It was six o'clock on a winter's evening. Thin, dingy rain spat and drizzled past the lighted street lamps. The pavements shone long and yellow. In squeaking goloshes, with mackintosh collars up and bowlers and trilbies weeping, youngish men from the offices bundled home against the thistly wind--
'Night, Mr Macey.'
'Going my way, Charlie?'
'Ooh, there's a pig of a night!'
'Good night, Mr Swan.'--
and older men, clinging on to the big, black circular birds of their umbrellas, were wafted back, up the gaslit hills, to safe, hot, slippered, weatherproof hearths, and wives called Mother, and old, fond, fleabag dogs, and the wireless babbling.
Young women from the offices, who smelt of scent and powder and wet pixie hoods and hair, scuttled, giggling, arm-in-arm, after the hissing trams, and screeched as they splashed their stockings in the puddles rainbowed with oil between the slippery lines.
In a shop window, two girls undressed the dummies:
'Where you going to-night?'
'Depends on Arthur. Up she comes.'
'Mind her cami-knicks, Edna . . .'
The blinds came down over another window.
A newsboy stood in a doorway, calling the news to nobody, very softly:
'Earthquake. Earthquake in Japan.'