Vailima Letters

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Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

(Later)

I went out this morning with a pocket compass and walked in a varying direction, perhaps on an average S. by W., 1754 paces. Then I struck into the bush, N.W. by N., hoping to strike the Vaituliga above the falls. Now I have it plotted out I see I should have gone W. or even W. by S.; but it is not easy to guess. For 600 weary paces I struggled through the bush, and then came on the stream below the gorge, where it was comparatively easy to get down to it. In the place where I struck it, it made cascades about a little isle, and was running about N.E., 20 to 30 feet wide, as deep as to my knee, and piercing cold. I tried to follow it down, and keep the run of its direction and my paces; but when I was wading to the knees and the waist in mud, poison brush, and rotted wood, bound hand and foot in lianas, shovelled unceremoniously off the one shore and driven to try my luck upon the other - I saw I should have hard enough work to get my body down, if my mind rested. It was a damnable walk; certainly not half a mile as the crow flies, but a real bucketer for hardship. Once I had to pass the stream where it flowed between banks about three feet high. To get the easier down, I swung myself by a wild-cocoanut - (so called, it bears bunches of scarlet nutlets) - which grew upon the brink. As I so swung, I received a crack on the head that knocked me all abroad. Impossible to guess what tree had taken a shy at me. So many towered above, one over the other, and the missile, whatever it was, dropped in the stream and was gone before I had recovered my wits. (I scarce know what I write, so hideous a Niagara of rain roars, shouts, and demonizes on the iron roof - it is pitch dark too - the lamp lit at 5!) It was a blessed thing when I struck my own road; and I got home, neat for lunch time, one of the most wonderful mud statues ever witnessed. In the afternoon I tried again, going up the other path by the garden, but was early drowned out; came home, plotted out what I had done, and then wrote this truck to you.

Fanny has been quite ill with ear-ache. She won’t go, hating the sea at this wild season; I don’t like to leave her; so it drones on, steamer after steamer, and I guess it’ll end by no one going at all. She is in a dreadful misfortune at this hour; a case of kerosene having burst in the kitchen. A little while ago it was the carpenter’s horse that trod in a nest of fourteen eggs, and made an omelette of our hopes. The farmer’s lot is not a happy one. And it looks like some real uncompromising bad weather too. I wish Fanny’s ear were well. Think of parties in Monuments! think of me in Skerryvore, and now of this. It don’t look like a part of the same universe to me. Work is quite laid aside; I have worked myself right out.

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Chicago: Robert Louis Stevenson, "(Later)," Vailima Letters, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Curtin, Jeremiah, 1835-1906 in Vailima Letters Original Sources, accessed February 6, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8NG6W76EGXDDE9F.

MLA: Stevenson, Robert Louis. "(Later)." Vailima Letters, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Curtin, Jeremiah, 1835-1906, in Vailima Letters, Original Sources. 6 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8NG6W76EGXDDE9F.

Harvard: Stevenson, RL, '(Later)' in Vailima Letters, ed. and trans. . cited in , Vailima Letters. Original Sources, retrieved 6 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8NG6W76EGXDDE9F.