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A CASUAL STROLL
THE ESPLANADE AT NIGHT.
There are times when the commercial brilliance of Abbott-street palls on one, and the yearning for quiteness cannot be denied. One then thinks of the Esplanade with the waves gently lapping against the immovable concrete of the retaining wall. Murray Prior frowns down from across the bay, while in the distance, stretching as far as the eye can see, twinkle the leading lights, like jewels in some monarch's diadem.
To the right, the Aquatic Hall is a blaze of light. There hearts are free. Sorrows disappear in the tripping of the light fantastic, and artificial passions are engendered in the shuffling grotesqueries of the imported Charleston. Just in front, a cheerful inebriate gnaws hungrily at the remains of a pig's trotter, mumbling to himself the while he tries to recapture the glow of that hour when, through a halo of cheering spirits, he had seen the world with rose-coloured glasses.
Nearby, an ardent Izaak Waltonian sits in patient solitude, a glowing pipe in his mouth, intent on luring from the deep one of the main ingredients of a fish breakfast. The fish, however, are wary, and by and by, with a grunt of disgust, he leaves them to their piscatorial peace.
Next a vision of poverty obtrudes itself, and a tattered "down at heel" is seen stretched at length on one of the benches, enfolded in that oblivion where the struggle for existence worries not.
Another seat is occupied by a pair of lovers. Wrapped in the communion that comes from perfect understanding, they heed not the passers by ; but here instict compels one not to look too closely.
From a boarding house across the way comes the strain of some popular jazz air played on a cheap gramaphone, where, it can be imagined, a lonely boarder whiles away the time of thinking of his home and those he has left behind him.
As one walks, the gentle breeze from the bay caresses the cheek, and would seem to pause a while to give us heart before carrying its cooling draught to the town. Near the top, the swimming enclosures, their skeleton fingers poking into the air are now deserted by both bathers and water, and looking truly folorn in the partial darkness.
The night air is like a soothing balm, and one wanders on - on past the other enclosures - towards the mangroves. The black's camp brings itself under one's notice, first by medium of the nostrils, and then the eye makes out the shabby little hovels in the distance. Here the children of nature are sleeping, dogs and everything else complete, while the God of all men, black, white or any other colour, keeps his eternal guard. Sleep on you children, as yet untouched by the hardening fingers of so-called civilisation : yours is perhaps the happier lot.