Because there were rich men who sought pleasure, there had been ease and plenty for them so long as they were young and beautiful; and later on, when they were crowded out by others younger and more beautiful, they went out to follow upon the trail of the workingmen. Sometimes they came of themselves, and the saloon-keepers shared with them; or sometimes they were handled by agencies, the same as the labor army. They were in the towns in harvest time, near the lumber camps in the winter, in the cities when the men came there; if a regiment were encamped, or a railroad or canal being made, or a great exposition getting ready, the crowd of women were on hand, living in shanties or saloons or tenement rooms, sometimes eight or ten of them together.
In the morning Jurgis had not a cent, and he went out upon the road again. He was sick and disgusted, but after the new plan of his life, he crushed his feelings down. He had made a fool of himself, but he could not help it now-all he could do was to see that it did not happen again. So he tramped on until exercise and fresh air banished his headache, and his strength and joy returned. This happened to him every time, for Jurgis was still a creature of impulse, and his pleasures had not yet become business. It would be a long time before he could be like the majority of these men of the road, who roamed until the hunger for drink and for women mastered them, and then went to work with a purpose in mind, and stopped when they had the price of a spree.
On the contrary, try as he would, Jurgis could not help being made miserable by his conscience. It was the ghost that would not down. It would come upon him in the most unexpected places-sometimes it fairly drove him to drink.
One night he was caught by a thunderstorm, and he sought shelter in a little house just outside of a town. It was a working-man's home, and the owner was a Slav like himself, a new emigrant from White Russia; he bade Jurgis welcome in his home language, and told him to come to the kitchen-fire and dry himself. He had no bed for him, but there was straw in the garret, and he could make out. The man's wife was cooking the supper, and their children were playing about on the floor. Jurgis sat and exchanged thoughts with him about the old country, and the places where they had been and the work they had done. Then they ate, and afterward sat and smoked and talked more about America, and how they found it. In the middle of a sentence, however, Jurgis stopped, seeing that the woman had brought a big basin of water and was proceeding to undress her youngest baby. The rest had crawled into the closet where they slept, but the baby was to have a bath, the workingman explained. The nights had begun to be chilly, and his mother, ignorant as to the climate in America, had sewed him up for the winter; then it had turned warm again, and some kind of a rash had broken out on the child. The doctor had said she must bathe him every night, and she, foolish woman, believed him.
Jurgis scarcely heard the explanation; he was watching the baby. He was about a year old, and a sturdy little fellow, with soft fat legs, and a round ball of a stomach, and eyes as black as coals. His pimples did not seem to bother him much, and he was wild with glee over the bath, kicking and squirming and chuckling with delight, pulling at his mother's face and then at his own little toes. When she put him into the basin he sat in the midst of it and grinned, splashing the water over himself and squealing like a little pig. He spoke in Russian, of which Jurgis knew some; he spoke it with the quaintest of baby accents-and every word of it brought back to Jurgis some word of his own dead little one, and stabbed him like a knife. He sat perfectly motionless, silent, but gripping his hands tightly, while a storm gathered in his bosom and a flood heaped itself up behind his eyes. And in the end he could bear it no more, but buried his face in his hands and burst into tears, to the alarm and amazement of his hosts. Between the shame of this and his woe Jurgis could not stand it, and got up and rushed out into the rain.
He went on and on down the road, finally coming to a black woods, where he hid and wept as if his heart would break. Ah, what agony was that, what despair, when the tomb of memory was rent open and the ghosts of his old life came forth to scourge him! What terror to see what he had been and now could never be-to see Ona and his child and his own dead self stretching out their arms to him, calling to him across a bottomless abyss-and to know that they were gone from him forever, and he writhing and suffocating in the mire of his own vileness!
Early in the fall Jurgis set out for Chicago again. All the joy went out of tramping as soon as a man could not keep warm in the hay; and, like many thousands of others, he deluded himself with the hope that by coming early he could avoid the rush. He brought fifteen dollars with him, hidden away in one of his shoes, a sum which had been saved from the saloon-keepers, not so much by his conscience, as by the fear which filled him at the thought of being out of work in the city in the winter time.
He traveled upon the railroad with several other men, hiding in freight cars at night, and liable to be thrown off at any time, regardless of the speed of the train. When he reached the city he left the rest, for he had money and they did not, and he meant to save himself in this fight. He would bring to it all the skill that practice had brought him, and he would stand, whoever fell. On fair nights he would sleep in the park or on a truck or an empty barrel or box, and when it was rainy or cold he would stow himself upon a shelf in a ten-cent lodginghouse, or pay three cents for the privileges of a "squatter" in a tenement hallway. He would eat at free lunches, five cents a meal, and never a cent more-so he might keep alive for two months and more, and in that time he would surely find a job. He would have to bid farewell to his summer cleanliness, of course, for he would come out of the first night's lodging with his clothes alive with vermin. There was no place in the city where he could wash even his face, unless he went down to the lake front-and there it would soon be all ice.
First he went to the steel mill and the harvester works, and found that his places there had been filled long ago. He was careful to keep away from the stockyards-he was a single man now, he told himself, and he meant to stay one, to have his wages for his own when he got a job. He began the long, weary round of factories and warehouses, tramping all day, from one end of the city to the other, finding everywhere from ten to a hundred men ahead of him. He watched the newspapers, too-but no longer was he to be taken in by smooth-spoken agents. He had been told of all those tricks while "on the road."
In the end it was through a newspaper that he got a job, after nearly a month of seeking. It was a call for a hundred laborers, and though he thought it was a "fake," he went because the place was near by. He found a line of men a block long, but as a wagon chanced to come out of an alley and break the line, he saw his chance and sprang to seize a place. Men threatened him and tried to throw him out, but he cursed and made a disturbance to attract a policeman, upon which they subsided, knowing that if the latter interfered it would be to "fire" them all.
An hour or two later he entered a room and confronted a big Irishman behind a desk.
"Ever worked in Chicago before?" the man inquired; and whether it was a good angel that put it into Jurgis's mind, or an intuition of his sharpened wits, he was moved to answer, "No, sir."
"Where do you come from?"
"Kansas City, sir."
"No, sir. I'm just an unskilled man. I've got good arms."
"I want men for hard work-it's all underground, digging tunnels for telephones. Maybe it won't suit you."
"I'm willing, sir-anything for me. What's the pay?"
"Fifteen cents an hour."
"I'm willing, sir."
"All right; go back there and give your name."
So within half an hour he was at work, far underneath the streets of the city. The tunnel was a peculiar one for telephone wires; it was about eight feet high, and with a level floor nearly as wide. It had innumerable branches-a perfect spider web beneath the city; Jurgis walked over half a mile with his gang to the place where they were to work. Stranger yet, the tunnel was lighted by electricity, and upon it was laid a double-tracked, narrow-gauge railroad!
But Jurgis was not there to ask questions, and he did not give the matter a thought. It was nearly a year afterward that he finally learned the meaning of this whole affair. The City Council had passed a quiet and innocent little bill allowing a company to construct telephone conduits under the city streets; and upon the strength of this, a great corporation had proceeded to tunnel all Chicago with a system of railway freight-subways. In the city there was a combination of employers, representing hundreds of millions of capital, and formed for the purpose of crushing the labor unions. The chief union which troubled it was the teamsters'; and when these freight tunnels were completed, connecting all the big factories and stores with the railroad depots, they would have the teamsters' union by the throat. Now and then there were rumors and murmurs in the Board of Aldermen, and once there was a committee to investigate-but each time another small fortune was paid over, and the rumors died away; until at last the city woke up with a start to find the work completed. There was a tremendous scandal, of course; it was found that the city records had been falsified and other crimes committed, and some of Chicago's big capitalists got into jail-figuratively speaking. The aldermen declared that they had had no idea of it all, in spite of the fact that the main entrance to the work had been in the rear of the saloon of one of them.
It was in a newly opened cut that Jurgis worked, and so he knew that he had an all-winter job. He was so rejoiced that he treated himself to a spree that night, and with the balance of his money he hired himself a place in a tenement room, where he slept upon a big homemade straw mattress along with four other workingmen. This was one dollar a week, and for four more he got his food in a boardinghouse near his work. This would leave him four dollars extra each week, an unthinkable sum for him. At the outset he had to pay for his digging tools, and also to buy a pair of heavy boots, since his shoes were falling to pieces, and a flannel shirt, since the one he had worn all summer was in shreds. He spent a week meditating whether or not he should also buy an overcoat. There was one belonging to a Hebrew collar button peddler, who had died in the room next to him, and which the landlady was holding for her rent; in the end, however, Jurgis decided to do without it, as he was to be underground by day and in bed at night.
This was an unfortunate decision, however, for it drove him more quickly than ever into the saloons. From now on Jurgis worked from seven o'clock until half-past five, with half an hour for dinner; which meant that he never saw the sunlight on weekdays. In the evenings there was no place for him to go except a barroom; no place where there was light and warmth, where he could hear a little music or sit with a companion and talk. He had now no home to go to; he had no affection left in his life-only the pitiful mockery of it in the camaraderie of vice. On Sundays the churches were open-but where was there a church in which an ill-smelling workingman, with vermin crawling upon his neck, could sit without seeing people edge away and look annoyed? He had, of course, his corner in a close though unheated room, with a window opening upon a blank wall two feet away; and also he had the bare streets, with the winter gales sweeping through them; besides this he had only the saloons-and, of course, he had to drink to stay in them. If he drank now and then he was free to make himself at home, to gamble with dice or a pack of greasy cards, to play at a dingy pool table for money, or to look at a beer-stained pink "sporting paper," with pictures of murderers and half-naked women. It was for such pleasures as these that he spent his money; and such was his life during the six weeks and a half that he toiled for the merchants of Chicago, to enable them to break the grip of their teamsters' union.
In a work thus carried out, not much thought was given to the welfare of the laborers. On an average, the tunneling cost a life a day and several manglings; it was seldom, however, that more than a dozen or two men heard of any one accident. The work was all done by the new boring machinery, with as little blasting as possible; but there would be falling rocks and crushed supports, and premature explosions-and in addition all the dangers of railroading. So it was that one night, as Jurgis was on his way out with his gang, an engine and a loaded car dashed round one of the innumerable right-angle branches and struck him upon the shoulder, hurling him against the concrete wall and knocking him senseless.
When he opened his eyes again it was to the clanging of the bell of an ambulance. He was lying in it, covered by a blanket, and it was threading its way slowly through the holiday-shopping crowds. They took him to the county hospital, where a young surgeon set his arm; then he was washed and laid upon a bed in a ward with a score or two more of maimed and mangled men.
Jurgis spent his Christmas in this hospital, and it was the pleasantest Christmas he had had in America. Every year there were scandals and investigations in this institution, the newspapers charging that doctors were allowed to try fantastic experiments upon the patients; but Jurgis knew nothing of this-his only complaint was that they used to feed him upon tinned meat, which no man who had ever worked in Packingtown would feed to his dog. Jurgis had often wondered just who ate the canned corned beef and "roast beef" of the stockyards; now he began to understand-that it was what you might call "graft meat," put up to be sold to public officials and contractors, and eaten by soldiers and sailors, prisoners and inmates of institutions, "shantymen" and gangs of railroad laborers.
Jurgis was ready to leave the hospital at the end of two weeks. This did not mean that his arm was strong and that he was able to go back to work, but simply that he could get along without further attention, and that his place was needed for some one worse off than he. That he was utterly helpless, and had no means of keeping himself alive in the meantime, was something which did not concern the hospital authorities, nor any one else in the city.
As it chanced, he had been hurt on a Monday, and had just paid for his last week's board and his room rent, and spent nearly all the balance of his Saturday's pay. He had less than seventy-five cents in his pockets, and a dollar and a half due him for the day's work he had done before he was hurt. He might possibly have sued the company, and got some damages for his injuries, but he did not know this, and it was not the company's business to tell him. He went and got his pay and his tools, which he left in a pawnshop for fifty cents. Then he went to his landlady, who had rented his place and had no other for him; and then to his boardinghouse keeper, who looked him over and questioned him. As he must certainly be helpless for a couple of months, and had boarded there only six weeks, she decided very quickly that it would not be worth the risk to keep him on trust.
So Jurgis went out into the streets, in a most dreadful plight. It was bitterly cold, and a heavy snow was falling, beating into his face. He had no overcoat, and no place to go, and two dollars and sixty-five cents in his pocket, with the certainty that he could not earn another cent for months. The snow meant no chance to him now; he must walk along and see others shoveling, vigorous and active-and he with his left arm bound to his side! He could not hope to tide himself over by odd jobs of loading trucks; he could not even sell newspapers or carry satchels, because he was now at the mercy of any rival. Words could not paint the terror that came over him as he realized all this. He was like a wounded animal in the forest; he was forced to compete with his enemies upon unequal terms. There would be no consideration for him because of his weakness-it was no one's business to help him in such distress, to make the fight the least bit easier for him. Even if he took to begging, he would be at a disadvantage, for reasons which he was to discover in good time.
In the beginning he could not think of anything except getting out of the awful cold. He went into one of the saloons he had been wont to frequent and bought a drink, and then stood by the fire shivering and waiting to be ordered out. According to an unwritten law, the buying a drink included the privilege of loafing for just so long; then one had to buy another drink or move on. That Jurgis was an old customer entitled him to a somewhat longer stop; but then he had been away two weeks, and was evidently "on the bum." He might plead and tell his "hard luck story," but that would not help him much; a saloon-keeper who was to be moved by such means would soon have his place jammed to the doors with "hoboes" on a day like this.
So Jurgis went out into another place, and paid another nickel. He was so hungry this time that he could not resist the hot beef stew, an indulgence which cut short his stay by a considerable time. When he was again told to move on, he made his way to a "tough" place in the "Levee" district, where now and then he had gone with a certain rat-eyed Bohemian workingman of his acquaintance, seeking a woman. It was Jurgis's vain hope that here the proprietor would let him remain as a "sitter." In low-class places, in the dead of winter, saloon-keepers would often allow one or two forlorn-looking bums who came in covered with snow or soaked with rain to sit by the fire and look miserable to attract custom. A workingman would come in, feeling cheerful after his day's work was over, and it would trouble him to have to take his glass with such a sight under his nose; and so he would call out: "Hello, Bub, what's the matter? You look as if you'd been up against it!" And then the other would begin to pour out some tale of misery, and the man would say, "Come have a glass, and maybe that'll brace you up." And so they would drink together, and if the tramp was sufficiently wretched-looking, or good enough at the "gab," they might have two; and if they were to discover that they were from the same country, or had lived in the same city or worked at the same trade, they might sit down at a table and spend an hour or two in talk-and before they got through the saloon-keeper would have taken in a dollar. All of this might seem diabolical, but the saloon-keeper was in no wise to blame for it. He was in the same plight as the manufacturer who has to adulterate and misrepresent his product. If he does not, some one else will; and the saloon-keeper, unless he is also an alderman, is apt to be in debt to the big brewers, and on the verge of being sold out.
The market for "sitters" was glutted that afternoon, however, and there was no place for Jurgis. In all he had to spend six nickels in keeping a shelter over him that frightful day, and then it was just dark, and the station houses would not open until midnight! At the last place, however, there was a bartender who knew him and liked him, and let him doze at one of the tables until the boss came back; and also, as he was going out, the man gave him a tip-on the next block there was a religious revival of some sort, with preaching and singing, and hundreds of hoboes would go there for the shelter and warmth.
Jurgis went straightway, and saw a sign hung out, saying that the door would open at seven-thirty; then he walked, or half ran, a block, and hid awhile in a doorway and then ran again, and so on until the hour. At the end he was all but frozen, and fought his way in with the rest of the throng (at the risk of having his arm broken again), and got close to the big stove.
By eight o'clock the place was so crowded that the speakers ought to have been flattered; the aisles were filled halfway up, and at the door men were packed tight enough to walk upon. There were three elderly gentlemen in black upon the platform, and a young lady who played the piano in front. First they sang a hymn, and then one of the three, a tall, smooth-shaven man, very thin, and wearing black spectacles, began an address. Jurgis heard smatterings of it, for the reason that terror kept him awake-he knew that he snored abominably, and to have been put out just then would have been like a sentence of death to him.
The evangelist was preaching "sin and redemption," the infinite grace of God and His pardon for human frailty. He was very much in earnest, and he meant well, but Jurgis, as he listened, found his soul filled with hatred. What did he know about sin and suffering-with his smooth, black coat and his neatly starched collar, his body warm, and his belly full, and money in his pocket-and lecturing men who were struggling for their lives, men at the death grapple with the demon powers of hunger and cold!-This, of course, was unfair; but Jurgis felt that these men were out of touch with the life they discussed, that they were unfitted to solve its problems; nay, they themselves were part of the problem-they were part of the order established that was crushing men down and beating them! They were of the triumphant and insolent possessors; they had a hall, and a fire, and food and clothing and money, and so they might preach to hungry men, and the hungry men must be humble and listen! They were trying to save their souls-and who but a fool could fail to see that all that was the matter with their souls was that they had not been able to get a decent existence for their bodies?
At eleven the meeting closed, and the desolate audience filed out into the snow, muttering curses upon the few traitors who had got repentance and gone up on the platform. It was yet an hour before the station house would open, and Jurgis had no overcoat-and was weak from a long illness. During that hour he nearly perished. He was obliged to run hard to keep his blood moving at all-and then he came back to the station house and found a crowd blocking the street before the door! This was in the month of January, 1904, when the country was on the verge of "hard times," and the newspapers were reporting the shutting down of factories every day-it was estimated that a million and a half men were thrown out of work before the spring. So all the hiding places of the city were crowded, and before that station house door men fought and tore each other like savage beasts. When at last the place was jammed and they shut the doors, half the crowd was still outside; and Jurgis, with his helpless arm, was among them. There was no choice then but to go to a lodginghouse and spend another dime. It really broke his heart to do this, at half-past twelve o'clock, after he had wasted the night at the meeting and on the street. He would be turned out of the lodginghouse promptly at seven they had the shelves which served as bunks so contrived that they could be dropped, and any man who was slow about obeying orders could be tumbled to the floor.
This was one day, and the cold spell lasted for fourteen of them. At the end of six days every cent of Jurgis' money was gone; and then he went out on the streets to beg for his life.
He would begin as soon as the business of the city was moving. He would sally forth from a saloon, and, after making sure there was no policeman in sight, would approach every likely-looking person who passed him, telling his woeful story and pleading for a nickel or a dime. Then when he got one, he would dart round the corner and return to his base to get warm; and his victim, seeing him do this, would go away, vowing that he would never give a cent to a beggar again. The victim never paused to ask where else Jurgis could have gone under the circumstances-where he, the victim, would have gone. At the saloon Jurgis could not only get more food and better food than he could buy in any restaurant for the same money, but a drink in the bargain to warm him up. Also he could find a comfortable seat by a fire, and could chat with a companion until he was as warm as toast. At the saloon, too, he felt at home. Part of the saloon-keeper's business was to offer a home and refreshments to beggars in exchange for the proceeds of their foragings; and was there any one else in the whole city who would do this-would the victim have done it himself?
Poor Jurgis might have been expected to make a successful beggar. He was just out of the hospital, and desperately sick-looking, and with a helpless arm; also he had no overcoat, and shivered pitifully. But, alas, it was again the case of the honest merchant, who finds that the genuine and unadulterated article is driven to the wall by the artistic counterfeit. Jurgis, as a beggar, was simply a blundering amateur in competition with organized and scientific professionalism. He was just out of the hospital-but the story was worn threadbare, and how could he prove it? He had his arm in a sling-and it was a device a regular beggar's little boy would have scorned. He was pale and shivering-but they were made up with cosmetics, and had studied the art of chattering their teeth. As to his being without an overcoat, among them you would meet men you could swear had on nothing but a ragged linen duster and a pair of cotton trousers-so cleverly had they concealed the several suits of all-wool underwear beneath. Many of these professional mendicants had comfortable homes, and families, and thousands of dollars in the bank; some of them had retired upon their earnings, and gone into the business of fitting out and doctoring others, or working children at the trade. There were some who had both their arms bound tightly to their sides, and padded stumps in their sleeves, and a sick child hired to carry a cup for them. There were some who had no legs, and pushed themselves upon a wheeled platform-some who had been favored with blindness, and were led by pretty little dogs. Some less fortunate had mutilated themselves or burned themselves, or had brought horrible sores upon themselves with chemicals; you might suddenly encounter upon the street a man holding out to you a finger rotting and discolored with gangrene-or one with livid scarlet wounds half escaped from their filthy bandages. These desperate ones were the dregs of the city's cesspools, wretches who hid at night in the rain-soaked cellars of old ramshackle tenements, in "stale-beer dives" and opium joints, with abandoned women in the last stages of the harlot's progress-women who had been kept by Chinamen and turned away at last to die. Every day the police net would drag hundreds of them off the streets, and in the detention hospital you might see them, herded together in a miniature inferno, with hideous, beastly faces, bloated and leprous with disease, laughing, shouting, screaming in all stages of drunkenness, barking like dogs, gibbering like apes, raving and tearing themselves in delirium.
In the face of all his handicaps, Jurgis was obliged to make the price of a lodging, and of a drink every hour or two, under penalty of freezing to death. Day after day he roamed about in the arctic cold, his soul filled full of bitterness and despair. He saw the world of civilization then more plainly than ever he had seen it before; a world in which nothing counted but brutal might, an order devised by those who possessed it for the subjugation of those who did not. He was one of the latter; and all outdoors, all life, was to him one colossal prison, which he paced like a pent-up tiger, trying one bar after another, and finding them all beyond his power. He had lost in the fierce battle of greed, and so was doomed to be exterminated; and all society was busied to see that he did not escape the sentence. Everywhere that he turned were prison bars, and hostile eyes following him; the well-fed, sleek policemen, from whose glances he shrank, and who seemed to grip their clubs more tightly when they saw him; the saloon-keepers, who never ceased to watch him while he was in their places, who were jealous of every moment he lingered after he had paid his money; the hurrying throngs upon the streets, who were deaf to his entreaties, oblivious of his very existence-and savage and contemptuous when he forced himself upon them. They had their own affairs, and there was no place for him among them. There was no place for him anywhere-every direction he turned his gaze, this fact was forced upon him: Everything was built to express it to him: the residences, with their heavy walls and bolted doors, and basement windows barred with iron; the great warehouses filled with the products of the whole world, and guarded by iron shutters and heavy gates; the banks with their unthinkable billions of wealth, all buried in safes and vaults of steel.
And then one day there befell Jurgis the one adventure of his life. It was late at night, and he had failed to get the price of a lodging. Snow was falling, and he had been out so long that he was covered with it, and was chilled to the bone. He was working among the theater crowds, flitting here and there, taking large chances with the police, in his desperation half hoping to be arrested. When he saw a bluecoat start toward him, however, his heart failed him, and he dashed down a side street and fled a couple of blocks. When he stopped again he saw a man coming toward him, and placed himself in his path.
"Please, sir," he began, in the usual formula, "will you give me the price of a lodging? I've had a broken arm, and I can't work, and I've not a cent in my pocket. I'm an honest working-man, sir, and I never begged before! It's not my fault, sir-"
Jurgis usually went on until he was interrupted, but this man did not interrupt, and so at last he came to a breathless stop. The other had halted, and Jurgis suddenly noticed that he stood a little unsteadily. "Whuzzat you say?" he queried suddenly, in a thick voice.
Jurgis began again, speaking more slowly and distinctly; before he was half through the other put out his hand and rested it upon his shoulder. "Poor ole chappie!" he said. "Been up-hic-up-against it, hey?"
Then he lurched toward Jurgis, and the hand upon his shoulder became an arm about his neck. "Up against it myself, ole sport," he said. "She's a hard ole world."
They were close to a lamppost, and Jurgis got a glimpse of the other. He was a young fellow-not much over eighteen, with a handsome boyish face. He wore a silk hat and a rich soft overcoat with a fur collar; and he smiled at Jurgis with benignant sympathy. "I'm hard up, too, my goo' fren'," he said. "I've got cruel parents, or I'd set you up. Whuzzamatter whizyer?"
"I've been in the hospital."
"Hospital!" exclaimed the young fellow, still smiling sweetly, "thass too bad! Same's my Aunt Polly-hic-my Aunt Polly's in the hospital, too-ole auntie's been havin' twins! Whuzzamatter whiz you?"
"I've got a broken arm-" Jurgis began.
"So," said the other, sympathetically. "That ain't so bad-you get over that. I wish somebody'd break my arm, ole chappie-damfidon't! Then they'd treat me better-hic-hole me up, ole sport! Whuzzit you wammme do?"
"I'm hungry, sir," said Jurgis.
"Hungry! Why don't you hassome supper?"
"I've got no money, sir."
"No money! Ho, ho-less be chums, ole boy-jess like me! No money, either-a'most busted! Why don't you go home, then, same's me?"
"I haven't any home," said Jurgis.
"No home! Stranger in the city, hey? Goo' God, thass bad! Better come home wiz me-yes, by Harry, thass the trick, you'll come home an' hassome supper-hic-wiz me! Awful lonesome-nobody home! Guv'ner gone abroad-Bubby on's honeymoon-Polly havin' twins-every damn soul gone away! Nuff-hic-nuff to drive a feller to drink, I say! Only ole Ham standin' by, passin' plates-damfican eat like that, no sir! The club for me every time, my boy, I say. But then they won't lemme sleep there-guv'ner's orders, by Harry-home every night, sir! Ever hear anythin' like that? 'Every mornin' do?' I asked him. 'No, sir, every night, or no allowance at all, sir.' Thass my guv'ner-'nice as nails, by Harry! Tole ole Ham to watch me, too-servants spyin' on me-whuzyer think that, my fren'? A nice, quiet-hic-goodhearted young feller like me, an' his daddy can't go to Europe-hup!-an' leave him in peace! Ain't that a shame, sir? An' I gotter go home every evenin' an' miss all the fun, by Harry! Thass whuzzamatter now-thass why I'm here! Hadda come away an' leave Kitty-hic-left her cryin', too-whujja think of that, ole sport? 'Lemme go, Kittens,' says I-'come early an' often-I go where duty-hic-calls me. Farewell, farewell, my own true love-farewell, farewehell, my-own true-love!'"
This last was a song, and the young gentleman's voice rose mournful and wailing, while he swung upon Jurgis's neck. The latter was glancing about nervously, lest some one should approach. They were still alone, however.
"But I came all right, all right," continued the youngster, aggressively, "I can-hic-I can have my own way when I want it, by Harry-Freddie Jones is a hard man to handle when he gets goin'! 'No, sir,' says I, 'by thunder, and I don't need anybody goin' home with me, either-whujja take me for, hey? Think I'm drunk, dontcha, hey?-I know you! But I'm no more drunk than you are, Kittens,' says I to her. And then says she, 'Thass true, Freddie dear' (she's a smart one, is Kitty), 'but I'm stayin' in the flat, an' you're goin' out into the cold, cold night!' 'Put it in a pome, lovely Kitty,' says I. 'No jokin', Freddie, my boy,' says she. 'Lemme call a cab now, like a good dear'-but I can call my own cabs, dontcha fool yourself-and I know what I'm a-doin', you bet! Say, my fren', whatcha say-willye come home an' see me, an' hassome supper? Come 'long like a good feller-don't be haughty! You're up against it, same as me, an' you can unerstan' a feller; your heart's in the right place, by Harry-come 'long, ole chappie, an' we'll light up the house, an' have some fizz, an' we'll raise hell, we will-whoop-la! S'long's I'm inside the house I can do as I please-the guv'ner's own very orders, b'God! Hip! hip!"
They had started down the street, arm in arm, the young man pushing Jurgis along, half dazed. Jurgis was trying to think what to do-he knew he could not pass any crowded place with his new acquaintance without attracting attention and being stopped. It was only because of the falling snow that people who passed here did not notice anything wrong.
Suddenly, therefore, Jurgis stopped. "Is it very far?" he inquired.
"Not very," said the other, "Tired, are you, though? Well, we'll ride-whatcha say? Good! Call a cab!"
And then, gripping Jurgis tight with one hand, the young fellow began searching his pockets with the other. "You call, ole sport, an' I'll pay," he suggested. "How's that, hey?"
And he pulled out from somewhere a big roll of bills. It was more money than Jurgis had ever seen in his life before, and he stared at it with startled eyes.
"Looks like a lot, hey?" said Master Freddie, fumbling with it. "Fool you, though, ole chappie-they're all little ones! I'll be busted in one week more, sure thing-word of honor. An' not a cent more till the first-hic-guv'ner's orders-hic-not a cent, by Harry! Nuff to set a feller crazy, it is. I sent him a cable, this af'noon-thass one reason more why I'm goin' home. 'Hangin' on the verge of starvation,' I says-'for the honor of the family-hic-sen' me some bread. Hunger will compel me to join you-Freddie.' Thass what I wired him, by Harry, an' I mean it-I'll run away from school, b'God, if he don't sen' me some."
After this fashion the young gentleman continued to prattle on-and meantime Jurgis was trembling with excitement. He might grab that wad of bills and be out of sight in the darkness before the other could collect his wits. Should he do it? What better had he to hope for, if he waited longer? But Jurgis had never committed a crime in his life, and now he hesitated half a second too long. "Freddie" got one bill loose, and then stuffed the rest back into his trousers' pocket.
"Here, ole man," he said, "you take it." He held it out fluttering. They were in front of a saloon; and by the light of the window Jurgis saw that it was a hundred-dollar bill! "You take it," the other repeated. "Pay the cabbie an' keep the change-I've got-hic-no head for business! Guv'ner says so hisself, an' the guv'ner knows-the guv'ner's got a head for business, you bet! 'All right, guv'ner,' I told him, 'you run the show, and I'll take the tickets!' An' so he set Aunt Polly to watch me-hic-an' now Polly's off in the hospital havin' twins, an' me out raisin' Cain! Hello, there! Hey! Call him!"
A cab was driving by; and Jurgis sprang and called, and it swung round to the curb. Master Freddie clambered in with some difficulty, and Jurgis had started to follow, when the driver shouted: "Hi, there! Get out-you!"
Jurgis hesitated, and was half obeying; but his companion broke out: "Whuzzat? Whuzzamatter wiz you, hey?"
And the cabbie subsided, and Jurgis climbed in. Then Freddie gave a number on the Lake Shore Drive, and the carriage started away. The youngster leaned back and snuggled up to Jurgis, murmuring contentedly; in half a minute he was sound asleep, Jurgis sat shivering, speculating as to whether he might not still be able to get hold of the roll of bills. He was afraid to try to go through his companion's pockets, however; and besides the cabbie might be on the watch. He had the hundred safe, and he would have to be content with that.
At the end of half an hour or so the cab stopped. They were out on the waterfront, and from the east a freezing gale was blowing off the ice-bound lake. "Here we are," called the cabbie, and Jurgis awakened his companion.
Master Freddie sat up with a start.
"Hello!" he said. "Where are we? Whuzzis? Who are you, hey? Oh, yes, sure nuff! Mos' forgot you-hic-ole chappie! Home, are we? Lessee! Br-r-r-it's cold! Yes-come 'long-we're home-it ever so-hic-humble!"
Before them there loomed an enormous granite pile, set far back from the street, and occupying a whole block. By the light of the driveway lamps Jurgis could see that it had towers and huge gables, like a medieval castle. He thought that the young fellow must have made a mistake-it was inconceivable to him that any person could have a home like a hotel or the city hall. But he followed in silence, and they went up the long flight of steps, arm in arm.
"There's a button here, ole sport," said Master Freddie. "Hole my arm while I find her! Steady, now-oh, yes, here she is! Saved!"
A bell rang, and in a few seconds the door was opened. A man in blue livery stood holding it, and gazing before him, silent as a statue.
They stood for a moment blinking in the light. Then Jurgis felt his companion pulling, and he stepped in, and the blue automaton closed the door. Jurgis's heart was beating wildly; it was a bold thing for him to do-into what strange unearthly place he was venturing he had no idea. Aladdin entering his cave could not have been more excited.
The place where he stood was dimly lighted; but he could see a vast hall, with pillars fading into the darkness above, and a great staircase opening at the far end of it. The floor was of tesselated marble, smooth as glass, and from the walls strange shapes loomed out, woven into huge portieres in rich, harmonious colors, or gleaming from paintings, wonderful and mysterious-looking in the half-light, purple and red and golden, like sunset glimmers in a shadowy forest.
The man in livery had moved silently toward them; Master Freddie took off his hat and handed it to him, and then, letting go of Jurgis' arm, tried to get out of his overcoat. After two or three attempts he accomplished this, with the lackey's help, and meantime a second man had approached, a tall and portly personage, solemn as an executioner. He bore straight down upon Jurgis, who shrank away nervously; he seized him by the arm without a word, and started toward the door with him. Then suddenly came Master Freddie's voice, "Hamilton! My fren' will remain wiz me."
The man paused and half released Jurgis. "Come 'long ole chappie," said the other, and Jurgis started toward him.
"Master Frederick!" exclaimed the man.
"See that the cabbie-hic-is paid," was the other's response; and he linked his arm in Jurgis'. Jurgis was about to say, "I have the money for him," but he restrained himself. The stout man in uniform signaled to the other, who went out to the cab, while he followed Jurgis and his young master.
They went down the great hall, and then turned. Before them were two huge doors.
"Hamilton," said Master Freddie.
"Well, sir?" said the other.
"Whuzzamatter wizze dinin'-room doors?"
"Nothing is the matter, sir."
"Then why dontcha openum?"
The man rolled them back; another vista lost itself in the darkness. "Lights," commanded Master Freddie; and the butler pressed a button, and a flood of brilliant incandescence streamed from above, half-blinding Jurgis. He stared; and little by little he made out the great apartment, with a domed ceiling from which the light poured, and walls that were one enormous painting-nymphs and dryads dancing in a flower-strewn glade-Diana with her hounds and horses, dashing headlong through a mountain streamlet-a group of maidens bathing in a forest pool-all life-size, and so real that Jurgis thought that it was some work of enchantment, that he was in a dream palace. Then his eye passed to the long table in the center of the hall, a table black as ebony, and gleaming with wrought silver and gold. In the center of it was a huge carven bowl, with the glistening gleam of ferns and the red and purple of rare orchids, glowing from a light hidden somewhere in their midst.
"This's the dinin' room," observed Master Freddie. "How you like it, hey, ole sport?"
He always insisted on having an answer to his remarks, leaning over Jurgis and smiling into his face. Jurgis liked it.
"Rummy ole place to feed in all 'lone, though," was Freddie's comment-"rummy's hell! Whuzya think, hey?" Then another idea occurred to him and he went on, without waiting: "Maybe you never saw anythin-hic-like this 'fore? Hey, ole chappie?"
"No," said Jurgis.
"Come from country, maybe-hey?"
"Yes," said Jurgis.
"Aha! I thosso! Lossa folks from country never saw such a place. Guv'ner brings 'em-free show-hic-reg'lar circus! Go home tell folks about it. Ole man lones's place-lones the packer-beef-trust man. Made it all out of hogs, too, damn ole scoundrel. Now we see where our pennies go-rebates, an' private car lines-hic-by Harry! Bully place, though-worth seein'! Ever hear of lones the packer, hey, ole chappie?"
Jurgis had started involuntarily; the other, whose sharp eyes missed nothing, demanded: "Whuzzamatter, hey? Heard of him?"
And Jurgis managed to stammer out: "I have worked for him in the yards."
"What!" cried Master Freddie, with a yell. "You! In the yards? Ho, ho! Why, say, thass good! Shake hands on it, ole man-by Harry! Guv'ner ought to be here-glad to see you. Great fren's with the men, guv'ner-labor an' capital, commun'ty 'f int'rests, an' all that-hic! Funny things happen in this world, don't they, ole man? Hamilton, lemme interduce you-fren' the family-ole fren' the guv'ner's-works in the yards. Come to spend the night wiz me, Hamilton-have a hot time. Me fren', Mr.-whuzya name, ole chappie? Tell us your name."
"My fren', Mr. Rednose, Hamilton-shake han's."
The stately butler bowed his head, but made not a sound; and suddenly Master Freddie pointed an eager finger at him. "I know whuzzamatter wiz you, Hamilton-lay you a dollar I know! You think-hic-you think I'm drunk! Hey, now?"
And the butler again bowed his head. "Yes, sir," he said, at which Master Freddie hung tightly upon Jurgis's neck and went into a fit of laughter. "Hamilton, you damn ole scoundrel," he roared, "I'll 'scharge you for impudence, you see 'f I don't! Ho, ho, ho! I'm drunk! Ho, ho!"
The two waited until his fit had spent itself, to see what new whim would seize him. "Whatcha wanta do?" he queried suddenly. "Wanta see the place, ole chappie? Wamme play the guv'ner-show you roun'? State parlors-Looee Cans-Looee Sez-chairs cost three thousand apiece. Tea room Maryanntnet-picture of shepherds dancing-Ruysdael-twenty-three thousan'! Ballroom-balc'ny pillars-hic-imported-special ship-sixty-eight thousan'! Ceilin' painted in Rome-whuzzat feller's name, Hamilton-Mattatoni? Macaroni? Then this place-silver bowl-Benvenuto Cellini-rummy ole Dago! An' the organ-thirty thousan' dollars, sir-starter up, Hamilton, let Mr. Rednose hear it. No-never mind-clean forgot-says he's hungry, Hamilton-less have some supper. Only-hic-don't less have it here-come up to my place, ole sport-nice an' cosy. This way-steady now, don't slip on the floor. Hamilton, we'll have a cole spread, an' some fizz-don't leave out the fizz, by Harry. We'll have some of the eighteen-thirty Madeira. Hear me, sir?"
"Yes, sir," said the butler, "but, Master Frederick, your father left orders-"
And Master Frederick drew himself up to a stately height. "My father's orders were left to me-hic-an' not to you," he said. Then, clasping Jurgis tightly by the neck, he staggered out of the room; on the way another idea occurred to him, and he asked: "Any-hic-cable message for me, Hamilton?"
"No, sir," said the butler.
"Guv'ner must be travelin'. An' how's the twins, Hamilton?"
"They are doing well, sir."
"Good!" said Master Freddie; and added fervently: "God bless 'em, the little lambs!"
They went up the great staircase, one step at a time; at the top of it there gleamed at them out of the shadows the figure of a nymph crouching by a fountain, a figure ravishingly beautiful, the flesh warm and glowing with the hues of life. Above was a huge court, with domed roof, the various apartments opening into it. The butler had paused below but a few minutes to give orders, and then followed them; now he pressed a button, and the hall blazed with light. He opened a door before them, and then pressed another button, as they staggered into the apartment.
It was fitted up as a study. In the center was a mahogany table, covered with books, and smokers' implements; the walls were decorated with college trophies and colors-flags, posters, photographs and knickknacks-tennis rackets, canoe paddles, golf clubs, and polo sticks. An enormous moose head, with horns six feet across, faced a buffalo head on the opposite wall, while bear and tiger skins covered the polished floor. There were lounging chairs and sofas, window seats covered with soft cushions of fantastic designs; there was one corner fitted in Persian fashion, with a huge canopy and a jeweled lamp beneath. Beyond, a door opened upon a bedroom, and beyond that was a swimming pool of the purest marble, that had cost about forty thousand dollars.
Master Freddie stood for a moment or two, gazing about him; then out of the next room a dog emerged, a monstrous bulldog, the most hideous object that Jurgis had ever laid eyes upon. He yawned, opening a mouth like a dragon's; and he came toward the young man, wagging his tail. "Hello, Dewey!" cried his master. "Been havin' a snooze, ole boy? Well, well-hello there, whuzzamatter?" (The dog was snarling at Jurgis.) "Why, Dewey-this' my fren', Mr. Rednose-ole fren' the guv'ner's! Mr. Rednose, Admiral Dewey; shake han's-hic. Ain't he a daisy, though-blue ribbon at the New York show-eighty-five hundred at a clip! How's that, hey?"
The speaker sank into one of the big armchairs, and Admiral Dewey crouched beneath it; he did not snarl again, but he never took his eyes off Jurgis. He was perfectly sober, was the Admiral.
The butler had closed the door, and he stood by it, watching Jurgis every second. Now there came footsteps outside, and, as he opened the door a man in livery entered, carrying a folding table, and behind him two men with covered trays. They stood like statues while the first spread the table and set out the contents of the trays upon it. There were cold pates, and thin slices of meat, tiny bread and butter sandwiches with the crust cut off, a bowl of sliced peaches and cream (in January), little fancy cakes, pink and green and yellow and white, and half a dozen ice-cold bottles of wine.
"Thass the stuff for you!" cried Master Freddie, exultantly, as he spied them. "Come 'long, ole chappie, move up."
And he seated himself at the table; the waiter pulled a cork, and he took the bottle and poured three glasses of its contents in succession down his throat. Then he gave a long-drawn sigh, and cried again to Jurgis to seat himself.
The butler held the chair at the opposite side of the table, and Jurgis thought it was to keep him out of it; but finally he understand that it was the other's intention to put it under him, and so he sat down, cautiously and mistrustingly. Master Freddie perceived that the attendants embarrassed him, and he remarked with a nod to them, "You may go."
They went, all save the butler.
"You may go too, Hamilton," he said.
"Master Frederick-" the man began.
"Go!" cried the youngster, angrily. "Damn you, don't you hear me?"
The man went out and closed the door; Jurgis, who was as sharp as he, observed that he took the key out of the lock, in order that he might peer through the keyhole.
Master Frederick turned to the table again. "Now," he said, "go for it."
Jurgis gazed at him doubtingly. "Eat!" cried the other. "Pile in, ole chappie!"
"Don't you want anything?" Jurgis asked.
"Ain't hungry," was the reply-"only thirsty. Kitty and me had some candy-you go on."
So Jurgis began, without further parley. He ate as with two shovels, his fork in one hand and his knife in the other; when he once got started his wolf-hunger got the better of him, and he did not stop for breath until he had cleared every plate. "Gee whiz!" said the other, who had been watching him in wonder.
Then he held Jurgis the bottle. "Lessee you drink now," he said; and Jurgis took the bottle and turned it up to his mouth, and a wonderfully unearthly liquid ecstasy poured down his throat, tickling every nerve of him, thrilling him with joy. He drank the very last drop of it, and then he gave vent to a long-drawn "Ah!"
"Good stuff, hey?" said Freddie, sympathetically; he had leaned back in the big chair, putting his arm behind his head and gazing at Jurgis.
And Jurgis gazed back at him. He was clad in spotless evening dress, was Freddie, and looked very handsome-he was a beautiful boy, with light golden hair and the head of an Antinous. He smiled at Jurgis confidingly, and then started talking again, with his blissful insouciance. This time he talked for ten minutes at a stretch, and in the course of the speech he told Jurgis all of his family history. His big brother Charlie was in love with the guileless maiden who played the part of "Little Bright-Eyes" in "The Kaliph of Kamskatka." He had been on the verge of marrying her once, only "the guv'ner" had sworn to disinherit him, and had presented him with a sum that would stagger the imagination, and that had staggered the virtue of "Little Bright-Eyes." Now Charlie had got leave from college, and had gone away in his automobile on the next best thing to a honeymoon. "The guv'ner" had made threats to disinherit another of his children also, sister Gwendolen, who had married an Italian marquis with a string of titles and a dueling record. They lived in his chateau, or rather had, until he had taken to firing the breakfast dishes at her; then she had cabled for help, and the old gentleman had gone over to find out what were his Grace's terms. So they had left Freddie all alone, and he with less than two thousand dollars in his pocket. Freddie was up in arms and meant serious business, as they would find in the end-if there was no other way of bringing them to terms he would have his "Kittens" wire that she was about to marry him, and see what happened then.
So the cheerful youngster rattled on, until he was tired out. He smiled his sweetest smile at Jurgis, and then he closed his eyes, sleepily. Then he opened them again, and smiled once more, and finally closed them and forgot to open them.
For several minutes Jurgis sat perfectly motionless, watching him, and reveling in the strange sensation of the champagne. Once he stirred, and the dog growled; after that he sat almost holding his breath-until after a while the door of the room opened softly, and the butler came in.
He walked toward Jurgis upon tiptoe, scowling at him; and Jurgis rose up, and retreated, scowling back. So until he was against the wall, and then the butler came close, and pointed toward the door. "Get out of here!" he whispered.
Jurgis hesitated, giving a glance at Freddie, who was snoring softly. "If you do, you son of a-" hissed the butler, "I'll mash in your face for you before you get out of here!"
And Jurgis wavered but an instant more. He saw "Admiral Dewey" coming up behind the man and growling softly, to back up his threats. Then he surrendered and started toward the door.
They went out without a sound, and down the great echoing staircase, and through the dark hall. At the front door he paused, and the butler strode close to him.
"Hold up your hands," he snarled. Jurgis took a step back, clinching his one well fist.
"What for?" he cried; and then understanding that the fellow proposed to search him, he answered, "I'll see you in hell first."
"Do you want to go to jail?" demanded the butler, menacingly. "I'll have the police-"
"Have 'em!" roared Jurgis, with fierce passion. "But you won't put your hands on me till you do! I haven't touched anything in your damned house, and I'll not have you touch me!"
So the butler, who was terrified lest his young master should waken, stepped suddenly to the door, and opened it. "Get out of here!" he said; and then as Jurgis passed through the opening, he gave him a ferocious kick that sent him down the great stone steps at a run, and landed him sprawling in the snow at the bottom.
Jurgis got up, wild with rage, but the door was shut and the great castle was dark and impregnable. Then the icy teeth of the blast bit into him, and he turned and went away at a run.
When he stopped again it was because he was coming to frequented streets and did not wish to attract attention. In spite of that last humiliation, his heart was thumping fast with triumph. He had come out ahead on that deal! He put his hand into his trousers' pocket every now and then, to make sure that the precious hundred-dollar bill was still there.
Yet he was in a plight-a curious and even dreadful plight, when he came to realize it. He had not a single cent but that one bill! And he had to find some shelter that night he had to change it!
Jurgis spent half an hour walking and debating the problem. There was no one he could go to for help-he had to manage it all alone. To get it changed in a lodging-house would be to take his life in his hands-he would almost certainly be robbed, and perhaps murdered, before morning. He might go to some hotel or railroad depot and ask to have it changed; but what would they think, seeing a "bum" like him with a hundred dollars? He would probably be arrested if he tried it; and what story could he tell? On the morrow Freddie Jones would discover his loss, and there would be a hunt for him, and he would lose his money. The only other plan he could think of was to try in a saloon. He might pay them to change it, if it could not be done otherwise.
He began peering into places as he walked; he passed several as being too crowded-then finally, chancing upon one where the bartender was all alone, he gripped his hands in sudden resolution and went in.
"Can you change me a hundred-dollar bill?" he demanded.
The bartender was a big, husky fellow, with the jaw of a prize fighter, and a three weeks' stubble of hair upon it. He stared at Jurgis. "What's that youse say?" he demanded.
"I said, could you change me a hundred-dollar bill?"
"Where'd youse get it?" he inquired incredulously.
"Never mind," said Jurgis; "I've got it, and I want it changed. I'll pay you if you'll do it."
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.
"Look out!" shouted the bartender. "He's got a knife!" Then, seeing that the two were disposed to join the fray, he made another rush at Jurgis, and knocked aside his feeble defense and sent him tumbling again; and the three flung themselves upon him, rolling and kicking about the place.
A second later a policeman dashed in, and the bartender yelled once more-"Look out for his knife!" Jurgis had fought himself half to his knees, when the policeman made a leap at him, and cracked him across the face with his club. Though the blow staggered him, the wild-beast frenzy still blazed in him, and he got to his feet, lunging into the air. Then again the club descended, full upon his head, and he dropped like a log to the floor.
The policeman crouched over him, clutching his stick, waiting for him to try to rise again; and meantime the barkeeper got up, and put his hand to his head. "Christ!" he said, "I thought I was done for that time. Did he cut me?"
"Don't see anything, Jake," said the policeman. "What's the matter with him?"
"Just crazy drunk," said the other. "A lame duck, too-but he 'most got me under the bar. Youse had better call the wagon, Billy."
"No," said the officer. "He's got no more fight in him, I guess-and he's only got a block to go." He twisted his hand in Jurgis's collar and jerked at him. "Git up here, you!" he commanded.
But Jurgis did not move, and the bartender went behind the bar, and after stowing the hundred-dollar bill away in a safe hiding place, came and poured a glass of water over Jurgis. Then, as the latter began to moan feebly, the policeman got him to his feet and dragged him out of the place. The station house was just around the corner, and so in a few minutes Jurgis was in a cell.
He spent half the night lying unconscious, and the balance moaning in torment, with a blinding headache and a racking thirst. Now and then he cried aloud for a drink of water, but there was no one to hear him. There were others in that same station house with split heads and a fever; there were hundreds of them in the great city, and tens of thousands of them in the great land, and there was no one to hear any of them.
In the morning Jurgis was given a cup of water and a piece of bread, and then hustled into a patrol wagon and driven to the nearest police court. He sat in the pen with a score of others until his turn came.
The bartender-who proved to be a well-known bruiser-was called to the stand, He took the oath and told his story. The prisoner had come into his saloon after midnight, fighting drunk, and had ordered a glass of beer and tendered a dollar bill in payment. He had been given ninety-five cents' change, and had demanded ninety-nine dollars more, and before the plaintiff could even answer had hurled the glass at him and then attacked him with a bottle of bitters, and nearly wrecked the place.
Then the prisoner was sworn-a forlorn object, haggard and unshorn, with an arm done up in a filthy bandage, a cheek and head cut, and bloody, and one eye purplish black and entirely closed. "What have you to say for yourself?" queried the magistrate.
"Your Honor," said Jurgis, "I went into his place and asked the man if he could change me a hundred-dollar bill. And he said he would if I bought a drink. I gave him the bill and then he wouldn't give me the change."
The magistrate was staring at him in perplexity. "You gave him a hundred-dollar bill!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, your Honor," said Jurgis.
"Where did you get it?"
"A man gave it to me, your Honor."
"A man? What man, and what for?"
"A young man I met upon the street, your Honor. I had been begging."
There was a titter in the courtroom; the officer who was holding Jurgis put up his hand to hide a smile, and the magistrate smiled without trying to hide it. "It's true, your Honor!" cried Jurgis, passionately.
"You had been drinking as well as begging last night, had you not?" inquired the magistrate. "No, your Honor-" protested Jurgis. "I-"
"You had not had anything to drink?"
"Why, yes, your Honor, I had-"
"What did you have?"
"I had a bottle of something-I don't know what it was-something that burned-"
There was again a laugh round the courtroom, stopping suddenly as the magistrate looked up and frowned. "Have you ever been arrested before?" he asked abruptly.
The question took Jurgis aback. "I-I-" he stammered.
"Tell me the truth, now!" commanded the other, sternly.
"Yes, your Honor," said Jurgis.
"Only once, your Honor."
"For knocking down my boss, your Honor. I was working in the stockyards, and he-"
"I see," said his Honor; "I guess that will do. You ought to stop drinking if you can't control yourself. Ten days and costs. Next case."
Jurgis gave vent to a cry of dismay, cut off suddenly by the policeman, who seized him by the collar. He was jerked out of the way, into a room with the convicted prisoners, where he sat and wept like a child in his impotent rage. It seemed monstrous to him that policemen and judges should esteem his word as nothing in comparison with the bartender's-poor Jurgis could not know that the owner of the saloon paid five dollars each week to the policeman alone for Sunday privileges and general favors-nor that the pugilist bartender was one of the most trusted henchmen of the Democratic leader of the district, and had helped only a few months before to hustle out a record-breaking vote as a testimonial to the magistrate, who had been made the target of odious kid-gloved reformers.
Jurgis was driven out to the Bridewell for the second time. In his tumbling around he had hurt his arm again, and so could not work, but had to be attended by the physician. Also his head and his eye had to be tied up-and so he was a pretty-looking object when, the second day after his arrival, he went out into the exercise court and encountered-Jack Duane!
The young fellow was so glad to see Jurgis that he almost hugged him. "By God, if it isn't 'the Stinker'!" he cried. "And what is it-have you been through a sausage machine?"
"No," said Jurgis, "but I've been in a railroad wreck and a fight." And then, while some of the other prisoners gathered round he told his wild story; most of them were incredulous, but Duane knew that Jurgis could never have made up such a yarn as that.
"Hard luck, old man," he said, when they were alone; "but maybe it's taught you a lesson."
"I've learned some things since I saw you last," said Jurgis mournfully. Then he explained how he had spent the last summer, "hoboing it," as the phrase was. "And you?" he asked finally. "Have you been here ever since?"
"Lord, no!" said the other. "I only came in the day before yesterday. It's the second time they've sent me up on a trumped-up charge-I've had hard luck and can't pay them what they want. Why don't you quit Chicago with me, Jurgis?"
"I've no place to go," said Jurgis, sadly.
"Neither have I," replied the other, laughing lightly. "But we'll wait till we get out and see."
In the Bridewell Jurgis met few who had been there the last time, but he met scores of others, old and young, of exactly the same sort. It was like breakers upon a beach; there was new water, but the wave looked just the same. He strolled about and talked with them, and the biggest of them told tales of their prowess, while those who were weaker, or younger and inexperienced, gathered round and listened in admiring silence. The last time he was there, Jurgis had thought of little but his family; but now he was free to listen to these men, and to realize that he was one of them-that their point of view was his point of view, and that the way they kept themselves alive in the world was the way he meant to do it in the future.
And so, when he was turned out of prison again, without a penny in his pocket, he went straight to Jack Duane. He went full of humility and gratitude; for Duane was a gentleman, and a man with a profession-and it was remarkable that he should be willing to throw in his lot with a humble workingman, one who had even been a beggar and a tramp. Jurgis could not see what help he could be to him; but he did not understand that a man like himself-who could be trusted to stand by any one who was kind to him-was as rare among criminals as among any other class of men.
The address Jurgis had was a garret room in the Ghetto district, the home of a pretty little French girl, Duane's mistress, who sewed all day, and eked out her living by prostitution. He had gone elsewhere, she told Jurgis-he was afraid to stay there now, on account of the police. The new address was a cellar dive, whose proprietor said that he had never heard of Duane; but after he had put Jurgis through a catechism he showed him a back stairs which led to a "fence" in the rear of a pawnbroker's shop, and thence to a number of assignation rooms, in one of which Duane was hiding.
Duane was glad to see him; he was without a cent of money, he said, and had been waiting for Jurgis to help him get some. He explained his plan-in fact he spent the day in laying bare to his friend the criminal world of the city, and in showing him how he might earn himself a living in it. That winter he would have a hard time, on account of his arm, and because of an unwonted fit of activity of the police; but so long as he was unknown to them he would be safe if he were careful. Here at "Papa" Hanson's (so they called the old man who kept the dive) he might rest at ease, for "Papa" Hanson was "square"-would stand by him so long as he paid, and gave him an hour's notice if there were to be a police raid. Also Rosensteg, the pawnbroker, would buy anything he had for a third of its value, and guarantee to keep it hidden for a year.
There was an oil stove in the little cupboard of a room, and they had some supper; and then about eleven o'clock at night they sallied forth together, by a rear entrance to the place, Duane armed with a slingshot. They came to a residence district, and he sprang up a lamppost and blew out the light, and then the two dodged into the shelter of an area step and hid in silence.
Pretty soon a man came by, a workingman-and they let him go. Then after a long interval came the heavy tread of a policeman, and they held their breath till he was gone. Though half-frozen, they waited a full quarter of an hour after that-and then again came footsteps, walking briskly. Duane nudged Jurgis, and the instant the man had passed they rose up. Duane stole out as silently as a shadow, and a second later Jurgis heard a thud and a stifled cry. He was only a couple of feet behind, and he leaped to stop the man's mouth, while Duane held him fast by the arms, as they had agreed. But the man was limp and showed a tendency to fall, and so Jurgis had only to hold him by the collar, while the other, with swift fingers, went through his pockets-ripping open, first his overcoat, and then his coat, and then his vest, searching inside and outside, and transferring the contents into his own pockets. At last, after feeling of the man's fingers and in his necktie, Duane whispered, "That's all!" and they dragged him to the area and dropped him in. Then Jurgis went one way and his friend the other, walking briskly.
The latter arrived first, and Jurgis found him examining the "swag." There was a gold watch, for one thing, with a chain and locket; there was a silver pencil, and a matchbox, and a handful of small change, and finally a cardcase. This last Duane opened feverishly-there were letters and checks, and two theater-tickets, and at last, in the back part, a wad of bills. He counted them-there was a twenty, five tens, four fives, and three ones. Duane drew a long breath. "That lets us out!" he said.
After further examination, they burned the cardcase and its contents, all but the bills, and likewise the picture of a little girl in the locket. Then Duane took the watch and trinkets downstairs, and came back with sixteen dollars. "The old scoundrel said the case was filled," he said. "It's a lie, but he knows I want the money."
They divided up the spoils, and Jurgis got as his share fifty-five dollars and some change. He protested that it was too much, but the other had agreed to divide even. That was a good haul, he said, better than average.
When they got up in the morning, Jurgis was sent out to buy a paper; one of the pleasures of committing a crime was the reading about it afterward. "I had a pal that always did it," Duane remarked, laughing-"until one day he read that he had left three thousand dollars in a lower inside pocket of his party's vest!"
There was a half-column account of the robbery-it was evident that a gang was operating in the neighborhood, said the paper, for it was the third within a week, and the police were apparently powerless. The victim was an insurance agent, and he had lost a hundred and ten dollars that did not belong to him. He had chanced to have his name marked on his shirt, otherwise he would not have been identified yet. His assailant had hit him too hard, and he was suffering from concussion of the brain; and also he had been half-frozen when found, and would lose three fingers on his right hand. The enterprising newspaper reporter had taken all this information to his family, and told how they had received it.
Since it was Jurgis's first experience, these details naturally caused him some worriment; but the other laughed coolly-it was the way of the game, and there was no helping it. Before long Jurgis would think no more of it than they did in the yards of knocking out a bullock. "It's a case of us or the other fellow, and I say the other fellow, every time," he observed.
"Still," said Jurgis, reflectively, "he never did us any harm."
"He was doing it to somebody as hard as he could, you can be sure of that," said his friend.
Duane had already explained to Jurgis that if a man of their trade were known he would have to work all the time to satisfy the demands of the police. Therefore it would be better for Jurgis to stay in hiding and never be seen in public with his pal. But Jurgis soon got very tired of staying in hiding. In a couple of weeks he was feeling strong and beginning to use his arm, and then he could not stand it any longer. Duane, who had done a job of some sort by himself, and made a truce with the powers, brought over Marie, his little French girl, to share with him; but even that did not avail for long, and in the end he had to give up arguing, and take Jurgis out and introduce him to the saloons and "sporting houses" where the big crooks and "holdup men" hung out.
And so Jurgis got a glimpse of the high-class criminal world of Chicago. The city, which was owned by an oligarchy of businessmen, being nominally ruled by the people, a huge army of graft was necessary for the purpose of effecting the transfer of power. Twice a year, in the spring and fall elections, millions of dollars were furnished by the businessmen and expended by this army; meetings were held and clever speakers were hired, bands played and rockets sizzled, tons of documents and reservoirs of drinks were distributed, and tens of thousands of votes were bought for cash. And this army of graft had, of course, to be maintained the year round. The leaders and organizers were maintained by the businessmen directly-aldermen and legislators by means of bribes, party officials out of the campaign funds, lobbyists and corporation lawyers in the form of salaries, contractors by means of jobs, labor union leaders by subsidies, and newspaper proprietors and editors by advertisements. The rank and file, however, were either foisted upon the city, or else lived off the population directly. There was the police department, and the fire and water departments, and the whole balance of the civil list, from the meanest office boy to the head of a city department; and for the horde who could find no room in these, there was the world of vice and crime, there was license to seduce, to swindle and plunder and prey. The law forbade Sunday drinking; and this had delivered the saloon-keepers into the hands of the police, and made an alliance between them necessary. The law forbade prostitution; and this had brought the "madames" into the combination. It was the same with the gambling-house keeper and the poolroom man, and the same with any other man or woman who had a means of getting "graft," and was willing to pay over a share of it: the green-goods man and the highwayman, the pickpocket and the sneak thief, and the receiver of stolen goods, the seller of adulterated milk, of stale fruit and diseased meat, the proprietor of unsanitary tenements, the fake doctor and the usurer, the beggar and the "pushcart man," the prize fighter and the professional slugger, the race-track "tout," the procurer, the white-slave agent, and the expert seducer of young girls. All of these agencies of corruption were banded together, and leagued in blood brotherhood with the politician and the police; more often than not they were one and the same person,-the police captain would own the brothel he pretended to raid, the politician would open his headquarters in his saloon. "Hinkydink" or "Bathhouse John," or others of that ilk, were proprietors of the most notorious dives in Chicago, and also the "gray wolves" of the city council, who gave away the streets of the city to the businessmen; and those who patronized their places were the gamblers and prize fighters who set the law at defiance, and the burglars and holdup men who kept the whole city in terror. On election day all these powers of vice and crime were one power; they could tell within one per cent what the vote of their district would be, and they could change it at an hour's notice.
A month ago Jurgis had all but perished of starvation upon the streets; and now suddenly, as by the gift of a magic key, he had entered into a world where money and all the good things of life came freely. He was introduced by his friend to an Irishman named "Buck" Halloran, who was a political "worker" and on the inside of things. This man talked with Jurgis for a while, and then told him that he had a little plan by which a man who looked like a workingman might make some easy money; but it was a private affair, and had to be kept quiet. Jurgis expressed himself as agreeable, and the other took him that afternoon (it was Saturday) to a place where city laborers were being paid off. The paymaster sat in a little booth, with a pile of envelopes before him, and two policemen standing by. Jurgis went, according to directions, and gave the name of "Michael O'Flaherty," and received an envelope, which he took around the corner and delivered to Halloran, who was waiting for him in a saloon. Then he went again; and gave the name of "Johann Schmidt," and a third time, and give the name of "Serge Reminitsky." Halloran had quite a list of imaginary workingmen, and Jurgis got an envelope for each one. For this work he received five dollars, and was told that he might have it every week, so long as he kept quiet. As Jurgis was excellent at keeping quiet, he soon won the trust of "Buck" Halloran, and was introduced to others as a man who could be depended upon.
This acquaintance was useful to him in another way, also before long Jurgis made his discovery of the meaning of "pull," and just why his boss, Connor, and also the pugilist bartender, had been able to send him to jail. One night there was given a ball, the "benefit" of "One-eyed Larry," a lame man who played the violin in one of the big "high-class" houses of prostitution on Clark Street, and was a wag and a popular character on the "Levee." This ball was held in a big dance hall, and was one of the occasions when the city's powers of debauchery gave themselves up to madness. Jurgis attended and got half insane with drink, and began quarreling over a girl; his arm was pretty strong by then, and he set to work to clean out the place, and ended in a cell in the police station. The police station being crowded to the doors, and stinking with "bums," Jurgis did not relish staying there to sleep off his liquor, and sent for Halloran, who called up the district leader and had Jurgis bailed out by telephone at four o'clock in the morning. When he was arraigned that same morning, the district leader had already seen the clerk of the court and explained that Jurgis Rudkus was a decent fellow, who had been indiscreet; and so Jurgis was fined ten dollars and the fine was "suspended"-which meant that he did not have to pay for it, and never would have to pay it, unless somebody chose to bring it up against him in the future.
Among the people Jurgis lived with now money was valued according to an entirely different standard from that of the people of Packingtown; yet, strange as it may seem, he did a great deal less drinking than he had as a workingman. He had not the same provocations of exhaustion and hopelessness; he had now something to work for, to struggle for. He soon found that if he kept his wits about him, he would come upon new opportunities; and being naturally an active man, he not only kept sober himself, but helped to steady his friend, who was a good deal fonder of both wine and women than he.
One thing led to another. In the saloon where Jurgis met "Buck" Halloran he was sitting late one night with Duane, when a "country customer" (a buyer for an out-of-town merchant) came in, a little more than half "piped." There was no one else in the place but the bartender, and as the man went out again Jurgis and Duane followed him; he went round the corner, and in a dark place made by a combination of the elevated railroad and an unrented building, Jurgis leaped forward and shoved a revolver under his nose, while Duane, with his hat pulled over his eyes, went through the man's pockets with lightning fingers. They got his watch and his "wad," and were round the corner again and into the saloon before he could shout more than once. The bartender, to whom they had tipped the wink, had the cellar door open for them, and they vanished, making their way by a secret entrance to a brothel next door. From the roof of this there was access to three similar places beyond. By means of these passages the customers of any one place could be gotten out of the way, in case a falling out with the police chanced to lead to a raid; and also it was necessary to have a way of getting a girl out of reach in case of an emergency. Thousands of them came to Chicago answering advertisements for "servants" and "factory hands," and found themselves trapped by fake employment agencies, and locked up in a bawdyhouse. It was generally enough to take all their clothes away from them; but sometimes they would have to be "doped" and kept prisoners for weeks; and meantime their parents might be telegraphing the police, and even coming on to see why nothing was done. Occasionally there was no way of satisfying them but to let them search the place to which the girl had been traced.
For his help in this little job, the bartender received twenty out of the hundred and thirty odd dollars that the pair secured; and naturally this put them on friendly terms with him, and a few days later he introduced them to a little "sheeny" named Goldberger, one of the "runners" of the "sporting house" where they had been hidden. After a few drinks Goldberger began, with some hesitation, to narrate how he had had a quarrel over his best girl with a professional "cardsharp," who had hit him in the jaw. The fellow was a stranger in Chicago, and if he was found some night with his head cracked there would be no one to care very much. Jurgis, who by this time would cheerfully have cracked the heads of all the gamblers in Chicago, inquired what would be coming to him; at which the Jew became still more confidential, and said that he had some tips on the New Orleans races, which he got direct from the police captain of the district, whom he had got out of a bad scrape, and who "stood in" with a big syndicate of horse owners. Duane took all this in at once, but Jurgis had to have the whole race-track situation explained to him before he realized the importance of such an opportunity.
There was the gigantic Racing Trust. It owned the legislatures in every state in which it did business; it even owned some of the big newspapers, and made public opinion-there was no power in the land that could oppose it unless, perhaps, it were the Poolroom Trust. It built magnificent racing parks all over the country, and by means of enormous purses it lured the people to come, and then it organized a gigantic shell game, whereby it plundered them of hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Horse racing had once been a sport, but nowadays it was a business; a horse could be "doped" and doctored, undertrained or overtrained; it could be made to fall at any moment-or its gait could be broken by lashing it with the whip, which all the spectators would take to be a desperate effort to keep it in the lead. There were scores of such tricks; and sometimes it was the owners who played them and made fortunes, sometimes it was the jockeys and trainers, sometimes it was outsiders, who bribed them-but most of the time it was the chiefs of the trust. Now for instance, they were having winter racing in New Orleans and a syndicate was laying out each day's program in advance, and its agents in all the Northern cities were "milking" the poolrooms. The word came by long-distance telephone in a cipher code, just a little while before each race; and any man who could get the secret had as good as a fortune. If Jurgis did not believe it, he could try it, said the little Jew-let them meet at a certain house on the morrow and make a test. Jurgis was willing, and so was Duane, and so they went to one of the high-class poolrooms where brokers and merchants gambled (with society women in a private room), and they put up ten dollars each upon a horse called "Black Beldame," a six to one shot, and won. For a secret like that they would have done a good many sluggings-but the next day Goldberger informed them that the offending gambler had got wind of what was coming to him, and had skipped the town.
There were ups and downs at the business; but there was always a living, inside of a jail, if not out of it. Early in April the city elections were due, and that meant prosperity for all the powers of graft. Jurgis, hanging round in dives and gambling houses and brothels, met with the heelers of both parties, and from their conversation he came to understand all the ins and outs of the game, and to hear of a number of ways in which he could make himself useful about election time. "Buck" Halloran was a "Democrat," and so Jurgis became a Democrat also; but he was not a bitter one-the Republicans were good fellows, too, and were to have a pile of money in this next campaign. At the last election the Republicans had paid four dollars a vote to the Democrats' three; and "Buck" Halloran sat one night playing cards with Jurgis and another man, who told how Halloran had been charged with the job voting a "bunch" of thirty-seven newly landed Italians, and how he, the narrator, had met the Republican worker who was after the very same gang, and how the three had effected a bargain, whereby the Italians were to vote half and half, for a glass of beer apiece, while the balance of the fund went to the conspirators!
Not long after this, Jurgis, wearying of the risks and vicissitudes of miscellaneous crime, was moved to give up the career for that of a politician. Just at this time there was a tremendous uproar being raised concerning the alliance between the criminals and the police. For the criminal graft was one in which the businessmen had no direct part-it was what is called a "side line," carried by the police. "Wide open" gambling and debauchery made the city pleasing to "trade," but burglaries and holdups did not. One night it chanced that while Jack Duane was drilling a safe in a clothing store he was caught red-handed by the night watchman, and turned over to a policeman, who chanced to know him well, and who took the responsibility of letting him make his escape. Such a howl from the newspapers followed this that Duane was slated for sacrifice, and barely got out of town in time. And just at that juncture it happened that Jurgis was introduced to a man named Harper whom he recognized as the night watchman at Brown's, who had been instrumental in making him an American citizen, the first year of his arrival at the yards. The other was interested in the coincidence, but did not remember Jurgis-he had handled too many "green ones" in his time, he said. He sat in a dance hall with Jurgis and Halloran until one or two in the morning, exchanging experiences. He had a long story to tell of his quarrel with the superintendent of his department, and how he was now a plain workingman, and a good union man as well. It was not until some months afterward that Jurgis understood that the quarrel with the superintendent had been prearranged, and that Harper was in reality drawing a salary of twenty dollars a week from the packers for an inside report of his union's secret proceedings. The yards were seething with agitation just then, said the man, speaking as a unionist. The people of Packingtown had borne about all that they would bear, and it looked as if a strike might begin any week.
After this talk the man made inquiries concerning Jurgis, and a couple of days later he came to him with an interesting proposition. He was not absolutely certain, he said, but he thought that he could get him a regular salary if he would come to Packingtown and do as he was told, and keep his mouth shut. Harper-"Bush" Harper, he was called-was a right-hand man of Mike Scully, the Democratic boss of the stockyards; and in the coming election there was a peculiar situation. There had come to Scully a proposition to nominate a certain rich brewer who lived upon a swell boulevard that skirted the district, and who coveted the big badge and the "honorable" of an alderman. The brewer was a Jew, and had no brains, but he was harmless, and would put up a rare campaign fund. Scully had accepted the offer, and then gone to the Republicans with a proposition. He was not sure that he could manage the "sheeny," and he did not mean to take any chances with his district; let the Republicans nominate a certain obscure but amiable friend of Scully's, who was now setting tenpins in the cellar of an Ashland Avenue saloon, and he, Scully, would elect him with the "sheeny's" money, and the Republicans might have the glory, which was more than they would get otherwise. In return for this the Republicans would agree to put up no candidate the following year, when Scully himself came up for reelection as the other alderman from the ward. To this the Republicans had assented at once; but the hell of it was-so Harper explained-that the Republicans were all of them fools-a man had to be a fool to be a Republican in the stockyards, where Scully was king. And they didn't know how to work, and of course it would not do for the Democratic workers, the noble redskins of the War Whoop League, to support the Republican openly. The difficulty would not have been so great except for another fact-there had been a curious development in stockyards politics in the last year or two, a new party having leaped into being. They were the Socialists; and it was a devil of a mess, said "Bush" Harper. The one image which the word "Socialist" brought to Jurgis was of poor little Tamoszius Kuszleika, who had called himself one, and would go out with a couple of other men and a soap-box, and shout himself hoarse on a street corner Saturday nights. Tamoszius had tried to explain to Jurgis what it was all about, but Jurgis, who was not of an imaginative turn, had never quire got it straight; at present he was content with his companion's explanation that the Socialists were the enemies of American institutions-could not be bought, and would not combine or make any sort of a "dicker." Mike Scully was very much worried over the opportunity which his last deal gave to them-the stockyards Democrats were furious at the idea of a rich capitalist for their candidate, and while they were changing they might possibly conclude that a Socialist firebrand was preferable to a Republican bum. And so right here was a chance for Jurgis to make himself a place in the world, explained "Bush" Harper; he had been a union man, and he was known in the yards as a workingman; he must have hundreds of acquaintances, and as he had never talked politics with them he might come out as a Republican now without exciting the least suspicion. There were barrels of money for the use of those who could deliver the goods; and Jurgis might count upon Mike Scully, who had never yet gone back on a friend. Just what could he do? Jurgis asked, in some perplexity, and the other explained in detail. To begin with, he would have to go to the yards and work, and he mightn't relish that; but he would have what he earned, as well as the rest that came to him. He would get active in the union again, and perhaps try to get an office, as he, Harper, had; he would tell all his friends the good points of Doyle, the Republican nominee, and the bad ones of the "sheeny"; and then Scully would furnish a meeting place, and he would start the "Young Men's Republican Association," or something of that sort, and have the rich brewer's best beer by the hogshead, and fireworks and speeches, just like the War Whoop League. Surely Jurgis must know hundreds of men who would like that sort of fun; and there would be the regular Republican leaders and workers to help him out, and they would deliver a big enough majority on election day.
When he had heard all this explanation to the end, Jurgis demanded: "But how can I get a job in Packingtown? I'm blacklisted."
At which "Bush" Harper laughed. "I'll attend to that all right," he said.
And the other replied, "It's a go, then; I'm your man." So Jurgis went out to the stockyards again, and was introduced to the political lord of the district, the boss of Chicago's mayor. It was Scully who owned the brickyards and the dump and the ice pond-though Jurgis did not know it. It was Scully who was to blame for the unpaved street in which Jurgis's child had been drowned; it was Scully who had put into office the magistrate who had first sent Jurgis to jail; it was Scully who was principal stockholder in the company which had sold him the ramshackle tenement, and then robbed him of it. But Jurgis knew none of these things-any more than he knew that Scully was but a tool and puppet of the packers. To him Scully was a mighty power, the "biggest" man he had ever met.
He was a little, dried-up Irishman, whose hands shook. He had a brief talk with his visitor, watching him with his ratlike eyes, and making up his mind about him; and then he gave him a note to Mr. Harmon, one of the head managers of Durham's-
"The bearer, Jurgis Rudkus, is a particular friend of mine, and I would like you to find him a good place, for important reasons. He was once indiscreet, but you will perhaps be so good as to overlook that."
Mr. Harmon looked up inquiringly when he read this. "What does he mean by 'indiscreet'?" he asked.
"I was blacklisted, sir," said Jurgis.
At which the other frowned. "Blacklisted?" he said. "How do you mean?" And Jurgis turned red with embarrassment.
He had forgotten that a blacklist did not exist. "I-that is-I had difficulty in getting a place," he stammered.
"What was the matter?"
"I got into a quarrel with a foreman-not my own boss, sir-and struck him."
"I see," said the other, and meditated for a few moments. "What do you wish to do?" he asked.
"Anything, sir," said Jurgis-"only I had a broken arm this winter, and so I have to be careful."
"How would it suit you to be a night watchman?"
"That wouldn't do, sir. I have to be among the men at night."
"I see-politics. Well, would it suit you to trim hogs?"
"Yes, sir," said Jurgis.
And Mr. Harmon called a timekeeper and said, "Take this man to Pat Murphy and tell him to find room for him somehow."
And so Jurgis marched into the hog-killing room, a place where, in the days gone by, he had come begging for a job. Now he walked jauntily, and smiled to himself, seeing the frown that came to the boss's face as the timekeeper said, "Mr. Harmon says to put this man on." It would overcrowd his department and spoil the record he was trying to make-but he said not a word except "All right."
And so Jurgis became a workingman once more; and straightway he sought out his old friends, and joined the union, and began to "root" for "Scotty" Doyle. Doyle had done him a good turn once, he explained, and was really a bully chap; Doyle was a workingman himself, and would represent the workingmen-why did they want to vote for a millionaire "sheeny," and what the hell had Mike Scully ever done for them that they should back his candidates all the time? And meantime Scully had given Jurgis a note to the Republican leader of the ward, and he had gone there and met the crowd he was to work with. Already they had hired a big hall, with some of the brewer's money, and every night Jurgis brought in a dozen new members of the "Doyle Republican Association." Pretty soon they had a grand opening night; and there was a brass band, which marched through the streets, and fireworks and bombs and red lights in front of the hall; and there was an enormous crowd, with two overflow meetings-so that the pale and trembling candidate had to recite three times over the little speech which one of Scully's henchmen had written, and which he had been a month learning by heart. Best of all, the famous and eloquent Senator Spareshanks, presidential candidate, rode out in an automobile to discuss the sacred privileges of American citizenship, and protection and prosperity for the American workingman. His inspiriting address was quoted to the extent of half a column in all the morning newspapers, which also said that it could be stated upon excellent authority that the unexpected popularity developed by Doyle, the Republican candidate for alderman, was giving great anxiety to Mr. Scully, the chairman of the Democratic City Committee.
The chairman was still more worried when the monster torchlight procession came off, with the members of the Doyle Republican Association all in red capes and hats, and free beer for every voter in the ward-the best beer ever given away in a political campaign, as the whole electorate testified. During this parade, and at innumerable cart-tail meetings as well, Jurgis labored tirelessly. He did not make any speeches-there were lawyers and other experts for that-but he helped to manage things; distributing notices and posting placards and bringing out the crowds; and when the show was on he attended to the fireworks and the beer. Thus in the course of the campaign he handled many hundreds of dollars of the Hebrew brewer's money, administering it with naive and touching fidelity. Toward the end, however, he learned that he was regarded with hatred by the rest of the "boys," because he compelled them either to make a poorer showing than he or to do without their share of the pie. After that Jurgis did his best to please them, and to make up for the time he had lost before he discovered the extra bungholes of the campaign barrel.
He pleased Mike Scully, also. On election morning he was out at four o'clock, "getting out the vote"; he had a two-horse carriage to ride in, and he went from house to house for his friends, and escorted them in triumph to the polls. He voted half a dozen times himself, and voted some of his friends as often; he brought bunch after bunch of the newest foreigners-Lithuanians, Poles, Bohemians, Slovaks-and when he had put them through the mill he turned them over to another man to take to the next polling place. When Jurgis first set out, the captain of the precinct gave him a hundred dollars, and three times in the course of the day he came for another hundred, and not more than twenty-five out of each lot got stuck in his own pocket. The balance all went for actual votes, and on a day of Democratic landslides they elected "Scotty" Doyle, the ex-tenpin setter, by nearly a thousand plurality-and beginning at five o'clock in the afternoon, and ending at three the next morning, Jurgis treated himself to a most unholy and horrible "jag." Nearly every one else in Packingtown did the same, however, for there was universal exultation over this triumph of popular government, this crushing defeat of an arrogant plutocrat by the power of the common people.