Jack London. The Apostate (part 12)
Johnny spoke sweetly and placidly, and sweetly and placidly he rolled over on his side and went to sleep.
At ten o’clock he awoke and dressed himself. He walked out into the kitchen, where he found his mother with a frightened expression on her face.
«I’m goin’ away, ma,» he announced, «an’ I jes’ want to say good-by.» She threw her apron over her head and sat down suddenly and wept. He waited patiently.
«I might a-known it,» she was sobbing.
«Where?» she finally asked, removing the apron from her head and gazing up at him with a stricken face in which there was little curiosity.
«I don’t know — anywhere.»
As he spoke, the tree across the street appeared with dazzling brightness on his inner vision. It seemed to lurk just under his eyelids, and he could see it whenever he wished.
«An’ your job?» she quavered.
«I ain’t never goin’ to work again.»
«My God, Johnny!» she wailed, «don’t say that!»
What he had said was blasphemy to her. As a mother who hears her child deny God, was Johnny’s mother shocked by his words.
«What’s got into you, anyway?» she demanded, with a lame attempt at imperativeness.
«Figures,» he answered. «Jes’ figures. I’ve ben doin’ a lot of figurin’ this week, an’ it’s most surprisin’.»
«I don’t see what that’s got to do with it,» she sniffled.
Johnny smiled patiently, and his mother was aware of a distinct shock at the persistent absence of his peevishness and irritability.
«I’ll show you,» he said. «I’m plum’ tired out. What makes me tired? Moves. I’ve ben movin’ ever since I was born. I’m tired of movin’, an’ I ain’t goin’ to move any more. Remember when I worked in the glass-house? I used to do three hundred dozen a day. Now I reckon I made about ten different moves to each bottle. That’s thirty-six thousan’ moves a day. Ten days, three hundred an’ sixty thousan’ moves a day. One month, one million an’ eighty thousan’ moves. Chuck out the eighty thousan’ — » he spoke with the complacent beneficence of a philanthropist — «chuck out the eighty thousan’, that leaves a million moves a month — twelve million moves a year.
«At the looms I’m movin’ twic’st as much. That makes twenty-five million moves a year, an’ it seems to me I’ve ben a movin’ that way ‘most a million years.
«Now this week I ain’t moved at all. I ain’t made one move in hours an’ hours. I tell you it was swell, jes’ settin’ there, hours an’ hours, an’ doin’ nothin’. I ain’t never ben happy before. I never had any time. I’ve ben movin’ all the time. That ain’t no way to be happy. An’ I ain’t goin’ to do it any more. I’m jes’ goin’ to set, an’ set, an’ rest, an’ rest, and then rest some more.»