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 innkeeper does not react to the sight. David sleeps well that night, knowing he has travelled nearly a hundred miles in the past four days with little fatigue. He is in good spirits and is thankful to be in good health.