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The Jungle Upton Sinclair

Chapter 15

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"Ona isn't here?" Jurgis demanded, too alarmed to wait for her to finish.

"Why, no," said Jadvyga. "What made you think she would be here? Had she said she was coming?"

"No," he answered. "But she hasn't come home--and I thought she would be here the same as before."

"As before?" echoed Jadvyga, in perplexity.

"The time she spent the night here," said Jurgis.

"There must be some mistake," she answered, quickly. "Ona has never spent the night here."

He was only half able to realize the words. "Why--why--" he exclaimed. "Two weeks ago. Jadvyga! She told me so the night it snowed, and she could not get home."

"There must be some mistake," declared the girl, again; "she didn't come here."

He steadied himself by the doorsill; and Jadvyga in her anxiety--for she was fond of Ona--opened the door wide, holding her jacket across her throat. "Are you sure you didn't misunderstand her?" she cried. "She must have meant somewhere else. She--"

"She said here," insisted Jurgis. "She told me all about you, and how you were, and what you said. Are you sure? You haven't forgotten? You weren't away?"

"No, no!" she exclaimed--and then came a peevish voice--"Jadvyga, you are giving the baby a cold. Shut the door!" Jurgis stood for half a minute more, stammering his perplexity through an eighth of an inch of crack; and then, as there was really nothing more to be said, he excused himself and went away.

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He walked on half dazed, without knowing where he went. Ona had deceived him! She had lied to him! And what could it mean--where had she been? Where was she now? He could hardly grasp the thing-- much less try to solve it; but a hundred wild surmises came to him, a sense of impending calamity overwhelmed him.

Because there was nothing else to do, he went back to the time office to watch again. He waited until nearly an hour after seven, and then went to the room where Ona worked to make inquiries of Ona's "forelady." The "forelady," he found, had not yet come; all the lines of cars that came from downtown were stalled--there had been an accident in the powerhouse, and no cars had been running since last night. Meantime, however, the ham-wrappers were working away, with some one else in charge of them. The girl who answered Jurgis was busy, and as she talked she looked to see if she were being watched. Then a man came up, wheeling a truck; he knew Jurgis for Ona's husband, and was curious about the mystery.

"Maybe the cars had something to do with it," he suggested--"maybe she had gone down-town."

"No," said Jurgis. "she never went down-town."

"Perhaps not," said the man. Jurgis thought he saw him exchange a swift glance with the girl as he spoke, and he demanded quickly. "What do you know about it?"

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The Jungle
Upton Sinclair

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