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Kidnapped

Robert Louis Stevenson

Chapters 19–21

Chapters 16–18

Chapters 22–24

Summary

Chapter 19: The House of Fear

Alan and David move through the night and reached the house of James Stewart, the lead of Alan's clan. James, his family, and his clansmen are in a nervous flurry of activity. James is certain he will be blamed for the murder of Colin Campbell.

James offers David and Alan a change of clothes. Alan refuses, choosing to merely batter his fine French clothes, making them dirty and nearly unrecognizable. James bustles about his home, worrying, as his men bury the swords and guns, and his son burns incriminating documents.

James then arms David and Alan with a pistol and a sword each, preparing them for their flight through the Highlands. James tells Alan that he will have to blame Alan and David for the murder if they come after him. James will give their descriptions—before they changed their clothes—to the Campbells, who will then have the English army searching for them. Alan easily agrees, but David is indignant, when he knows he had nothing to do with the murder. David thinks the actual killer should have a warrant put out for the arrest. This shocks Alan and James, and David, not wanting to abandon his friend, reluctantly agrees. Alan and David then leave James' house.

Chapter 20: The Flight in the Heather: the Rocks

David and Alan begin fleeing through the Highland wilderness. They reach a rushing river, broken up at one point by several large rocks. Alan and David leap to one rock, halfway across, and then Alan leaps to the other bank, but David nearly freezes in fear. David makes the second jump and the two begin running again.

Alan leads them to a large pair of rocks. They climb up and find a small, shallow "dish" in the top, enough space for them to hide. Alan admits that he nearly led them the wrong way, and that he forgot to bring a water bottle.

David drifts off to sleep. He is awakened at nine in the morning by Alan, who points out soldiers in the valley, all around them. They have no choice but to toast on the rock all day while the soldiers search for them.

Around two o'clock in the afternoon, Alan and David are near sunstroke. Since the soldiers have cleared out of the area, they hop off the rock and recover briefly in the shade. They then sneak past the soldiers, using the many rocks around them to hide. They escape and find a river, refresh themselves, and continue moving through the night.

Chapter 21: The Flight in the Heather: the Heugh of Corrynakiegh

David and Alan reach the Heugh of Corrynakiegh, a cleft in a tall mountain, where a river runs through. They stay here for several days, fishing and practicing sword fighting.

Alan decides that he must send word to James Stewart. He constructs a small cross and puts the silver button he lent David on it. He then takes the cross down to a nearby town and puts it in the window of John Breck Maccoll, a friend of his. Maccoll understands the signal and comes to Alan.

Alan sends Maccoll to Stewart with a message asking for money. Maccoll returns with a note from James's wife. James and many of his men and kinsmen have been put in prison, but everyone is blaming Alan and his young friend for the murder. James' wife sends them some money and a "wanted poster" that describes them.

Now that he has changed his clothes, David realizes that his description is so vague, he could head through the country without fear as long as he was separated from Alan; but he chooses not to abandon his friend.

Analysis

David faces a number of important decisions. Twice, he realizes that he is in a situation where he must suffer for his friendship with Alan. The first is in the house of James Stewart, where he is asked to take the blame for the murder of Colin Campbell. Not only does the idea of being blamed for murder sicken David, but also he is indignant that the actual culprit not be caught. Alan and James, for their part, are incredulous that he would even suggest that the actual killer be hunted down. This is the "Highland moral code" that David has been encountering since he met Alan. In the first situation, David believes he will be "papered"—James will give his description so that he can make a wanted poster—whether he agrees to be or not, so deciding to stay with Alan is not a difficult choice.

The second time that David chooses to suffer, for friendship, is more significant. David realizes that his description on the wanted poster is so vague—the most detailed part being his clothes, which he has already changed—that he could easily walk through the countryside along and be entirely safe. But as long as he stays with Alan, he is in danger of being hanged. When he sees that Alan doesn't even consider their parting, he doesn't really even make a decision, saying, "What could I do but hold my peace, and chafe, and take my chance of it?" The knowledge that he would be safer on his own will bother David for much of the book, particularly whenever he is angry with Alan.

This might also be seen as the beginning of strife between Alan and David. Once David realizes that he could be safer on his own, he will take each annoying or bothersome thing Alan says as another reason why he should simply strike out on his own. Without him knowing it, Alan brings himself closer to desertion with each taunt and each tiresome, unapologetic hike through the woods. The friendship between the two men, and their difficulties maintaining it, is quickly becoming the main focus of the book. This makes perfect sense; Stevenson's intention in writing the book was to focus on Alan, but his chosen method of writing about Alan was by involving a young lad in the murder of Colin Campbell. Involving a young man may also have been a marketing decision, since his intended audience was young schoolboys.

The large rock dish, where Alan and David hide for nearly a day, is one of the most interesting and innovative scenes in the novel. Stevenson here uses a familiar aspect of the Highlands to great effect, as the soldiers hunt for fugitives that hide under their very noses. The flight through the heather will often have a cat-and-mouse feel to it, as David and Alan barely remain one step ahead of the soldiers.

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Vengeance or Loyalty? It depends on your point of view!

by English-Lit-Major, August 20, 2013

"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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