This tells of the farther progress of Treasure Island, of the price paid for it, and of the modest hopes with which it was launched. Alexander Japp had proposed to offer the story for publication to the editor of Young Folks magazine.
The project of a highway story, Jerry Abershaw, remained a favourite one with RLS, but had to be abandoned. No more was heard of the other two stories.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 849.]
To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 63-64]
[Braemar, September 1881.]
My dear Henley,
Thanks for your last. The £100 fell through, or dwindled at least into somewhere about £30. However, that I’ve taken as a mouthful, so you may look out for
The Sea Cook
A Tale of the Buccaneers,
in Young Folks.
(The terms are £2, 10s. a page of 4500 words; that’s not noble, is it? But […] I have my copyright safe. […] I don’t get illustrated – a blessing; that’s the price I have to pay for my copyright.)
I’ll make this boys’ book business pay; but I have to make a beginning. When I’m done with Young Folks, I’ll try Routledge or some one.
I feel pretty sure The Sea Cook will do to reprint, and bring something decent at that.
Japp is a good soul. The poet was very gay and pleasant.
He told me much: […] he is simply the most active young man in England, and one of the most intelligent […]. ‘He shall o’er Europe, shall o’er earth extend.’ He is now extending over adjacent parts of Scotland.I propose to follow up The Sea Cook at proper intervals by
Jerry Abershaw: A Tale of Putney Heath (which or its site I must visit),
The Leading Light: A Tale of the Coast,
The Squaw Men: or the Wild West,
and other instructive and entertaining work. Jerry Abershaw should be good, eh? […]
I love writing boys’ books. This first is only an experiment; wait till you see what I can make ’em with my hand in.
and a chalk better by St. Christopher; or at least as good. You’ll see that even by The Sea Cook. […]
Jerry Abershaw – O what a title! […] Jerry Abershaw: d-n it, sir, it’s a poem. The two most lovely words in English; and what a sentiment! Hark you, how the hoofs ring! Is this a blacksmith’s? No, it’s a wayside inn. Jerry Abershaw. ‘It was a clear, frosty evening, not 100 miles from Putney,’ etc. Jerry Abershaw.[…]
Jerry Abershaw […]. The Sea Cook is now in its sixteenth chapter, and bids for well up in the thirties. Each three chapters is worth £2, 10s. So we’ve £12, 10s. already.
Don’t read Marryat’s Pirate anyhow; it is written in sand with a salt-spoon: arid, feeble, vain, tottering production. But then we’re not always all there. He was all somewhere else that trip. It’s damnable, Henley. I don’t go much on the Sea Cook; but, Lord, it’s a little fruitier than the Pirate by Cap’n Marryat.Since this was written The Cook is in his nineteenth chapter. Yo-heave ho!