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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

XIII

THE LANTERN-BEARERS
i

THESE boys congregated every autumn about a certain
sasterly fisher-village, where they tasted in a high degree
the glory of existence. The place was created seemingly
on purpose for the diversion of young gentlemen. A street
or two of houses, mostly red and many of them tiled; a
number of fine trees clustered about the manse and the
kirkyard, and turning the chief street into a shady alley;
many little gardens more than usually bright with flowers;
nets a-drying, and fisher-wives scolding in the backward
parts; a smell of fish, a genial smell of seaweed; whiffs
of blowing sand at the street-corners; shops with golf-
balls and bottled lollipops; another shop with penny
pickwicks (that remarkable cigar) and the London Journal,
dear to me for its startling pictures, and a few novels, dear
for their suggestive names: such, as well as memory
serves me, were the ingredients of the town. These, you
are to conceive posted on a spit between two sandy bays,
and sparsely flanked with villas—enough for the boys
to lodge in with their subsidiary parents, not enough
(not yet enough) to cocknify the scene: a haven in the
rocks in front; in front of that, a file of gray islets : to
the left, endless links and sand wreaths, a wilderness of
hiding-holes, alive with popping rabbits and soaring gulls :
to the right, a range of seaward crags, one rugged brow
beyond another; the ruins of a mighty and ancient
fortress on the brink of one ; coves between—now charmed
into sunshine quiet, now whistling with wind and clamorous
with bursting surges; the dens and sheltered hollows
redolent of thyme and southernwood, the air at the cliff's

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