The Jungle

The Jungle

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Overview

Chapter 1
It was four o'clock when the ceremony was over and the carriages began
to arrive. There had been a crowd following all the way, owing to the
exuberance of Marija Berczynskas. The occasion rested heavily upon
Marija's broad shoulders--it was her task to see that all things went
in
due form, and after the best home traditions; and, flying wildly
hither and thither, bowling every one out of the way, and scolding and
exhorting all day with her tremendous voice, Marija was too eager to
see
that others conformed to the proprieties to consider them herself. She
had left the church last of all, and, desiring to arrive first at the
hall, had issued orders to the coachman to drive faster. When that
personage had developed a will of his own in the matter, Marija had
flung up the window of the carriage, and, leaning out, proceeded to
tell him her opinion of him, first in Lithuanian, which he did not
understand, and then in Polish, which he did. Having the advantage of
her in altitude, the driver had stood his ground and even ventured to
attempt to speak; and the result had been a furious altercation,
which,
continuing all the way down Ashland Avenue, had added a new swarm of
urchins to the cortege at each side street for half a mile.
This was unfortunate, for already there was a throng before the door.
The music had started up, and half a block away you could hear the
dull
"broom, broom" of a cello, with the squeaking of two fiddles which
vied
with each other in intricate and altitudinous gymnastics. Seeing
the throng, Marija abandoned precipitately the debate concerning the
ancestors of her coachman, and, springing from the moving carriage,
plunged in and proceeded to clear a way to the hall. Once within, she
turned and began to push the other way, roaring, meantime, "Eik! Eik!
Uzdaryk-duris!" in tones which made the orchestral uproar sound like
fairy music.
"Z. Graiczunas, Pasilinksminimams darzas. Vynas. Sznapsas. Wines and
Page 1
The Jungle
Liquors. Union Headquarters"--that was the way the signs ran. The
reader, who perhaps has never held much converse in the language of
far-off Lithuania, will be glad of the explanation that the place was
the rear room of a saloon in that part of Chicago known as "back of
the
yards." This information is definite and suited to the matter of fact;
but how pitifully inadequate it would have seemed to one who
understood
that it was also the supreme hour of ecstasy in the life of one of
God's gentlest creatures, the scene of the wedding feast and the
joy-transfiguration of little Ona Lukoszaite!
She stood in the doorway, shepherded by Cousin Marija, breathless from
pushing through the crowd, and in her happiness painful to look upon.
There was a light of wonder in her eyes and her lids trembled, and
her otherwise wan little face was flushed. She wore a muslin dress,
conspicuously white, and a stiff little veil coming to her shoulders.
There were five pink paper roses twisted in the veil, and eleven
bright
green rose leaves. There were new white cotton gloves upon her hands,
and as she stood staring about her she twisted them together
feverishly.
It was almost too much for her--you could see the pain of too great
emotion in her face, and all the tremor of her form. She was so
young--not quite sixteen--and small for her age, a mere child; and she
had just been married--and married to Jurgis,* (*Pronounced Yoorghis)
of
all men, to Jurgis Rudkus, he with the white flower in the buttonhole
of
his new black suit, he with the mighty shoulders and the giant hands.
Ona was blue-eyed and fair, while Jurgis had great black eyes with
beetling brows, and thick black hair that curled in waves about his
ears--in short, they were one of those incongruous and impossible
married couples with which Mother Nature so often wills to
confound all prophets, before and after. Jurgis could take up a
two-hundred-and-fifty-pound quarter of beef and carry it into a car
without a stagger, or even a thought; and now he stood in a far
corner,
frightened as a hunted animal, and obliged to moisten his lips with
his tongue each time before he could answer the congratulations of his
friends.
Gradually there was effected a separation between the spectators and
the guests--a separation at least sufficiently complete for working
purposes. There was no time during the festivities which ensued when
there were not groups of onlookers in the doorways and the corners;
and if any one of these onlookers came sufficiently close, or looked
sufficiently hungry, a chair was offered him, and he was invited to
the
feast. It was one of the laws of the veselija that no one goes hungry;
and, whi

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014479974
Publisher: All classic book warehouse
Publication date: 05/01/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 334
File size: 687 KB

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