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Vailima Letters by Robert Louis Stevenson

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come just too late to be of use. In which case I shall have
made a handsome present of some months of my life for nothing
and to nobody. Well, through Her the most ancient heavens
are fresh and strong.


After I had written you, I re-read my hurricane, which is
very poor; the life of the journalist is hard, another couple
of writings and I could make a good thing, I believe, and it
must go as it is! But, of course, this book is not written
for honour and glory, and the few who will read it may not
know the difference. Very little time. I go down with the
mail shortly, dine at the Chinese restaurant, and go to the
club to dance with islandresses. Think of my going out once
a week to dance.

Politics are on the full job again, and we don't know what is
to come next. I think the whole treaty RAJ seems quite
played out! They have taken to bribing the FAIPULE men
(parliament men) to stay in Mulinuu, we hear; but I have not
yet sifted the rumour. I must say I shall be scarce
surprised if it prove true; these rumours have the knack of
being right. - Our weather this last month has been
tremendously hot, not by the thermometer, which sticks at 86
degrees, but to the sensation: no rain, no wind, and this the
storm month. It looks ominous, and is certainly

No time to finish,
Yours ever,
R. L. S.


MAY 1ST. 1892.

MY DEAR COLVIN, - As I rode down last night about six, I saw
a sight I must try to tell you of. In front of me, right
over the top of the forest into which I was descending was a
vast cloud. The front of it accurately represented the
somewhat rugged, long-nosed, and beetle-browed profile of a
man, crowned by a huge Kalmuck cap; the flesh part was of a
heavenly pink, the cap, the moustache, the eyebrows were of a
bluish gray; to see this with its childish exactitude of
design and colour, and hugeness of scale - it covered at
least 25 degrees - held me spellbound. As I continued to
gaze, the expression began to change; he had the exact air of
closing one eye, dropping his jaw, and drawing down his nose;
had the thing not been so imposing, I could have smiled; and
then almost in a moment, a shoulder of leaden-coloured bank
drove in front and blotted it. My attention spread to the
rest of the cloud, and it was a thing to worship. It rose
from the horizon, and its top was within thirty degrees of
the zenith; the lower parts were like a glacier in shadow,
varying from dark indigo to a clouded white in exquisite
gradations. The sky behind, so far as I could see, was all
of a blue already enriched and darkened by the night, for the
hill had what lingered of the sunset. But the top of my
Titanic cloud flamed in broad sunlight, with the most
excellent softness and brightness of fire and jewels,
enlightening all the world. It must have been far higher
than Mount Everest, and its glory, as I gazed up at it out of
the night, was beyond wonder. Close by rode the little
crescent moon; and right over its western horn, a great
planet of about equal lustre with itself. The dark woods
below were shrill with that noisy business of the birds'
evening worship. When I returned, after eight, the moon was
near down; she seemed little brighter than before, but now
that the cloud no longer played its part of a nocturnal sun,
we could see that sight, so rare with us at home that it was
counted a portent, so customary in the tropics, of the dark
sphere with its little gilt band upon the belly. The planet
had been setting faster, and was now below the crescent.
They were still of an equal brightness.

I could not resist trying to reproduce this in words, as a
specimen of these incredibly beautiful and imposing meteors
of the tropic sky that make so much of my pleasure here;
though a ship's deck is the place to enjoy them. O what
AWFUL scenery, from a ship's deck, in the tropics! People
talk about the Alps, but the clouds of the trade wind are
alone for sublimity.

Now to try and tell you what has been happening. The state
of these islands, and of Mataafa and Laupepa (Malietoa's
AMBO) had been much on my mind. I went to the priests and
sent a message to Mataafa, at a time when it was supposed he
was about to act. He did not act, delaying in true native
style, and I determined I should go to visit him. I have
been very good not to go sooner; to live within a few miles
of a rebel camp, to be a novelist, to have all my family
forcing me to go, and to refrain all these months, counts for
virtue. But hearing that several people had gone and the
government done nothing to punish them, and having an errand
there which was enough to justify myself in my own eyes, I
half determined to go, and spoke of it with the half-caste
priest. And here (confound it) up came Laupepa and his
guards to call on me; we kept him to lunch, and the old
gentleman was very good and amiable. He asked me why I had
not been to see him? I reminded him a law had been made, and
told him I was not a small boy to go and ask leave of the
consuls, and perhaps be refused. He told me to pay no
attention to the law but come when I would, and begged me to
name a day to lunch. The next day (I think it was) early in
the morning, a man appeared; he had metal buttons like a
policeman - but he was none of our Apia force; he was a rebel
policeman, and had been all night coming round inland through
the forest from Malie. He brought a letter addressed

I LAUA SUSUGA To his Excellency
MISI MEA. Mr. Thingumbob.

(So as not to compromise me). I can read Samoan now, though
not speak it. It was to ask me for last Wednesday. My
difficulty was great; I had no man here who was fit, or who
would have cared to write for me; and I had to postpone the
visit. So I gave up half-a-day with a groan, went down to
the priests, arranged for Monday week to go to Malie, and
named Thursday as my day to lunch with Laupepa. I was
sharply ill on Wednesday, mail day. But on Thursday I had to
trail down and go through the dreary business of a feast, in
the King's wretched shanty, full in view of the President's
fine new house; it made my heart burn.

This gave me my chance to arrange a private interview with
the King, and I decided to ask Mr. Whitmee, one of our
missionaries, to be my interpreter. On Friday, being too
much exhausted to go down, I begged him to come up. He did,
I told him the heads of what I meant to say; and he not only
consented, but said, if we got on well with the King, he
would even proceed with me to Malie. Yesterday, in
consequence, I rode down to W.'s house by eight in the
morning; waited till ten; received a message that the King
was stopped by a meeting with the President and FAIPULE; made
another engagement for seven at night; came up; went down;
waited till eight, and came away again, BREDOUILLE, and a
dead body. The poor, weak, enslaved King had not dared to
come to me even in secret. Now I have to-day for a rest, and
to-morrow to Malie. Shall I be suffered to embark? It is
very doubtful; they are on the trail. On Thursday, a
policeman came up to me and began that a boy had been to see
him, and said I was going to see Mataafa. - 'And what did
you say?' said I. - 'I told him I did not know about where
you were going,' said he. - 'A very good answer,' said I, and
turned away. It is lashing rain to-day, but to-morrow, rain
or shine, I must at least make the attempt; and I am so
weary, and the weather looks so bad. I could half wish they
would arrest me on the beach. All this bother and pother to
try and bring a little chance of peace; all this opposition
and obstinacy in people who remain here by the mere
forbearance of Mataafa, who has a great force within six
miles of their government buildings, which are indeed only
the residences of white officials. To understand how I have
been occupied, you must know that 'Misi Mea' has had another
letter, and this time had to answer himself; think of doing
so in a language so obscure to me, with the aid of a Bible,
concordance and dictionary! What a wonderful Baboo
compilation it must have been! I positively expected to hear
news of its arrival in Malie by the sound of laughter. I
doubt if you will be able to read this scrawl, but I have
managed to scramble somehow up to date; and to-morrow, one
way or another, should be interesting. But as for me, I am a
wreck, as I have no doubt style and handwriting both testify.

8 P.M.

Wonderfully rested; feel almost fit for to-morrow's dreary
excursion - not that it will be dreary if the weather favour,
but otherwise it will be death; and a native feast, and I
fear I am in for a big one, is a thing I loathe. I wonder if
you can really conceive me as a politician in this extra-
mundane sphere - presiding at public meetings, drafting
proclamations, receiving mis-addressed letters that have been
carried all night through tropical forests? It seems strange
indeed, and to you, who know me really, must seem stranger.
I do not say I am free from the itch of meddling, but God
knows this is no tempting job to meddle in; I smile at
picturesque circumstances like the Misi Mea (MONSIEUR CHOSE
is the exact equivalent) correspondence, but the business as
a whole bores and revolts me. I do nothing and say nothing;
and then a day comes, and I say 'this can go on no longer.'

9.30 P. M.

The wretched native dilatoriness finds me out. News has just
come that we must embark at six to-morrow; I have divided the
night in watches, and hope to be called to-morrow at four and
get under way by five. It is a great chance if it be
managed; but I have given directions and lent my own clock to
the boys, and hope the best. If I get called at four we
shall do it nicely. Good-night; I must turn in.


Well, we did get off by about 5.30, or, by'r lady! quarter of
six: myself on Donald, the huge grey cart-horse, with a ship-
bag across my saddle bow, Fanny on Musu and Belle on Jack.
We were all feeling pretty tired and sick, and I looked like
heaven knows what on the cart horse: 'death on the pale
horse,' I suggested - and young Hunt the missionary, who met
me to-day on the same charger, squinted up at my perch and
remarked, 'There's a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft.'
The boat was ready and we set off down the lagoon about
seven, four oars, and Talolo, my cook, steering.


And see what good resolutions came to! Here is all this time
past, and no speed made. Well, we got to Malie and were
received with the most friendly consideration by the rebel
chief. Belle and Fanny were obviously thought to be my two
wives; they were served their kava together, as were Mataafa
and myself. Talolo utterly broke down as interpreter; long
speeches were made to me by Mataafa and his orators, of which
he could make nothing but they were 'very much surprised' -
his way of pronouncing obliged - and as he could understand
nothing that fell from me except the same form of words, the
dialogue languished and all business had to be laid aside.
We had kava, and then a dish of arrowroot; one end of the
house was screened off for us with a fine tapa, and we lay
and slept, the three of us heads and tails, upon the mats
till dinner. After dinner his illegitimate majesty and
myself had a walk, and talked as well as my twopenny Samoan
would admit. Then there was a dance to amuse the ladies
before the house, and we came back by moonlight, the sky
piled full of high faint clouds that long preserved some of
the radiance of the sunset. The lagoon was very shallow; we
continually struck, for the moon was young and the light
baffling; and for a long time we were accompanied by, and
passed and re-passed, a huge whale-boat from Savaii, pulling
perhaps twelve oars, and containing perhaps forty people who
sang in time as they went So to the hotel, where we slept,
and returned the next Tuesday morning on the three same

Meanwhile my business was still untransacted. And on
Saturday morning, I sent down and arranged with Charlie
Taylor to go down that afternoon. I had scarce got the
saddle bags fixed and had not yet mounted, when the rain
began. But it was no use delaying now; off I went in a wild
waterspout to Apia; found Charlie (Sale) Taylor - a
sesquipedalian young half-caste - not yet ready, had a snack
of bread and cheese at the hotel while waiting him, and then
off to Malie. It rained all the way, seven miles; the road,
which begins in triumph, dwindles down to a nasty, boggy,
rocky footpath with weeds up to a horseman's knees; and there
are eight pig fences to jump, nasty beastly jumps - the next
morning we found one all messed with blood where a horse had
come to grief - but my Jack is a clever fencer; and
altogether we made good time, and got to Malie about dark.
It is a village of very fine native houses, high, domed, oval
buildings, open at the sides, or only closed with slatted
Venetians. To be sure, Mataafa's is not the worst. It was
already quite dark within, only a little fire of cocoa-shell
blazed in the midst and showed us four servants; the chief
was in his chapel, whence we heard the sound of chaunting.
Presently he returned; Taylor and I had our soaking clothes
changed, family worship was held, kava brewed, I was
exhibited to the chiefs as a man who had ridden through all
that rain and risked deportation to serve their master; they
were bidden learn my face, and remember upon all occasions to
help and serve me. Then dinner, and politics, and fine
speeches until twelve at night - O, and some more kava - when
I could sit up no longer; my usual bed-time is eight, you
must remember. Then one end of the house was screened off
for me alone, and a bed made - you never saw such a couch - I
believe of nearly fifty (half at least) fine mats, by
Mataafa's daughter, Kalala. Here I reposed alone; and on the
other side of the tafa, Majesty and his household. Armed
guards and a drummer patrolled about the house all night;
they had no shift, poor devils; but stood to arms from sun-
down to sun-up.

About four in the morning, I was awakened by the sound of a
whistle pipe blown outside on the dark, very softly and to a
pleasing simple air; I really think I have hit the first

[Fragment of music score which cannot be reproduced]

It sounded very peaceful, sweet and strange in the dark; and
I found this was a part of the routine of my rebel's night,
and it was done (he said) to give good dreams. By a little
before six, Taylor and I were in the saddle again fasting.
My riding boots were so wet I could not get them on, so I
must ride barefoot. The morning was fair but the roads very
muddy, the weeds soaked us nearly to the waist, Sale was
twice spilt at the fences, and we got to Apia a bedraggled
enough pair. All the way along the coast, the pate (small
wooden drum) was beating in the villages and the people
crowding to the churches in their fine clothes. Thence
through the mangrove swamp, among the black mud and the green
mangroves, and the black and scarlet crabs, to Mulinuu, to
the doctor's, where I had an errand, and so to the inn to
breakfast about nine. After breakfast I rode home. Conceive
such an outing, remember the pallid brute that lived in
Skerryvore like a weevil in a biscuit, and receive the
intelligence that I was rather the better for my journey.
Twenty miles ride, sixteen fences taken, ten of the miles in
a drenching rain, seven of them fasting and in the morning
chill, and six stricken hours' political discussions by an
interpreter; to say nothing of sleeping in a native house, at
which many of our excellent literati would look askance of

You are to understand: if I take all this bother, it is not
only from a sense of duty, or a love of meddling - damn the
phrase, take your choice - but from a great affection for
Mataafa. He is a beautiful, sweet old fellow, and he and I
grew quite fulsome on Saturday night about our sentiments. I
had a messenger from him to-day with a flannel undershirt
which I had left behind like a gibbering idiot; and
perpetrated in reply another baboo letter. It rains again
to-day without mercy; blessed, welcome rains, making up for
the paucity of the late wet season; and when the showers
slacken, I can hear my stream roaring in the hollow, and tell
myself that the cacaos are drinking deep. I am desperately
hunted to finish my Samoa book before the mail goes; this
last chapter is equally delicate and necessary. The prayers
of the congregation are requested. Eheu! and it will be
ended before this letter leaves and printed in the States ere
you can read this scribble. The first dinner gong has
SOIFUA! Sleep! long life! as our Samoan salutation of
farewell runs.


Well, the last chapter, by far the most difficult and
ungrateful, is well under way, I have been from six to seven
hours upon it daily since I last wrote; and that is all I
have done forbye working at Samoan rather hard, and going
down on Wednesday evening to the club. I make some progress
now at the language; I am teaching Belle, which clears and
exercises myself. I am particularly taken with the FINESSE
of the pronouns. The pronouns are all dual and plural and
the first person, both in the dual and plural, has a special
exclusive and inclusive form. You can conceive what fine
effects of precision and distinction can be reached in
certain cases. Take Ruth, i. VV. 8 to 13, and imagine how
those pronouns come in; it is exquisitely elegant, and makes
the mouth of the LITTERATEUR to water. I am going to
exercitate my pupil over those verses to-day for pronoun


Yesterday came yours. Well, well, if the dears prefer a
week, why, I'll give them ten days, but the real document,
from which I have scarcely varied, ran for one night. I
think you seem scarcely fair to Wiltshire, who had surely,
under his beast-ignorant ways, right noble qualities. And I
think perhaps you scarce do justice to the fact that this is
a place of realism A OUTRANCE; nothing extenuated or
coloured. Looked at so, is it not, with all its tragic
features, wonderfully idyllic, with great beauty of scene and
circumstance? And will you please to observe that almost all
that is ugly is in the whites? I'll apologise for Papa
Randal if you like; but if I told you the whole truth - for I
did extenuate there! - and he seemed to me essential as a
figure, and essential as a pawn in the game, Wiltshire's
disgust for him being one of the small, efficient motives in
the story. Now it would have taken a fairish dose to disgust
Wiltshire. - Again, the idea of publishing the Beach
substantively is dropped - at once, both on account of
expostulation, and because it measured shorter than I had
expected. And it was only taken up, when the proposed
volume, BEACH DE MAR, petered out. It petered out thus: the
chief of the short stories got sucked into SOPHIA SCARLET -
and Sophia is a book I am much taken with, and mean to get
to, as soon as - but not before - I have done DAVID BALFOUR
and THE YOUNG CHEVALIER. So you see you are like to hear no
more of the Pacific or the nineteenth century for a while.
THE YOUNG CHEVALIER is a story of sentiment and passion,
which I mean to write a little differently from what I have
been doing - if I can hit the key; rather more of a
sentimental tremolo to it. It may thus help to prepare me
for SOPHIA, which is to contain three ladies, and a kind of a
love affair between the heroine and a dying planter who is a
poet! large orders for R. L. S.

O the German taboo is quite over; no soul attempts to support
the C. J. or the President, they are past hope; the whites
have just refused their taxes - I mean the council has
refused to call for them, and if the council consented,
nobody would pay; 'tis a farce, and the curtain is going to
fall briefly. Consequently in my History, I say as little as
may be of the two dwindling stars. Poor devils! I liked the
one, and the other has a little wife, now lying in! There
was no man born with so little animosity as I. When I heard
the C. J. was in low spirits and never left his house, I
could scarce refrain from going to him.

It was a fine feeling to have finished the History; there
ought to be a future state to reward that grind! It's not
literature, you know; only journalism, and pedantic
journalism. I had but the one desire, to get the thing as
right as might be, and avoid false concords - even if that!
And it was more than there was time for. However, there it
is: done. And if Samoa turns up again my book has to be
counted with, being the only narrative extant. Milton and I
- if you kindly excuse the juxtaposition - harnessed
ourselves to strange waggons, and I at least will be found to
have plodded very soberly with my load. There is not even a
good sentence in it, but perhaps - I don't know - it may be
found an honest, clear volume.


Never got a word set down, and continues on Thursday 19th
May, his own marriage day as ever was. News; yes. The C. J.
came up to call on us! After five months' cessation on my
side, and a decidedly painful interchange of letters, I could
not go down - could not - to see him. My three ladies
received him, however; he was very agreeable as usual, but
refused wine, beer, water, lemonade, chocolate and at last a
cigarette. Then my wife asked him, 'So you refuse to break
bread?' and he waved his hands amiably in answer. All my
three ladies received the same impression that he had serious
matters in his mind: now we hear he is quite cock-a-hoop
since the mail came, and going about as before his troubles
darkened. But what did he want with me? 'Tis thought he had
received a despatch - and that he misreads it (so we fully
believe) to the effect that they are to have war ships at
command and can make their little war after all. If it be
so, and they do it, it will be the meanest wanton slaughter
of poor men for the salaries of two white failures. But what
was his errand with me? Perhaps to warn me that unless I
behave he now hopes to be able to pack me off in the CURACOA
when she comes.

I have celebrated my holiday from SAMOA by a plunge at the
beginning of THE YOUNG CHEVALIER. I am afraid my touch is a
little broad in a love story; I can't mean one thing and
write another. As for women, I am no more in any fear of
them; I can do a sort all right; age makes me less afraid of
a petticoat, but I am a little in fear of grossness.
However, this David Balfour's love affair, that's all right -
might be read out to a mothers' meeting - or a daughters'
meeting. The difficulty in a love yarn, which dwells at all
on love, is the dwelling on one string; it is manifold, I
grant, but the root fact is there unchanged, and the
sentiment being very intense, and already very much handled
in letters, positively calls for a little pawing and gracing.
With a writer of my prosaic literalness and pertinency of
point of view, this all shoves toward grossness - positively
even towards the far more damnable CLOSENESS. This has kept
me off the sentiment hitherto, and now I am to try: Lord! Of
course Meredith can do it, and so could Shakespeare; but with
all my romance, I am a realist and a prosaist, and a most
fanatical lover of plain physical sensations plainly and
expressly rendered; hence my perils. To do love in the same
spirit as I did (for instance) D. Balfour's fatigue in the
heather; my dear sir, there were grossness - ready made! And
hence, how to sugar? However, I have nearly done with Marie-
Madeleine, and am in good hopes of Marie-Salome, the real
heroine; the other is only a prologuial heroine to introduce
the hero.


Anyway, the first prologuial episode is done, and Fanny likes
it. There are only four characters; Francis Blair of Balmile
(Jacobite Lord Gladsmuir) my hero; the Master of Ballantrae;
Paradon, a wine-seller of Avignon; Marie-Madeleine his wife.
These two last I am now done with, and I think they are
successful, and I hope I have Balmile on his feet; and the
style seems to be found. It is a little charged and violent;
sins on the side of violence; but I think will carry the
tale. I think it is a good idea so to introduce my hero,
being made love to by an episodic woman. This queer tale - I
mean queer for me - has taken a great hold upon me. Where
the devil shall I go next? This is simply the tale of a COUP
DE TETE of a young man and a young woman; with a nearly,
perhaps a wholly, tragic sequel, which I desire to make
thinkable right through, and sensible; to make the reader, as
far as I shall be able, eat and drink and breathe it. Marie-
Salome des Saintes-Maries is, I think, the heroine's name;
she has got to BE yet: SURSUM CORDA! So has the young
Chevalier, whom I have not yet touched, and who comes next in
order. Characters: Balmile, or Lord Gladsmuir, COMME VOUS
VOULEZ; Prince Charlie; Earl Marischal; Master of Ballantrae;
and a spy, and Dr. Archie Campbell, and a few nondescripts;
then, of women, Marie-Salome and Flora Blair; seven at the
outside; really four full lengths, and I suppose a half-dozen
episodic profiles. How I must bore you with these
ineptitudes! Have patience. I am going to bed; it is (of
all hours) eleven. I have been forced in (since I began to
write to you) to blatter to Fanny on the subject of my
heroine, there being two CRUCES as to her life and history:
how came she alone? and how far did she go with the
Chevalier? The second must answer itself when I get near
enough to see. The first is a back-breaker. Yet I know
there are many reasons why a FILLE DE FAMINE, romantic,
adventurous, ambitious, innocent of the world, might run from
her home in these days; might she not have been threatened
with a convent? might there not be some Huguenot business
mixed in? Here am I, far from books; if you can help me with
a suggestion, I shall say God bless you. She has to be new
run away from a strict family, well-justified in her own wild
but honest eyes, and meeting these three men, Charles Edward,
Marischal, and Balmile, through the accident of a fire at an
inn. She must not run from a marriage, I think; it would
bring her in the wrong frame of mind. Once I can get her,
SOLA, on the highway, all were well with my narrative.
Perpend. And help if you can.

Lafaele, long (I hope) familiar to you, has this day received
the visit of his SON from Tonga; and the SON proves to be a
very pretty, attractive young daughter! I gave all the boys
kava in honour of her arrival; along with a lean, side-
whiskered Tongan, dimly supposed to be Lafaele's step-father;
and they have been having a good time; in the end of my
verandah, I hear Simi, my present incapable steward, talking
Tongan with the nondescript papa. Simi, our out-door boy,
burst a succession of blood-vessels over our work, and I had
to make a position for the wreck of one of the noblest
figures of a man I ever saw. I believe I may have mentioned
the other day how I had to put my horse to the trot, the
canter and (at last) the gallop to run him down. In a
photograph I hope to send you (perhaps with this) you will
see Simi standing in the verandah in profile. As a steward,
one of his chief points is to break crystal; he is great on
fracture - what do I say? - explosion! He cleans a glass,
and the shards scatter like a comet's bowels.

N.B. - If I should by any chance be deported, the first of
the rules hung up for that occasion is to communicate with
you by telegraph. - Mind, I do not fear it, but it IS


We have had a devil of a morning of upset and bustle; the
bronze candlestick Faauma has returned to the family, in time
to take her position of stepmamma, and it is pretty to see
how the child is at once at home, and all her terrors ended.


And I don't know that I have much to report. I may have to
leave for Malie as soon as these mail packets are made up.
'Tis a necessity (if it be one) I rather deplore. I think I
should have liked to lazy; but I daresay all it means is the
delay of a day or so in harking back to David Balfour; that
respectable youth chides at being left (where he is now) in
Glasgow with the Lord Advocate, and after five years in the
British Linen, who shall blame him? I was all forenoon
yesterday down in Apia,' dictating, and Lloyd type-writing,
the conclusion of SAMOA; and then at home correcting till the
dinner bell; and in the evening again till eleven of the
clock. This morning I have made up most of my packets, and I
think my mail is all ready but two more, and the tag of this.
I would never deny (as D. B might say) that I was rather
tired of it. But I have a damned good dose of the devil in
my pipe-stem atomy; I have had my little holiday outing in my
kick at THE YOUNG CHEVALIER, and I guess I can settle to
DAVID BALFOUR to-morrow or Friday like a little man. I
wonder if any one had ever more energy upon so little
strength? - I know there is a frost, the Samoa book can only
increase that - I can't help it, that book is not written for
me but for Miss Manners; but I mean to break that frost
inside two years, and pull off a big success, and Vanity
whispers in my ear that I have the strength. If I haven't,
whistle ower the lave o't! I can do without glory and
perhaps the time is not far off when I can do without corn.
It is a time coming soon enough, anyway; and I have endured
some two and forty years without public shame, and had a good
time as I did it. If only I could secure a violent death,
what a fine success! I wish to die in my boots; no more Land
of Counterpane for me. To be drowned, to be shot, to be
thrown from a horse - ay, to be hanged, rather than pass
again through that slow dissolution.

I fancy this gloomy ramble is caused by a twinge of age; I
put on an under-shirt yesterday (it was the only one I could
find) that barely came under my trousers; and just below it,
a fine healthy rheumatism has now settled like a fire in my
hip. From such small causes do these valuable considerations

I shall now say adieu, dear Sir, having ten rugged miles
before me and the horrors of a native feast and parliament
without an interpreter, for to-day I go alone.

Yours ever,
R. L S.



HOW am I to overtake events? On Wednesday, as soon as my
mail was finished, I had a wild whirl to look forward to.
Immediately after dinner, Belle, Lloyd and I, set out on
horseback, they to the club, I to Haggard's, thence to the
hotel where I had supper ready for them. All next day we
hung round Apia with our whole house-crowd in Sunday array,
hoping for the mail steamer with a menagerie on board. No
such luck; the ship delayed; and at last, about three, I had
to send them home again, a failure of a day's pleasuring that
does not bear to be discussed. Lloyd was so sickened that he
returned the same night to Vailima, Belle and I held on, sat
most of the evening on the hotel verandah stricken silly with
fatigue and disappointment, and genuine sorrow for our poor
boys and girls, and got to bed with rather dismal
appreciations of the morrow.

These were more than justified, and yet I never had a jollier
day than Friday 27th. By 7.30 Belle and I had breakfast; we
had scarce done before my mother was at the door on
horseback, and a boy at her heels to take her not very
dashing charger home again. By 8.10 we were all on the
landing pier, and it was 9.20 before we had got away in a
boat with two inches of green wood on the keel of her, no
rudder, no mast, no sail, no boat flag, two defective
rowlocks, two wretched apologies for oars, and two boys - one
a Tongan half-caste, one a white lad, son of the Tonga
schoolmaster, and a sailor lad - to pull us. All this was
our first taste of the tender mercies of Taylor (the
sesquipidalian half-caste introduced two letters back, I
believe). We had scarce got round Mulinuu when Sale Taylor's
heart misgave him; he thought we had missed the tide; called
a halt, and set off ashore to find canoes. Two were found;
in one my mother and I were embarked with the two biscuit
tins (my present to the feast), and the bag with our dry
clothes, on which my mother was perched - and her cap was on
the top of it - feminine hearts please sympathise; all under
the guidance of Sale. In the other Belle and our guest;
Tauilo, a chief-woman, the mother of my cook, were to have
followed. And the boys were to have been left with the boat.
But Tauilo refused. And the four, Belle, Tauilo, Frank the
sailor-boy, and Jimmie the Tongan half-caste, set off in the
boat across that rapidly shoaling bay of the lagoon.

How long the next scene lasted, I could never tell. Sale was
always trying to steal away with our canoe and leave the
other four, probably for six hours, in an empty, leaky boat,
without so much as an orange or a cocoanut on board, and
under the direct rays of the sun. I had at last to stop him
by taking the spare paddle off the out-rigger and sticking it
in the ground - depth, perhaps two feet - width of the bay,
say three miles. At last I bid him land me and my mother and
go back for the other ladies. 'The coast is so rugged,' said
Sale. - 'What?' I said, 'all these villages and no landing
place?' - 'Such is the nature of Samoans,' said he. Well,
I'll find a landing-place, I thought; and presently I said,
'Now we are going to land there.' - 'We can but try,' said
the bland Sale, with resignation. Never saw a better
landing-place in my life. Here the boat joined us. My
mother and Sale continued in the canoe alone, and Belle and I
and Tauilo set off on foot for Malie. Tauilo was about the
size of both of us put together and a piece over; she used us
like a mouse with children. I had started barefoot; Belle
had soon to pull off her gala shoes and stockings; the mud
was as deep as to our knees, and so slippery that (moving, as
we did, in Indian file, between dense scratching tufts of
sensitive) Belle and I had to take hands to support each
other, and Tauilo was steadying Belle from the rear. You can
conceive we were got up to kill, Belle in an embroidered
white dress and white hat, I in a suit of Bedford cords hot
from the Sydney tailors; and conceive us, below, ink-black to
the knees with adhesive clay, and above, streaming with heat.
I suppose it was better than three miles, but at last we made
the end of Malie. I asked if we could find no water to wash
our feet; and our nursemaid guided us to a pool. We sat down
on the pool side, and our nursemaid washed our feet and legs
for us - ladies first, I suppose out of a sudden respect to
the insane European fancies: such a luxury as you can scarce
imagine. I felt a new man after it. But before we got to
the King's house we were sadly muddied once more. It was 1
P.M. when we arrived, the canoe having beaten us by about
five minutes, so we made fair time over our bog-holes.

But the war dances were over, and we came in time to see only
the tail end (some two hours) of the food presentation. In
Mataafa's house three chairs were set for us covered with
fine mats. Of course, a native house without the blinds down
is like a verandah. All the green in front was surrounded
with sheds, some of flapping canvas, some of green palm
boughs, where (in three sides of a huge oblong) the natives
sat by villages in a fine glow of many-hued array. There
were folks in tapa, and folks in patchwork; there was every
colour of the rainbow in a spot or a cluster; there were men
with their heads gilded with powdered sandal-wood, others
with heads all purple, stuck full of the petals of a flower.
In the midst there was a growing field of outspread food,
gradually covering acres; the gifts were brought in, now by
chanting deputations, now by carriers in a file; they were
brandished aloft and declaimed over, with polite sacramental
exaggerations, by the official receiver. He, a stalwart,
well-oiled quadragenarian, shone with sweat from his
exertions, brandishing cooked pigs. At intervals, from one
of the squatted villages, an orator would arise. The field
was almost beyond the reach of any human speaking voice; the
proceedings besides continued in the midst; yet it was
possible to catch snatches of this elaborate and cut-and-dry
oratory - it was possible for me, for instance, to catch the
description of my gift and myself as the ALII TUSITALA, O LE
ALII O MALO TETELE - the chief White Information, the chief
of the great Governments. Gay designation? In the house, in
our three curule chairs, we sat and looked on. On our left a
little group of the family. In front of us, at our feet, an
ancient Talking-man, crowned with green leaves, his profile
almost exactly Dante's; Popo his name. He had worshipped
idols in his youth; he had been full grown before the first
missionary came hither from Tahiti; this makes him over
eighty. Near by him sat his son and colleague. In the group
on our left, his little grandchild sat with her legs crossed
and her hands turned, the model already (at some three years
old) of Samoan etiquette. Still further off to our right,
Mataafa sat on the ground through all the business; and still
I saw his lips moving, and the beads of his rosary slip
stealthily through his hand. We had kava, and the King's
drinking was hailed by the Popos (father and son) with a
singular ululation, perfectly new to my ears; it means, to
the expert, 'Long live Tuiatua'; to the inexpert, is a mere
voice of barbarous wolves. We had dinner, retired a bit
behind the central pillar of the house; and, when the King
was done eating, the ululation was repeated. I had my eyes
on Mataafa's face, and I saw pride and gratified ambition
spring to life there and be instantly sucked in again. It
was the first time, since the difference with Laupepa, that
Popo and his son had openly joined him, and given him the due
cry as Tuiatua - one of the eight royal names of the islands,
as I hope you will know before this reaches you.

Not long after we had dined, the food-bringing was over. The
gifts (carefully noted and tallied as they came in) were now
announced by a humorous orator, who convulsed the audience,
introducing singing notes, now on the name of the article,
now on the number; six thousand odd heads of taro, three
hundred and nineteen cooked pigs; and one thing that
particularly caught me (by good luck), a single turtle 'for
the King' - LE TASI MO LE TUPU. Then came one of the
strangest sights I have yet witnessed. The two most
important persons there (bar Mataafa) were Popo and his son.
They rose, holding their long shod rods of talking men,
passed forth from the house, broke into a strange dance, the
father capering with outstretched arms and rod, the son
crouching and gambolling beside him in a manner
indescribable, and presently began to extend the circle of
this dance among the acres of cooked food. WHATEVER THEY
mediaeval Dante thus demean himself struck a kind of a chill
of incongruity into our Philistine souls; but even in a great
part of the Samoan concourse, these antique and (I
understand) quite local manners awoke laughter. One of my
biscuit tins and a live calf were among the spoils he
claimed, but the large majority of the cooked food (having
once proved his dignity) he re-presented to the King.

Then came the turn of LE ALII TUSITALA. He would not dance,
but he was given - five live hens, four gourds of oil, four
fine tapas, a hundred heads of taro, two cooked pigs, a
cooked shark, two or three cocoanut branches strung with
kava, and the turtle, who soon after breathed his last, I
believe, from sunstroke. It was a royal present for 'the
chief of the great powers.' I should say the gifts were, on
the proper signal, dragged out of the field of food by a
troop of young men, all with their lava-lavas kilted almost
into a loin-cloth. The art is to swoop on the food-field,
pick up with unerring swiftness the right things and
quantities, swoop forth again on the open, and separate,
leaving the gifts in a new pile: so you may see a covey of
birds in a corn-field. This reminds me of a very inhumane
but beautiful passage I had forgotten in its place. The
gift-giving was still in full swing, when there came a troop
of some ninety men all in tafa lava-lavas of a purplish
colour; they paused, and of a sudden there went up from them
high into the air a flight of live chickens, which, as they
came down again, were sent again into the air, for perhaps a
minute, from the midst of a singular turmoil of flying arms
and shouting voices; I assure you, it was very beautiful to
see, but how many chickens were killed?

No sooner was my food set out than I was to be going. I had
a little serious talk with Mataafa on the floor, and we went
down to the boat, where we got our food aboard, such a cargo
- like the Swiss Family Robinson, we said. However, a squall
began, Tauilo refused to let us go, and we came back to the
house for half-an-hour or so, when my ladies distinguished
themselves by walking through a Fono (council), my mother
actually taking up a position between Mataafa and Popo! It
was about five when we started - turtle, pigs, taro, etc., my
mother, Belle, myself, Tauilo, a portly friend of hers with
the voice of an angel, and a pronunciation so delicate and
true that you could follow Samoan as she sang, and the two
tired boys Frank and Jimmie, with the two bad oars and the
two slippery rowlocks to impel the whole. Sale Taylor took
the canoe and a strong Samoan to paddle him. Presently after
he went inshore, and passed us a little after, with his arms
folded, and TWO strong Samoans impelling him Apia-ward. This
was too much for Belle, who hailed, taunted him, and made him
return to the boat with one of the Samoans, setting Jimmie
instead in the canoe. Then began our torment, Sale and the
Samoan took the oars, sat on the same thwart (where they
could get no swing on the boat had they tried), and
deliberately ladled at the lagoon. We lay enchanted. Night
fell; there was a light visible on shore; it did not move.
The two women sang, Belle joining them in the hymns she has
learned at family worship. Then a squall came up; we sat a
while in roaring midnight under rivers of rain, and, when it
blew by, there was the light again, immovable. A second
squall followed, one of the worst I was ever out in; we could
scarce catch our breath in the cold, dashing deluge. When it
went, we were so cold that the water in the bottom of the
boat (which I was then baling) seemed like a warm footbath in
comparison, and Belle and I, who were still barefoot, were
quite restored by laving in it.

All this time I had kept my temper, and refrained as far as
might be from any interference, for I saw (in our friend's
mulish humour) he always contrived to twist it to our
disadvantage. But now came the acute point. Young Frank now
took an oar. He was a little fellow, near as frail as
myself, and very short; if he weighed nine stone, it was the
outside; but his blood was up. He took stroke, moved the big
Samoan forward to bow, and set to work to pull him round in
fine style. Instantly a kind of race competition - almost
race hatred - sprang up. We jeered the Samoan. Sale
declared it was the trim of the boat: 'if this lady was aft'
(Tauilo's portly friend) 'he would row round Frank.' We
insisted on her coming aft, and Frank still rowed round the
Samoan. When the Samoan caught a crab (the thing was
continual with these wretched oars and rowlocks), we shouted
and jeered; when Frank caught one, Sale and the Samoan jeered
and yelled. But anyway the boat moved, and presently we got
up with Mulinuu, where I finally lost my temper, when I found
that Sale proposed to go ashore and make a visit - in fact,
we all three did. It is not worth while going into, but I
must give you one snatch of the subsequent conversation as we
pulled round Apia bay. 'This Samoan,' said Sale, 'received
seven German bullets in the field of Fangalii.' 'I am
delighted to hear it,' said Belle. 'His brother was killed
there,' pursued Sale; and Belle, prompt as an echo, 'Then
there are no more of the family? how delightful!' Sale was
sufficiently surprised to change the subject; he began to
praise Frank's rowing with insufferable condescension: 'But
it is after all not to be wondered at,' said he, 'because he
has been for some time a sailor. My good man, is it three or
five years that you have been to sea?' And Frank, in a
defiant shout: 'Two!' Whereupon, so high did the ill-feeling
run, that we three clapped and applauded and shouted, so that
the President (whose house we were then passing) doubtless
started at the sounds. It was nine when we got to the hotel;
at first no food was to be found, but we skirmished up some
bread and cheese and beer and brandy; and (having changed our
wet clothes for the rather less wet in our bags) supped on
the verandah.

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


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

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

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


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

I have finished copying Chapter XXI. of David - 'SOLUS CUM
SOLA; we travel together.' Chapter XXII., 'SOLUS CUM SOLA;
we keep house together,' is already drafted. To the end of
XXI. makes more than 150 pages of my manuscript - damn this
hair - and I only designed the book to run to about 200; but
when you introduce the female sect, a book does run away with
you. I am very curious to see what you will think of my two
girls. My own opinion is quite clear; I am in love with
both. I foresee a few pleasant years of spiritual
flirtations. The creator (if I may name myself, for the sake
of argument, by such a name) is essentially unfaithful. For
the duration of the two chapters in which I dealt with Miss
Grant, I totally forgot my heroine, and even - but this is a
flat secret - tried to win away David. I think I must try
some day to marry Miss Grant. I'm blest if I don't think
I've got that hair out! which seems triumph enough; so I


Your infinitesimal correspondence has reached me, and I have
the honour to refer to it with scorn. It contains only one
statement of conceivable interest, that your health is
better; the rest is null, and so far as disquisitory unsound.
I am all right, but David Balfour is ailing; this came from
my visit to the man-of-war, where I had a cup of tea, and the
most of that night walked the verandah with extraordinary
convictions of guilt and ruin, many of which (but not all)
proved to have fled with the day, taking David along with
them; he R.I.P. in Chapter XXII.

On Saturday I went down to the town, and fetched up Captain
Gibson to dinner; Sunday I was all day at Samoa, and had a
pile of visitors. Yesterday got my mail, including your
despicable sheet; was fooled with a visit from the high chief
Asi, went down at 4 P.M. to my Samoan lesson from Whitmee - I
think I shall learn from him, he does not fool me with
cockshot rules that are demolished next day, but professes
ignorance like a man; the truth is, the grammar has still to
be expiscated - dined with Haggard, and got home about nine.


The excellent Clarke up here almost all day yesterday, a man
I esteem and like to the soles of his boots; I prefer him to
anyone in Samoa, and to most people in the world; a real good
missionary, with the inestimable advantage of having grown up
a layman. Pity they all can't get that! It recalls my old
proposal, which delighted Lady Taylor so much, that every
divinity student should be thirty years old at least before
he was admitted. Boys switched out of college into a pulpit,
what chance have they? That any should do well amazes me,
and the most are just what was to be expected.


I must tell you of our feast. It was long promised to the
boys, and came off yesterday in one of their new houses. My
good Simele arrived from Savaii that morning asking for
political advice; then we had Tauilo; Elena's father, a
talking man of Tauilo's family; Talolo's cousin; and a boy of
Simele's family, who attended on his dignity; then Metu, the
meat-man - you have never heard of him, but he is a great
person in our household - brought a lady and a boy - and
there was another infant - eight guests in all. And we sat
down thirty strong. You should have seen our procession,
going (about two o'clock), all in our best clothes, to the
hall of feasting! All in our Sunday's best. The new house
had been hurriedly finished; the rafters decorated with
flowers; the floor spread, native style, with green leaves;
we had given a big porker, twenty-five pounds of fresh beef,
a tin of biscuit, cocoanuts, etc. Our places were all
arranged with much care; the native ladies of the house
facing our party; the sides filled up by the men; the guests,
please observe: the two chief people, male and female, were
placed with our family, the rest between S. and the native
ladies. After the feast was over, we had kava, and the
calling of the kava was a very elaborate affair, and I
thought had like to have made Simele very angry; he is really
a considerable chief, but he and Tauilo were not called till
after all our family, AND THE GUESTS, I suppose the principle
being that he was still regarded as one of the household. I
forgot to say that our black boy did not turn up when the
feast was ready. Off went the two cooks, found him,
decorated him with huge red hibiscus flowers - he was in a
very dirty under shirt - brought him back between them like a
reluctant maid, and, thrust him into a place between Faauma
and Elena, where he was petted and ministered to. When his
turn came in the kava drinking - and you may be sure, in
their contemptuous, affectionate kindness for him, as for a
good dog, it came rather earlier than it ought - he was cried
under a new name. ALEKI is what they make of his own name
Arrick; but instead of

{ the cup of }
{'le ipu o }

Aleki!' it was called 'le ipu o VAILIMA' and it was explained
that he had 'taken his chief-name'! a jest at which the
plantation still laughs. Kava done, I made a little speech,
Henry translating. If I had been well, I should have alluded
to all, but I was scarce able to sit up; so only alluded to
my guest of all this month, the Tongan, Tomas, and to Simele,
partly for the jest of making him translate compliments to
himself. The talking man replied with many handsome
compliments to me, in the usual flood of Samoan fluent
neatness; and we left them to an afternoon of singing and
dancing. Must stop now, as my right hand is very bad again.
I am trying to write with my left.


About half-past eight last night, I had gone to my own room,
Fanny and Lloyd were in Fanny's, every one else in bed, only
two boys on the premises - the two little brown boys Mitaiele
(Michael), age I suppose 11 or 12, and the new steward, a
Wallis islander, speaking no English and about fifty words of
Samoan, recently promoted from the bush work, and a most
good, anxious, timid lad of 15 or 16 - looks like 17 or 18,
of course - they grow fast here. In comes Mitaiele to Lloyd,
and told some rigmarole about Paatalise (the steward's name)
wanting to go and see his family in the bush. - 'But he has
no family in the bush,' said Lloyd. 'No,' said Mitaiele.
They went to the boy's bed (they sleep in the walled-in
compartment of the verandah, once my dressing-room) and
called at once for me. He lay like one asleep, talking in
drowsy tones but without excitement, and at times 'cheeping'
like a frightened mouse; he was quite cool to the touch, and
his pulse not fast; his breathing seemed wholly ventral; the
bust still, the belly moving strongly. Presently he got from
his bed, and ran for the door, with his head down not three
feet from the floor and his body all on a stretch forward,
like a striking snake: I say 'ran,' but this strange movement
was not swift. Lloyd and I mastered him and got him back in
bed. Soon there was another and more desperate attempt to
escape, in which Lloyd had his ring broken. Then we bound
him to the bed humanely with sheets, ropes, boards and
pillows. He lay there and sometimes talked, sometimes
whispered, sometimes wept like an angry child; his principal
word was 'Faamolemole' - 'Please' - and he kept telling us at
intervals that his family were calling him. During this
interval, by the special grace of God, my boys came home; we
had already called in Arrick, the black boy; now we had that
Hercules, Lafaele, and a man Savea, who comes from
Paatalise's own island and can alone communicate with him
freely. Lloyd went to bed, I took the first watch, and sat
in my room reading, while Lafaele and Arrick watched the
madman. Suddenly Arrick called me; I ran into the verandah;
there was Paatalise free of all his bonds and Lafaele holding
him. To tell what followed is impossible. We were five
people at him - Lafaele and Savea, very strong men, Lloyd, I
and Arrick, and the struggle lasted until 1 A.M. before we
had him bound. One detail for a specimen: Lloyd and I had
charge of one leg, we were both sitting on it, and lo! we
were both tossed into the air - I, I daresay, a couple of
feet. At last we had him spread-eagled to the iron bedstead,
by his wrists and ankles, with matted rope; a most inhumane
business, but what could we do? it was all we could do to
manage it even so. The strength of the paroxysms had been
steadily increasing, and we trembled for the next. And now I
come to pure Rider Haggard. Lafaele announced that the boy
was very bad, and he would get 'some medicine' which was a
family secret of his own. Some leaves were brought
mysteriously in; chewed, placed on the boy's eyes, dropped in
his ears (see Hamlet) and stuck up his nostrils; as he did
this, the weird doctor partly smothered the patient with his
hand; and by about 2 A.M. he was in a deep sleep, and from
that time he showed no symptom of dementia whatever. The
medicine (says Lafaele) is principally used for the wholesale
slaughter of families; he himself feared last night that his
dose was fatal; only one other person, on this island, knows
the secret; and she, Lafaele darkly whispers, has abused it.
This remarkable tree we must try to identify.

The man-of-war doctor came up to-day, gave us a strait-
waistcoat, taught us to bandage, examined the boy and saw he
was apparently well - he insisted on doing his work all
morning, poor lad, and when he first came down kissed all the
family at breakfast! The Doctor was greatly excited, as may
be supposed, about Lafaele's medicine.


All yesterday writing my mail by the hand of Belle, to save
my wrist. This is a great invention, to which I shall stick,
if it can be managed. We had some alarm about Paatalise, but
he slept well all night for a benediction. This lunatic
asylum exercise has no attractions for any of us.

I don't know if I remembered to say how much pleased I was
with ACROSS THE PLAINS in every way, inside and out, and you
and me. The critics seem to taste it, too, as well as could
be hoped, and I believe it will continue to bring me in a few
shillings a year for a while. But such books pay only

To understand the full horror of the mad scene, and how well
my boys behaved, remember that THEY BELIEVED P.'S RAVINGS,
they KNEW that his dead family, thirty strong, crowded the
front verandah and called on him to come to the other world.
They KNEW that his dead brother had met him that afternoon in
the bush and struck him on both temples. And remember! we
are fighting the dead, and they had to go out again in the
black night, which is the dead man's empire. Yet last
evening, when I thought P. was going to repeat the
performance, I sent down for Lafaele, who had leave of
absence, and he and his wife came up about eight o'clock with
a lighted brand. These are the things for which I have to
forgive my old cattle-man his manifold shortcomings; they are
heroic - so are the shortcomings, to be sure.

It came over me the other day suddenly that this diary of
mine to you would make good pickings after I am dead, and a
man could make some kind of a book out of it without much
trouble. So, for God's sake, don't lose them, and they will
prove a piece of provision for my 'poor old family,' as
Simele calls it.

About my coming to Europe, I get more and more doubtful, and
rather incline to Ceylon again as place of meeting. I am so
absurdly well here in the tropics, that it seems like
affectation. Yet remember I have never once stood Sydney.
Anyway, I shall have the money for it all ahead, before I
think of such a thing.

We had a bowl of Punch on your birthday, which my incredible
mother somehow knew and remembered.

I sometimes sit and yearn for anything in the nature of an
income that would come in - mine has all got to be gone and
fished for with the immortal mind of man. What I want is the
income that really comes in of itself while all you have to
do is just to blossom and exist and sit on chairs. Think how
beautiful it would be not to have to mind the critics, and
not even the darkest of the crowd - Sidney Colvin. I should
probably amuse myself with works that would make your hair
curl, if you had any left.

R. L S.



THE character of my handwriting is explained, alas! by
scrivener's cramp. This also explains how long I have let
the paper lie plain.

1 P. M.

I was busy copying David Balfour with my left hand - a most
laborious task - Fanny was down at the native house
superintending the floor, Lloyd down in Apia, and Belle in
her own house cleaning, when I heard the latter calling on my
name. I ran out on the verandah; and there on the lawn
beheld my crazy boy with an axe in his hand and dressed out
in green ferns, dancing. I ran downstairs and found all my
house boys on the back verandah, watching him through the
dining-room. I asked what it meant? - 'Dance belong his
place,' they said. - 'I think this no time to dance,' said I.
'Has he done his work?' - 'No,' they told me, 'away bush all
morning.' But there they all stayed on the back verandah. I
went on alone through the dining-room, and bade him stop. He
did so, shouldered the axe, and began to walk away; but I
called him back, walked up to him, and took the axe out of
his unresisting hands. The boy is in all things so good,
that I can scarce say I was afraid; only I felt it had to be
stopped ere he could work himself up by dancing to some
craziness. Our house boys protested they were not afraid;
all I know is they were all watching him round the back door
and did not follow me till I had the axe. As for the out
boys, who were working with Fanny in the native house, they
thought it a very bad business, and made no secret of their


I have no account to give of my stewardship these days, and
there's a day more to account for than mere arithmetic would
tell you. For we have had two Monday Fourths, to bring us at
last on the right side of the meridian, having hitherto been
an exception in the world and kept our private date.
Business has filled my hours sans intermission.


I am doing no work and my mind is in abeyance. Fanny and
Belle are sewing-machining in the next room; I have been
pulling down their hair, and Fanny has been kicking me, and
now I am driven out. Austin I have been chasing about the
verandah; now he has gone to his lessons, and I make believe
to write to you in despair. But there is nothing in my mind;
I swim in mere vacancy, my head is like a rotten nut; I shall
soon have to begin to work again or I shall carry away some
part of the machinery. I have got your insufficient letter,
for which I scorn to thank you. I have had no review by
Gosse, none by Birrell; another time if I have a letter in
the TIMES, you might send me the text as well; also please
send me a cricket bat and a cake, and when I come home for
the holidays, I should like to have a pony.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


P.S. I am quite well; I hope you are quite well. The world
is too much with us, and my mother bids me bind my hair and
lace my bodice blue.


MY DEAR COLVIN, - This is Friday night, the (I believe) 18th
or 20th August or September. I shall probably regret to-
morrow having written you with my own hand like the Apostle
Paul. But I am alone over here in the workman's house, where
I and Belle and Lloyd and Austin are pigging; the rest are at
cards in the main residence. I have not joined them because
'belly belong me' has been kicking up, and I have just taken
15 drops of laudanum.

On Tuesday, the party set out - self in white cap, velvet
coat, cords and yellow half boots, Belle in a white kind of
suit and white cap to match mine, Lloyd in white clothes and
long yellow boots and a straw hat, Graham in khakis and
gaiters, Henry (my old overseer) in blue coat and black kilt,
and the great Lafaele with a big ship-bag on his saddle-bow.
We left the mail at the P. O., had lunch at the hotel, and
about 1.50 set out westward to the place of tryst. This was
by a little shrunken brook in a deep channel of mud on the
far side of which, in a thicket of low trees, all full of
moths of shadow and butterflies of sun, we lay down to await
her ladyship. Whiskey and water, then a sketch of the
encampment for which we all posed to Belle, passed off the
time until 3.30. Then I could hold on no longer. 30 minutes
late. Had the secret oozed out? Were they arrested? I got
my horse, crossed the brook again, and rode hard back to the
Vaea cross roads, whence I was aware of white clothes
glancing in the other long straight radius of the quadrant.
I turned at once to return to the place of tryst; but D.
overtook me, and almost bore me down, shouting 'Ride, ride!'
like a hero in a ballad. Lady Margaret and he were only come
to shew the place; they returned, and the rest of our party,
reinforced by Captain Leigh and Lady Jersey, set on for
Malie. The delay was due to D.'s infinite precautions,
leading them up lanes, by back ways, and then down again to
the beach road a hundred yards further on.

It was agreed that Lady Jersey existed no more; she was now
my cousin Amelia Balfour. That relative and I headed the
march; she is a charming woman, all of us like her extremely
after trial on this somewhat rude and absurd excursion. And
we Amelia'd or Miss Balfour'd her with great but intermittent
fidelity. When we came to the last village, I sent Henry on
ahead to warn the King of our approach and amend his
discretion, if that might be. As he left I heard the
villagers asking WHICH WAS THE GREAT LADY? And a little
further, at the borders of Malie itself, we found the guard
making a music of bugles and conches. Then I knew the game
was up and the secret out. A considerable guard of honour,
mostly children, accompanied us; but, for our good fortune,
we had been looked for earlier, and the crowd was gone.

Dinner at the King's; he asked me to say grace, I could think
of none - never could; Graham suggested BENEDICTUS BENEDICAT,
at which I leaped. We were nearly done, when old Popo
inflicted the Atua howl (of which you have heard already)
right at Lady Jersey's shoulder. She started in fine style.
- 'There,' I said, 'we have been giving you a chapter of
Scott, but this goes beyond the Waverley Novels.' After
dinner, kava. Lady J. was served before me, and the King
DRANK LAST; it was the least formal kava I ever saw in that
house, - no names called, no show of ceremony. All my ladies
are well trained, and when Belle drained her bowl, the King
was pleased to clap his hands. Then he and I must retire for
our private interview, to another house. He gave me his own
staff and made me pass before him; and in the interview,
which was long and delicate, he twice called me AFIOGA. Ah,
that leaves you cold, but I am Samoan enough to have been
moved. SUSUGA is my accepted rank; to be called AFIOGA -
Heavens! what an advance - and it leaves Europe cold. But it
staggered my Henry. The first time it was complicated 'lana
susuga MA lana afioga - his excellency AND his majesty' - the
next time plain Majesty. Henry then begged to interrupt the
interview and tell who he was - he is a small family chief in
Sawaii, not very small - 'I do not wish the King,' says he,
'to think me a boy from Apia.' On our return to the palace,
we separated. I had asked for the ladies to sleep alone -
that was understood; but that Tusitala - his afioga Tusitala
- should go out with the other young men, and not sleep with
the highborn females of his family - was a doctrine received
with difficulty. Lloyd and I had one screen, Graham and
Leigh another, and we slept well.

In the morning I was first abroad before dawn; not very long,
already there was a stir of birds. A little after, I heard
singing from the King's chapel - exceeding good - and went
across in the hour when the east is yellow and the morning
bank is breaking up, to hear it nearer. All about the
chapel, the guards were posted, and all saluted Tusitala. I
could not refrain from smiling: 'So there is a place too,' I
thought, 'where sentinels salute me.' Mine has been a queer

[Drawing in book reproduced here in characters...]

E The X
D i Kava X

Breakfast was rather a protracted business. And that was
scarce over when we were called to the great house (now
finished - recall your earlier letters) to see a royal kava.
This function is of rare use; I know grown Samoans who have
never witnessed it. It is, besides, as you are to hear, a
piece of prehistoric history, crystallised in figures, and
the facts largely forgotten; an acted hieroglyph. The house
is really splendid; in the rafters in the midst, two carved
and coloured model birds are posted; the only thing of the
sort I have ever remarked in Samoa, the Samoans being literal
observers of the second commandment. At one side of the egg
our party sat. a=Mataafa, b=Lady J., c=Belle, d=Tusitala,
e=Graham, f=Lloyd, g=Captain Leigh, h=Henry, i=Popo. The x's
round are the high chiefs, each man in his historical
position. One side of the house is set apart for the King
alone; we were allowed there as his guests and Henry as our
interpreter. It was a huge trial to the lad, when a speech
was made to me which he must translate, and I made a speech
in answer which he had to orate, full-breathed, to that big
circle; he blushed through his dark skin, but looked and
acted like a gentleman and a young fellow of sense; then the
kava came to the King; he poured one drop in libation, drank
another, and flung the remainder outside the house behind
him. Next came the turn of the old shapeless stone marked T.
It stands for one of the King's titles, Tamasoalii; Mataafa
is Tamasoalii this day, but cannot drink for it; and the
stone must first be washed with water, and then have the bowl
emptied on it. Then - the order I cannot recall - came the
turn of y and z, two orators of the name of Malietoa; the
first took his kava down plain, like an ordinary man; the
second must be packed to bed under a big sheet of tapa, and
be massaged by anxious assistants and rise on his elbow
groaning to drink his cup. W., a great hereditary war man,
came next; five times the cup-bearers marched up and down the
house and passed the cup on, five times it was filled and the
General's name and titles heralded at the bowl, and five
times he refused it (after examination) as too small. It is
said this commemorates a time when Malietoa at the head of
his army suffered much for want of supplies. Then this same
military gentleman must DRINK five cups, one from each of the
great names: all which took a precious long time. He acted
very well, haughtily and in a society tone OUTLINING THE
part. The difference was marked when he subsequently made a
speech in his own character as a plain God-fearing chief. A
few more high chiefs, then Tusitala; one more, and then Lady
Jersey; one more, and then Captain Leigh, and so on with the
rest of our party - Henry of course excepted. You see in
public, Lady Jersey followed me - just so far was the secret

Then we came home; Belle, Graham and Lloyd to the Chinaman's,
I with Lady Jersey, to lunch; so severally home. Thursday I
have forgotten: Saturday, I began again on Davie; on Sunday,
the Jersey party came up to call and carried me to dinner.
As I came out, to ride home, the search-lights of the CURACOA
were lightening on the horizon from many miles away, and next
morning she came in. Tuesday was huge fun: a reception at
Haggard's. All our party dined there; Lloyd and I, in the
absence of Haggard and Leigh, had to play aide-de-camp and
host for about twenty minutes, and I presented the population
of Apia at random but (luck helping) without one mistake.
Wednesday we had two middies to lunch. Thursday we had Eeles
and Hoskyn (lieutenant and doctor - very, very nice fellows -
simple, good and not the least dull) to dinner. Saturday,
Graham and I lunched on board; Graham, Belle, Lloyd dined at
the G.'s; and Austin and the WHOLE of our servants went with
them to an evening entertainment; the more bold returning by
lantern-light. Yesterday, Sunday, Belle and I were off by
about half past eight, left our horses at a public house, and
went on board the CURACOA in the wardroom skiff; were
entertained in the wardroom; thence on deck to the service,
which was a great treat; three fiddles and a harmonium and
excellent choir, and the great ship's company joining: on
shore in Haggard's big boat to lunch with the party. Thence
all together to Vailima, where we read aloud a Ouida Romance
we have been secretly writing; in which Haggard was the hero,
and each one of the authors had to draw a portrait of him or
herself in a Ouida light. Leigh, Lady J., Fanny, R.L.S.,
Belle and Graham were the authors.

In the midst of this gay life, I have finally recopied two
chapters, and drafted for the first time three of Davie
Balfour. But it is not a life that would continue to suit
me, and if I have not continued to write to you, you will
scarce wonder. And to-day we all go down again to dinner,
and to-morrow they all come up to lunch! The world is too
much with us. But it now nears an end, to-day already the
CURACOA has sailed; and on Saturday or Sunday Lady Jersey
will follow them in the mail steamer. I am sending you a
wire by her hands as far as Sydney, that is to say either you
or Cassell, about FALESA: I will not allow it to be called
UMA in book form, that is not the logical name of the story.
Nor can I have the marriage contract omitted; and the thing
is full of misprints abominable. In the picture, Uma is rot;
so is the old man and the negro; but Wiltshire is splendid,
and Case will do. It seems badly illuminated, but this may
be printing. How have I seen this first number? Not through
your attention, guilty one! Lady Jersey had it, and only
mentioned it yesterday.

I ought to say how much we all like the Jersey party. My boy
Henry was enraptured with the manners of the TAWAITAI SILI
(chief lady). Among our other occupations, I did a bit of a
supposed epic describing our tryst at the ford of the
Gasegase; and Belle and I made a little book of caricatures
and verses about incidents on the visit.


The wild round of gaiety continues. After I had written to
you yesterday, the brain being wholly extinct, I played
piquet all morning with Graham. After lunch down to call on
the U.S. Consul, hurt in a steeple-chase; thence back to the
new girls' school which Lady J. was to open, and where my
ladies met me. Lady J. is really an orator, with a voice of
gold; the rest of us played our unremarked parts;
missionaries, Haggard, myself, a Samoan chief, holding forth
in turn; myself with (at least) a golden brevity. Thence,
Fanny, Belle, and I to town, to our billiard room in
Haggard's back garden, where we found Lloyd and where Graham
joined us. The three men first dressed, with the ladies in a
corner; and then, to leave them a free field, we went off to
Haggard and Leigh's quarters, where - after all to dinner,
where our two parties, a brother of Colonel Kitchener's, a
passing globe-trotter, and Clarke the missionary. A very gay
evening, with all sorts of chaff and mirth, and a moonlit
ride home, and to bed before 12.30. And now to-day, we have
the Jersey-Haggard troupe to lunch, and I must pass the
morning dressing ship.


I sit to write to you now, 7.15, all the world in bed except
myself, accounted for, and Belle and Graham, down at
Haggard's at dinner. Not a leaf is stirring here; but the
moon overhead (now of a good bigness) is obscured and partly
revealed in a whirling covey of thin storm-clouds. By Jove,
it blows above.

From 8 till 11.15 on Tuesday, I dressed ship, and in
particular cleaned crystal, my specially. About 11.30 the
guests began to arrive before I was dressed, and between
while I had written a parody for Lloyd to sing. Yesterday,
Wednesday, I had to start out about 3 for town, had a long
interview with the head of the German Firm about some work in
my new house, got over to Lloyd's billiard-room about six, on
the way whither I met Fanny and Belle coming down with one
Kitchener, a brother of the Colonel's. Dined in the
billiard-room, discovered we had forgot to order oatmeal;
whereupon, in the moonlit evening, I set forth in my tropical
array, mess jacket and such, to get the oatmeal, and meet a
young fellow C. - and not a bad young fellow either, only an
idiot - as drunk as Croesus. He wept with me, he wept for
me; he talked like a bad character in an impudently bad
farce; I could have laughed aloud to hear, and could make you
laugh by repeating, but laughter was not uppermost.

This morning at about seven, I set off after the lost sheep.
I could have no horse; all that could be mounted - we have
one girth-sore and one dead-lame in the establishment - were
due at a picnic about 10.30. The morning was very wet, and I
set off barefoot, with my trousers over my knees, and a
macintosh. Presently I had to take a side path in the bush;
missed it; came forth in a great oblong patch of taro
solemnly surrounded by forest - no soul, no sign, no sound -
and as I stood there at a loss, suddenly between the showers
out broke the note of a harmonium and a woman's voice singing
an air that I know very well, but have (as usual) forgot the
name of. 'Twas from a great way off, but seemed to fill the
world. It was strongly romantic, and gave me a point which
brought me, by all sorts of forest wading, to an open space
of palms. These were of all ages, but mostly at that age
when the branches arch from the ground level, range
themselves, with leaves exquisitely green. The whole
interspace was overgrown with convolvulus, purple, yellow and
white, often as deep as to my waist, in which I floundered
aimlessly. The very mountain was invisible from here. The
rain came and went; now in sunlit April showers, now with the
proper tramp and rattle of the tropics. All this while I met
no sight or sound of man, except the voice which was now
silent, and a damned pig-fence that headed me off at every
corner. Do you know barbed wire? Think of a fence of it on
rotten posts, and you barefoot. But I crossed it at last
with my heart in my mouth and no harm done. Thence at last
to C's.: no C. Next place I came to was in the zone of
woods. They offered me a buggy and set a black boy to wash
my legs and feet. 'Washum legs belong that fellow white-man'
was the command. So at last I ran down my son of a gun in
the hotel, sober, and with no story to tell; penitent, I
think. Home, by buggy and my poor feet, up three miles of
root, boulder, gravel and liquid mud, slipping back at every


Hope you will be able to read a word of the last, no joke
writing by a bad lantern with a groggy hand and your glasses
mislaid. Not that the hand is not better, as you see by the
absence of the amanuensis hitherto. Mail came Friday, and a
communication from yourself much more decent than usual, for
which I thank you. Glad the WRECKER should so hum; but Lord,
what fools these mortals be!

So far yesterday, the citation being wrung from me by
remembrance of many reviews. I have now received all FALESA,
and my admiration for that tale rises; I believe it is in
some ways my best work; I am pretty sure, at least, I have
never done anything better than Wiltshire.


On Wednesday the Spinsters of Apia gave a ball to a select
crowd. Fanny, Belle, Lloyd and I rode down, met Haggard by
the way and joined company with him. Dinner with Haggard,
and thence to the ball. The Chief Justice appeared; it was
immediately remarked, and whispered from one to another, that
he and I had the only red sashes in the room, - and they were
both of the hue of blood, sir, blood. He shook hands with
myself and all the members of my family. Then the cream
came, and I found myself in the same set of a quadrille with
his honour. We dance here in Apia a most fearful and
wonderful quadrille, I don't know where the devil they fished
it from; but it is rackety and prancing and embraceatory
beyond words; perhaps it is best defined in Haggard's
expression of a gambado. When I and my great enemy found
ourselves involved in this gambol, and crossing hands, and
kicking up, and being embraced almost in common by large and
quite respectable females, we - or I - tried to preserve some
rags of dignity, but not for long. The deuce of it is that,
personally, I love this man; his eye speaks to me, I am
pleased in his society. We exchanged a glance, and then a
grin; the man took me in his confidence; and through the
remainder of that prance we pranced for each other. Hard to
imagine any position more ridiculous; a week before he had
been trying to rake up evidence against me by brow-beating
and threatening a half-white interpreter; that very morning I
had been writing most villainous attacks upon him for the
TIMES; and we meet and smile, and - damn it! - like each
other. I do my best to damn the man and drive him from these
islands; but the weakness endures - I love him. This is a
thing I would despise in anybody else; but he is so jolly
insidious and ingratiating! No, sir, I can't dislike him;
but if I don't make hay of him, it shall not be for want of

Yesterday, we had two Germans and a young American boy to
lunch; and in the afternoon, Vailima was in a state of siege;
ten white people on the front verandah, at least as many
brown in the cook house, and countless blacks to see the
black boy Arrick.

Which reminds me, Arrick was sent Friday was a week to the
German Firm with a note, and was not home on time. Lloyd and
I were going bedward, it was late with a bright moon - ah,
poor dog, you know no such moons as these! - when home came
Arrick with his head in a white bandage and his eyes shining.
He had had a fight with other blacks, Malaita boys; many
against one, and one with a knife: 'I KNICKED 'EM DOWN, three
four!' he cried; and had himself to be taken to the doctor's
and bandaged. Next day, he could not work, glory of battle
swelled too high in his threadpaper breast; he had made a
one-stringed harp for Austin, borrowed it, came to Fanny's
room, and sang war-songs and danced a war dance in honour of
his victory. And it appears, by subsequent advices, that it
was a serious victory enough; four of his assailants went to
hospital, and one is thought in danger. All Vailima rejoiced
at this news.

Five more chapters of David, 22 to 27, go to Baxter. All
love affair; seems pretty good to me. Will it do for the
young person? I don't know: since the Beach, I know nothing,
except that men are fools and hypocrites, and I know less of
them than I was fond enough to fancy.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - On Tuesday, we had our young adventurer
ready, and Fanny, Belle, he and I set out about three of a
dark, deadly hot, and deeply unwholesome afternoon. Belle
had the lad behind her; I had a pint of champagne in either
pocket, a parcel in my hands, and as Jack had a girth sore
and I rode without a girth, I might be said to occupy a very
unstrategic position. On the way down, a little dreary,
beastly drizzle beginning to come out of the darkness, Fanny
put up an umbrella, her horse bounded, reared, cannoned into
me, cannoned into Belle and the lad, and bolted for home. It
really might and ought to have been an A1 catastrophe; but
nothing happened beyond Fanny's nerves being a good deal
shattered; of course, she could not tell what had happened to
us until she got her horse mastered.

Next day, Haggard went off to the Commission and left us in
charge of his house; all our people came down in wreaths of
flowers; we had a boat for them; Haggard had a flag in the
Commission boat for us; and when at last the steamer turned
up, the young adventurer was carried on board in great style,
with a new watch and chain, and about three pound ten of
tips, and five big baskets of fruit as free-will offerings to
the captain. Captain Morse had us all to lunch; champagne
flowed, so did compliments; and I did the affable celebrity
life-sized. It made a great send-off for the young
adventurer. As the boat drew off, he was standing at the
head of the gangway, supported by three handsome ladies - one
of them a real full-blown beauty, Madame Green, the singer -
and looking very engaging himself, between smiles and tears.
Not that he cried in public.

My, but we were a tired crowd! However, it is always a
blessing to get home, and this time it was a sort of wonder
to ourselves that we got back alive. Casualties: Fanny's
back jarred, horse incident; Belle, bad headache, tears and
champagne; self, idiocy, champagne, fatigue; Lloyd, ditto,
ditto. As for the adventurer, I believe he will have a
delightful voyage for his little start in life. But there is
always something touching in a mite's first launch.


I am now well on with the third part of the DEBACLE. The two
first I liked much; the second completely knocking me; so far
as it has gone, this third part appears the ramblings of a
dull man who has forgotten what he has to say - he reminds me
of an M.P. But Sedan was really great, and I will pick no
holes. The batteries under fire, the red-cross folk, the
county charge - perhaps, above all, Major Bouroche and the
operations, all beyond discussion; and every word about the
Emperor splendid.


David Balfour done, and its author along with it, or nearly
so. Strange to think of even our doctor here repeating his
nonsense about debilitating climate. Why, the work I have
been doing the last twelve months, in one continuous spate,
mostly with annoying interruptions and without any collapse
to mention, would be incredible in Norway. But I HAVE broken
down now, and will do nothing as long as I possibly can.
With David Balfour I am very well pleased; in fact these
labours of the last year - I mean FALESA AND D. B., not
Samoa, of course - seem to me to be nearer what I mean than
anything I have ever done; nearer what I mean by fiction; the
nearest thing before was KIDNAPPED. I am not forgetting the
MASTER OF BALLANTRAE, but that lacked all pleasurableness,
and hence was imperfect in essence. So you see, if I am a
little tired, I do not repent.

The third part of the DEBACLE may be all very fine; but I
cannot read it. It suffers from IMPAIRED VITALITY, and
UNCERTAIN AIM; two deadly sicknesses. Vital - that's what I
am at, first: wholly vital, with a buoyancy of life. Then
lyrical, if it may be, and picturesque, always with an epic
value of scenes, so that the figures remain in the mind's eye
for ever.


Suppose you sent us some of the catalogues of the parties
what vends statutes? I don't want colossal Herculeses, but
about quarter size and less. If the catalogues were
illustrated it would probably be found a help to weak
memories. These may be found to alleviate spare moments,
when we sometimes amuse ourselves by thinking how fine we
shall make the palace if we do not go pop. Perhaps in the
same way it might amuse you to send us any pattern of wall
paper that might strike you as cheap, pretty and suitable for
a room in a hot and extremely bright climate. It should be
borne in mind that our climate can be extremely dark too.
Our sitting-room is to be in varnished wood. The room I have
particularly in mind is a sort of bed and sitting-room,
pretty large, lit on three sides, and the colour in favour of
its proprietor at present is a topazy yellow. But then with
what colour to relieve it? For a little work-room of my own
at the back. I should rather like to see some patterns of
unglossy - well, I'll be hanged if I can describe this red -
it's not Turkish and it's not Roman and it's not Indian, but
it seems to partake of the two last, and yet it can't be
either of them, because it ought to be able to go with
vermilion. Ah, what a tangled web we weave - anyway, with
what brains you have left choose me and send me some - many -
patterns of this exact shade.

A few days ago it was Haggard's birthday and we had him and
his cousin to dinner - bless me if I ever told you of his
cousin! - he is here anyway, and a fine, pleasing specimen,
so that we have concluded (after our own happy experience)
that the climate of Samoa must be favourable to cousins.
Then we went out on the verandah in a lovely moonlight,
drinking port, hearing the cousin play and sing, till
presently we were informed that our boys had got up a siva in
Lafaele's house to which we were invited. It was entirely
their own idea. The house, you must understand, is one-half
floored, and one-half bare earth, and the dais stands a
little over knee high above the level of the soil. The dais
was the stage, with three footlights. We audience sat on
mats on the floor, and the cook and three of our work-boys,
sometimes assisted by our two ladies, took their places
behind the footlights and began a topical Vailima song. The
burden was of course that of a Samoan popular song about a
white man who objects to all that he sees in Samoa. And
there was of course a special verse for each one of the party
- Lloyd was called the dancing man (practically the Chief's
handsome son) of Vailima; he was also, in his character I
suppose of overseer, compared to a policeman - Belle had that
day been the almoner in a semi-comic distribution of wedding
rings and thimbles (bought cheap at an auction) to the whole
plantation company, fitting a ring on every man's finger, and
a ring and a thimble on both the women's. This was very much
in character with her native name TEUILA, the adorner of the
ugly - so of course this was the point of her verse and at a
given moment all the performers displayed the rings upon
their fingers. Pelema (the cousin - OUR cousin) was
described as watching from the house and whenever he saw any
boy not doing anything, running and doing it himself.
Fanny's verse was less intelligible, but it was accompanied
in the dance with a pantomime of terror well-fitted to call
up her haunting, indefatigable and diminutive presence in a
blue gown.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - This is very late to begin the monthly
budget, but I have a good excuse this time, for I have had a
very annoying fever with symptoms of sore arm, and in the
midst of it a very annoying piece of business which suffered
no delay or idleness. . . . The consequence of all this was
that my fever got very much worse and your letter has not
been hitherto written. But, my dear fellow, do compare these
little larky fevers with the fine, healthy, prostrating colds
of the dear old dead days at home. Here was I, in the middle
of a pretty bad one, and I was able to put it in my pocket,
and go down day after day, and attend to and put my strength
into this beastly business. Do you see me doing that with a
catarrh? And if I had done so, what would have been the

Last night, about four o'clock, Belle and I set off to Apia,
whither my mother had preceded us. She was at the Mission;
we went to Haggard's. There we had to wait the most
unconscionable time for dinner. I do not wish to speak
lightly of the Amanuensis, who is unavoidably present, but I
may at least say for myself that I was as cross as two
sticks. Dinner came at last, we had the tinned soup which is
usually the PIECE DE RESISTANCE in the halls of Haggard, and
we pitched into it. Followed an excellent salad of tomatoes
and cray-fish, a good Indian curry, a tender joint of beef, a
dish of pigeons, a pudding, cheese and coffee. I was so
over-eaten after this 'hunger and burst' that I could
scarcely move; and it was my sad fate that night in the
character of the local author to eloquute before the public -
'Mr. Stevenson will read a selection from his own works' - a
degrading picture. I had determined to read them the account
of the hurricane; I do not know if I told you that my book
has never turned up here, or rather only one copy has, and
that in the unfriendly hands of -. It has therefore only
been seen by enemies; and this combination of mystery and
evil report has been greatly envenomed by some ill-judged
newspaper articles from the States. Altogether this specimen
was listened to with a good deal of uncomfortable expectation
on the part of the Germans, and when it was over was
applauded with unmistakable relief. The public hall where
these revels came off seems to be unlucky for me; I never go
there but to some stone-breaking job. Last time it was the
public meeting of which I must have written you; this time it
was this uneasy but not on the whole unsuccessful experiment.
Belle, my mother, and I rode home about midnight in a fine
display of lightning and witch-fires. My mother is absent,
so that I may dare to say that she struck me as voluble. The
Amanuensis did not strike me the same way; she was probably
thinking, but it was really rather a weird business, and I
saw what I have never seen before, the witch-fires gathered
into little bright blue points almost as bright as a night-


This is the day that should bring your letter; it is gray and
cloudy and windless; thunder rolls in the mountain; it is a
quarter past six, and I am alone, sir, alone in this
workman's house, Belle and Lloyd having been down all
yesterday to meet the steamer; they were scarce gone with
most of the horses and all the saddles, than there began a
perfect picnic of the sick and maim; Iopu with a bad foot,
Faauma with a bad shoulder, Fanny with yellow spots. It was
at first proposed to carry all these to the doctor,
particularly Faauma, whose shoulder bore an appearance of
erysipelas, that sent the amateur below. No horses, no
saddle. Now I had my horse and I could borrow Lafaele's
saddle; and if I went alone I could do a job that had long
been waiting; and that was to interview the doctor on another
matter. Off I set in a hazy moonlight night; windless, like
to-day; the thunder rolling in the mountain, as to-day; in
the still groves, these little mushroom lamps glowing blue
and steady, singly or in pairs. Well, I had my interview,
said everything as I had meant, and with just the result I
hoped for. The doctor and I drank beer together and
discussed German literature until nine, and we parted the
best of friends. I got home to a silent house of sleepers,
only Fanny awaiting me; we talked awhile, in whispers, on the
interview; then, I got a lantern and went across to the
workman's house, now empty and silent, myself sole occupant.
So to bed, prodigious tired but mighty content with my
night's work, and to-day, with a headache and a chill, have
written you this page, while my new novel waits. Of this I
will tell you nothing, except the various names under
consideration. First, it ought to be called - but of course
that is impossible -

Then it IS to be called either


Adam Weir, Lord-Justice Clerk, called Lord Hermiston.
Archie, his son.
Aunt Kirstie Elliott, his housekeeper at Hermiston.
Elliott of the Cauldstaneslap, her brother.
Kirstie Elliott, his daughter.
Jim, }
Gib, }
Hob } his sons.
& }
Dandie, }
Patrick Innes, a young advocate.
The Lord-Justice General.

Scene, about Hermiston in the Lammermuirs and in Edinburgh.
Temp. 1812. So you see you are to have another holiday from
copra! The rain begins softly on the iron roof, and I will
do the reverse and - dry up.


Yours with the diplomatic private opinion received. It is
just what I should have supposed. CA M'EST BIEN EGAL. - The
name is to be


None others are genuine. Unless it be



On Saturday we expected Captain Morse of the Alameda to come
up to lunch, and on Friday with genuine South Sea hospitality
had a pig killed. On the Saturday morning no pig. Some of
the boys seemed to give a doubtful account of themselves; our
next neighbour below in the wood is a bad fellow and very
intimate with some of our boys, for whom his confounded house
is like a fly-paper for flies. To add to all this, there was
on the Saturday a great public presentation of food to the
King and Parliament men, an occasion on which it is almost
dignified for a Samoan to steal anything, and entirely

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