It was very sad to see him there, in a little room with two beds, and a couple of sick children in the other bed; a girl came in to visit the children, and played dominoes on the counterpane with them; the gas flared and crackled, the fire burned in a dull economical way; Stephen and I sat on a couple of chairs, and the poor fellow sat up in his bed with his hair and beard all tangled, and talked as cheerfully as if he had been in a King's palace, or the great King's palace of the blue air. He has taught himself two languages since he has been lying there. I shall try to be of use to him.
We have had two beautiful spring days, mild as milk, windy withal, and the sun hot. I dreamed last night I was walking by moonlight round the place where the scene of my story is laid; it was all so quiet and sweet, and the blackbirds were singing as if it was day; it made my heart very cool and happy. - Ever yours,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
FEBRUARY 8, 1875.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - Forgive my bothering you. Here is the proof of my second KNOX. Glance it over, like a good fellow, and if there's anything very flagrant send it to me marked. I have no confidence in myself; I feel such an ass. What have I been doing? As near as I can calculate, nothing. And yet I have worked all this month from three to five hours a day, that is to say, from one to three hours more than my doctor allows me; positively no result.
No, I can write no article just now; I am PIOCHING, like a madman, at my stories, and can make nothing of them; my simplicity is tame and dull - my passion tinsel, boyish, hysterical. Never mind - ten years hence, if I live, I shall have learned, so help me God. I know one must work, in the meantime (so says Balzac) COMME LE MINEUR ENFOUI SOUS UN EBOULEMENT.
J'Y PARVIENDRAI, NOM DE NOM DE NOM! But it's a long look forward. - Ever yours,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL
[BARBIZON, APRIL 1875.]
MY DEAR FRIEND, - This is just a line to say I am well and happy. I am here in my dear forest all day in the open air. It is very be - no, not beautiful exactly, just now, but very bright and living. There are one or two song birds and a cuckoo; all the fruit-trees are in flower, and the beeches make sunshine in a shady place, I begin to go all right; you need not be vexed about my health; I really was ill at first, as bad as I have been for nearly a year; but the forest begins to work, and the air, and the sun, and the smell of the pines. If I could stay a month here, I should be as right as possible. Thanks for your letter. - Your faithful
R. L. S.
Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL
17 HERIOT ROW, EDINBURGH, SUNDAY [APRIL 1875].
HERE is my long story: yesterday night, after having supped, I grew so restless that I was obliged to go out in search of some excitement. There was a half-moon lying over on its back, and incredibly bright in the midst of a faint grey sky set with faint stars: a very inartistic moon, that would have damned a picture.
At the most populous place of the city I found a little boy, three years old perhaps, half frantic with terror, and crying to every one for his 'Mammy.' This was about eleven, mark you. People stopped and spoke to him, and then went on, leaving him more frightened than before. But I and a good-humoured mechanic came up together; and I instantly developed a latent faculty for setting the hearts of children at rest. Master Tommy Murphy (such was his name) soon stopped crying, and allowed me to take him up and carry him; and the mechanic and I trudged away along Princes Street to find his parents. I was soon so tired that I had to ask the mechanic to carry the bairn; and you should have seen the puzzled contempt with which he looked at me, for knocking in so soon. He was a good fellow, however, although very impracticable and sentimental; and he soon bethought him that Master Murphy might catch cold after his excitement, so we wrapped him up in my greatcoat.