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|The Jungle||Upton Sinclair|
|Page 3 of 9||
"Some of them say they do," said Jurgis.
"I know," said she; "they say anything. They're in, and they know they can't get out. But they didn't like it when they began--you'd find out--it's always misery! There's a little Jewish girl here who used to run errands for a milliner, and got sick and lost her place; and she was four days on the streets without a mouthful of food, and then she went to a place just around the corner and offered herself, and they made her give up her clothes before they would give her a bite to eat!"
Marija sat for a minute or two, brooding somberly. "Tell me about yourself, Jurgis," she said, suddenly. "Where have you been?"
So he told her the long story of his adventures since his flight from home; his life as a tramp, and his work in the freight tunnels, and the accident; and then of Jack Duane, and of his political career in the stockyards, and his downfall and subsequent failures. Marija listened with sympathy; it was easy to believe the tale of his late starvation, for his face showed it all. "You found me just in the nick of time," she said. "I'll stand by you--I'll help you till you can get some work."
"I don't like to let you--" he began.
"Why not? Because I'm here?"
"No, not that," he said. "But I went off and left you--"
"Nonsense!" said Marija. "Don't think about it. I don't blame you."
"You must be hungry," she said, after a minute or two. "You stay here to lunch--I'll have something up in the room."
She pressed a button, and a colored woman came to the door and took her order. "It's nice to have somebody to wait on you," she observed, with a laugh, as she lay back on the bed.
As the prison breakfast had not been liberal, Jurgis had a good appetite, and they had a little feast together, talking meanwhile of Elzbieta and the children and old times. Shortly before they were through, there came another colored girl, with the message that the "madame" wanted Marija--"Lithuanian Mary," as they called her here.
"That means you have to go," she said to Jurgis.
So he got up, and she gave him the new address of the family, a tenement over in the Ghetto district. "You go there," she said. "They'll be glad to see you."
But Jurgis stood hesitating.
"I--I don't like to," he said. "Honest, Marija, why don't you just give me a little money and let me look for work first?"
"How do you need money?" was her reply. "All you want is something to eat and a place to sleep, isn't it?"
"Yes," he said; "but then I don't like to go there after I left them--and while I have nothing to do, and while you--you--"
"Go on!" said Marija, giving him a push. "What are you talking?--I won't give you money," she added, as she followed him to the door, "because you'll drink it up, and do yourself harm. Here's a quarter for you now, and go along, and they'll be so glad to have you back, you won't have time to feel ashamed. Good-by!"
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