Chapter 26 Summary
End of the Flight: We Pass the Forth
It is already late in August when David is able to journey. He and Stewart have virtually no money, so they must get to Mr. Rankeillor, the lawyer, as quickly as possible or they will starve—which they might do anyway if Rankeillor cannot help David with his inheritance. Stewart believes the hunt for the two of them must have abated by now, but the travelers must still be cautious.
After several days, Stewart announces that they have left the Highlands and are in David’s land. They must now cross the Bridge of Stirling. No guards are evident, but David and Stewart still wait and watch. Soon it is dark and an old woman hobbling wearily across the bridge happens to wake the sleeping sentry and he stops her for questioning before he lets her pass. David and Stewart are now stuck on the wrong side of Forth. They argue about where to go next, for neither can swim well, and any obvious crossings are likely to be guarded. Stewart decides the answer to their problem is a boat.
That night they walk, and David looks across the water to the lights of the town of Queens Ferry. It is such a pleasant sight to the boy until he remembers he is on the north shore and has no way to reach Rankeillor on the south shore. Though wealth awaits him, all David has now is outlandish tattered clothing, a few shillings, a bounty on his head, and an outlaw companion. The travelers buy some food from a lovely serving maid, which prompts Stewart to create a plan. He instructs David to act helpless and sick so the girl will feel sorry for the boy. Stewart is a roguish actor and makes David seem like a pitiful and foolish Jacobite who will be hanged if he is caught, so the girl offers them free food from her father’s inn. Stewart makes an emotional appeal that few could resist, but the girl is still afraid she might be abetting a couple of criminals.
Eventually David speaks and asks her if she knows Rankeillor; she says she has heard of him and that he has a fine reputation. David tells her that is where they are going, and she can decide if that makes them criminals or patriots. This finally moves the innkeeper’s daughter to action, and that night she sneaks out of her father’s house and steals a neighbor’s boat with which she will deliver the travelers to the far shore. Both David and Stewart think the innkeeper’s daughter is a very fine young woman, but David’s heart is full of remorse and fear. He is sorry they had to lie to the girl, and he hopes they have not somehow involved her in their dangerous situation.