The narrator and main hero of the novel Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is a teenager named David Balfour. He is the one referred to in the title, who actually gets kidnapped. After his parents die, David journeys to the House of Shaws, where his uncle, Ebenezer Balfour, lives. Concerned that David might claim his rightful inheritance, Ebenezer first tries to kill David by sending him up a dark stairway to an unfinished tower. When this murder attempt fails, Ebenezer arranges for a sea captain to kidnap David and take him to be sold as a slave in the Carolinas.
On the ship, David meets Alan Breck Stewart, one of several real historical characters that Stevenson works into the plot. Many adventures follow, including a shipwreck, threats on David's life, and a flight as fugitives when David and Alan become suspected murderers.
With the help of Alan and a lawyer, David eventually gets his uncle to confess his responsibility in the kidnapping. In the end, David receives a generous portion of the estate's yearly income.