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126                       MY FIRST BOOK

fiasco ? I was indeed very close on despair ; but I shut
my mouth hard, and during the journey to Davos, where
I was to pass the winter, had the resolution to think of
other things and bury myself in the novels of M. de Bois-
gobey. Arrived at my destination, down I sat one morning
to the unfinished tale ; and behold ! it flowed from me
like small talk ; and in a second tide of delighted industry,
and again at the rate of a chapter a day, I finished
Treasure Island. It had to be transcribed almost exactly ;
my wife was ill; the schoolboy remained alone of the
faithful; and John Addington Symonds (to whom I
timidly mentioned what I was engaged on) looked on me
askance. He was at that time very eager I should write
on the characters of Theophrastus : so far out may be the
judgements of the wisest men. But Symonds (to be sure)
was scarce the confidant to go to for sympathy on a boy's
story. He was large-minded ; ' a full man/ if there was
one; but the very name of my enterprise would suggest
to him only capitulations of sincerity and solecisms of
style. Well! he was not far wrong.

Treasure Island—it was Mr. Henderson who deleted
the first title, The Sea Cook—appeared duly in the story
paper, where it figured in the ignoble midst, without
woodcuts, and attracted not the least attention. I did
not care. I liked the tale myself, for much the same
reason as my father liked the beginning : it was my kind
of picturesque. I was not a little proud of John Silver,
also ; and to this day rather admire that smooth and
formidable adventurer. What was infinitely more exhila-
rating, I had passed a landmark; I had finished a tale,
and written ' The End' upon my manuscript, as I had
not done since * The Pentland Rising,' when I was a boy
of sixteen not yet at college. In truth, it was so by a set
of lucky accidents ; had not Dr. Japp come on his visit,
had not the tale flowed from me with singular ease, it
must have been laid aside like its predecessors, and found
a circuitous and unlamented way to the fire. Purists
may suggest it would have been better so. I am not of
that mind. The tale seems to have given much pleasure,
and it brought (or was the means of bringing) fire and