We shall have to lie very dark awhile to recruit our finances: what comes from the book of the cruise, I do not want to touch until the capital is repaid.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - Here at last I have arrived. We could not get away from Tahiti till Christmas Day, and then had thirty days of calms and squalls, a deplorable passage. This has thrown me all out of gear in every way. I plunge into business.

1. THE MASTER: Herewith go three more parts. You see he grows in balk; this making ten already, and I am not yet sure if I can finish it in an eleventh; which shall go to you QUAM PRIMUM - I hope by next mail.

2. ILLUSTRATIONS TO M. I totally forgot to try to write to Hole. It was just as well, for I find it impossible to forecast with sufficient precision. You had better throw off all this and let him have it at once. PLEASE DO: ALL, AND AT ONCE: SEE FURTHER; and I should hope he would still be in time for the later numbers. The three pictures I have received are so truly good that I should bitterly regret having the volume imperfectly equipped. They are the best illustrations I have seen since I don't know when.

3. MONEY. To-morrow the mail comes in, and I hope it will bring me money either from you or home, but I will add a word on that point.

4. My address will be Honolulu - no longer Yacht CASCO, which I am packing off - till probably April.

5. As soon as I am through with THE MASTER, I shall finish the GAME OF BLUFF - now rechristened THE WRONG BOX. This I wish to sell, cash down. It is of course copyright in the States; and I offer it to you for five thousand dollars. Please reply on this by return. Also please tell the typewriter who was so good as to be amused by our follies that I am filled with admiration for his piece of work.

6. MASTER again. Please see that I haven't the name of the Governor of New York wrong (1764 is the date) in part ten. I have no book of reference to put me right. Observe you now have up to August inclusive in hand, so you should begin to feel happy.

Is this all? I wonder, and fear not. Henry the Trader has not yet turned up: I hope he may to-morrow, when we expect a mail. Not one word of business have I received either from the States or England, nor anything in the shape of coin; which leaves me in a fine uncertainty and quite penniless on these islands. H.M. (who is a gentleman of a courtly order and much tinctured with letters) is very polite; I may possibly ask for the position of palace doorkeeper. My voyage has been a singular mixture of good and ill- fortune. As far as regards interest and material, the fortune has been admirable; as far as regards time, money, and impediments of all kinds, from squalls and calms to rotten masts and sprung spars, simply detestable. I hope you will be interested to hear of two volumes on the wing. The cruise itself, you are to know, will make a big volume with appendices; some of it will first appear as (what they call) letters in some of M'Clure's papers. I believe the book when ready will have a fair measure of serious interest: I have had great fortune in finding old songs and ballads and stories, for instance, and have many singular instances of life in the last few years among these islands.

The second volume is of ballads. You know TICONDEROGA. I have written another: THE FEAST OF FAMINE, a Marquesan story. A third is half done: THE SONG OF RAHERO, a genuine Tahitian legend. A fourth dances before me. A Hawaiian fellow this, THE PRIEST'S DROUGHT, or some such name. If, as I half suspect, I get enough subjects out of the islands, TICONDEROGA shall be suppressed, and we'll call the volume SOUTH SEA BALLADS. In health, spirits, renewed interest in life, and, I do believe, refreshed capacity for work, the cruise has proved a wise folly. Still we're not home, and (although the friend of a crowned head) are penniless upon these (as one of my correspondents used to call them) 'lovely but FATIL islands.' By the way, who wrote the LION OF THE NILE? My dear sir, that is Something Like.

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson - Volume 2 Page 49

Robert Louis Stevenson

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book