Much trouble has attended this trip, but I must confess more pleasure. Nor should I ever complain, as in the last few weeks, with the curing of my illness indeed, as if that were the bursting of an abscess, the cloud has risen from my spirits and to some degree from my temper. Do you know what they called the CASCO at Fakarava? The SILVER SHIP. Is that not pretty? Pray tell Mrs. Jenkin, DIE SILBERNE FRAU, as I only learned it since I wrote her. I think of calling the book by that name: THE CRUISE OF THE SILVER SHIP - so there will be one poetic page at least - the title. At the Sandwiches we shall say farewell to the S. S. with mingled feelings. She is a lovely creature: the most beautiful thing at this moment in Taiti.
Well, I will take another sheet, though I know I have nothing to say. You would think I was bursting: but the voyage is all stored up for the book, which is to pay for it, we fondly hope; and the troubles of the time are not worth telling; and our news is little.
Here I conclude (Oct. 24th, I think), for we are now stored, and the Blue Peter metaphorically flies.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO WILLIAM AND THOMAS ARCHER
TAITI, OCTOBER 17TH, 1888.
DEAR ARCHER, - Though quite unable to write letters, I nobly send you a line signifying nothing. The voyage has agreed well with all; it has had its pains, and its extraordinary pleasures; nothing in the world can equal the excitement of the first time you cast anchor in some bay of a tropical island, and the boats begin to surround you, and the tattooed people swarm aboard. Tell Tomarcher, with my respex, that hide-and-seek is not equal to it; no, nor hidee-in-the-dark; which, for the matter of that, is a game for the unskilful: the artist prefers daylight, a good-sized garden, some shrubbery, an open paddock, and - come on, Macduff.
TOMARCHER, I am now a distinguished litterytour, but that was not the real bent of my genius. I was the best player of hide-and-seek going; not a good runner, I was up to every shift and dodge, I could jink very well, I could crawl without any noise through leaves, I could hide under a carrot plant, it used to be my favourite boast that I always WALKED into the den. You may care to hear, Tomarcher, about the children in these parts; their parents obey them, they do not obey their parents; and I am sorry to tell you (for I dare say you are already thinking the idea a good one) that it does not pay one halfpenny. There are three sorts of civilisation, Tomarcher: the real old-fashioned one, in which children either had to find out how to please their dear papas, or their dear papas cut their heads off. This style did very well, but is now out of fashion. Then the modern European style: in which children have to behave reasonably well, and go to school and say their prayers, or their dear papas WILL KNOW THE REASON WHY. This does fairly well. Then there is the South Sea Island plan, which does not do one bit. The children beat their parents here; it does not make their parents any better; so do not try it.
Dear Tomarcher, I have forgotten the address of your new house, but will send this to one of your papa's publishers. Remember us all to all of you, and believe me, yours respectably,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
TAUTIRA (THE GARDEN OF THE WORLD), OTHERWISE CALLED HANS-CHRISTIAN- ANDERSEN-VILLE [NOVEMBER 1888].
MY DEAR CHARLES, - Whether I have a penny left in the wide world, I know not, nor shall know, till I get to Honolulu, where I anticipate a devil of an awakening. It will be from a mighty pleasant dream at least: Tautira being mere Heaven. But suppose, for the sake of argument, any money to be left in the hands of my painful doer, what is to be done with it? Save us from exile would be the wise man's choice, I suppose; for the exile threatens to be eternal. But yet I am of opinion - in case there should be SOME dibs in the hand of the P.D., I.E. painful doer; because if there be none, I shall take to my flageolet on the high-road, and work home the best way I can, having previously made away with my family - I am of opinion that if - and his are in the customary state, and you are thinking of an offering, and there should be still some funds over, you would be a real good P.D.