Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 319
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 319
 
study of the causes that led to the feud developed the following normal condition: Mrs. M’Carthy had the housekeeper’s place when Mrs. Gehegan was poor, and fed her “kids.” As a reward, Mrs. Gehegan worked around and got the job away from her. Now that it was Mrs. M’Carthy’s turn to be poor, Mrs. Gehegan insisted upon putting her out. Whereat, with righteous wrath, Mrs. M’Carthy proclaimed from the stoop: “Many is the time Mrs. Gehegan had a load on, an’ she went upstairs an’ slept it off. I didn’t. I used to show meself, I did, as a lady. I know ye’re in there, Mrs. Gehegan. Come out an’ show yerself, an’ I’ave the alley to judge betwixt us.” To which Mrs. Gehegan prudently vouchsafed no answer.
  Mrs. M’Carthy had succeeded to the office of housekeeper upon the death of Miss Mahoney, an ancient spinster who had collected the rents since the days of “the riot,” meaning the Orange riot—an event from which the alley reckoned its time, as the ancients did from the Olympian games. Miss Mahoney was a most exemplary and worthy old lady, thrifty to a fault. Indeed, it was said when she was gone that she had literally starved herself to death to lay by money for the rainy day she was keeping a lookout for to the last. In this she was obeying her instincts; but they went counter to those of the alley, and the result was

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