Robert Louis Stevenson

Free Public Domain Books from the
Classic Literature Library

Catriona Page 01



TO CHARLES BAXTER, Writer to the Signet.

My Dear Charles,

It is the fate of sequels to disappoint those who have waited for

them; and my David, having been left to kick his heels for more

than a lustre in the British Linen Company's office, must expect

his late re-appearance to be greeted with hoots, if not with

missiles. Yet, when I remember the days of our explorations, I am

not without hope. There should be left in our native city some

seed of the elect; some long-legged, hot-headed youth must repeat

to-day our dreams and wanderings of so many years ago; he will

relish the pleasure, which should have been ours, to follow among

named streets and numbered houses the country walks of David

Balfour, to identify Dean, and Silvermills, and Broughton, and Hope

Park, and Pilrig, and poor old Lochend--if it still be standing,

and the Figgate Whins--if there be any of them left; or to push (on

a long holiday) so far afield as Gillane or the Bass. So, perhaps,

his eye shall be opened to behold the series of the generations,

and he shall weigh with surprise his momentous and nugatory gift of


You are still--as when first I saw, as when I last addressed you--

in the venerable city which I must always think of as my home. And

I have come so far; and the sights and thoughts of my youth pursue

me; and I see like a vision the youth of my father, and of his

father, and the whole stream of lives flowing down there far in the

north, with the sound of laughter and tears, to cast me out in the

end, as by a sudden freshet, on these ultimate islands. And I

admire and bow my head before the romance of destiny.

R. L. S.

Vailima, Upolu,

Samoa, 1892.



The 25th day of August, 1751, about two in the afternoon, I, David

Balfour, came forth of the British Linen Company, a porter

attending me with a bag of money, and some of the chief of these

merchants bowing me from their doors. Two days before, and even so

late as yestermorning, I was like a beggar-man by the wayside, clad

in rags, brought down to my last shillings, my companion a

condemned traitor, a price set on my own head for a crime with the

news of which the country rang. To-day I was served heir to my

position in life, a landed laird, a bank porter by me carrying my

gold, recommendations in my pocket, and (in the words of the

saying) the ball directly at my foot.

There were two circumstances that served me as ballast to so much

sail. The first was the very difficult and deadly business I had

still to handle; the second, the place that I was in. The tall,

black city, and the numbers and movement and noise of so many folk,

made a new world for me, after the moorland braes, the sea-sands

and the still country-sides that I had frequented up to then. The

throng of the citizens in particular abashed me. Rankeillor's son

was short and small in the girth; his clothes scarce held on me;

and it was plain I was ill qualified to strut in the front of a

bank-porter. It was plain, if I did so, I should but set folk

laughing, and (what was worse in my case) set them asking

questions. So that I behooved to come by some clothes of my own,

and in the meanwhile to walk by the porter's side, and put my hand

on his arm as though we were a pair of friends.

At a merchant's in the Luckenbooths I had myself fitted out: none

too fine, for I had no idea to appear like a beggar on horseback;

but comely and responsible, so that servants should respect me.

Thence to an armourer's, where I got a plain sword, to suit with my

degree in life. I felt safer with the weapon, though (for one so

ignorant of defence) it might be called an added danger. The

porter, who was naturally a man of some experience, judged my

accoutrement to be well chosen.

"Naething kenspeckle," {1} said he; "plain, dacent claes.

Catriona Page 02

Robert Louis Stevenson

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book