Outside No. 17 Heriot Row, the raw, smoky air, "Auld Reekie" as the Scots call it, hung heavy over the city of Edinburgh. But within lay the Land of Counterpane whose king was young Robert Louis Stevenson, a frail boy, known to his family as "Smout," and later to be called "Teller of Tales." Young Lou had an amazing imagination and an unending curiosity. During the winters, there was Lou's lively cousin Bob and their rival kingdoms of Nosingtonia and Encyclopedia. But summers meant north to the sea, where Lou and his friends once ran up the Jolly Roger by night over the sleeping herring fleet.
Stevenson men had always gone to sea to build lighthouses—with dashing names like Inchcape Rock and Skerryvore. But although Lou did love the Scottish coast, he could not bring himself to be an engineer. He must write. And write he did—of France and his balky but endearing pack donkey, Modestine; of the Scottish hills; of his life in the deserted mining town of Silverado.
Finally came Treasure Island, Kidnapped, A Child's Garden of Verses, and his other books that captivated the entire world.
Now it was Stevenson's turn to discover an island of his own. Ill and exhausted, but irrepressible as ever, he set sail with his family for the South Seas. There were adventures fit for one of his own books, and in the end there was the island, Samoa, and the fulfillment of all of Robert Louis Stevenson's dreams.
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