Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
to the last degree. She knew the fire alarm signals and when anything momentous was afoot. On the quiet days, when nothing was stirring, she would flock with the reporters on the stoop and sing.
There never was such singing as Trilbys. That was how she got her name. I tried a score of times to find out, but to this day I do not know whether it was pain or pleasure that was in her note. She had only one, but it made up in volume for what it lacked in range. Standing in the circle of her friends, she would raise her head until her nose pointed straight toward the sky, and pour forth her melody with a look of such unutterable woe on her face that peals of laughter always wound up the performance; whereupon Trilby would march off with an injured air, and hide herself in one of the offices, refusing to come out. Poor Trilby! with the passing away of the alley she seemed to lose her grip. She did not understand it. After wandering about aimlessly for a while, vainly seeking a home in the world, she finally moved over on the East Side with one of the dispossessed tenants. But on all Sundays and holidays, and once in a while in the middle of the week, she comes yet to inspect the old block in Mulberry Street and to join in a quartette with old friends.