Vailima Letters

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Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday

I have been very neglectful. A return to work, perhaps premature, but necessary, has used up all my possible energies and made me acquainted with the living headache. I just jot down some of the past notabilia. Yesterday B., a carpenter, and K., my (unsuccessful) white man, were absent all morning from their work; I was working myself, where I hear every sound with morbid certainty, and I can testify that not a hammer fell. Upon inquiry I found they had passed the morning making ice with our ice machine and taking the horizon with a spirit level! I had no sooner heard this than - a violent headache set in; I am a real employer of labour now, and have much of the ship captain when aroused; and if I had a headache, I believe both these gentlemen had aching hearts. I promise you, the late - was to the front; and K., who was the most guilty, yet (in a sense) the least blameable, having the brains and character of a canary-bird, fared none the better for B.’s repartees. I hear them hard at work this morning, so the menace may be blessed. It was just after my dinner, just before theirs, that I administered my redoubtable tongue - it is really redoubtable - to these skulkers (Paul used to triumph over Mr. J. for weeks. ’I am very sorry for you,’ he would say; ’you’re going to have a talk with Mr. Stevenson when he comes home: you don’t know what that is!’) In fact, none of them do, till they get it. I have known K., for instance, for months; he has never heard me complain, or take notice, unless it were to praise; I have used him always as my guest, and there seems to be something in my appearance which suggests endless, ovine longsuffering! We sat in the upper verandah all evening, and discussed the price of iron roofing, and the state of the draught-horses, with Innes, a new man we have taken, and who seems to promise well.

One thing embarrasses me. No one ever seems to understand my attitude about that book; the stuff sent was never meant for other than a first state; I never meant it to appear as a book. Knowing well that I have never had one hour of inspiration since it was begun, and have only beaten out my metal by brute force and patient repetition, I hoped some day to get a ’spate of style’ and burnish it - fine mixed metaphor. I am now so sick that I intend, when the Letters are done and some more written that will be wanted, simply to make a book of it by the pruning-knife.

I cannot fight longer; I am sensible of having done worse than I hoped, worse than I feared; all I can do now is to do the best I can for the future, and clear the book, like a piece of bush, with axe and cutlass. Even to produce the MS. of this will occupy me, at the most favourable opinion, till the middle of next year; really five years were wanting, when I could have made a book; but I have a family, and - perhaps I could not make the book after all.

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Chicago: Robert Louis Stevenson, "Wednesday," Vailima Letters, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Curtin, Jeremiah, 1835-1906 in Vailima Letters Original Sources, accessed September 24, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KPU8UDMTMMUPX4E.

MLA: Stevenson, Robert Louis. "Wednesday." Vailima Letters, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Curtin, Jeremiah, 1835-1906, in Vailima Letters, Original Sources. 24 Sep. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KPU8UDMTMMUPX4E.

Harvard: Stevenson, RL, 'Wednesday' in Vailima Letters, ed. and trans. . cited in , Vailima Letters. Original Sources, retrieved 24 September 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KPU8UDMTMMUPX4E.