Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 248
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 248
 
the brigade, in winning back the boy. It is fighting the street with its own weapon. The gang is the club run wild.
  How readily it owns the kinship was never better shown than by the experience of the college settlement girls, when they first went to make friends in the East Side tenements. I have told it before, but it will bear telling again, for it holds the key to the whole business. They gathered in the drift, all the little embryo gangs that were tuning up in the district, and made them into clubs,—Young Heroes, Knights of the Round Table, and such like; all except one, the oldest, that had begun to make a name for itself with the police. That one held aloof, observing coldly what went on, to make sure it was “straight.” They let it be, keeping the while an anxious eye upon it; until one day there came a delegation with this olive branch: “If you will let us in, we will change and have your kind of a gang.” Needless to say it was let in. And within a year, when, through a false rumor that the concern was moving away, there was a run on the settlement’s penny provident bank, the converted gang proved itself its stanchest friend by doing actually what John Halifax did in Miss Mulock’s story: it brought all the pennies it could raise in the neighborhood by hook or by crook and deposited them as fast as the regular patrons—the gang had not yet

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