[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2109.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 78-80]
Fakarava, Low Archipelago, September 21st, 1888
My dear Colvin,
Only a word. Get out your big atlas,
and imagine a straight line from San Francisco
to Anaho, the N.E. corner of Nukahiva, one of the Marquesas Islands;
imagine three weeks there: imagine a day’s sail on August 12th round the eastern end of the island to Tai-o-hae, the capital;
imagine us there till August 22nd: imagine us skirt the east side of Ua-pu – perhaps Rona-Poa on your altas –
and through the Bordelais straits to Taahauku in Hiva-Oa, where we arrive on the 23rd;
imagine us there until September 4th, when we sailed for Fakarava, which we reached on the 9th, after a very difficult and dangerous passage among these isles.
Tuesday, we shall leave for Taiti, where I shall knock off and do some necessary work ashore. It looks pretty bald in the atlas; not in fact; nor I trust in the 130 odd pages of diary which I have just been looking up for these dates: the interest, indeed, has been incredible: I did not dream there were such places or such races. My health has stood me splendidly; I am in for hours wading over the knees for shells;
I have been five hours on horseback:
I have been up pretty near all night waiting to see where the Casco would go ashore, and with my diary all ready – simply the most entertaining night of my life.
Withal I still have colds; I have one now, and feel pretty sick too; but not as at home: instead of being in bed, for instance, I am at this moment sitting snuffling and writing in an undershirt and trousers; and as for colour, hands, arms, feet, legs, and face, I am browner than the berry: only my trunk and the aristocratic spot on which I sit retain the vile whiteness of the north.
Please give my news and kind love to Henley,
and any whom you see of well-wishers. Accept from me the very best of my affection: and believe me ever yours,
The Old Man Virulent
Papeete, Taiti, October 7th, 1888
Never having found a chance to send this off, I may add more of my news. My cold took a very bad turn, and I am pretty much out of sorts at this particular, living in a little bare one-twentieth-furnished house, surrounded by mangoes, etc. All the rest are well, and I mean to be soon. But these Taiti colds are very severe and, to children, often fatal;
so they were not the thing for me. Yesterday the brigantine came in from San Francisco, so we can get our letters off soon. […] There are in Papeete at this moment, in a little wooden house with grated verandahs,
two people who love you very much, and one of them is
Robert Louis Stevens