“I’m direckit at space”

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter see Mehew 6, 2158.]

To Charles Baxter [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 138-9]

Honolulu, [postmark 12] April 1889

My dear Charles,

As usual, your letter is as good as a cordial, and I thank you for it, and all your care, kindness, and generous and thoughtful friendship, from my heart. I was truly glad to hear a word of Colvin, whose long silence has terrified me; and glad to hear that you condoned the notion of my staying longer in the South Seas, for I have decided in that sense.

RLS’s South Seas voyages [www.tikiroom.com]

The first idea was to go in the Morning Star, missionary ship;

The missionary ship Morning Star IV, 1884-1900 [www.trussel.com]

but now I have found a trading schooner, the Equator, which is to call for me here early […] in June


and carry us through the Gilberts.

The Gilbert Islands [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

What will happen then, the Lord knows. My mother does not accompany us:

Margaret Stevenson and Belle Strong, standing near their bungalow at Honolulu,1889; in front of them Ah Fu, their Chinese cook, pouring RLS tea; at their left, Fanny and Lloyd [www.capitalcollections.org.uk]

she leaves here for home early in May, and you will hear of us from her; but not, I imagine, anything more definite. We shall get dumped on Butaritari,

Butaritari is a north Gilbert island [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

and whether we manage to go on to the Marshalls and Carolines,


or whether we fall back on Samoa,


Heaven must decide; but I mean to fetch back into the course of the Richmond – (to think you don’t know what the Richmond is!-  the steamer of the Eastern South Seas, joining New Zealand, Tonga-tabu, the Samoas, Taheite, and Rarotonga,


and carrying by last advices sheep in the saloon!)


– into the course of the Richmond and make Tahiti again on the home track. […]

[…] Would I like to see the Scots Observer?


Wouldn’t I not? But whaur? I’m direckit at space. They have nae post offishes at the Gilberts, and as for the Car’lines! Ye see, Mr. Baxter, we’re no just in the punkshewal centre o’ civ’lisation. But pile them up for me, and when I’ve decided on an address, I’ll let you ken, and ye’ll can send them stavin’ after me.


[…] – Ever your affectionate


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