Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)
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
"No; Lit-uanian." (Jurgis had studied this word carefully.)
"Je." (A nod.)
"Worked here before?"
(Signals and gesticulations on the part of the boss. Vigorous shakes of the head by
"No 'stand." (More shakes of the head.)
"Zarnos. Pagaiksztis. Szluofa!" (Imitative motions.)
"See door. Durys?" (Pointing.)
"To-morrow, seven o'clock. Understand? Rytoj! Prieszpietys! Septyni!"
"Dekui, tamistai!" (Thank you, sir.) And that was all. Jurgis turned away, and then
in a sudden rush the full realization of his triumph swept over him, and he gave a yell and
a jump, and started off on a run. He had a job! He had a job! And he went all the way
home as if upon wings, and burst into the house like a cyclone, to the rage of the
numerous lodgers who had just turned in for their daily sleep.
Meantime Jokubas had been to see his friend the policeman, and received
encouragement, so it was a happy party. There being no more to be done that day, the
shop was left under the care of Lucija, and her husband sallied forth to show his friends
the sights of Packingtown. Jokubas did this with the air of a country gentleman escorting
a party of visitors over his estate; he was an old-time resident, and all these wonders had
grown up under his eyes, and he had a personal pride in them. The packers might own the
land, but he claimed the landscape, and there was no one to say nay to this.
– – –