Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 322
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 322
 
a tact that did it credit; but when at night Mott Street added its contingent of “fellows” to the mourners properly concerned in the wake, and they started a fight among themselves that was unauthorized by local sanction, its wrath was aroused, and it arose and bundled the whole concern out into the street with scant ceremony. There was never an invasion of the alley after that night. It enjoyed home rule undisturbed.
  Withal, there was as much kindness of heart and neighborly charity in Cat Alley as in any little community up-town or down-town, or out of town, for that matter. It had its standards and its customs, which were to be observed; but underneath it all, and not very far down either, was a human fellowship that was capable of any sacrifice to help a friend in need. Many was the widow with whom and with whose children the alley shared its daily bread, which was scanty enough, God knows, when death or other disaster had brought her to the jumping-off place. In twenty years I do not recall a suicide in the alley, or a case of suffering demanding the interference of the authorities, unless with such help as the’ hospital could give. The alley took care of its own, and tided them over the worst when it came to that. And death was not always the worst. I remember yet with a shudder a tragedy which I was just in time with

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