In September 1887 Mrs Jenkin had sent Fanny Stevenson an opal ring, in gratitude for RLS’s writing of the ‘Memoir’ of her husband, died in 1885.
[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1958.]
To Anne Jenkin [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 32-33]
[Saranac Lake, c. 6 December 1887]
My dear Mrs. Jenkin,
The Opal is very well;i t is fed with glycerine when it seems hungry. I am very well, and get about much more than I could have hoped. My wife is not very well; there is no doubt the high level does not agree with her,
and she is on the move for a holiday to New York.
Lloyd is at Boston on a visit, and I hope has a good time.
My mother is really first-rate: she and I, despairing of other games for two, now play All Fours out of a gamebook, and have not yet discovered its niceties, if any.
You will have heard, I dare say, that they made a great row over me here. They also offered me much money, a great deal more than my works are worth: I took some of it, and was greedy and hasty, and am now very sorry. I have done with big prices from now out. Wealth and self-respect seem, in my case, to be strangers.
We were talking the other day of how well Fleeming managed to grow rich.
Ah, that is a rare art; something more intellectual than a virtue. The book has not yet made its appearance here; the Life alone, with a little preface, is to appear in the States; and the Scribners are to send you half the royalties. I should like it to do well, for Fleeming’s sake.
Will you please send me the Greek water-carrier’s song? I have a particular use for it.
Have I any more news, I wonder? – and echo wonders along with me. I am strangely disquieted on all political matters; and I do not know if it is ‘the signs of the times’ or the sign of my own time of life. But to me the sky seems black both in France and England, and only partly clear in America. I have not seen it so dark in my time; of that I am sure.
Please let us have some news; and excuse me, for the sake of my well-known idleness; and pardon Fanny, who is really not very well, for this long silence. Very sincerely your friend,
Robert Louis Stevenson