Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 To go, or not to go
 Sailing southward
 Arrival at St. Thomas
 Charlotte Amalia
 A cruise to St. Croix
 The two "steds"
 Cruising around volcanoes
 The island of St. Christopher
 St. Kitt's and Nevis
 Antigua the capital
 The arrival at Guadeloupe
 Dreaded obeah signs
 The island's serpents
 Cruising around Pelee
 Glorious Martinique
 In Pelee's shadow
 Island of St. Lucia
 Dominica the beautiful
 England's oldest colony
 On to Demerara
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: The Spell series
Title: The spell of the Caribbean islands
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081306/00001
 Material Information
Title: The spell of the Caribbean islands
Series Title: The Spell series
Physical Description: xviii, 2 ℓ., 361 p. : illus. ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Bell, Archie, 1877-1943
Publisher: Robert M. McBride,
Robert M. McBride
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1933
Copyright Date: 1926
Subject: Description and travel -- Leeward Islands   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Windward Islands   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Dominica
Antigua and Barbuda
Saint Kitts-Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
British Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands
General Note: Illustrated lining-papers.
General Note: Bibliography: p. 357-358.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081306
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - AAQ4585
oclc - 01820855
alephbibnum - 000138502

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
        Front Matter 3
    Half Title
        Half Title 1
        Half Title 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
    To go, or not to go
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Sailing southward
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Arrival at St. Thomas
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Charlotte Amalia
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    A cruise to St. Croix
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
    The two "steds"
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
    Cruising around volcanoes
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
    The island of St. Christopher
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
    St. Kitt's and Nevis
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
    Antigua the capital
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
    The arrival at Guadeloupe
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
    Dreaded obeah signs
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
    The island's serpents
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
    Cruising around Pelee
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
    Glorious Martinique
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
    In Pelee's shadow
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
    Island of St. Lucia
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
    Dominica the beautiful
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
    England's oldest colony
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
    On to Demerara
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
        Page 359
        Page 360
        Page 361
    Back Matter
        Page 362
    Back Cover
        Page 363
        Page 364
Full Text



S . .

i-:. ~



'.1 ~




~-~an*ixi~ ~





The SPELL of the


Each volume with one or more colored plates and
many illustrations from original drawings or special
photographs. Octavo, decorative cover, gilt top, boxed.
TWE wPE?.. or BX.GUM
as Ewa.r. OP JAPAI'
TWEas P-r- O T as WPPzEII AN Ta2
T]= EW?.?. or PRANOE
f 5 -PE.r. Or CRoNA
TaH mPwI.. oF Wam OX.T .AmD
THE spmr.? OrP IaIr.AN
T l 6?EZ.&T Of SWAX'
BY ANDR HALLAYS (Translated by FRA K Ror F a z)
TUsB PEr.. Or A?.ACE

3 Bmen Street Boston Muas.

The 5pell





(Ceuw rork : c~cmxxxiii
TRohert tcX. eic~Bride & Company


Y72. 97



Copyright, 1926

Printed in U. S. A.

Who was afraid that the ship would "tip over"
in a hurricane, which did not happen, and
to all of those bronze-skinned lovers of
sunshine in the Caribbees, who know
how to be happy and how to share
happiness with their guests.


Those peaks of ocean mountains that wave
palms triumphantly above the water and form
a chain between North and South America, east
of the Gulf of Mexico, are becoming more popu-
lar with the world's travelers each year. Or,
perhaps it would be more correct to say that
they are regaining their popularity with Euro-
pean and English tourists, while a vast num-
ber of Americans are substituting this cruise
to tropical seas for the annual sojourn along
the Riviera, in Italy or Egypt. Here is eternal
summer, and vacationists, as a rule, prefer the
summer lands. For this and other reasons, it
is surprising that since their discovery, the
lower and smaller islands of the Caribbean Sea
have reached prosperity and comparative im-
portance in the estimation of the nations that
owned them and then lapsed into an obscurity
that became almost desertion. The planters
came again, however, for all of the islands
promise rich rewards for the agriculturist, and
in time they built settlements, villages and
towns. Fortunes were made. There was gaiety
and the population increased with the rapidity
that follows a gold rush everywhere. Then de-
pression followed prosperity and the ships car-

vi Preface
ried away the successors of the colonists, and
in many instances, fine plantations were aban-
doned. Then again the workers and the capital
returned, perhaps under the patronage of an-
other nation, and the cycle was repeated. To-
day some of the islands are exceedingly pros-
perous again. Some are practically deserted
by the white settlers and are in the hands of
the descendants of the black slaves. The bliss-
ful islands remain, as they have been since the
voyages of Columbus, mere political pawns.
These things, however, do not trouble the ex-
cursionist. He thinks rather of the pleasant ex-
perience of seeing the islands as they are and
of learning of what they have been.
There is a romantic historical interest at-
taching to each of the dots of land. One of these
small islands gave France an empress. Another
is the oldest colonial possession of Great
Britain. At another, the American flag was
first saluted by a foreign nation. Several of
them were a favorite rendezvous for the spec-
tacular pirates and sea-rovers of a distant day.
Their history is brilliant, even gaudy with deeds
of unusual valor and daring. One learns of
these, while cruising along palm-fringed shores
and reviews past events while observing rocky
heights, sandy beach curves and azure inlets.
It is all as throbbing and vital as the legends
of the shores of the Mediterranean.

Preface vii
There are many lines of steamships, both
from the United States and Europe that send
their craft to these islands, some of them stop-
ping at the larger islands en route. The pur-
pose of this volume, however, is to call attention
to the islands in that group that begins near
Porto Rico and then stretches off toward the
southern continent. The islands are only a few
hours apart by rapid steamship-those known
as the Leeward Islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix,
St. John, Barbuda, Antigua, Marie Galante,
Dominica, Guadeloupe, and the Windward Is-
lands: Martinique, St. Lucia and Barbados.
Today, as always since their discovery, they
belong to many nations and there is no political
unity. The United States, France, Great
Britain and Holland are the proprietors, as
Denmark has withdrawn in response to the
jingle of American dollars. Gossip from the
embassies of the world suggests now and then
that this or that island will be offered for a
cancellation of the war debt of the European
nations to the United States. Probably this
gossip is inspired by political intrigue and has
slight, if any foundation in fact. Certainly the
reaction of the people of the islands is no more
favorable to such a proposition than to the
people of America, if one may judge by editorial
This volume, however, ignores all politics as

viii Preface
relating to the islands and treats of them only as
one of the great playgrounds of the earth. The
route that leads from New York to Barbados is
one paved with azure waters and canopied by
golden sunshine. The entire journey and re-
turn may be accomplished in one month; but
each added day or week is an added link in the
chain of pleasant memory.


PREFACE ............................ V
I. To Go OR NOT TO GO................. 1
II. SAILING SOUTHWARD ................. 13
III. ARRIVAL AT ST. THOMAS. ............. 17
IV. CHARLOTTE AMALI .................. 37
V. A CRUISE TO ST. CROIX ............... 44
VI. THE Two STEDS ..................... 61
IX. ST. KITTS AND ST. NEVIS. ............... 107
X. ANTIGUA THE CAPITAL ................. 115
XII. DREADED OBEAH SIGNS. ................ 176
XIII. THE ISLAND'S SERPENTS ............. 205
XIV. CRUISING AROUND PELEE.............. 209
XV. GLORIOUS MARTINIQUE ................... 225
XVI. IN PELEE'S SHADOW.................. 250
XVII. ISLAND OF ST. LUCIA ................ 261
XX. ON TO DEMERARA. .................. 350
BIBLIOGRAPHY ....................... 357
INDEX .............................. 359


w af trl m N DESIRiADE I.


&fdfanc % MARTINIQUE I.

c ,-n. -| ST. UCIA 1.







The SPELL of the




SHEN I first mentioned to my friends
V that I was contemplating a summer
cruise to the Caribbean Islands, they
thought I was crazy; but my first visit to Ber-
muda had been in midsummer, and, at that
time, those same friends intimated that I should
be taken before a commission and examined
as to my sanity.
"As well think of going to southern Florida
or New Orleans for the summer holiday," said
one, and this recalled a conversation with the
late Kirk Munroe, the novelist, at his bunga-
low on Biscayne Bay. I asked him how he
found the summers at Cocoanut Grove and he
"We listened to our northern friends in the
early days of our residence here, and, when
summer came, we knew there was only one
thing to do, to hurry away North. Then we
thought we'd stay here once until it became

2 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
intolerably warm, postponing our northern
jaunt until later, and we found that the un-
bearable heat did not come as per time the
schedule of our friends. The breezes blew as
the days became warmer, and we were very
comfortable; so, since that time, we have pre-
ferred the breezes of Biscayne Bay in the
summer to the heat of northern resorts that
seem to have a reputation for being cool. As
a result of it all, we have come to disbelieve
anything that anybody says about the climate
On arrival at Bermuda in summer, I found
the oleanders in full bloom, the deep malachite
green of the cedars cooler than I had deemed
possible. The soft, blue-green sea was break-
ing over the reefs into snowy suds, and calling
to the visitor to dispense with conventional
and unnecessary clothing for a plunge into its
glassy depths. A refreshing breeze was blow-
ing day and night; at noon the sun was hot,
just as it is hot in the mountains of British
Columbia, along the Saskatchewan, in the lake-
lands of Ontario or in Quebec. I recollected
that I had been close to the Equator on this
hemisphere and in Asia, but that I never had
been so nearly overcome by intolerable heat
as when I was in the northern province of
Quebec. It was at St. Anne de Beaupre, to be
exact, on the day that the church sets aside for

To Go, or Not to Go 3
special devotions to the grandmother of Jesus
Assuredly, it was not the "season" at Ber-
muda, for some of the fashionable hotels had
closed their doors and others had only a few
guests; but these were lovers of the sunshine.
The islands were enjoying the natural calm
that their inhabitants would prefer, were it
not for the dollars that American visitors
scatter about with the usual freedom during
the winter months. There are no automobiles
there, which is fairly indicative of the character
of a people who do not care for speed, nor
glitter; what they like best is to occupy their
little white cottages in peace, tilling the small
patches of soil, enjoying the open highways of
white coral rock and engaging in such social
intercourse as the islands offer when the hum
of the tourist has ceased and the steamer has
carried away the last visitors.
I enjoyed a Bermuda on that first visit that
I have liked to believe was the reality. My
next visit was in winter when the capital city
of Hamilton, and, in a lesser degree, St.
George's, had been turned into a sort of Luna
Park for the amusement of a crowd that ap-
peared to be revelling in a Coney Island holi-
day. The hotels had become huge dancing
pavilions, the streets swarmed with strangers,
and I observed that the natives kept to their

4 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
houses, declining to become a part of the is-
lands' exhibition. Tourists made pilgrimages
to the old calabash tree under which tradition
has it that the poet, Moore, wrote many of his
fascinating stanzas; they rushed up the steps
of old St. Peter's Church, and asked to see the
silver plate that was the gift of long-dead Brit-
ish royalty; and they thronged into the rocky
caverns as if they had been "doing the stunts"
in an American amusement park. After this
winter visit, I promised myself that future
visits to Bermuda would be in the summer, and
so they were, over a period of several years.
It had been much the same, when I spoke of
a projected journey to Egypt, during the warm
months at home. Friends assured me that
even the Nile must be dry at that time of year,
that the Sphinx itself must be nodding under
the vertical rays of the sun, and that it would
be impossible to go anywhere or see anything
because the natives themselves would be lying
beneath withered palms, yearning for a drop
of water on their parched tongues. But I
found the Nile deep enough to float my dahabe-
yeh, which went its leisurely way to Wady-
Halfi, propelled by twelve strong ebony-hued
arms. Oh, those gorgeous, golden days of
loitering along the Nile banks in Nubia, that
remain unknown to the hurried winter tripper
who dashes over the sands by express train

To Go, or Not to Go 5
from Cairo to Luxor and thence by steamer!
Those days in the amber sands through which
the Nile water filters--indigo nights and coral-
pink dawns I Here was less discomfort than
one feels in summer in New York, Ohio or
Oregon. The nights were refreshingly cool
and a blanket was welcome after midnight,
when the wind came sweeping from some cool
oasis, far from sight. And, some way, I felt
that the people were more natural, that they
were discovered more unawares than in the
winter and spring seasons, when there is a con-
stant procession of travelers to temple and
tomb, and when even the singing shaduf-boy
is made to feel that he is "fixed up for com-
pany"-consequently that he must exhibit the
manners that have been dictated and impressed
upon him by the officials from Cairo.
Perhaps it was the Bermuda visits, or sev-
eral similar experiences in summer, that caused
me to look with interest toward those dots that
appear upon the map between the southern
tip of Florida and the coast of the Guianas in
South America. There was a fascination in
such names as Dominica, St. Croix, St. Lucia,
Barbados and the rest. What were they like?
Or, to be more exact, perhaps, what would they
be like in summer? June, July and August
offered themselves for a holiday, but where to
go was the question.

6 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
I hesitated, for it was summer, and summer
is not usually the time selected for a plunge
into the tropics, insular or continental, a fact
brought to my mind again and again, when-
ever I mentioned the projected cruise to friends
or acquaintances, and said that the southern
terminus was Demerara in British Guiana. It
seemed that everyone with whom I conversed
was unusually well-informed concerning the
Guianas-although few of them knew how to
pronounce the word. It was hereabouts that
Dreyfus was sent by the French when they
condemned him to a living death, here that
everyone sickened from fever and died, mos-
quitos swarmed and frightful miasmas arose
from marshes that covered the land. It was
necessary to bribe men to go to the Guianas,
to represent foreign capital that made slaves
of the natives. Nobody in his right mind
would think of visiting Demerara for pleasure
because pleasure here was unknown. Even
people who were obliged to go there would
think twice before doing so in July or August.
Here was a project too absurd to be considered
seriously. I must abandon the whole idea-
stop browsing among books that dealt with
the romantic past of the West Indies, as well
as their rather golden present. I must not
permit myself to be misled by gaudy booklets
published in the interests of steamship com-

To Go, or Not to Go 7
panies that used questionable means of attract-
ing passengers to boats that were engaged
principally in the freight trade. Nobody with
eyes wide open would walk into such a trap.
If I could not discern it myself, there were
plenty of well-wishers to call it to my atten-
Doggedly, however, I declined to put aside
the pamphlets with their gaudy colors, show-
ing palm-fringed beaches, tropical sunsets and
dawns, fruit piled in pyramids on the heads
of ebony-hued amazons, and contented human
beings of both sexes lounging at ease in steamer
chairs; veils and cravats were fluttering in the
breeze-the eternal breeze of the region where
trade winds fan the sea or landscape.
I continued to read everything that I could
find about these islands of enchantment and
paused at illustrations showing "Places Vis-
ited on the Cruise" of this and that line of
steamships. A new charm revolved around
the fascinating names of the islands, the hill-
sides dotted with white cottages set among
cocoa-palms and banana, the winding roads
that serpentine to the crests of mountains, the
groups of negroes in the markets, the streets,
and at the piers, the diving boys in the harbors,
the antique carts drawn by bullocks, the don-
keys laden with fruit and vegetables, the
strange canoes and sloops of the natives that

8 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
bounded over the waves and through the foam-
ing surf while the sailors and rowers stood or
sat at the oars, open-mouthed and smiling
(perhaps they were singing those weird Creole
adaptations of African folk-songs). All served
their purpose and nourished the desire to begin
the journey.
I visited the office of a steamship company
and the agent regretted that there was no
"good boat" until far into the summer, and
he advised against the trip in a sly and inoffen-
sive manner by suggesting another "where
the thermometer doesn't rise to the breaking
point and where it doesn't rain torrents every
day in the year."
"But is there not a ship leaving soon for
British Guiana, stopping at practically all of
the islands of the lower West Indies?" I asked.
"Yes, there's one that stops at enough of
them to satisfy anyone," he replied. "She's
principally a cargo ship; but she takes pas-
sengers-that is, if passengers want to go on
her. I wouldn't say that she caters to tourists,
understand, because she doesn't. Had you
ever thought of a circular trip including the
Canadian Rockies during July and August?"
"When does the ship sail?"
"Perhaps they'll change the sailing date,
usually they do when there's a lot of cargo,
as there is just now; anyway, Ill find out for

To Go, or Not to Go 9
you-that is, if you have made up your mind
for certain that you want to go to the West
Indies in the summertime."
The agent smiled blandly, almost pityingly,
I thought, and his face wore much the same
expression when I called upon him in response
to a summons and learned that accommoda-
tions had been reserved for me, subject to my
refusal. He seemed to feel that eventually I
would "listen to reason," and frankly admitted
that he wanted it understood that he could
make no guarantee of my comfort or satisfac-
tion with what he had done, he merely followed
my instructions.
An order for the cabin was duly given, and,
in the days that followed, it seemed that friends
were in a conspiracy to attempt to dissuade
me from this latest "folly." I still found com-
fort in an occasional glance at the pamphlets
with the gaudy colorings and their profuse il-
lustrations of waving palm fronds-for cer-
tainly a breeze was blowing when those
pictures were made, certainly the camera had
snapped the countenances of happy and con-
tented people; but, to cap the climax, a friend
reminded me of the vicious and venomous ser-
pents that he seemed to believe were lurking
around city streets, perhaps suspending them-
selves from bedroom rafters, waiting to deal
deathly blows to the tenderfoot who did not

10 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
know enough to remain in the climate or the
country in which he was born. He actually
brought me a cutting from a scientific journal
and asked me to read it and be convinced, after
I had declined to listen to his silly arguments.
The article stated that the dreaded fer de
lance was one of the most deadly serpents on
earth-and it flourished at Martinique! Even
such a reliable and conscientious observer and
writer as Lafcadio Hearn was summoned from
the bookshelf for proof that these reptiles travel
along country roads at night to such an extent
that even the natives do not venture far from
home after the sun has set-at least not after
nine o'clock. There was no reference to the
fact that the native of Martinique is much more
thoughtful of the supposed Obeah influences,
after night has fallen, than he is of venomous
serpents; and my friend did not stop to con-
sider that travelers ordinarily do not find them-
selves afoot in country lanes at the time of
night mentioned; nor did he seem to realize that
serpents, poisonous or harmless, are no more
numerous around the streets of Fort de France
than are kangaroos in the streets of Melbourne,
buffalo in the streets of Omaha, or codfish in
the boulevards of Boston!
After my next visit to the agency of the
steamship company, I grasped a sheet of paper
that was my ticket, and perhaps it is better to

To Go, or Not to Go 11
admit that I had listened to the discouraging
throng too well, because I was not satisfied to
wait until sailing day and immediately made
my way down to the wharf where the ship lay
tied. She was receiving cargo, always more
cargo. I sought my future cabin boy and drew
him into conversation. He had made the trip
a dozen times each year for several years. I
told him that I wanted the truth from him.
Was it all that people said it was; a veritable
toss-up between life and death? A test of en-
durance, snakes, fever, heat and all? The boy
stared at my questions, as they came one by
one-perhaps he was amused, perhaps amazed;
but I reassured him by declaring that my
friends might be a lot of ignoramuses who never
had been beyond their own countries.
"Why, sir," he chuckled, as his grinning
mouth exposed a full set of shining white teeth,
"you go on this trip and you go to heaven on
earth. You may think it's natural for me to
say so, because I was born at Barbados. Why,
if you stay right here in New York, you are
likely to be hotter than you'd be down there.
Folks lie, sir. I don't suppose they mean to do
it, but they lie about the West Indies. I've
sailed about considerable in one old tub or an-
other and I'll say that no place on earth is in
the same class. Why, folks used to tell me that
Indians would get me if I went ashore in New

12 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
York; that's the same kind of people who have
been talking to you. The snakes won't get you.
Why, its ninety-nine to a hundred that you
won't see a snake until you get back to New
York, unless they have some boxed up to send
to zoos and circuses. The fever-well, you'll
get that if you're going to have it, in Siberia or
New York. Even the people who have lived
down there in the West Indies, once upon a
time, lie about it and give it a bad name. I
don't believe that any place on earth has been
lied about so much; at least that's my opinion."
And, in the days that followed, I came to be
of much the same opinion; but I am inclined to
be a trifle more charitable than the cabin-boy,
because I cannot believe that all of the libels
that have been uttered against the West Indies
have been malicious or intentional. I prefer
to believe that most of them have sprung from
ignorance of the facts, and from the very human
tendency to express an opinion about every-


THE day of sailing was blistering hot in
New York. Unseasonable heat, said Got-
ham. Perhaps, but that could not dimin-
ish the discomfort of all who breathed in the
great city. Escape from the streets of brown-
stone, the pavements that seemed to be storing
up heat-rays from the sun, and the man-made
mountains of steel and granite, was welcome.
Those who could were moving northward,
where the evergreen twines its roots around
boulders that mark the boundaries of cool, deep
lakes. One naturally thought of the North on
such a day, just as he thinks of the South when
snow and ice cover the northern landscape.
There were frequent zigzags of heat light-
ning in the grey mists. Even the smoke from
the steamer's funnels hovered in the air for a
few moments, and then settled down upon the
surface of the water. The river was opaque
and dull, the color of crude oil. In the upper
west, where the sun was floating at the time of
sailing, was a faint sulphurous glow; but even
this became murky and dark, and, although it

14 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
was before three o'clock in the afternoon, the
electric lights sparkled everywhere.
There was a bedlam of tooting horns and
sirens as we backed into the stream. The cele-
brated sky-line of the port had disappeared, the
marvelous structures along the eastern bank of
the river were indistinct and became a part of
the dark drab mist that draped from the sky to
the earth. It was a very unceremonious leave-
taking, with none of the scenes usually ar-
ranged for sailing-time. We sought cabins and
saloons where it seemed barely possible to
breathe, because it was uncomfortable on the
wet decks, over which drops were falling from
the rigging, which seemed to distill the fog.
Perhaps some of us glanced outside for a
peep at the Statue of Liberty, but Liberty was
not to be seen. The mist completely en-
shrouded her; but some of us, who had seen her
many times, knew where she stood proudly
waving her torch, the flames of which, however,
did not penetrate the clouds that hung lower
and lower, seeming to trail across the decks.
We were just about off her granite pedestal
when the storm broke in fury-wind and a
downpour of rain that pelted through the can-
vas awnings that had been spread over the
Thunder crashed amid the whistling of sirens,
the din was terrific, the scenes aboard ship

Sailing Southward 15
were not those anticipated by one starting for
a tropical voyage. Men tugged at the hatches,
closing the great yawning maw, so that the tor-
rent of rain would not reach the cargo, others
were at work endeavoring to divert the water
to one side or the other from amidships, where
it had no opportunity to flow overboard, owing
to the restless motion of the steamer, which
seemed not to have acquired its "sea-legs" and
bobbed about nervously, as if unable to decide
whether to roll or to pitch.
We sailed down the river, sounded the siren
to other craft that scampered out of our way
like playing children in a highway when an
automobile sounds its blast. We observed how
an ocean-bound steamer is an aristocrat among
things that lie on the breast of the water. We
reached the bay and deposited our pilot in his
frail shell. The sky cleared and the sun burst
forth, bringing even the more timid passengers
to the deck.
During the first night aboard ship we were
lulled by the whispering waves, the monotonous
throbbing of the engines that somehow awaken
forgotten memories of the days when we slept
so carefree and rested so completely in our
cradles; we were in the lap of the great Mother
and she crooned the eternal lullaby. We
passed the first night and the first dawn came.
The sea and sky were steel grey, the horizon

16 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
invisible; but a pale yellow glow marked the
pathway of the sun, hidden behind atmospheric
draperies. Seemingly venturesome little birds,
hundreds'of them-in reality, not venturesome
at all, because the broad stretches of ocean are
their habitat-fluttered around the stern of the
ship, now and then dropping to the crest of
wav-s to snatch at particles of spawn or at in-
The darkness gathered around us for the
second time, and we knew that night had come.
The dawn came with the brilliancy of over-
head theater bull's-eyes; the rays of the sun
gradually came rippling across the waves and
danced. Debussy's "L'Apres Midi d'une
Faune," rather than a barcarrole! Oh, if the
ship were headed not alone for the West Indies,
but south, south, and even further south, be-
yond the islands, to the coast of Africa or
straight ahead to the Coast of South America,
the Cape of Good Hope or the Horn, south, and
ever south to the blue waters of Never-Was
and Never-Will-Be!



WE float on and the days and nights pass
rapidly. Dawn follows sunset and then,
almost before we are aware of it, there
are golden or silvery streaks in the western sky
again and another day is dying. Yellow and
red fade to lilac, violet and purple, and then
darkness, or as near darkness as the tropics
know, then deep indigo in which bright stars
We are in tropical seas, as even the young
lady from St. Croix admits, as she observes
blue in the water that is blue and in the sky
those gems of color never known in the North.
Here the colors are those of the Brazilian fire-
opal, the sky and sea seem alive, as if upon the
backs of undulating serpents, they glow in
curves of soft malachite green, the pink that
nestles in the heart of an oleander blossom, the
deep yellow of Jaffa oranges, the brilliant lemon
that splotches groves along the Amalfi drive,
the lost vermilion of Cathay, the lavender of
wisteria, tints of lapis-lazuli, amethyst, sap-
phire, emerald, turquoise and ruby. Nature's

18 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
palate seems to be in confusion, the colors have
been daubed by an impressionist's brush; one's
eyes close in surprise and bewilderment be-
cause they are unaccustomed to such beauty!
But they open again as an officer points to a
streak of purple on the horizon straight ahead.
At first it is indistinct, but later it assumes
something of an outline. It is St. Thomas, first
in the long chain of islands that stretches away
to the south, mountain peaks almost submerged
by the sea-vampire's embrace, flower gardens
that have been the envy of all nations for three
Land again, after we had come to love the
sea so well and after we had endeavored to
make ourselves believe that we would go on
floating over the waves forever, after we had
become accustomed to the breezes against our
cheeks, tasted the salt on our lips and imagined
that it was unnecessary to come to port again,
at least not for a long, long time. Again the
solid earth, at least a substantial and well-
founded speck of earth, instead of the billowy
sapphire. I could not exult, as did some of the
others, as we cruised along beside the sloping
hillsides, for I knew that the big ship was pre-
paring to come to her berth alongside a wharf.
A ship at a pier seems a captive bird, a fish
hooked and strung on a line, but struggling to
break away. It has floated so defiantly through

Arrival at St. Thomas 19
the battering waves, one dislikes to see it lying
in impotence at the wharfside, the throbbing
of its engines stilled, the propeller motionless.
Still, it is inevitable. Long and short voyages
come to an end and there is comfort in the
knowledge that this first port is but one of
many to be visited, that arrival at an island is
but an interlude in the beautiful cruise.
The land-locked, deep bay that lies at the
base of the amphitheatre where Charlotte Ama-
la is situated gives the island of St. Thomas
an importance that it would not have if its
guests were obliged to anchor in the open road-
steads as in so many of the other islands of the
West Indies. Also, were it not for that har-
bor, the group composed of St. Thomas, St.
Croix and St. John, together with other insig-
nificant dots of land in the vicinity, doubtless
would still belong to the Kingdom of Denmark
and the Stars and Stripes would not be flutter-
ing from the masthead.
It was the harbor that gave the island its
melodramatic history, many written and un-
written pages of which are smeared with blood,
a most important small body of water that in
recent times excited the attention of Uncle
Sam, when the Kaiser's men, with their eyes
ever toward the future, planned to make of it
a menace to the entire coastline of the western

20 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
It became American territory after negotia-
tions had dragged through many years, during
which it had been a pawn of many administra-
tions in the United States, and after the poli-
ticians of Denmark had proved themselves to
be good merchants, almost oriental in fact, by
ceaseless delays and diplomatic bickerings, all
of which tended to give the islands an impor-
tance to their would-be purchasers which they
did not deserve.
It is the verdict of West Indian travelers
that, approached from the North, the chain of
islands increases in beauty all along the chain,
finally reaching a climax at Barbados, the old-
est possession of the British Empire, and to
sea-faring folk, at least, one of the best-known
ports on earth. I cannot subscribe to this oft-
repeated opinion, however, because the memory
of such islands as Dominica, Guadeloupe, St.
Lucia and Martinique will not dim, even by
comparison with the enchanting Barbados, al-
though my visit to fhe last remains, along with
excursions in Cairo, Damascus, Pekin, and
Algiers, as a rare, almost forbidden glance into
a land of the Arabian Nights, an unusual, even
unreal world that seems apart from the planet
inhabited by the remainder of the people of
the world.
In spite of the most ardent desire to do so,
from patriotic impulses, the American, who

Arrival at St. Thomas 21
may visit all of the important islands, cannot
class St. Thomas as one of the most beautiful
or most interesting. My first impression was
one of disappointment, and this later turned
to a feeling of disgust when I observed the con-
dition of things which my country, at that time,
showed no disposition to remedy. From child-
hood, we are taught that charity begins at
home, or that it should, if it does not. During
the years that followed 1918, when the official
transfer was made, the United States was
wrapped up in a tremendous humanitarian act
that cost billions of dollars. We were respon-
sive to a plea for help from foreign countries
like Serbia, Belgium and Russia that seemed
not only to require the expenditure of hundreds
of millions of dollars, but that our men of
brains in special activities should be dispatched
to these countries on missions of mercy; and
yet, one who visited St. Thomas for the first
time in those days might have felt inclined to
believe that we may have been duly thoughtful
of others, but overlooked our own. We paid an
exorbitant price for our West Indian posses-
sions, and we seemed to believe that our re-
sponsibility then came to an end. We sent
staffs of physicians to Italy, France, Poland
and Bohemia, and only a handful of doctors to
our Virgin Islands. I asked one of them, who
was attached to the United States navy, if

22 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
Washington was doing anything at all in these
almost overlooked "outposts of empire," and
he, seemingly misunderstanding my question,
replied: "Certainly; the navy department is-
sues special warnings to all our men who are
given shore-leave here, making them cognizant
of the real conditions."
Our women burn with pity for their sisters of
China who bend the knee to Buddha, or the
girls who have bandaged feet, they yearn to
rescue the Turkish sisterhood from the "bond-
age" of palatial harems, yet one does not hear
of them having bestirred themselves unduly in
behalf of the poor women of St. Thomas, who
earned a few cents by carrying coal on their
heads to ships. Perhaps the American voice
of disapproval has been silenced by the fact
that their wages have been raised since the
American occupation.
I saw girls who had pretty, young faces;
middle-aged; and elderly and bent women, filthy
and begrimed, multitudes of them, as they
toiled in the burning sun, eager to earn this
pittance to keep them from starvation. I re-
marked to one of them that the entire system
that permitted such a humiliation to a woman
was an outrage, far meaner than the labor of
their fore-fathers in slavery, and she asked in
reply: "if this is taken away from us, what
shall we do to keep from starvation?"

Arrival at St. Thomas 23
The women coal-beavers of St. Thomas, how-
ever, are not fairly representative of the is-
land's people, and it is not the province of the
tourist, perhaps, to worry about them. But for
their proximity to the pier at the first landfall,
I might have overlooked them in the native
panorama; but, as it was, they were a black
smudge on an otherwise beautiful page of the
cruise. As I saw them I could not fail to recall
that I had seen women, workers of a similar
kind, at the port of Nagasaki, and that I had
read indictments of a civilized government that
permitted such a condition to exist, and it is
not easy for an American visitor to be deaf to
the old saw about people who live in glass
St. Thomas, as the psalmist said of Jerusa-
lem, is set upon a hill and cannot be hid;
especially true is it of the capital city of Char-
lotte Amalia. In fact, it is set upon many hills
that slope down to the harbor in an imposing
manner, when viewed from the deck of a steamer
entering the watery gateway. It cannot be said
that the city improves upon closer acquaintance,
because it does not. There are few attractions
ashore, even the natives presenting a surly,
almost unhappy exterior that makes them ap-
pear in unfavorable comparison to any of the
seemingly joyous and carefree blacks further
down the chain of islands. The harbor long

24 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
ago enjoyed its golden days and gradually, or
by rapid strides during certain periods, it
reached its present state.
As the modern ship steams through the nine-
hundred foot gateway to the harbor, which
formerly was so difficult after nightfall, he is
not likely to think of the decayed commerce or
the withered prosperity of the island; but of
the sublime grandeur of the present and the
romantic story of the past. The two-mile wide
basin, at the foot of the hills on which is perched
the only city of the island, now floats few ships,
by comparison with the fleets that once found
anchor here. The water and the hills are silent
about that day when vessels, flying the skull and
cross-bones, were welcome in this haven because
they brought gold and women! Often their
decks were smeared with blood, and each voy-
age upon the seas had a mighty toll of bold
deeds that struck terror to the world, when re-
lated; but the ships and their crews were wel-
come at St. Thomas. They brought gold and
women! They paid debts with showers of coin
and plate, they made the life of the city what
it was, and in that time none could have dreamed
that St. Thomas would come upon such respect-
able days as the present, that voices in the
street would be subdued, that the shout of
ribaldry would not be heard, and that such
ships as sailed in and out of the Narrows would

Arrival at St. Thomas 25
be engaged in anything so unattractive and pro-
saic as the legitimate commerce of the world.
There are few souvenirs remaining of that
gilded day, and even these have been invested
with legends of notorious characters who, in
fact, had no connection with them. Hurricanes
have swept across the island like the breath of
an avenging god, and the old strongholds of the
pirates, buccaneers and adventurers have been
swept away. One is obliged to look at the har-
bor, the hills, and the city, and imagine what
life must have been in that distant day, with
few material prompters of memory. As we
steam toward the pier, someone points out Blue-
beard's Castle and Blackbeard's Castle on not
far distant slopes. The very names are pro-
vocative of enthusiasm, and, if the towers were
not still occupied by notorious rogues, they
should have been.
Blackbeard's Castle, which an artist's fancy
usually represents with an added beam or mast
flying the skull and cross-bones, undoubtedly
was named for Edward Teach, a picturesque
old villain of the Eighteenth century, who was
the "Blackbeard" of legend and reality. There
is no proof that he ever resided upon the island
of St. Thomas, although he doubtless visited it
many times, and may have been one of its most
welcome guests, because, in the language of the
day, he was a "good pirate," he paid his bills,

26 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
whereas the memory of such villains as Captain
Robert Kidd, the Scotchman, is execrated in the
islands and elsewhere to this time, primarily,
it appears, because he had a habit of finding
shelter and a safe haven, and then, after making
huge purchases, too often sailed away and for-
got to pay. One thinks of the spectacular fig-
ure of old Teach, and wishes that he were
resident in the castle that bears his name.
What would one not give to call upon him in
his stronghold, to hear from his own lips of his
daring exploits; to hear his comments upon the
civilization of the present that denies men of
St. Thomas their rum; to hear him roar about
modern refinements in public taste and the
"improvements" of the modern world
Teach was born at Bristol, England, and in
his youth he ran away from home to join the
privateers at Jamaica. It appears that Sir
Francis Drake was his hero, and he endeavored
to foqlow his example, at least in the earlier
days. A.' pious writer has it that when Teach
joined the privateers, he "set out to scourge
the seas for the glory of God and the English
crbwn. In time he was placed in charge of a
prize ship, which gave him opportunity to con-
duct operations on his own account, so he
hoisted the Jolly Roger and, within a year, it is
recorded that he had made an infamous reputa-
tion for himself. 'His ship, Queen Anne's Re-

Arrival at St. Thomas 27
venge mounted forty guns, and he cruised
throughout the West Indies, compelling men to
walk the plank, making women captives, scut-
tling ships and burning settlements.
Other pirates and sea-rovers did these things,
however, and his reputation does not rest upon
the infamy of his operations. The spectacular
manner in which he sought to make himself a
creature to be feared, is what gives him a ro-
mantic interest different from the others. He
must have been a good actor, for he knew the
value of makeup and appearance. He is said
to have had a prominent Roman nose and small
bead-like eyes that flashed fire, a face that was
easily adapted to his requirements. It is be-
lieved that with a few strokes of a makeup
brush he assisted nature in making his face so
ugly that people, particularly the crews of ships
that came within his reach, believed him to be
the Devil, and fell down in terror at his ap-
proach. There is testimony, evidently reliable,
that he delighted, of an evening, in placing
sticks of burning pitch in his ears and then,
when the weird shadows were playing across
his grotesque features, he would approach his
victims and pronounce judgment upon them.
He was finally captured, as most "good pi-
rates" were, and Lieutenant Maynard, who
killed him with a cutlas, after he had boarded
his ship, sailed into his home port with the head

28 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
of Teach nailed to the bowsprit, a fitting cele-
bration to mark the end of such a notorious
rogue, perhaps somewhat as he would have
arranged it himself, if he had been in charge of
the program.
But Teach does not dwell in the tower on the
hill at Charlotte Amalia, and he never did, and
its real history, as well as the real history of the
island, loses much in consequence. The strong-
hold was built by a man named Charles Bag-
gaert, who appears to have been a troublesome
member of the colony when Governor Iverson
was in control, as he is referred to in official
records as the absconderr from Middleburg."
It appears that this tower was not at all to the
liking of the governor, who complained that "it
is not advantageous to the fort that Baggaert
built his house so much higher than the fort,
insomuch that everyone who comes to see him
can completely overlook it."
Crowning another hill is Bluebeard's Castle,
concerning which there has been the same con-
sistent desire to create romantic legend of the
times when pirates were "well received" by
the governor of St. Thomas and when the man
who brought the most booty to port was the
most influential citizen.
Travelers who visit such places as St.
Thomas, guidebook in hand, want them to
abound in legend, which in time comes to be

Arrival at St. Thomas 29
accepted as fact. And, if the Virgin Islands
were situated in the much-traveled lanes of the
world, some of the earlier fancies or sugges-
tions, by this time, would have become realities
-at least in the minds of readers. Bluebeard's
Castle would have become the stronghold of the
Bluebeard. It might have transpired that old
Teach brought the arch fiend his wives. What
thrilling romance there! One, perhaps, the
daughter of a rich Portuguese or Spaniard,
captured upon a ship that was taking home the
spoils of a recent expedition to the Isthmus; a
beauty from Panama or Cuba; the daughter of
a Carib chieftain; a French heiress on her way
from New Orleans to Paris. Here was a splen-
did dungeon for the deeds of which Bluebeard
has been accused. Then, the stories of how the
former lovers of these women led expeditions
to assist them to escape; but were captured and
murdered, instead; their bodies thrown from the
Castle into the sea, where sharks were lashing
the waves awaiting them. Absurd? Far-
fetched Incredulous Not at all. Supply
follows demand in legends, as in other things.
Any similarly romantic point of land along the
coast of the Mediterranean provides such
stories by the wholesale, and they are eagerly
appreciated by wondering tourists. The visitor
to Japan hears similar stories about every hill
or valley in the kingdom. It is much the same

30 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
in India, China or Palestine. There are three
distinct places in Palestine, far removed from
each other, marking the exact spot where John
the Baptist was beheaded. Certainly, Blue-
beard's story would be no more of an exaggera-
tion for St. Thomas than to accept Jaffa as the
locale of the remarkable exploits of the prophet
Jonah! And who can say that at some future
time, when tourists have become more nu-
merous around the American Gibraltar, that
legends of this sort will not be current? If such
things never happened at Bluebeard's Castle,
the early owners of the place were very thought-
less concerning the pleasure of future tourists.
The fact is, however, that the tower was not
built for a pirate's den and never was so occu-
pied. It was erected in the year 1700 by the
local government as a part of the fortifications.
It "frowned" over the harbor as did several
other like imposing guardians of safety. To-
day, most of them seem to be smiling or grin-
ning in their impotence. Perhaps the most pre-
tentious, however, is Christian's Fort, on the
waterfront, which has been used as a police
station. It was built in the Seventeenth cen-
tury and at one time was the official residence
of the governor and other officials, including the
clergymen, who conducted services on Sunday.
Something of the discipline of the older days
may be surmised from the fact that it was nec-

Arrival at St. Thomas 31
essary for the clergyman to obtain a pass when-
ever he left the fort.
It is assumed that Columbus touched here on
his second voyage, but there is scant proof of
it, just as the history of the original inhabi-
tants, and even the earliest colonists, is
shrowded in mystery that may not be cleared
by anything on the island itself. Doubtless the
real history must come from the other end of
the old trade routes, from the archives of the
companies doing business at the time of the
first settlement. The actual history of the
white man at St. Thomas probably dates from
Columbus, who may have been the discoverer
and who innocently enough, it appears, was
responsible for the piracy and slavery that so
long held the island in their grasp. From his
own correspondence, and the testimony of trust-
worthy historians, it may be inferred that he
was a man of noble character; but his associates
were not, and they gladly committed any crime
to apease their thirst for treasure.
I walked down the gangway to the warehouse
wharf and suddenly found myself surrounded
by a swarm of negroes. St. Thomas is not
populous, but practically all of its inhabitants
reside in the capital city, or they seemed to be
there the first time I saw it, and I could easily
believe that, as claimed, it is ninety-three per
cent black.

32 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
The signal of our arrival had been hoisted
while we were some distance at sea, giving the
not otherwise engaged populace the opportu-
nity to make a leisurely descent to the pier from
the nearby hills. As a whole,- they were an
oddly costumed lot, barely picturesque as are
the others at islands further south, merely
clothed in tropical, or abbreviated apparel from
such shreds of cast-offs as they have been able
to collect from time to time. Some of the
women and girls wore shreds of garments that
were of good material when new, but now worn
to rags, were patched with pieces of calico, or
hung over ragged calico skirts, the tatters and
holes "matching" so perfectly that parts of
the body at least were covered. The men were
costumed in a period that, perhaps, dated from
Secretary Seward's visit to the island in 1866,
since which time they have been unravelling and
passing to a state of natural decay
Practically all of them, men, women and chil-
dren, were barefoot, which in this latitude
usually means bare-legged to the knee. Un-
doubtedly, many of them are very poor and
dejected. The groups of coal-carrying women
were the only ones I saw who manifested the
slightest ambition, with the exception of the
laborers who were already at work discharging
the ship's cargo. Plenty of women and girls
squatted at the wharf side or passed leis-

Arrival at St. Thomas 33
urely among the crowd of loafers, offering
fruit and cakes for sale from the paniers
they balanced on their heads. They were
a surly aggregation, however, totally unlike
the outwardly joyous market women encount-
ered in the other islands, some of whom
have almost the proverbial Irish wit and all
of whom seem to be delighted to chat with
prospective customers about anything from
the weather to religion and politics. A few
boatmen seemed to wonder if I did not
care to employ them to carry me across the
bay to the city; but few of them made their offer
audible, they would be as well satisfied, ap-
parently, to go back home without passengers.
It was an intensely curious crowd, that stood
gaping with open mouths, but there was only
slight animation and faces were solemn. St.
Thomas seemed almost comatose, as seen at the
There is a circling roadway that borders the
bay, so I wedged my way through the black
multitude, beyond the warehouse, to the yard
where I was told that "carriages" were wait-
ing. To be exact, I was told that there were
"plenty of carriages and automobiles" there
seeking employment; but the "plenty" was an
exaggeration, or it would have been if the hun-
dred passengers of the steamer had shown a
desire to enter the city by land, as the entire

34 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
outfit consisted of three Ford automobiles much
battered by long use and improper care, and
two ancient carriages that must have dated
from the early period of Danish occupation.
The one that I entered, or ascended, was of
near-landeau type, the driver perched on a high
box in front, his feet on a level with the tips of
the horses' ears, and the carriage proper ex-
tending back to unheard of distances, where it
bounced and rolled on wornout springs that
bent like osier twigs when they received my
weight. "The carriage fare to the city is fifty
cents in United States currency," announced
the black driver as he turned slightly on the
box, probably so that there might be no unneces-
sary haggling over terms at the end of what he
knew, better than I, was to be an eventful
journey. In my haste, I had not observed him
except to note that a driver was seated there
ready to start, but I was glad that he spoke,
otherwise this dusky personage might have
been overlooked and I count him one of the joys
of my visit to St. Thomas. He wore the oldest
black clothing it has been my privilege to see,
once of a dull material, no doubt, almost a satin
glow covered it now. It was a hot day, but he
wore a celluloid collar that kept his chin poked
high and his head tilted backward. The once-
shining stove-pipe hat, at least two sizes too
large for him, had lost its lustre, was frayed

Arrival at St. Thomas 35
and rested on the tops of his ears in addition to
covering his head. Undoubtedly I stared at the
first glimpse of him and hesitated.
"Is the price satisfactory, sir?" he asked,
turning further around and looking exactly as
one knows the Bishop of Dahomey should look.
"The price is exactly twice as much as you
would dare to charge if I lived at St. Thomas,"
I replied, "but we won't let that interfere with
our starting. Go ahead." There was some-
thing about vehicle and driver that could not
have been resisted for double the amount.
"Let's start at once," I added, as he was ad-
justing the reins in his hands. I was a tender-
foot and I made the mistake of appearing to
urge haste, for I had never before been a pas-
senger in a St. Thomas "taxi."
"Yes, sir!"
He brought down the whip across the backs
of his scrawny horses--one of which was very
lame-and the animals gave a sudden lurch,
immediately afterwards coming to a full stop.
The "carriage" bounced and I was temporarily
suspended in midair, a suspension that was re-
peated two or three times, whereupon the nags
broke into a gallop, as if for dear life, and we
were shooting forward at a speed evidently cal-
culated to keep safe ahead of the automobiles,
which were beginning to become noisy at the
wharf-side. The Bishop, even now I cannot

36 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
think of him as an ordinary coachman, half
stood on the box and continued to last his
steeds, in imitation, it seemed, of a circus chari-
oteer. At each crack of the whip, the horses
bounded forward and the vehicle responded.
Little wonder, I thought, if these natives of St.
Thomas took me to be a raving lunatic. And
I felt a certain responsibility. What if they
thought that I was a "typical Yankee," who,
in a way, is still on trial in the island? What
if they thought that this wild dash along their
highway was something of my own prompting,
a characteristic performance of one whose like
they might expect when other Americans came
to their island? I wondered if all Americans
who had come there before me had experienced
a similarly mad entry into the city of Charlotte



SEVERAL negro waifs and a few older
boys quickly came up to me as I descended
from the veranda of the hotel, and begged
for the privilege of escorting me to "places of
interest." One was a "runner" for a barber,
and he assured me that, behind the barber shop,
I could buy all the whiskey I wanted, "and
cheap too!"; another represented a tailor shop,
but he was not trying to sell clothing. "The
tailor has some fine old rum," he said, "and
he'll let you have it at the right price."
Feeling that I wanted to make my first tour
around the city, unguided, I assured them that
I didn't want whiskey or rum, which I believed
might check their enthusiasm; but in this I was
not entirely correct, for they persisted, "and
he's got some fine cognac," said the tailor's
boy, as I continued to shake my head, "the
barber has got beer-you like beer, don't you "
He seemed to be mystified by the peculiar sort
of tourist with whom he was speaking-perhaps
wasting his time.
I shoved them aside and made an escape, or

38 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
imagined that I had done so, when an older
youth approached and asked if I would not like
to see negro girls dance the "shimmy," and,
when I indicated no particular desire to see the
"shimmy" as it is danced for tourists at St.
Thomas, he was quick to suggest that I might
like to see other gyrations, more suggestive of
the Sahara desert and the World's Fair at
Chicago than of the West Indies; but, when
even this spectacle did not appeal to me as a
matinee performance, he proved himself to be
a good business man with various wares to
offer, because he was insistent in ascertaining
how much bay rum I intended to purchase. If
I was thinking of taking a full case away with
me, he knew a man who would give me the
article at rock-bottom prices that could not be
touched by any other dealer on the island. All
others sold rank imitations by comparison to
his wonderful concoction, which he described as
almost an attar of roses, instead of the scented
alcohol that reeks of barber shop, which some
of our own navy boys told me was rapidly com-
ing into vogue with visiting Americans, not as a
hair tonic, but as a beverage
I finally succeeded in dodging this curb sales-
man and did not see him again until late in the
afternoon, when, entering a bay rum shop to
make a purchase before going back to the ship,
I turned and found the black boy at my heels.

Charlotte Amalin 39
I was a customer whom he had brought to the
store. The proprietor could see that we were
on speaking terms, because the boy chatted
familiarly about "Yes, it is a hot day, etc.," and
he had earned his commission from the store!
It was only a few pennies, but the youth had
proved himself to be one of the "progressives"
of the island. It may have been his hungry
day, but he showed energy that was conspicu-
ous among the population of this city, most of
which seemed to be resting from arduous toil,
so I let him pocket his change and made no
explanation to the merchant.
If you keep to one short street near the water-
front, you are on level ground, but, if you turn
from it, you are forced to climb. The houses,
all of masonry and many of them daubed with
brilliant colors, harmonize with swaying palms,
flaming hibiscus and other tropical plants.
They are perched along the rocky slopes, most
of them abutting the roadway and reached by
small brick, stone or cement bridges, spanning
the gutters. Here are "windows" without
panes. Wide-open doors afford the pedestrian
an opportunity to gaze into the innermost depth
of domesticity that is usually concealed in
northern climes.
It seemed to be a great visiting day for
Americans at St. Thomas, because many of the
houses were conspicuously entertaining guests

40 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
who wore the uniform of the United States
navy. There was a battleship in port and the
men were enjoying their shore-leave. They
thought that they had reached Jazzland, of
course; but they were mistaken, because the real
home of syncopation, mirth and melody, lies
further to the south. The land where noise and
general hilarity are almost a religion, and
where faces wear a smile seldom encountered
among the natives of St. Thomas. But the
sound of the guitar, banjo and ukelele was
heard in many neighborhoods. For several
hours Charlotte Amalia seemed almost joyful.
Even the time following noonday "breakfast,"
had not been given over to the usual siesta,
when everyone in the tropics sleeps and when
trading and social affairs of all kinds take a
rest. The streets continued to swarm with visi-
tors and all the natives seemed to be abroad to
enjoy the excitement.
When I reached the hotel at the announced
hour for luncheon, I was told that being an
"extra" I would be obliged to wait until the
"regulars" were served, although there were
many unoccupied places on the veranda. The
chief explained that, "there will be no waiters
at liberty to serve for some little time." I had
given my order fully two hours before, but it
appeared that the only thing to do was to take
a seat on the balcony and wait, which I did,

Charlotte Amalia 41
finding there several other would-be guests of
the hostelry, who had received similar instruc-
We learned, when we finally reached the
tables, however, that this St. Thomas "break-
fast" is a lengthy affair well worth waiting for.
It began with a lobster salad and ran its way
through courses of soup, fish, a chop, baked
meat, dessert, fruit and coffee. The food was
deliciously cooked and attractively served, the
waiters moving about with dignity, if not with
celerity. There were long waits between
courses, and an elaborate display of old silver,
all of which took much time in the arrangement
and clearing. It was a function and not the
hurried noon-day meal of America and, as there
was no thought at all of those who waited, we
sought diversion after the first hour had passed
and someone started a player-piano. We had
no way of knowing it in advance, but the instru-
ment had suffered intensely from exposure to
tropical wind, salt and dampness. It sounded
like an old fashioned hurdy-gurdy, and was so
blatantly fortissimo that I fear we annoyed the
"regulars" and interrupted their conversation,
although they had shown no disposition toward
ordinary speed at the table up to the beginning
of the musical program. But we were hungry,
and that must be our excuse or apology for the
long list of popular American airs that were

42 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
barely recognizable as they chimed forth from
the rusty strings.
A visit to the two towers, which all tourists
seem to consider an obligation, to the few
churches and a glance at the forts almost com-
pletes the round of principal "sights and sites"
at St. Thomas. At least, these are all that are
likely to interest the traveler, so far as archi-
tecture and works of man are concerned, but his
attention will be attracted to the natural beauty
of the landscape.
One also wanders about with the ever-present
hope that at least some of the people in the
great crowd will prove to be picturesque enough
to reward a second glance; that they may dis-
play manners, customs or costumes worthy of a
niche in memory. My last, as well as my first,
impression of them was, however, that, com-
pared to other West Indian negroes, they are
somewhat inferior, although the servant from
St. Thomas has been considered a prized pos-
session in other countries--but, as a class, they
seem to be rather ugly in appearance, the men
shiftless and of small account and the women
being wholly lacking in distinction of any kind.
It seems that the older generation may con-
tinue to be what it is, unless a smile can be
forced upon sober faces. Perhaps the oppor-
tunity to work and encouragement in an effort
to improve themselves might not be wholly un-

Charlotte Amalia 43
welcome; but the soil does not hold forth much
for optimistic prophecy in agriculture and in-
dustries of any kind will scarcely venture in
this direction. There is hope for the rising
generation, however, as the American school
system has already made its presence and
effect felt. The teachers are chiefly natives,
and those I saw were as comically dignified and
solemn as my coachman, the "Bishop"; but
good work, a large amount of it, has been and
will continue to be accomplished in the direction
of the young people, in fact, aided and guided
by Uncle Sam, they will become the island's
A group of school youngsters, loitering by
the roadside, assured me that their teacher was
"most excellent good" and I have no reason to
doubt that they were correct in their appraisal
Education of the right sort, and training in
useful professions and trades, might prepare
these youngsters of the present, might pave the
way for them to reach some island or continent
where they would have at least a good oppor-
tunity to win their way in the world, and there
are few natives of the island who appear to
have that chance today.



IT may be that navigators in these waters
have their own good and sufficient reasons
for approaching new islands when the sun
is just coming over the eastern hills, that they
prefer to skirt around treacherous reefs, rocks
and shores when the sky is pink with the first
flush of morning.
It may be a very prosaic reason that always
brought the steamer into the vicinity of new
ports when there was light from the great
source of all light that seems to shed more
vertical rays in this latitude than in the lands
to which most of us are accustomed by birth or
adoption. Sometimes I liked to make myself
believe, however, that the captain was thinking
of the thrills of delight that he could afford his
passengers by bringing them to what seemed to
be theatrical climaxes of beauty and surprise,
just as the playwright and stage manager en-
deavor to do it for audiences.
There was a likeness each morning to the
rising of the stage curtain. Only, what we saw
was reality that has fired the imagination of

A Cruise to St. Croix 45
man since he first beheld an island from the dis-
tance. Slowly, creeping upward through the
films of brilliant clouds, the sun arose each
morning and revealed the coast-line of a dot
of tropical land set in the ocean and, as the
morning mists cleared away, the outlines be-
came more and more distinct, until the land, the
luxurious vegetation, the white or brilliantly
colored buildings, and the people revealed them-
selves, as transparencies are raised, one after
another on the stage of the theater until beauty
is exposed upon her pedestal in the background.
Our first experience of this kind was in the
approach to the island of the Sacred Cross,
once known as Santa Cruz, and now commonly
spelled St. Croix and commonly pronounced as
spelled, with the "x" sounded by the natives.
The ship lingered at the wharf at St. Thomas
until far into the night, and then crept out of
the narrow passage into the open sea after we
had retired. We had come to enjoy the throb-
bing of the engines and the quiver and tossing
of the ship. The breezes again swept through
the cabins; again we were in the lap of the
ocean, rolling on high waves and dipping into
their troughs, and again the water whispered
the oldest lullaby in the world
As the pearl-gray clouds began to break in
the East, giving way to flashes of bright rose
and lemon, a thoughtful steward tapped at my

46 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
cabin door and, after handing me an orange, he
said as a "bracer," suggested that I might like
to view the approach to St. Croix, which al-
ready was dimly visible, and, as a genial officer
had told me previously that "the place to see
these things is on the bridge," I soon found
myself up there, pajama-clad and forced to
cling to the rail to keep my balance, not so much
from the rolling of the ship as from the fresh
breeze that was sweeping over the water at this
We were soon cruising along the coast of the
island, as I could discern by the dark violet
mass that arose from the water-to the un-
trained eye barely a safe distance from the
ship. With the light came a beautiful picture,
an emotional thrill that, once experienced, can-
not be forgotten. Perhaps the beauty of it all
was augmented by its contrast to comparatively
barren St. Thomas with its mountains of rocks
and shrubbery. Here, at last, as I had assured
myself on other occasions, was the tropics; at
least, here were the colors that fancy had pic-
tured for all lands in the region of the Equator.
It was still a long, long way to that imaginary
belt of sunshine, but, after I saw St. Croix, I
knew that we were approaching it! Cocoa-
palms fringed the shore, royal palms in veri-
table forests crowned the hills in the back-
ground, great splotches of brilliant green on the

A Cruise to St. Croix 47
landscape revealed the existence of sugar plan-
tations intensively cultivated, an occasional
smoke-stack indicated a sugar-factory, round
white stone towers stood out everywhere as
souvenirs of an earlier day, when they served
as the bases to windmills, white stone houses
with red roofs became more and more frequent
as we approached closer to one of the two prin-
cipal ports of the island. Then the engines
stopped, the anchor was dropped and the ship
swung around in the tide and breeze of the
roadstead off Frederiksted, upon which we had
crept in the mists of the dawning day. The
siren sounded, announcing our arrival, and the
passengers scrambled on deck to obtain a peep
at the island. The voices of scores of boatmen
came up from their craft. We came to Fred-
eriksted cautiously and noiselessly, but we were
expected and there was a talkative aggregation
of the natives to greet us.
St. Croix was discovered in 1493 by Colum-
bus, when he was making his second voyage
through the Caribbees. His visit is certain
here, and not held in question, as is so often
so among the other islands.
There was an event that connected him with
the actual history of St. Croix, however, and it
has been related by Washington Irving, who
examined the diaries and letters of the great
discoverer, in the following manner:

48 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands

"The weather proving boisterous he anchored on
the 14th (of November) at an island called Ayay by
the Indians, but to which he gave the name of Santa
Cruz. A boat well manned was sent on shore to get
water and procure information. They found a village
deserted by the men; but secured a few women and
boys, most of them captives from other islands. They
soon had an instance of Carib courage and ferocity.
While at the village, they beheld a canoe from a dis-
tant part of the island come around a point of land
and arrive in view of the ships. The Indians in the
canoe, two of whom were females, remained gazing in
mute amazement at the ships, and were so entranced
that the boat stole close upon them before they per-
ceived it. Seizing their paddles, they attempted to
escape, but the boat being between them and the land,
cut off their retreat. They now caught up their bows
and arrows and plied them with amazing rapidity and
vigor. The Spaniards covered themselves with their
bucklers but two of them were quickly wounded. The
women fought as fiercely as the men and one of them
shot an arrow with such force that it passed through
and through a buckler. The Spaniards now ran their
boat against the canoe and overturned it; some of the
savages got upon sunken rocks, others discharged their
arrows while swimming, as dexterously as though they
had been upon firm land. It was with the utmost diffi-
culty they could be overcome and taken. One of them,
who had been transfixed with a lance, died soon after
being brought aboard the ship. One of the women,
from the obedience and deference paid to her, ap-
peared to be their queen. She was accompanied by
her son, a young man strongly made, with a frowning
brow and lion's face. He had been wounded in the

A Cruise to St. Croix 49

conflict. The hair of these savages was long and
coarse. Their eyes were encircled with paint, so as
to give them a hideous expression, and bands of cotton
were bound firmly above and below the muscular parts
of the arms and legs, so as to cause them to swell to
a disproportioned size; a custom prevalent among
various tribes of the New World. Though captives in
chains and in the power of their enemies, they still
retained a frowning brow and an air of defiance.
Peter Martyr, who often went to see them in Spain,
declared from his own experiences and that of others
who accompanied him, that it was impossible to look
at them without a sensation of horror; so menacing
and terrible was their aspect. The sensation was
doubtless caused in a great measure by the idea of
their being cannibals. In this skirmish, according to
the same writer, the Indians used poisoned arrows;
and one of the Spaniards died, within a few days, of
a wound received from one of the females.
"Pursuing his voyage, Columbus soon came in sight
of a great cluster of islands, some verdant and covered
with forests, but the greater part naked and sterile,
rising into craggy mountains; with rocks of a bright
azure color and some of a glistening white. These,
with his usual vivacity of imagination, he supposed
to contain mines of rich metals and precious stones.
The islands lying close together, with the sea beating
roughly in the narrow channels dividing them,
rendered it dangerous to enter among them with the
large ships. Columbus sent in a small caravel with
lateen sails, to reconnoitre, which returned with the
report that there were upwards of fifty islands appar-
ently inhabited. To the largest of this group, he gave
the name of St. Ursula and called the others the
Eleven Thousand Virgins."

50 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
From this time until 1625 there is little or
nothing recorded of St. Croix, but, by 1645, the
population is said to have increased to six hun-
dred persons and then, by a diplomatic stroke,
supposed to have been for political effect and
for the purpose of keeping the island under the
domination of France, Louis XIV transferred
it to the Knights of Malta. They sold it to a
West Indian company which was dissolved and
it was annexed to the French Crown. The
French settlers abandoned the island and in
1720 it is said to have been uninhabited. It
was then purchased by the Danish King for
750,000 French livres and, except for a short
period, during which it was held by the British,
it remained a Danish possession until 1917,
when it was purchased by the United States.
Were it not for St. Thomas' harbor, St. Croix
would be the prize of the purchase, at least it
is so in the estimation of the layman or the
traveler, who has not listened to the strategists.
It contains some of the most fertile sugar land
in the West Indies, and it is under intense culti-
At one time St. Croix rum commanded the
highest price in the market and even the
silk-cotton grown here is said to rank high in
comparison to that grown elsewhere. It is an
island of tremendous possibilities. Many for-
tunes have been made here, some of them in

A Cruise to St. Croix 51
recent years, and there is an air of prosperity
over the island that is not observed elsewhere
in the group. It is the largest spot of land in
our Danish purchase, containing over fifty-
three thousand acres.
St. Croix has two cities; Frederiksted, before
the front gate of which we anchored, and
Christiansted, which lies on the other side of
the island. The former city, which claims to
have about three thousand inhabitants, is the
depot for at least eighty per cent of the island's
commerce. Christiansted, far more important
and attractive as a city, has a population of
perhaps five thousand and, while it is the ad-
ministrative center of the island, its harbor
is guarded by reefs that make approach and
entrance perilous and difficult, so it is rarely
visited by the larger steamers.
Off Frederiksted the water, clear as crystal,
is very deep, and huge fish, which seemed to be
as watchful, perhaps as hopeful, of our ap-
proach as the boatman had been, played around
the ship on a hunt for food. Three or four
large sharks were foraging close by; one, which
seemed to be twelve or fourteen feet in length,
was as plainly visible as it would have been in
the air. He looked to be of a deep emerald
color in the azure water. His pilot-fish was
with him as they floated about in almost childish
play, although one was tempted to curb admira-

52 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
tion when he realized that these monsters ter-
rorize the island coasts.
Many of the passengers have their eyes on a
streak of white sand ashore and they requisi-
tion boatmen to take them there for a swim, as
they bravely protest to the more timid that they
are not "afraid of sharks." Then along comes
the doctor from Dominica who vividly relates
"what I have seen with my own eyes," much
the same old shark stories about legs of natives
being bitten off, missing bathing boys and the
finding of human skulls in the bellies of the fish
that have been caught and killed. All listen
intently; but few believe, and someone dispels
whatever fear lurks in the minds of prospective
bathers by remarking that "these sharks may
not be of the man-eating variety." Certainly
they seemed "tame" and playful; but it would
have been unwise to have cultivated a closer
acquaintance, and it is much more exciting to
credit the gruesome tales that are related and
written concerning them. In this connection, I
recalled what an Irish woman once said to me:
"it's worse than nonsense for anyone to visit
Ireland unless he come in a receptive mood and
ready to believe all the legends and fairy tales
that are repeated along the countryside, on the
hills and in the valleys."
Having enjoyed one plunge into the warm
salt water of the ocean-but in a porcelain tub

A Cruise to St. Croix 53
-my thoughts were less upon bathing than
upon getting ashore for a trip across the island.
As I approached the ship's ladder and glanced
over the twenty or more boats waiting below,
their rowers shouting lustily for patronage,
there was a slight tug at my coat-sleeve and I
turned to be greeted by an ostentatiously polite
negro, hat in hand and bowing profusely.
"Ready to go ashore, Cap?" he inquired,
grinning at his own familiarity, "Come right
along with me, I am the best pilot in Frederik-
"What is there to see at Frederiksted?" I
"Nothing," he giggled; "it's the sleepiest
old town you ever saw, but come on and let me
row you ashore; it's only twenty-five cents."
He was so truthful about his native city that
I engaged him instantly and he forthwith began
to shout frantically to his companion in the
waiting boat that he had procured a cus-
This gave the boatman a certain prestige, it
appeared, because the others were obliged to
row aside or ahead to permit him to get into
position near the ship's ladder. He rowed his
tiny shell as near as possible and then, when it
floated high on the crest of a wave and threat-
ened to smash against the side of the steamer,
I made the plunge overboard and deposited

54 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
myself somewhere in the proximity of the
cushions that were spread out to receive me,
cushions made of faded and water-soaked
"The way to enjoy yourself and to see every-
thing is to hire an automobile and go straight
across the island to Christiansted, that's the
way to see things, Cap!" volunteered the
"pilot," apparently thinking only of my wel-
fare and almost sensing my intentions before I
spoke them.
"And what is there to see at Christiansted?"
I asked.
"Not much !"-again the same chuckling
giggle--"but you'll like the ride; I'm sure of
that. It's about fourteen miles across, you'll
see the sugar plantations and it will give you
an idea of what the island is like."
"You seem to know a lot about everything,
George," I suggested.
"Sure, I'm a Yankee!"
"You're what?" sneered the other youngster
in the boat, seemingly bored by the boasting of
his companion. "A Yankee, sure 'nuff, but do
you know what else you is?"
"Yep, what is I!"
"You is just plain nigger; that's what you
is," and the two burst into a laugh as they
tugged at the oars. There was no disposition
to quarrel; this and other jibes were only the

A Cruise to St. Croix 55
pleasantries of the morning and nothing that
one said gave offense to the other.
Strange sailing ships, with stranger crews,
pass us on this little voyage to shore. They are
going out to the steamer to take on whatever
cargoes are destined for the coves and smaller
ports of the island, as well as for the city.
Heavy lighters are being rowed out from the
pier by stalwart black men, whose skin shines
like polished ebony. What had been a clatter
of voices now becomes a din, and all apropos
of nothing in particular,-merely something
that always takes place when a big ship anchors
off the city of Frederiksted.
Without mishap of any kind, I was landed at
the little quay that reaches into deep water. I
stopped suddenly and listened. A band was
playing the Triumphal March from "Aida."
It was so unexpected in such a place and at
such a time that I inquired of the "pilot" about
"They plays morning, noon and night," he
snorted; "they plays so we won't get mad at
each other and fight, or that's what they tell
me. They give us that music and then people
don't stand around and think about how dead
the old city is-what do you think about that,
I expressed no opinion,-in fact, had no time
to do so, for my "pilot" was shouting to a

56 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
chauffeur waiting in his car at the roadside; he
screamed the good news that he had found a
Aside, to me he said: "he's got the best auto-
mobile on the island, he's the best driver and
I'll say this for him-his prices are right."
Honest man I A jewel to be encouraged was
this George of St. Croix.
Frederiksted was sleepier than usual that
first morning. It was early and there were few
people in the streets. The buildings are not
interesting, as they are modern-hurricanes,
riots and rebellions having played havoc with
the old ones. We were soon out of town and it
was a delightful ride in the morning breeze,
which was fresh from the sea. St. Croix has
good macadam roads and there seems to be no
speed limit for automobiles. Natives who
tramp the country roads have become accus-
tomed to the honk of the horn and they peep
timidly around corners before venturing boldly
into the highway. They make for the gutters
when a "devil-machine" makes its appearance,
even in the distance. The roads are bor-
dered with cocoa-palms and other tropical
The mango was ripe and I fearlessly admit
that the "pilot" stole plenty of them for me, as
we stopped occasionally; but it seemed to be the
usual procedure and caused no comment even

A Cruise to St. Croix 57
from the property-owners who witnessed the
As we were passing a large sugar plantation,
I asked the boy if he could climb.
"The highest cocoa palm what is," was his
reply, so I soon commissioned him to snip off
some green fruit for me. In the tropics they
do not "eat" cocoanut, but drink it; the water
inside the green husk, a glassful of it in each
nut, makes a delicious beverage for hot
weather, one of the most desirable drinks of
the region.
I had no sooner spoken the request than the
car stopped, George jumped out and literally
ran up the tree like a monkey and, when he
reached the top, rained down fruit as if he had
been shaking the bough of an apple tree, and
the chauffeur whittled holes in the ends of the
nuts, to make them convenient for holding and
drinking. As we were enjoying this impromptu
fiesta, the men and women working in the
nearby cane fields came to observe us and to
exchange very audible and not too complimen-
tary comments upon the stranger. Most of
their dissatisfaction with him seemed to arise
from the fact that he made a rather bungling
job of drinking the sweet water from the cocoa-
nut and they laughed merrily as the liquid
dripped from his chin. It was a spectacle worth
seeing, something to divert their attention from

58 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
toil and they looked on with expressions of keen
enjoyment, leaning on their various agricultural
implements and completely forgetting the work
for which they were being paid.
Presently, a man came down the road on a
horse, a white man and in his hand he flourished
a braided leather crop fully a yard long. He
wore a solemn expression and, although I
should have done so, perhaps, I failed to recog-
nize, from his appearance, that he was the
owner of the plantation. He greeted me and I
said something about the excellence of the
"Yes, there'd be a lot more of them if people
didn't steal them," he remarked.
The rebuke was stinging; not only had I
stolen his fruit, I was delaying work on the
plantation as thirty or more laborers stood at
the roadside and watched the spectacle, so I
"Nonsensel" he snapped, "do you want
some of the nuts to take back to the ship? If
you do, I'll send one of the boys up a tree to
get them, I meant the perpetual thieves who
keep the trees whipped bare."
We chatted for some time about the "new"
conditions in the island, now that America is
in possession, and the black men stood around
listening to each word. He was an optimistic
farmer, one who insisted that better times were

A Cruise to St. Croix 59
close ahead and also one who seemed to delight
in the fact that plantation labor formerly was
plentiful at twenty cents a day, whereas he was
now paying his help from thirty-five to fifty
"And are they good workers?" I asked.
He gestured toward the group around us:
"they are working now; you can judge for
yourself. "
The negroes laughed and leaned on their
hoes, as they listened more intently than be-
fore, realizing that they were the topic of con-
In times gone by, however, these St. Croix
negroes have not been so docile. In 1848, at
a prearranged signal, they congregated, three
thousand strong, entered Christiansted and
presented demands that drove the white inhabi-
tants to refuge on ships that were lying in port.
Demands were granted and the newly found
freedom was construed to be a release from all
obligations to work. Estates were about to
have been burned, and doubtless a general mas-
sacre of whites was averted by the timely ar-
rival of military forces. As late as 1878, the
city of Frederiksted was burned by a similar
As we rolled along into the city, the very
attractively situated old capital revealed itself.
The houses, which had an air of cleanliness,

60 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
were set in tropical gardens that foamed their
flowers and foliage over white walls. Even the
business blocks were much more substantial and
extensive than one expects to find in a city of
less than five thousand inhabitants; and there
was about it all the appearance of that beauti-
ful age that brings moss to caress hard stone
surfaces, lichens over balustrades and stair-
ways. Here a proud and stately folk must have
lived in the city's first day of glory; and they
built for the future, but the present is a sad
fulfillment of their dreams.



AFTER a ramble around the city, my im-
pression was that almost every inhabi-
tant either owns a store of some kind or
sells things in the street or market. There were
few loiterers and, it seemed, few purchasers.
The array of stores and small shops of various
description was numerically imposing, each
seemed to have a particular line of merchandise
as a specialty, but it was surprising what a
variety of wares was carried in stock by the
grocer, the dry goods and fruit merchant or the
apothecary. The shop that displayed calico
in the window, likely carried also a stock of
American canned fruit and vegetables and per-
haps a few pieces of hardware. It seemed that
a prospective purchaser might merely enter any
store and obtain the desired article, that is, if
it was to be found at Christiansted. During a
visit to several stores in various parts of the
city, I observed that the same brands of foreign
goods were conspicuous everywhere; the sales-
men who passed this way have left a record
that speaks of energy and eloquence! In a

62 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
grocery shop, for example, I saw a somewhat
extensive assortment of battered opera-glasses,
which doubtless had been in stock for many
years, judging from the layers of dust that
covered them; a grocery displayed a large
assortment of celluloid collars and soiled cra-
vats, another grocery did not confine its activity
to foodstuffs, but also displayed bolts of bril-
liantly dyed calico, considerable rope, tinware,
a showcase of "smoked" glasses and patent
I went into the market-place, where women
and girls were squatting behind heaps of vege-
tables and paniers of cocoanuts, limes, oranges,
mangoes, bananas, plantains and pineapples.
Negro marketers sauntered by and carried
away fruit by the handful, purchased for a few
pennies. I inquired prices and found that they
had suddenly risen to me, becoming "two cents
apiece" for everything from bananas to pine-
apples. As I was bargaining, a much over-
dressed negress, certainly of the "aristocracy"
of the island, came up and inquired the price
of eggs. In addition to her other adornment,
which consisted of much lace and jewelry, white
shoes and a flowered hat-more notable in a
hatless and shoeless country-she wore white
kid gloves, which must have been most uncom-
fortable as the heat was intense. The market
woman quickly stopped her talk with me to

The Two "Steds" 63
show sufficient deference to the lady and I saw
"class privilege" as plainly demonstrated as
ever before in my life. The woman at the stall
became quite overcome with importance as she
was addressed by the dusky belle, who volun-
teered a remark about the hot weather, from
which she must have been suffering, the fact
that the island needed rain, even if the city did
not, that rain might make it cooler, that the past
week had been unexpectedly warm for the time
of year, and other nonsense quite in the manner
of formal social confab at home. As a result of
it all, the lady in lace and jewelry purchased
two hen's eggs which were delivered into her
white gloved hands, unwrapped, and she sallied
forth to other stalls. At least, I mused, at last
I had seen hen's eggs occupy their proper
sphere, judging from present prices. They
seemed to be a part of the lady's toilet; cer-
tainly, they were as valuable as some of the
jewelry that she was wearing.
I saw a finely woven basket suspended from a
pole in a market booth and, thinking it doubt-
less was of native workmanship, and at the
same time that it might prove to be convenient
for carrying the fruit already purchased, I
approached the negro who seemed to be in
charge and inquired the price.
"That basket isn't for sale, Mister," he said,
almost regretfully, and I realized that it was

64 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
hung there merely as a prized possession to
delight the eyes of its owner, or perhaps to
swank (as the West Indians say) before others
who had none.
"Are you quite certain that you want it!"
continued the old man, "I got that basket when
I was in Porto Rico three years ago this sum-
mer. I have a son working on the island and
I crossed over to make him a visit. It was the
only time that I ever left the island of St. Croix
in my life and I stayed five days. You see I'm
not used to going about very much, so it seemed
good to me when I reached home again. I like
that basket because I bought it in Porto Rico;
but are you quite certain that you want to buy
I quickly assured him that I did not care to
deprive him of the souvenir of his only trip
"abroad," and he seemed to appreciate the
spirit in which I did so.
"Which way are you going from here,
Mister?" he continued as I started away; "I
take it that you're just passing through. South?
Oh, I dare say that you'll get much better look-
ing baskets than this in the southern islands, or
at Demerara, if you go that far."
I walked along to other stands and, when I
returned, several persons were standing by the
old man and he was discoursing freely. I saw
him point to the basket and knew that he was

The Two "Steds" 65
telling the others that a "foreigner" had tried
to buy it. The basket seemed to have acquired
an additional value in the eyes of its owner and
the old man was boasting to his companions
about it.
We walked around the old town-my "pilot"
and I, and the first impression that everyone
was offering something for sale did not dimin-
ish as we met dozens of girls in the streets
carrying paniers of fruit and bakery on their
heads. They did not shout their wares in the
European manner, but quietly opened garden
gates and passed to the rear of the houses,
where they combined a social chat with busi-
ness, after which they closed the gates and
moved along quietly. Watching them, we
caught glimpses of pretty tropical gardens in
which flourished flowering trees and vines, pro-
tected by high walls, a flora that had outlived
hurricanes and storms that had levelled forests
exposed to their fury.
There are obsolete forts at Christiansted,
worthy of a glance because they are pictur-
esque; but monuments of the old regime are
comparatively few, unless an exception be made
of the Government House, and the store where
Alexander Hamilton worked as a clerk and
wrote some of the youthful correspondence that
seemed prophetic of his later achievements. It
appears that he chafed at the narrowness of
L .

66 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
West Indian life when he lived at St. Croix, as
evidenced by a letter which he wrote to a friend
who had gone to America to study.
"I condemn the grovelling condition of a
clerk and would willingly risk my life," he
wrote, "though not my character, to exalt my
Here, around Christiansted, oysters actually
grow on trees! This is no new observation, be-
cause it was spoken of by the associates of Co-
lumbus, if not by the great discoverer himself.
It seems likely that the aboriginal inhabitants
ate these fish, as remains of the shells have been
found in burial places that have revealed few
secrets of the vanished civilization, whatever it
may have been; somewhat advanced, it may be
deduced from specimens of ancient pottery that
have been unearthed, or wholly barbaric, even
cannibalistic, judging from the early writings
of the first Europeans who passed this way.
The celebrated oysters cling to the roots of
mangrove trees, which abound and branch out
into all directions in brakish lagoons. When
young, the shellfish fasten themselves to these
roots at high tide, and then, clinging to their
first anchorage, they are high in the air at low
tide and are easily gathered by the natives.
As noon arrived, I recalled that we had
passed no hotels or restaurants in our rambles,
at least I had not recognized them, and I men-

The Two "Steds" 67
tioned the fact to the "pilot." I was mistaken
in this, however, he said, adding: "Why, there's
a fine hotel here."
"What it its name?"
"Oh, jes' Hotel, Cap; it ain't got no name
that I ever heard of; it's jes' hotel."
This may have been the fact, I forgot to in-
quire, but, after we had been entertained there,
I knew that it not only deserved a name, but
likewise a "character" and a big star in the
guide-books, because it was much that hostel-
ries with a flourish of name and reputation are
not. In the first place, it was so neat that
everything had the appearance of having been
scrubbed an hour before we saw it, it was so
spacious and cool that it was a welcome haven
of rest for the warm noon hours, and the serv-
ants were so efficient and obliging that they
must always have lived apart from that clan
similarly employed elsewhere in the world, the
multitudes that resent anyone's expectation to
receive the service for which he is paying.
The walls of the front of the building came
to the paved highway and passed over a cement
bridge that spanned the gutter. One entered a
large courtyard or patio, where, beneath large
trees, horses and oxen were resting and two
automobiles were parked. The entire ground
floor of the building was a repository for the
broken furniture that usually is consigned to

68 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
the garret in American homes; numerous carts
and wagons, even agricultural implements,
which seemed inappropriate in the leading
hotel of the principal city of St. Croix.
"You are sure this is a hotel?" I asked, and,
for a reply the boy smiled and walked on con-
fidently. Things are not always "appropriate"
from the northerner's point of view in these
southern islands; chickens, in fact poultry of all
kinds, are raised in the cities and not in the
country! Thus the crowing of roosters is a
familiar sound to city-dwellers in the morning
and practically unknown to the rural inhabi-
tant. Rats and snakes formerly caused great
havoc throughout the island, so the East Indian
mongoose was introduced and multiplied with
amazing rapidity. They were of material as-
sistance in the extermination of reptiles and
rodents, but they are a deadly enemy of poultry
of all kinds, so it became necessary to restrict
the latter to urban gardens and highways,
where the mongoose is too shy to appear ex-
cept upon rare occasions, when foraging has
been poorly repaid in the cane fields.
A balcony surrounded the patio of the hotel,
and we ascended the broad circular stairway,
arriving at a spacious "living room" that ex-
tended the full length of the house along the
street front. Both long sides, east and west,
were open and a breeze was sweeping through.

The Two "Steds" 69
Huge cane and rattan rocking-chairs, sofas and
divans littered the room, there were pieces of
hand-carved furniture dating from an early
period, large crystal globes around antique
candelabra, an occasional urn of blue and white
china; prominent among the wall decorations
hung wooden models of sailing ships and sev-
eral portraits of members of the Danish Royal
family of three generations ago. I counted it
a privilege to be able to inspect and visit the
house, even if its tenant should not feel dis-
posed to prepare the desired meal.
At length, after I had been sitting for some
minutes in one of the comfortable chairs, a
servant passed along the balcony, and I in-
quired of her if I had been correctly informed
that the house served meals to transient guests?
It seemed almost too good to be true, but the
girl bowed and said she would ask her mistress,
afterwards bringing back word that "break-
fast" would be served in twenty minutes, if the
guest would excuse the delay. She was very
sorry that no preparations had been made in
advance, but it was because the hotel had no in-
formation of the arrival of a visitor. It was a
delightful place in which to spend twenty min-
utes; I felt at the time that it could be highly
recommended for a visit of twenty days! It
was exotic and "foreign," yet it was comfort-

70 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
able and pleasing, like those ruins that seem
half-villa in southern Italy.
"Breakfast" was a grave formality that re-
quired considerable time, but, as it was the
time of day when the streets are practically de-
serted, one could not object to the leisurely
manner in which two servants placed the eight
or nine course meal upon the table. Many
changes of silver were required, many of china,
and there was a frequent offering of the finger-
bowl-after lobster as well as after fruit.
"That was an excellent meal, splendidly
served," I remarked to one of the girls as I
handed her a quarter of a dollar in excess of
the dollar, which was the price charged for the
sumptuous repast.
"Yes, sir," she replied; "our hotel is always
well spoken of by our guests, they are always
well pleased."
There was no false modesty about it; doubt-
less she had spoken the truth, and she knew that
guests who appreciated it did not care to argue
the matter; but I wondered how many hotel
servants scattered over the world could repeat
her words.
We did not make the journey back to Fred-
eriksted in "no time," as the "pilot" had
promised would be possible, if I engaged the
chauffeur of his choice, the one probably who
gave him the largest commission for procuring

The Two "Steds" 71
a patron. Instead, we rode along leisurely and
made several stops, during which I conversed
with many natives and, without exception, they
seemed to be happy, which as much as anything
speaks for the future prosperity of the island.
As we came back to Frederiksted, late in the
afternoon, the band was again playing a fan-
tasia from "Aida," the Ethiopian princess,
which unquestionably was a great favorite.
The "pilot" said: "you see, the band's still
playing"; but this was inconceivable, as it also
was scheduled for an evening performance.
I don't know whether it was the locale of
"Aida" and its dusky heroine that gave the
opera a particular charm for this band of negro
players and the copper-hued conductor; but it
is true that the players seemed always rehears-
ing its excerpts or playing them in concert when
I was in the city. With the single exception of
the Star Spangled Banner and a limited reper-
tory of popular American airs, I never heard it
play anything else, although notes of the cor-
nets, clarinets and trombones seemed to be con-
tinuously floating on the air throughout my
We were anchored fully a quarter-mile off
shore; but the eternal music reached our ears
throughout the day and in the evening, always
reminding me of the pilot's explanation that,
when we hear music, we are not so likely to

72 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
fight or "hang around with nothing to do but
pick a quarrel."
While we are anchored off Frederiksted, a
cool breeze reaches us from the low hills and
from the open sea. It is heavily laden with a
sweet odor that is not the fragrance of flowers,
but the odor of crushed sugar-cane. It comes
from the factories, over which steam floats to
the winds which carry saccharine particles that
never will find their way to the world's break-
fast table. I wonder if a part of this fragrance
does not come from the big fields where we have
seen the natives slashing the stalks with big
knives. I brought one of these stalks back to
the ship and, after I had cut it into small strips,
the passengers ate it as children eat stick candy,
surprised to find it so juicy, sweet and appe-
tizing. Little wonder that this cane is so
relished by the negroes who cultivate and har-
vest it! Lighters bring heavy loads of sugar in
bags that is to be refined and sent to the homes
of the world, dark brown and coarse when it
arrives at the shipside, to be hoisted and then
deposited in the great yawning maw that is
open to receive it; but it will become as white
as snow before it is lifted by silver tongs! It
will be eaten with no keener relish, however,
when it reposes on the tea-tables, than it is in
brown crystals by the laborers who are putting
the cargo aboard. The large bags often are

The Two "Steds" 73
torn as they are being raised to the decks and
when being dropped into the hold, a brown
stream flows back into the lighters, as well as on
to the decks of the ship. This is carefully
scooped up and, when there is a halt for rest,
each worker seems to have at least one pound in
his possession. All have brought tin cans or
jugs of water with them, so they dissolve the
sugar into a thick syrup and then drink it with
gusto. I watch some of them who do not wait
for it to dissolve, but who raise handful of it to
their mouths, chewing and swallowing it with a
satisfied smile. Some eat too much sugar, no
doubt; but, when their bellies are full, they are
happy and do not care particularly where the
next food comes from, nor how and when it will
"They get fat and plump during the sugar
season," remarked a sugar chemist who is one
of the passengers aboard the steamer. "Be-
tween seasons, many of them become thin and
appear to be, as they doubtless are, much under-
nourished. They live on fish and fruit during
off-seasons; but what they like is sugar. This
opportunity to get it from the torn bags is a
great privilege. In the fields there is a fine
for the laborer who is detected smuggling sugar
from the premises; but we usually give them the
privilege of paying one dollar a pound for what
they have taken, or going to jail for thirty days,

74 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
and, since they usually prefer to make the pay-
ment, the penalty has a good effect and there
is comparatively little theft among our workers.
If we did not have some such penalty, they'd
eat sugar as fast as we made it and doubtless
become so fat they couldn't work. If this hap-
pened, what kind of an explanation could we
make to our stockholders?"
That second day, as we lay in the roadstead,
a traveling salesman observed that it barely
seemed possible we were "still on American
soil." And he was not Irish! The reflection
occasioned considerable comment, in view of the
fact that we were aboard a foreign ship that
was rolling and tossing upon somewhat boister-
ous waves, and that soil, native or foreign, was
some distance away. But his reflection was
apropos, if taken as he intended it to be.
Against the ship the indigo seas pile up and
then fade into streaks of emerald and sapphire.
Beyond the reef, and near the shore, there is a
bright ribbon of robin-egg blue foaming upon
the white sands like beaten cream. The froth
and sand appear to be the foundation of the
landscape. First the palms, the cultivated land
beyond, then splotches of green dotted with
white plantation houses and red roofs, still fur-
ther back the palm-fringed hills reaching to the
clouds that ascend to the blue sky which is
almost the dark sapphire of the sea itself.

The Two "Steds" 75
The landscape seems framed by indigo velvet
above and below. And it is American soil!
One day we visited a sugar factory, where
the sweet juices were being pressed from the
cane and heated to crystallization by ultra-
modern processes that leave no waste. Even
the dried fibre of the cane is used for fuel to
operate the huge factory with its intricate
machinery which snatches the cane, carries it
through an infinite number of "applications"
and processes, and finally pours out sugar and
molasses ready for shipment. The intensely
sweet odor that permeated the atmosphere
around and inside the factory does not resemble
the perfume of flowers, nor the too-sweet fra-
grance of honey; but there is an intoxicating
balm for the nostrils as one breathes this distil-
lation of the cane. Perhaps it gives a faint
suggestion of inhaling new rum.
I visited the naval hospital, where I felt that
our paternal government was doing something
more paternal than anything I had seen else-
where on the island. The Stars and Stripes
flew over the building, where poor, neglected,
or injured humanity was being patched up and
made more fit for waging the battle of life.
The spacious rooms were literally filled with
beds and most of the beds were occupied by
black patients, who might become better men
in consequence, also better patriots and citi-

76 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
zens. It reminded me of a conversation I had
years ago with the late Nathaniel Bliss, founder
of the great American College at Beyrut, Syria.
He was sent to the Near East as a Christian
missionary, he said; but, after he reached Syria,
and looked over the territory and people where
he was to labor, he returned to America and
reported to the churches, which had sent him,
that in his opinion the bodies of the men and
boys of Syria, Egypt and Arabia needed fixing
up before missionaries attempted to do any-
thing for their souls.
"The churches didn't think much of my views
at the time," he said; "but there were a few
men and women who did, and by their aid I
began the work, which I believe the world ad-
mits has brought about some rather satisfac-
tory results; at least I have no apologies to
make for adhering to that first idea of mine."
And much the same general conditions exist
in the Virgin Islands of the United States that
the early missionaries found in Syria; but they
have not yet been visited by a Dr. Bliss, who
did more for brown humanity in that vast terri-
tory than any other man.
Ashore again at Frederiksted, and the band
is giving a concert, the program consisting
chiefly of the National Hymn, a limited number
of popular selections, and a lengthy fantasia on
themes from "Aida," as usual, the trumpets

The Two "Steds" 77
fumbling the Triumphal entry of Rhadames
and his Ethiopian prisoners. Either the band
will conquer the difficulties of this score in time,
or it will not; I cannot decide which. The musi-
cians sit on the balcony of the Customs House
and the audience stands in the street below.
This building, and similar structures at St.
Thomas, remind one of a government's alert-
ness to have plenty of efficient servants well
housed for the collection of taxes, dues and
penalties of all kinds. The United States, like
other governments, is represented by politi-
cians who see to it that the negro pays his
license-money and taxes; but the facilities are
somewhat inadequate, considering the popula-
tion and the prevalence of disease, for making
men physically better, which might have a tend-
ency to aid their moral development.
The concert was scheduled to begin at eight
o'clock; but, as no band and no audience had
assembled, I inquired at the Customs House,
and was told that it would not begin until half-
past eight; so I walked around the streets and
returned at eight-thirty. Loiterers along the
waterfront told me that the band would play at
nine o'clock, so I walked for another half-hour
and came back to find that the crowd was begin-
ning to assemble in the street. Several men
came from various directions, bearing lanterns,
which they suspended from nails or hooks on

78 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
the Customs House balcony, after which they
took seats at music-stands, and then finally, and
with considerable flourish, the conductor ar-
rived, raised his baton, and the crowd, at least
all who were not bare-headed, raised their hats
as The Star Spangled Banner was played.
The crowd applauded noisily. It was un-
mistakably a jazz-loving crowd; but the con-
ductor, like so many others, insisted upon
playing the music that was not wanted. The
opening number was dull, and a sad business
from a musical point of view; but it was Sun-
day night, so perhaps the leader was afraid of
offense that might be given if he played livelier
tunes, for he knew his audience, and he knew
what might happen if he ventured to offer jazz
or ragtime; he knew that the crowd was always
eager to respond to syncopation and to express
emotions in some hectic dance that would be
inappropriate for the Sabbath in United States
There was a livelier air a few minutes later,
and I thought that I should enjoy the spectacle
of the whole waterfront swaying with synco-
pating negroes; but the leader was for the "up-
life," it seemed; so he quickly gave his bored
audience "educational" selections and offered
little of entertainment or amusement, which
latter was frankly what they wanted and

The Two "Steds" 79
During the early numbers, people were what
might be described as respectful; then they be-
came fidgety and began to move around, so that
in time the affair became a genuine promenade
concert, and perhaps some members of the audi-
ence swayed to the rhythm and felt that they
were dancing. When our old friend, the fan-
tasia from "Aida" was played, the conductor
must have forgotten about it being Sunday and
the ballet portions were given with unusual
gusto, or it seemed so in comparison with what
had preceded it. Presto! A group of dusky
belles, standing near me, were wholly unable to
control their emotions, and, taking hold of
hands, they whirled in a circle like children
playing "Ring Around the Rose." An elder
sister or friend caught hold of the ring-leader
in this merriment and jerked her from the
"Marjorie, don't you know that you're dis-
behaving yourself !"
But the maid of eighteen or twenty years
continued to sway her arms and body in an im-
promptu dance that amused all on-lookers.
We knew that the concert was over. It fin-
ished with the fantasia. The band stopped
playing; but, although it was close to eleven
o'clock, this seemed to be the favorite social
hour at Frederiksted and everyone began to
talk to everyone else. Perhaps there was bois-

80 The Spell of the Caribbean Islands
terous laughter, but the audience was behaving
in a natural manner. It had been decorous and
quiet so long that it was anxious to relieve itself
of pent up emotion, so it shouted. This de-
lighted me because I recalled how often I had
been obliged to sit through concerts that had
bored me in similar fashion, even if in more
cultured centers of population, and I remem-
bered how I had longed to do exactly what these
negroes were doing, after the music had
stopped I
One by one the instrumentalists placed their
horns and clarinets in cases, took down a lan-
tern and started for home; and each one
deprived the Fredericksted street of illumina-
tion, for the city does not waste lights upon its
streets when there is moonlight, and, although
moonlight was scheduled, it did not arrive in
time for the concert. Finally, it was dark and
the audience scattered, so I went back to the
wharf, where I found my "pilot" sleeping. It
seemed a shame to awaken him, for the music
and waves had soothed him. At least on this
occasion the band had been unnecessary to pre-
vent fighting.
"I wasn't asleep, Cap," he apologized, after
my third attempt to arouse him by means more
gentle than a kick or "ducking in cold water,"
which another boatman had suggested. "I
jes' tried to get as far away from that band as

The Two "Steds" 81
I could and still be on the lookout for you when-
ever you were ready to go back to the ship I
wasn't asleep at all, Cap; did these good-for-
nothing niggers, here, say that I wasT"



DURING various journeys, I have im-
proved the opportunity to peep into the
craters of volcanoes. Some seemed
dead and it was difficult to believe, when observ-
ing the vegetation, that they had vomited
flames; but I have seen the cracks of fire where
the lava was flowing downward in a stream that
brought instant death to whatever came into
its clutches. It seemed strange that the two
volcanoes which impressed me most of all,
however, were merely viewed from a safe
distance, from the decks of ships One
was that blazing furnace that lights the
sky around the straits of Messina and the
other was the dead volcano of Saba island,
passed a short distance south of St. Croix,
where an entire city demonstrates absolute fear-
lessness by building houses and cultivating
gardens, within the bowl, that would be blown
to the clouds if the slumbering monster should
duplicate the performance of Mont Pelee on
another southern island in the neighborhood.
Pelee, it will be recalled, also was dead until

Cruising Around Volcanoes 83
that frightful morning when it suddenly awak-
ened and in its wrath poured destruction upon
the beautiful city of St. Pierre. As well build
a city on the brink of the cliff at Niagara when
the waters are low, on a melting ice-floe or on
a sandbar! Ultimate destruction seems inevi-
table, but volcanic soil is fertile and that seems
to be a temptation to planters of vineyards and
orchards, who climb the mountain-sides and
trust to fate that, if an eruption should come, it
would be on the other side; that it will not cover
them nor crack the earth to receive their bodies.
But to ascend the mountain, go over the brink
and build a city on the very lid of hell, that to-
day, tomorrow or next years is likely to be
blown to atoms and shattered to fragments in
the clouds over the sea, is amazing, almost be-
yond belief. And the people who do it are the
unemotional Dutch, who dwell in the little city
of Bottom Town and move about their daily
affairs as unconcerned as any dweller upon a
They even scoff at danger and perhaps are
unconscious of it, unless reminded by a visitor
from the outside world; and, as a landing on
the little island is difficult, there are compara-
tively few travelers who venture to this speck
of land with its only city concealed by the pro-
tecting walls of a once-fiery cone. But the
inhabitants are not a group of exiles condemned

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs