From The Jungle.

Then one day late in August, a superintendent ran into the place and shouted to Jurgis and his gang to drop their work and come. They followed him outside, to where, in the midst of a dense throng, they saw several two-horse trucks waiting, and three patrol-wagon loads of police. Jurgis and his men sprang upon one of the trucks, and the driver yelled to the crowd, and they went thundering away at a gallop. Some steers had just escaped from the yards, and the strikers had got hold of them, and there would be the chance of a scrap!

They went out at the Ashland Avenue gate, and over in the direction of the "dump." There was a yell as soon as they were sighted, men and women rushing out of houses and saloons as they galloped by. There were eight or ten policemen on the truck, however, and there was no disturbance until they came to a place where the street was blocked with a dense throng. Those on the flying truck yelled a warning and the crowd scattered pell-mell, disclosing one of the steers lying in its blood. There were a good many cattle butchers about just then, with nothing much to do, and hungry children at home; and so some one had knocked out the steer--and as a first-class man can kill and dress one in a couple of minutes, there were a good many steaks and roasts already missing. This called for punishment, of course; and the police proceeded to administer it by leaping from the truck and cracking at every head they saw. There were yells of rage and pain, and the terrified people fled into houses and stores, or scattered helter-skelter down the street. Jurgis and his gang joined in the sport, every man singling out his victim, and striving to bring him to bay and punch him. If he fled into a house his pursuer would smash in the flimsy door and follow him up the stairs, hitting every one who came within reach, and finally dragging his squealing quarry from under a bed or a pile of old clothes in a closet.

Jurgis and two policemen chased some men into a bar-room. One of them took shelter behind the bar, where a policeman cornered him and proceeded to whack him over the back and shoulders, until he lay down and gave a chance at his head. The others leaped a fence in the rear, balking the second policeman, who was fat; and as he came back, furious and cursing, a big Polish woman, the owner of the saloon, rushed in screaming, and received a poke in the stomach that doubled her up on the floor. Meantime Jurgis, who was of a practical temper, was helping himself at the bar; and the first policeman, who had laid out his man, joined him, handing out several more bottles, and filling his pockets besides, and then, as he started to leave, cleaning off all the balance with a sweep of his club. The din of the glass crashing to the floor brought the fat Polish woman to her feet again, but another policeman came up behind her and put his knee into her back and his hands over her eyes--and then called to his companion, who went back and broke open the cash drawer and filled his pockets with the contents. Then the three went outside, and the man who was holding the woman gave her a shove and dashed out himself. The gang having already got the carcass on to the truck, the party set out at a trot, followed by screams and curses, and a shower of bricks and stones from unseen enemies. These bricks and stones would figure in the accounts of the "riot" which would be sent out to a few thousand newspapers within an hour or two; but the episode of the cash drawer would never be mentioned again, save only in the heartbreaking legends of Packingtown.

It was late in the afternoon when they got back, and they dressed out the remainder of the steer, and a couple of others that had been killed, and then knocked off for the day. Jurgis went downtown to supper, with three friends who had been on the other trucks, and they exchanged reminiscences on the way. Afterward they drifted into a roulette parlor, and Jurgis, who was never lucky at gambling, dropped about fifteen dollars. To console himself he had to drink a good deal, and he went back to Packingtown about two o'clock in the morning, very much the worse for his excursion, and, it must be confessed, entirely deserving the calamity that was in store for him.

As he was going to the place where he slept, he met a painted- cheeked woman in a greasy "kimono," and she put her arm about his waist to steady him; they turned into a dark room they were passing--but scarcely had they taken two steps before suddenly a door swung open, and a man entered, carrying a lantern. "Who's there?" he called sharply. And Jurgis started to mutter some reply; but at the same instant the man raised his light, which flashed in his face, so that it was possible to recognize him. Jurgis stood stricken dumb, and his heart gave a leap like a mad thing. The man was Connor!

Connor, the boss of the loading gang! The man who had seduced his wife--who had sent him to prison, and wrecked his home, ruined his life! He stood there, staring, with the light shining full upon him.

Jurgis had often thought of Connor since coming back to Packingtown, but it had been as of something far off, that no longer concerned him. Now, however, when he saw him, alive and in the flesh, the same thing happened to him that had happened before--a flood of rage boiled up in him, a blind frenzy seized him. And he flung himself at the man, and smote him between the eyes--and then, as he fell, seized him by the throat and began to pound his head upon the stones.

The woman began screaming, and people came rushing in. The lantern had been upset and extinguished, and it was so dark they could not see a thing; but they could hear Jurgis panting, and hear the thumping of his victim's skull, and they rushed there and tried to pull him off. Precisely as before, Jurgis came away with a piece of his enemy's flesh between his teeth; and, as before, he went on fighting with those who had interfered with him, until a policeman had come and beaten him into insensibility.

And so Jurgis spent the balance of the night in the stockyards station house. This time, however, he had money in his pocket, and when he came to his senses he could get something to drink, and also a messenger to take word of his plight to "Bush" Harper. Harper did not appear, however, until after the prisoner, feeling very weak and ill, had been hailed into court and remanded at five hundred dollars' bail to await the result of his victim's injuries. Jurgis was wild about this, because a different magistrate had chanced to be on the bench, and he had stated that he had never been arrested before, and also that he had been attacked first--and if only someone had been there to speak a good word for him, he could have been let off at once.

But Harper explained that he had been downtown, and had not got the message. "What's happened to you?" he asked.

"I've been doing a fellow up," said Jurgis, "and I've got to get five hundred dollars' bail."

"I can arrange that all right," said the other--"though it may cost you a few dollars, of course. But what was the trouble?"

"It was a man that did me a mean trick once," answered Jurgis.

"Who is he?"

"He's a foreman in Brown's or used to be. His name's Connor."

And the other gave a start. "Connor!" he cried. "Not Phil Connor!"

"Yes," said Jurgis, "that's the fellow. Why?"

"Good God!" exclaimed the other, ''then you're in for it, old man! I can't help you!"

"Not help me! Why not?"

"Why, he's one of Scully's biggest men--he's a member of the War-Whoop League, and they talked of sending him to the legislature! Phil Connor! Great heavens!"

Jurgis sat dumb with dismay.

"Why, he can send you to Joliet, if he wants to!" declared the other.

"Can't I have Scully get me off before he finds out about it?" asked Jurgis, at length.

"But Scully's out of town," the other answered. "I don't even know where he is--he's run away to dodge the strike."

That was a pretty mess, indeed. Poor Jurgis sat half-dazed. His pull had run up against a bigger pull, and he was down and out! "But what am I going to do?'' he asked, weakly.

"How should I know?" said the other. "I shouldn't even dare to get bail for you--why, I might ruin myself for life!"

Again there was silence. "Can't you do it for me," Jurgis asked, "and pretend that you didn't know who I'd hit?"

"But what good would that do you when you came to stand trial?" asked Harper. Then he sat buried in thought for a minute or two. "There's nothing--unless it's this," he said. "I could have your bail reduced; and then if you had the money you could pay it and skip."

"How much will it be?" Jurgis asked, after he had had this explained more in detail.

"I don't know," said the other. "How much do you own?"

"I've got about three hundred dollars," was the answer.

"Well," was Harper's reply, "I'm not sure, but I'll try and get you off for that. I'll take the risk for friendship's sake--for I'd hate to see you sent to state's prison for a year or two."

And so finally Jurgis ripped out his bankbook--which was sewed up in his trousers--and signed an order, which "Bush" Harper wrote, for all the money to be paid out. Then the latter went and got it, and hurried to the court, and explained to the magistrate that Jurgis was a decent fellow and a friend of Scully's, who had been attacked by a strike-breaker. So the bail was reduced to three hundred dollars, and Harper went on it himself; he did not tell this to Jurgis, however--nor did he tell him that when the time for trial came it would be an easy matter for him to avoid the forfeiting of the bail, and pocket the three hundred dollars as his reward for the risk of offending Mike Scully! All that he told Jurgis was that he was now free, and that the best thing he could do was to clear out as quickly as possible; and so Jurgis overwhelmed with gratitude and relief, took the dollar and fourteen cents that was left him out of all his bank account, and put it with the two dollars and quarter that was left from his last night's celebration, and boarded a streetcar and got off at the other end of Chicago.

The Jungle Chapter 27

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