Do keep up your letters. They are most delightful to this exiled backwoods family; and in your next, we shall hope somehow or other to hear better news of you and yours - that in the first place - and to hear more news of our beasts and birds and kindly fruits of earth and those human tenants who are (truly) too much with us.
I am very well; better than for years: that is for good. But then my wife is no great shakes; the place does not suit her - it is my private opinion that no place does - and she is now away down to New York for a change, which (as Lloyd is in Boston) leaves my mother and me and Valentine alone in our wind-beleaguered hilltop hatbox of a house. You should hear the cows butt against the walls in the early morning while they feed; you should also see our back log when the thermometer goes (as it does go) away - away below zero, till it can be seen no more by the eye of man - not the thermometer, which is still perfectly visible, but the mercury, which curls up into the bulb like a hibernating bear; you should also see the lad who 'does chores' for us, with his red stockings and his thirteen year old face, and his highly manly tramp into the room; and his two alternative answers to all questions about the weather: either 'Cold,' or with a really lyrical movement of the voice, 'LOVELY - raining!'
Will you take this miserable scarp for what it is worth? Will you also understand that I am the man to blame, and my wife is really almost too much out of health to write, or at least doesn't write? - And believe me, with kind remembrance to Mrs. Boodle and your sisters, very sincerely yours,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
SARANAC, 12TH DECEMBER '87.
Give us news of all your folk. A Merry Christmas from all of us.
MY DEAR CHARLES, - Will you please send 20 pounds to - for a Christmas gift from -? Moreover, I cannot remember what I told you to send to - ; but as God has dealt so providentially with me this year, I now propose to make it 20 pounds.
I beg of you also to consider my strange position. I jined a club which it was said was to defend the Union; and had a letter from the secretary, which his name I believe was Lord Warmingpan (or words to that effect), to say I am elected, and had better pay up a certain sum of money, I forget what. Now I cannae verra weel draw a blank cheque and send to -
LORD WARMINGPAN (or words to that effect), London, England.
And, man, if it was possible, I would be dooms glad to be out o' this bit scrapie. Mebbe the club was ca'd 'The Union,' but I wouldnae like to sweir; and mebbe it wasnae, or mebbe only words to that effec' - but I wouldnae care just exac'ly about sweirin'. Do ye no think Henley, or Pollick, or some o' they London fellies, micht mebbe perhaps find out for me? and just what the soom was? And that you would aiblins pay for me? For I thocht I was sae dam patriotic jinin', and it would be a kind o' a come-doun to be turned out again. Mebbe Lang would ken; or mebbe Rider Haggyard: they're kind o' Union folks. But it's my belief his name was Warmingpan whatever. Yours,
THOMSON, ALIAS ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Could it be Warminster?
Letter: TO MISS MONROE
SARANAC LAKE, NEW YORK [DECEMBER 19, 1887].
DEAR MISS MONROE, - Many thanks for your letter and your good wishes. It was much my desire to get to Chicago: had I done - or if I yet do - so, I shall hope to see the original of my photograph, which is one of my show possessions; but the fates are rather contrary. My wife is far from well; I myself dread worse than almost any other imaginable peril, that miraculous and really insane invention the American Railroad Car. Heaven help the man - may I add the woman - that sets foot in one! Ah, if it were only an ocean to cross, it would be a matter of small thought to me - and great pleasure. But the railroad car - every man has his weak point; and I fear the railroad car as abjectly as I do an earwig, and, on the whole, on better grounds.