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Robert Louis Stevenson

A Penn State Electronic Classics Series Publication Merry Men by Robert Louis Stevenson is a publication of the Pennsylvania State University. This Portable Document file is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file, for any purpose, and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither the Pennsylvania State University nor Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, nor anyone associated with the Pennsylvania State University assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission, in any way.

Merry Men by Robert Louis Stevenson , the Pennsylvania State University, Electronic Classics Series, Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, Hazleton, PA 18201-1291 is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classical works of literature, in English, to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them.

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THE MERRY MEN .......................................................................................4

WILL O’ THE MILL ...................................................................................50

MARKHEIM ................................................................................................74

THRAWN JANET ........................................................................................90

OLALLA .....................................................................................................100

THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ......................................................140

Robert Louis Stevenson


occasion to come round for it by sea, struck right across ERRY MEN

the promontory with a cheerful heart.

I was far from being a native of these parts, springing, as I did, from an unmixed lowland stock. But an uncle of by

mine, Gordon Darnaway, after a poor, rough youth, and some years at sea, had married a young wife in the islands; Robert Louis Stevenson

Mary Maclean she was called, the last of her family; and when she died in giving birth to a daughter, Aros, the sea-1904 edition

girt farm, had remained in his possession. It brought him in nothing but the means of life, as I was well aware; but he was a man whom ill-fortune had pursued; he feared, cum-bered as he was with the young child, to make a fresh ad-THE MERRY MEN

venture upon life; and remained in Aros, biting his nails at destiny. Years passed over his head in that isolation, and brought neither help nor contentment. Meantime our family was dying out in the lowlands; there is little luck for any CHAPTER I: EILEAN AROS

of that race; and perhaps my father was the luckiest of all, for not only was he one of the last to die, but he left a son IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL MORNING in the late July when I set forth to his name and a little money to support it. I was a student on foot for the last time for Aros. A boat had put me ashore of Edinburgh University, living well enough at my own the night before at Grisapol; I had such breakfast as the charges, but without kith or kin; when some news of me little inn afforded, and, leaving all my baggage till I had an 4

Merry Men

found its way to Uncle Gordon on the Ross of Grisapol; and was mossy* to the top in consequence. I have seen us and he, as he was a man who held blood thicker than wa-sitting in broad sunshine on the Ross, and the rain falling ter, wrote to me the day he heard of my existence, and black like crape upon the mountain. But the wetness of it taught me to count Aros as my home. Thus it was that I made it often appear more beautiful to my eyes; for when came to spend my vacations in that part of the country, so the sun struck upon the hill sides, there were many wet far from all society and comfort, between the codfish and rocks and watercourses that shone like jewels even as far the moorcocks; and thus it was that now, when I had done as Aros, fifteen miles away.

with my classes, I was returning thither with so light a heart The road that I followed was a cattle-track. It twisted so that July day.

as nearly to double the length of my journey; it went over The Ross, as we call it, is a promontory neither wide nor rough boulders so that a man had to leap from one to an-high, but as rough as God made it to this day; the deep sea other, and through soft bottoms where the moss came nearly on either hand of it, full of rugged isles and reefs most to the knee. There was no cultivation anywhere, and not perilous to seamen – all overlooked from the eastward by one house in the ten miles from Grisapol to Aros. Houses some very high cliffs and the great peals of Ben Kyaw. The of course there were – three at least; but they lay so far on Mountain of the Mist, they say the words signify in the the one side or the other that no stranger could have found Gaelic tongue; and it is well named. For that hill-top, which them from the track. A large part of the Ross is covered is more than three thousand feet in height, catches all the with big granite rocks, some of them larger than a two-clouds that come blowing from the seaward; and, indeed, I roomed house, one beside another, with fern and deep used often to think that it must make them for itself; since heather in between them where the vipers breed. Anyway when all heaven was clear to the sea level, there would the wind was, it was always sea air, as salt as on a ship; the ever be a streamer on Ben Kyaw. It brought water, too,



Robert Louis Stevenson

gulls were as free as moorfowl over all the Ross; and when-enough to settle. The house was a good one for that coun-ever the way rose a little, your eye would kindle with the try, two storeys high. It looked westward over a bay, with brightness of the sea. From the very midst of the land, on a a pier hard by for a boat, and from the door you could day of wind and a high spring, I have heard the Roost roar-watch the vapours blowing on Ben Kyaw.

ing, like a battle where it runs by Aros, and the great and On all this part of the coast, and especially near Aros, fearful voices of the breakers that we call the Merry Men.

these great granite rocks that I have spoken of go down Aros itself – Aros Jay, I have heard the natives call it, together in troops into the sea, like cattle on a summer’s and they say it means The House of God – Aros itself was day. There they stand, for all the world like their neighbours not properly a piece of the Ross, nor was it quite an islet. It ashore; only the salt water sobbing between them instead formed the south-west corner of the land, fitted close to it, of the quiet earth, and clots of sea-pink blooming on their and was in one place only separated from the coast by a sides instead of heather; and the great sea conger to wreathe little gut of the sea, not forty feet across the narrowest.

about the base of them instead of the poisonous viper of When the tide was full, this was clear and still, like a pool the land. On calm days you can go wandering between on a land river; only there was a difference in the weeds them in a boat for hours, echoes following you about the and fishes, and the water itself was green instead of brown; labyrinth; but when the sea is up, Heaven help the man that but when the tide went out, in the bottom of the ebb, there hears that cauldron boiling.

was a day or two in every month when you could pass Off the south-west end of Aros these blocks are very dryshod from Aros to the mainland. There was some good many, and much greater in size. Indeed, they must grow pasture, where my uncle fed the sheep he lived on; perhaps monstrously bigger out to sea, for there must be ten sea the feed was better because the ground rose higher on the miles of open water sown with them as thick as a country islet than the main level of the Ross, but this I am not skilled place with houses, some standing thirty feet above the tides, 6

Merry Men

some covered, but all perilous to ships; so that on a clear, got the name from their movements, which are swift and westerly blowing day, I have counted, from the top of Aros, antic, or from the shouting they make about the turn of the the great rollers breaking white and heavy over as many as tide, so that all Aros shakes with it, is more than I can tell.

six-and-forty buried reefs. But it is nearer in shore that the The truth is, that in a south-westerly wind, that part of danger is worst; for the tide, here running like a mill race, our archipelago is no better than a trap. If a ship got through makes a long belt of broken water – a Roost we call it – at the reefs, and weathered the Merry Men, it would be to the tail of the land. I have often been out there in a dead come ashore on the south coast of Aros, in Sandag Bay, calm at the slack of the tide; and a strange place it is, with where so many dismal things befell our family, as I propose the sea swirling and combing up and boiling like the caul-to tell. The thought of all these dangers, in the place I knew drons of a linn, and now and again a little dancing mutter so long, makes me particularly welcome the works now going of sound as though the Roost were talking to itself. But forward to set lights upon the headlands and buoys along when the tide begins to run again, and above all in heavy the channels of our iron-bound, inhospitable islands.

weather, there is no man could take a boat within half a The country people had many a story about Aros, as I mile of it, nor a ship afloat that could either steer or live in used to hear from my uncle’s man, Rorie, an old servant of such a place. You can hear the roaring of it six miles away.

the Macleans, who had transferred his services without af-At the seaward end there comes the strongest of the bubble; terthought on the occasion of the marriage. There was some and it’s here that these big breakers dance together – the tale of an unlucky creature, a sea-kelpie, that dwelt and dance of death, it may be called – that have got the name, did business in some fearful manner of his own among the in these parts, of the Merry Men. I have heard it said that boiling breakers of the Roost. A mermaid had once met a they run fifty feet high; but that must be the green water piper on Sandag beach, and there sang to him a long, bright only, for the spray runs twice as high as that. Whether they midsummer’s night, so that in the morning he was found 7

Robert Louis Stevenson

stricken crazy, and from thenceforward, till the day he died, sunk on the north side, twenty miles from Grisapol. It was said only one form of words; what they were in the origi-told, I thought, with more detail and gravity than its com-nal Gaelic I cannot tell, but they were thus translated: ‘Ah, panion stories, and there was one particularity which went the sweet singing out of the sea.’ Seals that haunted on far to convince me of its truth: the name, that is, of the ship that coast have been known to speak to man in his own was still remembered, and sounded, in my ears, Spanishly.

tongue, presaging great disasters. It was here that a certain The Espirito Santo they called it, a great ship of many decks saint first landed on his voyage out of Ireland to convert the of guns, laden with treasure and grandees of Spain, and Hebrideans. And, indeed, I think he had some claim to be fierce soldadoes, that now lay fathom deep to all eternity, called saint; for, with the boats of that past age, to make so done with her wars and voyages, in Sandag bay, upon the rough a passage, and land on such a ticklish coast, was surely west of Aros. No more salvos of ordnance for that tall not far short of the miraculous. It was to him, or to some of ship, the ‘Holy Spirit,’ no more fair winds or happy ven-his monkish underlings who had a cell there, that the islet tures; only to rot there deep in the sea-tangle and hear the owes its holy and beautiful name, the House of God.

shoutings of the Merry Men as the tide ran high about the Among these old wives’ stories there was one which I island. It was a strange thought to me first and last, and was inclined to hear with more credulity. As I was told, in only grew stranger as I learned the more of Spain, from that tempest which scattered the ships of the Invincible which she had set sail with so proud a company, and King Armada over all the north and west of Scotland, one great Philip, the wealthy king, that sent her on that voyage.

vessel came ashore on Aros, and before the eyes of some And now I must tell you, as I walked from Grisapol that solitary people on a hill-top, went down in a moment with day, the Espirito Santo was very much in my reflections. I all hands, her colours flying even as she sank. There was had been favourably remarked by our then Principal in some likelihood in this tale; for another of that fleet lay Edinburgh College, that famous writer, Dr. Robertson, and 8

Merry Men

by him had been set to work on some papers of an ancient my conscience. But even at that time I must acquit myself date to rearrange and sift of what was worthless; and in of sordid greed; for if I desired riches, it was not for their one of these, to my great wonder, I found a note of this own sake, but for the sake of a person who was dear to my very ship, the Espirito Santo, with her captain’s name, and heart – my uncle’s daughter, Mary Ellen. She had been how she carried a great part of the Spaniard’s treasure, educated well, and had been a time to school upon the and had been lost upon the Ross of Grisapol; but in what mainland; which, poor girl, she would have been happier particular spot, the wild tribes of that place and period without. For Aros was no place for her, with old Rorie the would give no information to the king’s inquiries. Putting servant, and her father, who was one of the unhappiest one thing with another, and taking our island tradition to-men in Scotland, plainly bred up in a country place among gether with this note of old King Jamie’s perquisitions af-Cameronians, long a skipper sailing out of the Clyde about ter wealth, it had come strongly on my mind that the spot the islands, and now, with infinite discontent, managing his for which he sought in vain could be no other than the sheep and a little ‘long shore fishing for the necessary bread.

small bay of Sandag on my uncle’s land; and being a fellow If it was sometimes weariful to me, who was there but a of a mechanical turn, I had ever since been plotting how to month or two, you may fancy what it was to her who dwelt weigh that good ship up again with all her ingots, ounces, in that same desert all the year round, with the sheep and and doubloons, and bring back our house of Darnaway to flying sea-gulls, and the Merry Men singing and dancing in its long-forgotten dignity and wealth.

the Roost!

This was a design of which I soon had reason to repent.

My mind was sharply turned on different reflections; and since I became the witness of a strange judgment of God’s, the thought of dead men’s treasures has been intolerable to 9

Robert Louis Stevenson


fetch me, and, leaning his hand on my shoulder, stared with BROUGHT TO AROS

an awful look into the waters of the bay.

‘What is wrong?’ I asked, a good deal startled.

IT WAS HALF-FLOOD when I got the length of Aros; and there

‘It will be a great feesh,’ said the old man, returning to his was nothing for it but to stand on the far shore and whistle oars; and nothing more could I get out of him, but strange for Rorie with the boat. I had no need to repeat the signal.

glances and an ominous nodding of the head. In spite of At the first sound, Mary was at the door flying a handker-myself, I was infected with a measure of uneasiness; I turned chief by way of answer, and the old long-legged serving-also, and studied the wake. The water was still and transpar-man was shambling down the gravel to the pier. For all his ent, but, out here in the middle of the bay, exceeding deep.

hurry, it took him a long while to pull across the bay; and I For some time I could see naught; but at last it did seem to observed him several times to pause, go into the stern, and me as if something dark – a great fish, or perhaps only a look over curiously into the wake. As he came nearer, he shadow – followed studiously in the track of the moving seemed to me aged and haggard, and I thought he avoided coble. And then I remembered one of Rorie’s superstitions: my eye. The coble had been repaired, with two new thwarts how in a ferry in Morven, in some great, exterminating feud and several patches of some rare and beautiful foreign among the clans; a fish, the like of it unknown in all our wood, the name of it unknown to me.

waters, followed for some years the passage of the ferry-

‘Why, Rorie,’ said I, as we began the return voyage, ‘this boat, until no man dared to make the crossing.

is fine wood. How came you by that?’

‘He will be waiting for the right man,’ said Rorie.

‘It will be hard to cheesel,’ Rorie opined reluctantly; and Mary met me on the beach, and led me up the brae and just then, dropping the oars, he made another of those dives into the house of Aros. Outside and inside there were many into the stern which I had remarked as he came across to changes. The garden was fenced with the same wood that 10

Merry Men

I had noted in the boat; there were chairs in the kitchen high, at the first moment, in my heart.

covered with strange brocade; curtains of brocade hung

‘Mary, girl,’ said I, ‘this is the place I had learned to call from the window; a clock stood silent on the dresser; a my home, and I do not know it.’

lamp of brass was swinging from the roof; the table was

‘It is my home by nature, not by the learning,’ she re-set for dinner with the finest of linen and silver; and all plied; ‘the place I was born and the place I’m like to die in; these new riches were displayed in the plain old kitchen and I neither like these changes, nor the way they came, that I knew so well, with the high-backed settle, and the nor that which came with them. I would have liked better, stools, and the closet bed for Rorie; with the wide chimney under God’s pleasure, they had gone down into the sea, the sun shone into, and the clear-smouldering peats; with and the Merry Men were dancing on them now.’

the pipes on the mantelshelf and the three-cornered spit-Mary was always serious; it was perhaps the only trait toons, filled with sea-shells instead of sand, on the floor; that she shared with her father; but the tone with which she with the bare stone walls and the bare wooden floor, and uttered these words was even graver than of custom.

the three patchwork rugs that were of yore its sole adorn-

‘Ay,’ said I, ‘I feared it came by wreck, and that’s by ment – poor man’s patchwork, the like of it unknown in death; yet when my father died, I took his goods without cities, woven with homespun, and Sunday black, and sea-remorse.’

cloth polished on the bench of rowing. The room, like the

‘Your father died a clean strae death, as the folk say,’

house, had been a sort of wonder in that country-side, it said Mary.

was so neat and habitable; and to see it now, shamed by

‘True,’ I returned; ‘and a wreck is like a judgment. What these incongruous additions, filled me with indignation and was she called?’

a kind of anger. In view of the errand I had come upon to

‘They ca’d her the Christ-Anna,’ said a voice behind me; Aros, the feeling was baseless and unjust; but it burned and, turning round, I saw my uncle standing in the doorway.


Robert Louis Stevenson

He was a sour, small, bilious man, with a long face and his look of health; for I feared he had perhaps been ill.

very dark eyes; fifty-six years old, sound and active in body,

‘I’m in the body,’ he replied, ungraciously enough; ‘aye and with an air somewhat between that of a shepherd and in the body and the sins of the body, like yoursel’. Denner,’

that of a man following the sea. He never laughed, that I he said abruptly to Mary, and then ran on to me: ‘They’re heard; read long at the Bible; prayed much, like the grand braws, thir that we hae gotten, are they no? Yon’s a Cameronians he had been brought up among; and indeed, bonny knock*, but it’ll no gang; and the napery’s by ordnar.

in many ways, used to remind me of one of the hill-preach-Bonny, bairnly braws; it’s for the like o’ them folk sells the ers in the killing times before the Revolution. But he never peace of God that passeth understanding; it’s for the like got much comfort, nor even, as I used to think, much guid-o’ them, an’ maybe no even sae muckle worth, folk daunton ance, by his piety. He had his black fits when he was afraid God to His face and burn in muckle hell; and it’s for that of hell; but he had led a rough life, to which he would look reason the Scripture ca’s them, as I read the passage, the back with envy, and was still a rough, cold, gloomy man.

accursed thing. Mary, ye girzie,’ he interrupted himself to As he came in at the door out of the sunlight, with his cry with some asperity, ‘what for hae ye no put out the twa bonnet on his head and a pipe hanging in his button-hole, candlesticks?’

he seemed, like Rorie, to have grown older and paler, the

‘Why should we need them at high noon?’ she asked.

lines were deeplier ploughed upon his face, and the whites But my uncle was not to be turned from his idea. ‘We’ll of his eyes were yellow, like old stained ivory, or the bones bruik** them while we may,’ he said; and so two massive of the dead.

candlesticks of wrought silver were added to the table eq-

‘Ay’ he repeated, dwelling upon the first part of the word, uipage, already so unsuited to that rough sea-side farm.

‘the Christ-Anna. It’s an awfu’ name.’

‘She cam’ ashore Februar’ 10, about ten at nicht,’ he I made him my salutations, and complimented him upon




Merry Men

went on to me. ‘There was nae wind, and a sair run o’ sea; an’ whiles again, when the tide’s makin’ hard an’ ye can and she was in the sook o’ the Roost, as I jaloose. We had hear the Roost blawin’ at the far-end of Aros, there comes seen her a’ day, Rorie and me, beating to the wind. She a back-spang of current straucht into Sandag Bay. Weel, wasnae a handy craft, I’m thinking, that Christ-Anna; for there’s the thing that got the grip on the Christ-Anna. She she would neither steer nor stey wi’ them. A sair day they but to have come in ram-stam an’ stern forrit; for the bows had of it; their hands was never aff the sheets, and it perishin’

of her are aften under, and the back-side of her is clear at cauld – ower cauld to snaw; and aye they would get a bit hie-water o’ neaps. But, man! the dunt that she cam doon nip o’ wind, and awa’ again, to pit the emp’y hope into wi’ when she struck! Lord save us a’! but it’s an unco life them. Eh, man! but they had a sair day for the last o’t! He to be a sailor – a cauld, wanchancy life. Mony’s the gliff I would have had a prood, prood heart that won ashore upon got mysel’ in the great deep; and why the Lord should hae the back o’ that.’

made yon unco water is mair than ever I could win to un-

‘And were all lost?’ I cried. ‘God held them!’

derstand. He made the vales and the pastures, the bonny

‘Wheesht!’ he said sternly. ‘Nane shall pray for the deid green yaird, the halesome, canty land –

on my hearth-stane.’

I disclaimed a Popish sense for my ejaculation; and he And now they shout and sing to Thee, seemed to accept my disclaimer with unusual facility, and For Thou hast made them glad,

ran on once more upon what had evidently become a favourite subject.

as the Psalms say in the metrical version. No that I would

‘We fand her in Sandag Bay, Rorie an’ me, and a’ thae preen my faith to that clink neither; but it’s bonny, and braws in the inside of her. There’s a kittle bit, ye see, about easier to mind. “Who go to sea in ships,” they hae’t again–

Sandag; whiles the sook rins strong for the Merry Men; 13

Robert Louis Stevenson

ing up into my face with a certain pallor, and I could see And in Great waters trading be,

that his eyes shone with a deep-seated fire, and that the Within the deep these men God’s works lines about his mouth were drawn and tremulous.

And His great wonders see.

Even the entrance of Rorie, and the beginning of our meal, did not detach him from his train of thought beyond Weel, it’s easy sayin’ sae. Maybe Dauvit wasnae very a moment. He condescended, indeed, to ask me some ques-weel acquant wi’ the sea. But, troth, if it wasnae prentit in tions as to my success at college, but I thought it was with the Bible, I wad whiles be temp’it to think it wasnae the half his mind; and even in his extempore grace, which was, Lord, but the muckle, black deil that made the sea. There’s as usual, long and wandering, I could find the trace of his naething good comes oot o’t but the fish; an’ the spentacle preoccupation, praying, as he did, that God would ‘rememo’ God riding on the tempest, to be shure, whilk would be ber in mercy fower puir, feckless, fiddling, sinful creatures what Dauvit was likely ettling at. But, man, they were sair here by their lee-lane beside the great and dowie waters.’

wonders that God showed to the Christ-Anna – wonders, Soon there came an interchange of speeches between do I ca’ them? Judgments, rather: judgments in the mirk him and Rorie.

nicht among the draygons o’ the deep. And their souls – to

‘Was it there?’ asked my uncle.

think o’ that – their souls, man, maybe no prepared! The

‘Ou, ay!’ said Rorie.

sea – a muckle yett to hell!’

I observed that they both spoke in a manner of aside, and I observed, as my uncle spoke, that his voice was un-with some show of embarrassment, and that Mary herself ap-naturally moved and his manner unwontedly demonstra-peared to colour, and looked down on her plate. Partly to show tive. He leaned forward at these last words, for example, my knowledge, and so relieve the party from an awkward strain, and touched me on the knee with his spread fingers, look-partly because I was curious, I pursued the subject.


Merry Men

‘You mean the fish?’ I asked.

gray’s a tombstane. An’, troth, he was a fearsome-like taed.

‘Whatten fish?’ cried my uncle. ‘Fish, quo’ he! Fish! Your But he steered naebody. Nae doobt, if ane that was a rep-een are fu’ o’ fatness, man; your heid dozened wi’ carnal robate, ane the Lord hated, had gane by there wi’ his sin leir. Fish! it’s a bogle!’

still upon his stamach, nae doobt the creature would hae He spoke with great vehemence, as though angry; and lowped upo’ the likes o’ him. But there’s deils in the deep perhaps I was not very willing to be put down so shortly, sea would yoke on a communicant! Eh, sirs, if ye had gane for young men are disputatious. At least I remember I re-doon wi’ the puir lads in the Christ-Anna, ye would ken by torted hotly, crying out upon childish superstitions.

now the mercy o’ the seas. If ye had sailed it for as lang as

‘And ye come frae the College!’ sneered Uncle Gordon.

me, ye would hate the thocht of it as I do. If ye had but

‘Gude kens what they learn folk there; it’s no muckle ser-used the een God gave ye, ye would hae learned the wick-vice onyway. Do ye think, man, that there’s naething in a’

edness o’ that fause, saut, cauld, bullering creature, and of yon saut wilderness o’ a world oot wast there, wi’ the sea a’ that’s in it by the Lord’s permission: labsters an’ partans, grasses growin’, an’ the sea beasts fechtin’, an’ the sun an’ sic like, howkin