3922649Catriona — Summary of "Kidnapped"Robert Louis Stevenson




Alexander and Ebenezer Balfour, brothers, of the house of Shaws near Cramond in the Forest of Ettrick, being in love with the same lady, and she preferring the elder brother, Alexander, it was agreed between them that Alexander should take the lady, and Ebenezer, as amends for his disappointment, the estate of Shaws. Alexander and his wife removed to Essendean, where they lived obscurely, Alexander in the character of village schoolmaster and where an only son was born to them, namely David Balfour, the hero of this history. David, brought up in ignorance of the family affairs and of his own claim on the estates, and losing both parents before he was eighteen, was left with no other fortune than a sealed letter from his father addressed to his uncle Ebenezer, which was handed him by the minister of Essendean, Mr. Campbell. Proceeding to deliver it, David found his uncle living childless and a miser at Shaws; who received him ill, and after vainly endeavouring to compass his death, had him trepanned on board the brig Covenant, Captain Hoseason, bound to Carolina, to the end that he might be sold to labour in the plantations. But early in the voyage, the Covenant, running through the Minch, struck and sent to the bottom an open boat, from which there saved himself and came on board one Alan Breck Stewart, a Highland gentleman banished after the '45, and now engaged in smuggling rents from his clansmen, the Appin Stewarts, to their chief Ardshiel, living in exile in France. Hoseason and his crew, learning that Alan had gold about him, conspired to rob and murder him; but David, being made privy to the plot, put Alan on his guard and promised to stand by him. Favoured by the shelter of the round-house, and by Alan's courage and skill of fence, the two got the better of their assailants in the attack which followed, killing or maiming more than half of them; whereby Captain Hoseason was disabled from prosecuting his voyage, and came to terms with Alan, agreeing to land him on a part of the coast whence he might best make his way to his own country of Appin. But in attempting this the Covenant took ground and sank off the coast of Mull. Those on board saved themselves as they best could, David separately; being first cast on the Isle of Earraid, and thence making his way across Mull. Alan had passed before by the same road, and left word that David should follow and rejoin him in his own country at the house of his kinsman, James Stewart of the Glens. On his way to keep this tryst, David found himself in Appin on the same day when the King's Factor, Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure, came with a force of red-coats to drive out the tenants from the forfeited estates of Ardshiel, and was present when Glenure was slain upon the roadside by a shot out of a neighbouring wood. Suspected of complicity at the moment when he was in the act of giving chase to the unknown murderer, David betook himself to flight, and was quickly joined by Alan Breck, who, though he had not fired the shot, was lurking not far off. The two now lived the life of hunted men upon the moors, the outcry on account of the murder being very great, and its guilt being declared to rest on James Stewart of the Glens, the already outlawed Alan Breck, and a lad unknown, being no other than David Balfour; for whose apprehension blood-money was offered and the country scoured by soldiery. In the course of their wanderings, David and Alan visited James Stewart at Aucharn, were concealed in Cluny Macpherson's cage, and suffered to rest during sickness in the house of Duncan Dhu Maclaren in Balwhidder, where Alan played a match upon the pipes against Robin Oig, the son of Rob Roy. At last, after much peril and suffering, they made their way down to the Highland Line and the Forth; which, however, they dared not cross for fear of arrest until an innkeeper's daughter of Limekilns, Alison Hastie, was prevailed on to row them over to the Lothian shore under cover of night. Here Alan again went into hiding, while David made himself known to Mr. Hope of Rankeillor, lawyer and lately agent to the Shaws estate; who promptly took up his cause and contrived a plan whereby, with the help of Alan, Ebenezer Balfour was compelled to recognise his nephew's title as heir to the estate, and in the meantime to make him a suitable allowance from its income.

David Balfour, having thus come to his own, proposes to go and complete his education at the University of Leyden; but must first satisfy the claims of friendship, by helping Alan out of Scotland, and of conscience, by testifying to the innocence of James Stewart of the Glens, now a prisoner awaiting his trial for the Appin murder.