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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

MY FIRST BOOK                       127

food and wine to a deserving family in which 1 took an
interest. I need scarcely say I mean my own.

But the adventures of Treasure Island are not yet
quite at an end. I had written it up to the map. The
map was the chief part of my plot. For instance, I had
called an islet k Skeleton Island/ not knowing what I
meant, seeking only for the immediate picturesque, and
it was to justify this name that I broke into the gallery
of Mr. Poe and stole Flint's pointer. And in the same
way, it was because I had made two harbours that the
Hispaniola was sent on her wanderings with Israel Hands.
The time came when it was decided to repubiish, and I
sent in my manuscript, and the map along with it, to
Messrs. Cassell. The proofs came, they were corrected,
but I heard nothing of the map. I wrote and asked ;
was told it had never been received, and sat aghast. It
is one thing to draw a map at random, set a scale in one
corner of it at a venture, and write up a story to the
measurements. It is quite another to have to examine a
whole book, make an inventory of all the allusions con-
tained in it, and, with a pair of compasses, painfully
design a map to suit the data. I did it; and the map
was drawn again in my father's office, with embellishments
of blowing whales and sailing ships, and my father himself
brought into service a knack he had of various writing, and
elaborately forged the signature of Captain Flint, and the
sailing directions of Billy Bones, But somehow it was
never Treasure Island to me.

I have said the map was the most of the plot. I might
almost say it was the whole. A few reminiscences of
Poe, Defoe, and Washington Irving, a copy of Johnson's
Bticcaneers, the name of the Bead Man's Chest from
Kingsley's At Last, some recollections of canoeing on the
high seas, and the map itself, with its infinite, eloquent
suggestion, made up the whole of my materials. It is,
perhaps, not often that a map figures so largely in a tale,
yet it is always important. The author must know his
countryside, whether real or imaginary, like his hand ;
the distances, the points of the compass, the place of the
sun's rising, the behaviour of the moon, should all be