Such is human life: LA CARRIERE HUMAINE. I will enclose, if I remember, the required autograph.
I will do better, put it on the back of this page. Love to all, and mostly, my very dear Colvin, to yourself. For whatever I say or do, or don't say or do, you may be very sure I am, - Yours always affectionately,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO MISS ADELAIDE BOODLE
SARANAC LAKE, ADIRONDACKS, N.Y., U.S.A., CHRISTMAS 1887.
MY DEAR MISS BOODLE, - And a very good Christmas to you all; and better fortune; and if worse, the more courage to support it - which I think is the kinder wish in all human affairs. Somewhile - I fear a good while - after this, you should receive our Christmas gift; we have no tact and no taste, only a welcome and (often) tonic brutality; and I dare say the present, even after my friend Baxter has acted on and reviewed my hints, may prove a White Elephant. That is why I dread presents. And therefore pray understand if any element of that hamper prove unwelcome, IT IS TO BE EXCHANGED. I will not sit down under the name of a giver of White Elephants. I never had any elephant but one, and his initials were R. L. S.; and he trod on my foot at a very early age. But this is a fable, and not in the least to the point: which is that if, for once in my life, I have wished to make things nicer for anybody but the Elephant (see fable), do not suffer me to have made them ineffably more embarrassing, and exchange - ruthlessly exchange!
For my part, I am the most cockered up of any mortal being; and one of the healthiest, or thereabout, at some modest distance from the bull's eye. I am condemned to write twelve articles in SCRIBNER'S MAGAZINE for the love of gain; I think I had better send you them; what is far more to the purpose, I am on the jump with a new story which has bewitched me - I doubt it may bewitch no one else. It is called THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE - pronounce Ballan-tray. If it is not good, well, mine will be the fault; for I believe it is a good tale.
The greetings of the season to you, and your mother, and your sisters. My wife heartily joins. - And I am, yours very sincerely,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
P.S. - You will think me an illiterate dog: I am, for the first time, reading ROBERTSON'S SERMONS. I do not know how to express how much I think of them. If by any chance you should be as illiterate as I, and not know them, it is worth while curing the defect.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
SARANAC LAKE, JANUARY '88.
DEAR CHARLES, - You are the flower of Doers. . . . Will my doer collaborate thus much in my new novel? In the year 1794 or 5, Mr. Ephraim Mackellar, A.M., late. steward on the Durrisdeer estates, completed a set of memoranda (as long as a novel) with regard to the death of the (then) late Lord Durrisdeer, and as to that of his attainted elder brother, called by the family courtesy title the Master of Ballantrae. These he placed in the hands of John Macbrair. W.S., the family agent, on the understanding they were to be sealed until 1862, when a century would have elapsed since the affair in the wilderness (my lord's death). You succeeded Mr. Macbrair's firm; the Durrisdeers are extinct; and last year, in an old green box, you found these papers with Macbrair's indorsation. It is that indorsation of which I want a copy; you may remember, when you gave me the papers, I neglected to take that, and I am sure you are a man too careful of antiquities to have let it fall aside. I shall have a little introduction descriptive of my visit to Edinburgh, arrival there, denner with yoursel', and first reading of the papers in your smoking-room: all of which, of course, you well remember. - Ever yours affectionately,
R. L S.
Your name is my friend Mr. Johnstone Thomson, W.S.!!!
Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME
SARANAC, WINTER 1887-8.
DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - I am keeping the sermon to see if I can't add another. Meanwhile, I will send you very soon a different paper which may take its place.