'[The town was full?] . . . of red-shirted English Garibaldini. A very fine looking set of fellows they are, too: the officers rather raffish, but with medals Crimean and Indian; the men a very sturdy set, with many lads of good birth I should say. They still wait their consort the Emperor and will, I fear, be too late to do anything. I meant to have called on them, but they are all gone into barracks some way from the town, and I have been much too busy to go far.

'The view from the ramparts was very strange and beautiful. Cagliari rises on a very steep rock, at the mouth of a wide plain circled by large hills and three-quarters filled with lagoons; it looks, therefore, like an old island citadel. Large heaps of salt mark the border between the sea and the lagoons; thousands of flamingoes whiten the centre of the huge shallow marsh; hawks hover and scream among the trees under the high mouldering battlements. - A little lower down, the band played. Men and ladies bowed and pranced, the costumes posed, church bells tinkled, processions processed, the sun set behind thick clouds capping the hills; I pondered on you and enjoyed it all.

'Decidedly I prefer being master to being man: boats at all hours, stewards flying for marmalade, captain enquiring when ship is to sail, clerks to copy my writing, the boat to steer when we go out - I have run her nose on several times; decidedly, I begin to feel quite a little king. Confound the cable, though! I shall never be able to repair it.

'Bona: October 14.

'We left Cagliari at 4.30 on the 9th and soon got to Spartivento. I repeated some of my experiments, but found Thomson, who was to have been my grand stand-by, would not work on that day in the wretched little hut. Even if the windows and door had been put in, the wind which was very high made the lamp flicker about and blew it out; so I sent on board and got old sails, and fairly wrapped the hut up in them; and then we were as snug as could be, and I left the hut in glorious condition with a nice little stove in it. The tent which should have been forthcoming from the cure's for the guards, had gone to Cagliari; but I found another, [a] green, Turkish tent, in the ELBA and soon had him up. The square tent left on the last occasion was standing all right and tight in spite of wind and rain. We landed provisions, two beds, plates, knives, forks, candles, cooking utensils, and were ready for a start at 6 P.M.; but the wind meanwhile had come on to blow at such a rate that I thought better of it, and we stopped. T- and S- slept ashore, however, to see how they liked it, at least they tried to sleep, for S- the ancient sergeant-major had a toothache, and T- thought the tent was coming down every minute. Next morning they could only complain of sand and a leaky coffee-pot, so I leave them with a good conscience. The little encampment looked quite picturesque: the green round tent, the square white tent and the hut all wrapped up in sails, on a sand hill, looking on the sea and masking those confounded marshes at the back. One would have thought the Cagliaritans were in a conspiracy to frighten the two poor fellows, who (I believe) will be safe enough if they do not go into the marshes after nightfall. S- brought a little dog to amuse them, such a jolly, ugly little cur without a tail, but full of fun; he will be better than quinine.

'The wind drove a barque, which had anchored near us for shelter, out to sea. We started, however, at 2 P.M., and had a quick passage but a very rough one, getting to Bona by daylight [on the 11th]. Such a place as this is for getting anything done! The health boat went away from us at 7.30 with W- on board; and we heard nothing of them till 9.30, when W- came back with two fat Frenchmen who are to look on on the part of the Government. They are exactly alike: only one has four bands and the other three round his cap, and so I know them. Then I sent a boat round to Fort Genois [Fort Genova of 1858], where the cable is landed, with all sorts of things and directions, whilst I went ashore to see about coals and a room at the fort.

Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin Page 49

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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