Author: F. Hopkinson Smith
Release Date: March, 2004 [EBook #5229] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on June 9, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK Felix O’day ***
Etext produced by Duncan Harrod email@example.com
F. Hopkinson Smith
Broadway on dry nights, or rather that part known as the Great White Way, is a crowded thoroughfare, dominated by lofty buildings, the sky-line studded with constellations of colored signs pencilled in fire. Broadway on wet, rain-drenched nights is the fairy concourse of the Wonder City of the World, its asphalt splashed with liquid jewels afloat in molten gold.
Across this flood of frenzied brilliance surge hurrying mobs, dodging the ceaseless traffic, trampling underfoot the wealth of the Indies, striding through pools of quicksilver, leaping gutters filled to the brim with melted rubies—horse, car, and man so many black silhouettes against a tremulous sea of light.
Along this blinding whirl blaze the playhouses, their wide portals aflame with crackling globes, toward which swarm bevies of pleasure-seeking moths, their eyes dazzled by the glare. Some with heads and throats bare dart from costly broughams, the mountings of their sleek, rain-varnished horses glittering in the flash of the electric lamps. Others spring from out street cabs. Many come by twos and threes, their skirts held high. Still others form a line, its head lost in a small side door. These are in drab and brown, with worsted shawls tightly drawn across thin shoulders. Here, too, wedged in between shabby men, the collars of their coats muffling their chins, their backs to the grim policeman, stand keen-eyed newsboys and ragged street urchins, the price of a gallery seat in their tightly closed fists.
Soon the swash and flow of light flooding the street and sidewalks shines the clearer. Fewer dots and lumps of man, cab, and cart now cross its surface. The crowd has begun to thin out. The doors of the theatres are deserted; some flaunt signs of “Standing Room Only.” The cars still follow their routes, lunging and pausing like huge beetles; but much of the wheel traffic has melted, with only here and there a cab or truck between which gold-splashed umbrellas pick a hazardous way.
With the breaking of the silent dawn, shadowed in a lonely archway or on an abandoned doorstep the wet, bedraggled body of a hapless moth is sometimes found, her iridescent wings flattened in the mud. Then for a brief moment a cry of protest, or scorn, or pity goes up. The passers-by raise their hands in anger, draw their skirts aside in horror, or kneel in tenderness. It is the same the world over, and New York is no better and, for that matter, no worse.