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0105_001E The Jungle Upton Sinclair

Chapter 24

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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.

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"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!"

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The Jungle
Upton Sinclair

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