Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Kidnapped, like Treasure Island before it, was serialized in Young Folks, the boys’ magazine. It is the most Scottish of Stevenson’s novels in dialect, vocabulary, and worldview. Like Treasure Island, it follows the pattern of a popular genre, in this case the historical romance. Stevenson sets his story in 1751, five years after the defeat of a Scottish rebellion against the English-German King George II. King George has brutally “pacified” the Scottish Highlands, and Stevenson places his protagonist, David Balfour, in conversation with a principal agent of that pacification at the moment when that agent is assassinated (the assassination is a historical fact). Those who witness the assassination suspect Balfour of complicity, and he barely escapes with his life, fleeing for weeks across the Highlands in the company and under the protection of Alan Breck, the man who was historically (and in the novel) accused of the murder.
Under the cover of orthodoxy, however, Stevenson does heretical things with the genre. Morally ambiguous characters abound. Balfour’s kidnapper, a ship’s captain, is an excellent seaman and dotes on his mother. David’s uncle is a thoroughly unlikable character, but he suffers more than any other character in the novel. Alan Breck is a deserter and a turncoat, but he is unshakably loyal to Balfour, even at the risk of his life.
Breck and Balfour, the two principal...
(The entire section is 372 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
When David Balfour’s father dies, the only inheritance left his son is a letter to Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, his brother and David’s uncle. Mr. Campbell, the minister of Essendean, delivers the letter to David and tells him that if things do not go well between David and his uncle he is to return to Essendean, where his friends will help him. David sets off in high spirits. The house of Shaw is a great one in the Lowlands of Scotland, and David is eager to take his rightful place in the family from which his father, for some unknown reason, separated himself.
As he approaches the great house, he begins to grow apprehensive. Everyone of whom he asks the way has a curse for the name Shaws and warns him against his uncle. When he arrives at the place, he finds not a great house but a ruin with one wing unfinished and many windows without glass. No friendly smoke comes from the chimneys, and the closed door is studded with heavy nails.
David finds his Uncle Ebenezer even more forbidding than the house, and he begins to suspect that his uncle cheated his father out of his rightful inheritance. When his uncle tries to kill him, he is convinced of Ebenezer’s villainy. His uncle promises to take David to Mr. Rankeillor, the family lawyer, to get the true story of David’s inheritance, and they set out for Queen’s Ferry. Before they reach the lawyer’s office, David is tricked by Ebenezer and Captain Hoseason into boarding the...
(The entire section is 937 words.)
Unlike most Victorians, Stevenson considered the romance a valid literary form. He claimed that the form provided mental relief from the pressures of everyday life and felt that romances needed to be written as carefully as any other type of literature. Thus, while Kidnapped may seem to be merely a good adventure story at first, it also should be appreciated for its substantial literary value.
The adventures of David Balfour in Kidnapped proceed along a wild but understandable course; the plot is symmetrical and easy to follow. David loses his parents, leaves home to learn about his inheritance, is kidnapped to keep him from that birthright, and spends much of the book trying to get back home so that he can obtain his due.
What sets this adventure story apart from so many others are the little touches that illuminate character.
Stevenson also builds suspense as he develops realistic motivations for the characters' often violent and dangerous acts. Although he emphasizes action in the story, Stevenson provides intriguing insight into the psychological and emotional background of his unusual characters.
Realistic details draw the reader into the rugged setting of the story, and Stevenson's dramatization of the Scottish rebellions against England in the eighteenth century offers the reader a fascinating account of history.
The hero of the story, David Balfour, recounts the excitement and...
(The entire section is 293 words.)
Robert Louis Stevenson writes this dedication for Kidnapped in the form of a letter to his childhood friend, Charles Baxter. He explains that after he reads this story, Baxter will undoubtedly have many questions to ask Stevenson. The story is based on a true historical incident, and Stevenson admits he takes great liberties with the original event in this story. For example, Baxter will undoubtedly wonder how the Appin murder of Colin Campbell of Glenure (also known as the Red Fox) happened to take place in 1751 (not the actual date of the murder), how the Torran rocks moved so close to Earraid, or why there is no mention of any David Balfour in the official records of the murder trial.
If Baxter were to question Stevenson regarding Alan Breck Stewart’s innocence, asking how he can support this conclusion, Stevenson could make a compelling case for the man’s innocence. First of all, the Appin lore and tradition still proclaim Stewart’s innocence. The “other man,” the one who fired the shot (the murderer), still has descendants in Scotland today; however, his name will never be known, for Highlanders value their secrets as well as their ability to keep secrets.
While Stevenson could argue and defend other points of evidence, the author confesses that he is not particularly concerned about historical accuracy in this story. This is not a book for scholars to study but for schoolboys to read on winter evenings by the fire as bedtime approaches. Stewart may have been a “grim old fire-eater” in history, but in this story he is the vehicle by which a young man (the reader) is carried off to the Highlands so Stewart’s adventures can mingle with his own dreams.
Stevenson does not ask his old friend to like this tale; but perhaps, when Baxter’s son is older, he will enjoy it and be pleased to see his father’s name on the flyleaf. Whether or not that happens, Stevenson is pleased to remember the friend of his youth.
(The entire section is 339 words.)
Chapter 1 Summary
I Set Off Upon My Journey to the House of Shaws
Davie’s journey begins in Essendean, Scotland, in June, 1751, when he leaves his father’s house for the last time. The kind minister, Mr. Campbell, meets the boy at the front gate and walks companionably with the boy, escorting him as far as the ford to make sure he starts on the right path. The boy has been happy in Essendean, but he has never been anywhere else. Now that both his parents are dead, he will be as close to them in one place as another. Davie just wants to be sure he is going to a place where he will have a chance to better himself.
Campbell explains that after the boy’s mother died and his father got sick, his father gave Campbell a letter which will serve as Davie’s inheritance. His father’s instructions were that his letters should be given to Davie when he leaves Essendean and goes to the house of Shaws, near Cramond. Cramond is where Davie’s father came from, and it is fitting for his son to return there. Though he did not know it until now, Davie’s family name is Balfour of Shaws: “an ancient, honest, reputable house, peradventure in these latter days decayed.” Alexander Balfour was a learned gentleman and served as the town dominie (teacher).
Campbell gives the boy the letter; it is addressed to Ebenezer Balfour, Esq., and Davie is to deliver it to him in person. The seventeen-year-old is excited about this unexpected opportunity after being raised humbly in the country. Campbell says it is a two-day walk to Cramond; in the unlikely event that the boy is not well received, all Davie has to do is come right back to Essendean. Campbell sees it as his duty to prepare the boy for the potential dangers in his new world. He admonishes Davie to be diligent in his prayers and Bible reading and avoid excessive material things. Davie must be quick to learn and slow to speak; he must also be obedient and honor those in authority. Davie agrees.
Campbell gives the boy his small inheritance and three gifts: a shilling, a small Bible, and a recipe for Lilly of the Valley Water which Davy is thankful for and will use for his entire life, in both sickness and health. Campbell prays for the boy and leaves; Davie chides himself for being too eager to be off on this new adventure. After taking a final look at the village of Essendean, the place where his parents are buried, Davie begins his journey.
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
I Come to My Journey’s End
On his second day of traveling, Davie sees the sea and the city of Edinburgh; it is an extraordinary sight for the boy from the country. Davie asks directions and then walks toward Cramond. He sees a military regiment and is moved by the sights and sounds of it. As he walks, he imagines being welcomed by his wonderful though unknown family.
Once in Cramond, he begins to ask for the house of Shaws; each time he is met with odd looks. At first he thinks the looks are a reaction to his plain clothing, but soon he realizes there must be something unusual about his relatives. Now Davie asks for information. He learns that the Shaw house is grand but is only inhabited by the old lord, Ebenezer. Nobody tells him anything specific, but everyone warns him against going to the house. Davie is disillusioned by what he hears and imagines everything to be the worst. He has come too far to turn back to Essendean before at least finding out for himself, and he determines to follow through on his intention.
It is nearly sundown when he reaches the Shaw house. It sits in a pleasant valley but is “a great bulk of building standing very bare upon a green.” It appears to be rather ruined, and there is no smoke rising from any of the house’s chimneys. Davie’s heart sinks as a woman on the road in front of the house, Jennet Clouston, spews her bitter anger toward the Shaws. She claims that the house was built with others’ blood, remains unfinished because of others’ blood, and it is blood that will bring it down. She curses Ebenezer and his house for the twelve hundred and nineteenth time and then vanishes.
Davie is shaken by the woman’s hatred and believes her curse on the Shaw house is real. He contemplates the house for a long time and finally detects a tiny thread of smoke emanating from one chimney; this small sign of life gives him hope. No path leads to the house, and the closer Davie gets, the drearier it seems. This is not what he envisioned, but he keeps walking. He knocks twice but no one answers; this lack of acknowledgement angers Davie and he begins to kick and pound on the door, shouting for Mr. Balfour. Suddenly an old man with a blunderbuss sticks his head out of the window above him. Davie hollers up that he has a letter of introduction and will not leave until he has delivered it. The man finally asks the boy’s name and is stunned into...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
I Make Acquaintance of My Uncle
The door opens with a great rattling of chains and bolts. Davie is then instructed to go straight to the kitchen without touching anything. The boy gropes his way in the dark; other than a few spoons and dishes and a table set with a bowl of porridge, there is nothing in the room but locked chests and cupboards. Once he properly rebolts the door, the man comes to the kitchen. He is between fifty and seventy years old, a mean, stooped creature in a flannel nightgown and nightcap. Davie assumes he is some kind of miserly servant left in charge of this mausoleum, for he never takes his eyes from Davie’s face but refuses to look directly at him. He offers Davie the porridge and drinks the ale himself.
Finally Ebenezer Balfour takes the letter. Davie is old enough not to burst into tears, but that is exactly what he feels like doing. His uncle unseals and reads the letter by the light of the fire and cunningly asks the boy if this is what he had hoped to find when he came here. Davie assures Balfour that though he had hoped for a family who would help him in life, he is not a beggar and will not accept anything that is not freely given. Balfour eats what is left of the porridge like a miser hovering over his treasure. Davie wonders if his uncle is simply unused to any human companionship and might become a different man in time.
Alexander has been dead for three weeks and he never spoke of a brother or of the Shaws. This pleases Balfour. He takes Davie to his bedroom in complete darkness; when the boy asks for a light, his uncle laughs and tells him he is especially afraid of fires. Balfour leaves after locking Davie in for the night. In the morning, Davie sees that this was once a grand room; however, dampness, disuse, and vermin have made it uninhabitable and many of the windowpanes are broken. The sun is shining but Davie is cold, so he shouts for Balfour to unlock the door.
After breakfast (the same porridge and ale as last night, divided in half), Balfour says he intends to launch Davie into an appropriate career but insists that Davie refrain from contacting anyone or Balfour will send him away; Davie agrees. When Davie tells his uncle about the woman who cursed him, Balfour prepares to report her to the authorities until he realizes he will have to lock his nephew out; Davie says this will be the end of their tenuous relationship. After some...
(The entire section is 499 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
I Run a Great Danger in the House of Shaws
Though it began poorly, the day was good—except for the food. All Balfour eats is porridge, cold or hot, and beer. Their conversation is limited, but Davie enjoys reading the books he finds. In one flyleaf, Davie sees that his father gave this book to his brother Ebenezer on Ebenezer’s fifth birthday. Something is strange, for a younger sibling (which is what Ebenezer claims Alexander was) is unlikely to have written such a fine inscription. Davie asks Balfour about it at dinner and the answer confuses the young boy even further.
Then Davie asks if Ebenezer and Alexander were twins. Balfour’s reaction is strange and immediate; Balfour says Davie should not speak about Alexander, though Balfour loved his brother very much. Davie begins to wonder if his uncle is crazy and perhaps even dangerous; or perhaps the man is simply afraid of Davie for some reason. Now both Balfours furtively watch one another. It is clear that the old man is thinking, and Davie suspects he is thinking about doing his nephew harm. Eventually Balfour explains that he made a promise to Davie when the boy was born, and he has kept it. Now he has forty Scottish pounds set aside for Davie.
After sending the lad out of the house, Balfour meticulously counts out thirty-seven golden guineas into Davie’s hands. He is obviously struggling to part with the last few coins and finally puts them back in his pocket. The boy is dumbstruck at the miserly man’s painful generosity but still doubts his reason for giving it. Balfour sends Davie to collect a chest from one of the towers which can only be reached from the house's exterior. It is storming outside, but Davie goes to do his uncle’s bidding. He is still not allowed any light, and the though the stairs in the tower are sturdy enough, there is no banister. As he gropes along the wall of the tower, Davie discovers that the stairs come to an abrupt halt. Ebenezer Balfour, his uncle, obviously intended his nephew to die in a horrible fall.
Angry now, Davie sees Balfour standing in the rain, panicked by the crashing thunder. Davie surreptitiously follows his shaken uncle, and the man collapses when Davie places his hands on his shoulders. Davie arms himself from an open cupboard. When Balfour regains consciousness, he is amazed to see that Davie is alive. Balfour asks Davie to administer his heart medicine, which he does....
(The entire section is 506 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
I Go to the Queen’s Ferry
Davie is now certain of his uncle’s enmity and knows his life is in imminent danger. But he is young and spirited and does not believe Balfour can harm him. In the morning he unlocks his uncle’s door and is greeted quite civilly before they eat their porridge. Davie jeers at the older man, asking if he has anything more to say to him. Balfour assumed Davie was a weak country rube and Davie assumed his uncle was as good a man as any other. Both of them were wrong.
Davie sees Balfour struggling to fabricate a lie when they are interrupted by someone knocking at the door. Davie opens the door to find a “half-grown boy in sea clothes." The child dances and sings in a ridiculous way, but he also seems to be near tears and blue with cold. He arrived to deliver a letter and he is hungry, so David brings him to the kitchen. Balfour reads the letter then shares it with Davie. It is from Ellias Hoseason and delivered by his cabin boy. If Balfour has any business to conduct with the captain, today is his last opportunity before Hoseason sails. Balfour explains that he conducts business with this captain of the trading ship, the Covenant. If Davie will accompany his uncle, Balfour can conduct his business and then take Davie to see Rankeillor, his lawyer. Perhaps Davie will believe him more than Balfour. Davie considers the proposal and figures he will be safe from violence in a crowd and can force the meeting with the lawyer if necessary. Davie would also like a closer view of the sea and ships, so he agrees to go to Queen’s Ferry but vows to keep Balfour always in his sight.
Though it is June, it is bitterly cold. Balfour does not speak on the journey; Davie talks with the cabin boy, Ransome, who has been at sea since he was nine years old. His stories are obviously exaggerated and therefore pitiable. Ransome says Captain Hoseason is fearless but leaves navigation to his first mate Mr. Shuan, “the finest seaman in the trade” except when he is drinking. Ransome has a horrible scar from a beating Shuan gave him. Based on Ransome’s stories, life on the ship sounds like “hell upon the seas.” Ransome says his life at sea is good compared to some of the people his ship transports: criminals being sent to North America as slaves and, even worse, innocent children who are trepanned (kidnapped) “for private interest or vengeance.” They arrive at...
(The entire section is 504 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
What Befell at the Queen’s Ferry
Ransome leads Davie and Ebenezer Balfour to the inn and into a small, sparse room where Captain Hoseason waits. The captain is the most studious and self-possessed man that David has ever seen. Immediately Hoseason stands and greets Balfour. The room is extraordinarily hot due to a blazing fire; though he had vowed to keep his uncle always in his sight, Davie is so hot in this room that he eagerly leaves when Hoseason suggests he go play for a while.
As the two men talk, Davie walks straight to the water. The smell of the ocean and the sight of the Covenant “beginning to shake out her sails” make him think of voyages to foreign lands. Davie exchanges a few words with one of the least-terrifying sailors who says he is glad to be leaving a port where there are no taverns, but he speaks with such “horrifying oaths” that Davie hurries away from him. Ransome later begs Davie for a drink but neither boy is old enough, so Davie offers him ale instead. Soon both boys are heartily eating a meal at the inn. Davie asks the owner of the inn if Mr. Rankeillor, the lawyer, is an honest man. The innkeeper assures the boy that he is then asks Davie if he is related to Ebenezer Balfour, as Davie looks like Mr. Alexander.
Davie denies the relationship and the innkeeper says Balfour is a wicked old man; Jennet Clouston and many others would love to see Balfour come to a violent end because he forced them all out of their homes. Balfour was “a fine young fellow” before he killed his older brother Alexander so he could inherit the family holdings. Though Davie had suspected that his father was the older brother; now he knows it is true. It is also true that he is a rich man, with a house and land of his own.
Davie sees Hoseason down on the pier talking to his men before returning to the inn. Davie wonders how this tall, serious, and imposing man could be the same awful monster Ransome had described. (Davie will discover later that Hoseason is neither as good as Davie sees nor as bad as Ransome described. Hoseason leaves the better part of himself behind when he boards his ship and becomes captain of his vessel.) Now Balfour, and Hoseason call Davie, and the captain flatters the boy, tricking him into getting into a skiff with Balfour to go see the Covenant, something Davie is quite eager to do. Hoseason overcomes the boy’s hesitations...
(The entire section is 505 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
I Go to the Brig Covenant of Dysart
Davie wakes and discovers he is bound and lying in the bottom of the ship, though it takes him some time to realize it. He is beset with despair, remorse, and anger—all of which cause him to again lose consciousness. He wakens later to a bout of seasickness, and these are the worst hours of the boy’s young life. He hears a gunshot. Davie later learns that it is Hoseason’s habit to fly the Covenant’s colors and has a gun fired as they pass Dysart, where the captain’s mother lives.
Davie is eventually roused by a small man, about thirty with fair hair and carrying a lantern. When he asks the boy how he is doing, Davie just sobs. The man is Riach, the ship’s second officer, and he cleans the wound on Davie’s head. He gives Davie some brandy and water and tries to encourage him before leaving the lad alone again. The next time Davie sees Riach, he is feeling better but is lightheaded and his body aches. Hoseason is with Riach and looks at Davie with an ”odd, black look.” Riach insists that he be brought to the forecastle and accuses the captain of being paid to murder the boy. Hoseason is insulted at the accusation and says he is happy with Riach but wants him to drink less; he tells Riach to put Davie wherever he wishes. Riach bows disdainfully at Hoseason’s departing back, and Davie believes Riach will be a “valuable friend” and ally.
Davie is taken to the forecastle where he wakes to a calm, fair day; he is glad to be in the company of others. Davie heals and gets to know the sailors. They are rough men, always ready to fight; but they also have virtues. They are often kind and occasionally honest. They even return some of the money they stole from him. The Covenant is headed for the Carolinas and Davie is to be sold as a slave to a plantation there.
Mr. Shuan, the first officer, is violent and abusive when he drinks, while Riach is only “sullen and harsh” when he is sober. The hardships and cruelties Ransome has suffered have erased most of his early memories, and the sailors have convinced the cabin boy that living on land is full of awful things like working a trade and living in a house. Ransome drinks to forget, and when he does he becomes a fool.
The Covenant is in a constant battle with the weather, and the men’s tempers are strained. Davie is never allowed on deck, but he...
(The entire section is 514 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Late one night, Captain Hoseason comes down to the forecastle and kindly asks Davie to switch berths with Ransome. Just then two men bring Ransome to Davie’s bunk, and the cabin boy looks nearly dead. Davie runs out on deck and goes to the roundhouse, not realizing that the ship has not travelled as far as he would have guessed.
The roundhouse is large and stands six feet above the deck. Inside are a table, a bench, and two berths, one for the captain and one for the two mates. The cabin has lockers in which the men keep their belongings and a storeroom underneath where the best food, supplies, and ammunition are stored. The firearms are all here in a rack, though the cutlasses and two cannons are elsewhere. There is a small window on each side and a skylight on the roof. Mr. Shuan is sitting at the table with a brandy bottle and a tin cup in front of him. He is a tall, black, strong man, unmoving even when Davie and the captain enter the cabin.
Though Davie has good reason to fear Hoseason, he senses there is nothing to fear from the captain now. Davie whispers, asking how Shuan is, but the captain does not know. Soon Riach comes in and his face clearly says that Ransome is dead. Now all three of them stare at Shuan, but Shuan only looks down at the table. When he reaches for the bottle, Riach stops him and violently tosses the bottle into the sea, saying judgment is now going to fall on this ship. Shuan would have committed another murder right then if Hoseason had not interfered and announced that Shuan murdered Ransome. The first officer seems to comprehend the news but justifies his actions, claiming that the cabin boy brought him a dirty cup. The others are appalled and Hoseason puts Shuan to bed. Hoseason says the story must be that Ransome fell overboard.
This is the first night of Davie’s new life. He serves the officers’ meals and runs errands for his three masters before sleeping on the floor at night, often interrupted to do more errands. In other respects, Davie’s life is easy and his clumsiness is met with patience by Riach and Hoseason. Shuan is clearly disturbed by his guilt, but Davie is not afraid of him. Davie is fed well and enjoys talking with Riach who has been to college and shares many things with the boy. Despite that, Davie worries about his future and is glad to have his work to keep him busy.
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
The Man With the Belt of Gold
More than a week goes by and bad luck follows the Covenant. A thick fogs rolls in and that night the Covenant collides with another ship and all but one man aboard her drowns. The survivor is small and engaging; he has elegant manners and toasts the captain handsomely. The man is Scottish but wears fine French clothes and has his own weapons. Davie thinks to himself that he would rather have this man for a friend than an enemy; the captain thinks he may be able to get at least some of the man’s money.
Alan Breck Stewart is a Jacobite (one who believes that the Stuarts are the rightful heirs to the throne of England) and a Catholic, both sworn enemies of the surprisingly religious Captain Hoseason who is a devout Protestant. Nevertheless, when Stewart offers the captain many gold guineas to drop him off in France, Hoseason is excited at seeing so much money and says he can only take him back to Scotland. He leaves the cabin quickly, and Davie follows soon after to get the key to the liquor cupboard.
Davie overhears Hoseason and Riach plotting how best to overtake Stewart by force so they can steal his money belt. They enlist David’s help (for they call him David now) to gather a few weapons from the roundhouse without Stewart’s knowledge in exchange for a good word in the Carolinas and some of Stewart’s gold. On his way back to the cabin, David decides to join forces with Stewart against the other two and offers Stewart the information.
Stewart is glad to have David fighting with him and gives the boy a cutlass before assigning him the task of loading all the pistols; David admits that he is not a good shot, and Stewart appreciates his honesty. Stewart examines the room and determines how best to defend it. Then he talks to the boy, trying to determine their best course of action. David is so nervous that he can hardly remember how many men are on the ship. There are fifteen of them, but Stewart is not particularly daunted by the odds.
Stewart will cover the main door through which he anticipates the primary battle will be waged; David is only to shoot in that direction if Stewart falls and David must defend them both. David is charged with guarding the bolted door on the other side of the cabin and the skylight above them. It is a lot to ask of the boy, but Stewart trusts him to do the job.
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
The Siege of the Roadhouse
On deck, everyone is waiting anxiously for David to appear; when he does not return, Captain Hoseason finally appears at the open door of the roundhouse. Stewart draws his sword but Hoseason does not move or flinch. When Stewart tells Hoseason he intends to fight, the captain simply gives David an ugly look and tells the boy he will remember this. The sound of his voice goes through the boy with a jolt, and then Hoseason leaves.
Stewart prepares for battle and David climbs into the berth with an armload of pistols and a heavy heart. Though he can only protect a small part of the cabin, it is enough for this battle. The deck is quiet until David hears some murmuring voices and then a clash of steel as cutlasses are being distributed to the sailors. David is not particularly afraid, but the anticipation has his heart racing. He has no hope, but he does pray. He just wants it all to be over.
Soon it begins and Stewart engages Shuan in a battle of swords; David is forced to shoot into a cluster of five men who are trying to ram the door he is guarding. After he fires two more shots, the sailors quit trying. When the smoke from his pistols clears, David sees that Shuan is dead; Stewart says he has killed two others and David wounded one other. On deck, the remaining sailors plan their next attack. While Stewart fights several soldiers, one man shatters the skylight and drops into the cabin. Before the man gets up, David places his pistol to his back and would have shot the sailor if he could have made himself do it. The man grabs David and this is enough to shock the boy into firing his pistol. The first man is dead and the second man is just dropping through the hole in the roof. David shoots and then hears Stewart call for help.
One sailor has sneaked past and is fighting Stewart from inside the cabin; however, David cannot help much and he fears all is lost. Suddenly, though, all the sailors are gone. Stewart has driven them out along the deck. Stewart returns and the men outside hastily shut themselves into the forecastle. Many sailors are dead, and Stewart is proud both of David and his own swordsmanship. Now David is overwhelmed with what they have done and begins to “cry like any child.” Stewart says the boy was quit brave and just needs some sleep.
Stewart takes the first watch and wakes David to relieve him three hours later. The morning...
(The entire section is 485 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
The Captain Knuckles Under
At six o’clock, Stewart and David eat breakfast. Though the cabin is in bloody disarray, they are almost giddy over their victory last night. All of the best food and all of the drink are in the roundhouse; and Hoseason and Riach, the heaviest drinkers left on the ship, are condemned to drink water. Stewart assures David the battle will continue, as it is hard to keep men from their liquor. Stewart cuts off one of the distinctive silver buttons on his jacket and gives it to David as a reward for his work last night. Stewart’s vanity and arrogance amuse David, but he does not dare to show it.
Stewart meticulously brushes the stains from his jacket as Riach calls from the deck for a parley. David crawls up through the skylight and perches there with a pistol before telling Riach to give his terms. Riach draws near, virtually untouched by last night’s battle, and the two of them look at one another in silence for a time. Riach looks weary from having been awake all night, steering the ship and tending to the wounded men. Finally Riach says Hoseason wants to talk to Stewart. Though David suspects a trick, Riach assures him none of the sailors would fight with the captain even if that was his intention. All he and Hoseason want is to get Stewart off their ship.
The parley is set and Riach begs David for a drink. David brings him one, remembering the man’s past kindnesses to him, and Riach greedily drinks some of it before taking the rest to the captain. Soon Hoseason appears at the roundhouse window; he is a broken and pitiful man now. Stewart points his pistol at the captain and refuses to take his word that he means no harm, since Hoseason has already proven himself to be untrustworthy. The disgruntled captain says he does not have enough healthy and willing sailors to man his ship and therefore has no choice but to sail into Glasgow and turn Stewart in to the authorities. Stewart is not moved by the half-hearted threat, for he will tell the tale of his victory: fifteen hearty sailors lose a battle with one man and a boy. First officer Shuan is dead, and he was the chief navigator and knew this coastline well. Stewart demands to be delivered within thirty miles of Linnhe Loch—anywhere but near the Campbells. Hoseason wants assurance of the gold guineas Stewart offers; Stewart says if he wants payment, the captain must deliver Stewart as requested....
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
I Hear of the “Red Fox”
The rain blows off and the sun shines. The Covenant is sailing in the midst of the islands with which Hoseason is not familiar, but the winds are favorable and sailing is pleasant. Stewart shares with David stories about his childhood, and David is eager to learn all he can about the Highlands where they will soon be landing. David also shares his story, and Stewart listens affably until David mentions his good friend Mr. Campbell. Stewart claims he would spend his dying moments trying to shoot any Campbell, which surprises the boy.
Stewart claims that the Campbells have stolen lands which belong to the Stewarts. His father, Duncan Stewart, once demonstrated his prowess with the sword before King George of England; when the king gave him three guineas for the display, Duncan immediately and disdainfully gave them away to a beggar. David is shocked when Stewart reveals that he once fought with the English army and then deserted to the Jacobites in the Battle of Prestonpans. This is shameful behavior according to the boy’s upbringing, but he shares none of these thoughts with Stewart.
David does ask Stewart why he wants to come back to a country in which he will be killed as a traitor if he is caught; Stewart explains that the poor peasants of his clan pay rents both to King George and to Ardshiel, the chief of the Stewart clan. Alan Breck Stewart is responsible for collecting the Stewart rents, and that is the money he is carrying with him now. The peasants’ sacrifices seem noble to David.
Stewart also tells the boy about Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure, who is known as the “Red Fox.” The Red Fox serves as the king’s agent in the Stewart and Campbell region of Scotland, and the Stewarts consider him a traitor, of course. When Campbell of Glenure learned of the rent the peasants were paying to Ardshiel, he was furious and declared that all farms in the region were officially available for rent. He wanted to replace all the Stewart tenants with Campbells who would refuse to pay rent to Ardshiel. Unfortunately, he did not find any Campbells who would pay more in rent than the Stewarts would pay, so Campbell of Glenure used legal maneuvers to oust the Stewarts from their homes and replaced them with beggars. Stewart wants nothing more than the death of the Red Fox.
(The entire section is 410 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
The Loss of the Brig
Late that night a distraught Hoseason asks Stewart to come navigate the ship. Everyone on deck can hear a roaring, which is the sound of the sea breaking on a reef. In a moment they hear the same sound in another place, and Stewart believes these reefs are the Torran Rocks, which he thinks spread out for ten miles. Hoseason gives an order to the steersman; only five men are able (and willing) to work, and they trust Stewart’s assessment of their location.
The night is bright, and soon everyone can see the danger surrounding them. Though neither Hoseason nor Riach displayed any significant bravery during the battle, they stand steadfast now. Stewart had fought bravely during the battle but is now quite pale. It is a close thing, but with skillful maneuvering, the crew of the Covenant at last sees open water ahead. All is well until the tide and a rogue wind throw the ship into the reef.
David is shaken and barely understands what is happening. He sees Riach and the sailors readying the skiff to escape the foundering ship and rushes to help them. Some of the wounded men emerge from below deck; those who are unable to move are screaming from their bunks, begging to be saved. The captain is dumbstruck. He moans in mourning for the brig, for his ship is his everything and he suffers along with it. David asks Stewart where they are; Stewart says they are in the worst possible place: the land of the Campbells.
Just as the skiff is about to launch, a giant wave strikes the Covenant, and David is washed overboard into the sea. He bobs up and down twice, and he is afraid he will not surface a third time. He is dragged under the water and then resurfaces many times until he finally finds himself in quiet water and begins to recover himself. He is far from the foundering ship and now begins to worry about dying from the cold rather than from drowning. Because he did not grow up near the ocean, he never learned to swim; however, he manages to propel himself by kicking and splashing into the sandy bay of an islet. It is a quiet and desolate spot, but it is dry. David Balfour is more tired and more grateful than he has ever been in his entire young life.
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
The worst part of David’s adventures begins when he steps ashore on the islet of Earraid that night. He paces in the sand until dawn to keep from freezing and then climbs a hill but cannot find any sign of the Covenant. When he looks out over the land, he sees no houses or men. David is afraid to think about what has happened to his shipmates.
The boy begins walking, but it is difficult terrain. He hopes the sun will dry his clothes; instead it begins to rain and David is most miserable. Due to his inexperience, David cannot find a way to cross from the islet to the mainland. In stories, people who have adventures miraculously have chests of supplies or pockets full of useful things, but David has nothing but his money and the silver button Stewart gave him. The only things he finds to eat are cold, raw shellfish, but he is so hungry he finds them delicious at first. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that he has a hole in his pocket and the fifty pounds which he had in Queen’s Ferry have been reduced to three pounds and five shillings.
By the third morning on the islet, David’s clothes are beginning to rot, he is weak and he has a sore throat; however, worse is to come. As he suns himself on a rock, a fishing vessel passes by but ignores his cries for help. The boy weeps for the second time since being shipwrecked. Suddenly just the sight of the raw shellfish is repugnant; he should have fasted, as he gets food poison from eating it. That night David thinks he is going to die. Just as he is about to give up, he recovers and sleeps gratefully.
On the fourth day David feels better and sees another ship approaching, though he is afraid to hope for rescue. It is the same fishing ship which passed by yesterday. The fishermen struggle to communicate with the boy and the men laugh heartily at him; however, one of the men manages to tell David that he can leave the islet now because it is low tide. David feels foolish and knows a “sea-bred boy” would not have had to remain trapped here. If only he had stopped to think, he might have found his way off the islet much earlier. It is a miracle that the fisherman not only guessed his predicament but that they bothered to come back to help him. Without them, David might have spent his last days here; now he looks like a beggar and can barely walk, but he is alive.
(The entire section is 445 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
The Lad With the Silver Button: Through the Isle of Mull
David follows the smoke he had observed many times over the past few days. That evening, he finally arrives at a house where an old man sits in front of the house smoking a pipe; he does not know much English, but he tells David his shipmates survived and he fed them the day after the wreck. All but one of them was dressed in sailor garb; the first man arrived alone and was dressed more like a gentleman. That has to be Stewart.
The old man suddenly realizes that David must be the boy with the silver button; Stewart left a message for the boy to follow him to Stewart’s native country by way of Torosay. The old man listens to David’s story with pity and then takes him in to meet his wife. She feeds the boy well and he sleeps late into the next day; the couple will accept no payment for their kindness.
As David journeys on, he sees that the Highlanders are quite poor and the roads are plagued with beggars. He asks for directions to Torosay, but no one is particularly helpful. David stops wearily at a house for the night but is refused admittance until he thinks to use his money to secure lodging and a guide to Torosay. The next morning his guide spends three hours drinking and then asks for more money partway through the trip; they engage in a small skirmish and David leaves the man behind. A half hour later, David meets a blind man on the road. He claims to be a religious teacher, but David spies a gun in the man’s belt and the look on the man’s face seems “dangerous and secret.” David tells the man about the mishap with his guide; the catechist is appalled, saying he would have served as David’s guide for a measure of rum.
Though the man is blind, he knows this terrain quite well and proves it by giving specific details about his current surroundings, which amazes the boy. The man says that if he had a gun he would also demonstrate his superior marksmanship. David knows the man has a gun and refuses to be fooled by another charlatan. The man tries to beat David with his stick and David assures the man that he, too, has a pistol and will shoot if the blind man does not leave immediately. These are the worst two men David meets in the Highlands.
At Torosay, David finds an innkeeper who is learned and friendly. As they drink together, David casually shows the man the silver button Stewart gave him, but the...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
The Lad With the Silver Button: Across Morven
David takes the ferry from Torosay to Kinlochaline. The skipper is Neil Roy Macrob; since Macrob is one of the names of Stewart’s clansmen, David is anxious to talk with him privately. It is a crowded ferry and the passage is slow. The one tragedy for David on this trip is seeing what he believes to be an emigrant ship being loaded with exiled Scottish criminals bound for the slave trade in America.
When the ferry arrives in Kinlochaline on the mainland, David talks privately with Macrob and foolishly offers him money in exchange for information rather than just showing Macrob his silver button. When he does, the skipper tells the boy he should never insult a gentleman by offering him money and should never mention Stewart’s name. The man quickly does what he has been ordered and gives David directions for the rest of his journey. David is to spend the night in a public inn, go to Ardgour tomorrow and stay with John of the Claymore, then make his way to the house of James of the Glens, at Auchorn in Duror of Appin. It is a trip full of ferry crossings and tenuous journeys through mountains and other “wild and dreadful” places. Macrob warns the boy not to speak to anyone; he is to avoid Whigs (of which David is one) and Campbells and the “red soldiers.” If he sees any of these, David should hide somewhere off the road.
The inn at Kinlochaline is vile. As David walks to Morven the next day, he meets another religious teacher, Henderland, who is carrying a book which was translated by David’s friend Campbell, the kind minister of Essendean. Henderland shares the local news with the boy and says that Colin Campbell of Glenure, acting as the king’s agent, will soon begin to evict Stewarts from their homes. According to Henderland, it is likely that Campbell of Glenure (the Red Fox) will be killed by either the Stewart or the Campbell clans.
David and the catechist walk and talk all day, and David accepts the man’s offer to stay with him tonight. The boy readily accepts, for he is now wary of all Highland strangers and has no desire to meet John of the Claymore. After they eat their porridge and whey, Henderland asks David about his “state of mind towards God.” David is moved by the kind man’s concern and his humble spirit; then Henderland insists earnestly that David accept sixpence for his journey. David is afraid to...
(The entire section is 447 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
The Death of the “Red Fox”
The next morning, Henderland arranges David’s guide and transportation to Appin. David is thankful to avoid a long day of travel and the cost of several ferries. He and his guide leave at about noon. As they ferry across the Linnhe Loch, David sees glints of steel and a clump of scarlet he eventually identifies as soldiers’ coats. His guide says they are some of King George’s soldiers heading to Appin to besiege the poor country tenants. It is a sad sight to the boy.
Later David asks the guide to set him ashore. As he sits in some bushes just off the road and eats some of the oatbread Henderland gave him, David wonders if he should really be aligning himself with an outlaw or if he should be more sensible and journey back to the Lowlands where he was born and raised. As he ponders, David hears some approaching travelers on horseback. The four men include a lawyer, a servant, a sheriff’s officer, and a great, red-haired man with an imperious demeanor. If David had been more knowledgeable, he would have recognized the Campbell colors.
As soon as he sees them, David makes the choice to continue his adventure and he gets up from the bushes and asks the obvious leader the way to Aucharn, which is where he is to meet Stewart. The travelers are puzzled and ask what business the boy has in Aucharn. David tells the man, who is Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure (the Red Fox), that he is looking for John of the Glens. Just as the travelers are wondering what kind of trouble this boy might represent, a shot rings out and the Red Fox falls off his horse and dies.
The lawyer remains impassive and silent, the servant begins wailing loudly, the sheriff’s officer runs back to hurry the soldiers as soon as he hears the shot, and David simply watches it all with horror. As soon as the boy recovers, he immediately begins running after the murderer. David is moving quickly but the murderer is not, so he soon sees a big man wearing a black coat with silver buttons and carrying a hunting rifle; however, the killer slips away and David returns to the murder scene.
The lawyer accuses David of being an accomplice to the murder, so the terrified boy is forced to run. He hears someone call to him from the woods. David ducks into the shelter of the trees and sees Alan Breck Stewart, fishing rod in hand; Stewart does not greet the boy but orders him to follow. The...
(The entire section is 467 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
I Talk With Alan in the Wood of the Lettermore
David is still distraught at having seen a murder and thinks about how coincidental it is that Stewart wanted Colin Campbell dead and was here, “skulking in the trees,” exactly where his murder occurs. It seems to David that his only friend in the Highlands is guilty of premeditated murder. He tells Stewart they must now part ways because Stewart obviously killed Colin Campbell. Stewart assures the boy that he has come to a false conclusion; Stewart would never have killed the Red Fox in his own country, as he is loathe to bring more trouble on his clan, especially armed with nothing but a fishing pole.
Stewart swears that he had nothing to do with the murder and David is convinced; he holds his hand out to the older man, but Stewart does not appear to notice. Though Stewart saw the murderer run by, he certainly could not describe him, as he was bending over to tie his shoes when the man passed. David wonders why Stewart exposed them both to capture, becoming targets for the red soldiers to allow the murderer the opportunity to escape. Stewart seems so reasonable that though David is not convinced of innocence, he understands that Stewart is ready to give his life for “these wild Highlanders.” This does not fit the moral code David grew up with, but he respects Stewart’s beliefs and again offers his hand; this time Stewart takes it warmly in both of his.
They must both flee the country, as neither would get a fair trial even if one were held here in the rough Highlands. Theirs will be a difficult journey to the Lowlands, but David agrees to accompany Stewart. At John of the Glens, Stewart will gather what they need for their journey. Stewart tells David what happened after the Covenant was wrecked. He saw David get washed overboard and had hope that the boy would make it, leaving messages for the boy just in case. The skiff was launched, though the most seriously wounded were left behind to sink with the ship. The screams of those unfortunates was harrowing for all of the survivors to hear. Hoseason suddenly wakes from his stupor when the boat lands and orders his men to take Stewart captive. When the men are reluctant to follow his order, the captain shrieks like a fiend, blaming Stewart for his ship sinking and all their fortunes being lost. This moves the men to act and as they begin to wreak their revenge on Stewart, Riach...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
The House of Fear
Night falls as David and Stewart walk and talk, and David struggles to keep up with the older man. They arrive at James of the Glens’ and Stewart gives the signal before they descend into the house. Stewart introduces David to James Stewart but does not use the boy’s name. James Stewart is distraught that Colin Campbell has been murdered and knows it will bring more trouble on the Stewart clan.
David sees the servants recovering weapons, swords and guns, from their hiding places in all the buildings; the weapons hidden in the thatch of roofs and other unlikely places. Once they are uncovered, the weapons are taken by others and buried. A girl comes out of the house carrying a bundle of Stewart’s French clothing which must also be buried, but Stewart grabs his clothes and goes to change. This leaves David to go with James Stewart.
Inside the house, James Stewart’s wife is weeping, his son is burning certain papers in the fire, and the servants are bustling to accomplish their appointed tasks. All of them are clearly distraught, and it is an awful scene for David to watch. Soon Stewart returns dressed in his best French clothes, now shabby; David is also given a change of clothes and some brogues. Between them they only have a few guineas and shillings, which Stewart says is not enough for the journey ahead of them; but they are both armed and now they must go. To avert suspicion, James Stewart will offer a reward for both David’s and Stewart’s capture. On the poster he will describe both David and Stewart in the clothing they were wearing before they changed, but the idea of being falsely accused of a murder is not acceptable to David. He believes the real murderer should be on the wanted poster. Eventually he understands that James Stewart is afraid that he will be blamed for the murder and agrees to the ruse. The travelers leave and continue their journey.
(The entire section is 342 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
The Flight in the Heather: The Rocks
Sometimes David and Stewart run and sometimes they walk; during the day they usually have to run. At every hut or house hidden away quietly in the hills, and even as he is running for his life, Stewart stops to deliver the news of Colin Campbell’s murder to his fellow Highlanders. More than half of them had already heard the news; the other half received the news with “more of consternation than surprise.”
One morning the two of them find themselves in a bad place, side by side on a slippery rock with a wild stream roaring and raging up at them. Though Stewart is talking, David cannot hear him; he only sees that the man is angry. Stewart gives David a swig of brandy for fortification and then shouts “hang or drown!” before leaping safely over a farther branch of the stream. If David does not jump now, he knows he never will. He jumps blindly and only reaches the other side because Stewart catches him and drags him to safety.
Immediately they begin running again until Stewart finally feels they are safe and stops. They climb up on two large, flat rocks and at last they are in a temporarily safe haven. Stewart apologizes for taking a wrong road which put them in such a dangerous place and for forgetting a water bottle, something they will sorely miss before the end of this day. David sleeps and in the morning they see red-coated soldiers camped out about a mile upstream; others, on horseback, are patrolling nearby. Since they cannot be seen from below, David and Stewart roost upon the bare rock all day until they can bear it no longer and finally leap down to make a run for their next hiding place.
It is a harrowing journey with sentries and lookouts posted everywhere they go, but by sundown they have traveled quite a distance. They find a cool stream in which they renew their hot, tired bodies. That night they travel an intricate path up the mountains and along cliffs. When the quarter moon appears, Stewart makes sure of his directions while David is “struck with wonder” to be walking so high up, almost upon the clouds, it seems to him. Stewart apparently calculates that they are past any danger from the redcoats, for he whistles familiar and wistful tunes all night as they walk.
(The entire section is 406 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
The Flight in the Heather: The Heugh of Corrynakeigh
Though day breaks early at the beginning of July, it is still dark when David and Stewart arrive at their destination, the Heugh of Corrynakeigh. They can see Mamore below them and the sea loch which divides it from Appin. They spend five happy days here, and Stewart teaches David how to fight with a sword. Stewart makes a blackened cross with several kinds of wood and then borrows the silver button he gave David to make a sign which he will deliver to John Breck Maccoll, a man he trusts. Stewart hopes Maccoll is sharp enough to read the sign correctly and understand that Duncan Stewart’s son is nearby and needs his help; Stewart also hopes Maccoll is smart enough to figure out where to find Stewart based on the kind of wood he used to make the cross. David suggests that a few words on a note might have been more effective; however, Stewart says they would have been waiting a long time for help, in that case, since Maccoll cannot read.
Stewart delivers the cross and at noon and the rugged, rather savage-looking Maccoll arrives but refuses to deliver any message which is not in writing, as he knows he will forget it. Stewart fashions a quill pen, makes ink from gunpowder, and writes a note on a scrap of paper torn from his French military commission. Stewart requests Mrs. James Stewart to send money, and three days later Maccoll returns from his dangerous mission. He shares the news that redcoats are everywhere and many poor folks are discovered with weapons every day. James Stewart and several of his servants are already in prison for complicity in Colin Campbell’s murder. It is commonly believed that Alan Breck Stewart fired the fatal shot, and there is a reward of one hundred pounds offered for the capture of both Stewart and David.
The short note from James Stewart’s wife begs Alan Breck Stewart not to get caught or both he and her husband will certainly be killed. She sent the only money she could muster and enclosed a copy of the wanted poster. Neither description is flattering, but it is accurate for Stewart because he refuses to dress in anything but his French finery, though it is now quite bedraggled. David is pleased that he is dressed in different clothes than the poster describes, and he begins to think that if he separated himself from Stewart now, he is likely to avoid any kind of trouble. He has enough money to get himself...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
The Flight in the Heather: The Moor
Eleven hours of hard travel bring David and Stewart through a mountain range and into a desolate land which they must cross, but they have to stop until the mist dissipates. They cannot go west to Appin or south to Campbells’ lands; going north will not take them either to France or to Queens Ferry, so they must go east. David wishes they could each travel in a different direction but says nothing.
To the east are the barren moors, where a man can be seen from miles away; it will be another difficult passage made mostly at night, but David vows to Stewart that he will keep going until his strength is gone. The mist rises to reveal the desolate moors, but at least there are no soldiers. Sometimes they have to crawl from bush to bush, and David soon regrets his vow. David is so weary that he falls asleep while on watch and wakes to find soldiers on horses fanning out around them. He wakes Stewart who decides they must run like rabbits for a wild mountain called Ben Alder. They must cross paths with the soldiers to get there, but it is their only hope.
David is so sore and miserable that he wants to give up, but he gains a kind of false courage from his fear of Stewart and keeps moving. Stewart is also suffering physically, but he is undeterred. They have no food or water, and David is convinced that those who write about being weary have never experienced it. He is so exhausted he can barely remember anything about his life and assumes each step will be his last. Stewart is true officer material, for he keeps David going despite his unwillingness to do so.
When day breaks, they can finally walk upright rather than crawl as they did all night, but they are now bent and stooped like old men, stumbling often as they walk. Neither of them speaks or even looks at the other; Stewart leads and David walks several paces behind him. Suddenly a few ragged men leap from the heather and pin the travelers down with their weapons. Stewart speaks with them in Gaelic and discovers they are Cluny Macpherson’s men. Macpherson is the leader of a previous rebellion and is also a wanted man. Stewart and David will be safe here until these men can inform Macpherson of their arrival.
Stewart falls immediately into a deep sleep, but David is troubled and can only rest his body. Soon they are escorted to Macpherson; while Stewart is refreshed, David is...
(The entire section is 466 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
At last, Stewart and David are ushered into a hidden place where they see a strange house known in the area as “Cluny’s Cage.” Five or six men can fit comfortably inside; it is oval-shaped and made of trees covered with wattle and moss. This is just one of Cluny Macpherson’s lairs; he moves from one to another whenever soldiers get too close. (Macpherson lives this way for another five or six years before being commanded to go to France by his master where he soon dies. Perhaps he will regret what happens in his Cage on Ben Adler mountain in the next few days.)
Though Macpherson is a plain-looking man, he has the manners and bearing of a king and rises to greet his guests. Stewart introduces the boy as “Laird of the Shaws, Mr. David Balfour.” Though he regularly derides David for his title, Stewart is always proud to share it with others. Macpherson says they shall play cards after they eat, just as gentlemen do. The food is undoubtedly good, but David cannot eat much. Macpherson regales his visitors with stories of his life and friends, including a drunken Prince Charlie, and soon it is time to play cards. David explains that he was raised not to play cards or gamble, but he certainly does not judge others for doing so. Macpherson is offended until David explains it is a promise he made to his father. This seems to satisfy Macpherson and David sleeps; however, the clan chieftain is still disgruntled at the boy’s disapproval of his behavior.
For the rest of their time in the Cage, David is sick and in a kind of trance. He is occasionally lucid, but often he is only aware of the noises around him. A doctor comes and prescribes some bitter medicine. In his lucid moments, David is aware that the two men are playing cards; at one point Stewart begs David for his money and the sick boy gives it to him just to be rid of him. On the third day in the Cage, David wakes from his delirium, though he is still weak and weary. Macpherson’s soldiers report that it is safe for the travelers to head south, but there is a problem: Stewart has lost all their money playing cards.
As they prepare to leave, Stewart is too embarrassed to ask for their money back, so David has to; Macpherson is mortified that the men think he was actually going to keep their money and returns it. David is angry that Stewart gambled their money, and Stewart feels guilty for losing their money...
(The entire section is 452 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
The Flight in the Heather: The Quarrel
Macpherson’s men ferry David and Stewart across Loch Errocht under cover of night and escort them to another hiding place. David is able to walk but is still weak from his sickness and the terrain is still treacherous. They travel in silence. David is angry and proud while Stewart is angry and ashamed. David thinks more strongly than ever about leaving, but it would be an awful repayment of friendship, so he keeps walking.
Nevertheless, David is angry that his friend wheedled money from him when he was virtually delirious. Stewart asks David’s forgiveness; but David’s response is frosty. Very quietly, Stewart says he has long owed the boy his life, and now he owes David money; as a gentleman, David should try to make his friend’s burden lighter since he knows that. David knows Stewart is right and that he is behaving badly but cannot bring himself to apologize or forgive.
They continue traveling and are forced to cross into Campbell lands because it is the least treacherous path. For three nights they travel through eerie mountains in the rain; during the days they sleep in the wet heather. It is a “dreadful time,” and David dreams of other dreadful times in his life: the tower of Shaws lit by lightning, Ransome carried to his bunk to die, Shuan dying on the roundhouse floor, and Colin Campbell being murdered. Stewart remains silent but tries to be solicitous of the boy’s welfare; David continues to nurse his anger and refuses the man’s help until finally Stewart says he will not offer again. David still refuses and Stewart takes the opportunity to absolve himself from any guilt.
Now Stewart feels free to taunt the boy, calling him names like “Whiggie.” David realizes this is his own fault, but he is too weary to repent. Physically David is spent, and one day he has had enough. He confronts Stewart and says he will bear no more insults toward his king or his friends, the Campbells. Stewart has been defeated by both the king and the Campbells and is now running like an animal from both; perhaps Stewart should speak more graciously about them. Stewart immediately calls on the boy to draw his sword; however, when David actually does it, Stewart cannot fight because he knows it would be murder.
All of David’s anger seeps from him, and he wishes he could take back what he said. An apology will not suffice, so he...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
Stewart knocks at the door of the first house he sees, a risky thing in the Braes of Balquhidder, which is inhabited by the “chiefless folk,” Highlanders who have been driven into the wild country by the Campbells. This house belongs to Maclarens, who know and respect Duncan Stewart. A doctor treats David and he is bedridden for a week; within a month he is ready to travel.
During that month, Stewart will not leave David, though the friends who know him think he is foolish to stay. By day Stewart hides in the woods, but at night he comes to the Maclaren house to visit the boy. Mrs. Maclaren adores having such an important guest, and many nights the music and revelry last until morning. Though soldiers occasionally march through the valley, they never bother anyone. Even more surprising is the fact that no magistrate ever bothers David to ask where he came from or where he is going, despite the fact that David’s presence is well known to everyone in Balquhidder and surrounding areas. A wanted poster even hangs at the foot of his bed, yet no one thinks of turning the boy—or Stewart—in, which David finds astonishing. Other folks cannot keep a secret even if only two or three know it; among these clansmen, though, an entire countryside could keep silent for a century if need be.
One day the infamous outlaw Rob Roy comes to visit, and there is some trepidation about what might happen if he and Stewart cross paths. Roy tells David that a surgeon named Balfour once marched with his clan and healed his brother’s leg at the Battle at Prestonpans. If David is related to that branch of the Balfours, Roy has come to put himself and his people at David’s command. Unfortunately, David knows virtually nothing about his family history and has to tell Roy that he does not know if he is related to the surgeon. Roy disdainfully walks away, telling Maclaren that David is “only some kinless loon” that does not know his own father. David is angry and ashamed at his ignorance but finds it humorous that an outlaw such as Rob Roy (who was hanged three years later) is so particular about the lineage of his acquaintances.
Roy is leaving as Stewart arrives, and the two men circle one another and puff up their feathers like two fighting roosters before they begin insulting one another’s families. Their insults turn to challenges, and soon these enemies, poised at the edge of a...
(The entire section is 494 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
End of the Flight: We Pass the Forth
It is already late in August when David is able to journey. He and Stewart have virtually no money, so they must get to Mr. Rankeillor, the lawyer, as quickly as possible or they will starve—which they might do anyway if Rankeillor cannot help David with his inheritance. Stewart believes the hunt for the two of them must have abated by now, but the travelers must still be cautious.
After several days, Stewart announces that they have left the Highlands and are in David’s land. They must now cross the Bridge of Stirling. No guards are evident, but David and Stewart still wait and watch. Soon it is dark and an old woman hobbling wearily across the bridge happens to wake the sleeping sentry and he stops her for questioning before he lets her pass. David and Stewart are now stuck on the wrong side of Forth. They argue about where to go next, for neither can swim well, and any obvious crossings are likely to be guarded. Stewart decides the answer to their problem is a boat.
That night they walk, and David looks across the water to the lights of the town of Queens Ferry. It is such a pleasant sight to the boy until he remembers he is on the north shore and has no way to reach Rankeillor on the south shore. Though wealth awaits him, all David has now is outlandish tattered clothing, a few shillings, a bounty on his head, and an outlaw companion. The travelers buy some food from a lovely serving maid, which prompts Stewart to create a plan. He instructs David to act helpless and sick so the girl will feel sorry for the boy. Stewart is a roguish actor and makes David seem like a pitiful and foolish Jacobite who will be hanged if he is caught, so the girl offers them free food from her father’s inn. Stewart makes an emotional appeal that few could resist, but the girl is still afraid she might be abetting a couple of criminals.
Eventually David speaks and asks her if she knows Rankeillor; she says she has heard of him and that he has a fine reputation. David tells her that is where they are going, and she can decide if that makes them criminals or patriots. This finally moves the innkeeper’s daughter to action, and that night she sneaks out of her father’s house and steals a neighbor’s boat with which she will deliver the travelers to the far shore. Both David and Stewart think the innkeeper’s daughter is a very fine young woman, but David’s...
(The entire section is 481 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
I Come to Mr. Rankeillor
Stewart spends the next day in hiding while David searches for Mr. Rankeillor. Now that he is nearly at his long-hoped-for destination, David begins to wonder how he will ever prove to a stranger his identity or his right of inheritance—especially in his condition. Now David wonders if he will even get to present his case to the lawyer at all, let alone convince the man of his claim.
Too ashamed to ask for directions, David walks aimlessly until he happens to stop in front of a lovely house, the kind he wishes he had. The door opens and a “shrewd, ruddy, kindly, consequential man” in powdered wig and glasses emerges from the front door. The man walks directly up to David and asks what he wants. When David tells him who he is looking for, the man announces that he is Rankeillor and this is his house. David tells the man his full name and asks for a chance to talk to him; the man ponders the pitiful-looking boy and then invites him into the house. The lawyer tests the boy a bit and David announces that he believes he has some rights to the Shaw estate.
Rankeillor asks him some basic questions about his family, and David assures him that Mr. Campbell will vouch for him, as might his uncle, Ebenezer Balfour. David explains that his uncle had him kidnapped and placed on the Covenant where he was carried off until a shipwreck freed him; since then, he has endured “a hundred other hardships” before arriving here today. Rankeillor says the Covenant sank on June 27 and asks what has transpired between then and today, August 24th. David explains that he has suffered for being too trusting, so he wants some assurance that Rankeillor is an ally.
Rankeillor explains that on the day of the wreck, Campbell came to Rankeillor demanding to see David. The lawyer fears the worst. Ebenezer Balfour admitted to having seen David but claimed to have given his nephew money to pursue his education in Europe and told no one of his plans because he wished to sever all ties to his past life. Neither Campbell nor Rankeillor believed Balfour, but they had no proof he was lying until Hoseason appeared to report David’s drowning. Campbell was distraught and Balfour had another blemish on his already black character; however, there was nothing more to be done.
David now trusts Rankeillor with his complete story. Rankeillor advises David to refer to...
(The entire section is 504 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
I Go in Quest for My Inheritance
David does what he can to improve his appearance; when he looks in the mirror, he sees that David Balfour has come back to life but is ashamed that he has to wear borrowed clothes. When he again sits down with Mr. Rankeillor, the lawyer tells David the story of his father and his uncle. It involves a love affair, something which the boy has difficulty reconciling with his old uncle.
Ebenezer Balfour was once a young man with a “fine, gallant air,” and people often admired him when he rode by on horseback. In 1715, the promising young Balfour ran away to join the rebels. His older brother, Alexander (David’s father), pursued Balfour and found him in a ditch; he brought Balfour back home. Later, both brothers fell in love with the same young lady. The spoiled younger brother was certain his suit would prevail and was maudlin in his sorrow when he discovered he was wrong. Balfour shouted his woe to anyone who would listen. Alexander Balfour was a kind man, but he was also weak. One day he could take no more abuse and “resigned the lady.” The lady was no fool and refused to be “bandied about” between brothers, so she left them both for a time. They begged her to reconsider, but she would not.
Eventually the brothers came to an agreement because Alexander capitulated and Balfour continued his squalling selfishness. Alexander got the lady, David’s mother, and Balfour got the estate. This awful decision created many problems. Alexander’s family lived in poverty, David was not raised as gentry like he should have been, the Shaw tenants were sorely mistreated, and Balfour has had a terrible, miserly life. People who knew the story rebuffed Balfour; people who did not know the story were suspicious because the older son disappeared and the younger son assumed the estate. They called Balfour a murderer. All Balfour got was money, so that is what he came to covet. He was selfish as a young man and nothing has changed.
The estate clearly belongs to David, no matter what papers Alexander signed; however, Balfour is likely to challenge David’s identity. The case is likely to be messy and Stewart’s identity will be revealed, so Rankeillor recommends that David strike a compromise with his uncle. David devises a plan, though it requires Rankeillor to meet with Stewart; he is hesitant to do it. Eventually Rankeillor examines the plan enough to...
(The entire section is 498 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
I Come in to My Kingdom
Though everyone else in the neighborhood hears Stewart’s knocking, no one in the Shaw house answers until finally an upstairs window opens. Ebenezer Balfour looks down on his visitor for awhile in silence; then, assuring the man that he has a blunderbuss, Balfour asks who the man is and what he wants. When Stewart mentions David’s name, Balfour thinks they had better talk inside, but Stewart says he would rather talk on the front doorstep and, since he comes from a stubborn family, he will wait.
Balfour takes a long time to get downstairs and undo all the bolts, but he finally emerges and sits on the steps, blunderbuss in hand. Stewart does not reveal his identity but tells the story of a shipwreck and finding a lost boy who was nearly drowned. Stewart and some friends have been keeping the boy, at great expense, and now Stewart is here to collect a ransom for the boy’s return. Balfour clears his throat before saying he never cared for the boy and will not pay any ransom. Stewart assures Balfour that others will not look kindly upon Balfour for deserting his brother’s son, but Balfour does not see how anyone else will ever even hear the story. Stewart says if the ransom is not paid, the boy will be released to tell his story; therefore Stewart is confident that Balfour will either pay to have the boy released or pay to have the boy kept imprisoned.
Balfour hesitates and Stewart pushes, even threatens violence, until Balfour finally says he wants David kept, not killed. Stewart then asks what Balfour paid Hoseason to kidnap the boy, something Balfour vehemently denies doing. Eventually Balfour admits he gave the captain twenty pounds to take the boy. Hoseason would have gotten more for selling the boy into slavery, but that would not have come from Balfour’s pocket. Now Rankeillor steps forward, followed by David and Torrance. They all greet Balfour quite civilly, but the old man is unmoving. Stewart takes the gun and Rankeillor leads Balfour inside to the kitchen where they all gather. The others celebrate their success but they pity Balfour’s shame. While David, Torrance, and Stewart enjoy a good meal, Rankeillor and Balfour leave to arrange the terms of David’s inheritance. Balfour will pay David two thirds of the Shaws’ yearly income. That night all but Balfour sleep on the hard chests in the warm kitchen. To the others, the beds are hard; however,...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
David feels as if he has come home, but he also still feels responsible for Alan Breck Stewart. In addition, he feels as if he should do something regarding Colin Campbell’s murder and James of the Glens’ imprisonment for complicity. The next morning, David unburdens himself of these matters to Rankeillor. Even as he speaks, David is moved with pride at his future prospects. Rankeillor assures the boy that it is David’s duty to do whatever he can to help his friend Stewart get to France, even though it puts David at risk of prison and even hanging.
Stewart’s kin, James of the Glens, is another matter entirely. David has already thought it through and knows he has to do what he can to exonerate James of the Glens. The lawyer is impressed with the young man’s loyalty and writes two letters for David to take with him. One is addressed to the British Linen Company which authorizes David to be paid what the Shaws owe him; the other is to another Balfour, a well respected man, who may be able to help David when he offers his testimony to help James of the Glens. Finally David and Stewart leave for Edinburgh. Their hearts are heavy as they remember all their shared experiences and know they will soon have to part.
They decide that Stewart should remain in hiding in the country where David can meet him or send a messenger to communicate with him every day. David will obtain a lawyer, a Stewart from Appin (and therefore completely to be trusted), who will arrange for Stewart’s transport to France. Though David and Stewart tease one another, they are much closer to tears than to laughter. They arrive near a place called Rest-and-be-Thankful, and they can see the city ahead of them. Without saying it, both men know this is the place where they will part ways. They make the arrangements for communicating and David gives Stewart what little money he has so Stewart will not starve. They shake hands and say goodbye; neither of them looks at the other’s face.
David does not look back as he walks to the city; he feels as if he could sit down and weep like a child, but he does not. When David arrives in the city, he is struck by all the sights, sounds, and smells into a “kind of stupor of surprise.” He allows the crowds to propel him as he thinks about Stewart back at Rest-and-be-Thankful. He feels the gnawing of remorse as he is guided by “the hand of Providence” to...
(The entire section is 449 words.)