Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 98
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 98
 
on by a conscienceless Jew who bought up the old buildings as fast as they came into the market, and filled them with a class of tenants before whom charity recoils, helpless and hopeless. When the houses were filled, the crowds overflowed into the yard. In one, I found, in midwinter, tenants living in sheds built of odd boards and roof tin, and paying a dollar a week for herding with the rats. One of them, a red-faced German, was a philosopher after his kind. He did not trouble himself to get up, when I looked in, but stretched himself in his bed,—it was high noon,—responding to my sniff of disgust that it was “sehr schoen! ein bischen kalt, aber was!” His neighbor, a white-haired old woman, begged, trembling, not to be put out. She would not know where to go. It was out of one of these houses that Fritz Meyer, the murderer, went to rob the poor box in the Redemptorist Church, the night when he killed policeman Smith. The policeman surprised him at his work. In the room he had occupied I came upon a brazen-looking woman with a black eye, who answered the question of the officer, “Where did you get that shiner?” with a laugh. “I ran up against the first of me man,” she said. Her “man,” a big, sullen lout, sat by, dumb. The woman answered for him that he was a mechanic.
  “What does he work at?” snorted the policeman,

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