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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

122                       MY FIRST BOOK

the red moors and by the side of the golden burn; the
rude, pure air of our mountains inspirited if it did not
inspire us, and my wife and I projected a joint volume of
bogey stories, for which she wrote ' The Shadow on the
Bed/ and I turned out ' Thrawn Janet/ and a first draft
of k The Merry Men.' I love my native air, but it does
not love me; and the end of this delightful period was a
cold, a fly-blister, and a migration by Strathairdle and
Gienshee to the Castleton of Braemar. There it blew a
good deal and rained in a proportion; my native air was
more unkind than man's ingratitude, and I must consent
to pass a good deal of my time between four walls in a
house lugubriously known as the Late Miss McGregor's
Cottage. And now admire the finger of predestination.
There was a schoolboy in the Late Miss McGregor's
Cottage, home from the holidays, and much in want of
' something craggy to break his mind upon/ He had no
thought of literature ; it was the art of Raphael that
received his fleeting suffrages ; and with the aid of pen
and ink and a shilling box of water colours, he had soon
turned one of the rooms into a picture gallery. My more
immediate duty towards the gallery was to be showman;
but I would sometimes unbend a little, join the artist (so
to speak) at the easel, and pass the afternoon with Mm
in a generous emulation, making coloured drawings. On
one of these occasions, I made the map of an island; it
was elaborately and (I thought) beautifully coloured ; the
shape of it took my fancy beyond expression ; it contained
harbours that pleased me like sonnets ; and with the
unconsciousness of the predestined, I ticketed my per-
formance l Treasure Island.' I am told there are people
who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe.
The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of
the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man still
distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and
the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing
Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath ; here is an
inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to
see or twopenceworth of imagination to understand with!
No child but must remember laying his head in the grass,