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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


"Well, we had it all right," he answered. Then he went to the door.
"I canít pay you anything on that to-day," he said, mildly.

"Well, when can you?" said the grocer.

"Not before Saturday, anyhow," said Hurstwood.

"Huh!" returned the grocer. "This is fine. I must have that. I need
the money."

Carrie was standing farther back in the room, hearing it all. She
was greatly distressed. It was so bad and commonplace.
Hurstwood was annoyed also.

"Well," he said, "thereís no use talking about it now. If youíll
come in Saturday, Iíll pay you something on it."

The grocery man went away.

"How are we going to pay it?" asked Carrie, astonished by the
bill. "I canít do

it."

"Well, you donít have to," he said. "He canít get what he canít
get. Heíll have to wait."

"I donít see how we ran up such a bill as that," said Carrie.

"Well, we ate it," said Hurstwood.

"Itís funny," she replied, still doubting.

"Whatís the use of your standing there and talking like that,
now?" he asked. "Do you think Iíve had it alone? You talk as if
Iíd taken something."

"Well, itís too much, anyhow," said Carrie. "I oughtnít to be made
to pay for it. Iíve got more than I can pay for now."

"All right," replied Hurstwood, sitting down in silence. He was
sick of the grind of this thing.

Carrie went out, and there he sat, determining to do something.

There had been appearing in the papers about this time rumours
and notices of an approaching strike on the trolley lines in
Brooklyn. There was general dissatisfaction as to the hours of
labour required and the wages paid. As usual-and for some
inexplicable reason-the men chose the winter for the forcing of
the hand of their employers and the settlement of their difficulties.

Hurstwood had been reading of this thing, and wondering
concerning the huge tie-up which would follow. A day or two
before this trouble with Carrie, it came. On a cold afternoon,
when everything was grey and it threatened to snow, the papers
announced that the men had been called out on all the lines.

Being so utterly idle, and his mind filled with the numerous
predictions which had been made concerning the scarcity of
labour this winter and the panicky state of the financial market,
Hurstwood read this with interest. He noted the claims of the
striking motormen and conductors, who said that they had been
wont to re-

ceive two dollars a day in times past, but that for a year or more
"trippers" had been introduced, which cut down their chance of
livelihood one-half, and increased their hours of servitude from
ten to twelve, and even fourteen. These "trippers" were men put
on during the busy and rush hours, to take a car out for one trip.
The compensation paid for such a trip was only twenty-five cents.
When the rush or busy hours were over, they were laid off. Worst
of all, no man might know when he was going to get a car. He
must come to the barns in the morning and wait around in fair and
foul weather until such time as he was needed. Two trips were an
average reward for so much waiting-a little over three hoursí
work for fifty cents. The work of waiting was not counted.

The men complained that this system was extending, and that the
time was not far off when but a few out of 7,000 employees
would have regular two-dollar-a-day work at all. They demanded
that the system be abolished, and that ten hours be considered a
dayís work, barring unavoidable delays, with $2.25 pay. They
demanded immediate acceptance of these terms, which the
various trolley companies refused.

Hurstwood at first sympathised with the demands of these men-
indeed, it is a question whether he did not always sympathise with
them to the end, belie him as his actions might. Reading nearly all
the news, he was attracted first by the scare-heads with which the
trouble was noted in the "World." He read it fully-the names of
the seven companies involved, the number of men.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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