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When sugar slumped, as the result of emancipation and the discovery of beet-sugar, St. John folded up. Only people are living there to-day. It is as empty as any place could be. Not even in the interior of Haiti have the relics of former grandeur been obliterated more completely.

The jungle has reclaimed it all—the canefields, the carriage drives, the slave quarters, the plantation houses. The old walls are buried deep in scrub and creeper.

There are no roads now, only trails. There are no motor-cars.

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You travel on foot or horseback; or by motor-launch around the coast from bay to bay. You lead a completely rural life, getting up at sunrise, breakfasting at seven, going to bed almost directly after dinner; an open-air life of sailing, swimming, fishing. Everything is very primitive. Each house is responsible for its own supply of water.

Rooms are lamp-lit. There is no town, there are no shops, no telephones. There are no cocktail parties and no newspapers. There is one quite substantial resort, at Caneel Bay.

There is a guest-house or two; four or five private homes, and that is all. Myself, I was bound for the Bulon Guest-house. Trunk Bay, which it overlooks, is a couple of headlands beyond Caneel, where the launch deposits you. A minute launch awaits you at the jetty. Before you have been in it five minutes you have very markedly the sense of being in the open sea.

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You no longer have the protection of the islands. The launch dips and plunges and vibrates, splashing water over you. On your right the hills rise, covered to their summits with trees and scrub.

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On one of the lower promontories is an abandoned windmill. Trunk Bay is a beach and nothing more. There is no projecting jetty. You change from the launch into a rowing-boat, and then wade ashore. The Bulon Guest-house is half-way up the hill. It has a wide, deck-like verandah facing west and north. It was noticeably cooler than Charlotte Amalie or Christiansted. The verandah was lit by hurricane lamps, not electric light.

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  • There were four or five guests on the verandah. It was shortly after six.

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    Most of them had a glass beside them. Do I ring for a drink? I asked. There was a laugh at that. They had the honour system, they explained. You could buy your own bottle or you could mix your own drinks by the glass. You signed for them in a book. Limes and ice and sugar, but not soda, were on the house. Beer and Coca-Cola were in the icebox. It was Sunday, and supper took the place of dinner, a cold meal served on the verandah.

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    A party was going round the island in the launch. The trip was to start at half-past seven.

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    I had known many picnics scheduled to start at least an hour before they do. I was more than surprised next morning, before sunrise, to hear footsteps below my room. As I went down to the beach to swim shortly after six, I met one of the guests coming up from the cottages fully dressed. I was the last arrival at the breakfast-table at five to seven. By a quarter-past seven I was on the verandah, my manuscript before me. John was certainly as different from St. Croix as St. Croix had been from St.

    Those three first days illustrate not inaccurately the differences between the islands, though as regards St. Thomas and St. Croix those first days are less typical than symptomatic. It was on a Saturday that I reached St. Thomas, and normally Charlotte Amalie is not all that gay. It was on a Sunday that I reached St. Croix, and St. Croix is not normally that quiet.

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    On the contrary, it has a very active social life. There are probably more cocktail parties in St. Croix in a week than there are in St. Thomas in a month, but they are a different kind of party. Croix was originally an exclusively agricultural community. Its early history is involved; at one period or another it was owned by practically every European power, including the Knights of Malta. Under the French it failed for a time to prosper.

    For a few years it was practically uninhabited, and the French in were glad to sell it to the Danes to prevent its falling into British hands.