Vailima Letters/Chapter XXVII

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Bad pen, bad ink, bad light, bad blotting-paper.


MY DEAR COLVIN, - Have had an amusing but tragic holiday, from which we return in disarray. Fanny quite sick, but I think slowly and steadily mending; Belle in a terrific state of dentistry troubles which now seem calmed; and myself with a succession of gentle colds out of which I at last succeeded in cooking up a fine pleurisy. By stopping and stewing in a perfectly airless state-room I seem to have got rid of the pleurisy. Poor Fanny had very little fun of her visit, having been most of the time on a diet of maltine and slops - and this while the rest of us were rioting on oysters and mushrooms. Belle's only devil in the hedge was the dentist. As for me, I was entertained at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, likewise at a sort of artistic club; made speeches at both, and may therefore be said to have been, like Saint Paul, all things to all men. I have an account of the latter racket which I meant to have enclosed in this. . . . Had some splendid photos taken, likewise a medallion by a French sculptor; met Graham, who returned with us as far as Auckland. Have seen a good deal too of Sir George Grey; what a wonderful old historic figure to be walking on your arm and recalling ancient events and instances! It makes a man small, and yet the extent to which he approved what I had done - or rather have tried to do - encouraged me. Sir George is an expert at least, he knows these races: he is not a small employe with an ink-pot and a Whittaker.

Take it for all in all, it was huge fun: even Fanny had some lively sport at the beginning; Belle and I all through. We got Fanny a dress on the sly, gaudy black velvet and Duchesse lace. And alas! she was only able to wear it once. But we'll hope to see more of it at Samoa; it really is lovely. Both dames are royally outfitted in silk stockings, etc. We return, as from a raid, with our spoils and our wounded. I am now very dandy: I announced two years ago that I should change. Slovenly youth, all right - not slovenly age. So really now I am pretty spruce; always a white shirt, white necktie, fresh shave, silk, socks, O a great sight! - No more possible, R. L. S.