But Marija only shook her head. There was nothing else for her to do, she said, and nobody to employ her. She could not keep her past a secret—girls had tried it, and they were always found out. There were thousands of men who came to this place, and sooner or later she would meet one of them. “And besides,” Marija added, “I can’t do anything. I’m no good—I take dope. What could you do with me?”
“Can’t you stop?” Jurgis cried.
“No,” she answered, “I’ll never stop. What’s the use of talking about it—I’ll stay here till I die, I guess. It’s all I’m fit for.” And that was all that he could get her to say—there was no use trying. When he told her he would not let Elzbieta take her money, she answered indifferently: “Then it’ll be wasted here—that’s all.” Her eyelids looked heavy and her face was red and swollen; he saw that he was annoying her, that she only wanted him to go away. So he went, disappointed and sad.
Poor Jurgis was not very happy in his home-life. Elzbieta was sick a good deal now, and the boys were wild and unruly, and very much the worse for their life upon the streets. But he stuck by the family nevertheless, for they reminded him of his old happiness; and when things went wrong he could solace himself with a plunge into the Socialist movement. Since his life had been caught up into the current of this great stream, things which had before been the whole of life to him came to seem of relatively slight importance; his interests were elsewhere, in the world of ideas. His outward life was commonplace and uninteresting; he was just a hotel-porter, and expected to remain one while he lived; but meantime, in the realm of thought, his life was a perpetual adventure. There was so much to know—so many wonders to be discovered! Never in all his life did Jurgis forget the day before election, when there came a telephone message from a friend of Harry Adams, asking him to bring Jurgis to see him that night; and Jurgis went, and met one of the minds of the movement.
The invitation was from a man named Fisher, a Chicago millionaire who had given up his life to settlement work, and had a little home in the heart of the city’s slums. He did not belong to the party, but he was in sympathy with it; and he said that he was to have as his guest that night the editor of a big Eastern magazine, who wrote against Socialism, but really did not know what it was. The millionaire suggested that Adams bring Jurgis along, and then start up the subject of “pure food,” in which the editor was interested.
Young Fisher’s home was a little two-story brick house, dingy and weather-beaten outside, but attractive within. The room that Jurgis saw was half lined with books, and upon the walls were many pictures, dimly visible in the soft, yellow light; it was a cold, rainy night, so a log fire was crackling in the open hearth. Seven or eight people were gathered about it when Adams and his friend arrived, and Jurgis