The following tale was taken down from Mr. Stevenson's dictation by his step-daughter and amanuensis, Mrs. Strong, at intervals between January, 1893, and October, 1894 (see Vailima Letters, Vol. II, pp. 98-104, 179, 217, 230, 253). About six weeks before his death he laid the story aside to take up Weir of Hermiston. The thirty chapters of St. Ives which he had written (the last few of them apparently unrevised) brought the tale within sight of its conclusion, and the intended course of the remainder was known in outline to Mrs. Strong. For the benefit of those readers who do not like a story to be left unfinished, the delicate task of supplying the missing chapters has been intrusted to Mr. Quiller-Couch, whose work begins at Chapter XXXI.
lf savagely, because I had thought to please; when I lay down at night sleep forsook me, and I lay, and rolled, and gloated on her charms, and cursed her insensibility, for half the night. How trivial I thought her! and how trivial her sex! A man might be an angel or an Apollo, and a mustard-coloured coat would wholly blind them to his merits. I was a prisoner, a slave, a contemned and despicable being, the butt of her sniggering countrymen. I would take the lesson: no proud daughter of my foes should have the chance to mock at me again; none in the future should have the chance to think I had looked at her with admiration. You cannot imagine any one of a more resolute and independent spirit, or whose bosom was more wholly mailed with patriotic arrogance, than I. Before I dropped asleep, I had remembered all the infamies of Britain, and debited them in an overwhelming column to Flora.
The next day, as I sat in my place, I became conscious there was some one standing near; and behold, it was herself! I