Six o'clock in Harvard Square.
The whistles have all blown for six o'clock, and now the city time-pieces begin to strike, commencing with a deep boom and running up to a high treble till the air is filled with the clashing of iron tongues.
The dark comes down early these fall days.
All lingering traces of red
have died out of the evening sky, and the great, bare elm branches cast strange shadows, almost weird in their distinctness, on the brilliantly lighted pavements.
Bustle and confusion are everywhere; the incoming cars are loaded to the steps, and the turmoil increases as each empties its burden in front of the crowded station.
Now and then a trolley slips from the wire, causing a chorus of sparks to fly out for a moment, and calling to mind the witch of the “broomstick train.”
Little groups of students coming from the side streets hasten across the yard, bound for Memorial Hall, and in spite of the general din, fragments of their gay talk come clearly to the passersby.
A broad band of light streams from the baker's window, and the buyers of bread and rolls for the family supper keep the door constantly in motion in their hurry to be served and get away home again.
A warm fragrance rises from the gratings, making the hungry newsboy on the corner sniff wistfully till recalled to his work by the cries of his companions-“Herald,
Globe, Journal, sir?
All about the murder.”
Through the windows of the neighboring candy store, one sees a tall young man wrapped to the ears in his fur-trimmed coat, buying a dainty box of choice chocolates, and carefully instructing the salesman to “put in lots of almonds, please, and those small ones with the cream filling-but no brandy drops.”
Four youths in white sweaters, with their hair much tumbled, are standing in a doorway.
One of the lads, in excited tones and with much gesticulating, is showing the others just how some fellow made “such a fine run round the end, not downed till he reached the five-yard line.”
A good-sized knot of people gathers to hear him, thus obstructing the path of the two old goodies, who have come down from their work in the rooms above, and are grumbling contemptuously about “thim byes gone daft over that neck-breaking football.”
John the Orangeman and his donkey clatter by homeward bound.
John waves his whip at the students in the doorway, and they shout a hearty good-night after his retreating cart.
The peanut man's stand has a delightfully mysterious look.
The yawning red mouth of the black monster shoots and spits tiny spirals of blue flame out into the white, frosty air. The peanut-man, himself, is very good-natured, for the demand for his wares has been brisk all this cold November day.
Just now a strolling street band plays the “Tabasco March
” in front of Sever, while a block away an asthmatic hand organ tries to keep pace, with “Daisy-ell.”
Two notes in this last piece are missing, and several more are injured, so the ear is
tortured by a most unhappy combination of sounds.
Belated grocers' wagons, laden with to-morrow's dinners, rattle by, charging the crowds around the cars, who skurry out of harm's way, protected by a burly policeman, whose colossal calmness in all the confusion is little short of miraculous.
A great black dog. bouncing along the sidewalk after his master, runs into a small child anxiously carrying a pitcher of oysters.
The child, frightened, drops the pitcher, and sits down on the curbing to wail bitterly over the disaster, till comfort in the likeness of a pretty girl with a bag of books on her arm consoles the little Niobe
Meanwhile, above all this noise and worry, arches the calm sky in which a thousand star points of light have sprung into being since the whistles first blew, and over the tall buildings peeps a tiny crescent moon.
It is time to shut the ledger and put it up, to slip into one's great coat, lock the office door, and catch a foothold on the next outward bound car, with thoughts of a warm supper and the hearth fire to compensate for the pushing crowd and the steadily rising, raw east wind.