“The exile threatens to be eternal”

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2121]

To Charles Baxter

[Baxter Letters, pp. 237-8, at http://www.hathitrust.org]

Tautira (The Garden of the World), otherwise called

Hans-Christian-Andersen-ville [8 or 9 November 1888]

My dear Charles,

Whether I have a penny left in the wide world, I know not, nor shall know – till I get to Honolulu, where I anticipate a devil of an awakening. It will be from a mighty pleasant dream at least, Tautira being mere Heaven.

John La Farge, Study of Afterglow from Nature, Tahiti, Entrance to Tautira, Valley), 1891 [https://puam-loris.aws.princeton.edu]
John La Farge, The Entrance to the Tautira River, Tahiti, Fisherman Spearing a Fish, c. 1895 [https://media.nga.gov]
The beach of Tautira, Tahiti [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

John La Farge, Looking East in Tautira Village, Tahiti, 1891 [https://i.pinimg.com]
John La Farge, Study On The Reef At Tautira, Tahiti, 1891 [www.beverlyamitchell.com]
Tautira Bay, Tahiti [https://maurobort48.files.wordpress.com]

But suppose, for the sake of argument, any money to be left in the hands of my painful doer, what is to be done with it? Save us from exile would be the wise man’s choice, I suppose; for the exile threatens to be eternal. But yet, I am of opinion – in case there should be some dibs in the hand of the P.D., i.e.painful doer; because if there be none, I shall take to my flageolet on the high-road, and work home the best way I can, having previously made away with my family – I am of opinion that my aunt, Mrs. Alan Stevenson, should have her money from my mother: £20 – twenty pounds.

Margaret Scott Jones Stevenson (aka ‘Gatchie’ or ‘Aunt Alan’, 1812-95), was RLS’s aunt and Bob and Katherine’s mother. They are all buried in the New Calton Cemetery, Edinburgh [https://images.findagrave.com]

I am of opinion Miss Adelaide Boodle should have her box, like last year, at the same figure,

Miss Adelaide Ann Boodle (1858-1934) had been neighbour of RLS at Bournemouth. She had become devoted friend of the Stevensons: her book “RLS and his Sine Qua Non” (1926) will give an affectionate account of Bournemouth times [https://babel.hathitrust.org]

and I am of opinion that if W[illiam] E[rnest] H[enley] and his are in the customary state, and you are thinking of an offering, and there should be still some funds over, you would be a real good P[ainful] D[oer] to put some in with yours and tak’ the credit o’t, like a wee man!

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)[www.engrailed.co.uk/]

I know it’s a beastly thing to ask; but it, after all, does no earthly harm, only that much good. And besides, like enough there’s nothing in the till, and there is an end. Yet I live here in the full lustre of millions; it is thought I am the richest son of man that has yet been to Tautira: I! – and I am secretly eaten with the fear of lying in pawn, perhaps for the remainder of my days, in San Francisco. As usual, my colds have much hashed my finances.

Do tell Henley I write this just after having dismissed Oli the sub-chief, in whose house I live,

Chief who fought during Samoan tribal wars 1886-1894. We have no picture of ‘Oli’, the sub-chief Teriitera, usually called Ori a Ori (1838-1916), deacon of the Protestant church with whom RLShe became great friend [https://welcome-tahiti.com]

Mrs. Oli, and Pairai, their adopted child, from the evening hour of music, during which I Publickly (with a k) Blow on the Flageolet.

RLS playing his flageolet while visiting Hawaii, 1889 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

These are words of truth. Yesterday I told Oli about W.E.H., counterfeited his walk, counterfeited him playing on the piano and the pipe, and succeeded in sending the six feet four there is of that sub-chief somewhat sadly to his bed, feeling that his was not the genuine article after all. Oli is exactly like a Colonel in the Guards.

I am, dear Charles, ever yours afftly,

R.L.S.

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