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The Jungle Upton Sinclair

Chapter 19

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"Vere is your friends, dot ought to help you?"

"They are all poor," he answered. "They gave me this. I have done everything I can--"

"Haven't you got notting you can sell?"

"I have nothing, I tell you--I have nothing," he cried, frantically.

"Can't you borrow it, den? Don't your store people trust you?" Then, as he shook his head, she went on: "Listen to me--if you git me you vill be glad of it. I vill save your wife und baby for you, and it vill not seem like mooch to you in de end. If you loose dem now how you tink you feel den? Und here is a lady dot knows her business--I could send you to people in dis block, und dey vould tell you--"

Madame Haupt was pointing her cooking-fork at Jurgis persuasively; but her words were more than he could bear. He flung up his hands with a gesture of despair and turned and started away. "It's no use," he exclaimed--but suddenly he heard the woman's voice behind him again--

"I vill make it five dollars for you."

She followed behind him, arguing with him. "You vill be foolish not to take such an offer," she said. "You von't find nobody go out on a rainy day like dis for less. Vy, I haf never took a case in my life so sheap as dot. I couldn't pay mine room rent--"

Jurgis interrupted her with an oath of rage. "If I haven't got it," he shouted, "how can I pay it? Damn it, I would pay you if I could, but I tell you I haven't got it. I haven't got it! Do you hear me I haven't got it!"

He turned and started away again. He was halfway down the stairs before Madame Haupt could shout to him: "Vait! I vill go mit you! Come back!"

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He went back into the room again.

"It is not goot to tink of anybody suffering," she said, in a melancholy voice. "I might as vell go mit you for noffing as vot you offer me, but I vill try to help you. How far is it?"

"Three or four blocks from here."

"Tree or four! Und so I shall get soaked! Gott in Himmel, it ought to be vorth more! Vun dollar und a quarter, und a day like dis!-- But you understand now--you vill pay me de rest of twenty-five dollars soon?"

"As soon as I can."

"Some time dis mont'?"

"Yes, within a month," said poor Jurgis. "Anything! Hurry up!"

"Vere is de dollar und a quarter?" persisted Madame Haupt, relentlessly.

Jurgis put the money on the table and the woman counted it and stowed it away. Then she wiped her greasy hands again and proceeded to get ready, complaining all the time; she was so fat that it was painful for her to move, and she grunted and gasped at every step. She took off her wrapper without even taking the trouble to turn her back to Jurgis, and put on her corsets and dress. Then there was a black bonnet which had to be adjusted carefully, and an umbrella which was mislaid, and a bag full of necessaries which had to be collected from here and there--the man being nearly crazy with anxiety in the meantime. When they were on the street he kept about four paces ahead of her, turning now and then, as if he could hurry her on by the force of his desire. But Madame Haupt could only go so far at a step, and it took all her attention to get the needed breath for that.

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The Jungle
Upton Sinclair

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