Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 337
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 337
 
a sudden idea. He might get justice now. Once a week, through those two years, he washed himself, to the mute astonishment of the alley, and brushed up carefully, to go across and call on “the general’s son” in order to lay his case before him. But he never got farther than the Mulberry Street door. On the steps he was regularly awestruck, and the old hero, who had never turned his back to the enemy, faltered and retreated. In the middle of the street he halted, faced front, and saluted the building with all the solemnity of a grenadier on parade, then went slowly back to his attic and to his unrighted grievance.
  It had been the talk of the neighborhood for years that the alley would have to go in the Elm Street widening which was to cut a swath through the block, right over the site upon which it stood; and at last notice was given about Christmas time that the wreckers were coming. The alley was sold,—thirty dollars was all it brought,—and the old tenants moved away, and were scattered to the four winds. Barney alone stayed. He flatly refused to budge. They tore down the church next door and the buildings on Houston Street, and filled what had been the yard, or court, of the tenements with débris that reached halfway to the roof, so that the old locksmith, if he wished to go out or in, must do so by way of the third-story window, over

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