We went out of our road yesterday [Apr. 1] & lost a day to call on a West Indian native woman [Lucretia] who served in Mr. Roger’s family 22 years ago. It was a lonesome little out-of-the-way island called Rum Cay, with a population of 3 whites & 500 blacks—all very poor; a wretched & unattractive little solitude in the sea, & seldom visited. Our coming was a vast event, & the English magistrate (the sole official & he has nothing to do) said it would be the talk of the place for months. The negro clergyman was so glad to see me as if I had been his long-lost son—said he “couldn’t believe he was actually looking at me & seeing me in the flesh—was talking about me this very morning [Apr. 2]—why it’s just as if you are God-sent, sir!” [LLMT 336-7]. Note: Rum Cay, Bahamas was originally named Santa Maria de la Conception by Christopher Columbus, and got its present name during the rum running of the 1800s. Only 29 square miles, Rum Cay is one of the smaller islands in the group, and just south of San Salvador. The current population is about 100.
Saw the eloquent Lucretia. [Rogers’ ex-servant]
Still northward bound. The night was refreshingly cool—a needed change. Halted off Rum Cay. Blue Grotto water, the finest yet. Luminous pale blue bottom clearly visible in 66 feet of water. Sailed for Nassau. Japanese at noon. Cat Island. / Rev. Cooper [NB 45 TS 8].
Sam’s ship log: RUM CAY.
Tuesday, April 1. The night was refreshingly cool—a welcome change. Sought & found Rum Cay, — lonely island, flat & sandy, & apparently unpeopled. Anchored in 11 fathoms—brilliantly luminous pale blue bottom sharply visible—as if through plate glass. Further away, Blue-Grotto water, the finest color yet.
Went ashore in the launch & routed out the population—one white man, from New Jersey, & a hundred blacks. No agriculture, no fruit culture, no manufactures—no trade for these things. They raise salt, in ponds; also children—in ponds or anywhere else. A hurricane lately damanged one of these crops but did not affect the other. When the magistrate returns from Nassau with his bride there will be 3 whites in the island—& a prospect.
We were come to hunt up Lucretia, who served in Mr. Rogers’s family many years ago. She lived in California afterward—she told us these things—& married a West Indian, who died childless by & by, & left her some advice, his only marketable asset, & she followed it. He advised her to go to Rum Cay, which was his native hold. She did it, (she said it in a tone of unshed regret) & has been stranded there ever since—6 years. A stately & good looking brown dame, she is, intelligent, & speaks real English, not West Indian.
Mrs. Broughton had charged her father [HH Rogers] to hunt up Rum Cay & give Lucretia a remembrance—token of money & books, & these orders Mr. Rogers carried out. He selected the books himself from the Yacht’s library, & they are the sort that do not wear out. They came very handy—as company for an orphan dictionary, the only other book in Lucretia’s quarters.
The Jerseyman has a store—the only store in the island—& it occupies the ground floor of a small cabin.
It is the modest mercantile establishment outside of Archbold’s Addition.
Rum Cay is strikingly like heaven in one respect—they neither marry there nor are given in marriage. In heaven there is nothing disreputable about this, but when you come to work this principle in a place like Rum Cay the results are just scandalous.
Lucretia keeps house for the Jerseyman. This would cause no comment in Heaven; and it causes none in Rum Cay. It is painful to think of, & shows the deteriorating effect of an ill example.
Livy’s diary: “Mr Borce lunched with us” [MTP: DV161].
April 2 Wednesday – Sam’s notebook: “10 a.m. Entering Nassau. The blues, greens & bronzes of this water at Nassau surpass all the splendors of any water we have seen. Visit of Mr. Gladstone. / Flying fish 30 ft long” [NB 45 TS 8]. Note: Sam’s ship log essentially the same report.
In Nassau, Bahamas, Sam wrote to Livy.
Livy, dear, it is decided that we sail to-morrow for Jacksonville, reaching there on the 5th; then run up the St Johns river & take a look at it; then to Charleston & the Fair; stop next at a point in Virginia & take coal;
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.