It was a crisp November night. The artificial brilliance of Broadway was rivalled by a glorious moonlit sky. The first autumn frost was in the air, and on the side-streets long rows of taxicabs were standing, their motors blanketed, their chauffeurs threshing their arms to rout the cold. A few well-bundled cabbies, perched upon old-style hansoms, were barking at the stream of hurrying pedestrians. Against a background of lesser lights myriad points of electric signs flashed into everchanging shapes, winking like huge, distorted eyes; fanciful designs of liquid fire ran up and down the walls or blazed forth in lurid colors. From the city’s canons came an incessant clanging roar, as if a great river of brass and steel were grinding its way toward the sea.
Crowds began to issue from the theatres, and the lines of waiting vehicles broke up, filling the streets with the whir of machinery and the clatter of hoofs. A horde of shrill-voiced urchins pierced the confusion, waving their papers and screaming the football scores at the tops of their lusty lungs, while above it all rose the hoarse tones of carriage callers, the commands of traffic officers, and the din of street-car gongs.
In the lobby of one of the playhouses a woman paused to adjust her wraps, and, hearing the cries of the newsboys, petulantly exclaimed:
“I’m absolutely sick of football. That performance during the third act was enough to disgust one.”
Her escort smiled. “Oh, you take it too seriously,” he said. “Those boys don’t mean anything. That was merely Youth— irrepressible Youth, on a tear. You wouldn’t spoil the fun?”
“It may have been Youth,” returned his companion, “but it sounded more like the end of the world. It was a little too much!”
A bevy of shop-girls came bustling forth from a gallery exit.
“Rah! rah! rah!” they mimicked, whereupon the cry was answered by a hundred throats as the doors belched forth the football players and their friends. Out they came, tumbling, pushing, jostling; greeting scowls and smiles with grins of insolent good-humor. In their hands were decorated walking-sticks and flags, ragged and tattered as if from long use in a heavy gale. Dignified old gentlemen dived among them in pursuit of top-hats; hysterical matrons hustled daughters into carriages and slammed the doors.
“Wuxtry! Wuxtry!” shrilled the newsboys. “Full account of the big game!”
A youth with a ridiculous little hat and heliotrope socks dashed into the street, where, facing the crowd, he led a battle song of his university. Policemen set their shoulders to the mob, but, though they met with no open resistance, they might as well have tried to dislodge a thicket of saplings. To-night football was king.
Out through the crowd came a score of deep-chested young men moving together as if to resist an attack, whereupon a mighty roar went up. The cheer-leader increased his antics, and the barking yell changed to a measured chant, to the time of which the army marched down the street until the twenty athletes dodged in through the revolving doors of a cafe, leaving Broadway rocking with the tumult.