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|Feet That Pass on Market St.
There is something about walking along Market street with the procession of people that passes all day, ah, how shall I express it? It is thrilling and it is amusing; it is cosmic and it is puny. It is often ridiculous and always sublime. Sometimes when we are in most of a hurry the consciousness of the procession will come to us. It is as though we were one of a moving crowd that never began and will never end. At such times we listen to the sound of their feet, the steady, unceasing step by step, an endless tramp as though it were beating out the rhythm - "Eternity, eternity, eternity."
As we pass voices call to us from the wayside, a cripple so far down below us on the very ground offering his silent pencils; the allurement of flowers; a hoarse newsboy with his old, old face screwed into a thousand anxious wrinkles; a blind man, silent supplicant, twirling his thumbs; and from the windows the call of strawberries at 15 cents a basket. Overhead an aeroplane hums its way and receives from us the tribute of an upward glance. We gaze upward and think how many years before our day aeroplanes were flying overhead in the dreams of men who passed and passed in the long procession.
Idly we glimpse faces that pass us in the procession that meets ours. We pass them and are never the wiser for the struggle and tragedy that may be going on behind their show of brave masks. A man clutching his last dime and wondering whether to spend it for rolls and coffee or coffee and rolls. A business man absorbed and a lady pondering deeply some detail of her dress. A young girl with soft un-massaged chin hurrying to keep a tryst with her "friend," and country folks, their feet sore on the unaccustomed pavements, glad to be going home soon.
It is such an orderly procession and although they all seem to be walking along forever, there is an order in their going and each is on his way. Each one is free to go to his own place and yet no one is free. No one is free to leave the procession once he gets into it. Once a man is born he's done for.
Let him veer one iota from that procession and soon there will come rumbling up to the curb a big black Maria and off he's whisked away from his fellows. Let him but get into the wrong house or take the wrong overcoat or chuck the wrong person under the chin - Pff! Let him forget where the long procession leads and wander about a free spirit and his wanderings will lead him to the madhouse.
I love to be one of the procession that marches forever up and down Market street, such a brave procession.