Friday, December 13, 2013


   For some time the girl remained where he had left her, looking out past the islet and over the bright sea. Then with a start, as one who throws off preoccupation and puts energy again upon its mettle, she broke into a rapid and decisive walk. She also was much incensed by what had passed. She had forgotten where she was. And I beheld her walk straight into the borders of the quicksand where it is most abrupt and dangerous. Two or three steps farther and her life would have been in serious jeopardy, when I slid down the face of the sand hill, which is there precipitous, and, running halfway forward, called to her to stop.

  She did so, and turned round. There was not a tremor of fear in her behavior, and she marched directly up to me like a queen. I was barefoot, and clad like a common sailor, save for an Egyptian scarf round my waist; and she probably took me at first for some one from the fisher village, straying after bait. As for her, when I thus saw her face to face, her eyes set steadily and imperiously upon mine, I was filled with admiration and astonishment, and thought her even more beautiful than I had looked to find her. Nor could I think enough of one who, acting with so much boldness, yet preserved a maidenly air that was both quaint and engaging; for my wife kept an old-fashioned precision of manner through all her admirable life--an excellent thing in woman, since it sets another value on her sweet familiarities.

   "What does this mean?" she asked.

 "You were walking," I told her, "directly into Graden Floe."

Slapp Happy: A Little Something (Link) and The Secret (Link)

Excerpt:  Robert Louis Stevenson,  “The Pavilion On The Links,” first published in Cornhill Magazine 42-43, London (Sept-Oct 1880).



  1. Lovely bit of Stevenson.

    I'm coming to take the color variations much as notations on a musical score.

    (Soi-distant postmodernists ere elected into the Penn Sound Hall of Echoes for less.)

    Oddly Stevenson's account of first encounter with his inamorata recalls (and don't we all say this sort of thing, if not gagged) my own initial shock of recognition of the embodiment of excellence in woman... though I don't know about the maidenly air. It was the infamous Sixties, after all.

  2. (Can't say I recall any of the same sort of gallantry, in my own case, to be perfectly honest, however. I mean, the lifesaving... if anything, I came close to achieving the reverse... but that is, fortunately, another story.)

    1. It's the initial shock of recognition that I recalled also, which is a funny thing to do, obviously, because most of the tragic (or at least depressing) stories you hear about friends whose relationships fail (or even celebrities you read about in the paper in the same context) have to do with people seeking that initial shock over and over again. I've been utterly gagged on the subject myself, though I'm sure I've had an opportunity to recount it once or twice to my daughter, who has yet to experience it (as far as I know). Caroline has no similar need to share these emotions most of the time, but that's ok. There are plenty of things to be emotional about. Stevenson, I think, was immensely talented and passages like this are so deeply felt, perfectly expressed, yet modest. Amazing when that happens. Curtis