Vailima Letters

Page 27

Meanwhile - was up here, telling how the Chief Justice was really gone for five or eight weeks, and begging me to write to the TIMES and denounce the state of affairs; many strong reasons he advanced; and Lloyd and I have been since his arrival and -'s departure, near half an hour, debating what should be done. Cedarcrantz is gone; it is not my fault; he knows my views on that point - alone of all points; - he leaves me with my mouth sealed. Yet this is a nice thing that because he is guilty of a fresh offence - his flight - the mouth of the only possible influential witness should be closed? I do not like this argument. I look like a cad, if I do in the man's absence what I could have done in a more manly manner in his presence. True; but why did he go? It is his last sin. And I, who like the man extremely - that is the word - I love his society - he is intelligent, pleasant, even witty, a gentleman - and you know how that attaches - I loathe to seem to play a base part; but the poor natives - who are like other folk, false enough, lazy enough, not heroes, not saints - ordinary men damnably misused - are they to suffer because I like Cedarcrantz, and Cedarcrantz has cut his lucky? This is a little tragedy, observe well - a tragedy! I may be right, I may be wrong in my judgment, but I am in treaty with my honour. I know not how it will seem to-morrow. Lloyd thought the barrier of honour insurmountable, and it is an ugly obstacle. He (Cedarcrantz) will likely meet my wife three days from now, may travel back with her, will be charming if he does; suppose this, and suppose him to arrive and find that I have sprung a mine - or the nearest approach to it I could find - behind his back? My position is pretty. Yes, I am an aristocrat. I have the old petty, personal view of honour? I should blush till I die if I do this; yet it is on the cards that I may do it. So much I have written you in bed, as a man writes, or talks, in a BITTRE WAHL. Now I shall sleep, and see if I am more clear. I will consult the missionaries at least - I place some reliance in M. also - or I should if he were not a partisan; but a partisan he is. There's the pity. To sleep! A fund of wisdom in the prostrate body and the fed brain. Kindly observe R. L. S. in the talons of politics! 'Tis funny - 'tis sad. Nobody but these cursed idiots could have so driven me; I cannot bear idiots.

My dear Colvin, I must go to sleep; it is long past ten - a dreadful hour for me. And here am I lingering (so I feel) in the dining-room at the Monument, talking to you across the table, both on our feet, and only the two stairs to mount, and get to bed, and sleep, and be waked by dear old George - to whom I wish my kindest remembrances - next morning. I look round, and there is my blue room, and my long lines of shelves, and the door gaping on a moonless night, and no word of S. C. but his twa portraits on the wall. Good-bye, my dear fellow, and goodnight. Queer place the world!


No clearness of mind with the morning; I have no guess what I should do. 'Tis easy to say that the public duty should brush aside these little considerations of personal dignity; so it is that politicians begin, and in a month you find them rat and flatter and intrigue with brows of brass. I am rather of the old view, that a man's first duty is to these little laws; the big he does not, he never will, understand; I may be wrong about the Chief Justice and the Baron and the state of Samoa; I cannot be wrong about the vile attitude I put myself in if I blow the gaff on Cedarcrantz behind his back.


One more word about the South Seas, in answer to a question I observe I have forgotten to answer. The Tahiti part has never turned up, because it has never been written. As for telling you where I went or when, or anything about Honolulu, I would rather die; that is fair and plain. How can anybody care when or how I left Honolulu? A man of upwards of forty cannot waste his time in communicating matter of that indifference.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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