We all enjoyed it (bar my wife) to the ground: sixteen days at sea with a cargo of hay, matches, stallions, and monkeys, and in a ship with no style on, and plenty of sailors to talk to, and the endless pleasures of the sea - the romance of it, the sport of the scratch dinner and the smashing crockery, the pleasure - an endless pleasure - of balancing to the swell: well, it's over.
SECOND, I had a fine time, rather a troubled one, at Newport and New York; saw much of and liked hugely the Fairchilds, St. Gaudens the sculptor, Gilder of the CENTURY - just saw the dear Alexander - saw a lot of my old and admirable friend Will Low, whom I wish you knew and appreciated - was medallioned by St. Gaudens, and at last escaped to
THIRD, Saranac Lake, where we now are, and which I believe we mean to like and pass the winter at. Our house - emphatically 'Baker's' - is on a hill, and has a sight of a stream turning a corner in the valley - bless the face of running water! - and sees some hills too, and the paganly prosaic roofs of Saranac itself; the Lake it does not see, nor do I regret that; I like water (fresh water I mean) either running swiftly among stones, or else largely qualified with whisky. As I write, the sun (which has been long a stranger) shines in at my shoulder; from the next room, the bell of Lloyd's typewriter makes an agreeable music as it patters off (at a rate which astonishes this experienced novelist) the early chapters of a humorous romance; from still further off - the walls of Baker's are neither ancient nor massive - rumours of Valentine about the kitchen stove come to my ears; of my mother and Fanny I hear nothing, for the excellent reason that they have gone sparking off, one to Niagara, one to Indianapolis. People complain that I never give news in my letters. I have wiped out that reproach.
But now, FOURTH, I have seen the article; and it may be from natural partiality, I think it the best you have written. O - I remember the Gautier, which was an excellent performance; and the Balzac, which was good; and the Daudet, over which I licked my chops; but the R. L. S. is better yet. It is so humorous, and it hits my little frailties with so neat (and so friendly) a touch; and Alan is the occasion for so much happy talk, and the quarrel is so generously praised. I read it twice, though it was only some hours in my possession; and Low, who got it for me from the CENTURY, sat up to finish it ere he returned it; and, sir, we were all delighted. Here is the paper out, nor will anything, not even friendship, not even gratitude for the article, induce me to begin a second sheet; so here with the kindest remembrances and the warmest good wishes, I remain, yours affectionately,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
SARANAC, 18TH NOVEMBER 1887.
MY DEAR CHARLES, - No likely I'm going to waste a sheet of paper. . . . I am offered 1600 pounds ($8000) for the American serial rights on my next story! As you say, times are changed since the Lothian Road. Well, the Lothian Road was grand fun too; I could take an afternoon of it with great delight. But I'm awfu' grand noo, and long may it last!
Remember me to any of the faithful - if there are any left. I wish I could have a crack with you. - Yours ever affectionately,
R. L. S.
I find I have forgotten more than I remembered of business. . . . Please let us know (if you know) for how much Skerryvore is let; you will here detect the female mind; I let it for what I could get; nor shall the possession of this knowledge (which I am happy to have forgot) increase the amount by so much as the shadow of a sixpenny piece; but my females are agog. - Yours ever,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO CHARLES SCRIBNER
[SARANAC, NOVEMBER 20 OR 21, 1887.]
MY DEAR MR. SCRIBNER, - Heaven help me, I am under a curse just now. I have played fast and loose with what I said to you; and that, I beg you to believe, in the purest innocence of mind. I told you you should have the power over all my work in this country; and about a fortnight ago, when M'Clure was here, I calmly signed a bargain for the serial publication of a story.