Chapter 5

At seven o'clock, in the bedroom of his ranch house, in the whitepainted iron bedstead with its blue-grey army blankets and red counterpane, Annixter was still asleep, his face red, his mouth open, his stiff yellow hair in wild disorder. On the wooden chair at the bed-head stood the kerosene lamp, by the light of which he had been reading the previous evening. Beside it was a paper bag of dried prunes, and the limp volume of Copperfield, the place marked by a slip of paper torn from the edge of the bag.

Annixter slept soundly, making great work of the business, unable to take even his rest gracefully. His eyes were shut so tight that the skin at their angles was drawn into puckers. Under his pillow, his two hands were doubled up into fists. At intervals, he gritted his teeth ferociously, while, from time to time, the abrupt sound of his snoring dominated the brisk ticking of the alarm clock that hung from the brass knob of the bed-post, within six inches of his ear.

But immediately after seven, this clock sprung its alarm with the abruptness of an explosion, and within the second, Annixter had hurled the bed-clothes from him and flung himself up to a sitting posture on the edge of the bed, panting and gasping, blinking at the light, rubbing his head, dazed and bewildered, stupefied at the hideous suddenness with which he had been wrenched from his sleep.

His first act was to take down the alarm clock and stifle its prolonged whirring under the pillows and blankets. But when this had been done, he continued to sit stupidly on the edge of the bed, curling his toes away from the cold of the floor; his half-shut eyes, heavy with sleep, fixed and vacant, closing and opening by turns. For upwards of three minutes he alternately dozed and woke, his head and the whole upper half of his body sagging abruptly sideways from moment to moment. But at length, coming more to himself, he straightened up, ran his fingers through his hair, and with a prodigious yawn, murmured vaguely:

"Oh, Lord! Oh-h, Lord!"

He stretched three of four times, twisting about in his place, curling and uncurling his toes, muttering from time to time between two yawns:

-109-

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The Octopus
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books by Frank Norris i
  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Book One 1
  • Chapter 1 3
  • Chapter 2 36
  • Chapter 3 65
  • Chapter 4 85
  • Chapter 5 109
  • Chapter 6 145
  • Book Two 195
  • Chapter 1 197
  • Chapter 2 224
  • Chapter 3 256
  • Chapter 4 273
  • Chapter 5 311
  • Chapter 6 338
  • Chapter 7 363
  • Chapter 8 390
  • Chapter 9 427
  • Conclusion 451
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