The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about The Jungle.
politics, she troubled herself no further about it.  Jurgis was destined to find that Elzbieta’s armor was absolutely impervious to Socialism.  Her soul had been baked hard in the fire of adversity, and there was no altering it now; life to her was the hunt for daily bread, and ideas existed for her only as they bore upon that.  All that interested her in regard to this new frenzy which had seized hold of her son-in-law was whether or not it had a tendency to make him sober and industrious; and when she found he intended to look for work and to contribute his share to the family fund, she gave him full rein to convince her of anything.  A wonderfully wise little woman was Elzbieta; she could think as quickly as a hunted rabbit, and in half an hour she had chosen her life-attitude to the Socialist movement.  She agreed in everything with Jurgis, except the need of his paying his dues; and she would even go to a meeting with him now and then, and sit and plan her next day’s dinner amid the storm.

For a week after he became a convert Jurgis continued to wander about all day, looking for work; until at last he met with a strange fortune.  He was passing one of Chicago’s innumerable small hotels, and after some hesitation he concluded to go in.  A man he took for the proprietor was standing in the lobby, and he went up to him and tackled him for a job.

“What can you do?” the man asked.

“Anything, sir,” said Jurgis, and added quickly:  “I’ve been out of work for a long time, sir.  I’m an honest man, and I’m strong and willing—­”

The other was eying him narrowly.  “Do you drink?” he asked.

“No, sir,” said Jurgis.

“Well, I’ve been employing a man as a porter, and he drinks.  I’ve discharged him seven times now, and I’ve about made up my mind that’s enough.  Would you be a porter?”

“Yes, sir.”

“It’s hard work.  You’ll have to clean floors and wash spittoons and fill lamps and handle trunks—­”

“I’m willing, sir.”

“All right.  I’ll pay you thirty a month and board, and you can begin now, if you feel like it.  You can put on the other fellow’s rig.”

And so Jurgis fell to work, and toiled like a Trojan till night.  Then he went and told Elzbieta, and also, late as it was, he paid a visit to Ostrinski to let him know of his good fortune.  Here he received a great surprise, for when he was describing the location of the hotel Ostrinski interrupted suddenly, “Not Hinds’s!”

“Yes,” said Jurgis, “that’s the name.”

To which the other replied, “Then you’ve got the best boss in Chicago—­he’s a state organizer of our party, and one of our best-known speakers!”

So the next morning Jurgis went to his employer and told him; and the man seized him by the hand and shook it.  “By Jove!” he cried, “that lets me out.  I didn’t sleep all last night because I had discharged a good Socialist!”

Project Gutenberg
The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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