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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/189

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177
WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH THE "DAGO"?

them with miasmatic diseases. But, all the same, we must eventually find some principle, somewhere, by the practice of which, while meting out to the wrong-doer the penalty he has earned, we shall protect the revenues as well as the peace and the safety of the community.

All this is familiar reasoning enough. But the problem seems to increase to formidable dimensions just now with the new class of which we have spoken. What shall we do with the "dago"? This "dago," it seems, not only herds, but fights. The knife with which he cuts his bread he also uses to lop off another "dago's" finger or ear, or to slash another's cheek. He quarrels over his meals; and his game, whatever it is, which he plays with pennies after his meal is over, is carried on knife at hand. More even than this, he sleeps in herds; and if a "dago" in his sleep rolls up against another "dago," the two whip out their knives and settle it there and then; and, except a grunt at being disturbed, perhaps, no notice is taken by the twenty or fifty other "dagoes in the apartment. He is quite as familiar with the sight of human blood as with the sight of the food he eats. His women follow him like dogs, expect no better treatment than dogs, and would not have the slightest idea how to conduct themselves without a succession of blows and kicks. Blows and kicks, indeed, are too common an experience with them for notice among "dagoes." When a woman is seriously hurt, she simply keeps out of sight somewhere till she is well enough for the kicking and striking to begin over again, and no notice whatever is taken of her absence meanwhile. The disappearance is perfectly well understood, and no questions are asked. The male "dago," when sober, instinctively retreats before his employer or boss, or any other man, and has no idea of assaulting him, or indeed of addressing him, or having any relations with him except to draw his pay. But, when infuriated with liquor, he will upon any fancied occasion use the only argument which he possesses—his knife. I say the only argument, for it is inevitable experience that he will not talk; however little or however much he may understand of what is said to him, he will pretend not to understand. He has a pretty clear idea of how much money is coming to him, and manages to convey that information to his paymaster. But it is rather dangerous for the paymaster to give him much less than the amount which, in his idea, is coming to him. He will refuse to accept it, withdraw, jabber and gesticulate, and it will be well for that paymaster to be on his guard until something representing that month's wages is accepted.

Now, when (as happens constantly in the course of the grading of a railroad by great swarms of these "dagoes") three-or four hundred or less of these human beings are quartered for a