Part 4 out of 5
dignified for him to steal a pig.
(The Amanuensis went to the TALOLO, as it is called, and saw
something so very pleasing she begs to interrupt the letter
to tell it. The different villagers came in in bands - led
by the maid of the village, followed by the young warriors.
It was a very fine sight, for some three thousand people are
said to have assembled. The men wore nothing but magnificent
head-dresses and a bunch of leaves, and were oiled and
glistening in the sunlight. One band had no maid but was led
by a tiny child of about five - a serious little creature
clad in a ribbon of grass and a fine head-dress, who skipped
with elaborate leaps in front of the warriors, like a little
kid leading a band of lions. A.M.)
The A.M. being done, I go on again. All this made it very
possible that even if none of our boys had stolen the pig,
some of them might know the thief. Besides, the theft, as it
was a theft of meat prepared for a guest, had something of
the nature of an insult, and 'my face,' in native phrase,
'was ashamed.' Accordingly, we determined to hold a bed of
justice. It was done last night after dinner. I sat at the
head of the table, Graham on my right hand, Henry Simele at
my left, Lloyd behind him. The house company sat on the
floor around the walls - twelve all told. I am described as
looking as like Braxfield as I could manage with my
appearance; Graham, who is of a severe countenance, looked
like Rhadamanthus; Lloyd was hideous to the view; and Simele
had all the fine solemnity of a Samoan chief. The
proceedings opened by my delivering a Samoan prayer, which
may be translated thus - 'Our God, look down upon us and
shine into our hearts. Help us to be far from falsehood so
that each one of us may stand before Thy Face in his
integrity.' - Then, beginning with Simele, every one came up
to the table, laid his hand on the Bible, and repeated clause
by clause after me the following oath - I fear it may sound
even comic in English, but it is a very pretty piece of
Samoan, and struck direct at the most lively superstitions of
the race. 'This is the Holy Bible here that I am touching.
Behold me, O God! If I know who it was that took away the
pig, or the place to which it was taken, or have heard
anything relating to it, and shall not declare the same - be
made an end of by God this life of mine!' They all took it
with so much seriousness and firmness that (as Graham said)
if they were not innocent they would make invaluable
witnesses. I was so far impressed by their bearing that I
went no further, and the funny and yet strangely solemn scene
came to an end.
SUNDAY, NO. 6th.
Here is a long story to go back upon, and I wonder if I have
either time or patience for the task?
Wednesday I had a great idea of match-making, and proposed to
Henry that Faale would make a good wife for him. I wish I
had put this down when it was fresher in my mind, it was so
interesting an interview. My gentleman would not tell if I
were on or not. 'I do not know yet; I will tell you next
week. May I tell the sister of my father? No, better not,
tell her when it is done.' - 'But will not your family be
angry if you marry without asking them?' - 'My village? What
does my village want? Mats!' I said I thought the girl
would grow up to have a great deal of sense, and my gentleman
flew out upon me; she had sense now, he said.
Thursday, we were startled by the note of guns, and presently
after heard it was an English war ship. Graham and I set off
at once, and as soon as we met any townsfolk they began
crying to me that I was to be arrested. It was the VOSSISCHE
ZEITUNG article which had been quoted in a paper. Went on
board and saw Captain Bourke; he did not even know - not even
guess - why he was here; having been sent off by cablegram
from Auckland. It is hoped the same ship that takes this off
Europewards may bring his orders and our news. But which is
it to be? Heads or tails? If it is to be German, I hope
they will deport me; I should prefer it so; I do not think
that I could bear a German officialdom, and should probably
have to leave SPONTE MEA, which is only less picturesque and
Mail day. All well, not yet put in prison, whatever may be
in store for me. No time even to sign this lame letter.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - Another grimy little odd and end of paper,
for which you shall be this month repaid in kind, and serve
you jolly well right. . . The new house is roofed; it will
be a braw house, and what is better, I have my yearly bill
in, and I find I can pay for it. For all which mercies, etc.
I must have made close on 4,000 pounds this year all told;
but, what is not so pleasant, I seem to have come near to
spending them. I have been in great alarm, with this new
house on the cards, all summer, and came very near to taking
in sail, but I live here so entirely on credit, that I
determined to hang on.
I was saying yesterday that my life was strange and did not
think how well I spoke. Yesterday evening I was briefed to
defend a political prisoner before the Deputy Commissioner.
What do you think of that for a vicissitude?
Now for a confession. When I heard you and Cassells had
decided to print THE BOTTLE IMP along with FALESA, I was too
much disappointed to answer. THE BOTTLE IMP was the PIECE DE
RESISTANCE for my volume, ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS.
However, that volume might have never got done; and I send
you two others in case they should be in time.
First have the BEACH OF FALESA.
Then a fresh false title: ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS; and
THE BOTTLE IMP: a cue from an old melodrama.
THE ISLE OF VOICES.
THE WAIF WOMAN; a cue from a SAGA.
Of course these two others are not up to the mark of THE
BOTTLE IMP; but they each have a certain merit, and they fit
in style. By saying 'a cue from an old melodrama' after the
B. I., you can get rid of my note. If this is in time, it
will be splendid, and will make quite a volume.
Should you and Cassells prefer, you can call the whole volume
I. N. E. - though the BEACH OF FALESA is the child of a quite
different inspiration. They all have a queer realism, even
the most extravagant, even the ISLE OF VOICES; the manners
Should they come too late, have them type-written, and return
to me here the type-written copies.
SUNDAY, DEC. 4TH.
3rd start, - But now more humbly and with the aid of an
Amanuensis. First one word about page 2. My wife protests
against the Waif-woman and I am instructed to report the same
to you. . . .
A horrid alarm rises that our October mail was burned
crossing the Plains. If so, you lost a beautiful long letter
- I am sure it was beautiful though I remember nothing about
it - and I must say I think it serves you properly well.
That I should continue writing to you at such length is
simply a vicious habit for which I blush. At the same time,
please communicate at once with Charles Baxter whether you
have or have not received a letter posted here Oct 12th, as
he is going to cable me the fate of my mail.
Now to conclude my news. The German Firm have taken my book
like angels, and the result is that Lloyd and I were down
there at dinner on Saturday, where we partook of fifteen
several dishes and eight distinct forms of intoxicating
drink. To the credit of Germany, I must say there was not a
shadow of a headache the next morning. I seem to have done
as well as my neighbours, for I hear one of the clerks
expressed the next morning a gratified surprise that Mr.
Stevenson stood his drink so well. It is a strange thing
that any race can still find joy in such athletic exercises.
I may remark in passing that the mail is due and you have had
far more than you deserve.
R. L. S.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - You are properly paid at last, and it is
like you will have but a shadow of a letter. I have been
pretty thoroughly out of kilter; first a fever that would
neither come on nor go off, then acute dyspepsia, in the
weakening grasp of which I get wandering between the waking
state and one of nightmare. Why the devil does no one send
me ATALANTA? And why are there no proofs of D. Balfour?
Sure I should have had the whole, at least the half, of them
by now; and it would be all for the advantage of the
Atalantans. I have written to Cassell & Co. (matter of
FALESA) 'you will please arrange with him' (meaning you).
'What he may decide I shall abide.' So consider your hand
free, and act for me without fear or favour. I am greatly
pleased with the illustrations. It is very strange to a
South-Seayer to see Hawaiian women dressed like Samoans, but
I guess that's all one to you in Middlesex. It's about the
same as if London city men were shown going to the Stock
Exchange as PIFFERARI; but no matter, none will sleep worse
for it. I have accepted Cassell's proposal as an amendment
to one of mine; that D. B. is to be brought out first under
the title CATRIONA without pictures; and, when the hour
strikes, KIDNAPPED and CATRIONA are to form vols. I. and II.
of the heavily illustrated 'Adventures of David Balfour' at
7s. 6d. each, sold separately.
-'s letter was vastly sly and dry and shy. I am not afraid
now. Two attempts have been made, both have failed, and I
imagine these failures strengthen me. Above all this is true
of the last, where my weak point was attempted. On every
other, I am strong. Only force can dislodge me, for public
opinion is wholly on my side. All races and degrees are
united in heartfelt opposition to the Men of Mulinuu. The
news of the fighting was of no concern to mortal man; it was
made much of because men love talk of battles, and because
the Government pray God daily for some scandal not their own;
but it was only a brisk episode in a clan fight which has
grown apparently endemic in the west of Tutuila. At the best
it was a twopenny affair, and never occupied my mind five
I am so weary of reports that are without foundation and
threats that go without fulfilment, and so much occupied
besides by the raging troubles of my own wame, that I have
been very slack on politics, as I have been in literature.
With incredible labour, I have rewritten the First Chapter of
the Justice Clerk; it took me about ten days, and requires
another athletic dressing after all. And that is my story
for the month. The rest is grunting and grutching.
Consideranda for THE BEACH:-
I. Whether to add one or both the tales I sent you?
II. Whether to call the whole volume 'Island Nights
III Whether, having waited so long, it would not be better to
give me another mail, in case I could add another member to
the volume and a little better justify the name?
If I possibly can draw up another story, I will. What
annoyed me about the use of THE BOTTLE IMP was that I had
always meant it for the centre-piece of a volume of MARCHEN
which I was slowly to elaborate. You always had an idea that
I depreciated the B. I; I can't think wherefore; I always
particularly liked it - one of my best works, and ill to
equal; and that was why I loved to keep it in portfolio till
I had time to grow up to some other fruit of the same VENUE.
However, that is disposed of now, and we must just do the
best we can.
I am not aware that there is anything to add; the weather is
hellish, waterspouts, mists, chills, the foul fiend's own
weather, following on a week of expurgated heaven; so it goes
at this bewildering season. I write in the upper floor of my
new house, of which I will send you some day a plan to
measure. 'Tis an elegant structure, surely, and the proid of
me oi. Was asked to pay for it just now, and genteelly
refused, and then agreed, in view of general good-will, to
pay a half of what is still due.
24TH JANUARY 1893.
This ought to have gone last mail and was forgotten. My best
excuse is that I was engaged in starting an influenza, to
which class of exploit our household has been since then
entirely dedicated. We had eight cases, one of them very
bad, and one - mine - complicated with my old friend Bluidy
Jack. Luckily neither Fanny, Lloyd or Belle took the
confounded thing, and they were able to run the household and
nurse the sick to admiration.
Some of our boys behaved like real trumps. Perhaps the
prettiest performance was that of our excellent Henry Simele,
or, as we sometimes call him, Davy Balfour. Henry, I maun
premeese, is a chief; the humblest Samoan recoils from
emptying slops as you would from cheating at cards; now the
last nights of our bad time when we had seven down together,
it was enough to have made anybody laugh or cry to see Henry
going the rounds with a slop-bucket and going inside the
mosquito net of each of the sick, Protestant and Catholic
alike, to pray with them.
I must tell you that in my sickness I had a huge alleviation
and began a new story. This I am writing by dictation, and
really think it is an art I can manage to acquire. The
relief is beyond description; it is just like a school-treat
to me and the amanuensis bears up extraordinar'. The story
is to be called ST. IVES; I give you your choice whether or
not it should bear the subtitle, 'Experiences of a French
prisoner in England.' We were just getting on splendidly
with it, when this cursed mail arrived and requires to be
attended to. It looks to me very like as if St. Ives would
be ready before any of the others, but you know me and how
impossible it is I should predict. The Amanuensis has her
head quite turned and believes herself to be the author of
this novel (and IS to some extent) - and as the creature (!)
has not been wholly useless in the matter (I told you so!
A.M.) I propose to foster her vanity by a little
commemoration gift! The name of the hero is Anne de St. Yves
- he Englishes his name to St. Ives during his escape. It is
my idea to get a ring made which shall either represent ANNE
or A. S. Y. A., of course, would be Amethyst and S. Sapphire,
which is my favourite stone anyway and was my father's before
me. But what would the ex-Slade professor do about the
letter Y? Or suppose he took the other version, how would he
meet the case, the two N.'s? These things are beyond my
knowledge, which it would perhaps be more descriptive to call
ignorance. But I place the matter in the meanwhile under
your consideration and beg to hear your views. I shall tell
you on some other occasion and when the A.M. is out of
hearing how VERY much I propose to invest in this
testimonial; but I may as well inform you at once that I
intend it to be cheap, sir, damned cheap! My idea of running
amanuenses is by praise, not pudding, flattery and not coins!
I shall send you when the time is ripe a ring to measure by.
To resume our sad tale. After the other seven were almost
wholly recovered Henry lay down to influenza on his own
account. He is but just better and it looks as though Fanny
were about to bring up the rear. As for me, I am all right,
though I WAS reduced to dictating ANNE in the deaf and dumb
alphabet, which I think you will admit is a COMBLE.
Politics leave me extraordinary cold. It seems that so much
of my purpose has come off, and Cedarcrantz and Pilsach are
sacked. The rest of it has all gone to water. The triple-
headed ass at home, in his plenitude of ignorance, prefers to
collect the taxes and scatter the Mataafas by force or the
threat of force. It may succeed, and I suppose it will. It
is none the less for that expensive, harsh, unpopular and
unsettling. I am young enough to have been annoyed, and
altogether eject and renegate the whole idea of political
affairs. Success in that field appears to be the
organisation of failure enlivened with defamation of
character; and, much as I love pickles and hot water (in your
true phrase) I shall take my pickles in future from Crosse
and Blackwell and my hot water with a dose of good Glenlivat.
Do not bother at all about the wall-papers. We have had the
whole of our new house varnished, and it looks beautiful. I
wish you could see the hall; poor room, it had to begin life
as an infirmary during our recent visitation; but it is
really a handsome comely place, and when we get the
furniture, and the pictures, and what is so very much more
decorative, the picture frames, will look sublime.
I have written to Charles asking for Rowlandson's Syntax and
Dance of Death out of our house, and begging for anything
about fashions and manners (fashions particularly) for 1814.
Can you help? Both the Justice Clerk and St. Ives fall in
that fated year. Indeed I got into St. Ives while going over
the Annual Register for the other. There is a kind of fancy
list of Chaps. of St. Ives. (It begins in Edinburgh Castle.)
I. Story of a lion rampant (that was a toy he had made, and
given to a girl visitor). II. Story of a pair of scissors.
III. St. Ives receives a bundle of money. IV. St. Ives is
shown a house. V. The Escape. VI. The Cottage (Swanston
College). VII. The Hen-house. VIII. Three is company and
four none. IX. The Drovers. X. The Great North Road. XI.
Burchell Fenn. XII. The covered cart. XIII. The doctor.
XIV. The Luddites. V. Set a thief to catch a thief. XXVI.
M. le Comte de Keroualle (his uncle, the rich EMIGRE, whom he
finds murdered). XVII. The cousins. XVIII. Mr. Sergeant
Garrow. XIX. A meeting at the Ship, Dover. XX. Diane. XXI.
The Duke's Prejudices. XXII. The False Messenger. XXIII.
The gardener's ladder. XXIV. The officers. XXV. Trouble
with the Duke. XXVI. Fouquet again. XXVII. The Aeronaut.
XXVIII. The True-Blooded Yankee. XXIX. In France. I don't
know where to stop. Apropos, I want a book about Paris, and
the FIRST RETURN of the EMIGRES and all up to the CENT JOURS:
d'ye ken anything in my way? I want in particular to know
about them and the Napoleonic functionaries and officers, and
to get the colour and some vital details of the business of
exchange of departments from one side to the other. Ten
chapters are drafted, and VIII. re-copied by me, but will
want another dressing for luck. It is merely a story of
adventure, rambling along; but that is perhaps the guard that
'sets my genius best,' as Alan might have said. I wish I
could feel as easy about the other! But there, all novels
are a heavy burthen while they are doing, and a sensible
disappointment when they are done.
For God's sake, let me have a copy of the new German Samoa
White book. R. L. S.
AT SEA, S.S. & MARIPOSA,
FEB. 19th, '93.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - You will see from this heading that I am
not dead yet nor likely to be. I was pretty considerably out
of sorts, and that is indeed one reason why Fanny, Belle, and
I have started out for a month's lark. To be quite exact, I
think it will be about five weeks before we get home. We
shall stay between two and three in Sydney. Already, though
we only sailed yesterday, I am feeling as fit as a fiddle.
Fanny ate a whole fowl for breakfast, to say nothing of a
tower of hot cakes. Belle and I floored another hen betwixt
the pair of us, and I shall be no sooner done with the
present amanuensing racket than I shall put myself outside a
pint of Guinness. If you think this looks like dying of
consumption in Apia I can only say I differ from you. In the
matter of David, I have never yet received my proofs at all,
but shall certainly wait for your suggestions. Certainly,
Chaps. 17 to 20 are the hitch, and I confess I hurried over
them with both wings spread. This is doubtless what you
complain of. Indeed, I placed my single reliance on Miss
Grant. If she couldn't ferry me over, I felt I had to stay
About ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS all you say is highly
satisfactory. Go in and win.
The extracts from the TIMES I really cannot trust myself to
comment upon. They were infernally satisfactory; so, and
perhaps still more so, was a letter I had at the same time
from Lord Pembroke. If I have time as I go through Auckland,
I am going to see Sir George Grey.
Now I really think that's all the business. I have been
rather sick and have had two small hemorrhages, but the
second I believe to have been accidental. No good denying
that this annoys, because it do. However, you must expect
influenza to leave some harm, and my spirits, appetite, peace
on earth and goodwill to men are all on a rising market.
During the last week the amanuensis was otherwise engaged,
whereupon I took up, pitched into, and about one half
demolished another tale, once intended to be called THE PEARL
FISHER, but now razeed and called THE SCHOONER FARRALONE. We
had a capital start, the steamer coming in at sunrise, and
just giving us time to get our letters ere she sailed again.
The manager of the German firm (O strange, changed days!)
danced attendance upon us all morning; his boat conveyed us
to and from the steamer.
All continues well. Amanuensis bowled over for a day, but
afoot again and jolly; Fanny enormously bettered by the
voyage; I have been as jolly as a sand-boy as usual at sea.
The Amanuensis sits opposite to me writing to her offspring.
Fanny is on deck. I have just supplied her with the Canadian
Pacific Agent, and so left her in good hands. You should
hear me at table with the Ulster purser and a little punning
microscopist called Davis. Belle does some kind of abstruse
Boswellising; after the first meal, having gauged the kind of
jests that would pay here, I observed, 'Boswell is Barred
during this cruise.'
We approach Auckland and I must close my mail. All goes well
with the trio. Both the ladies are hanging round a beau -
the same - that I unearthed for them: I am general provider,
and especially great in the beaux business. I corrected some
proofs for Fanny yesterday afternoon, fell asleep over them
in the saloon - and the whole ship seems to have been down
beholding me. After I woke up, had a hot bath, a whiskey
punch and a cigarette, and went to bed, and to sleep too, at
8.30; a recrudescence of Vailima hours. Awoke to-day, and
had to go to the saloon clock for the hour - no sign of dawn
- all heaven grey rainy fog. Have just had breakfast,
written up one letter, register and close this.
Bad pen, bad ink,
bad light, bad
S. S. MARIPOSA, AT SEA.
APIA DUE BY DAYBREAK TO-MORROW 9 P.M.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - Have had an amusing but tragic holiday,
from which we return in disarray. Fanny quite sick, but I
think slowly and steadily mending; Belle in a terrific state
of dentistry troubles which now seem calmed; and myself with
a succession of gentle colds out of which I at last succeeded
in cooking up a fine pleurisy. By stopping and stewing in a
perfectly airless state-room I seem to have got rid of the
pleurisy. Poor Fanny had very little fun of her visit,
having been most of the time on a diet of maltine and slops -
and this while the rest of us were rioting on oysters and
mushrooms. Belle's only devil in the hedge was the dentist.
As for me, I was entertained at the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church, likewise at a sort of artistic club;
made speeches at both, and may therefore be said to have
been, like Saint Paul, all things to all men. I have an
account of the latter racket which I meant to have enclosed
in this. . . . Had some splendid photos taken, likewise a
medallion by a French sculptor; met Graham, who returned with
us as far as Auckland. Have seen a good deal too of Sir
George Grey; what a wonderful old historic figure to be
walking on your arm and recalling ancient events and
instances! It makes a man small, and yet the extent to which
he approved what I had done - or rather have tried to do -
encouraged me. Sir George is an expert at least, he knows
these races: he is not a small employe with an ink-pot and a
Take it for all in all, it was huge fun: even Fanny had some
lively sport at the beginning; Belle and I all through. We
got Fanny a dress on the sly, gaudy black velvet and Duchesse
lace. And alas! she was only able to wear it once. But
we'll hope to see more of it at Samoa; it really is lovely.
Both dames are royally outfitted in silk stockings, etc. We
return, as from a raid, with our spoils and our wounded. I
am now very dandy: I announced two years ago that I should
change. Slovenly youth, all right - not slovenly age. So
really now I am pretty spruce; always a white shirt, white
necktie, fresh shave, silk, socks, O a great sight! - No more
R. L. S.
1. SLIP 3. Davie would be ATTRACTED into a similar dialect,
as he is later - e.g., with Doig, chapter XIX. This is truly
4, TO LIGHTLY; correct; 'to lightly' is a good regular Scots
15. See Allan Ramsay's works.
15, 16. Ay, and that is one of the pigments with which I am
trying to draw the character of Prestongrange. 'Tis a most
curious thing to render that kind, insignificant mask. To
make anything precise is to risk my effect. And till the day
he died, DAVIE was never sure of what P. was after. Not only
so; very often P. didn't know himself. There was an element
of mere liking for Davie; there was an element of being
determined, in case of accidents, to keep well with him. He
hoped his Barbara would bring him to her feet, besides, and
make him manageable. That was why he sent him to Hope Park
with them. But Davie cannot KNOW; I give you the inside of
Davie, and my method condemns me to give only the outside
both of Prestongrange and his policy.
- I'll give my mind to the technicalities. Yet to me they
seem a part of the story, which is historical, after all.
- I think they wanted Alan to escape. But when or where to
say so? I will try.
- 20, DEAN. I'll try and make that plainer.
CHAP. XIII., I fear it has to go without blows. If I could
get the pair - No, can't be.
- XIV. All right, will abridge.
- XV. I'd have to put a note to every word; and he who can't
read Scots can NEVER enjoy Tod Lapraik.
- XVII. Quite right. I CAN make this plainer, and will.
- XVIII. I know, but I have to hurry here; this is the
broken back of my story; some business briefly transacted, I
am leaping for Barbara's apron-strings.
SLIP 57. Quite right again; I shall make it plain.
CHAP. XX. I shall make all these points clear. About Lady
Prestongrange (not LADY Grant, only MISS Grant, my dear,
though LADY Prestongrange, quoth the dominie) I am taken with
your idea of her death, and have a good mind to substitute a
SLIP 78. I don't see how to lessen this effect. There is
really not much said of it; and I know Catriona did it. But
- 89. I know. This is an old puzzle of mine. You see C.'s
dialect is not wholly a bed of roses. If only I knew the
Gaelic. Well, I'll try for another expression.
THE END. I shall try to work it over. James was at Dunkirk
ordering post-horses for his own retreat. Catriona did have
her suspicions aroused by the letter, and, careless
gentleman, I told you so - or she did at least. - Yes, the
blood money, I am bothered about the portmanteau; it is the
presence of Catriona that bothers me; the rape of the
pockmantie is historic. . . .
To me, I own, it seems in the proof a very pretty piece of
workmanship. David himself I refuse to discuss; he IS. The
Lord Advocate I think a strong sketch of a very difficult
character, James More, sufficient; and the two girls very
pleasing creatures. But O dear me, I came near losing my
heart to Barbara! I am not quite so constant as David, and
even he - well, he didn't know it, anyway! TOD LAPRAIK is a
piece of living Scots: if I had never writ anything but that
and THRAWN JANET, still I'd have been a writer. The defects
of D.B. are inherent, I fear. But on the whole, I am far
indeed from being displeased with the tailie. They want more
Alan? Well, they can't get it.
I found my fame much grown on this return to civilisation.
DIGITO MONSTRARI is a new experience; people all looked at me
in the streets in Sydney; and it was very queer. Here, of
course, I am only the white chief in the Great House to the
natives; and to the whites, either an ally or a foe. It is a
much healthier state of matters. If I lived in an atmosphere
of adulation, I should end by kicking against the pricks. O
my beautiful forest, O my beautiful shining, windy house,
what a joy it was to behold them again! No chance to take
myself too seriously here.
The difficulty of the end is the mass of matter to be
attended to, and the small time left to transact it in. I
mean from Alan's danger of arrest. But I have just seen my
way out, I do believe.
I have now got as far as slip 28, and finished the chapter of
the law technicalities. Well, these seemed to me always of
the essence of the story, which is the story of a CAUSE
CELEBRE; moreover, they are the justification of my
inventions; if these men went so far (granting Davie sprung
on them) would they not have gone so much further? But of
course I knew they were a difficulty; determined to carry
them through in a conversation; approached this (it seems)
with cowardly anxiety; and filled it with gabble, sir,
gabble. I have left all my facts, but have removed 42 lines.
I should not wonder but what I'll end by re-writing it. It
is not the technicalities that shocked you, it was my bad
art. It is very strange that X. should be so good a chapter
and IX. and XI. so uncompromisingly bad. It looks as if XI.
also would have to be re-formed. If X. had not cheered me
up, I should be in doleful dumps, but X. is alive anyway, and
life is all in all.
THURSDAY, APRIL 5TH.
Well, there's no disguise possible; Fanny is not well, and we
are miserably anxious. . . .
I am thankful to say the new medicine relieved her at once.
A crape has been removed from the day for all of us. To make
things better, the morning is ah! such a morning as you have
never seen; heaven upon earth for sweetness, freshness, depth
upon depth of unimaginable colour, and a huge silence broken
at this moment only by the far-away murmur of the Pacific and
the rich piping of a single bird. You can't conceive what a
relief this is; it seems a new world. She has such
extraordinary recuperative power that I do hope for the best.
I am as tired as man can be. This is a great trial to a
family, and I thank God it seems as if ours was going to bear
it well. And O! if it only lets up, it will be but a
pleasant memory. We are all seedy, bar Lloyd: Fanny, as per
above; self nearly extinct; Belle, utterly overworked and bad
toothache; Cook, down with a bad foot; Butler, prostrate with
a bad leg. Eh, what a faim'ly!
Grey heaven, raining torrents of rain; occasional thunder and
lightning. Everything to dispirit; but my invalids are
really on the mend. The rain roars like the sea; in the
sound of it there is a strange and ominous suggestion of an
approaching tramp; something nameless and measureless seems
to draw near, and strikes me cold, and yet is welcome. I lie
quiet in bed to-day, and think of the universe with a good
deal of equanimity. I have, at this moment, but the one
objection to it; the FRACAS with which it proceeds. I do not
love noise; I am like my grandfather in that; and so many
years in these still islands has ingrained the sentiment
perhaps. Here are no trains, only men pacing barefoot. No
carts or carriages; at worst the rattle of a horse's shoes
among the rocks. Beautiful silence; and so soon as this
robustious rain takes off, I am to drink of it again by
Several pages of this letter destroyed as beneath scorn; the
wailings of a crushed worm; matter in which neither you nor I
can take stock. Fanny is distinctly better, I believe all
right now; I too am mending, though I have suffered from
crushed wormery, which is not good for the body, and
damnation to the soul. I feel to-night a baseless anxiety to
write a lovely poem A PROPOS DES BOTTES DE MA GRANDMERE. I
see I am idiotic. I'll try the poem.
The poem did not get beyond plovers and lovers. I am still,
however, harassed by the unauthentic Muse; if I cared to
encourage her - but I have not the time, and anyway we are at
the vernal equinox. It is funny enough, but my pottering
verses are usually made (like the God-gifted organ voice's)
at the autumnal; and this seems to hold at the Antipodes.
There is here some odd secret of Nature. I cannot speak of
politics; we wait and wonder. It seems (this is partly a
guess) Ide won't take the C. J. ship, unless the islands are
disarmed; and that England hesitates and holds off. By my
own idea, strongly corroborated by Sir George, I am writing
no more letters. But I have put as many irons in against
this folly of the disarming as I could manage. It did not
reach my ears till nearly too late. What a risk to take!
What an expense to incur! And for how poor a gain! Apart
from the treachery of it. My dear fellow, politics is a vile
and a bungling business. I used to think meanly of the
plumber; but how he shines beside the politician!
A general, steady advance; Fanny really quite chipper and
jolly - self on the rapid mend, and with my eye on FORESTS
that are to fall - and my finger on the axe, which wants
Still all for the best; but I am having a heart-breaking time
over DAVID. I have nearly all corrected. But have to
consider THE HEATHER ON FIRE, THE WOOD BY SILVERMILLS, and
the last chapter. They all seem to me off colour; and I am
not fit to better them yet. No proof has been sent of the
title, contents, or dedication.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - To-day early I sent down to Maben
(Secretary of State) an offer to bring up people from Malie,
keep them in my house, and bring them down day by day for so
long as the negotiation should last. I have a favourable
answer so far. This I would not have tried, had not old Sir
George Grey put me on my mettle; 'Never despair,' was his
word; and 'I am one of the few people who have lived long
enough to see how true that is.' Well, thereupon I plunged
in; and the thing may do me great harm, but yet I do not
think so - for I think jealousy will prevent the trial being
made. And at any rate it is another chance for this
distracted archipelago of children, sat upon by a clique of
fools. If, by the gift of God, I can do - I am allowed to
try to do - and succeed: but no, the prospect is too bright
to be entertained.
To-day we had a ride down to Tanugamanono, and then by the
new wood paths. One led us to a beautiful clearing, with
four native houses; taro, yams, and the like, excellently
planted, and old Folau - 'the Samoan Jew' - sitting and
whistling there in his new-found and well-deserved well-
being. It was a good sight to see a Samoan thus before the
world. Further up, on our way home, we saw the world clear,
and the wide die of the shadow lying broad; we came but a
little further, and found in the borders of the bush a
Banyan. It must have been 150 feet in height; the trunk, and
its acolytes, occupied a great space; above that, in the
peaks of the branches, quite a forest of ferns and orchids
were set; and over all again the huge spread of the boughs
rose against the bright west, and sent their shadow miles to
the eastward. I have not often seen anything more satisfying
than this vast vegetable.
A heavenly day again! the world all dead silence, save when,
from far down below us in the woods, comes up the crepitation
of the little wooden drum that beats to church. Scarce a
leaf stirs; only now and again a great, cool gush of air that
makes my papers fly, and is gone. - The King of Samoa has
refused my intercession between him and Mataafa; and I do not
deny this is a good riddance to me of a difficult business,
in which I might very well have failed. What else is to be
done for these silly folks?
And this is where I had got to, before the mail arrives with,
I must say, a real gentlemanly letter from yourself. Sir,
that is the sort of letter I want! Now, I'll make my little
proposal. I will accept CHILD'S PLAY and PAN'S PIPES. Then I
want PASTORAL, THE MANSE, THE ISLET, leaving out if you like
all the prefacial matter and beginning at I. Then the
portrait of Robert Hunter, beginning 'Whether he was
originally big or little,' and ending 'fearless and gentle.'
So much for MEM. AND PORTRAITS. BEGGARS, sections I. and
II., RANDOM MEMORIES II., and LANTERN BEARERS; I'm agreeable.
These are my selections. I don't know about PULVIS ET UMBRA
either, but must leave that to you. But just what you
About DAVIE I elaborately wrote last time, but still DAVIE is
not done; I am grinding singly at THE EBB TIDE, as we now
call the FARALLONE; the most of it will go this mail. About
the following, let there be no mistake: I will not write the
abstract of KIDNAPPED; write it who will, I will not.
Boccaccio must have been a clever fellow to write both
argument and story; I am not, ET JE ME RECUSE.
We call it THE EBB TIDE: A TRIO AND QUARTETTE; but that
secondary name you may strike out if it seems dull to you.
The book, however, falls in two halves, when the fourth
character appears. I am on p. 82 if you want to know, and
expect to finish on I suppose 110 or so; but it goes slowly,
as you may judge from the fact that this three weeks past, I
have only struggled from p. 58 to p. 82: twenty-four pages,
ET ENCORE sure to be rewritten, in twenty-one days. This is
no prize-taker; not much Waverley Novels about this!
I believe it will be ten chapters of THE EBB TIDE that go to
you; the whole thing should be completed in I fancy twelve;
and the end will follow punctually next mail. It is my great
wish that this might get into THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS for
Gordon Browne to illustrate. For whom, in case he should get
the job, I give you a few notes. A purao is a tree giving
something like a fig with flowers. He will find some
photographs of an old marine curiosity shop in my collection,
which may help him. Attwater's settlement is to be entirely
overshadowed everywhere by tall palms; see photographs of
Fakarava: the verandahs of the house are 12 ft. wide. Don't
let him forget the Figure Head, for which I have a great use
in the last chapter. It stands just clear of the palms on
the crest of the beach at the head of the pier; the flag-
staff not far off; the pier he will understand is perhaps
three feet above high water, not more at any price. The
sailors of the FARALLONE are to be dressed like white sailors
of course. For other things, I remit this excellent artist
to my photographs.
I can't think what to say about the tale, but it seems to me
to go off with a considerable bang; in fact, to be an
extraordinary work: but whether popular! Attwater is a no
end of a courageous attempt, I think you will admit; how far
successful is another affair. If my island ain't a thing of
beauty, I'll be damned. Please observe Wiseman and Wishart;
for incidental grimness, they strike me as in it. Also,
kindly observe the Captain and ADAR; I think that knocks
spots. In short, as you see, I'm a trifle vainglorious. But
O, it has been such a grind! The devil himself would allow a
man to brag a little after such a crucifixion! And indeed
I'm only bragging for a change before I return to the darned
thing lying waiting for me on p. 88, where I last broke down.
I break down at every paragraph, I may observe; and lie here
and sweat, till I can get one sentence wrung out after
another. Strange doom; after having worked so easily for so
long! Did ever anybody see such a story of four characters?
It may interest you to know that I am entirely TAPU, and live
apart in my chambers like a caged beast. Lloyd has a bad
cold, and Graham and Belle are getting it. Accordingly, I
dwell here without the light of any human countenance or
voice, and strap away at THE EBB TIDE until (as now) I can no
more. Fanny can still come, but is gone to glory now, or to
her garden. Page 88 is done, and must be done over again to-
morrow, and I confess myself exhausted. Pity a man who can't
work on along when he has nothing else on earth to do! But I
have ordered Jack, and am going for a ride in the bush
presently to refresh the machine; then back to a lonely
dinner and durance vile. I acquiesce in this hand of fate;
for I think another cold just now would just about do for me.
I have scarce yet recovered the two last.
My progress is crabwise, and I fear only IX. chapters will be
ready for the mail. I am on p. 88 again, and with half an
idea of going back again to 85. We shall see when we come to
read: I used to regard reading as a pleasure in my old light
days. All the house are down with the influenza in a body,
except Fanny and me. The influenza appears to become endemic
here, but it has always been a scourge in the islands.
Witness the beginning of THE EBB TIDE, which was observed
long before the Iffle had distinguished himself at home by
such Napoleonic conquests. I am now of course 'quite a
recluse,' and it is very stale, and there is no amanuensis to
carry me over my mail, to which I shall have to devote many
hours that would have been more usefully devoted to THE EBB
TIDE. For you know you can dictate at all hours of the day
and at any odd moment; but to sit down and write with your
red right hand is a very different matter.
Well, I believe I've about finished the thing, I mean as far
as the mail is to take it. Chapter X. is now in Lloyd's
hands for remarks, and extends in its present form to p. 93
incl. On the 12th of May, I see by looking back, I was on p.
82, not for the first time; so that I have made 11 pages in
nine livelong days. Well! up a high hill he heaved a huge
round stone. But this Flaubert business must be resisted in
the premises. Or is it the result of influenza? God forbid.
Fanny is down now, and the last link that bound me to my
fellow men is severed. I sit up here, and write, and read
Renan's ORIGINES, which is certainly devilish interesting; I
read his Nero yesterday, it is very good, O, very good! But
he is quite a Michelet; the general views, and such a piece
of character painting, excellent; but his method sheer
lunacy. You can see him take up the block which he had just
rejected, and make of it the corner-stone: a maddening way to
deal with authorities; and the result so little like history
that one almost blames oneself for wasting time. But the
time is not wasted; the conspectus is always good, and the
blur that remains on the mind is probably just enough. I
have been enchanted with the unveiling of Revelations. And
how picturesque that return of the false Nero! The Apostle
John is rather discredited. And to think how one had read
the thing so often, and never understood the attacks upon St.
Paul! I remember when I was a child, and we came to the Four
Beasts that were all over eyes, the sickening terror with
which I was filled. If that was Heaven, what, in the name of
Davy Jones and the aboriginal night-mare, could Hell be?
Take it for all in all, L'ANTECHRIST is worth reading. The
HISTOIRE D'ISRAEL did not surprise me much; I had read those
Hebrew sources with more intelligence than the New Testament,
and was quite prepared to admire Ahab and Jezebel, etc.
Indeed, Ahab has always been rather a hero of mine; I mean
since the years of discretion.
And here I am back again on p. 85! the last chapter demanding
an entire revision, which accordingly it is to get. And
where my mail is to come in, God knows! This forced,
violent, alembicated style is most abhorrent to me; it can't
be helped; the note was struck years ago on the JANET NICOLL,
and has to be maintained somehow; and I can only hope the
intrinsic horror and pathos, and a kind of fierce glow of
colour there is to it, and the surely remarkable wealth of
striking incident, may guide our little shallop into port.
If Gordon Browne is to get it, he should see the Brassey
photographs of Papeete. But mind, the three waifs were never
in the town; only on the beach and in the calaboose. By
George, but it's a good thing to illustrate for a man like
that! Fanny is all right again. False alarm! I was down
yesterday afternoon at Paupata, and heard much growling of
war, and the delightful news that the C. J. and the President
are going to run away from Mulinuu and take refuge in the
23RD. MAIL DAY.
And lots of pleasures before me, no doubt! Among others the
attempt to extract an answer from - before mail time, which
may succeed or may not.
THE EBB TIDE, all but (I take it) fifteen pages, is now in
your hands - possibly only about eleven pp. It is hard to
say. But there it is, and you can do your best with it.
Personally, I believe I would in this case make even a
sacrifice to get Gordon Browne and copious illustration. I
guess in ten days I shall have finished with it; then I go
next to D. BALFOUR, and get the proofs ready: a nasty job for
me, as you know. And then? Well, perhaps I'll take a go at
the family history. I think that will be wise, as I am so
much off work. And then, I suppose, WEIR OF HERMISTON, but
it may be anything. I am discontented with THE EBB TIDE,
naturally; there seems such a veil of words over it; and I
like more and more naked writing; and yet sometimes one has a
longing for full colour and there comes the veil again. THE
YOUNG CHEVALIER is in very full colour, and I fear it for
that reason. -
R. L S.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - Still grinding at Chap. XI. I began many
days ago on p. 93, and am still on p. 93, which is
exhilarating, but the thing takes shape all the same and
should make a pretty lively chapter for an end of it. For
XII. is only a footnote AD EXPLICANDUM.
JUNE THE 1ST.
Back on p. 93. I was on 100 yesterday, but read it over and
10 A. M.
I have worked up again to 97, but how? The deuce fly away
with literature, for the basest sport in creation. But it's
got to come straight! and if possible, so that I may finish
D. BALFOUR in time for the same mail. What a getting
upstairs! This is Flaubert outdone. Belle, Graham, and
Lloyd leave to-day on a malaga down the coast; to be absent a
week or so: this leaves Fanny, me, and -, who seems a nice,
I am nearly dead with dyspepsia, over-smoking, and
unremunerative overwork. Last night, I went to bed by seven;
woke up again about ten for a minute to find myself light-
headed and altogether off my legs; went to sleep again, and
woke this morning fairly fit. I have crippled on to p. 101,
but I haven't read it yet, so do not boast. What kills me is
the frame of mind of one of the characters; I cannot get it
through. Of course that does not interfere with my total
inability to write; so that yesterday I was a living half-
hour upon a single clause and have a gallery of variants that
would surprise you. And this sort of trouble (which I cannot
avoid) unfortunately produces nothing when done but
alembication and the far-fetched. Well, read it with mercy!
Going to bed. Have read it, and believe the chapter
practically done at last. But lord! it has been a business.
JULY 3RD, 8.15.
The draft is finished, the end of Chapter II. and the tale,
and I have only eight pages WIEDERZUARBEITEN. This is just a
cry of joy in passing.
Knocked out of time. Did 101 and 102. Alas, no more to-day,
as I have to go down town to a meeting. Just as well though,
as my thumb is about done up.
SUNDAY, JUNE 4TH.
Now for a little snippet of my life. Yesterday, 12.30, in a
heavenly day of sun and trade, I mounted my horse and set
off. A boy opens my gate for me. 'Sleep and long life! A
blessing on your journey,' says he. And I reply 'Sleep, long
life! A blessing on the house!' Then on, down the lime
lane, a rugged, narrow, winding way, that seems almost as if
it was leading you into Lyonesse, and you might see the head
and shoulders of a giant looking in. At the corner of the
road I meet the inspector of taxes, and hold a diplomatic
interview with him; he wants me to pay taxes on the new
house; I am informed I should not till next year; and we
part, RE INFECTA, he promising to bring me decisions, I
assuring him that, if I find any favouritism, he will find me
the most recalcitrant tax-payer on the island. Then I have a
talk with an old servant by the wayside. A little further I
pass two children coming up. 'Love!' say I; 'are you two
chiefly-proceeding inland?' and they say, 'Love! yes!' and
the interesting ceremony is finished. Down to the post
office, where I find Vitrolles and (Heaven reward you!) the
White Book, just arrived per UPOLU, having gone the wrong way
round, by Australia; also six copies of ISLAND NIGHTS'
ENTERTAINMENTS. Some of Weatherall's illustrations are very
clever; but O Lord! the lagoon! I did say it was 'shallow,'
but, O dear, not so shallow as that a man could stand up in
it! I had still an hour to wait for my meeting, so
Postmaster Davis let me sit down in his room and I had a
bottle of beer in, and read A GENTLEMAN OF FRANCE. Have you
seen it coming out in LONGMAN'S? My dear Colvin! 'tis the
most exquisite pleasure; a real chivalrous yarn, like the
Dumas' and yet unlike. Thereafter to the meeting of the five
newspaper proprietors. Business transacted, I have to gallop
home and find the boys waiting to be paid at the doorstep.
Yesterday, Sunday, the Rev. Dr. Browne, secretary to the
Wesleyan Mission, and the man who made the war in the Western
Islands and was tried for his life in Fiji, came up, and we
had a long, important talk about Samoa. O, if I could only
talk to the home men! But what would it matter? none of them
know, none of them care. If we could only have Macgregor
here with his schooner, you would hear of no more troubles in
Samoa. That is what we want; a man that knows and likes the
natives, QUI PAYE DE SA PERSONNE, AND is not afraid of
hanging when necessary. We don't want bland Swedish humbugs,
and fussy, fostering German barons. That way the maelstrom
lies, and we shall soon be in it.
I have to-day written 103 and 104, all perfectly wrong, and
shall have to rewrite them. This tale is devilish, and
Chapter XI. the worst of the lot. The truth is of course
that I am wholly worked out; but it's nearly done, and shall
go somehow according to promise. I go against all my gods,
and say it is NOT WORTH WHILE to massacre yourself over the
last few pages of a rancid yarn, that the reviewers will
quite justly tear to bits. As for D.B., no hope, I fear,
this mail, but we'll see what the afternoon does for me.
Well, it's done. Those tragic 16 pp. are at last finished,
and I have put away thirty-two pages of chips, and have spent
thirteen days about as nearly in Hell as a man could expect
to live through. It's done, and of course it ain't worth
while, and who cares? There it is, and about as grim a tale
as was ever written, and as grimy, and as hateful.
TO THE MEMORY
J. L. HUISH,
BORN 1856, AT HACKNEY,
Accidentally killed upon this
10th September, 1889.
I am exulting to do nothing. It pours with rain from the
westward, very unusual kind of weather; I was standing out on
the little verandah in front of my room this morning, and
there went through me or over me a wave of extraordinary and
apparently baseless emotion. I literally staggered. And
then the explanation came, and I knew I had found a frame of
mind and body that belonged to Scotland, and particularly to
the neighbourhood of Callander. Very odd these identities of
sensation, and the world of connotations implied; highland
huts, and peat smoke, and the brown, swirling rivers, and wet
clothes, and whiskey, and the romance of the past, and that
indescribable bite of the whole thing at a man's heart, which
is - or rather lies at the bottom of - a story.
I don't know if you are a Barbey d'Aurevilly-an. I am. I
have a great delight in his Norman stories. Do you know the
CHEVALIER DES TOUCHES and L'ENSORCELEE? They are admirable,
they reek of the soil and the past. But I was rather
thinking just now of LE RIDEAU CRAMOISI, and its adorable
setting of the stopped coach, the dark street, the home-going
in the inn yard, and the red blind illuminated. Without
doubt, THERE was an identity of sensation; one of those
conjunctions in life that had filled Barbey full to the brim,
and permanently bent his memory.
I wonder exceedingly if I have done anything at all good; and
who can tell me? and why should I wish to know? In so little
a while, I, and the English language, and the bones of my
descendants, will have ceased to be a memory! And yet - and
yet - one would like to leave an image for a few years upon
men's minds - for fun. This is a very dark frame of mind,
consequent on overwork and the conclusion of the excruciating
EBB TIDE. Adieu.
What do you suppose should be done with THE EBB TIDE? It
would make a volume of 200 pp.; on the other hand, I might
likely have some more stories soon: THE OWL, DEATH IN THE
POT, THE SLEEPER AWAKENED; all these are possible. THE OWL
might be half as long; THE SLEEPER AWAKENED, ditto; DEATH IN
THE POT a deal shorter, I believe. Then there's the GO-
BETWEEN, which is not impossible altogether. THE OWL, THE
SLEEPER AWAKENED, and the GO-BETWEEN end reasonably well;
DEATH IN THE POT is an ungodly massacre. O, well, THE OWL
only ends well in so far as some lovers come together, and
nobody is killed at the moment, but you know they are all
doomed, they are Chouan fellows.
Well, the mail is in; no Blue-book, depressing letter from
C.; a long, amusing ramble from my mother; vast masses of
Romeike; they ARE going to war now; and what will that lead
to? and what has driven, them to it but the persistent
misconduct of these two officials? I know I ought to rewrite
the end of this bluidy EBB TIDE: well, I can't. CEST PLUS
FORT QUE MOI; it has to go the way it is, and be jowned to
it! From what I make out of the reviews, I think it would be
better not to republish THE EBB TIDE: but keep it for other
tales, if they should turn up. Very amusing how the reviews
pick out one story and damn the rest I and it is always a
different one. Be sure you send me the article from LE
Since I wrote this last, I have written a whole chapter of my
grandfather, and read it to-night; it was on the whole much
appreciated, and I kind of hope it ain't bad myself. 'Tis a
third writing, but it wants a fourth. By next mail, I
believe I might send you 3 chapters. That is to say FAMILY
ANNALS, THE SERVICE OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, and THE BUILDING
OF THE BELL ROCK. Possibly even 4 - A HOUSEFUL OF BOYS. I
could finish my grandfather very easy now; my father and
Uncle Alan stop the way. I propose to call the book:
NORTHERN LIGHTS: MEMOIRS OF A FAMILY of ENGINEERS. I tell
you, it is going to be a good book. My idea in sending Ms.
would be to get it set up; two proofs to me, one to Professor
Swan, Ardchapel, Helensburgh - mark it private and
confidential - one to yourself; and come on with criticisms!
But I'll have to see. The total plan of the book is this -
i. Domestic Annals.
ii. The Service of the Northern Lights.
iii. The Building of the Bell Rock.
iv. A Houseful of Boys (or, 'The Family in Baxter's Place).
v. Education of an Engineer.
vi. The Grandfather.
vii. Alan Stevenson.
viii. Thomas Stevenson.
There will be an Introduction 'The Surname of Stevenson'
which has proved a mighty queer subject of inquiry. But,
Lord! if I were among libraries.
I shall put in this envelope the end of the ever-to-be-
execrated EBB TIDE, or Stevenson's Blooming Error. Also, a
paper apart for DAVID BALFOUR. The slips must go in another
enclosure, I suspect, owing to their beastly bulk. Anyway,
there are two pieces of work off my mind, and though I could
wish I had rewritten a little more of DAVID, yet it was
plainly to be seen it was impossible. All the points
indicated by you have been brought out; but to rewrite the
end, in my present state of over-exhaustion and fiction -
phobia, would have been madness; and I let it go as it stood.
My grandfather is good enough for me, these days. I do not
work any less; on the whole, if anything, a little more. But
it is different.
The slips go to you in four packets; I hope they are what
they should be, but do not think so. I am at a pitch of
discontent with fiction in all its form - or my forms - that
prevents me being able to be even interested. I have had to
stop all drink; smoking I am trying to stop also. It annoys
me dreadfully: and yet if I take a glass of claret, - I have
a headache the next day! O, and a good headache too; none of
Well, sir, here's to you, and farewell. - Yours ever.
R. L. S.
SATURDAY, 24TH (?) JUNE.
MY DEAR COLVIN - Yesterday morning, after a day of absolute
temperance, I awoke to the worst headache I had had yet.
Accordingly, temperance was said farewell to, quinine
instituted, and I believe my pains are soon to be over. We
wait, with a kind of sighing impatience, for war to be
declared, or to blow finally off, living in the meanwhile in
a kind of children's hour of firelight and shadow and
preposterous tales; the king seen at night galloping up our
road upon unknown errands and covering his face as he passes
our cook; Mataafa daily surrounded (when he awakes) with
fresh 'white man's boxes' (query, ammunition?) and professing
to be quite ignorant of where they come from; marches of
bodies of men across the island; concealment of ditto in the
bush; the coming on and off of different chiefs; and such a
mass of ravelment and rag-tag as the devil himself could not
WEDNESDAY, 28TH JUNE.
Yesterday it rained with but little intermission, but I was
jealous of news. Graham and I got into the saddle about 1
o'clock and off down to town. In town, there was nothing but
rumours going; in the night drums had been beat, the men had
run to arms on Mulinuu from as far as Vaiala, and the alarm
proved false. There were no signs of any gathering in Apia
proper, and the Secretary of State had no news to give. I
believed him, too, for we are brither Scots. Then the
temptation came upon me strong to go on to the ford and see
the Mataafa villages, where we heard there was more afoot.
Off we rode. When we came to Vaimusu, the houses were very
full of men, but all seemingly unarmed. Immediately beyond
is that river over which we passed in our scamper with Lady
Jersey; it was all solitary. Three hundred yards beyond is a
second ford; and there - I came face to face with war. Under
the trees on the further bank sat a picket of seven men with
Winchesters; their faces bright, their eyes ardent. As we
came up, they did not speak or move; only their eyes followed
us. The horses drank, and we passed the ford. 'Talofa!' I
said, and the commandant of the picket said 'Talofa'; and
then, when we were almost by, remembered himself and asked
where we were going. 'To Faamuina,' I said, and we rode on.
Every house by the wayside was crowded with armed men. There
was the European house of a Chinaman on the right-hand side:
a flag of truce flying over the gate - indeed we saw three of
these in what little way we penetrated into Mataafa's lines -
all the foreigners trying to protect their goods; and the
Chinaman's verandah overflowed with men and girls and
Winchesters. By the way we met a party of about ten or a
dozen marching with their guns and cartridge-belts, and the
cheerful alacrity and brightness of their looks set my head
turning with envy and sympathy. Arrived at Vaiusu, the
houses about the MALAE (village green) were thronged with
men, all armed. On the outside of the council-house (which
was all full within) there stood an orator; he had his back
turned to his audience, and seemed to address the world at
large; all the time we were there his strong voice continued
unabated, and I heard snatches of political wisdom rising and
The house of Faamuina stands on a knoll in the MALAE.
Thither we mounted, a boy ran out and took our horses, and we
went in. Faamuina was there himself, his wife Pelepa, three
other chiefs, and some attendants; and here again was this
exulting spectacle as of people on their marriage day.
Faamuina (when I last saw him) was an elderly, limping
gentleman, with much of the debility of age; it was a bright-
eyed boy that greeted me; the lady was no less excited; all
had cartridge-belts. We stayed but a little while to smoke a
sului; I would not have kava made, as I thought my escapade
was already dangerous (perhaps even blameworthy) enough. On
the way back, we were much greeted, and on coming to the
ford, the commandant came and asked me if there were many on
the other side. 'Very many,' said I; not that I knew, but I
would not lead them on the ice. 'That is well!' said he, and
the little picket laughed aloud as we splashed into the
river. We returned to Apia, through Apia, and out to
windward as far as Vaiala, where the word went that the men
of the Vaimauga had assembled. We met two boys carrying
pigs, and saw six young men busy cooking in a cook-house; but
no sign of an assembly; no arms, no blackened faces. I
forgot! As we turned to leave Faamuina's, there ran forward
a man with his face blackened, and the back of his lava-lava
girded up so as to show his tattooed hips naked; he leaped
before us, cut a wonderful caper, and flung his knife high in
the air, and caught it. It was strangely savage and
fantastic and high-spirited. I have seen a child doing the
same antics long before in a dance, so that it is plainly an
ACCEPTED SOLEMNITY. I should say that for weeks the children
have been playing with spears. Up by the plantation I took a
short cut, which shall never be repeated, through grass and
weeds over the horses' heads and among rolling stones; I
thought we should have left a horse there, but fortune
favoured us. So home, a little before six, in a dashing
squall of rain, to a bowl of kava and dinner. But the
impression on our minds was extraordinary; the sight of that
picket at the ford, and those ardent, happy faces whirls in
my head; the old aboriginal awoke in both of us and knickered
like a stallion.
It is dreadful to think that I must sit apart here and do
nothing; I do not know if I can stand it out. But you see, I
may be of use to these poor people, if I keep quiet, and if I
threw myself in, I should have a bad job of it to save
myself. There; I have written this to you; and it is still
but 7.30 in the day, and the sun only about one hour up; can
I go back to my old grandpapa, and men sitting with
Winchesters in my mind's eye? No; war is a huge
ENTRAINEMENT; there is no other temptation to be compared to
it, not one. We were all wet, we had been about five hours
in the saddle, mostly riding hard; and we came home like
schoolboys, with such a lightness of spirits, and I am sure
such a brightness of eye, as you could have lit a candle at!
I had two priests to luncheon yesterday: the Bishop and Pere
Remy. They were very pleasant, and quite clean too, which
has been known sometimes not to be - even with bishops.
Monseigneur is not unimposing; with his white beard and his
violet girdle he looks splendidly episcopal, and when our
three waiting lads came up one after another and kneeled
before him in the big hall, and kissed his ring, it did me
good for a piece of pageantry. Remy is very engaging; he is
a little, nervous, eager man, like a governess, and brimful
of laughter and small jokes. So is the bishop indeed, and
our luncheon party went off merrily - far more merrily than
many a German spread, though with so much less liquor. One
trait was delicious. With a complete ignorance of the
Protestant that I would scarce have imagined, he related to
us (as news) little stories from the gospels, and got the
names all wrong! His comments were delicious, and to our
ears a thought irreverent. 'AH! IL CONNAISSAIT SON MONDE,
ALLEZ!' 'IL ETAIT FIN, NOTRE SEIGNEUR!' etc.
Down with Fanny and Belle, to lunch at the International.
Heard there about the huge folly of the hour, all the Mulinuu
ammunition having been yesterday marched openly to vaults in
Matafele; and this morning, on a cry of protest from the
whites, openly and humiliatingly disinterred and marched back
again. People spoke of it with a kind of shrill note that
did not quite satisfy me. They seemed not quite well at
ease. Luncheon over, we rode out on the Malie road. All was
quiet in Vaiusu, and when we got to the second ford, alas!
there was no picket - which was just what Belle had come to
sketch. On through quite empty roads; the houses deserted,
never a gun to be seen; and at last a drum and a penny
whistle playing in Vaiusu, and a cricket match on the MALAE!
Went up to Faamuina's; he is a trifle uneasy, though he gives
us kava. I cannot see what ails him, then it appears that he
has an engagement with the Chief Justice at half-past two to
sell a piece of land. Is this the reason why war has
disappeared? We ride back, stopping to sketch here and there
the fords, a flag of truce, etc. I ride on to Public Hall
Committee and pass an hour with my committees very heavily.
To the hotel to dinner, then to the ball, and home by eleven,
very tired. At the ball I heard some news, of how the chief
of Letonu said that I was the source of all this trouble, and
should be punished, and my family as well. This, and the
rudeness of the man at the ford of the Gase-gase, looks but
ill; I should have said that Faamuina, as he approached the
first ford, was spoken to by a girl, and immediately said
goodbye and plunged into the bush; the girl had told him
there was a war party out from Mulinuu; and a little further
on, as we stopped to sketch a flag of truce, the beating of
drums and the sound of a bugle from that direction startled
us. But we saw nothing, and I believe Mulinuu is (at least
at present) incapable of any act of offence. One good job,
these threats to my home and family take away all my childish
temptation to go out and fight. Our force must be here, to
protect ourselves. I see panic rising among the whites; I
hear the shrill note of it in their voices, and they talk
already about a refuge on the war ships. There are two here,
both German; and the ORLANDO is expected presently.
SUNDAY 9TH JULY.
Well, the war has at last begun. For four or five days, Apia
has been filled by these poor children with their faces
blacked, and the red handkerchief about their brows, that
makes the Malietoa uniform, and the boats have been coming in
from the windward, some of them 50 strong, with a drum and a
bugle on board - the bugle always ill-played - and a sort of
jester leaping and capering on the sparred nose of the boat,
and the whole crew uttering from time to time a kind of
menacing ululation. Friday they marched out to the bush; and
yesterday morning we heard that some had returned to their
houses for the night, as they found it 'so uncomfortable.'
After dinner a messenger came up to me with a note, that the
wounded were arriving at the Mission House. Fanny, Lloyd and
I saddled and rode off with a lantern; it was a fine starry
night, though pretty cold. We left the lantern at Tanuga-
manono, and then down in the starlight. I found Apia, and
myself, in a strange state of flusteration; my own excitement
was gloomy and (I may say) truculent; others appeared
imbecile; some sullen. The best place in the whole town was
the hospital. A longish frame-house it was, with a big table
in the middle for operations, and ten Samoans, each with an
average of four sympathisers, stretched along the walls.
Clarke was there, steady as a die; Miss Large, little
spectacled angel, showed herself a real trump; the nice,
clean, German orderlies in their white uniforms looked and
meant business. (I hear a fine story of Miss Large - a cast-
iron teetotaller - going to the public-house for a bottle of
The doctors were not there when I arrived; but presently it
was observed that one of the men was going cold. He was a
magnificent Samoan, very dark, with a noble aquiline
countenance, like an Arab, I suppose, and was surrounded by
seven people, fondling his limbs as he lay: he was shot
through both lungs. And an orderly was sent to the town for
the (German naval) doctors, who were dining there. Meantime
I found an errand of my own. Both Clarke and Miss Large
expressed a wish to have the public hall, of which I am
chairman, and I set off down town, and woke people out of
their beds, and got a committee together, and (with a great
deal of difficulty from one man, whom we finally overwhelmed)
got the public hall for them. Bar the one man, the committee
was splendid, and agreed in a moment to share the expense if
the shareholders object. Back to the hospital about 11.30;
found the German doctors there. Two men were going now, one
that was shot in the bowels - he was dying rather hard, in a
gloomy stupor of pain and laudanum, silent, with contorted
face. The chief, shot through the lungs, was lying on one
side, awaiting the last angel; his family held his hands and
legs; they were all speechless, only one woman suddenly
clasped his knee, and 'keened' for the inside of five
seconds, and fell silent again. Went home, and to bed about
two A.M. What actually passed seems undiscoverable; but the
Mataafas were surely driven back out of Vaitele; that is a
blow to them, and the resistance was far greater than had
been anticipated - which is a blow to the Laupepas. All
seems to indicate a long and bloody war.
Frank's house in Mulinuu was likewise filled with wounded;
many dead bodies were brought in; I hear with certainty of
five, wrapped in mats; and a pastor goes to-morrow to the
field to bring others. The Laupepas brought in eleven heads
to Mulinuu, and to the great horror and consternation of the
native mind, one proved to be a girl, and was identified as
that of a Taupou - or Maid of the Village - from Savaii. I
hear this morning, with great relief, that it has been
returned to Malie, wrapped in the most costly silk
handkerchiefs, and with an apologetic embassy. This could
easily happen. The girl was of course attending on her
father with ammunition, and got shot; her hair was cut short
to make her father's war head-dress - even as our own Sina's
is at this moment; and the decollator was probably, in his
red flurry of fight, wholly unconscious of her sex. I am
sorry for him in the future; he must make up his mind to many
bitter jests - perhaps to vengeance. But what an end to one
chosen for her beauty and, in the time of peace, watched over
by trusty crones and hunchbacks!
Can I write or not? I played lawn tennis in the morning, and
after lunch down with Graham to Apia. Ulu, he that was shot
in the lungs, still lives; he that was shot in the bowels is
gone to his fathers, poor, fierce child! I was able to be of
some very small help, and in the way of helping myself to
information, to prove myself a mere gazer at meteors. But
there seems no doubt the Mataafas for the time are scattered;
the most of our friends are involved in this disaster, and
Mataafa himself - who might have swept the islands a few
months ago - for him to fall so poorly, doubles my regret.
They say the Taupou had a gun and fired; probably an excuse
manufactured EX POST FACTO. I go down to-morrow at 12, to
stay the afternoon, and help Miss Large. In the hospital to-
day, when I first entered it, there were no attendants; only
the wounded and their friends, all equally sleeping and their
heads poised upon the wooden pillows. There is a pretty
enough boy there, slightly wounded, whose fate is to be
envied: two girls, and one of the most beautiful, with
beaming eyes, tend him and sleep upon his pillow. In the
other corner, another young man, very patient and brave, lies
wholly deserted. Yet he seems to me far the better of the
two; but not so pretty! Heavens, what a difference that
makes; in our not very well proportioned bodies and our
finely hideous faces, the 1-32nd - rather the 1-64th - this
way or that! Sixteen heads in all at Mulinuu. I am so stiff
I can scarce move without a howl.
Some news that Mataafa is gone to Savaii by way of Manono;
this may mean a great deal more warfaring, and no great
issue. (When Sosimo came in this morning with my breakfast
he had to lift me up. It is no joke to play lawn tennis
after carrying your right arm in a sling so many years.)
What a hard, unjust business this is! On the 28th, if
Mataafa had moved, he could have still swept Mulinuu. He
waited, and I fear he is now only the stick of a rocket.
No more political news; but many rumours. The government
troops are off to Manono; no word of Mataafa. O, there is a
passage in my mother's letter which puzzles me as to a date.
Is it next Christmas you are coming? or the Christmas after?
This is most important, and must be understood at once. If
it is next Christmas, I could not go to Ceylon, for lack of
gold, and you would have to adopt one of the following
alternatives: 1st, either come straight on here and pass a
month with us; 'tis the rainy season, but we have often
lovely weather. Or (2nd) come to Hawaii and I will meet you
there. Hawaii is only a week's sail from S. Francisco,
making only about sixteen days on the heaving ocean; and the
steamers run once a fortnight, so that you could turn round;
and you could thus pass a day or two in the States - a
fortnight even - and still see me. But I have sworn to take
no further excursions till I have money saved to pay for
them; and to go to Ceylon and back would be torture unless I
had a lot. You must answer this at once, please; so that I
may know what to do. We would dearly like you to come on
here. I'll tell you how it can be done; I can come up and
meet you at Hawaii, and if you had at all got over your sea-
sickness, I could just come on board and we could return
together to Samoa, and you could have a month of our life
here, which I believe you could not help liking. Our horses
are the devil, of course, miserable screws, and some of them
a little vicious. I had a dreadful fright - the passage in
my mother's letter is recrossed and I see it says the end of
/94: so much the better, then; but I would like to submit to
you my alternative plan. I could meet you at Hawaii, and
reconduct you to Hawaii, so that we could have a full six
weeks together and I believe a little over, and you would see
this place of mine, and have a sniff of native life, native
foods, native houses - and perhaps be in time to see the
German flag raised, who knows? - and we could generally yarn
for all we were worth. I should like you to see Vailima; and
I should be curious to know how the climate affected you. It
is quite hit or miss; it suits me, it suits Graham, it suits
all our family; others it does not suit at all. It is either
gold or poison. I rise at six, the rest at seven; lunch is
at 12; at five we go to lawn tennis till dinner at six; and
to roost early.
A man brought in a head to Mulinuu in great glory; they
washed the black paint off, and behold! it was his brother.
When I last heard he was sitting in his house, with the head
upon his lap, and weeping. Barbarous war is an ugly
business; but I believe the civilised is fully uglier; but
Lord! what fun!
I should say we now have definite news that there are THREE
women's heads; it was difficult to get it out of the natives,
who are all ashamed, and the women all in terror of
reprisals. Nothing has been done to punish or disgrace these
hateful innovators. It was a false report that the head had
Mataafa driven away from Savaii. I cannot write about this,
and do not know what should be the end of it.
Haggard and Ahrens (a German clerk) to lunch yesterday.
There is no real certain news yet: I must say, no man could
SWEAR to any result; but the sky looks horribly black for
Mataafa and so many of our friends along with him. The thing
has an abominable, a beastly, nightmare interest. But it's
wonderful generally how little one cares about the wounded;
hospital sights, etc.; things that used to murder me. I was
far more struck with the excellent way in which things were
managed; as if it had been a peep-show; I held some of the
things at an operation, and did not care a dump.
Sunday came the KATOOMBA, Captain Bickford, C.M.G.
Yesterday, Graham and I went down to call, and find he has
orders to suppress Mataafa at once, and has to go down to-day
before daybreak to Manono. He is a very capable, energetic
man; if he had only come ten days ago, all this would have
gone by; but now the questions are thick and difficult. (1)
Will Mataafa surrender? (2) Will his people allow themselves
to be disarmed? (3) What will happen to them if they do?
(4) What will any of them believe after former deceptions?
The three consuls were scampering on horseback to Leulumoega
to the King; no Cusack-Smith, without whose accession I could
not send a letter to Mataafa. I rode up here, wrote my
letter in the sweat of the concordance and with the able-
bodied help of Lloyd - and dined. Then down in continual
showers and pitchy darkness, and to Cusack-Smith's; not re-
returned. Back to the inn for my horse, and to C.-S.'s, when
I find him just returned and he accepts my letter. Thence
home, by 12.30, jolly tired and wet. And to-day have been in
a crispation of energy and ill-temper, raking my wretched
mail together. It is a hateful business, waiting for the
news; it may come to a fearful massacre yet. - Yours ever,
R. L. S.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - Quite impossible to write. Your letter is
due to-day; a nasty, rainy-like morning with huge blue
clouds, and a huge indigo shadow on the sea, and my lamp
still burning at near 7. Let me humbly give you news. Fanny
seems on the whole the most, or the only, powerful member of
the family; for some days she has been the Flower of the
Flock. Belle is begging for quinine. Lloyd and Graham have
both been down with 'belly belong him' (Black Boy speech).
As for me, I have to lay aside my lawn tennis, having (as was
to be expected) had a smart but eminently brief hemorrhage.
I am also on the quinine flask. I have been re-casting the
beginning of the HANGING JUDGE or WEIR OF HERMISTON; then I
have been cobbling on my grandfather, whose last chapter
(there are only to be four) is in the form of pieces of
paper, a huge welter of inconsequence, and that glimmer of
faith (or hope) which one learns at this trade, that somehow
and some time, by perpetual staring and glowering and
rewriting, order will emerge. It is indeed a queer hope;
there is one piece for instance that I want in - I cannot put
it one place for a good reason - I cannot put it another for
a better - and every time I look at it, I turn sick and put
the Ms. away.
Well, your letter hasn't come, and a number of others are
missing. It looks as if a mail-bag had gone on, so I'll
blame nobody, and proceed to business.
It looks as if I was going to send you the first three
chapters of my Grandfather. . . . If they were set up, it
would be that much anxiety off my mind. I have a strange
feeling of responsibility, as if I had my ancestors' SOULS in
my charge, and might miscarry with them.
There's a lot of work gone into it, and a lot more is needed.
Still Chapter I. seems about right to me, and much of Chapter
II. Chapter III. I know nothing of, as I told you. And
Chapter IV. is at present all ends and beginnings; but it can
be pulled together.
This is all I have been able to screw up to you for this
month, and I may add that it is not only more than you
deserve, but just about more than I was equal to. I have
been and am entirely useless; just able to tinker at my
Grandfather. The three chapters - perhaps also a little of
the fourth - will come home to you next mail by the hand of
my cousin Graham Balfour, a very nice fellow whom I recommend
to you warmly - and whom I think you will like. This will
give you time to consider my various and distracted schemes.
All our wars are over in the meantime, to begin again as soon
as the war-ships leave. Adieu.
R. L. S.
MY DEAR COLVIN, - Your pleasing letter RE THE EBB TIDE, to
hand. I propose, if it be not too late, to delete Lloyd's
name. He has nothing to do with the last half. The first we
wrote together, as the beginning of a long yarn. The second
is entirely mine; and I think it rather unfair on the young
man to couple his name with so infamous a work. Above all,
as you had not read the two last chapters, which seem to me
the most ugly and cynical of all.
You will see that I am not in a good humour; and I am not.
It is not because of your letter, but because of the
complicated miseries that surround me and that I choose to
say nothing of. Life is not all Beer and Skittles. The
inherent tragedy of things works itself out from white to
black and blacker, and the poor things of a day look ruefully
on. Does it shake my cast-iron faith? I cannot say it does.
I believe in an ultimate decency of things; ay, and if I woke
in hell, should still believe it! But it is hard walking,
and I can see my own share in the missteps, and can bow my
head to the result, like an old, stern, unhappy devil of a
Norseman, as my ultimate character is. . . .
Well, IL FAUT CULTIVER SON JARDIN. That last expression of
poor, unhappy human wisdom I take to my heart and go to ST.
And did, and worked about 2 hours and got to sleep ultimately
and 'a' the clouds has blawn away.' 'Be sure we'll have some
pleisand weather, When a' the clouds (storms?) has blawn
(gone?) away.' Verses that have a quite inexplicable
attraction for me, and I believe had for Burns. They have no
merit, but are somehow good. I am now in a most excellent
I am deep in ST. IVES which, I believe, will be the next
novel done. But it is to be clearly understood that I
promise nothing, and may throw in your face the very last
thing you expect - or I expect. ST. IVES will (to my mind)
not be wholly bad. It is written in rather a funny style; a
little stilted and left-handed; the style of St. Ives; also,
to some extent, the style of R. L. S. dictating. ST. IVES
is unintellectual and except as an adventure novel, dull.
But the adventures seem to me sound and pretty probable; and
it is a love story. Speed his wings!
DE COEUR UN PEU PLUS DISPOS, MONSIEUR ET CHER CONFRERE, JE ME
REMETS A VOUS ECRIRE. ST. IVES is now in the 5th chapter
copying; in the 14th chapter of the dictated draft. I do not
believe I shall end by disliking it.
Well, here goes again for the news. Fanny is VERY WELL
indeed, and in good spirits; I am in good spirits but not
VERY well; Lloyd is in good spirits and very well; Belle has
a real good fever which has put her pipe out wholly. Graham
goes back this mail. He takes with him three chapters of THE
FAMILY, and is to go to you as soon as he can. He cannot be
much the master of his movements, but you grip him when you
can and get all you can from him, as he has lived about six
months with us and he can tell you just what is true and what
is not - and not the dreams of dear old Ross. He is a good
fellow, is he not?
Since you rather revise your views of THE EBB TIDE, I think
Lloyd's name might stick, but I'll leave it to you. I'll
tell you just how it stands. Up to the discovery of the
champagne, the tale was all planned between us and drafted by
Lloyd; from that moment he has had nothing to do with it
except talking it over. For we changed our plan, gave up the
projected Monte Cristo, and cut it down for a short story.
My jmpression - (I beg your pardon - this is a local joke - a
firm here had on its beer labels, 'sole jmporters') - is that
it will never be popular, but might make a little SUCCES DE
SCANDALE. However, I'm done with it now, and not sorry, and
the crowd may rave and mumble its bones for what I care.
Hole essential. I am sorry about the maps; but I want 'em
for next edition, so see and have proofs sent. You are quite
right about the bottle and the great Huish, I must try to
make it clear. No, I will not write a play for Irving nor
for the devil. Can you not see that the work of
FALSIFICATION which a play demands is of all tasks the most
ungrateful? And I have done it a long while - and nothing
ever came of it.
Consider my new proposal, I mean Honolulu. You would get the
Atlantic and the Rocky Mountains, would you not? for bracing.
And so much less sea! And then you could actually see
Vailima, which I WOULD like you to, for it's beautiful and my
home and tomb that is to be; though it's a wrench not to be
planted in Scotland - that I can never deny - if I could only
be buried in the hills, under the heather and a table
tombstone like the martyrs, where the whaups and plovers are
crying! Did you see a man who wrote the STICKIT MINISTER,
and dedicated it to me, in words that brought the tears to my
eyes every time I looked at them, 'Where about the graves of
the martyrs the whaups are crying. HIS heart remembers how.'
Ah, by God, it does! Singular that I should fulfil the Scots
destiny throughout, and live a voluntary exile, and have my
head filled with the blessed, beastly place all the time!
And now a word as regards the delusions of the dear Ross, who
remembers, I believe, my letters and Fanny's when we were
first installed, and were really hoeing a hard row. We have
salad, beans, cabbages, tomatoes, asparagus, kohl-rabi,
oranges, limes, barbadines, pine-apples, Cape gooseberries -
galore; pints of milk and cream; fresh meat five days a week.
It is the rarest thing for any of us to touch a tin; and the
gnashing of teeth when it has to be done is dreadful - for no
one who has not lived on them for six months knows what the
Hatred of the Tin is. As for exposure, my weakness is
certainly the reverse; I am sometimes a month without leaving
the verandah - for my sins, be it said! Doubtless, when I go
about and, as the Doctor says, 'expose myself to malaria,' I
am in far better health; and I would do so more too - for I
do not mean to be silly - but the difficulties are great.
However, you see how much the dear Doctor knows of my diet
and habits! Malaria practically does not exist in these
islands; it is a negligeable quantity. What really bothers
us a little is the mosquito affair - the so-called
elephantiasis - ask Ross about it. A real romance of natural
Hi! stop! you say THE EBB TIDE is the 'working out of an
artistic problem of a kind.' Well, I should just bet it was!
You don't like Attwater. But look at my three rogues;
they're all there, I'll go bail. Three types of the bad man,
the weak man, and the strong man with a weakness, that are
gone through and lived out.
Yes, of course I was sorry for Mataafa, but a good deal
sorrier and angrier about the mismanagement of all the white
officials. I cannot bear to write about that. Manono all
destroyed, one house standing in Apolima, the women stripped,
the prisoners beaten with whips - and the women's heads taken
- all under white auspices. And for upshot and result of so
much shame to the white powers - Tamasese already conspiring!
as I knew and preached in vain must be the case! Well, well,
it is no fun to meddle in politics!