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The Jungle Upton Sinclair

Chapter 24

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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.

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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!"

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The Jungle
Upton Sinclair

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