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Hoseason comes to the Round-House and informs Alan and David that something is wrong. He asks them to come up, and points to several large rocks in the distance. Alan identifies them as the Torran Rocks, a series of large boulders that just out of the sea and pose a danger to ships. Alan is not sure, but he thinks there are fewer rocks closer to shore. Hoseason swings the ship closer to the shore, off the islet of Earraid, and just as the Covenant seems like it will make it through, the ship strikes a reef.
The men scramble to try and prepare a lifeboat, but David gets washed overboard. He grabs a piece of wood and hangs on until he is thrown up on the shore, thanking God that he is alive.
David finds himself on a small islet, cut off from the mainland by a small river. He tries to cross the river, but finds it is too wide and deep. He returns to the shore to get his piece of wood, planning to try and float across, but the yard has floated back out to sea.
David is now miserable. He begins eating raw shellfish. Sometimes he manages to keep them down, and other times they make him extremely sick. He is especially depressed because he can see a church and several houses on the mainland, but he knows he cannot cross the river.
The next day he sees, to his surprise, a red deer, which he realizes must have swum the river. He also discovers that he has lost all his money after the shipwreck. He sees some fisherman, and wildly hails them from the shore. But, to his shock, they only point and laugh at him.
The fishermen return later and, in broken English, reveal to him that the river gets very low at low tide. To his surprise and embarrassment, he finds he can practically hop across the river at low tide.
David comes to a house in Earraid and stays for the night. The owner tells him that Alan and several of the crew survived the wreck, and Alan left instructions that David follow him to his country, near Torosay. The man and his wife are very hospitable, and David leaves with a good impression of Highlanders.
The next day David strikes out for Torosay. He sees much of the countryside and discovers that the people are very poor. That night he stops at a house, where a man charges him five shillings for lodging and to be guided to Torosay. The next day the man takes him to a "rich" man, Hector Maclean, who makes the change and then delays David for two days as he drinks with the first man, David's guide.
Finally, the guide starts to take David to Torosay, but constantly stops and demands more money. Finally, in a rage David tries to strike the cheat, who pulls a knife on him. David knocks the man over, takes his knife and shoes, and leaves him.
Later, as he is walking, he runs into a strange blind man, in robes, who behaves very strangely, and David soon recognizes him as a troublemaker. David threatens the man and he turns another way angrily. Finally, David reaches Torosay, where he stays at an inn. The innkeeper informs him that the blind man was a notorious robber.
These chapters serve as an interlude between David's time on the ship Covenant and his flight through the Scottish highlands with Alan. David is once again alone, and must travel by himself for several days.
David's time on the islet is terrible for him, but to readers of Stevenson's time, as well as modern readers, it can be quite amusing. Not only is David in reach of freedom at all times—he need only wait for the tide to go out—but the entire sequence can be read as a tiny version of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. David's thought in chapter fourteen that "in all the books I have read of people cast away, they had either their pockets full of tools, or a chest of things would be thrown upon the beach with them, as if on purpose." This reads almost like a small joke at Defoe's expense; Robinson Crusoe was fortunate enough to have piles of tools and chests wash ashore with him, and the phrase "as if on purpose" may be pointing out the fact that Defoe found it necessary to add all these things so that poor Robinson Crusoe did not starve. David's experience is much more realistic than Crusoe's, as he has no tools and no survival skills. He cannot even make fire, and is forced to eat shellfish raw. He is lucky that this does not kill him.
In his trip from Earraid to Torosay, David again encounters many dangers, which he must surpass himself. In this section, the casual mentions of numerous names and places begin to pile up, and the historical aspect of the story starts to take over. Defoe's original intention in writing the novel was to tell the story of the murder of Colin Campbell of Glenure, and now the plot of Kidnapped begins to move toward the event.
In terms of genre, Kidnapped is primarily an adventure novel, as mentioned previously. But Stevenson intended for David to move through Scotland as if he were going through "a foreign country," and in that sense, the novel also shares something with the travel novel. By the end of the story, David will have traveled through much of the Scottish Highlands, and seen many sights that were probably unfamiliar to Stevenson's English readers and are certainly unfamiliar to most modern readers. Like many good novels, Kidnapped blends several genres while remaining, at heart, an adventure story.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Kidnapped!