Kidnapped: Chapters 19-24

Chapter XIX
Night falls. Alan and David arrive at the house of James of the Glens, where members of the Stewart clan are busy hiding weapons by digging them into the moss, in anticipation of a raid by King George’s forces seeking the culprit of Campbell’s murder. James is angry and worried because he thinks that the Appin Stewarts will be blamed. As head of the remaining clan in Scotland, he himself may be blamed. He fears what might happen to his family if he is arrested and charged.
James gives Alan and David a sword and pistols, and David a new set of clothes to help him evade capture. Neither Alan nor David has much money, as Alan has given his money belt with the Appin rents to another messenger to take to France. James wants Alan and David to leave quickly, as if they are blamed for the murder, King George’s forces will also blame James for harboring them. James feels he has no choice but to “paper” (put out a “Wanted” poster offering a reward for the capture of) Alan and David, in order to make it appear that he is not a co-conspirator in the murder. James says that if the soldiers come looking for Alan and David, he will have to give them a description of David. Alan is shocked that James would help David to a new set of clothes only to betray him by describing them to his pursuers. But James says he would only describe David’s old, now discarded clothes.
David indignantly says he cannot understand why the true culprit should not be “papered,” rather than himself and Alan, two innocent men. But Alan and James are horrified by David’s suggestion, as such an action would endanger the member of the Cameron clan who, they appear to believe, did the murder. David is bewildered at what he thinks is illogical reasoning. David reluctantly agrees to be “papered,” telling James that he would risk himself to be helpful to any friend of Alan. James’s wife is overcome with gratitude to David.
Alan and David leave James of the Glens’s house and continue on their flight through “the heather” (the Scottish wilderness).
Chapter XX
Alan leads David on an exhausting flight through “the heather.” They climb onto some tall rocks with a dish-shaped hollow at the top, and hide by lying in the hollow. Alan admits to two mistakes: he took the wrong road, and so has arrived in dangerous country in daylight; and he has forgotten to bring water.
Alan tells David to sleep first. When Alan wakes him, David sees a camp of soldiers just half a mile away. The soldiers are watching the stream in case Alan and David should try to cross it. Trapped on the rock, Alan and David are baked by the sun. David grows giddy with thirst and sunstroke. Eventually, Alan and David take a risk, dropping down from the rock and escaping the soldiers’ detection by running from rock to rock and crawling on their bellies. They jump into a river and cool themselves before continuing on their way.
Chapter XXI
David and Alan spend five nights sleeping in a cave in a mountain cleft called the Heugh of Corrynakeigh. During the day, they fish and practice sword-fighting.
Alan decides to send a message to James of the Glens to ask him for money to enable them to travel to their destinations. He borrows his button from David, strings it onto a strip of fabric from his coat, and joins it to a cross that he makes from birch and fir twigs. He plans to wait until it is dark, walk to the house of a friend called John Breck Maccoll, and place the cross in his window as a secret signal. Maccoll will see the button and know that Alan is “in the heather [wilderness]” and needs help. The birch and fir twigs will tell Maccoll that Alan is in a wood of those trees, and this will lead him to Corrynakeigh.
Alan carries out his plan and the next day, Maccoll arrives. Alan gives him a note to take to James of the Glens, asking for money. Three days later, Maccoll comes back with the news that King George’s soldiers are everywhere, and that James of the Glens is in prison, under suspicion of complicity in Campbell’s murder. Maccoll brings a note from James’s wife, begging Alan not to allow himself to be captured. If he is caught, he and James will be executed. She encloses what little money she has raised and a “Wanted” poster featuring Alan and David. David is pleased to see that the description of him on the poster focuses on the clothes he has discarded. He thinks that if he were to separate from Alan, he would be safe from arrest, but if he were found with Alan, his case would be serious. But Alan is under the impression that he is David’s protector, and David says nothing about parting.
Chapter XXII
Alan and David arrive at the end of a mountain range and try to decide where to go next. They cannot go into Appin country, as it is too dangerous; to the south lies Campbell land; to the north suits neither David, who wants to go to Queensferry, nor Alan, who is heading for France; so they go east. This is risky, as they have to cross open moors, and it is difficult to pass unseen.
Alan and David must crawl on their bellies to avoid detection. David becomes tired, so during their first rest, Alan takes the first watch. David falls asleep during his watch. To his horror, he awakes to the sight of soldiers nearby. He wakes Alan, who does not reproach him. Alan decides that they must run for a nearby mountain called Ben Alder. They run on their hands and knees, which exhausts David. He tells Alan that he cannot continue, but Alan, tired as he is himself, offers to carry him. David, ashamed at his own lack of resolution in the face of Alan’s endurance, forces himself to continue. Suddenly, they are ambushed by some men. They turn out to be the followers of Cluny Macpherson, chief of a Jacobite clan and a friend to Alan. The men take Alan and David (whom they have to carry) to Ben Alder.
Chapter XXIII
Cluny Macpherson’s men, Alan, and David arrive at Cluny’s house, which is made from trees and earth and is in the middle of a wood on a cliff. This hiding-place has enabled Cluny to escape the detection of King George’s soldiers and has meant that unlike other defeated Jacobite clan leaders, he has not been forced into exile in France. He greets Alan and David warmly, and raises a toast to a restored Stuart monarch. Cluny has lived in seclusion for so long that he has developed odd habits. He still acts as chief of his clan, solving disputes that are brought to him in his hideaway.
Cluny entertains Alan and David with tales of how he hosted Charles Stewart (known in Scotland as Bonnie Prince Charlie), the Stewart claimant to the throne of England, in his tree-house.
After dinner, Cluny invites Alan and David to play cards, but David declines. His Protestant Whig upbringing has taught him that gambling at cards is immoral, though he is careful not to say this explicitly. Cluny, however, takes offense. Alan excuses David by saying he is tired and should go to bed, and Cluny rather reluctantly allows him to do so. David, who is ill with a fever, slips into a delirious sleep. On their second day at Cluny’s, Alan wakes David and asks to borrow some money. Hardly in possession of his senses, David hands over all his money.
David wakes on the third day and is shocked to find that Alan has gambled away all their money. Cluny indignantly insists that he would never keep the money, but Alan is too proud to ask for it back. David takes Cluny outside and politely points out that he also feels too proud to ask for money that Cluny won fairly from Alan. David tells Cluny: “this gambling is a very poor employ for gentlefolks.” David is sure that Cluny hates him, but Cluny hands over the money and shakes David’s hand.
Chapter XXIV
Alan and David continue their journey in silence. David is angry with Alan for gambling away their money, while Alan is ashamed of himself and angry with David for taking offense. David thinks more and more of parting from Alan, but cannot admit this to Alan, as he knows that Alan loves him. In an attempt at reconciliation, Alan apologizes, and asks if David wants to say anything. David replies coldly that he has nothing to say. Alan offers to part. David angrily replies that he would never turn his back on a friend. Alan says that he already owed David his life and now he owes him money, too, that this is a burden to him, and that David should bear this in mind. David knows he is behaving badly, but becomes even more cruel.
Alan and David travel for days in the cold and rain. David again becomes ill. David is still angry with Alan. Alan offers to carry his pack, but David refuses. Alan appears to forgive himself for his behavior at Cluny’s, and begins to taunt David as a Whig. David’s illness is growing so bad that he believes he will die. He unleashes an angry outburst at Alan, who by way of reply whistles a Jacobite song composed to mock the defeat of King George’s army at the battle of Prestonpans. David remembers that at Prestonpans, Alan had been fighting for King George. He cruelly reminds Alan that he has been on the losing side when fighting for the English king and subsequently when fighting for the Jacobites: “you have been beaten on both sides.” David also insults the Stewarts. Alan says, “This is a pity … There are things said that cannot be passed over.” David challenges Alan to a duel, and draws his sword, but Alan cannot bring himself to fight David, as such an unfair contest would be “fair murder.” Alan throws his sword aside.
David’s anger evaporates. He feels sorry for his behavior, but knows he cannot simply take back his words. He remembers Alan’s kindness and courage in the past, and how much he helped him. David’s sickness seems to grow worse, and he has the thought that while an apology would be useless, a cry for help “might bring Alan back to my side.” David begs Alan to get him to a house where he can die in comfort, and asks Alan to forgive him. Alan, close to tears, asks David to forgive him in turn: he had forgotten how young David was, and did not notice that he was dying on his feet. David admits that neither of them is in a position to criticize the other, and says they must be tolerant with each other (“bear and forbear”). Alan promises to find a house for David to rest in, and says that he likes David even better now that they have quarreled.
Analysis of Chapters XIX-XXIV
This section introduces fictionalized versions of two historical characters, James of the Glens (otherwise known as James Stewart) and Cluny Macpherson. The use of such historical figures lends “verisimilitude” (the appearance of truth) to Stevenson’s adventure story. Compounding the realism is the fact that Stevenson portrays these legendary Scottish heroes as fallible, idiosyncratic, and even eccentric, showing their weaknesses as well as their strengths. James, the acting head of the Stewart clan in Scotland, is fearful and borders on treacherous to his fellow clansman Alan as he plans to help King George II’s forces to capture Alan and David for their assumed complicity in Campbell’s murder. While James’s motive is partly to defend the true killer, possibly a Cameron, it is also partly to protect himself and his family from suspicion by appearing to be Alan’s enemy. In his constant harping on his family, however, James appears to be hiding behind the skirts of his family in an attempt to justify his ineffectual response to the Appin murder. In contrast to the legend that had grown up around James as a martyr who had sacrificed himself for the Jacobite cause, Stevenson shows him as a man who was prepared to sacrifice the cause for his own safety. His strategy is the decidedly unheroic one of attempted appeasement of the Campbells.
James is certainly not a swashbuckling hero in the mold of Alan, though even Alan, in the episode in which he gambles away his and David’s money, is shown as having a weak side. Alan’s courage is not in doubt, but his wisdom is.
Cluny Macpherson’s historical counterpart was Ewan Macpherson of Cluny, who was a prominent leader in the Jacobite Risings and helped Charles Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, to escape Scotland. Stevenson’s characterization shows him as having acquired some unusual habits through living in isolation in the forest. While still the undoubted leader of his clan, his former heroic exploits are reduced to card-sharping and fussing over cookery methods.
In his portrayal of the clan chiefs James and Cluny, Stevenson was chronicling a way of life – the clan system – that was already dying out at the time the novel was set, and which had almost vanished by Stevenson’s time. But he is also undermining the romance that had attached itself to the Highland way of life. Not only is the Highland way of life in decline, but Stevenson seems to be determined to show traditional folk heroes as flawed and occasionally weak and ridiculous human beings – no better and no worse than the rest of humanity.
Nevertheless, Stevenson is not an apologist for the Hanoverian government’s oppressive policies in Scotland in the wake of the Jacobite Risings. James of the Glens’ men’s frantic attempts to hide their weapons in the moss recalls the historical passage in 1746 of the Act of Proscription, which required all swords to be surrendered to King George II’s government and prohibited the wearing of traditional Scottish tartan or kilts.
The dialogue between Alan the Highland Jacobite and David the Lowland Whig continues. While Alan is brave, a superb fighter, and skilled at surviving in dangerous circumstances, David is the more prudent and responsible, at least where money is concerned. Previously in the novel, their closeness despite their differences has been emphasized. But in the quarrel over Alan’s gambling their money away, their differences come to the fore. David’s wish to part from Alan has never been stronger, and he can barely contain his anger at his reckless behavior.
Stevenson’s handling of the quarrel displays masterly psychological realism. David knows that he is behaving badly, but this realization merely seems to spur him on to more cruelty. When he recognizes that he has gone to far to expect Alan to forgive him, he resorts to changing his strategy completely. He gives in to his growing illness and, telling Alan that he expects to die, asks if he will forgive him first. While David is probably exaggerating his illness, there is an emotional desperation in his request that is so profoundly felt that it wins Alan over completely. David is acknowledging his need for Alan’s friendship. His conciliatory words to Alan – “We’re neither one of us to mend the other – that’s the truth! We must just bear and forbear, man Alan!” – are a recognition that neither is better or worse than the other. Each has his strengths and weaknesses, and together they are stronger and more effective than either would be alone.