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The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Jungle.

Beyond this dump there stood a great brickyard, with smoking chimneys.  First they took out the soil to make bricks, and then they filled it up again with garbage, which seemed to Jurgis and Ona a felicitous arrangement, characteristic of an enterprising country like America.  A little way beyond was another great hole, which they had emptied and not yet filled up.  This held water, and all summer it stood there, with the near-by soil draining into it, festering and stewing in the sun; and then, when winter came, somebody cut the ice on it, and sold it to the people of the city.  This, too, seemed to the newcomers an economical arrangement; for they did not read the newspapers, and their heads were not full of troublesome thoughts about “germs.”

They stood there while the sun went down upon this scene, and the sky in the west turned blood-red, and the tops of the houses shone like fire.  Jurgis and Ona were not thinking of the sunset, however—­their backs were turned to it, and all their thoughts were of Packingtown, which they could see so plainly in the distance.  The line of the buildings stood clear-cut and black against the sky; here and there out of the mass rose the great chimneys, with the river of smoke streaming away to the end of the world.  It was a study in colors now, this smoke; in the sunset light it was black and brown and gray and purple.  All the sordid suggestions of the place were gone—­in the twilight it was a vision of power.  To the two who stood watching while the darkness swallowed it up, it seemed a dream of wonder, with its talc of human energy, of things being done, of employment for thousands upon thousands of men, of opportunity and freedom, of life and love and joy.  When they came away, arm in arm, Jurgis was saying, “Tomorrow I shall go there and get a job!”

Chapter 3

In his capacity as delicatessen vender, Jokubas Szedvilas had many acquaintances.  Among these was one of the special policemen employed by Durham, whose duty it frequently was to pick out men for employment.  Jokubas had never tried it, but he expressed a certainty that he could get some of his friends a job through this man.  It was agreed, after consultation, that he should make the effort with old Antanas and with Jonas.  Jurgis was confident of his ability to get work for himself, unassisted by any one.  As we have said before, he was not mistaken in this.  He had gone to Brown’s and stood there not more than half an hour before one of the bosses noticed his form towering above the rest, and signaled to him.  The colloquy which followed was brief and to the point: 

“Speak English?”

“No; Lit-uanian.” (Jurgis had studied this word carefully.)

“Job?”

“Je.” (A nod.)

“Worked here before?”

“No ’stand.”

(Signals and gesticulations on the part of the boss.  Vigorous shakes of the head by Jurgis.)

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