Kidnapped: Chapters 7-12
David regains consciousness and finds himself tied up in the dark underbelly of the Covenant. He is furious with his uncle and with his own folly, and is suffering from seasickness. Mr. Riach, the second officer, arrives, gives David a drink of brandy, and brings Hoseason to look at him. Riach tells Hoseason that David is very ill and must be moved into the more comfortable forecastle of the ship, but Hoseason refuses. Riach says that while Hoseason has been paid to do a murder, he himself has not. Hoseason rebukes Riach but concedes that he may do as he pleases. Riach has David moved to the forecastle, where the other sailors sleep.
David chats to the sailors, and finds that while they are rough, some are occasionally kind. They return two-thirds of David’s money, which had been shared out among them, presumably by Hoseason. David learns from them that the ship is bound for the Carolinas. There, David is to be sold into white slavery on the plantations, on Ebenezer’s orders.
David learns that Riach is harsh when sober, and Shuan when drunk. He finds that Ransome can barely remember anything of his life before he came to sea, as everything has been blotted out by years of brutal treatment. He has strange conceptions of life on land, believing that trade is slavery and that apprentices are whipped and imprisoned. Riach gives him alcohol, so the boy is often drunk, and his health has suffered.
Riach takes pity on David and promises to get him a pen and paper so that he can write to Mr. Campbell and Rankeillor and alert them to his situation. Riach adds that David is not the only person he knows who has been sold into white slavery.
One night, Shuan kills Ransome. Ransome’s body is carried into the forecastle. Hoseason orders David to be the new cabin boy, and sends David to the round-house, the officers’ quarters, where he will work and sleep. The round-house is where the best food and drink, and the firearms, gunpowder and cutlasses are stored.
David and Hoseason enter the round-house, where Shuan is sitting with a bottle in front of him, looking stunned. Riach enters and confirms that Ransome is dead. Shuan goes to drink from his bottle, but Riach snatches the bottle from him and throws it overboard. Shuan tries to attack Riach, but Hoseason intervenes and tells Shuan that he has murdered the boy. Shuan excuses himself by saying that Ransome brought him a dirty cup (“pannikin”). Hoseason tells Riach that the truth must never emerge back on land about how Ransome died: they must all say that he fell overboard.
David quickly gets used to his duties, which are not too hard. Hoseason and Riach treat him well, and David thinks this is out of guilt that they treated Ransome harshly. Shuan seems to lose his sanity altogether after the murder. David tries to talk to Hoseason and Riach about his own situation, but neither will listen.
The Covenant runs into a boat. There is one survivor, who is brought aboard. The man is a Scot dressed in fine French clothes. In conversation with Hoseason, the man reveals that he is a Jacobite, or supporter of the Stewart/Stuart claim to the English throne. The Jacobites were Catholics. The man says that he fought against the English in the Jacobite Rising of 1745 (which became known as “the ’45”), and that he would be in danger if he were found by any of the “red-coated gentry” (the soldiers in the service of the Hanoverian King George II, whose uniform was a red coat). While Hoseason is a Protestant and thus a supporter of the Hanoverian monarchy, he is willing to negotiate with the man to put him safely ashore in return for payment. The man explains that the money he is carrying is not his. He has collected it from poor tenant farmers to support their chieftain, the head of the Stewart clan, who is in exile in France. The chieftain’s estate has been confiscated by King George’s army, in common with the lands of many Jacobite clan chiefs. The man asks Hoseason to put him ashore in France, but Hoseason says he cannot. Hoseason agrees for a fee to put the man ashore in Scotland.
Although the man is a Jacobite and David has been brought up a Whig, David finds the man interesting. David overhears Hoseason and Riach plotting to kill the man and steal his money-belt. Their problem is that the all the weapons are in the round-house, where the man is. They ask David to pick up some weapons when he next goes into the round-house, promising to help him in return when they get to Carolina. David returns to the round-house and tells the man that this is a ship full of murderers and that he will be the next one to be killed. The man introduces himself as Alan Breck Stewart, a member of the Stewart clan. Alan and David agree to fight together against Hoseason and his men. Alan will guard the main door to the round-house with his sword, and David will guard the rear door and skylight with the pistols.
Hoseason appears at the door of the round-house and finds Alan and David guarding it. Moments later, members of the crew attack the round-house, and the battle begins. Alan kills two men with his sword, including Shuan, and David grazes Hoseason with a bullet. The attackers briefly retreat before renewing their attack. Though David is very afraid, he manages to shoot two men who try to enter through the skylight. Alan kills several more men; others run off into the forecastle. Alan and David are victorious. Alan, filled with ecstasy from the fight, embraces David as a brother. He makes up a song about the battle in Gaelic, which does not mention David’s part in the fight at all.
Overcome with emotion at having shot two men, David bursts into tears. Alan says that David should sleep. They arrange to take turns in keeping watch for further attacks.
The next morning, Alan and David eat breakfast amid blood and broken glass. They are in a powerful position because the round-house contains the best food and all the alcohol, and Hoseason and Riach are dependent upon drink. As a token of respect for David’s courage in the battle of the round-house, Alan gives him a silver button from his coat. He says that if David shows it wherever he goes, the friends of Alan Breck will help him.
Riach appears and asks David if a parley (negotiation) might take place between Hoseason and Alan. David asks why they should trust Hoseason, and Riach says that Hoseason intends no treachery, and that even if he did, the men would not support him. Alan agrees to the parley. Riach begs for drink, which David gives him. Hoseason tells Alan he does not have enough men to crew the ship, and that he must sail to Glasgow to get more men. Alan will not allow this, and wants Hoseason to put him and David ashore at Linnhe Loch, in country where the locals are friendly to him. Hoseason agrees, for a price, but points out that it will be a dangerous voyage, as Shuan, the navigator, is dead and the ship has no other man who knows the coast well.
Alan and David tell each other the stories of their lives. When David mentions his friend Mr. Campbell, Alan says that he hates everyone with the name of Campbell. He says that he is an Appin Stewart, and that the Campbells have long persecuted the Stewarts and stolen their lands, often using a legal cloak for trickery.
Alan tells David about his father, Duncan Stewart, a famous swordsman who was invited to London by King George to show his skill. The king gave him three guineas, but Duncan gave it away to one of the king’s servants. Alan says he fought for the king’s army at the battle of Prestonpans (in which the Jacobites defeated King George’s forces), but deserted to the Jacobites. David is shocked, as he considers desertion dishonorable, but he says nothing. Alan knows that if he were caught by King George’s army, they would hang him for desertion. He is currently in the service of the King of France, who supported the Jacobites. David cannot understand why Alan, who is a condemned Jacobite rebel, a deserter, and a soldier of the French king’s, would dare to venture into Scotland. Alan explains that he misses the Scottish wilderness and he has business in Scotland. This is to recruit men for the King of France’s army, and to raise money from the tenants of Appin to support Ardshiel, the Stewart clan chief, who is in exile in France. Though he once could command four hundred men to support him in battle, he now lives like a poor man. The tenants of Appin have to pay rent to King George, but they are loyal to their chief and so scrape together a second rent for Ardshiel. It is Alan who takes these rents to Ardshiel, and this is the money that he carries with him. His relative, James Stewart (Ardshiel’s half-brother, also known as James of the Glens) collects the rents from the tenants.
Alan tells Ardshiel’s story to David. After Ardshiel’s forces were defeated at the battle of Culloden (historically, this took place in 1746), he had to flee to France with his wife and children. The English government stripped Ardshiel of his lands and his men of their weapons, and even confiscated the tartan clothes that, by their specific design, marked a man’s clan. The English could not, however, destroy clan loyalty, and the rents that Alan collects are proof of that.
Alan tells David about Colin Campbell of Glenure, the king’s factor or agent, whom he calls the “Red Fox.” Campbell heard about the second rents that are raised for Ardshiel. He put up all the farms for rent, hoping to replace the Stewart tenants with Campbells who would support the English King George II. But the Stewart tenants offered better prices than any Campbell. Campbell then turned to legal methods to drive them out of their homes, replacing them with beggars. David points out that Campbell is only acting on the English government’s orders. Alan replies that it is plain that David has Whig blood. Alan says it is a pity that no one has assassinated Campbell.
Analysis of Chapters VII-XII
David’s awakening in the womb-like belly of the Covenant can be interpreted as a rebirth (after the symbolic death of his childhood) into the cruel adult world. The incident is also a reference to the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale. Jonah was a prophet who disobeyed God’s instruction to travel to a certain people and preach to them in order to convert them. He tries to avoid his duty to God by traveling elsewhere on a ship. Terrible storms threaten the ship, and Jonah admits to the sailors that he is to blame, as he has called down God’s anger on the ship. They agree to his request to throw him overboard. Jonah is saved from drowning when a whale swallows him up. Jonah spends three days in the whale’s belly, praying to God for forgiveness. God grants it, telling the whale to vomit up Jonah. Jonah’s life has been saved and he has learned an important lesson in the belly of the whale.
Applying the symbolism of Jonah and the whale to David in Kidnapped, the reader may deduce that David, like Jonah, has learned an important lesson in the belly of the ship. He has learned that the protected world of his childhood is ended and that he is now part of the dangerous adult world, where money and greed, not love, govern men’s actions. In order to counter the forces ranged against him, he must grow up fast and become an adult. Jonah and David are also connected by the notion of duty, in the sense of a commitment to one’s rightful place in society. Jonah turns his back on his duty to God, for which he suffers. David, who is more of an innocent victim than Jonah, is nevertheless removed from his rightful place in society as the laird of Shaws. Both Jonah and David are not where they should be, nor what they should be. They are displaced men whose fulfillment lies in reclaiming their rightful place.
A story about the coming-of-age of a young protagonist is called a Bildungsroman (German for “education story”). The Bildungsroman focuses on the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development of the protagonist, usually from childhood to maturity. Kidnapped falls into this category.
Shuan’s murder of Ransome is important because it underlines the severe danger in which David finds himself. Although Shuan acted in a drunken rage and his action was not premeditated, it was the product of the viciousness and addiction to alcohol that is rife among the crew. The fact that the victim is a child, albeit a foolish and misguided one, makes Shuan’s action especially reprehensible. That Hoseason conspires with Riach to hide the truth about Ransome’s death when they are back on land shows his moral degeneracy. While the reader is told that Hoseason is “a great church-goer” (Chapter IX) and never swears (Chapter XI), he is portrayed as a hypocrite, hiding an evil soul beneath his outward respectability. This is in contrast to Alan, who is a hunted outlaw and is therefore not outwardly respectable, and yet exemplifies true loyalty to his clan and a profound sense of honor. The fact that his loyalty crosses the political divide to embrace the Whig Lowlander David as his friend shows that these qualities are not restricted to his own clan or political grouping.
With Alan’s appearance in the novel, Stevenson introduces one of its main themes: the contrast between Highlander/Jacobite, and Lowlander/Whig sensibilities and culture. Alan represents the Highland and Jacobite sensibility, while David represents the Whig and Lowlander sensibility. This contrast becomes especially clear in the conversation between the two men in Chapter XII. Alan is like his father Duncan Stewart in that he has no business acumen but is a brilliant swordsman; Duncan Stewart gave away to a servant the money he was given by the king for displaying his swordsmanship. David, as will be seen later in the novel, is much more careful with money than Alan, and indeed, his quest in the novel is to reclaim his landed estate. The Stewarts, on the other hand, have lost all their lands to the English, and only have their clan loyalty and their bravery in fighting an essentially lost cause. Such qualities will always be more romantic than the more prudent Whig qualities embodied by David.
David’s response to Alan’s remark that someone should assassinate Campbell is characteristic of his Lowlander and Whig outlook. First, by pointing out that Campbell is only following the orders of his government, David is showing respect for English officialdom and institutions. Second, in saying that if Campbell were killed, another agent of the king would take his place, David is showing his cool logic and pragmatism. Alan’s angry response (“man! Ye have Whig blood in ye!”) shows the gulf of perception that separates the two men. Alan, for whom the honor of the clan is all, thinks that killing Campbell would be just revenge for the suffering he has inflicted on the Stewarts. David, on the other hand, says that revenge is un-Christian. Alan contemptuously replies that it is obvious that “a Campbell taught ye,” referring to what he sees as a Whig lack of passion and commitment to truth and clan loyalty.
Perhaps the most telling differences between the two men are apparent in the aftermath of the battle of the round-house. Alan loves fighting, which seems to lead him into an ecstatic state. After the battle, he embraces David lovingly, saying, “I love you like a brother” (Chapter X). He is, of course, as much in love with himself as with David, as his next comment is, “And oh, man … am I not a bonny fighter?” He then passes his sword through each of the men he has slain to make sure they are dead: “All the while, the flush was in his face, and his eyes were as bright as a five-year-old child’s with a new toy.” David, for his part, is oppressed by the strain of the fighting, and the horrifying thought of the two men he killed “sat upon” him “like a nightmare.”