Saint Patrick

Herman White Chaplin
Saint Patrick, by Heman White

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Title: Saint Patrick 1887
Author: Heman White Chaplin
Release Date: October 12, 2007 [EBook #23002]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by David Widger

By Heman White Chaplin

One of the places which they point out on Ship Street is the Italian
fruit-shop on the corner of Perry Court, before the door of which, six
years ago, Guiseppe Cavagnaro, bursting suddenly forth in pursuit of
Martin Lavezzo, stabbed him in the back, upon the sidewalk. "All two"
of them were to blame, so the witnesses said; but Cavagnaro went to
prison for fifteen years. That was the same length of time, as it
happened, that the feud had lasted.
Nearly opposite is Sarah Ward's New Albion dance-hall. It opens
directly from the street There is an orchestra of three pieces, one of
which plays in tune. That calm and collected woman whom you may
see rocking in the window, or sitting behind the bar, sewing or knitting,
is not a city missionary, come to instruct the women about her; it is
Sarah Ward, the proprietress. She knows the Bible from end to end.
She was a Sunday-school teacher once; she had a class of girls; she
spoke in prayer-meetings; she had a framed Scripture motto in her
chamber, and she took the Teachers' Lesson Quarterly; she visited the
sick; she prayed in secret for her scholars' conversion. How she came to
change her views of life nobody knows,--that is to say, not everybody
knows. And still she is honest. It is her pride that sailors are not
drugged and robbed in the New Albion.
A few doors below, and on the same side of the street, is the dance-hall
that was Bose King's-. It is here that pleasure takes on its most sordid
aspect. If you wish to see how low a white woman can fall, how coarse
and offensive a negro man can be, you will come here. There is an
inscription on the bar, in conspicuous letters,--"Welcome Home."
By day it is comparatively still in Ship Street. Women with soulless
faces loll stolidly in the open ground-floor windows. There are few
customers in the bar-rooms; here and there two or three idlers shake for
drinks. Policemen stroll listlessly about, and have little to do. But at
nightfall there is a change; the scrape of fiddles, the stamp of boot-heels,
is heard from the dance-halls. Oaths and boisterous laughter

everywhere strike the ear. Children, half-clad, run loose at eleven
o'clock. Two policemen at a corner interrogate a young man who is hot
and excited and has no hat. He admits that he saw three men run from
the alley-way and saw the sailor come staggering out after them, but he
does not know who the men were. The policemen "take him in," on
It is here that the Day-Star Mission has planted itself. Its white flag
floats close by the spot where Martin Lavezzo fell, with the long knife
between his shoulder-blades. Its sign of welcome is in close rivalry
with the harsh strains from Sarah Ward's and the lighted stairway to
Bose King's saloon. It stands here, isolated and strange, an unbidden
guest. It is a protest, a reproof, a challenge, an uplifted finger.
But while, to a casual glance, the Day-Star Mission is all out of place, it
has, nevertheless, its following. On Monday and Thursday afternoons a
troop of black-eyed, jet-haired Portuguese women, half of whom are
named Mary Jesus, flock in to a sewing-school. On Tuesdays and
Fridays American, Scotch, and Irish women, from the tenement-houses
of the quarter, fill the settees, to learn the use of the needle, to enjoy a
little peace, and to hear reading and singing; and occasionally the
general public of the vicinity are invited to an entertainment.
It was a February afternoon; at the Mission building the board were in
monthly session. The meeting had been a spirited one. A proposition to
amend the third line of the fourth by-law, entitled "Decorum in the
Hall," by inserting the word "smoking," had been debated and had
prevailed. A proposition to buy a new mangle for the laundry had been
defeated, it having been humorously suggested that the women could
mangle each other. Other matters of interest had been considered.
Finally, as the hour for adjournment drew near, a proposition was
brought forth,
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