One day, while my husband was busily at work, I sat beside him reading an old cookery book called The Compleat House-wife: or Accomplish'd Gentlewoman's Companion. In the midst of receipts for "Rabbits, and Chickens mumbled, Pickled Samphire, Skirret Pye, Baked Tansy," and other forgotten deli-cacies, there were directions for the preparation of several lo-tions for the preservation of beauty.
One of these was so charming that I interrupted my husband to read it aloud. "Just what I wanted!" he exclaimed; and the receipt for the "Lily of the Valley Water" was instantly incorporated into Kidnapped.
I SET OFF UPON MY JOURNEY TO THE HOUSE OF SHAWS:
I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house. The sun began to shine upon the summit of the hills as I went down the road; and by the time I had come as far as the manse, the blackbirds were whistling in the garden lilacs, and the mist that hung around the valley in the time of the dawn was beginning to arise and die away.
Mr. Campbell, the minister of Essendean, was waiting for me by the garden gate, good man! He asked me if I had breakfasted; and hearing that I lacked for nothing, he took my hand in both of his and clapped it kindly under his arm.
"Well, Davie, lad," said he, "I will go with you as far as the ford, to set you on the way." And we began to walk forward in silence.
"Are ye sorry to leave Essendean?" said he, after awhile.
"Why, sir," said I, "if I knew where I was going, or what was likely to become of me, I would tell you candidly. Essendean is a good place indeed, and I have been very happy there; but then I have never been anywhere else. My father and mother, since they are both dead, I shall be no nearer to in Essendean than in the Kingdom of Hungary, and, to speak truth, if I thought I had a chance to better myself where I was going I would go with a good will."
"Ay?" said Mr. Campbell. "Very well, Davie. Then it behoves me to tell your fortune; or so far as I may. When your mother was gone, and your father (the worthy, Christian man) began to sicken for his end, he gave me in charge a certain letter, which he said was your inheritance. 'So soon,' says he, 'as I am gone, and the house is redd up and the gear disposed of' (all which, Davie, hath been done), 'give my boy this letter into his hand, and start him off to the house of Shaws, not far from Cramond. That is the place I came from,' he said, 'and it's where it befits that my boy should return. He is a steady lad,' your father said, 'and a canny goer; and I doubt not he will come safe, and be well lived where he goes.'"
Robert Louis (Balfour) Stevenson (November 13, 1850–December 3, 1894), was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of Neo-romanticism in English literature.
He was the man who "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins", as G. K. Chesterton put it. He was also greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kip-ling and Vladimir Nabokov. Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is only recently that crit-ics have begun to look beyond Stevenson's popularity and allow him a place in the canon.
Other Books of the Author:
Treasure Island (1883)
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
The Black Arrow (1884)
The New Arabian Nights (1882)
Essays in the Art of Writing (1905)
A Christmas Sermon (1900)
The Master of Ballantrae (1889)
The Silverado Squatters (1883)