The hotel calls this Grotto Beach, but at Google Maps it’s Beauregard Bay.

Our last day, and not a cloud in the sky.  Not directly overhead, anyway. There is a bank of dim clouds over St Thomas and St John, ghostly mountainous outlines on the horizon.  (You have to know where to look.) The air seems neither warm nor cool, windy nor still.

I awoke in the middle of the night to find moonlight flooding through an open window. (That’s “window” as in porte-fenêtre..) Good Lord, I thought – we’ll be murdered in our beds. How could Kathleen have neglected to close and lock it? As I closed and locked it, I was told by a voice that sounded a lot like Kathleen’s (but couldn’t possibly have been, because it was two-thirty in the morning and Kathleen doesn’t just wake up like that) that the door had been left open “so that kitty could get out.”

Sure enough, there was kitty, stretched out on the other bed. Kitty’s ears, anyway. Kitty (a/k/a “Silly Billy” – an endearment that I had never heard Kathleen use before) is one of the many more-or-less domesticated cats who are the real parties in possession of the Buccaneer. We’ve been told that they’re very well taken care of, and, indeed, Kitty, when he or she first mewed piteously at our window, seemed interested in company, not food. Although not overweight, the cat seemed comfortable and well-nourished. It declined the offer of a bit of pretzel. We sent it packing when we left for dinner, and it came back afterward, while I was about to fall asleep over Agatha Christie’s  At Bertram’s Hotel.

I climbed back into bed, but found that I could not think of sleep with the window open. Then I had a brain wave. The windows are fitted out with those long latches, much like chains in effect, that allow a door to be cracked open and no more. If I swung the latch over the knob, the window would be open wide enough for Kitty to get out. That was the theory. In fact, even Kitty couldn’t wedge itself through a gap less than two inches wide. At three-thirty, I was awaked by more mewing. I opened the window all the way and, after a moment, Kitty ran out into the brilliant night. I closed and locked &c.

Several readers have been kind enough to ask what on earth this “&c” means. Literally, it stands for et cetera. The British manage the ampersand better (I’m searching for an example): the body of the sign far more closely resembles the letter “e,” while the lower tail curls upward before it intersects with the upper, clearly suggesting the letter “t.” As I use “&c,” it stands in for the repeat of a line that I have already written. You might call it blah blah blah, but that wouldn’t be very nice.

When I get back to New York, I’m going to eat my hat about Agatha Christie. I can’t tell you how foolish I feel, finding her so magnificently readable. Of course she’s readable. Once upon a time, successful writers were.

Needs no explanation.

2 Responses to “Cliché”

  1. Yvonne says:

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t take any photos of the Buccaneer cats, but I like the way you wrote the story of Silly Billy…I thought it was going to turn out to have been a strange dream.

    Amazing that you didn’t wake to find him sleeping on your chest! You might not have enjoyed that.

  2. Ellen says:


    I’ve had to explain it too. Once now over 35 years ago I and a friend found ourselves in a room in Tangiers. We had been escorted about by two young men who were in another room in said hotel. I woke in the night suddenly afraid they might try to get into our room. So very quietly I got up and began to look to see if I could push some piece of furniture against the door. I heard my friend’s voice clear as a bell and wide awake, “Don’t worry. I’ve put a chair by the window and we can get out that way if necessary.” And indeed the window was open, and I could see it was just a little jump. Nonetheless, I pushed a bureau against the door so that I could sleep with even less worry!