Vailima Letters

Page 59

SATURDAY 28TH. I was wakened about 6.30, long past my usual hour, by a benevolent passer-by. My turtle lay on the verandah at my door, and the man woke me to tell me it was dead, as it had been when we put it on board the day before. All morning I ran the gauntlet of men and women coming up to me: 'Mr. Stevenson, your turtle is dead.' I gave half of it to the hotel keeper, so that his cook should cut it up; and we got a damaged shell, and two splendid meals, beefsteak one day and soup the next. The horses came for us about 9.30. It was waterspouting; we were drenched before we got out of the town; the road was a fine going Highland trout stream; it thundered deep and frequent, and my mother's horse would not better on a walk. At last she took pity on us, and very nobly proposed that Belle and I should ride ahead. We were mighty glad to do so, for we were cold. Presently, I said I should ride back for my mother, but it thundered again, Belle is afraid of thunder, and I decided to see her through the forest before I returned for my other hen - I may say, my other wet hen. About the middle of the wood, where it is roughest and steepest, we met three pack-horses with barrels of lime-juice. I piloted Belle past these - it is not very easy in such a road - and then passed them again myself, to pilot my mother. This effected, it began to thunder again, so I rode on hard after Belle. When I caught up with her, she was singing Samoan hymns to support her terrors! We were all back, changed, and at table by lunch time, 11 A.M. Nor have any of us been the worse for it sinsyne. That is pretty good for a woman of my mother's age and an invalid of my standing; above all, as Tauilo was laid up with a bad cold, probably increased by rage.


On Wednesday the club could not be held, and I must ride down town and to and fro all afternoon delivering messages, then dined and rode up by the young moon. I had plenty news when I got back; there is great talk in town of my deportation: it is thought they have written home to Downing Street requesting my removal, which leaves me not much alarmed; what I do rather expect is that H. J. Moors and I may be haled up before the C. J. to stand a trial for LESE-Majesty. Well, we'll try and live it through.

The rest of my history since Monday has been unadulterated DAVID BALFOUR. In season and out of season, night and day, David and his innocent harem - let me be just, he never has more than the two - are on my mind. Think of David Balfour with a pair of fair ladies - very nice ones too - hanging round him. I really believe David is as a good character as anybody has a right to ask for in a novel. I have finished drafting Chapter XX. to-day, and feel it all ready to froth when the spigot is turned.

O I forgot - and do forget. What did I mean? A waft of cloud has fallen on my mind, and I will write no more.


Lots of David, and lots of David, and the devil any other news. Yesterday we were startled by great guns firing a salute, and to-day Whitmee (missionary) rode up to lunch, and we learned it was the CURACOA come in, the ship (according to rumour) in which I was to be deported. I went down to meet my fate, and the captain is to dine with me Saturday, so I guess I am not going this voyage. Even with the particularity with which I write to you, how much of my life goes unexpressed; my troubles with a madman by the name of -, a genuine living lunatic, I believe, and jolly dangerous; my troubles about poor -, all these have dropped out; yet for moments they were very instant, and one of them is always present with me.

I have finished copying Chapter XXI. of David - 'SOLUS CUM SOLA; we travel together.' Chapter XXII., 'SOLUS CUM SOLA; we keep house together,' is already drafted. To the end of XXI. makes more than 150 pages of my manuscript - damn this hair - and I only designed the book to run to about 200; but when you introduce the female sect, a book does run away with you.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book