Chapter 20 Summary

The Flight in the Heather: The Rocks

Sometimes David and Stewart run and sometimes they walk; during the day they usually have to run. At every hut or house hidden away quietly in the hills, and even as he is running for his life, Stewart stops to deliver the news of Colin Campbell’s murder to his fellow Highlanders. More than half of them had already heard the news; the other half received the news with “more of consternation than surprise.”

One morning the two of them find themselves in a bad place, side by side on a slippery rock with a wild stream roaring and raging up at them. Though Stewart is talking, David cannot hear him; he only sees that the man is angry. Stewart gives David a swig of brandy for fortification and then shouts “hang or drown!” before leaping safely over a farther branch of the stream. If David does not jump now, he knows he never will. He jumps blindly and only reaches the other side because Stewart catches him and drags him to safety.

Immediately they begin running again until Stewart finally feels they are safe and stops. They climb up on two large, flat rocks and at last they are in a temporarily safe haven. Stewart apologizes for taking a wrong road which put them in such a dangerous place and for forgetting a water bottle, something they will sorely miss before the end of this day. David sleeps and in the morning they see red-coated soldiers camped out about a mile upstream; others, on horseback, are patrolling nearby. Since they cannot be seen from below, David and Stewart roost upon the bare rock all day until they can bear it no longer and finally leap down to make a run for their next hiding place.

It is a harrowing journey with sentries and lookouts posted everywhere they go, but by sundown they have traveled quite a distance. They find a cool stream in which they renew their hot, tired bodies. That night they travel an intricate path up the mountains and along cliffs. When the quarter moon appears, Stewart makes sure of his directions while David is “struck with wonder” to be walking so high up, almost upon the clouds, it seems to him. Stewart apparently calculates that they are past any danger from the redcoats, for he whistles familiar and wistful tunes all night as they walk.