Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 252
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 252
 
  “But why?” asked my friend, in amazement.
  “’Cause he can’t go to church!”
  It appeared that the gang had shut him out, with a sense of what was due to the occasion, because of his rags. Restored to grace, and choking down reminiscent sobs, the Kid sat through the Easter service, surrounded by the twenty-seven “proper” members of the gang. Civilization had achieved a victory, and no doubt my friend remembered it in her prayers with thanksgiving. The manner was of less account. Battle Row has its own ways, even in its acceptance of means of grace.
  I walked home from the office in the early gloaming. The street wore its normal aspect of mingled dulness and the kind of expectancy that is always waiting to turn any excitement, from a fallen horse to a fire, to instant account. The early June heat had driven the multitudes from the tenements into the street for a breath of air. The boys of the block were holding a meeting at the hydrant. In some way they had turned the water on, and were splashing in it with bare feet, revelling in the sense that they were doing something that “went against” their enemy, the policeman. Upon the quiet of the evening broke a bugle note and the tramp of many feet keeping time. A military band came around the corner, stepping briskly to the tune of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Their white duck

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