the watches of the night

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the watches of the night

The moments or hours of the night, typically when someone is awake. I used to wake in the dark watches of the night, my body paralyzed, convinced that someone or something was watching me from the shadows. My poor wife was up in the silent watches of the night for two months before our daughter was born, plagued by restless legs and an aching back.
See also: night, of, watch

the watches of the night

the hours of night, especially viewed as a time when you cannot sleep. literary
A watch was originally each of the three or four periods of time into which the night was divided, during which a guard would be stationed to keep a lookout for danger or trouble.
See also: night, of, watch
References in classic literature ?
So, almost every twenty-four hours, when the watches of the night were set, and the band on deck sentinelled the slumbers of the band below; and when if a rope was to be hauled upon the forecastle, the sailors flung it not rudely down, as by day, but with some cautiousness dropt it to its place, for fear of disturbing their slumbering shipmates; when this sort of steady quietude would begin to prevail, habitually, the silent steersman would watch the cabin-scuttle; and ere long the old man would emerge, griping at the iron banister, to help his crippled way.
It would, doubtless, fare none too well for the man who had permitted the arch enemy of them all aboard the ship in the watches of the night, where later he might set an infernal machine to blow them all to kingdom come.
The night humours of the town descended from the street to the waterside in the still watches of the night: larrikins rushing down in bands to settle some quarrel by a stand-up fight, away from the police, in an indistinct ring half hidden by piles of cargo, with the sounds of blows, a groan now and then, the stamping of feet, and the cry of "Time!" rising suddenly above the sinister and excited murmurs; night-prowlers, pursued or pursuing, with a stifled shriek followed by a profound silence, or slinking stealthily along-side like ghosts, and addressing me from the quay below in mysterious tones with incomprehensible propositions.
But this method he realized to be too fraught with danger, and so he commenced picking up solitary hunters with his long, deadly noose, stripping them of weapons and ornaments and dropping their bodies from a high tree into the village street during the still watches of the night.
He is a destroying angel in moving through the still watches of the night."
Thrice blessed be this last consideration, since it enables us to follow the disdainful Miggs even into the sanctity of her chamber, and to hold her in sweet companionship through the dreary watches of the night!
Thus, then, the ship sped on her way through the watches of the night from dark till dawn,
Chain-smoking, pint-downing Barrie had a ready wit in the long watches of the night during pit pay talks.