The City at Night

IT is a poetic circumstance, I take it, that the day’s work, which begins with a very secular jargon of factory whistles, should end with a clangor of church bells. At six of the clock their benediction falls upon intermitted labor, and the world goes home thus blessed. In such an hour (the month was June, — the last June of the nineteenth century, — and the place that splendid inland seaport since made famous by the PanAmerican) I stood where the two main arteries of traffic divide, and there saw the workers come thronging.

The bells had freed the city, — not one city, but two : East Side, mainly German ; West Side, well-to-do American. The one was going to supper, the other to dinner ; the one to doff its overalls, the other to don its Tuxedo ; the one to enjoy its sauerkraut, schwarzbrot, and lager, the other to partake of gentle fare, followed by demi-tasse and cigars. All Buffalo is divided into two parts ; mingling in the crowded streets, they touch at the elbow, with all the world between them. Each took presently its own path, and for any sympathy you could find, they might have traveled a thousand leagues apart. “ East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

Erelong there fell a solemn hush. For a certain space the hush continued, — a pleasant, suggestive, even a redolent hush, calling to mind the delicate verses of Stevenson : —

“ It is so very nice to think
The World is full of meat and drink,
And little children saying grace
In every Christian sort of place.”

I dined (none too frugally) at the Iroquois, and then rode forth to see the early evening. Uptown folk, I observed, had emerged from their mansions to sit in armchairs and loll luxuriously in hammocks within the broad, deep porches, where wistaria hung in lovely clusters, or palms rose magnificent. Here was that gracious, silent calm that parts the day from the night, — at least that was what Buffalo intended it should be. But alas for that kindly intention ! Yonder a ragged Fra Diavolo turned the handle of his hideous hurdy-gurdy to the tune of Mascagni’s Intermezzo ; another, half a square away, struck up Sweet Rosy O’Grady ; while a third predicted A Hot Time in the Old Town To-Night. The law would abate this nuisance at half past eight. Till then, oh, pity the wretched Buffalonians, who had palaces to live in, and exquisite lawns spread wide about the palaces, and tall trees to shade the lawns, and jubilant robins to sing in the trees, but who, for all that, must suffer the curse of the organ grinder ! Yet this was not all. Hither came cycling the vulgar East Side, in couples mostly, the men kindly “helping” the girls. Hans had Gretchen gripped by the arm, as if under arrest, or laid a guiding hand on Gretchen’s shoulder or on Gretchen’s farther shoulder, or rode with an arm about Gretchen’s waist. Vain are the frowns of veranda folk ; in vain will enraged editors thunder rebuke in the Morning Express or the Evening Commercial Advertiser. Here are two hundred asphalt miles, consequently some ninety thousand wheels, and they who ride make law for themselves. As well chide the magnificent victorias and barouches, which at this early evening hour roll through endless elm-shaded avenues toward Park or Front. As well rebuke the gay redand-green tallyho coach, returning, with much clatter of hoofs and blare of brass, from Niagara Falls.

Now, you would say, was the whole town given over to frivolous enjoyment. I found the truth far otherwise. Some must work that others may play. The thronging idlers who begin their parade of the downtown streets, — what joy have they, save as the kindly solicitude of trade waits attendant ? So I drove through Main Street, watching what shops were open. I discovered two separate kinds: those that sell chiefly to laborers, who cannot buy till the day’s task is done ; and those that sell to the triflers, who buy when the mood is on them, or not at all. For instance, two thirds of the bicycles are sold after six, for the working class are now almost the sole purchasers of bicycles ; the venders of cheap jewelry keep open doors for analogous reasons; likewise the “misfit” clothier, the “ painless ” dentist, the lowclass barber, and the glib fakir or charlatan. The other sort deal in luxuries, — a glass of ale, a cigar, a copy of Life, a rose, a sip of soda water, an orange, a box of bonbons, — things to coddle the whim of the passing moment. Then said I, “ Considering the avid greed of our merchants, I’m amazed that so many have shut up their shops.”

Hear now the tale of the Retail Clerks’ Union which made the shops close. Approaching the merchants with diplomatic calmness and amiability, the unionists “ made representations.” They urged that short hours, with an evening for normal recreation, would make them far livelier. Hence they would wheedle the customer with unprecedented loquacity, and would sell as much in short hours as in long. “ Besides,” they promised, “ we shall persuade your competitors to the early-to-bed policy, and patrons will soon learn to buy by daylight.” That sounded plausible. A few employers acceded, and the eating proved the pudding. The unions gratefully responded by tacking a union ticket upon the door of every acquiescent proprietor. Union tickets drew union trade; and when acquiescence became profitable, it was not long before acquiescence became very general. Thus, without strike or lockout or boycott or any hard feeling, the end was won. Would that the retail clerks might have their will with the poor, driven, hard-toiling East Side ; but that is too much to hope.

“ Driver,” said I, breaking in upon my own reflections, “take me to Fort Porter in time for the sunset gun.” So we passed to the Front, and witnessed the official salutation of the night, — a shining brass fieldpiece, a single blue soldier, a jerk of a cord, a round white powder puff growing bigger and bigger, a flag hauled down while the bugler blew his call, and a strange booming sound still echoing and reëchoing through the city. Yet high enough still rode the sun, now “ robed in flames and amber light,” and sinking, oh, so slowly, down toward his Majesty’s Canadian shore ! “ Straight was a path of gold for him ” — a path all radiant and shimmer-fine — across the broad Niagara.

But now I seemed to hear Buffalo saying, “ The play’s the thing,” and then to see hundreds of pleasure-loving Buffalonians posting away, by carriage or trolley car, to some charming comedy or light opera. I seemed also to see clubs showing signs of vivacity, — Saturn Club, University Club, Buffalo Club, even the Twentieth Century Club (a club of women). I seemed to see evening callers awaiting in dainty drawing-rooms their hostess’s welcome. I seemed to see wealth and prosperity arrayed in their richest (for night, the patrician, goes finer clad than day). And then I thought of many little children — wee exiles from the world’s sweet merriment — suffering themselves to be deftly tucked into bed, each one bemoaning so grievous a fate, as who should say : —

“ Now does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
I have to go to bed by day ? ”

Clear and blue was the sky overhead, to be sure, though gold and fire were piled together in the west; and I lingered on the bluff above the river till gold and fire were gone, and the beautiful stars peeped out of heaven. The whole scene changed before me. The blue of lake and river passed through gray to black; white yachts, mellowtinted with the sunlight, became mere tiny gleaming gems of yellow and red and green ; the lighthouse tower on the end of the breakwater utterly vanished, and out of the place where it had stood flashed warning to sailors. Innumerable lights flickered feebly from Canadian farmhouses, and in the very midst of the Niagara a pretty, colored constellation marked the “ crib ” where the waterworks take their supply. And beneath me, along the retaining wall which divides the river from Black Rock Harbor, I beheld an endless chain of bonfires, lanterns, torches, and student lamps, set in readiness by countless modern Waltons to lure the inquisitive perch and bass.

At last it was night in good faith, and I rode once more through the city, beholding a fine miracle of illumination, — Pennsylvania coal in tremulous gas flames, natural gas from that same Pennsylvania, feeding the incandescent Welsbach burners, while electrical power from Niagara Falls glowed in twenty-six thousand golden bulbs and sputtered in twenty-five hundred purplish arc lamps, and I knew that those “ biddable stars ” were at once a modern convenience and a means of grace. No longer need women lean on the arms of men, for fear of the dark. No longer need your sturdy night watchman stand guard. A single arc lamp fills all the place with so searching an illumination that thieves may not break through nor steal.

Now it seemed that a sort of set season had begun, and must run its course. From eight o’clock the night was all uneventfully alike until eleven, or near that hour, when the curtains of theatres fell, and the throngs of flushed playgoers strode forth under the stars. To be sure, the moon came up, pouring soft splendors upon that noble city, and made the drooping elms a melancholy mystic wonder, made modern palaces grand with a dignity not their own, made the harbor a twice-told tale of marvel and delight; for all the ships and all the great blackened granaries that crowd the wharves became reduplicated in the quivering, moonlit water. Yes, the rise of the moon, — was not that eventful ? And the clear spaces of heaven, through which the moon shone resplendent, — was there not in them, also, the making of history which might change the map of the world, so that where otherwise there would be bachelor apartments and cheerless boarding houses, there should instead be pretty cottages, and decent lawns about the cottages, and little children at play upon the lawns? Yes, a very eventful moonrise beyond peradventure of doubt; and yet it seemed to me that the evening of theatre hours was outwardly all of a piece, — coherent, continuous, even monotonous : same lighted, busy shops ; same crowded streets ; same parks filled with pleasurers ; same pool rooms, beer gardens, and German bowling alleys, where the youthful East Side made merry; same clubs and drawingrooms, where the West Side found relaxation and recreation. The play over, the city suffered a marked transformation, for now must the good be demurely pillowed in bed.

Homeward, then, turned many thousands. Standing outside a theatre, I observed, not without curious interest, that the trolleys in waiting exactly accommodated the crowds that came forth. “ How is this ? ” said I; and I 'll tell you the answer. The master motorman posts an inspector at the door of each theatre in the early evening, to count the people who come by trolley. The master motorman deducts from the inspector’s report a certain percentage sure to go home in carriages, another percentage destined to turn themselves loose upon “ the town,” and a still further percentage who will withdraw to the pretty caf&s of neighboring hotels to partake of such viands as no man in his senses will dream of — till afterwards ! Then the master motorman knows just how many cars each theatre needs.

It seemed to me almost incredible that in less than an hour the streets should be altered beyond compare, and that sleep should have fallen upon a whole municipality, now got safely to bed with such amazing promptitude. And no less astonishing was the infinite variety of devices by which the town had laid itself down to rest. I thought of polished brass and dainty white counterpanes, and wise heads " full of the foolishest dreams ; ” of hard and narrow cots where the destitute were sheltered by the Salvation Army ; of hospital wards where nurses went silently a-tiptoe ; of lodging houses where tramps and rogues and every sort of social derelict lay stowed together, to swelter and snore; of police-station cellars where wayfarers and miscreants sought comfort on couches upholstered with Portland cement; of hotels — “ clanging hotels,” Mr. Kipling would say — in which all known species of disturbance await the trusting guest; of prison cells — damp, hideous, awesome — where sin gets its wage, which is death. All this I seemed to see, and recalled with no small delight the teaching of Buddha: " Thou shalt use no luxurious bed.” Good Buddhists are we, or at least a great part of us.

Now it was even as I have told you : the wise and the good lay dreaming, and I saw that the others, loving darkness because their deeds were evil, strode forth in the night. Knaves, courtesans, fools, and numberless delinquents filled the streets, or failed to full them, leaving many a highway unfrequented and many a byway quite empty. And as I mused on the change of things, I thought of all that had changed during the evening. The faces had undergone a most singular metamorphosis: tired, workaday faces giving room to gay, pleasureloving faces; these to anxious, wan, homeless faces ; and these, again, to brutish faces, — faces utterly repugnant, and such, indeed, was their physiognomy that you felt for your watch. So of morals: amusement shaded off into mild Bohemianism, and that into dissipation. So of the intellect: newspapers, fiction, and solid reading filled the early evening ; now only the sensational novel had power to charm. Even food met a change : “ beefeaters ” yielded to frivolous supper parties, and these, in turn, to the eaters of lobsters and rarebits. The later the hour, the less discreet the man. That was natural. The discreet went to bed, the reckless kept awake ; for all his sage looks, the owl, as I learn, is but a silly bird. And late at night human nature becomes singularly venturesome ; hatching huge, bubbletinted schemes, which look quite unbelievable next morning ; and giving itself over on the one hand to an utterly romantic idealism, and on the other hand to a pessimistic philosophy whose portals would scare away the most aggressive of all fiends that are under the earth. Proposals and suicides occur at night, generally late at night; at midnight we are all of an age, yet scarcely of age. Schopenhauer has somewhere a maxim which compares a day to a lifetime : we are young in the morning, middleaged in the afternoon, old in the evening. But I cannot receive it. Evening, especially the farther verge of evening, seems to me like to senility in one point only : it is then that we are garrulous and egotistic. People say confidences come easiest in the dark; but the truth is, confidences come easiest in the night, be the gaslight never so brilliant; for then is the soul unloosened, and then are its inhibitive faculties brought to naught.

Seeing still a vast deal of stir in the city, I called a cabman to show me the cause. I sat at his side on the box, while he took me through terrible streets whose names are names to shudder at. Yet be not intolerant, good reader. What with twenty-eight railroads, enormous fleets of lake shipping, and an innumerable flotilla of canal boats, Buffalo becomes a rendezvous for hordes of drifting men. Being the sixth port of the world, next to the largest cattle market, itself the most important grain and lumber port, Buffalo invites a throng of traveling men ; and it is these itinerants, not the four hundred thousand inhabitants, who debauch the town. It is the stranger within the gates, not the good man of the house, who exacts night work of the Salvation Army and the rescue mission.

Next I said, “ Music halls, cabman,” and we flitted from one horrid den to another, in quick succession. A boy would have called it “ seeing life,” not knowing it was death we were seeing. And yet I found here and there a touch of odd humor. A sign read thus : “No pipe-smoking in this theatre ! ” In another place I discovered notices declaring: “ We don’t want no sleepers hanging around here,” “ We don’t want no knockers and boosters in this joint,” “ Order lunch at the counter and dig in,” and “ Leave your valuables behind the bar, or we are not responsible for them.” These were music halls of precisely the Bowery type, though I found them in Main Street, and in streets as accessible. The most elaborate has since changed management or gone out of existence ; but it was then the property of Mr. Steve Brodie, who leaped to fame and fortune from the Brooklyn Bridge. A moral maxim posted behind his bar impressed me deeply. It read : “ Cursing and swearing don’t make you any tougher in the eyes of people that hears you. STEVE BRODIE.” And when the small hours drew near, I visited a miserable, downtrodden gin palace, to discern how the Raines law might work. When, as the Frenchman said, “ the clock slapped one,” there was much pushing of chairs, much running hither and yon, and in a twinkling the place had become a “ hotel.” Not a drop of liquor might pass over the bar, and that very dispensable dispensary was veiled like a veiled lady. But — untold quantities might go around the end of the bar. Hence thirst was slaked and slaked again, and the law and the prophets were fulfilled.

Dismissing my cabman, I walked again through the streets, feeling the strange fascination of the night. Emerson speaks of the “ tumultuous privacy of storm,” and I thought there was also a tumultuous privacy of night, — an exaggeration of the soul, an odd riot of outer impressions. Tall buildings leaned forward, with brows bent toward the street; sounds of conversation carried half a block and more ; the infrequent trolleys, tail in air, sang a chromatic scale as they started, and their bells rang reverberant chimes as they passed me by ; my own footsteps came back clamorous from over the way ; moths flitted about the hissing arc lights, and ratlike shadows ran to and fro on the pavement beneath them. The effect was weird, melancholy, bizarre, as befitted the time. The soul, turned inward upon itself, brooded morbidly. Thought, less sequacious than by day, sought strange, unwonted channels. I was never more myself, never more alone.

But now I said, " We will examine those things which neither slumber nor sleep.” There are many such things, and they fall into three broad classes, — the perennially necessary, the necessarily nocturnal, and the things whereby night prepares for day. I looked first at the perennially necessary, and I soon enough saw them personified in a hulking big policeman, who came lumbering down Main Street, trying every door as he passed it.

The Buffalo police are organized according to the three-platoon theory, and, in a sense, the night platoon have the lightest as well as the darkest task. Most people are good when they are asleep, and at night the most people are asleep. You would say, no doubt, that night is the time for the burglar, and so it is ; burglaries occur commonly during the three hours following midnight; but burglars are far less numerous than sneak thieves, and sneak thieves rob by day. And though crimes of violence are more frequent in the night, because they that are drunken are drunken in the night, crimes of violence comprise but a very small fraction of humanity’s misbehavements. Nevertheless, it is late at night that the solitary patrolman seems most grandly a hero. It is then that you say that

“ makin’ mock o’ uniforms
That guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms,
And they ’re starvation cheap.”

The firemen, too, are quite indispensable ; and a sorry life is theirs, the same men serving by night and by day. Catlike, they sleep with one eye open, and, for such reason as no man may fathom, the whole vast department is twitched out of bed at every alarm, awaiting the “ joker’s ” numerical announcement. Even the horses sleep bitted. Making my way to a neighboring station, I chatted with the watchman in low tones, lest I break some one’s rest. He, however, spoke loudly as ever. The point was this : the sleeping firemen get so used to familiar voices as never to be disturbed by them, while a strange voice wakes the sleepers at once. And presently I was admitted to the dormitory over the engine room, where, by sheer luck, the bell rang as I entered. A dozen men sprang from their cots and into their clothes, and slid down a steel bar through a hole in the floor, before I could wink. Distant alarm — blaze in a woodshed five miles away — a dozen sleepy guardsmen sent back to their bunks ! Tell me, can men thus used keep fit for active service ?

Less dramatic, though not less indispensable, is the guardianship of health. Doctors and apothecaries leap up in readiness at the most ridiculous hour. The ambulance waits ever the call. And so are we watched over, that the moon shall not smite us, nor the pestilence that walketh by night. And should we foolishly venture forth upon the lake in a squall, there are watchful eyes to keep us from drowning. The life-saving people tell me that fools serve as final cause of their task. Might not policemen and firemen say the same ?

Furthermore, the mobility of human society is indispensable, and abhors paralysis. Cabs run day and night; not the same cabs, but cabs. And the cab is the tippler’s friend. The great barns keep their vehicles moving till midnight; the purely nocturnal gigs and coaches go privateering. I inquired how the horse fared under so Parisian a reversal of night and day. “ ’E do fare well,” said the cabby. “ ’E canna be bit nights by flies, an’ ’e canna be ’urt nights by ’eat.” But at this point I sighted a familiar face. Mr. Richard Danforth, operating superintendent of the trolley lines, rode by in his “ hurry-up ” cart, going home from an electrical complication. He very kindly picked me up, and told me things. The night crews, it seems, mount the cars at ten and work till six, getting ten hours’ pay for eight hours’ labor, though without “ relief.” They eat their supper at two in the morning. These must be trusty souls, the best twentieth of the whole army of trolleymen ; for the cars run at high speed, and many of the passengers are also very “ fast,” — so fast, indeed, that they sometimes give trouble, and the disorder is to be cured only by the laying on of hands. The management instructs conductors to fight only when necessary, but never to be beaten. “ Punch, brothers,” but “ punch with care.” Yet, on the whole, the world is so constituted that the conductors establish rather an intimate entente with the " rounders.” The rounder calls the conductor by his Christian name ; the conductor puts the rounder down at his accustomed stopping place, no matter how hilariously unaccountable that particular rounder may have become. This is possible, because the rounder always comes home on the same car; there is nothing so uniform as the regularity of the irregular. Moreover, there is work to be done all night at the car barns, — cars to be groomed, endless details and particularities to be inspected. There would also be work for the power house, did not Niagara furnish the power.

I bade Mr. Danforth good-night (goodmorning, I mean) in front of a brilliantly lighted railroad station, and therein beheld many scores of sleepy passengers leaning awry in the most uncomfortable postures known to unhappy science. A sorry sight, thought I, and I perceived that the sufferers were of two sorts, — laboring people and ministers of the gospel ; alike poor, and alike possessors of second-class tickets not serviceable on through trains with sleepers. Jaded as I then was with much running hither and yon, I thought it to be tragic, that common herding of soldiers of the cross with ignorant Poles and Italians, that degradation of cultured, sensitive souls amongst semi-barbarians. But perhaps it was chiefly my mood, for late hours heighten the melodramatic instinct; the matinée, you will admit, must at least mimic night. Perhaps, too, it was the unaccustomed weirdness of it all. There are no such scenes in Boston, for Boston is in no sense a way station.

And now I said, “ Let us see what consequences result from all this night activity of a station.” For one thing, the cut-rate ticket man kept open doors, to buy from who might come ; for another, the express office had lights ; still again, freight sheds rumbled with moving trucks ; mail carts clattered to and fro ; and, most impressive of all, the hotels had each a very perceptible latchstring hung out. Seeking out a hostelry whose clerk I knew for an affable fellow, I learned much in little. “ Same as the day,” said he, “ except that the bar and café close up.”

At this juncture a prolonged blast from a steam whistle, many times repeated, resounded through the city ; it came from the harbor. So thither I hastened, and found a huge grain hulk lustily calling for an extra towboat to take the stern line and get her tethered to the wharf. There is no night in the harbor. Tug captains, wharfingers, stevedores, scoopers, colliers, freight handlers, machinists, — all must be fit for the job when the job pulls in. What with frozen lakes for five months in the year, the utmost haste is needed lest the summer traffic fail to pay dividends. To unload speedily is to be off again, loaded to the line, a day later, earning one’s salt and more. The lake freighters, like Kipling’s “ little cargo boats, that sail the wet seas round,” have “ got to do their business first, and make the most they can.”

Now I protest that nowhere in North America will you come on a more thrilling night scene than the fresh-water cargo tank unloading. Here she lies, beneath the towering grain elevator, which thrusts a long pumping pipe (called the “ leg ”) down through her hatchway. Mount the gangplank, dodging the spinning ropes that make your head reel; stumble about on the dark deck ; look down, down, down, through the open hatch, and —zounds, what a sight! The hold glows with electricity; it is misty with blown dust; it roars with mechanical activity. An enormous steel “ shovel,” big as the side of a house, and manipulated by countless flying ropes, charges back and forth through the whole length of the ship, pitching the yellow grain before it, and heaping it up where the leg can get hold of it, to whisk it into the bin that is somewhere up in the sky. Beneath, in the hold, an army of blueclad men, with wooden " scoops,” barely dodge the deadly shovel as they swing the grain into its path.

A tug lay hard by, and the captain, added his bit to my newly acquired knowledge, as I sat in the pilot house and peered out on the water, where red lights and green lights, with many of yellow and white, dripped zigzag fashion down from the wharves and ships. “ Where do you sleep?” questioned I. “Why, here,” he replied, “ in this very pilot house, on that nice fluffy bunk you ’re a-settin’ on ; an’ sometimes I sleep at that wheel, a-steerin’ this boat, sir. Can’t be helped, sir. The hours we work would stave in a trained nurse, an’ send a sentinel to be shot. Why, man, I’ve seed the time when I’ve stuck by that wheel twenty grim hours at a stretch ; once it was forty - two hours. And when you read in the paper about towin’ a big propeller clean through a dock, or jammin’ her into her next-door neighbor fer keeps, don’t you say us tug folks are Johnnie Raws. Just say we’re worked and worked till we sleep at the wheel. For that’s God’s truth, sir.” Transportation, then, is that golden hinge upon which hangs the nation’s wealth. The hinge must be ever ready. Even canal boats run day and night, the night mule working while the day mule sleeps. Board such a boat, and no doubt the skipper will lift a warning forefinger, saying, “ S-s-sh ! You ’ll wake the mule ! ” Now, if you will stop and think a moment, you will see that next to the importance of nocturnal transportation ranks the importance of the nocturnal transmission of intelligence. Quite indispensable is the “ night trick ” at the telegraph office ; equally so the “ blue-coat boys,” who go about on bicycles. (Happy thought: if the boy dawdles, the wheel tips over !) Besides, the “ phone ” must be ready. “ Central ” has a bass voice at night, and there are comparatively few of him, but the few would be grievously missed. And of course we must keep the post office open. Thither I trudged, to find men sorting letters by such miraculous methods that only one is missent in twenty thousand, though the writers thereof lie dreaming. Leaving the post office, I noticed lights in a sombre office where the faithful undertaker awaited summons. He received me with a face as long as the Union Pacific, but, learning my business, cheered up somewhat and answered questions. “ People mostly die between midnight and five in the morning. We have to be ready.”

I found the undertaker rather a depressing companion, and speedily got quit of him. Calling a cab, I flitted once more to the Front, and saw that the waterworks ceased not at night. Eternally those gigantic black engines groan and heave and sweat at their toil; eternally the strong steel arm turns the thirty-foot balance wheel, while the hiss and ca-chug of eccentrics mark the endless revolutions, each registered automatically on a dial plate. Near by, a brewery showed signs of activity, and there I saw wonderful machines making artificial ice to keep the vats cool. And then the whole sky turned crimson. Far to the east a huge blast furnace belched fire. The furnace must never cool, lest the molten ingredients become hardened beyond remedy.

“ This,” said I to myself, “ closes the list of the perennial indispensables; now for the necessarily nocturnal.”

And then I beheld a most singular spectacle, — a train of cars in Main Street, dazzling lights in the cars, and in lieu of an engine a curious Juggernautlooking affair, which had power to blend steel with steel by the force of electricity. This they called electric welding, and the train was gradually transforming a thousand rails into one long one. As I stood gazing, a hissing sound, accompanied by no little rumbling and tramping, announced something significant approaching. A span of flap-eared mules, a sulky-like vehicle, an immense rotary toothbrush beneath it, a dirty, roundshouldered driver, a cloud of dust, — all this denoted that cleanliness which is close akin to piety. Spotless Town is chiefly groomed and glossed at night, for that is the time that the streets are deserted. Likewise, I saw a most untimely glow in the windows of many a tall building; offices were being dusted and scoured by a “ scrub team ” of dienstmädchen. Similarly, the marble-paved hotel lobbies received their nocturnal bath at the hands of innumerable kneeling devotees.

Such, then, were the things that must needs be done solely at night. But the night had aged perceptibly, and I must hasten to see the city prepare for dawn. Breakfast already loomed large in the future. “ Cabby,” said I, hailing that fail-me-never, “ a steam bakery, or we perish! ” A beautiful scene I found there, — white walls, white floors, whiteclad bakers, white dough, and the glare of white light from Welsbach burners. Whistler, unless he has repented of the White Girl, would delight his eye in so arctic a color scheme. At three come the wagons to fetch a load of fragrant bread and rolls. And it is at this early hour that the outermost districts of Buffalo hear clattering carts that bring garden truck from the surrounding country ; a little later the picturesque market in Elk Street assumes an air of most extraordinary activity; and likewise the milkman bestirs himself, to the serious irritation of the multitude.

I turned now to think of the morning paper, and, through the courtesy of Mr. David Gray, I beheld how it is made. His paper, the Enquirer (owned by a millionaire who once shoveled grain on the docks), boasts of its “ yellowness.” I beg to qualify : it is saffron, not yellow. Its sensationalism amounts mainly to staring lettering, the framing of news with bordering of stars, and the achievement of a lurid, not to say flamboyant “ lay-out.” The news editor, when I arrived, was “ freaking it up ” — to use his own phrase — in the composing room. He stopped freaking long enough to explain that almost no editorials are written at night; that reporters come in after supper; that they prowl till midnight; and that they hold their midnight moot council at police headquarters. I visited their lair in that imposing establishment, and found a banjo, a mandolin, three packs of cards, and several masters of fiction. “ Yes,” said one of them, “ this is where things happen.” But it is after midnight that the nervous fun sets in. Each paper attempts to cover the town with a single “ dog,” and, however agile the movements of that faithful mastiff, some things will escape him. For instance, a death — an important, and from a journalistic standpoint an eminently desirable death — may occur when the paper is just going to press. You have then a highly edifying race between “ dogs,” and all honor to him who wins a “ beat ” on his rival. Once upon a time, the owner of the Buffalo Courier died at four in the morning. The Buffalo Express dog, passing the house, saw an ominous stir. Getting his facts, he telephoned his editor, who drew from the “ boneyard ” a lengthy biography of the late lamented. Next morning the Courier came out with no mention of its own proprietor’s demise. This led to a journalistic maxim still current in Buffalo : " A man who will die at four o’clock in the morning is no gentleman.”

The night was now far spent. Birds twittered uneasily ; pavements turned a sickly greenish white ; the moon, long since set, seemed to draw away the stars, who bore affectionate attendance in her train ; the east grew faintly light. Yes, it was morning. A little lad with a little ladder trotted nimbly down the street. There were lights before him, none behind. “ I puts out sixty-two lights, sir ; works from three to three forty-five; they’s ninety boys like me ; g’ by ! ” and he skipped blithely away.

Just then a trolley car, with electric bulbs still glowing, flashed round a corner, and its lonely conductor hailed me lustily. Most fortunate ! I would ride to Delaware Park and wake up the Zoo. A pleasant ride it was, — long, whitepaved avenues, slumbering elms, houses where as yet not a soul was astir, and at last the Park. A delicate rose pink tinged the sky, and birds caroled buoyantly. The swans came out of their nesting places, and rippled the lake. “ Buccaneering bumblebees,” half awake, clung lazily to lilacs and azaleas. The meadow, moist with dew and fragrant with sweet morning odors, seemed lovelier than ever. I was not alone, for wheelmen — or, more properly, wheelwomen, “ well nine and twenty in a companye ” — drew up at the Zoo, and “I was of their fellowship anon.” Each had a kodak ; each had ambition ; and no sooner had broad day come than those fair disciples of Seton - Thompson devoted themselves to portraiture. Wolves, prairie dogs, moose, and polar bears fell victims. In the case of the wolves I cared little, for wolves are a nuisance. The Belt Line trains wake the wolves; the wakened wolves howl, and the howl wakes the neighborhood. But I pitied the sensitive fawns, startled thus rudely. “ That’s nothin’,” said the keeper ; “ it’s the people that orter to be pitied. They ’re clean gone daffy. Only yesterday a loidy came over that there spiked railin’ an’ got in wid de grizzly, a-takin’ his pitcher. If I had n’t come when I did, he ’d of 'ad ’er oder ear off ; see ? ”

I whisked downtown again by the Belt train, and as I rode reflected. I had beheld the night work of a city. Arduous I had found it, — arduous, but not unnecessarily cruel. The night toiler’s song is no Song of the Shirt. Never do the avaricious rich wantonly compel the poor. I had seen, too, a very intricate system cunningly devised to mollify hard conditions, — one shift relieving another shift, one man at work that another might sleep, sometimes a weekly or biweekly change of venue. Yet arduous it remained, and ever must so remain. To many I said, “ Can you keep your health ? ” Some answered, “ Yes, but not our spirits. The habitual night worker feels like the whitened grass under a plank.” The majority declared they could see no ill effect; but I noticed that no one ventured to defend night work as more healthful than day work.

Leaving the train at the Terrace Station, I clapped eye on the man I wanted, — a judge on a bicycle, riding to sunrise court. I followed. At police headquarters the cell room had opened its hideous grating, and a sorry file of the misguided — ragged, dirty, blear-eyed, and breakfastless — slouched across the corridor, and seated themselves with an air of accustomed composure (such as chapel-going folk acquire) upon the hard wooden benches of a dingy court room. Several enormous patrolmen mounted guard, while the judge — called, for what reason I know not, the “ justice ” — ascended a rostrum surrounded (guess why) with a stout brass lattice,and opened an immense Doomsday Book, wherein the names of offenders were duly enscrolled. Then the justice, without so much as lifting his eyes from the page, roared out, “ John Dolan ! ” A hungrylooking, hollow-eyed workman shambled to the front. “ Charge iv dhrunk an’ intoxicated,” said the judge.

“Intoxicated I was, yer honor, but dhrunk, niver! ”

“ Tin days,” said the judge, and a loud guffaw went round the room.

“ Michael Moonahan ! ” A poor bruised remnant of what had once been a man limped forward. “ Charge iv assault an’ batthry.”

“Yer honor, this ain’t fair! I gets licked be Pat Flannagan, an’ then the copper nabs me, and lets Pat go.”

“ I fine yez wan dollar.”

The next three cases were discharged. Then came the case of Schwartzmann vs. McSorley ; Schwartzmann being a diminutive Teuton, while Officer McSorley stood six feet three without boots. “ Heinrich Schwartzmann, I charge yez with assault forninst an officer iv the law. Misther McSorley, phat have yez to say ? ”

“This man took me cloob from me, an’ insulted me outhrageous.”

“ Dot vass one pig lie,” rejoined the diminutive Teuton. “ Your honor, I vass standin’ on de corner uv Ellum Streedt und Vranklin, und dot boliceman say to me, ‘ Gwan oud uv here, or I vill trag you to der station house.’ I say to eem, ‘ Mein Gott, I vill arrest you! ’ Und now I vass heer.” Discharged.

And so it went. Sunrise court they call a merciful device, which permits the discharged offender or the man who has paid a fine to get free in time to go to his labor. A pretty theory : see how it works. Policemen, eager to show their mettle, arrest whom they like “ on suspicion.” In winter they become most voracious, snapping up the innocent with unexampled eagerness, as an excuse to get in out of the cold while their victim waits trial. At best you have here a star-chamber procedure ; “ justice ” administered while the town sleeps. The word of the well-fed, well-washed patrolman set over against that of the pitiful dazed wretch, who has spent half the night in a cell, and who all but faints for want of his breakfast. Witnesses there are none.

But what, think you, goes on at this very hour, within a stone’s throw of the sunrise court ? Early mass at St. Joseph’s. Dockers, white with grain dust, red with ore, or black with coal; day laborers in blue overalls ; hatless women with Polish shawls or bright Italian fichus, — these throng the echoing aisles ; and there went I, not without sense of sweet relief, for there might Longfellow have written that noblest of all his sonnets : —

“ I lift mine eyes, and all the windows blaze
With forms of saints and holy men who died,
Here martyred and hereafter glorified ;
And the great Rose upon its leaves displays
Christ’s Triumph, and the angelic roundelays,
With splendor upon splendor multiplied.
And then the organ sounds, and unseen choirs
Sing the old Latin hymns of peace and love
And benedictions of the Holy Ghost;
And the melodious bells among the spires
O’er all the housetops and through heaven
Proclaim the elevation of the Host! ”

And when I came out of that solemn, sacred place, the sunlit highways were full of the workers. A thousand discordant whistles declared the hour. “ Morning ’s at seven,” said I.

Rollin Lynde Hartt.