The night is black, like the robe of Father Dominicus, who lies on his knees, wrestling with the devil in the sweat of his face, and imploring to God that the sinful cup may pass by him. The sinful cup is dark-haired and usually stands with smiling mouth and leg under the glow of the lantern in the park. He hears the devil laugh and God comes in and the tortured priest drives up from a terrible dream.
Yes, the night is black and the ships are wanderlust and breathe uneasily at the wharf. A voice refined with rum, sings to the Schifferklavier the song of Madagascar and the plague on board. Dark clouds drift eastwards in the cold night wind, where a distant morning unfolds on the horizon. Only now and then does a star flash; always ready to show the seafarers the way across the sea. But what gurgles and beats against the ship’s wall, is not the wide sea, but the cloudy waters of the river. Dishes and pubs, places of cheerfulness and “sin”, close their doors. From one comes the pastor, Protestant and Lutheran with his collar turned up and shy eyes. And the Herr Studienrat, free-thinker of the city, scoffers and night owls, grins and hums:
A Biba churchman walked
around the brothel.
Then a pious sister saw him
and he was stupid.
As a shepherd for all sheep
, he is here for the evening hour.
To save their souls too;
this is the real reason.The pious sister smiled,
eyes and mouth.
‘And she is a poor soul;
so lonely and so sore.
He looked pious and grinned finely;
that is understandable.
If only she could, she could
go home with him!

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Meanwhile, a drinker is straying through narrow streets and calls in vain for his fine love. The bottle in his hand yawns emptiness to the bottom. There are still mermaids on the shore and sing seductively, as once at the Loreley and wave inviting with their fins. Then many a suitor approaches, like the moth to the light. And it is not unusual to see a body floating in the water the next morning and a man bending around the corner. Now and then, thieves and cats meet on the rooftops and in narrow backyards, and pay each other their respects. In the park, under a lantern, the brave citizen and the prostitute bargain for the price. Meanwhile, the police make their rounds satisfied, because there is peace in the city. The night is like any other. Even today a child is born and the Magi are beings in white coats.
The houses are now silent and crouched like sleeping dogs. For many, the bunk is too big and they wallow lonely from one side to the other.
Young girls dream of their centenary sleep and wait for the prince. But not everyone is resting in their chamber. Nurses, police and other useful beings, like the thief, have turned the day into night and are rushing back and forth. Even the night watchman, who has never worked a day, turns his rounds faithfully and conscientiously. Night watchmen have seen and heard a lot. And if they keep quiet, they live longer. When he passes the lantern again, the brave citizen and the prostitute are already gone. Three hooded figures sit on a bench and the bottle circles from hand to hand. The young poet in his little room looks with chewed pencil at a mockingly grinning sheet of white paper and struggles with being or not-being. There is a knock on the door and when he opens it, the sinful chalice stands before him as a muse and smiles with his mouth and leg. And the brave citizen who comes home looks in vain for his wallet.
The thief rushes out of a side street and carefully looks around to all sides. He is tired after hard work; but satisfied and loaded with a heavy bag. And softly he sings to himself:
Lantern, lantern,
sun, moon and stars,
I like the policeman! –
The cat is lying on the roof and dreams of big and small fish. The ship’s boy, longing for unknown lands, sleepily opens his eyes and looks at the clock. He sighs and with a slight curse he rises, for the captain and the sailor are allowed to sleep on.
Both he and the ship want to go to hell and yet, after what he longs, will follow in their footsteps.
Soon it rattles and clatters in the streets and narrow streets. The hills of sand and coal bounce off the wharf and the sirens wish each other a happy ride. In the morning light, the houses rise and open their eyes for a new day. Bakers and butchers greet each other across the street. Father Dominicus thanks God and makes the bells ring. And who has lain in his bunk in the night, may go to work early for a reward.