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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

IX

MEMOIRS OF AN ISLET
i

THE little isle of Earraid lies close in to the south-west
corner of the Ross of Mull: the sound of lona on one side,
across which you may see the isle and church of Columba;
the open sea to the other, where you shall be able to
mark, on a clear, surfy day, the breakers running white
on many sunken rocks. I first saw it, or first remember
seeing it, framed in the round bull's-eye of a cabin port,
the sea lying smooth along its shores like the waters of a
lake, the colourless, clear light of the early morning making
plain its heathery and rocky hummocks. There stood
upon it, in these days, a single rude house of uncemented
stones, approached by a pier of wreckwood. It must
have been very early, for it was then summer, and in
summer, in that latitude, day scarcely withdraws; but
even at that hour the house was making a sweet smoke of
peats which came to me over the bay, and the bare-legged
daughters of the cotter were wading by the pier. The
same day we visited the shores of the isle in the ship's
boats; rowed deep into Fiddler's Hole, sounding as we
went; and having taken stock of all possible accommoda-
tion, pitched on the northern inlet as the scene of operations,
For it was no accident that had brought the lighthouse
steamer to anchor in the Bay of Earraid. Fifteen miles
away to seaward, a certain black rock stood environed
by the Atlantic rollers, the outpost of the Torran reefs.
Here was a tower to be built, and a star lighted, for the
conduct of seamen. But as the rock was small, and hard
of access, and far from land, the work would be one of
years; and my father was now looking for a shore station,

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