Vailima Letters

Page 47

Two nights ago the club had its first meeting; only twelve were present, but it went very well. I was not there, I had ridden down the night before after dinner on my endless business, took a cup of tea in the Mission like an ass, then took a cup of coffee like a fool at Haggard's, then fell into a discussion with the American Consul . . . I went to bed at Haggard's, came suddenly broad awake, and lay sleepless the live night. It fell chill, I had only a sheet, and had to make a light and range the house for a cover - I found one in the hall, a macintosh. So back to my sleepless bed, and to lie there till dawn. In the morning I had a longish ride to take in a day of a blinding, staggering sun, and got home by eleven, our luncheon hour, with my head rather swimmy; the only time I have FEARED the sun since I was in Samoa. However, I got no harm, but did not go to the club, lay off, lazied, played the pipe, and read - a novel by James Payn - sometimes quite interesting, and in one place really very funny with the quaint humour of the man. Much interested the other day. As I rode past a house, I saw where a Samoan had written a word on a board, and there was an A, perfectly formed, but upside down. You never saw such a thing in Europe; but it is as common as dirt in Polynesia. Men's names are tattooed on the forearm; it is common to find a subverted letter tattooed there. Here is a tempting problem for psychologists.

I am now on terms again with the German Consulate, I know not for how long; not, of course, with the President, which I find a relief; still, with the Chief Justice and the English Consul. For Haggard, I have a genuine affection; he is a loveable man.

Wearyful man! 'Here is the yarn of Loudon Dodd, NOT AS HE TOLD IT, BUT AS IT WAS AFTERWARDS WRITTEN.' These words were left out by some carelessness, and I think I have been thrice tackled about them. Grave them in your mind and wear them on your forehead.

The Lang story will have very little about the treasure; THE MASTER will appear; and it is to a great extent a tale of Prince Charlie AFTER the '45, and a love story forbye: the hero is a melancholy exile, and marries a young woman who interests the prince, and there is the devil to pay. I think the Master kills him in a duel, but don't know yet, not having yet seen my second heroine. No - the Master doesn't kill him, they fight, he is wounded, and the Master plays DEUS EX MACHINA. I THINK just now of calling it THE TAIL OF THE RACE; no - heavens! I never saw till this moment - but of course nobody but myself would ever understand Mill-Race, they would think of a quarter-mile. So - I am nameless again. My melancholy young man is to be quite a Romeo. Yes, I'll name the book from him: DYCE OF YTHAN - pronounce Eethan.

Dyce of Ythan by R. L. S.

O, Shovel - Shovel waits his turn, he and his ancestors. I would have tackled him before, but my STATE TRIALS have never come. So that I have now quite planned:-

Dyce of Ythan. (Historical, 1750.) Sophia Scarlet. (To-day.) The Shovels of Newton French. (Historical, 1650 to 1830.)

And quite planned and part written:-

The Pearl Fisher. (To-day.) (With Lloyd a machine.) David Balfour. (Historical, 1751.)

And, by a strange exception for R. L. S., all in the third person except D. B.

I don't know what day this is now (the 29th), but I have finished my two chapters, ninth and tenth, of SAMOA in time for the mail, and feel almost at peace. The tenth was the hurricane, a difficult problem; it so tempted one to be literary; and I feel sure the less of that there is in my little handbook, the more chance it has of some utility. Then the events are complicated, seven ships to tell of, and sometimes three of them together; O, it was quite a job. But I think I have my facts pretty correct, and for once, in my sickening yarn, they are handsome facts: creditable to all concerned; not to be written of - and I should think, scarce to be read - without a thrill. I doubt I have got no hurricane into it, the intricacies of the yarn absorbing me too much.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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