Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 239
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 239
 
biggest in his gang, made the others steal for him and surrender the “swag,” or take a licking. But that was unusual. Ordinarily the risk and the “swag” are distributed on more democratic principles. Or he may be of the temper of Mike of Poverty Gap, who was hanged for murder at nineteen. While he sat in his cell at police head-quarters, he told with grim humor of the raids of his gang on Saturday nights when they stocked up at “the club.” They used to “hook” a butcher’s cart or other light wagon, wherever found, and drive like mad up and down the avenue, stopping at saloon or grocery to throw in what they wanted. His job was to sit at the tail of the cart with a six-shooter and pop at any chance pursuer. He chuckled at the recollection of how men fell over one another to get out of his way. “It was great to see them run,” he said. Mike was a tough, but with a better chance he might have been a hero. The thought came to him, too, when it was all over and the end in sight. He put it all in one sober, retrospective sigh, that had in it no craven shirking of the responsibility which was properly his: “I never had no bringing up.”
  There was a meeting some time after his death to boom a scheme for “getting the boys off the street,” and I happened to speak of Mike’s case. In the audience was a gentleman of means and position,

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