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
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
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
"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
"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
"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