Captain Hoseason enters the Round-House to discover Alan and David prepared for battle. A few moments later, the battle begins as the Captain and his men attack Alan, while David guards the rear of the Round-House. Several men attempt to break the rear door down with a battle-ram; David fires at them in response, wounding the Captain in the arm.
Meanwhile, Alan has killed Mr. Shuan, and one other sailor. As they wait for the second attack, David tries to hold back his fear. The second attack arrives, and Alan kills several more sailors, while David shoots two attackers that come in through the skylight. Alan finishes off his attackers at the main door, and the battle ends with the victory of Alan and David.
Alan is quite pleased with his accomplishments, and makes up a Gaelic song about the battle, which does not mention David at all. They take turns at the watch, awaiting negotiations from the Captain.
Alan and David are now in control of the Round-House, which has most of the food and all of the liquor. Alan seems certain that the Captain and his first mate Riach will surrender soon, primarily due to their lack of alcohol.
In honor of David's brave performance, and for saving Alan's life, Alan cuts a silver button off his jacket and gives it to David, telling him that "wherever ye go and show that button, the friends of Alan Breck will come around you."
Riach hails the two men and speaks to David. The Captain is now willing to negotiate ("parley"). Before he leaves, Riach begs for some brandy, and they give him a little.
Alan and the Captain negotiate; Alan offers sixty guineas if the captain will put him down at Linnhe Loch. The captain reluctantly agrees, though it will be a dangerous trip.
As Hoseason guides the ship toward Linnhe Loch, Alan and David settle in to their home in the Round-House. David tells his whole story to Alan, who is upset at the mention of Mr. Campbell. It seems that Alan, a Stewart, has a hatred of anyone named Campbell. The Campbell clan, Alan claims, has taken land from the Stewarts by treachery. Alan talks about his father, Duncan Stewart, who had once displayed his swordsmanship to the King George of England, then given away the three guineas the king gave him to a beggar. Alan also reveals that he was once a soldier for the English army, but deserted to the Jacobites at the battle of Prestonpans, a shameful thing that shocks David, though he does not say so.
Since Alan is clearly likely to die if he is caught, David asks him what has brought him back to Scotland. Alan tells him that the poor peasants of his clan pay two rents—one to King George, and one to Alan's clan's chief, Ardshiel. James Stewart manages the collection of this second rent. James Stewart is Ardshiel's half-brother and a friend of Alan's father. It is this rent money that Alan carries with him. David is impressed by the peasants' sacrifice, and calls it noble.
Alan also tells David of the "Red Fox," Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure, a man who stepped in and served as the King's agent in the area of the Stewart and Campbell clans, and is considered a traitor by the Stewarts. Upon finding out about the second rent, Glenure becomes angry and declares all the local farms to be open to rent, with plans to replace the Stewart tenants with Campbells that won't pay any money to Ardshiel. But the Stewart tenants offer the best price, higher than any Campbell that Glenure can find. So Glenure uses legal wrangling to kick the Stewarts out of their homes and replaces them with poor beggars. Alan clearly wishes death on the Red Fox.
The battle of the Round-House is the action centerpiece of the novel. David survives his first battle, and kills at least one man in the process. This can be seen as a coming-of-age for David. He has killed his first man, and has blood on his hands. He is frightened and horrified of the ordeal, while Alan delights in his prowess at killing. Like Ransome, a character the reader has become familiar with, Shuan, is killed, this time by Alan's sword. While David, who has a keen awareness of justice, probably feels no remorse at Shuan's death, he is still troubled by the sight of it.
Alan, on the other hand, is not only pleased by the gore, but achieves a kind of transcendent happiness from it. After the fight, he hugs David and says he "loves him like a brother," and then, "in a kind of ecstasy," he asks if he is not an excellent fighter. Alan takes his death dealing as a complement to himself and his skill with the sword. David then watches as Alan stabs each of the wounded or dead enemies remaining to make sure they're dead.
This violence is not really portrayed as being horrific; rather, it is more of a fact of life. But it is a side of life that David, who has never even fired a pistol, has never seen. His surprise at such death will never really fade, as David is not a "hero" like Alan.
Alan's character, while based on a real historical figure, is an archetype. An archetype is a type of character that appears in many different stories. A good example is the "wise old man" or "wizard" character, such as Merlin from the King Arthur stories, Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings, or Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books. Alan is an example of the dashing rogue, the lone hero who has his own set of morals. A well-known example of such a character is Han Solo from the Star Wars movies. Like Alan, Han Solo has no problems with killing, he likes to brag about himself and his accomplishments, and he has his own moral code that, while not exactly like most people's, he adheres to it just as strictly. Continuing our Star Wars comparison, the young, naïve Luke Skywalker makes a good counterpart to David. Both young men have something to learn about the "real world" from the dashing, experienced rogue. Luke and David are both examples of the young, naïve hero who discovers he is heir to a great family, and must prove themselves to be true heroes.
"To them, vengeance is a code of ethics that is acceptable."
This seems all wrong to me!
Stevenson takes a very sympathetic approach with the Highlanders. He wants us to LIKE them. He would not have considered vengeance an acceptable code of ethics, so he would not have meant for us to view the Highlanders as a vengeful people. There is something missing in this Sparknotes interpretation.
Considering the historical context, we know the Highlanders considered the English Whigs to be USURPERS. Therefore, they did not v... Read more→
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