Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 326
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 326
 
hastened the process. There never was any sentiment about it. “I don’t know what I shall do,” said one of the widows to me, when at last it was decreed that the tenements were to be pulled down, “unless I can find a man to take care of me. Might get one that drinks? I would hammer him half to death.” She did find her “man,” only to have him on her hands too. It was the last straw. Before the wreckers came around she was dead. The amazed indignation of the alley at the discovery of her second marriage, which till then had been kept secret, was beyond bounds. The supposed widow’s neighbor across the hall, whom we knew in the front generally as “the Fat One,” was so stunned by the revelation that she did not recover in season to go to the funeral. She was never afterward the same.
  In the good old days when the world was right, the Fat One had enjoyed the distinction of being the one tenant in Cat Alley whose growler never ran dry. It made no difference how strictly the Sunday law was observed toward the rest of the world, the Fat One would set out from the alley with her growler in a basket,—this as a concession to the unnatural prejudices of a misguided community, not as an evasion, for she made a point of showing it to the policeman on the corner,—and return with it filled. Her look of scornful triumph as she marched through the alley, and the backward

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