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 defends him and hollers at him to run. The last Stewart saw of Hoseason and his sailors was a brawl on the beach. If their landing spot had not been on Campbell land, Stewart assures David that he would have gone back to help Riach; instead he runs, telling everyone he sees about the shipwreck. The poor but greedy Highlanders all ran toward the possibility of plunder.