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|The Jungle||Upton Sinclair|
|Page 3 of 7||
And so he was out before daylight the next morning, headache, heartache, and all. He went straight to Graham's fertilizer mill, to see if he could get back his job. But the boss shook his head when he saw him--no, his place had been filled long ago, and there was no room for him.
"Do you think there will be?" Jurgis asked. "I may have to wait."
"No," said the other, "it will not be worth your while to wait--there will be nothing for you here."
Jurgis stood gazing at him in perplexity. "What is the matter?" he asked. "Didn't I do my work?"
The other met his look with one of cold indifference, and answered, "There will be nothing for you here, I said."
Jurgis had his suspicions as to the dreadful meaning of that incident, and he went away with a sinking at the heart. He went and took his stand with the mob of hungry wretches who were standing about in the snow before the time station. Here he stayed, breakfastless, for two hours, until the throng was driven away by the clubs of the police. There was no work for him that day.
Jurgis had made a good many acquaintances in his long services at the yards--there were saloonkeepers who would trust him for a drink and a sandwich, and members of his old union who would lend him a dime at a pinch. It was not a question of life and death for him, therefore; he might hunt all day, and come again on the morrow, and try hanging on thus for weeks, like hundreds and thousands of others. Meantime, Teta Elzbieta would go and beg, over in the Hyde Park district, and the children would bring home enough to pacify Aniele, and keep them all alive.
It was at the end of a week of this sort of waiting, roaming about in the bitter winds or loafing in saloons, that Jurgis stumbled on a chance in one of the cellars of Jones's big packing plant. He saw a foreman passing the open doorway, and hailed him for a job.
"Push a truck?" inquired the man, and Jurgis answered, "Yes, sir!" before the words were well out of his mouth.
"What's your name?" demanded the other.
"Worked in the yards before?"
"Two places--Brown's killing beds and Durham's fertilizer mill."
"Why did you leave there?"
"The first time I had an accident, and the last time I was sent up for a month."
"I see. Well, I'll give you a trial. Come early tomorrow and ask for Mr. Thomas."
So Jurgis rushed home with the wild tidings that he had a job--that the terrible siege was over. The remnants of the family had quite a celebration that night; and in the morning Jurgis was at the place half an hour before the time of opening. The foreman came in shortly afterward, and when he saw Jurgis he frowned.
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