Tamoszius Kuszleika begins to fall in love with Marija Berczynskas.
It seems to be a case of opposites attracting: Tamoszius is a tiny guy and Marija is hail and hearty.
Tamoszius's fiddle can make Marija blush and bring Teta Elzbieta to tears.
But Tamoszius's skill also has material benefits for Marija, because he brings her to all of the parties he's hired to play at.
She has a wonderful time going out like this, and she brings back stories for the family to enjoy.
One Saturday night, coming back from one of these parties, Tamoszius gets down on one knee and proposes to Marija.
She is absolutely thrilled, and the two spend as much time in each other's company as they can.
They plan to get married in the spring, and to fix up the attic into an apartment for them to share.
Marija is so excited, right up until the minute when disaster strikes: her canning factory is shut down and won't reopen again for at least a month.
Marija goes back out on the job market, but since all of the canning factories seem to have shut down for the post-holiday slump, she doesn't find anything.
So, she tries shops, bars, and, finally, she looks for work as a servant to rich families on the lake front.
The meatpacking factories don't close, but they offer shorter and shorter working hours during the winter.
This means Jurgis is bringing in less and less money, even though he's still working hard.
There is usually a rush at the end of the day when they have to work double-time to process all of the cattle that have come in during the day.
Jurgis sometimes has to stay on as late as midnight or 1:00 AM.
The worst thing of all is that the companies do not pay all of Jurgis's working hours.
If a worker is even a minute late, he will not be paid for that hour he works.
Still, a worker also gets no extra pay if he comes in early. And, even worse, he gets no pay for "broken time": if he works any part of an hour, but not a whole hour, at the end of the day, he gets nothing for it. Even if he puts in nine hours and fifty-nine minutes, he only gets paid for nine hours.
This means that there is a constant struggle between the bosses, who try to finish everything quickly, and the workers, who try to stretch it out so they get paid for all of their time.
Jurgis has gotten frustrated enough with these poor labor practices that he is now interested in joining a union. (For more on unions in the United States, check out our History of Labor Unions Learning Guide.)
Everyone in the family soon becomes card-carrying members of a union.
They all think that belonging to a union will save them from their troubles.
Yet belonging to a union doesn't stop Marija's canning factory from closing down.
So, she stands up at the next union meeting and complains.
Since she gives her speech in Lithuanian, though, no one understands her.
The first day that Jurgis goes to a union meeting, he also has a weird experience.
He's sitting in a corner trying to go unnoticed when suddenly, a crazy guy named Tommy Finnegan approaches him and starts talking quickly (and totally incoherently) in thickly accented English.
One of his fellow union members eventually rescues Jurgis, but not before he decides never to let Tommy Finnegan corner him again.
Despite this embarrassing beginning, Jurgis decides never to miss a union meeting.
Jurgis becomes a complete union convert, and resolves to spend his time recruiting other Lithuanians to the cause.