Vailima Letters

Page 45

All morning, when I had hoped to be at this letter, I slept like one drugged and you must take this (which is all I can give you) for what it is worth -

D.B.

MEMOIRS OF HIS ADVENTURES AT HOME AND ABROAD. THE SECOND PART; WHEREIN ARE SET FORTH THE MISFORTUNES IN WHICH HE WAS INVOLVED UPON THE APPIN MURDER; HIS TROUBLES WITH LORD ADVOCATE PRESTONGRANGE; CAPTIVITY ON THE BASS ROCK; JOURNEY INTO FRANCE AND HOLLAND; AND SINGULAR RELATIONS WITH JAMES MORE DRUMMOND OR MACGREGOR, A SON OF THE NOTORIOUS ROB ROY.

Chapters. - I. A Beggar on Horseback. II. The Highland Writer. III. I go to Pilrig. IV. Lord Advocate Prestongrange. V. Butter and Thunder. VI. I make a fault in honour. VII. The Bravo. VIII. The Heather on Fire. IX. I begin to be haunted with a red-headed man. X. The Wood by Silvermills. XI. On the march again with Alan. XII. Gillane Sands. XIII. The Bass Rock. XIV. Black Andie's Tale of Tod Lapraik. XV. I go to Inveraray.

That is it, as far as drafted. Chapters IV. V. VII. IX. and XIV. I am specially pleased with; the last being an episodical bogie story about the Bass Rock told there by the Keeper.

CHAPTER XVII

MARCH 9TH.

MY DEAR S. C., - Take it not amiss if this is a wretched letter. I am eaten up with business. Every day this week I have had some business impediment - I am even now waiting a deputation of chiefs about the road - and my precious morning was shattered by a polite old scourge of a FAIPULE - parliament man - come begging. All the time DAVID BALFOUR is skelping along. I began it the 13th of last month; I have now 12 chapters, 79 pages ready for press, or within an ace, and, by the time the month is out, one-half should be completed, and I'll be back at drafting the second half. What makes me sick is to think of Scott turning out GUY MANNERING in three weeks! What a pull of work: heavens, what thews and sinews! And here am I, my head spinning from having only re-written seven not very difficult pages - and not very good when done. Weakling generation. It makes me sick of myself, to make such a fash and bobbery over a rotten end of an old nursery yarn, not worth spitting on when done. Still, there is no doubt I turn out my work more easily than of yore, and I suppose I should be singly glad of that. And if I got my book done in six weeks, seeing it will be about half as long as a Scott, and I have to write everything twice, it would be about the same rate of industry. It is my fair intention to be done with it in three months, which would make me about one-half the man Sir Walter was for application and driving the dull pen. Of the merit we shall not talk; but I don't think Davie is WITHOUT merit.

MARCH 12TH.

And I have this day triumphantly finished 15 chapters, 100 pages - being exactly one-half (as near as anybody can guess) of DAVID BALFOUR; the book to be about a fifth as long again (altogether) as TREASURE ISLAND: could I but do the second half in another month! But I can't, I fear; I shall have some belated material arriving by next mail, and must go again at the History. Is it not characteristic of my broken tenacity of mind, that I should have left Davie Balfour some five years in the British Linen Company's Office, and then follow him at last with such vivacity? But I leave you again; the last (15th) chapter ought to be re-wrote, or part of it, and I want the half completed in the month, and the month is out by midnight; though, to be sure, last month was February, and I might take grace. These notes are only to show I hold you in mind, though I know they can have no interest for man or God or animal.

I should have told you about the Club. We have been asked to try and start a sort of weekly ball for the half-castes and natives, ourselves to be the only whites; and we consented, from a very heavy sense of duty, and with not much hope. Two nights ago we had twenty people up, received them in the front verandah, entertained them on cake and lemonade, and I made a speech - embodying our proposals, or conditions, if you like - for I suppose thirty minutes.

Vailima Letters Page 46

Robert Louis Stevenson

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