Vailima Letters, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Chapter XXVI

My Dear Colvin, — You will see from this heading that I am not dead yet nor likely to be. I was pretty considerably out of sorts, and that is indeed one reason why Fanny, Belle, and I have started out for a month’s lark. To be quite exact, I think it will be about five weeks before we get home. We shall stay between two and three in Sydney. Already, though we only sailed yesterday, I am feeling as fit as a fiddle. Fanny ate a whole fowl for breakfast, to say nothing of a tower of hot cakes. Belle and I floored another hen betwixt the pair of us, and I shall be no sooner done with the present amanuensing racket than I shall put myself outside a pint of Guinness. If you think this looks like dying of consumption in Apia I can only say I differ from you. In the matter of David, I have never yet received my proofs at all, but shall certainly wait for your suggestions. Certainly, Chaps. 17 to 20 are the hitch, and I confess I hurried over them with both wings spread. This is doubtless what you complain of. Indeed, I placed my single reliance on Miss Grant. If she couldn’t ferry me over, I felt I had to stay there.

About Island Nights’ Entertainments all you say is highly satisfactory. Go in and win.

The extracts from the Times I really cannot trust myself to comment upon. They were infernally satisfactory; so, and perhaps still more so, was a letter I had at the same time from Lord Pembroke. If I have time as I go through Auckland, I am going to see Sir George Grey.

Now I really think that’s all the business. I have been rather sick and have had two small hemorrhages, but the second I believe to have been accidental. No good denying that this annoys, because it do. However, you must expect influenza to leave some harm, and my spirits, appetite, peace on earth and goodwill to men are all on a rising market. During the last week the amanuensis was otherwise engaged, whereupon I took up, pitched into, and about one half demolished another tale, once intended to be called the pearl Fisher, but now razeed and called The Schooner Farralone. We had a capital start, the steamer coming in at sunrise, and just giving us time to get our letters ere she sailed again. The manager of the German firm (O strange, changed days!) danced attendance upon us all morning; his boat conveyed us to and from the steamer.

Feb. 21st.

All continues well. Amanuensis bowled over for a day, but afoot again and jolly; Fanny enormously bettered by the voyage; I have been as jolly as a sand-boy as usual at sea. The Amanuensis sits opposite to me writing to her offspring. Fanny is on deck. I have just supplied her with the Canadian Pacific Agent, and so left her in good hands. You should hear me at table with the Ulster purser and a little punning microscopist called Davis. Belle does some kind of abstruse Boswellising; after the first meal, having gauged the kind of jests that would pay here, I observed, ‘Boswell is Barred during this cruise.’


We approach Auckland and I must close my mail. All goes well with the trio. Both the ladies are hanging round a beau — the same — that I unearthed for them: I am general provider, and especially great in the beaux business. I corrected some proofs for Fanny yesterday afternoon, fell asleep over them in the saloon — and the whole ship seems to have been down beholding me. After I woke up, had a hot bath, a whiskey punch and a cigarette, and went to bed, and to sleep too, at 8.30; a recrudescence of Vailima hours. Awoke today, and had to go to the saloon clock for the hour — no sign of dawn — all heaven grey rainy fog. Have just had breakfast, written up one letter, register and close this.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00