The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson
A Winter's Tale
To Sir Percy Florence and Lady Shelley
Here is a tale which extends over many years and travels into many
countries. By a peculiar fitness of circumstance the writer began,
continued it, and concluded it among distant and diverse scenes.
Above all, he was much upon the sea. The character and fortune of
the fraternal enemies, the hall and shrubbery of Durrisdeer, the
problem of Mackellar's homespun and how to shape it for superior
flights; these were his company on deck in many star-reflecting
harbours, ran often in his mind at sea to the tune of slatting
canvas, and were dismissed (something of the suddenest) on the
approach of squalls. It is my hope that these surroundings of its
manufacture may to some degree find favour for my story with
seafarers and sea-lovers like yourselves.
And at least here is a dedication from a great way off: written by
the loud shores of a subtropical island near upon ten thousand
miles from Boscombe Chine and Manor: scenes which rise before me
as I write, along with the faces and voices of my friends.
Well, I am for the sea once more; no doubt Sir Percy also. Let us