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 two run for an hour, circling up and around the mountain until they drop, exhausted, in the Lettermore woods where they began running.