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|The Jungle||Upton Sinclair|
|Page 5 of 7||
In the end, when the silence and suspense were no longer to be borne, he got up and hammered on the door; and the proprietor came, yawning and rubbing his eyes. He was keeping open all night, and dozing between customers.
"I want to go home," Jurgis said. "I'm worried about my wife--I can't wait any longer."
"Why the hell didn't you say so before?" said the man. "I thought you didn't have any home to go to." Jurgis went outside. It was four o'clock in the morning, and as black as night. There were three or four inches of fresh snow on the ground, and the flakes were falling thick and fast. He turned toward Aniele's and started at a run.
There was a light burning in the kitchen window and the blinds were drawn. The door was unlocked and Jurgis rushed in.
Aniele, Marija, and the rest of the women were huddled about the stove, exactly as before; with them were several newcomers, Jurgis noticed-- also he noticed that the house was silent.
"Well?" he said.
No one answered him, they sat staring at him with their pale faces. He cried again: "Well?"
And then, by the light of the smoky lamp, he saw Marija who sat nearest him, shaking her head slowly. "Not yet," she said.
And Jurgis gave a cry of dismay. "Not yet?"
Again Marija's head shook. The poor fellow stood dumfounded. "I don't hear her," he gasped.
"She's been quiet a long time," replied the other.
There was another pause--broken suddenly by a voice from the attic: "Hello, there!"
Several of the women ran into the next room, while Marija sprang toward Jurgis. "Wait here!" she cried, and the two stood, pale and trembling, listening. In a few moments it became clear that Madame Haupt was engaged in descending the ladder, scolding and exhorting again, while the ladder creaked in protest. In a moment or two she reached the ground, angry and breathless, and they heard her coming into the room. Jurgis gave one glance at her, and then turned white and reeled. She had her jacket off, like one of the workers on the killing beds. Her hands and arms were smeared with blood, and blood was splashed upon her clothing and her face.
She stood breathing hard, and gazing about her; no one made a sound. "I haf done my best," she began suddenly. "I can do noffing more-- dere is no use to try."
Again there was silence.
"It ain't my fault," she said. "You had ought to haf had a doctor, und not vaited so long--it vas too late already ven I come." Once more there was deathlike stillness. Marija was clutching Jurgis with all the power of her one well arm.
Then suddenly Madame Haupt turned to Aniele. "You haf not got something to drink, hey?" she queried. "Some brandy?"
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