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Vailima Letters by Robert Louis Stevenson

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that I put them by. But there is a 'hell of a want of' money
this year. And these Gilbert Island papers, being the most
interesting in matter, and forming a compact whole, and being
well illustrated, I did think of as a possible resource.

It would be called


and I daresay I'll think of a better yet - and would divide


I. A Town asleep.
II. The Three Brothers.
III. Around our House.
IV. A Tale of a Tapu.
V. The Five Day's Festival.
VI. Domestic Life - (which might be omitted, but not well,
better be recast).


VII. The Royal Traders.
VIII. Foundation of Equator Town.
IX. The Palace of Mary Warren.
X. Equator Town and the Palace.
XI. King and Commons.
XII. The Devil Work Box.
XIII. The Three Corslets.
XIV. Tail piece; the Court upon a Journey.

I wish you to watch these closely, judging them as a whole,
and treating them as I have asked you, and favour me with
your damnatory advice. I look up at your portrait, and it
frowns upon me. You seem to view me with reproach. The
expression is excellent; Fanny wept when she saw it, and you
know she is not given to the melting mood. She seems really
better; I have a touch of fever again, I fancy overwork, and
to-day, when I have overtaken my letters, I shall blow on my
pipe. Tell Mrs. S. I have been playing LE CHANT D'AMOUR
lately, and have arranged it, after awful trouble, rather
prettily for two pipes; and it brought her before me with an
effect scarce short of hallucination. I could hear her voice
in every note; yet I had forgot the air entirely, and began
to pipe it from notes as something new, when I was brought up
with a round turn by this reminiscence. We are now very much
installed; the dining-room is done, and looks lovely. Soon
we shall begin to photograph and send you our circumstances.
My room is still a howling wilderness. I sleep on a platform
in a window, and strike my mosquito bar and roll up my
bedclothes every morning, so that the bed becomes by day a
divan. A great part of the floor is knee-deep in books, yet
nearly all the shelves are filled, alas! It is a place to
make a pig recoil, yet here are my interminable labours begun
daily by lamp-light, and sometimes not yet done when the lamp
has once more to be lighted. The effect of pictures in this
place is surprising. They give great pleasure.


A word more. I had my breakfast this morning at 4.30! My
new cook has beaten me and (as Lloyd says) revenged all the
cooks in the world. I have been hunting them to give me
breakfast early since I was twenty; and now here comes Mr.
Ratke, and I have to plead for mercy. I cannot stand 4.30; I
am a mere fevered wreck; it is now half-past eight, and I can
no more, and four hours divide me from lunch, the devil take
the man! Yesterday it was about 5.30, which I can stand; day
before 5, which is bad enough; to-day, I give out. It is
like a London season, and as I do not take a siesta once in a
month, and then only five minutes, I am being worn to the
bones, and look aged and anxious.

We have Rider Haggard's brother here as a Land Commissioner;
a nice kind of a fellow; indeed, all the three Land
Commissioners are very agreeable.


SUNDAY, SEPT. 5 (?), 1891.

MY DEAR COLVIN, - Yours from Lochinver has just come. You
ask me if I am ever homesick for the Highlands and the Isles.
Conceive that for the last month I have been living there
between 1786 and 1850, in my grandfather's diaries and
letters. I HAD to take a rest; no use talking; so I put in a
month over my LIVES OF THE STEVENSONS with great pleasure and
profit and some advance; one chapter and a part drafted. The
whole promises well Chapter I. Domestic Annals. Chapter II.
The Northern Lights. Chapter III. The Bell Rock. Chapter
IV. A Family of Boys. Chap. V. The Grandfather. VI. Alan
Stevenson. VII. Thomas Stevenson. My materials for my
great-grandfather are almost null; for my grandfather copious
and excellent. Name, a puzzle. A SCOTTISH FAMILY, A FAMILY
LIGHTS: A FAMILY HISTORY. Advise; but it will take long.
Now, imagine if I have been homesick for Barrahead and Island
Glass, and Kirkwall, and Cape Wrath, and the Wells of the
Pentland Firth; I could have wept.

Now for politics. I am much less alarmed; I believe the MALO
(=RAJ, government) will collapse and cease like an overlain
infant, without a shot fired. They have now been months here
on their big salaries - and Cedarcrantz, whom I specially
like as a man, has done nearly nothing, and the Baron, who is
well-meaning, has done worse. They have these large
salaries, and they have all the taxes; they have made scarce
a foot of road; they have not given a single native a
position - all to white men; they have scarce laid out a
penny on Apia, and scarce a penny on the King; they have
forgot they were in Samoa, or that such a thing as Samoans
existed, and had eyes and some intelligence. The Chief
Justice has refused to pay his customs! The President
proposed to have an expensive house built for himself, while
the King, his master, has none! I had stood aside, and been
a loyal, and, above all, a silent subject, up to then; but
now I snap my fingers at their MALO. It is damned, and I'm
damned glad of it. And this is not all. Last 'WAINIU,' when
I sent Fanny off to Fiji, I hear the wonderful news that the
Chief Justice is going to Fiji and the Colonies to improve
his mind. I showed my way of thought to his guest, Count
Wachtmeister, whom I have sent to you with a letter - he will
tell you all the news. Well, the Chief Justice stayed, but
they said he was to leave yesterday. I had intended to go
down, and see and warn him! But the President's house had
come up in the meanwhile, and I let them go to their doom,
which I am only anxious to see swiftly and (if it may be)
bloodlessly fall.

Thus I have in a way withdrawn my unrewarded loyalty. Lloyd
is down to-day with Moors to call on Mataafa; the news of the
excursion made a considerable row in Apia, and both the
German and the English consuls besought Lloyd not to go. But
he stuck to his purpose, and with my approval. It's a poor
thing if people are to give up a pleasure party for a MALO
that has never done anything for us but draw taxes, and is
going to go pop, and leave us at the mercy of the identical
Mataafa, whom I have not visited for more than a year, and
who is probably furious.

The sense of my helplessness here has been rather bitter; I
feel it wretched to see this dance of folly and injustice and
unconscious rapacity go forward from day to day, and to be
impotent. I was not consulted - or only by one man, and that
on particular points; I did not choose to volunteer advice
till some pressing occasion; I have not even a vote, for I am
not a member of the municipality.

What ails you, miserable man, to talk of saving material? I
have a whole world in my head, a whole new society to work,
but I am in no hurry; you will shortly make the acquaintance
of the Island of Ulufanua, on which I mean to lay several
stories; the BLOODY WEDDING, possibly the HIGH WOODS - (O,
it's so good, the High Woods, but the story is craziness;
that's the trouble,) - a political story, the LABOUR SLAVE,
etc. Ulufanua is an imaginary island; the name is a
beautiful Samoan word for the TOP of a forest; ulu - leaves
or hair, fanua=land. The ground or country of the leaves.
'Ulufanua the isle of the sea,' read that verse dactylically
and you get the beat; the u's are like our double oo; did
ever you hear a prettier word?

I do not feel inclined to make a volume of Essays, but if I
did, and perhaps the idea is good - and any idea is better
than South Seas - here would be my choice of the Scribner
There was a paper called the OLD PACIFIC CAPITAL in Fraser,
in Tulloch's time, which had merit; there were two on
Fontainebleau in the MAGAZINE OF ART in Henley's time. I
have no idea if they're any good; then there's the EMIGRANT
TRAIN. PULVIS ET UMBRA is in a different key, and wouldn't
hang on with the rest.

I have just interrupted my letter and read through the
chapter of the HIGH WOODS that is written, a chapter and a
bit, some sixteen pages, really very fetching, but what do
you wish? the story is so wilful, so steep, so silly - it's a
hallucination I have outlived, and yet I never did a better
piece of work, horrid, and pleasing, and extraordinarily
TRUE; it's sixteen pages of the South Seas; their essence.
What am I to do? Lose this little gem - for I'll be bold,
and that's what I think it - or go on with the rest, which I
don't believe in, and don't like, and which can never make
aught but a silly yarn? Make another end to it? Ah, yes,
but that's not the way I write; the whole tale is implied; I
never use an effect, when I can help it, unless it prepares
the effects that are to follow; that's what a story consists
in. To make another end, that is to make the beginning all
wrong. The denouement of a long story is nothing; it is just
a 'full close,' which you may approach and accompany as you
please - it is a coda, not an essential member in the rhythm;
but the body and end of a short story is bone of the bone and
blood of the blood of the beginning. Well, I shall end by
finishing it against my judgment; that fragment is my
Delilah. Golly, it's good. I am not shining by modesty; but
I do just love the colour and movement of that piece so far
as it goes.

I was surprised to hear of your fishing. And you saw the
'Pharos,' thrice fortunate man; I wish I dared go home, I
would ask the Commissioners to take me round for old sake's
sake, and see all my family pictures once more from the Mull
of Galloway to Unst. However, all is arranged for our
meeting in Ceylon, except the date and the blooming pounds.
I have heard of an exquisite hotel in the country, airy,
large rooms, good cookery, not dear; we shall have a couple
of months there, if we can make it out, and converse or - as
my grandfather always said - 'commune.' 'Communings with Mr.
Kennedy as to Lighthouse Repairs.' He was a fine old fellow,
but a droll.


Lloyd has returned. Peace and war were played before his
eyes at heads or tails. A German was stopped with levelled
guns; he raised his whip; had it fallen, we might have been
now in war. Excuses were made by Mataafa himself. Doubtless
the thing was done - I mean the stopping of the German - a
little to show off before Lloyd. 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

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


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. The letters, it appears, are tedious; they
would be more tedious still if I wasted my time upon such
infantile and sucking-bottle details. If ever I put in any
such detail, it is because it leads into something or serves
as a transition. To tell it for its own sake, never! The
mistake is all through that I have told too much; I had not
sufficient confidence in the reader, and have overfed him;
and here are you anxious to learn how I - O Colvin! Suppose
it had made a book, all such information is given to one
glance of an eye by a map with a little dotted line upon it.
But let us forget this unfortunate affair.


Yesterday I went down to consult Clarke, who took the view of
delay. Has he changed his mind already? I wonder: here at
least is the news. Some little while back some men of Manono
- what is Manono? - a Samoan rotten borough, a small isle of
huge political importance, heaven knows why, where a handful
of chiefs make half the trouble in the country. Some men of
Manono (which is strong Mataafa) burned down the houses and
destroyed the crops of some Malietoa neighbours. The
President went there the other day and landed alone on the
island, which (to give him his due) was plucky. Moreover, he
succeeded in persuading the folks to come up and be judged on
a particular day in Apia. That day they did not come; but
did come the next, and, to their vast surprise, were given
six months' imprisonment and clapped in gaol. Those who had
accompanied them cried to them on the streets as they were
marched to prison, 'Shall we rescue you?' The condemned,
marching in the hands of thirty men with loaded rifles, cried
out 'No'! And the trick was done. But it was ardently
believed a rescue would be attempted; the gaol was laid about
with armed men day and night; but there was some question of
their loyalty, and the commandant of the forces, a very nice
young beardless Swede, became nervous, and conceived a plan.
How if he should put dynamite under the gaol, and in case of
an attempted rescue blow up prison and all? He went to the
President, who agreed; he went to the American man-of-war for
the dynamite and machine, was refused, and got it at last
from the Wreckers. The thing began to leak out, and there
arose a muttering in town. People had no fancy for amateur
explosions, for one thing. For another, it did not clearly
appear that it was legal; the men had been condemned to six
months' prison, which they were peaceably undergoing; they
had not been condemned to death. And lastly, it seemed a
somewhat advanced example of civilisation to set before
barbarians. The mutter in short became a storm, and
yesterday, while I was down, a cutter was chartered, and the
prisoners were suddenly banished to the Tokelaus. Who has
changed the sentence? We are going to stir in the dynamite
matter; we do not want the natives to fancy us consenting to
such an outrage.

Fanny has returned from her trip, and on the whole looks
better. The HIGH WOODS are under way, and their name is now
the BEACH OF FALESA, and the yarn is cured. I have about
thirty pages of it done; it will be fifty to seventy I
suppose. No supernatural trick at all; and escaped out of it
quite easily; can't think why I was so stupid for so long.
Mighty glad to have Fanny back to this 'Hell of the South
Seas,' as the German Captain called it. What will
Cedarcrantz think when he comes back? To do him justice, had
he been here, this Manono hash would not have been.

Here is a pretty thing. When Fanny was in Fiji all the Samoa
and Tokelau folks were agog about our 'flash' house; but the
whites had never heard of it.



SEPT. 28.

MY DEAR COLVIN, - Since I last laid down my pen, I have
written and rewritten THE BEACH OF FALESA; something like
sixty thousand words of sterling domestic fiction (the story,
you will understand, is only half that length); and now I
don't want to write any more again for ever, or feel so; and
I've got to overhaul it once again to my sorrow. I was all
yesterday revising, and found a lot of slacknesses and (what
is worse in this kind of thing) some literaryisms. One of
the puzzles is this: It is a first person story - a trader
telling his own adventure in an island. When I began I
allowed myself a few liberties, because I was afraid of the
end; now the end proved quite easy, and could be done in the
pace; so the beginning remains about a quarter tone out (in
places); but I have rather decided to let it stay so. The
problem is always delicate; it is the only thing that worries
me in first person tales, which otherwise (quo' Alan) 'set
better wi' my genius.' There is a vast deal of fact in the
story, and some pretty good comedy. It is the first
realistic South Sea story; I mean with real South Sea
character and details of life. Everybody else who has tried,
that I have seen, got carried away by the romance, and ended
in a kind of sugar-candy sham epic, and the whole effect was
lost - there was no etching, no human grin, consequently no
conviction. Now I have got the smell and look of the thing a
good deal. You will know more about the South Seas after you
have read my little tale than if you had read a library. As
to whether any one else will read it, I have no guess. I am
in an off time, but there is just the possibility it might
make a hit; for the yarn is good and melodramatic, and there
is quite a love affair - for me; and Mr. Wiltshire (the
narrator) is a huge lark, though I say it. But there is
always the exotic question, and everything, the life, the
place, the dialects - trader's talk, which is a strange
conglomerate of literary expressions and English and American
slang, and Beach de Mar, or native English, - the very trades
and hopes and fears of the characters, are all novel, and may
be found unwelcome to that great, hulking, bullering whale,
the public.

Since I wrote, I have been likewise drawing up a document to
send it to the President; it has been dreadfully delayed, not
by me, but to-day they swear it will be sent in. A list of
questions about the dynamite report are herein laid before
him, and considerations suggested why he should answer.


Ever since my last snatch I have been much chivied about over
the President business; his answer has come, and is an
evasion accompanied with schoolboy insolence, and we are
going to try to answer it. I drew my answer and took it down
yesterday; but one of the signatories wants another paragraph
added, which I have not yet been able to draw, and as to the
wisdom of which I am not yet convinced.


We are all in rather a muddled state with our President
affair. I do loathe politics, but at the same time, I cannot
stand by and have the natives blown in the air treacherously
with dynamite. They are still quiet; how long this may
continue I do not know, though of course by mere prescription
the Government is strengthened, and is probably insured till
the next taxes fall due. But the unpopularity of the whites
is growing. My native overseer, the great Henry Simele,
announced to-day that he was 'weary of whites upon the beach.
All too proud,' said this veracious witness. One of the
proud ones had threatened yesterday to cut off his head with
a bush knife! These are 'native outrages'; honour bright,
and setting theft aside, in which the natives are active,
this is the main stream of irritation. The natives are
generally courtly, far from always civil, but really gentle,
and with a strong sense of honour of their own, and certainly
quite as much civilised as our dynamiting President.

We shall be delighted to see Kipling. I go to bed usually
about half-past eight, and my lamp is out before ten; I
breakfast at six. We may say roughly we have no soda water
on the island, and just now truthfully no whisky. I HAVE
heard the chimes at midnight; now no more, I guess. BUT -
Fanny and I, as soon as we can get coins for it, are coming
to Europe, not to England: I am thinking of Royat. Bar wars.
If not, perhaps the Apennines might give us a mountain refuge
for two months or three in summer. How is that for high?
But the money must be all in hand first.


How am I to describe my life these last few days? I have
been wholly swallowed up in politics, a wretched business,
with fine elements of farce in it too, which repay a man in
passing, involving many dark and many moonlight rides, secret
counsels which are at once divulged, sealed letters which are
read aloud in confidence to the neighbours, and a mass of
fudge and fun, which would have driven me crazy ten years
ago, and now makes me smile.

On Friday, Henry came and told us he must leave and go to 'my
poor old family in Savaii'; why? I do not quite know - but,
I suspect, to be tattooed - if so, then probably to be
married, and we shall see him no more. I told him he must do
what he thought his duty; we had him to lunch, drank his
health, and he and I rode down about twelve. When I got
down, I sent my horse back to help bring down the family
later. My own afternoon was cut out for me; my last draft
for the President had been objected to by some of the
signatories. I stood out, and one of our small number
accordingly refused to sign. Him I had to go and persuade,
which went off very well after the first hottish moments; you
have no idea how stolid my temper is now. By about five the
thing was done; and we sat down to dinner at the Chinaman's -
the Verrey or Doyen's of Apia - G. and I at each end as
hosts; G.'s wife - Fanua, late maid of the village; her
(adopted) father and mother, Seumanu and Faatulia, Fanny,
Belle, Lloyd, Austin, and Henry Simele, his last appearance.
Henry was in a kilt of gray shawl, with a blue jacket, white
shirt and black necktie, and looked like a dark genteel guest
in a Highland shooting-box. Seumanu (opposite Fanny, next
G.) is chief of Apia, a rather big gun in this place, looking
like a large, fatted, military Englishman, bar the colour.
Faatulia, next me, is a bigger chief than her husband. Henry
is a chief too - his chief name, Iiga (Ee-eeng-a), he has not
yet 'taken' because of his youth. We were in fine society,
and had a pleasant meal-time, with lots of fun. Then to the
Opera - I beg your pardon, I mean the Circus. We occupied
the first row in the reserved seats, and there in the row
behind were all our friends - Captain Foss and his Captain-
Lieutenant, three of the American officers, very nice
fellows, the Dr., etc, so we made a fine show of what an
embittered correspondent of the local paper called 'the
shoddy aristocracy of Apia'; and you should have seen how we
carried on, and how I clapped, and Captain Foss hollered
'WUNDERSCHON!' and threw himself forward in his seat, and how
we all in fact enjoyed ourselves like school-children, Austin
not a shade more than his neighbours. Then the Circus broke
up, and the party went home, but I stayed down, having
business on the morrow.

Yesterday, October 12th, great news reaches me, and Lloyd and
I, with the mail just coming in, must leave all, saddle, and
ride down. True enough, the President had resigned! Sought
to resign his presidency of the council, and keep his
advisership to the King; given way to the Consul's objections
and resigned all - then fell out with them about the
disposition of the funds, and was now trying to resign from
his resignation! Sad little President, so trim to look at,
and I believe so kind to his little wife! Not only so, but I
meet D. on the beach. D. calls me in consultation, and we
make with infinite difficulty a draft of a petition to the
King. . . . Then to dinner at M.'s, a very merry meal,
interrupted before it was over by the arrival of the
committee. Slight sketch of procedure agreed upon, self
appointed spokesman, and the deputation sets off. Walk all
through Matafele, all along Mulinuu, come to the King's
house; he has verbally refused to see us in answer to our
letter, swearing he is gase-gase (chief-sickness, not common
man's), and indeed we see him inside in bed. It is a
miserable low house, better houses by the dozen in the little
hamlet (Tanugamanono) of bushmen on our way to Vailima; and
the President's house in process of erection just opposite!
We are told to return to-morrow; I refuse; and at last we are
very sourly received, sit on the mats, and I open out,
through a very poor interpreter, and sometimes hampered by
unacceptable counsels from my backers. I can speak fairly
well in a plain way now. C. asked me to write out my
harangue for him this morning; I have done so, and couldn't
get it near as good. I suppose (talking and interpreting) I
was twenty minutes or half-an-hour on the deck; then his
majesty replied in the dying whisper of a big chief; a few
words of rejoinder (approving), and the deputation withdrew,
rather well satisfied.

A few days ago this intervention would have been a deportable
offence; not now, I bet; I would like them to try. A little
way back along Mulinuu, Mrs. G. met us with her husband's
horse; and he and she and Lloyd and I rode back in a heavenly
moonlight. Here ends a chapter in the life of an island
politician! Catch me at it again; 'tis easy to go in, but it
is not a pleasant trade. I have had a good team, as good as
I could get on the beach; but what trouble even so, and what
fresh troubles shaping. But I have on the whole carried all
my points; I believe all but one, and on that (which did not
concern me) I had no right to interfere. I am sure you would
be amazed if you knew what a good hand I am at keeping my
temper, talking people over, and giving reasons which are not
my reasons, but calculated for the meridian of the particular
objection; so soon does falsehood await the politician in his
whirling path.



MY DEAR CARTHEW, - See what I have written, but it's Colvin
I'm after - I have written two chapters, about thirty pages
of WRECKER since the mail left, which must be my excuse, and
the bother I've had with it is not to be imagined, you might
have seen me the day before yesterday weighing British sov.'s
and Chili dollars to arrange my treasure chest. And there
was such a calculation, not for that only, but for the ship's
position and distances when - but I am not going to tell you
the yarn - and then, as my arithmetic is particularly lax,
Lloyd had to go over all my calculations; and then, as I had
changed the amount of money, he had to go over all HIS as to
the amount of the lay; and altogether, a bank could be run
with less effusion of figures than it took to shore up a
single chapter of a measly yarn. However, it's done, and I
have but one more, or at the outside two, to do, and I am
Free! and can do any damn thing I like.

Before falling on politics, I shall give you my day. Awoke
somewhere about the first peep of day, came gradually to, and
had a turn on the verandah before 5.55, when 'the child' (an
enormous Wallis Islander) brings me an orange; at 6,
breakfast; 6.10, to work; which lasts till, at 10.30, Austin
comes for his history lecture; this is rather dispiriting,
but education must be gone about in faith - and charity, both
of which pretty nigh failed me to-day about (of all things)
Carthage; 11, luncheon; after luncheon in my mother's room, I
read Chapter XXIII. of THE WRECKER, then Belle, Lloyd, and I
go up and make music furiously till about 2 (I suppose), when
I turn into work again till 4; fool from 4 to half-past,
tired out and waiting for the bath hour; 4.30, bath; 4.40,
eat two heavenly mangoes on the verandah, and see the boys
arrive with the pack-horses; 5, dinner; smoke, chat on
verandah, then hand of cards, and at last at 8 come up to my
room with a pint of beer and a hard biscuit, which I am now
consuming, and as soon as they are consumed I shall turn in.

Such are the innocent days of this ancient and outworn
sportsman; to-day there was no weeding, usually there is
however, edge in somewhere. My books for the moment are a
crib to Phaedo, and the second book of Montaigne; and a
little while back I was reading Frederic Harrison, 'Choice of
Books,' etc. - very good indeed, a great deal of sense and
knowledge in the volume, and some very true stuff, CONTRA
Carlyle, about the eighteenth century. A hideous idea came
over me that perhaps Harrison is now getting OLD. Perhaps
you are. Perhaps I am. Oh, this infidelity must be stared
firmly down. I am about twenty-three - say twenty-eight; you
about thirty, or, by'r lady, thirty-four; and as Harrison
belongs to the same generation, there is no good bothering
about him.

Here has just been a fine alert; I gave my wife a dose of
chlorodyne. 'Something wrong,' says she. 'Nonsense,' said
I. 'Embrocation,' said she. I smelt it, and - it smelt very
funny. 'I think it's just gone bad, and to-morrow will
tell.' Proved to be so.


HISTORY OF TUESDAY. - Woke at usual time, very little work,
for I was tired, and had a job for the evening - to write
parts for a new instrument, a violin. Lunch, chat, and up to
my place to practise; but there was no practising for me - my
flageolet was gone wrong, and I had to take it all to pieces,
clean it, and put it up again. As this is a most intricate
job - the thing dissolves into seventeen separate members,
most of these have to be fitted on their individual springs
as fine as needles, and sometimes two at once with the
springs shoving different ways - it took me till two. Then
Lloyd and I rode forth on our errands; first to Motootua,
where we had a really instructive conversation on weeds and
grasses. Thence down to Apia, where we bought a fresh bottle
of chlorodyne and conversed on politics.

My visit to the King, which I thought at the time a
particularly nugatory and even schoolboy step, and only
consented to because I had held the reins so tight over my
little band before, has raised a deuce of a row - new
proclamation, no one is to interview the sacred puppet
without consuls' permission, two days' notice, and an
approved interpreter - read (I suppose) spy. Then back; I
should have said I was trying the new horse; a tallish
piebald, bought from the circus; he proved steady and safe,
but in very bad condition, and not so much the wild Arab
steed of the desert as had been supposed. The height of his
back, after commodious Jack, astonished me, and I had a great
consciousness of exercise and florid action, as I posted to
his long, emphatic trot. We had to ride back easy; even so
he was hot and blown; and when we set a boy to lead him to
and fro, our last character for sanity perished. We returned
just neat for dinner; and in the evening our violinist
arrived, a young lady, no great virtuoso truly, but plucky,
industrious, and a good reader; and we played five pieces
with huge amusement, and broke up at nine. This morning I
have read a splendid piece of Montaigne, written this page of
letter, and now turn to the WRECKER.

WEDNESDAY - November 16th or 17th - and I am ashamed to say
mail day. The WRECKER is finished, that is the best of my
news; it goes by this mail to Scribner's; and I honestly
think it a good yarn on the whole and of its measly kind.
The part that is genuinely good is Nares, the American
sailor; that is a genuine figure; had there been more Nares
it would have been a better book; but of course it didn't set
up to be a book, only a long tough yarn with some pictures of
the manners of to-day in the greater world - not the shoddy
sham world of cities, clubs, and colleges, but the world
where men still live a man's life. The worst of my news is
the influenza; Apia is devastate; the shops closed, a ball
put off, etc. As yet we have not had it at Vailima, and, who
knows? we may escape. None of us go down, but of course the
boys come and go.

Your letter had the most wonderful 'I told you so' I ever
heard in the course of my life. Why, you madman, I wouldn't
change my present installation for any post, dignity, honour,
or advantage conceivable to me. It fills the bill; I have
the loveliest time. And as for wars and rumours of wars, you
surely know enough of me to be aware that I like that also a
thousand times better than decrepit peace in Middlesex? I do
not quite like politics; I am too aristocratic, I fear, for
that. God knows I don't care who I chum with; perhaps like
sailors best; but to go round and sue and sneak to keep a
crowd together - never. My imagination, which is not the
least damped by the idea of having my head cut off in the
bush, recoils aghast from the idea of a life like
Gladstone's, and the shadow of the newspaper chills me to the
bone. Hence my late eruption was interesting, but not what I
like. All else suits me in this (killed a mosquito) A1

About politics. A determination was come to by the President
that he had been an idiot; emissaries came to G. and me to
kiss and be friends. My man proposed I should have a
personal interview; I said it was quite useless, I had
nothing to say; I had offered him the chance to inform me,
had pressed it on him, and had been very unpleasantly
received, and now 'Time was.' Then it was decided that I was
to be made a culprit against Germany; the German Captain - a
delightful fellow and our constant visitor - wrote to say
that as 'a German officer' he could not come even to say
farewell. We all wrote back in the most friendly spirit,
telling him (politely) that some of these days he would be
sorry, and we should be delighted to see our friend again.
Since then I have seen no German shadow.

Mataafa has been proclaimed a rebel; the President did this
act, and then resigned. By singular good fortune, Mataafa
has not yet moved; no thanks to our idiot governors. They
have shot their bolt; they have made a rebel of the only man
held the rebel party in check; and having thus called on war
to fall, they can do no more, sit equally 'expertes' of VIS
and counsel, regarding their handiwork. It is always a cry
with these folk that he (Mataafa) had no ammunition. I
always said it would be found; and we know of five boat-loads
that have found their way to Malie already. Where there are
traders, there will be ammunition; aphorism by R. L. S.

Now what am I to do next?

Lives of the Stevensons? HISTORIA SAMOAE? A History for
Children? Fiction? I have had two hard months at fiction; I
want a change. Stevensons? I am expecting some more
material; perhaps better wait. Samoa; rather tempting; might
be useful to the islands - and to me; for it will be written
in admirable temper; I have never agreed with any party, and
see merits and excuses in all; should do it (if I did) very
slackly and easily, as if half in conversation. History for
Children? This flows from my lessons to Austin; no book is
any good. The best I have seen is Freeman's OLD ENGLISH
HISTORY; but his style is so rasping, and a child can learn
more, if he's clever. I found my sketch of general Aryan
History, given in conversation, to have been practically
correct - at least what I mean is, Freeman had very much the
same stuff in his early chapters, only not so much, and I
thought not so well placed; and the child remembered some of
it. Now the difficulty is to give this general idea of main
place, growth, and movement; it is needful to tack it on a
yarn. Now Scotch is the only History I know; it is the only
history reasonably represented in my library; it is a very
good one for my purpose, owing to two civilisations having
been face to face throughout - or rather Roman civilisation
face to face with our ancient barbaric life and government,
down to yesterday, to 1750 anyway. But the TALES OF A
GRANDFATHER stand in my way; I am teaching them to Austin
now, and they have all Scott's defects and all Scott's
hopeless merit. I cannot compete with that; and yet, so far
as regards teaching History, how he has missed his chances!
I think I'll try; I really have some historic sense, I feel
that in my bones. Then there's another thing. Scott never
knew the Highlands; he was always a Borderer. He has missed
that whole, long, strange, pathetic story of our savages,
and, besides, his style is not very perspicuous to childhood.
Gad, I think I'll have a flutter. Buridan's Ass! Whether to
go, what to attack. Must go to other letters; shall add to
this, if I have time.


NOV. 25TH, 1891.

MY DEAR COLVIN, MY DEAR COLVIN, - I wonder how often I'm
going to write it. In spite of the loss of three days, as I
have to tell, and a lot of weeding and cacao planting, I have
finished since the mail left four chapters, forty-eight pages
of my Samoa history. It is true that the first three had
been a good deal drafted two years ago, but they had all to
be written and re-written, and the fourth chapter is all new.
Chapter I. Elements of Discord-Native. II. Elements of
Discord-Foreign. III. The Success of Laupepa. IV. Brandeis.
V. Will probably be called 'The Rise of Mataafa.' VI. FUROR
CONSULARIS - a devil of a long chapter. VII. Stuebel the
Pacificator. VIII. Government under the Treaty of Berlin.
IX. Practical Suggestions. Say three-sixths of it are done,
maybe more; by this mail five chapters should go, and that
should be a good half of it; say sixty pages. And if you
consider that I sent by last mail the end of the WRECKER,
coming on for seventy or eighty pages, and the mail before
that the entire Tale of the BEACH OF FALESA, I do not think I
can be accused of idleness. This is my season; I often work
six and seven, and sometimes eight hours; and the same day I
am perhaps weeding or planting for an hour or two more - and
I daresay you know what hard work weeding is - and it all
agrees with me at this time of the year - like - like
idleness, if a man of my years could be idle.

My first visit to Apia was a shock to me; every second person
the ghost of himself, and the place reeking with infection.
But I have not got the thing yet, and hope to escape. This
shows how much stronger I am; think of me flitting through a
town of influenza patients seemingly unscathed. We are all
on the cacao planting.

The next day my wife and I rode over to the German
plantation, Vailele, whose manager is almost the only German
left to speak to us. Seventy labourers down with influenza!
It is a lovely ride, half-way down our mountain towards Apia,
then turn to the right, ford the river, and three miles of
solitary grass and cocoa palms, to where the sea beats and
the wild wind blows unceasingly about the plantation house.
On the way down Fanny said, 'Now what would you do if you saw
Colvin coming up?'

Next day we rode down to Apia to make calls.

Yesterday the mail came, and the fat was in the fire.

NOV. 29TH?

BOOK. All right. I must say I like your order. And the
papers are some of them up to dick, and no mistake. I agree
with you the lights seem a little turned down. The truth is,
I was far through (if you understand Scots), and came none
too soon to the South Seas, where I was to recover peace of
body and mind. No man but myself knew all my bitterness in
those days. Remember that, the next time you think I regret
my exile. And however low the lights are, the stuff is true,
and I believe the more effective; after all, what I wish to
fight is the best fought by a rather cheerless presentation
of the truth. The world must return some day to the word
duty, and be done with the word reward. There are no
rewards, and plenty duties. And the sooner a man sees that
and acts upon it like a gentleman or a fine old barbarian,
the better for himself.

There is my usual puzzle about publishers. Chatto ought to
have it, as he has all the other essays; these all belong to
me, and Chatto publishes on terms. Longman has forgotten the
terms we are on; let him look up our first correspondence,
and he will see I reserved explicitly, as was my habit, the
right to republish as I choose. Had the same arrangement
with Henley, Magazine of Art, and with Tulloch Fraser's. -
For any necessary note or preface, it would be a real service
if you would undertake the duty yourself. I should love a
preface by you, as short or as long as you choose, three
sentences, thirty pages, the thing I should like is your
name. And the excuse of my great distance seems sufficient.
I shall return with this the sheets corrected as far as I
have them; the rest I will leave, if you will, to you
entirely; let it be your book, and disclaim what you dislike
in the preface. You can say it was at my eager prayer. I
should say I am the less willing to pass Chatto over, because
he behaved the other day in a very handsome manner. He asked
leave to reprint DAMIEN; I gave it to him as a present,
explaining I could receive no emolument for a personal
attack. And he took out my share of profits, and sent them
in my name to the Leper Fund. I could not bear after that to
take from him any of that class of books which I have always
given him. Tell him the same terms will do. Clark to print,
uniform with the others.

I have lost all the days since this letter began re-handling
Chapter IV. of the Samoa racket. I do not go in for
literature; address myself to sensible people rather than to
sensitive. And, indeed, it is a kind of journalism, I have
no right to dally; if it is to help, it must come soon. In
two months from now it shall be done, and should be published
in the course of March. I propose Cassell gets it. I am
going to call it 'A Footnote to History: Eight Years of
Trouble in Samoa,' I believe. I recoil from serious names;
they seem so much too pretentious for a pamphlet. It will be
about the size of TREASURE ISLAND, I believe. Of course, as
you now know, my case of conscience cleared itself off, and I
began my intervention directly to one of the parties. The
other, the Chief Justice, I am to inform of my book the first
occasion. God knows if the book will do any good - or harm;
but I judge it right to try. There is one man's life
certainly involved; and it may be all our lives. I must not
stand and slouch, but do my best as best I can. But you may
conceive the difficulty of a history extending to the present
week, at least, and where almost all the actors upon all
sides are of my personal acquaintance. The only way is to
judge slowly, and write boldly, and leave the issue to fate.
. . . I am far indeed from wishing to confine myself to
creative work; that is a loss, the other repairs; the one
chance for a man, and, above all, for one who grows elderly,
ahem, is to vary drainage and repair. That is the one thing
I understand - the cultivation of the shallow SOLUM of my
brain. But I would rather, from soon on, be released from
the obligation to write. In five or six years this
plantation - suppose it and us still to exist - should pretty
well support us and pay wages; not before, and already the
six years seem long to me. If literature were but a pastime!

I have interrupted myself to write the necessary notification
to the Chief Justice.

I see in looking up Longman's letter that it was as usual the
letter of an obliging gentleman; so do not trouble him with
my reminder. I wish all my publishers were not so nice. And
I have a fourth and a fifth baying at my heels; but for
these, of course, they must go wanting.


No answer from the Chief Justice, which is like him, but
surely very wrong in such a case. The lunch bell! I have
been off work, playing patience and weeding all morning.
Yesterday and the day before I drafted eleven and revised
nine pages of Chapter V., and the truth is, I was extinct by
lunch-time, and played patience sourly the rest of the day.
To-morrow or next day I hope to go in again and win. Lunch
2nd Bell.


I have kept up the idleness; blew on the pipe to Belle's
piano; then had a ride in the forest all by my nainsel; back
and piped again, and now dinner nearing. Take up this sheet
with nothing to say. The weird figure of Faauma is in the
room washing my windows, in a black lavalava (kilt) with a
red handkerchief hanging from round her neck between her
breasts; not another stitch; her hair close cropped and
oiled; when she first came here she was an angelic little
stripling, but she is now in full flower - or half-flower -
and grows buxom. As I write, I hear her wet cloth moving and
grunting with some industry; for I had a word this day with
her husband on the matter of work and meal-time, when she is
always late. And she has a vague reverence for Papa, as she
and her enormous husband address me when anything is wrong.
Her husband is Lafaele, sometimes called the archangel, of
whom I have writ you often. Rest of our household, Talolo,
cook; Pulu, kitchen boy, good, steady, industrious lads;
Henry, back again from Savaii, where his love affair seems
not to have prospered, with what looks like a spear-wound in
the back of his head, of which Mr. Reticence says nothing;
Simi, Manuele, and two other labourers out-doors. Lafaele is
provost of the live-stock, whereof now, three milk-cows, one
bull-calf, one heifer, Jack, Macfarlane, the mare, Harold,
Tifaga Jack, Donald and Edinburgh - seven horses - O, and the
stallion - eight horses; five cattle; total, if my arithmetic
be correct, thirteen head of beasts; I don't know how the
pigs stand, or the ducks, or the chickens; but we get a good
many eggs, and now and again a duckling or a chickling for
the table; the pigs are more solemn, and appear only on
birthdays and sich.


On Friday morning about eleven 1500 cacao seeds arrived, and
we set to and toiled from twelve that day to six, and went to
bed pretty tired. Next day I got about an hour and a half at
my History, and was at it again by 8.10, and except an hour
for lunch kept at it till four P.M. Yesterday, I did some
History in the morning, and slept most of the afternoon; and
to-day, being still averse from physical labour, and the mail
drawing nigh, drew out of the squad, and finished for press
the fifth chapter of my History; fifty-nine pages in one
month; which (you will allow me to say) is a devil of a large
order; it means at least 177 pages of writing; 89,000 words!
and hours going to and fro among my notes. However, this is
the way it has to be done; the job must be done fast, or it
is of no use. And it is a curious yarn. Honestly, I think
people should be amused and convinced, if they could be at
the pains to look at such a damned outlandish piece of
machinery, which of course they won't. And much I care.

When I was filling baskets all Saturday, in my dull mulish
way, perhaps the slowest worker there, surely the most
particular, and the only one that never looked up or knocked
off, I could not but think I should have been sent on
exhibition as an example to young literary men. Here is how
to learn to write, might be the motto. You should have seen
us; the verandah was like an Irish bog; our hands and faces
were bedaubed with soil; and Faauma was supposed to have
struck the right note when she remarked (A PROPOS of
nothing), 'Too much ELEELE (soil) for me!' The cacao (you
must understand) has to be planted at first in baskets of
plaited cocoa-leaf. From four to ten natives were plaiting
these in the wood-shed. Four boys were digging up soil and
bringing it by the boxful to the verandah. Lloyd and I and
Belle, and sometimes S. (who came to bear a hand), were
filling the baskets, removing stones and lumps of clay;
Austin and Faauma carried them when full to Fanny, who
planted a seed in each, and then set them, packed close, in
the corners of the verandah. From twelve on Friday till five
P.M. on Saturday we planted the first 1500, and more than 700
of a second lot. You cannot dream how filthy we were, and we
were all properly tired. They are all at it again to-day,
bar Belle and me, not required, and glad to be out of it.
The Chief Justice has not yet replied, and I have news that
he received my letter. What a man!

I have gone crazy over Bourget's SENSATIONS D'ITALIE; hence
the enclosed dedications, a mere cry of gratitude for the
best fun I've had over a new book this ever so!



SIR, - I have the honour to report further explorations of
the course of the river Vaea, with accompanying sketch plan.
The party under my command consisted of one horse, and was
extremely insubordinate and mutinous, owing to not being used
to go into the bush, and being half-broken anyway - and that
the wrong half. The route indicated for my party was up the
bed of the so-called river Vaea, which I accordingly followed
to a distance of perhaps two or three furlongs eastward from
the house of Vailima, where the stream being quite dry, the
bush thick, and the ground very difficult, I decided to leave
the main body of the force under my command tied to a tree,
and push on myself with the point of the advance guard,
consisting of one man. The valley had become very narrow and
airless; foliage close shut above; dry bed of the stream much
excavated, so that I passed under fallen trees without
stooping. Suddenly it turned sharply to the north, at right
angles to its former direction; I heard living water, and
came in view of a tall face of rock and the stream spraying
down it; it might have been climbed, but it would have been
dangerous, and I had to make my way up the steep earth banks,
where there is nowhere any footing for man, only fallen
trees, which made the rounds of my ladder. I was near the
top of this climb, which was very hot and steep, and the
pulses were buzzing all over my body, when I made sure there
was one external sound in my ears, and paused to listen. No
mistake; a sound of a mill-wheel thundering, I thought, close
by, yet below me, a huge mill-wheel, yet not going steadily,
but with a SCHOTTISCHE movement, and at each fresh impetus
shaking the mountain. There, where I was, I just put down
the sound to the mystery of the bush; where no sound now
surprises me - and any sound alarms; I only thought it would
give Jack a fine fright, down where he stood tied to a tree
by himself, and he was badly enough scared when I left him.
The good folks at home identified it; it was a sharp

At the top of the climb I made my way again to the water-
course; it is here running steady and pretty full; strange
these intermittencies - and just a little below the main
stream is quite dry, and all the original brook has gone down
some lava gallery of the mountain - and just a little further
below, it begins picking up from the left hand in little
boggy tributaries, and in the inside of a hundred yards has
grown a brook again. The general course of the brook was, I
guess, S.E.; the valley still very deep and whelmed in wood.
It seemed a swindle to have made so sheer a climb and still
find yourself at the bottom of a well. But gradually the
thing seemed to shallow, the trees to seem poorer and
smaller; I could see more and more of the silver sprinkles of
sky among the foliage, instead of the sombre piling up of
tree behind tree. And here I had two scares - first, away up
on my right hand I heard a bull low; I think it was a bull
from the quality of the low, which was singularly songful and
beautiful; the bulls belong to me, but how did I know that
the bull was aware of that? and my advance guard not being at
all properly armed, we advanced with great precaution until I
was satisfied that I was passing eastward of the enemy. It
was during this period that a pool of the river suddenly
boiled up in my face in a little fountain. It was in a very
dreary, marshy part among dilapidated trees that you see
through holes in the trunks of; and if any kind of beast or
elf or devil had come out of that sudden silver ebullition, I
declare I do not think I should have been surprised. It was
perhaps a thing as curious - a fish, with which these head
waters of the stream are alive. They are some of them as
long as my finger, should be easily caught in these shallows,
and some day I'll have a dish of them.

Very soon after I came to where the stream collects in
another banana swamp, with the bananas bearing well. Beyond,
the course is again quite dry; it mounts with a sharp turn a
very steep face of the mountain, and then stops abruptly at
the lip of a plateau, I suppose the top of Vaea mountain:
plainly no more springs here - there was no smallest furrow
of a watercourse beyond - and my task might be said to be
accomplished. But such is the animated spirit in the service
that the whole advance guard expressed a sentiment of
disappointment that an exploration, so far successfully
conducted, should come to a stop in the most promising view
of fresh successes. And though unprovided either with
compass or cutlass, it was determined to push some way along
the plateau, marking our direction by the laborious process
of bending down, sitting upon, and thus breaking the wild
cocoanut trees. This was the less regretted by all from a
delightful discovery made of a huge banyan growing here in
the bush, with flying-buttressed flying buttresses, and huge
arcs of trunk hanging high overhead and trailing down new
complications of root. I climbed some way up what seemed the
original beginning; it was easier to climb than a ship's
rigging, even rattled; everywhere there was foot-hold and
hand-hold. It was judged wise to return and rally the main
body, who had now been left alone for perhaps forty minutes
in the bush.

The return was effected in good order, but unhappily I only
arrived (like so many other explorers) to find my main body
or rear-guard in a condition of mutiny; the work, it is to be
supposed, of terror. It is right I should tell you the Vaea
has a bad name, an AITU FAFINE - female devil of the woods -
succubus - haunting it, and doubtless Jack had heard of her;
perhaps, during my absence, saw her; lucky Jack! Anyway, he
was neither to hold nor to bind, and finally, after nearly
smashing me by accident, and from mere scare and
insubordination several times, deliberately set in to kill
me; but poor Jack! the tree he selected for that purpose was
a banana! I jumped off and gave him the heavy end of my whip
over the buttocks! Then I took and talked in his ear in
various voices; you should have heard my alto - it was a
dreadful, devilish note - I KNEW Jack KNEW it was an AITU.
Then I mounted him again, and he carried me fairly steadily.
He'll learn yet. He has to learn to trust absolutely to his
rider; till he does, the risk is always great in thick bush,
where a fellow must try different passages, and put back and
forward, and pick his way by hair's-breadths.

The expedition returned to Vailima in time to receive the
visit of the R. C. Bishop. He is a superior man, much above
the average of priests.


Yesterday the same expedition set forth to the southward by
what is known as Carruthers' Road. At a fallen tree which
completely blocks the way, the main body was as before left
behind, and the advance guard of one now proceeded with the
exploration. At the great tree known as MEPI TREE, after
Maben the surveyor, the expedition struck forty yards due
west till it struck the top of a steep bank which it
descended. The whole bottom of the ravine is filled with
sharp lava blocks quite unrolled and very difficult and
dangerous to walk among; no water in the course, scarce any
sign of water. And yet surely water must have made this bold
cutting in the plateau. And if so, why is the lava sharp?
My science gave out; but I could not but think it ominous and
volcanic. The course of the stream was tortuous, but with a
resultant direction a little by west of north; the sides the
whole way exceeding steep, the expedition buried under
fathoms of foliage. Presently water appeared in the bottom,
a good quantity; perhaps thirty or forty cubic feet, with
pools and waterfalls. A tree that stands all along the banks
here must be very fond of water; its roots lie close-packed
down the stream, like hanks of guts, so as to make often a
corrugated walk, each root ending in a blunt tuft of
filaments, plainly to drink water. Twice there came in small
tributaries from the left or western side - the whole plateau
having a smartish inclination to the east; one of the
tributaries in a handsome little web of silver hanging in the
forest. Twice I was startled by birds; one that barked like
a dog; another that whistled loud ploughman's signals, so
that I vow I was thrilled, and thought I had fallen among
runaway blacks, and regretted my cutlass which I had lost and
left behind while taking bearings. A good many fishes in the
brook, and many cray-fish; one of the last with a queer glow-
worm head. Like all our brooks, the water is pure as air,
and runs over red stones like rubies. The foliage along both
banks very thick and high, the place close, the walking
exceedingly laborious. By the time the expedition reached
the fork, it was felt exceedingly questionable whether the
MORAL of the force were sufficiently good to undertake more
extended operations. A halt was called, the men refreshed
with water and a bath, and it was decided at a drumhead
council of war to continue the descent of the Embassy Water
straight for Vailima, whither the expedition returned, in
rather poor condition, and wet to the waist, about 4. P.M.

Thus in two days the two main watercourses of this country
have been pretty thoroughly explored, and I conceive my
instructions fully carried out. The main body of the second
expedition was brought back by another officer despatched for
that purpose from Vailima. Casualties: one horse wounded;
one man bruised; no deaths - as yet, but the bruised man
feels to-day as if his case was mighty serious.

DEC. 25, '91.

Your note with a very despicable bulletin of health arrived
only yesterday, the mail being a day behind. It contained
also the excellent TIMES article, which was a sight for sore
eyes. I am still TABOO; the blessed Germans will have none
of me; and I only hope they may enjoy the TIMES article.
'Tis my revenge! I wish you had sent the letter too, as I
have no copy, and do not even know what I wrote the last day,
with a bad headache, and the mail going out. However, it
must have been about right, for the TIMES article was in the
spirit I wished to arouse. I hope we can get rid of the man
before it is too late. He has set the natives to war; but
the natives, by God's blessing, do not want to fight, and I
think it will fizzle out - no thanks to the man who tried to
start it. But I did not mean to drift into these politics;
rather to tell you what I have done since I last wrote.

Well, I worked away at my History for a while, and only got
one chapter done; no doubt this spate of work is pretty low
now, and will be soon dry; but, God bless you, what a lot I
have accomplished; WRECKER done, BEACH OF FALESA done, half
the HISTORY: C'EST ETONNANT. (I hear from Burlingame, by the
way, that he likes the end of the WRECKER; 'tis certainly a
violent, dark yarn with interesting, plain turns of human
nature), then Lloyd and I went down to live in Haggard's
rooms, where Fanny presently joined us. Haggard's rooms are
in a strange old building - old for Samoa, and has the effect
of the antique like some strange monastery; I would tell you
more of it, but I think I'm going to use it in a tale. The
annexe close by had its door sealed; poor Dowdney lost at sea
in a schooner. The place is haunted. The vast empty sheds,
the empty store, the airless, hot, long, low rooms, the claps
of wind that set everything flying - a strange uncanny house
to spend Christmas in.

JAN. 1ST, '92.

For a day or two I have sat close and wrought hard at the
HISTORY, and two more chapters are all but done. About
thirty pages should go by this mail, which is not what should
be, but all I could overtake. Will any one ever read it? I
fancy not; people don't read history for reading, but for
education and display - and who desires education in the
history of Samoa, with no population, no past, no future, or
the exploits of Mataafa, Malietoa, and Consul Knappe?
Colkitto and Galasp are a trifle to it. Well, it can't be
helped, and it must be done, and, better or worse, it's
capital fun. There are two to whom I have not been kind -
German Consul Becker and English Captain Hand, R.N.

On Dec. 30th I rode down with Belle to go to (if you please)
the Fancy Ball. When I got to the beach, I found the
barometer was below 29 degrees, the wind still in the east
and steady, but a huge offensive continent of clouds and
vapours forming to leeward. It might be a hurricane; I dared
not risk getting caught away from my work, and, leaving
Belle, returned at once to Vailima. Next day - yesterday -
it was a tearer; we had storm shutters up; I sat in my room
and wrote by lamplight - ten pages, if you please, seven of
them draft, and some of these compiled from as many as seven
different and conflicting authorities, so that was a brave
day's work. About two a huge tree fell within sixty paces of
our house; a little after, a second went; and we sent out
boys with axes and cut down a third, which was too near the
house, and buckling like a fishing rod. At dinner we had the
front door closed and shuttered, the back door open, the lamp
lit. The boys in the cook-house were all out at the cook-
house door, where we could see them looking in and smiling.
Lauilo and Faauma waited on us with smiles. The excitement
was delightful. Some very violent squalls came as we sat
there, and every one rejoiced; it was impossible to help it;
a soul of putty had to sing. All night it blew; the roof was
continually sounding under missiles; in the morning the
verandahs were half full of branches torn from the forest.
There was a last very wild squall about six; the rain, like a
thick white smoke, flying past the house in volleys, and as
swift, it seemed, as rifle balls; all with a strange,
strident hiss, such as I have only heard before at sea, and,
indeed, thought to be a marine phenomenon. Since then the
wind has been falling with a few squalls, mostly rain. But
our road is impassable for horses; we hear a schooner has
been wrecked and some native houses blown down in Apia, where
Belle is still and must remain a prisoner. Lucky I returned
while I could! But the great good is this; much bread-fruit
and bananas have been destroyed; if this be general through
the islands, famine will be imminent; and WHOEVER BLOWS THE
COALS, THERE CAN BE NO WAR. Do I then prefer a famine to a
war? you ask. Not always, but just now. I am sure the
natives do not want a war; I am sure a war would benefit no
one but the white officials, and I believe we can easily meet
the famine - or at least that it can be met. That would give
our officials a legitimate opportunity to cover their past


I woke this morning to find the blow quite ended. The heaven
was all a mottled gray; even the east quite colourless; the
downward slope of the island veiled in wafts of vapour, blue
like smoke; not a leaf stirred on the tallest tree; only,
three miles away below me on the barrier reef, I could see
the individual breakers curl and fall, and hear their
conjunct roaring rise, as it still rises at 1 P.M., like the
roar of a thoroughfare close by. I did a good morning's
work, correcting and clarifying my draft, and have now
finished for press eight chapters, ninety-one pages, of this
piece of journalism. Four more chapters, say fifty pages,
remain to be done; I should gain my wager and finish this
volume in three months, that is to say, the end should leave
me per February mail; I cannot receive it back till the mail
of April. Yes, it can be out in time; pray God that it be in
time to help.

How do journalists fetch up their drivel? I aim only at
clearness and the most obvious finish, positively at no
higher degree of merit, not even at brevity - I am sure it
could have been all done, with double the time, in two-thirds
of the space. And yet it has taken me two months to write
45,500 words; and, be damned to my wicked prowess, I am proud
of the exploit! The real journalist must be a man not of
brass only, but bronze. Chapter IX. gapes for me, but I
shrink on the margin, and go on chattering to you. This last
part will be much less offensive (strange to say) to the
Germans. It is Becker they will never forgive me for; Knappe
I pity and do not dislike; Becker I scorn and abominate.
Here is the tableau. I. Elements of Discord: Native. II.
Elements of Discord: Foreign. III. The Sorrows of Laupepa.
IV. Brandeis. V. The Battle of Matautu. VI. Last Exploits
of Becker. VII. The Samoan Camps. VIII. Affairs of Lautii
and Fangalii. IX. 'FUROR CONSULARIS.' X. The Hurricane.
XI. Stuebel Recluse. XII. The Present Government. I
estimate the whole roughly at 70,000 words. Should anybody
ever dream of reading it, it would be found amusing.
70000/300=233 printed pages; a respectable little five-bob
volume, to bloom unread in shop windows. After that, I'll
have a spank at fiction. And rest? I shall rest in the
grave, or when I come to Italy. If only the public will
continue to support me! I lost my chance not dying; there
seems blooming little fear of it now. I worked close on five
hours this morning; the day before, close on nine; and unless
I finish myself off with this letter, I'll have another hour
and a half, or AIBLINS TWA, before dinner. Poor man, how you
must envy me, as you hear of these orgies of work, and you
scarce able for a letter. But Lord, Colvin, how lucky the
situations are not reversed, for I have no situation, nor am
fit for any. Life is a steigh brae. Here, have at Knappe,
and no more clavers!


There was never any man had so many irons in the fire, except
Jim Pinkerton. I forgot to mention I have the most gallant
suggestion from Lang, with an offer of MS. authorities, which
turns my brain. It's all about the throne of Poland and
buried treasure in the Mackay country, and Alan Breck can
figure there in glory.

Yesterday, J. and I set off to Blacklock's (American Consul)
who lives not far from that little village I have so often
mentioned as lying between us and Apia. I had some questions
to ask him for my History; thence we must proceed to Vailele,
where I had also to cross-examine the plantation manager
about the battle there. We went by a track I had never
before followed down the hill to Vaisigano, which flows here
in a deep valley, and was unusually full, so that the horses
trembled in the ford. The whole bottom of the valley is full
of various streams posting between strips of forest with a
brave sound of waters. In one place we had a glimpse of a
fall some way higher up, and then sparkling in sunlight in
the midst of the green valley. Then up by a winding path
scarce accessible to a horse for steepness, to the other
side, and the open cocoanut glades of the plantation. Here
we rode fast, did a mighty satisfactory afternoon's work at
the plantation house, and still faster back. On the return
Jack fell with me, but got up again; when I felt him
recovering I gave him his head, and he shoved his foot
through the rein; I got him by the bit however, and all was
well; he had mud over all his face, but his knees were not
broken. We were scarce home when the rain began again; that
was luck. It is pouring now in torrents; we are in the
height of the bad season. Lloyd leaves along with this
letter on a change to San Francisco; he had much need of it,
but I think this will brace him up. I am, as you see, a
tower of strength. I can remember riding not so far and not
near so fast when I first came to Samoa, and being shattered
next day with fatigue; now I could not tell I have done
anything; have re-handled my battle of Fangalii according to
yesterday's information - four pages rewritten; and written
already some half-dozen pages of letters.

I observe with disgust that while of yore, when I own I was
guilty, you never spared me abuse, but now, when I am so
virtuous, where is the praise? Do admit that I have become
an excellent letter-writer - at least to you, and that your
ingratitude is imbecile. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.


JAN 31ST, '92.

MY DEAR COLVIN, - No letter at all from you, and this scratch
from me! Here is a year that opens ill. Lloyd is off to
'the coast' sick - THE COAST means California over most of
the Pacific - I have been down all month with influenza, and
am just recovering - I am overlaid with proofs, which I am
just about half fit to attend to. One of my horses died this
morning, and another is now dying on the front lawn - Lloyd's
horse and Fanny's. Such is my quarrel with destiny. But I
am mending famously, come and go on the balcony, have
perfectly good nights, and though I still cough, have no
oppression and no hemorrhage and no fever. So if I can find
time and courage to add no more, you will know my news is not
altogether of the worst; a year or two ago, and what a state
I should have been in now! Your silence, I own, rather
alarms me. But I tell myself you have just miscarried; had
you been too ill to write, some one would have written me.
Understand, I send this brief scratch not because I am unfit
to write more, but because I have 58 galleys of the WRECKER
and 102 of the BEACH OF FALESA to get overhauled somehow or
other in time for the mail, and for three weeks I have not
touched a pen with my finger.


The second horse is still alive, but I still think dying.
The first was buried this morning. My proofs are done; it
was a rough two days of it, but done. CONSUMMATUM EST; NA
UMA. I believe the WRECKER ends well; if I know what a good
yarn is, the last four chapters make a good yarn - but pretty
horrible. THE BEACH OF FALESA I still think well of, but it
seems it's immoral and there's a to-do, and financially it
may prove a heavy disappointment. The plaintive request sent
to me, to make the young folks married properly before 'that
night,' I refused; you will see what would be left of the
yarn, had I consented. This is a poison bad world for the
romancer, this Anglo-Saxon world; I usually get out of it by
not having any women in it at all; but when I remember I had
the TREASURE OF FRANCHARD refused as unfit for a family
magazine, I feel despair weigh upon my wrists.

As I know you are always interested in novels, I must tell
you that a new one is now entirely planned. It is to be
called SOPHIA SCARLET, and is in two parts. Part I. The
Vanilla Planter. Part II. The Overseers. No chapters, I
think; just two dense blocks of narrative, the first of which
is purely sentimental, but the second has some rows and
quarrels, and winds up with an explosion, if you please! I
am just burning to get at Sophia, but I MUST do this Samoan
journalism - that's a cursed duty. The first part of Sophia,
bar the first twenty or thirty pages, writes itself; the
second is more difficult, involving a good many characters -
about ten, I think - who have to be kept all moving, and give
the effect of a society. I have three women to handle, out
and well-away! but only Sophia is in full tone. Sophia and
two men, Windermere, the Vanilla Planter, who dies at the end
of Part I., and Rainsforth, who only appears in the beginning
of Part II. The fact is, I blush to own it, but Sophia is a
REGULAR NOVEL; heroine and hero, and false accusation, and
love, and marriage, and all the rest of it - all planted in a
big South Sea plantation run by ex-English officers - A LA
Stewart's plantation in Tahiti. There is a strong
undercurrent of labour trade, which gives it a kind of Uncle
Tom flavour, ABSIT OMEN! The first start is hard; it is hard
to avoid a little tedium here, but I think by beginning with
the arrival of the three Miss Scarlets hot from school and
society in England, I may manage to slide in the information.
The problem is exactly a Balzac one, and I wish I had his
fist - for I have already a better method - the kinetic,
whereas he continually allowed himself to be led into the
static. But then he had the fist, and the most I can hope is
to get out of it with a modicum of grace and energy, but for
sure without the strong impression, the full, dark brush.
Three people have had it, the real creator's brush: Scott,
(especially all round the trial, before, during, and after) -
Balzac - and Thackeray in VANITY FAIR. Everybody else either
paints THIN, or has to stop to paint, or paints excitedly, so
that you see the author skipping before his canvas. Here is
a long way from poor Sophia Scarlet!

This day is published


FEB. 1892.

MY DEAR COLVIN, - This has been a busyish month for a sick
man. First, Faauma - the bronze candlestick, whom otherwise
I called my butler - bolted from the bed and bosom of
Lafaele, the Archangel Hercules, prefect of the cattle.
There was the deuce to pay, and Hercules was inconsolable,
and immediately started out after a new wife, and has had one
up on a visit, but says she has 'no conversation'; and I
think he will take back the erring and possibly repentant
candlestick; whom we all devoutly prefer, as she is not only
highly decorative, but good-natured, and if she does little
work makes no rows. I tell this lightly, but it really was a
heavy business; many were accused of complicity, and Rafael
was really very sorry. I had to hold beds of justice -
literally - seated in my bed and surrounded by lying Samoans
seated on the floor; and there were many picturesque and
still inexplicable passages. It is hard to reach the truth
in these islands.

The next incident overlapped with this. S. and Fanny found
three strange horses in the paddock: for long now the boys
have been forbidden to leave their horses here one hour
because our grass is over-grazed. S. came up with the news,
and I saw I must now strike a blow. 'To the pound with the
lot,' said I. He proposed taking the three himself, but I
thought that too dangerous an experiment, said I should go
too, and hurried into my boots so as to show decision taken,
in the necessary interviews. They came of course - the
interviews - and I explained what I was going to do at huge
length, and stuck to my guns. I am glad to say the natives,
with their usual (purely speculative) sense of justice highly
approved the step after reflection. Meanwhile off went S.
and I with the three CORPORA DELICTI; and a good job I went!
Once, when our circus began to kick, we thought all was up;
but we got them down all sound in wind and limb. I judged I
was much fallen off from my Elliott forefathers, who managed
this class of business with neatness and despatch. Half-way
down it came on to rain tropic style, and I came back from my
outing drenched liked a drowned man - I was literally blinded
as I came back among these sheets of water; and the
consequence was I was laid down with diarrhoea and
threatenings of Samoa colic for the inside of another week.

I have a confession to make. When I was sick I tried to get
to work to finish that Samoa thing, wouldn't go; and at last,
in the colic time, I slid off into DAVID BALFOUR, some 50
pages of which are drafted, and like me well. Really I think
it is spirited; and there's a heroine that (up to now) seems
to have attractions: ABSIT OMEN! David, on the whole, seems
excellent. Alan does not come in till the tenth chapter, and
I am only at the eighth, so I don't know if I can find him
again; but David is on his feet, and doing well, and very
much in love, and mixed up with the Lord Advocate and the
(untitled) Lord Lovat, and all manner of great folk. And the
tale interferes with my eating and sleeping. The join is
bad; I have not thought to strain too much for continuity; so
this part be alive, I shall be content. But there's no doubt
David seems to have changed his style, de'il ha'e him! And
much I care, if the tale travel!


Two incidents to-day which I must narrate. After lunch, it
was raining pitilessly; we were sitting in my mother's
bedroom, and I was reading aloud Kinglake's Charge of the
Light Brigade, and we had just been all seized by the horses
aligning with Lord George Paget, when a figure appeared on
the verandah; a little, slim, small figure of a lad, with
blond (I.E. limed) hair, a propitiatory smile, and a nose
that alone of all his features grew pale with anxiety. 'I
come here stop,' was about the outside of his English; and I
began at once to guess that he was a runaway labourer, and
that the bush-knife in his hand was stolen. It proved he had
a mate, who had lacked his courage, and was hidden down the
road; they had both made up their minds to run away, and had
'come here stop.' I could not turn out the poor rogues, one
of whom showed me marks on his back, into the drenching
forest; I could not reason with them, for they had not enough
English, and not one of our boys spoke their tongue; so I
bade them feed and sleep here to-night, and to-morrow I must
do what the Lord shall bid me.

Near dinner time, I was told that a friend of Lafaele's had
found human remains in my bush. After dinner, a figure was
seen skulking across towards the waterfall, which produced
from the verandah a shout, in my most stentorian tones: 'O AI
LE INGOA?' literally 'Who the name?' which serves here for
'What's your business?' as well. It proved to be Lafaele's
friend; I bade a kitchen boy, Lauilo, go with him to see the
spot, for though it had ceased raining, the whole island ran
and dripped. Lauilo was willing enough, but the friend of
the archangel demurred; he had too much business; he had no
time. 'All right,' I said, 'you too much frightened, I go
along,' which of course produced the usual shout of delight
from all those who did not require to go. I got into my
Saranac snow boots. Lauilo got a cutlass; Mary Carter, our
Sydney maid, joined the party for a lark, and off we set. I
tell you our guide kept us moving; for the dusk fell swift.
Our woods have an infamous reputation at the best, and our
errand (to say the least of it) was grisly. At last 'they
found the remains; they were old, which was all I cared to be
sure of; it seemed a strangely small 'pickle-banes' to stand
for a big, flourishing, buck-islander, and their situation in
the darkening and dripping bush was melancholy. All at once,
I found there was a second skull, with a bullet-hole I could
have stuck my two thumbs in - say anybody else's one thumb.
My Samoans said it could not be, there were not enough bones;
I put the two pieces of skull together, and at last convinced
them. Whereupon, in a flash, they found the not unromantic
explanation. This poor brave had succeeded in the height of
a Samoan warriors ambition; he had taken a head, which he was
never destined to show to his applauding camp. Wounded
himself, he had crept here into the bush to die with his
useless trophy by his side. His date would be about fifteen
years ago, in the great battle between Laupepa and Talavou,
which took place on My Land, Sir. To-morrow we shall bury
the bones and fire a salute in honour of unfortunate courage.

Do you think I have an empty life? or that a man jogging to
his club has so much to interest and amuse him? - touch and
try him too, but that goes along with the others: no pain, no
pleasure, is the iron law. So here I stop again, and leave,
as I left yesterday, my political business untouched. And
lo! here comes my pupil, I believe, so I stop in time.


Since I last wrote, fifteen chapters of DAVID BALFOUR have
been drafted, and five TIRES AU CLAIR. I think it pretty
good; there's a blooming maiden that costs anxiety - she is
as virginal as billy; but David seems there and alive, and
the Lord Advocate is good, and so I think is an episodic
appearance of the Master of Lovat. In Chapter XVII. I shall
get David abroad - Alan went already in Chapter XII. The
book should be about the length of KIDNAPPED; this early part
of it, about D.'s evidence in the Appin case, is more of a
story than anything in KIDNAPPED, but there is no doubt there
comes a break in the middle, and the tale is practically in
two divisions. In the first James More and the M'Gregors,
and Catriona, only show; in the second, the Appin case being
disposed of, and James Stewart hung, they rule the roast and
usurp the interest - should there be any left. Why did I
take up DAVID BALFOUR? I don't know. A sudden passion.

Monday, I went down in the rain with a colic to take the
chair at a public meeting; dined with Haggard; sailed off to
my meeting, and fought with wild beasts for three anxious
hours. All was lost that any sensible man cared for, but the
meeting did not break up - thanks a good deal to R. L. S. -
and the man who opposed my election, and with whom I was all
the time wrangling, proposed the vote of thanks to me with a
certain handsomeness; I assure you I had earned it . . .
Haggard and the great Abdul, his high-caste Indian servant,
imported by my wife, were sitting up for me with supper, and
I suppose it was twelve before I got to bed. Tuesday
raining, my mother rode down, and we went to the Consulate to
sign a Factory and Commission. Thence, I to the lawyers, to
the printing office, and to the Mission. It was dinner time
when I returned home.

This morning, our cook-boy having suddenly left - injured
feelings - the archangel was to cook breakfast. I found him
lighting the fire before dawn; his eyes blazed, he had no
word of any language left to use, and I saw in him (to my
wonder) the strongest workings of gratified ambition.
Napoleon was no more pleased to sign his first treaty with
Austria than was Lafaele to cook that breakfast. All
morning, when I had hoped to be at this letter, I slept like
one drugged and you must take this (which is all I can give
you) for what it is worth -



Chapters. - I. A Beggar on Horseback. II. The Highland
Writer. III. I go to Pilrig. IV. Lord Advocate
Prestongrange. V. Butter and Thunder. VI. I make a fault in
honour. VII. The Bravo. VIII. The Heather on Fire. IX. I
begin to be haunted with a red-headed man. X. The Wood by
Silvermills. XI. On the march again with Alan. XII. Gillane
Sands. XIII. The Bass Rock. XIV. Black Andie's Tale of Tod
Lapraik. XV. I go to Inveraray.

That is it, as far as drafted. Chapters IV. V. VII. IX. and
XIV. I am specially pleased with; the last being an
episodical bogie story about the Bass Rock told there by the



MY DEAR S. C., - Take it not amiss if this is a wretched
letter. I am eaten up with business. Every day this week I
have had some business impediment - I am even now waiting a
deputation of chiefs about the road - and my precious morning
was shattered by a polite old scourge of a FAIPULE -
parliament man - come begging. All the time DAVID BALFOUR is
skelping along. I began it the 13th of last month; I have
now 12 chapters, 79 pages ready for press, or within an ace,
and, by the time the month is out, one-half should be
completed, and I'll be back at drafting the second half.
What makes me sick is to think of Scott turning out GUY
MANNERING in three weeks! What a pull of work: heavens, what
thews and sinews! And here am I, my head spinning from
having only re-written seven not very difficult pages - and
not very good when done. Weakling generation. It makes me
sick of myself, to make such a fash and bobbery over a rotten
end of an old nursery yarn, not worth spitting on when done.
Still, there is no doubt I turn out my work more easily than
of yore, and I suppose I should be singly glad of that. And
if I got my book done in six weeks, seeing it will be about
half as long as a Scott, and I have to write everything
twice, it would be about the same rate of industry. It is my
fair intention to be done with it in three months, which
would make me about one-half the man Sir Walter was for
application and driving the dull pen. Of the merit we shall
not talk; but I don't think Davie is WITHOUT merit.


And I have this day triumphantly finished 15 chapters, 100
pages - being exactly one-half (as near as anybody can guess)
of DAVID BALFOUR; the book to be about a fifth as long again
(altogether) as TREASURE ISLAND: could I but do the second
half in another month! But I can't, I fear; I shall have
some belated material arriving by next mail, and must go
again at the History. Is it not characteristic of my broken
tenacity of mind, that I should have left Davie Balfour some
five years in the British Linen Company's Office, and then
follow him at last with such vivacity? But I leave you
again; the last (15th) chapter ought to be re-wrote, or part
of it, and I want the half completed in the month, and the
month is out by midnight; though, to be sure, last month was
February, and I might take grace. These notes are only to
show I hold you in mind, though I know they can have no
interest for man or God or animal.

I should have told you about the Club. We have been asked to
try and start a sort of weekly ball for the half-castes and
natives, ourselves to be the only whites; and we consented,
from a very heavy sense of duty, and with not much hope. Two
nights ago we had twenty people up, received them in the
front verandah, entertained them on cake and lemonade, and I
made a speech - embodying our proposals, or conditions, if
you like - for I suppose thirty minutes. No joke to speak to
such an audience, but it is believed I was thoroughly
intelligible. I took the plan of saying everything at least
twice in a different form of words, so that if the one
escaped my hearers, the other might be seized. One white man
came with his wife, and was kept rigorously on the front
verandah below! You see what a sea of troubles this is like
to prove; but it is the only chance - and when it blows up,
it must blow up! I have no more hope in anything than a dead
frog; I go into everything with a composed despair, and don't
mind - just as I always go to sea with the conviction I am to
be drowned, and like it before all other pleasures. But you
should have seen the return voyage, when nineteen horses had
to be found in the dark, and nineteen bridles, all in a
drench of rain, and the club, just constituted as such,
sailed away in the wet, under a cloudy moon like a bad
shilling, and to descend a road through the forest that was
at that moment the image of a respectable mountain brook. My
wife, who is president WITH POWER TO EXPEL, had to begin her
functions. . . .


Heaven knows what day it is, but I am ashamed, all the more
as your letter from Bournemouth of all places - poor old
Bournemouth! - is to hand, and contains a statement of
pleasure in my letters which I wish I could have rewarded
with a long one. What has gone on? A vast of affairs, of a
mingled, strenuous, inconclusive, desultory character; much
waste of time, much riding to and fro, and little transacted
or at least peracted.

Let me give you a review of the present state of our live
stock. - Six boys in the bush; six souls about the house.
Talolo, the cook, returns again to-day, after an absence
which has cost me about twelve hours of riding, and I suppose
eight hours' solemn sitting in council. 'I am sorry indeed
for the Chief Justice of Samoa,' I said; 'it is more than I
am fit for to be Chief Justice of Vailima.' - Lauilo is
steward. Both these are excellent servants; we gave a
luncheon party when we buried the Samoan bones, and I assure
you all was in good style, yet we never interfered. The food
was good, the wine and dishes went round as by mechanism. -
Steward's assistant and washman Arrick, a New Hebridee black
boy, hired from the German firm; not so ugly as most, but not
pretty neither; not so dull as his sort are, but not quite a
Crichton. When he came first, he ate so much of our good
food that he got a prominent belly. Kitchen assistant, Tomas
(Thomas in English), a Fiji man, very tall and handsome,
moving like a marionette with sudden bounds, and rolling his
eyes with sudden effort. - Washerwoman and precentor, Helen,
Tomas's wife. This is our weak point; we are ashamed of
Helen; the cook-house blushes for her; they murmur there at
her presence. She seems all right; she is not a bad-looking,
strapping wench, seems chaste, is industrious, has an
excellent taste in hymns - you should have heard her read one
aloud the other day, she marked the rhythm with so much
gloating, dissenter sentiment. What is wrong, then? says
you. Low in your ear - and don't let the papers get hold of
it - she is of no family. None, they say; literally a common
woman. Of course, we have out-islanders, who MAY be
villeins; but we give them the benefit of the doubt, which is
impossible with Helen of Vailima; our blot, our pitted speck.
The pitted speck I have said is our precentor. It is always
a woman who starts Samoan song; the men who sing second do
not enter for a bar or two. Poor, dear Faauma, the unchaste,
the extruded Eve of our Paradise, knew only two hymns; but
Helen seems to know the whole repertory, and the morning
prayers go far more lively in consequence. - Lafaele, provost
of the cattle. The cattle are Jack, my horse, quite
converted, my wife rides him now, and he is as steady as a
doctor's cob; Tifaga Jack, a circus horse, my mother's
piebald, bought from a passing circus; Belle's mare, now in
childbed or next door, confound the slut! Musu - amusingly
translated the other day 'don't want to,' literally cross,
but always in the sense of stubbornness and resistance - my
wife's little dark-brown mare, with a white star on her
forehead, whom I have been riding of late to steady her - she
has no vices, but is unused, skittish and uneasy, and wants a
lot of attention and humouring; lastly (of saddle horses)
Luna - not the Latin MOON, the Hawaiian OVERSEER, but it's
pronounced the same - a pretty little mare too, but scarce at
all broken, a bad bucker, and has to be ridden with a stock-
whip and be brought back with her rump criss-crossed like a
clan tartan; the two cart horses, now only used with pack-
saddles; two cows, one in the straw (I trust) to-morrow, a
third cow, the Jersey - whose milk and temper are alike
subjects of admiration - she gives good exercise to the
farming saunterer, and refreshes him on his return with
cream; two calves, a bull, and a cow; God knows how many
ducks and chickens, and for a wager not even God knows how
many cats; twelve horses, seven horses, five kine: is not
this Babylon the Great which I have builded? Call it

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
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

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. But there - it's done somehow, and time presses
hard on my heels. The book, with my best expedition, may

Book of the day: