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MonkeyNotes Study Guide for Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson-Book Notes
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KIDNAPPED CHAPTER SUMMARIES

Chapter 16: The Lad with the Silver Button: Across Morven

Summary

David travels by ferry from Torosay to the mainland. Although the boat is crowded, David enjoys the ride. The friendly passengers entertain him with their Gaelic boat-songs, while the sea air and bright weather lift his spirits. This pleasant atmosphere becomes clouded for a while when they catch sight of a massive ship in the mouth of Loch Aline, reverberating with cries and lamentations. It is a ship bound for America. At an opportune moment, David questions the boat's skipper about Alan. The man hastily gives him the necessary information and tells him he should spend the night at an inn before setting out on his long journey. He also warns David about meeting 'Campbells' or the 'Red Soldiers'.

After spending the night at the inn at Kinlochin, David starts on his journey to Appin. On the way, he meets Henderland, a catechist. This man is easy to talk to and David becomes friendly with him. Henderland knows Campbell of Essendean and admires him. The catechist talks about Alan's reputation and about the expulsion of the tenants by the soldiers of Red Fox. He then invites David to his home to spend the night.

Notes

Action mounts in the novel as David goes in search of Alan. David experiences the darker side of the Scottish Highlands. The inn at Kilnochin is "the most beggarly vile place that ever pigs were styed in, full of smoke, vermin and silent Highlanders. Places of public entertainment were bad enough all over Scotland in those days." This place is even worse.


On the road, David encounters another kind of catechist. The blind man who had guided him towards Torosay was cunning and inquisitive. Mr. Henderland, on the other hand, is friendly and helpful. He tells David that the tenants will be moved the next day, hinting that there could be trouble since Red Fox is bringing soldiers with him for the task.. He also warns David that Alan Breck is a mysterious man "here today and gone tomorrow." He invites the boy to spend the night at his home and wins him over with his goodness and humility. The next day Mr. Henderland directs David towards Appin, offering him sixpence to help him on his way.

In the chapter there is mention of an emigrant ship carrying many wailing people who are headed for America to be sold as slaves. It reminds David that his uncle had planned for him to become a slave in America. Stevenson had also traveled in one such ship to America and had noticed the misery of the passengers.

CHAPTER 17: The Death of the Red Fox

Summary

After spending the night with Henderland, David takes a boat to his destination. Arriving at Appin, he rests in the woods and starts musing about his condition. At that moment he notices four travelers coming his way on horses. Getting up, he asks them the way to Aucharn. David does not realize he is talking to Colin Campbell, the Red Fox. As they converse, gunfire is heard; the Red Fox is hit and falls off his horse dead. Horrified, David runs uphill in pursuit of a man in a black coat whom he suspects to be the killer. However, Campbell's men mistakenly assume that David is an accomplice and chase him. As David looks around helplessly, a voice beckons him to hide among the trees. Alan, standing with a fishing rod, tells David to follow him, as they run towards Balachulish. Both of them manage to evade their pursuers; then David collapses in exhaustion..

Notes

This chapter has Scottish history as the background as David is ironically caught up in the Jacobite uprising. David, who has been repeatedly warned to watch out for Red Fox, suddenly finds himself face to face and talking to the man. He then witnesses the death of this fearful leader. David is horrified at the murder and naively chases the man he assumes to be the killer. Ironically, as David tries to help, he is mistaken as an accomplice in the murder and suddenly fears for his own life. As he tries to run from his pursuers, Alan, hiding in the woods, calls to David and the two of them escape together.

CHAPTER 18: I Talk with Alan in the Wood of Lettermore

Summary

When David has the opportunity to speak, he informs Alan that he wants to part ways because he suspects Alan to be an accomplice in the murder of Red Fox. Alan tries to convince the boy of his innocence, and David reluctantly offers him his hand in friendship. Alan tells him that his options are to get caught by the Campbells or risk an escape with him. David is left with no choice but to join his friend. Then Alan relates to him the fate of the "Covenant" and the events following David's fall into the sea.

Notes

Though Alan tries to prove he has not been involved with Campbell's murder, he is not able to give a proper explanation of how he came to shield the murderer and mislead the soldiers. David is suspicious of his friend, but realizes he must go with Alan if he is to escape the Highlands and survive; he helplessly resigns himself to his situation, knowing he is trapped. The Campbells, suspecting him to be an accomplice, want to kill him. Yet if he stays with Alan, he is also an enemy of the government and liable to punishment.

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