“I bet everybody asks you about that,” I say, and she rolls her eyes.
“Yes, and then I have to say that it’s,” she sighs, “Dick’s Castle.”
We laugh and have a very friendly little exchange about the name Dick (you can imagine), the castle (wealthy businessman Evans Dick never finished the Moorish-style palace he started in 1903) and our trip to New England, and then she says, sticking out her hand, “I’m Sarah” (Sara?), and my husband says, “That’s my mother’s and sister’s name,” and Sara (Sarah?) says, “With or without an h?”
“With,” says my husband, and Sara(h) nods. “Mm-hmm,” she says, noncommittally. “I had a couple here the other week — oh, sorry.” Another bartender pulls her away. We wait for her to come back and finish her story, but though we sit there for a while, noshing on appetizers and gazing alternately at the bank of clocks above the bar showing the time in cities around the world (the middle one is on Zulu, or universal, time) and the gleaming river, she doesn’t.
But then we run into her on the little winding staircase as we’re leaving. “With or without an h?” I blurt.
“Without,” she laughs. Aha! Mystery solved.
Back in our room after dinner, we get the solution to our other mystery, too. A DND sign has appeared. “Future commander-in-chief relaxing. Stand down,” it reads on one side, and “This room not inspection-ready. Reinforcements needed” on the other. Very clever. I bet it gets purloined all the time.
Before bed, I glance out the window. It’s only about 10:30, but Zulu Time is buttoned up and battened down. All quiet on the riverfront.
It’s not till the next morning, after a deep and solid sleep, that I remember . . . the train.
“Did it bother you at all?” asks the clerk as we check out, and I realize.
I never heard a toot.
The Thayer Hotel
674 Thayer Rd.
West Point, N.Y.
Rooms from $215.