Thence I saw plenty of balconies (terraces rather); and if there is none to the particular house in question, it must have been so arranged to spite me.
I now come to the conclusion of this matter. I address three questions to your daughter:-
1st Has her house the proper terrace?
2nd. Is it on the proper side of the hospital?
3rd. Was she there in the summer of 1884?
You see, I begin to fear that Mrs. Desborough may have deceived me on some trifling points, for she is not a lady of peddling exactitude. If this should prove to be so, I will give your daughter a proper certificate, and her house property will return to its original value.
Can man say more? - Yours very truly,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
I saw the other day that the Eternal had plagiarised from LOST SIR MASSINGBERD: good again, sir! I wish he would plagiarise the death of Zero.
Letter: TO W. H. LOW
SKERRYVORE, BOURNEMOUTH, JAN. SOMETHINGOROTHER-TH, 1886.
MY DEAR LOW, - I send you two photographs: they are both done by Sir Percy Shelley, the poet's son, which may interest. The sitting down one is, I think, the best; but if they choose that, see that the little reflected light on the nose does not give me a turn-up; that would be tragic. Don't forget 'Baronet' to Sir Percy's name.
We all think a heap of your book; and I am well pleased with my dedication. - Yours ever,
R. L. STEVENSON.
P.S. - APROPOS of the odd controversy about Shelley's nose: I have before me four photographs of myself, done by Shelley's son: my nose is hooked, not like the eagle, indeed, but like the accipitrine family in man: well, out of these four, only one marks the bend, one makes it straight, and one suggests a turn-up. This throws a flood of light on calumnious man - and the scandal- mongering sun. For personally I cling to my curve. To continue the Shelley controversy: I have a look of him, all his sisters had noses like mine; Sir Percy has a marked hook; all the family had high cheek-bones like mine; what doubt, then, but that this turn-up (of which Jeaffreson accuses the poet, along with much other FATRAS) is the result of some accident similar to what has happened in my photographs by his son?
R. L. S.
Letter: TO THOMAS STEVENSON
[SKERRYVORE, BOURNEMOUTH, JANUARY 25, 1886.]
MY DEAR FATHER, - Many thanks for a letter quite like yourself. I quite agree with you, and had already planned a scene of religion in BALFOUR; the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge furnishes me with a catechist whom I shall try to make the man. I have another catechist, the blind, pistol-carrying highway robber, whom I have transferred from the Long Island to Mull. I find it a most picturesque period, and wonder Scott let it escape. The COVENANT is lost on one of the Tarrans, and David is cast on Earraid, where (being from inland) he is nearly starved before he finds out the island is tidal; then he crosses Mull to Toronsay, meeting the blind catechist by the way; then crosses Morven from Kinlochaline to Kingairloch, where he stays the night with the good catechist; that is where I am; next day he is to be put ashore in Appin, and be present at Colin Campbell's death. To-day I rest, being a little run down. Strange how liable we are to brain fag in this scooty family! But as far as I have got, all but the last chapter, I think David is on his feet, and (to my mind) a far better story and far sounder at heart than TREASURE ISLAND.
I have no earthly news, living entirely in my story, and only coming out of it to play patience. The Shelleys are gone; the Taylors kinder than can be imagined. The other day, Lady Taylor drove over and called on me; she is a delightful old lady, and great fun. I mentioned a story about the Duchess of Wellington which I had heard Sir Henry tell; and though he was very tired, he looked it up and copied it out for me in his own hand. - Your most affectionate son,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO C. W. STODDARD
SKERRYVORE, BOURNEMOUTH, FEB.