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Chapter 4: Uneasy Settling

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May 1st 1886:

Louie was having another fight with William today. We’ve been living in his house ever since the police raid on our apartment. Louie spends most of his time these days making bombs, which is what he and Mr. Seliger were arguing about. William doesn’t want to be an accomplice to the trouble that will come with that, but Louie says he’s careful. They won’t tell me what’s going on, and why they need to prepare. But I’ve seen the way William looks at Louie when my brother isn’t watching him. He’s afraid of what Louie is becoming. The only other person my brother has spent any time around is this Elise woman. A good-for-nothing harlot, if you ask me, but she makes my brother happy, and he’s so serious all the time.

When we arrived in America, things were really hard for a while. Louie found work as a carpenter, but the boss charged him an extortionate rate for the tools he used, so food was hard to come by for a while. Eventually, we made it through, and Louie fell in with the Chicago Lumber Union, and even took up a leadership role in the group. It is fortunate that we found William when we did, as we lost most of our things in the police raid. I’m grateful I was able to distract that policeman, because if he hadn’t focused on me, Louie surely would have been caught.

I am busier than ever. I have steady work through some of Louie’s contacts, working for a mixed couple, Albert and Lucy Parsons. They need a housekeeper, and I have the free time. Albert is a real ball of energy. He’s an Englishman, and is passionate about worker’s rights. His wife, Lucy, she’s much more reserved. They get a lot of flak from folks around here, on account of her being a negro. They have two kids, who I care for often. They have their father’s drive to action. I got an earful from Lucy the day the two had me looking for them all over the market and we got home way after sundown.

The streets are getting wild. The strike is in full swing, and tens of thousands of working men are out marching, protesting for a 8 hour workday. A man named August Spies is leading them. They’re supposed to have a big rally in a few days, outside the McCormick Harvester Works. Although morale seems to be high, and the men are mostly of the agreeable sort, I do wish the crowds die down soon. This many people out and about make me anxious.

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