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.