THE liner steams through the Narrows (the Normandie, Queen Mary, Bremen; the dozen greatest ships of the world, sailing from Liverpool, Southampton, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Havre, Genoa, head for that narrow strip of water and steam dexterously through it, turn precisely toward the slender island toward the north). Out of an early morning fog come brooding, ghostly calls. A dark blotch appears, takes form -- an anchored tramp: coffee from Brazil, rubber from Sumatra, bananas from Costa Rica -- and slowly disappears; another liner is suddenly moving alongside, also steaming northward, and then dissolves into the white nothing. Invisible ferries scuttle, tooting, across the harbor.
The Limited, bearing a sight-seeing family (there are 115,000 of them daily -- from Waco, Mobile, Los Angeles, Kansas City), the literary genius of Aurora High School, the prettiest actress in the Burlington dramatic club, a farm boy hoping to start for Wall Street, and a mechanic with an idea, pounds across the state of New Jersey. They cross the meadows, see far off the great wall of the city and dive into the darkness beneath Jersey City and the Hudson River. Or perhaps the train comes from Winnipeg, Gary, Erie, and follows the Hudson toward its mouth or crosses the Hell Gate from New England.
In the city, night workers, their footsteps sharp, irregular on the quiet streets, return home. A water wagon rolls by. Bands are still playing in half a dozen night clubs. In the Upper East Side, in the Upper West