We can do no more than try to do our best. Really, I am the grandson of the manse - I preach you a kind of sermon. Box the brat's ears!
My mother - to pass to matters more within my competence - finely enjoys herself. The new country, some new friends we have made, the interesting experiment of this climate-which (at least) is tragic - all have done her good. I have myself passed a better winter than for years, and now that it is nearly over have some diffident hopes of doing well in the summer and 'eating a little more air' than usual.
I thank you for the trouble you are taking, and my mother joins with me in kindest regards to yourself and Mrs. Charteris. - Yours very truly,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO S. R. CROCKETT
[SARANAC LAKE, SPRING 1888.]
DEAR MINISTER OF THE FREE KIRK AT PENICUIK, - For O, man, I cannae read your name! - That I have been so long in answering your delightful letter sits on my conscience badly. The fact is I let my correspondence accumulate until I am going to leave a place; and then I pitch in, overhaul the pile, and my cries of penitence might be heard a mile about. Yesterday I despatched thirty-five belated letters: conceive the state of my conscience, above all as the Sins of Omission (see boyhood's guide, the Shorter Catechism) are in my view the only serious ones; I call it my view, but it cannot have escaped you that it was also Christ's. However, all that is not to the purpose, which is to thank you for the sincere pleasure afforded by your charming letter. I get a good few such; how few that please me at all, you would be surprised to learn - or have a singularly just idea of the dulness of our race; how few that please me as yours did, I can tell you in one word - NONE. I am no great kirkgoer, for many reasons - and the sermon's one of them, and the first prayer another, but the chief and effectual reason is the stuffiness. I am no great kirkgoer, says I, but when I read yon letter of yours, I thought I would like to sit under ye. And then I saw ye were to send me a bit buik, and says I, I'll wait for the bit buik, and then I'll mebbe can read the man's name, and anyway I'll can kill twa birds wi' ae stane. And, man! the buik was ne'er heard tell o'!
That fact is an adminicle of excuse for my delay.
And now, dear minister of the illegible name, thanks to you, and greeting to your wife, and may you have good guidance in your difficult labours, and a blessing on your life.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
(No just so young sae young's he was, though - I'm awfae near forty, man.)
Address c/o CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, 743 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.
Don't put 'N.B.' in your paper: put SCOTLAND, and be done with it. Alas, that I should be thus stabbed in the home of my friends! The name of my native land is not NORTH BRITAIN, whatever may be the name of yours.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO MISS FERRIER
[SARANAC LAKE, APRIL 1888.]
MY DEAREST COGGIE, - I wish I could find the letter I began to you some time ago when I was ill; but I can't and I don't believe there was much in it anyway. We have all behaved like pigs and beasts and barn-door poultry to you; but I have been sunk in work, and the lad is lazy and blind and has been working too; and as for Fanny, she has been (and still is) really unwell. I had a mean hope you might perhaps write again before I got up steam: I could not have been more ashamed of myself than I am, and I should have had another laugh.
They always say I cannot give news in my letters: I shall shake off that reproach. On Monday, if she is well enough, Fanny leaves for California to see her friends; it is rather an anxiety to let her go alone; but the doctor simply forbids it in my case, and she is better anywhere than here - a bleak, blackguard, beggarly climate, of which I can say no good except that it suits me and some others of the same or similar persuasions whom (by all rights) it ought to kill. It is a form of Arctic St. Andrews, I should imagine; and the miseries of forty degrees below zero, with a high wind, have to be felt to be appreciated.