by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped Defeat Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I set him on a chair and looked at him. It is true I felt some pity for a man that looked so sick, but I was full besides of righteous anger; and I numbered over before him the points on which I wanted explanation: why he lied to me at every word; why he feared that I should leave him; why he disliked it to be hinted that he and my father were twins–"Is that because it is true?" I asked; why he had given me money to which I was convinced I had no claim; and, last of all, why he had tried to kill me. He heard me all through in silence; and then, in a broken voice, begged me to let him go to bed.
"I'll tell ye the morn," he said; "as sure as death I will." (4.48-49)
Appearances can be deceiving. Here Davie is flying high and Ebenezer seems completely defeated. It's not an idle promise to claim "as sure as death" that he'll explain why he tried to kill Davie. We don't want to push this point about appearances and defeat too far, but much of this novel is dedicated to hiding: hiding clan loyalty, hiding outlaws, hiding from English soldiers. So Ebenezer's successful deception of Davie seems like a foreshadowing of future events.
"And then, besides," he continued, "it's no sae bad now as it was in forty-six. The Hielands are what they call pacified. Small wonder, with never a gun or a sword left from Cantyre to Cape Wrath, but what tenty folk have hidden in their thatch! But what I would like to ken, David, is just how long? Not long, ye would think, with men like Ardshiel in exile and men like the Red Fox sitting birling the wine and oppressing the poor at home. But it's a kittle thing to decide what folk'll bear, and what they will not. Or why would Red Colin be riding his horse all over my poor country of Appin, and never a pretty lad to put a bullet in him?" (12.53)
Alan regrets the English laws that have taken the Highlander's guns and swords from them and bemoans that the Highlands seem "pacified," made peaceful. But how long will the Highlands stay down, Alan wonders. This is one of those weird moments when the fact that this novel is historical fiction really matters, because we know that Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom. So that pacification Alan regrets continues to this day.
The captain took no part. It seemed he was struck stupid. He stood holding by the shrouds, talking to himself and groaning out aloud whenever the ship hammered on the rock. His brig was like wife and child to him; he had looked on, day by day, at the mishandling of poor Ransome; but when it came to the brig, he seemed to suffer along with her. (13.36)
Real defeat only seems to accompany the loss of things that matter to you: in Ebenezer's case, the house of Shaws; in Hoseason's case, the Covenant. Is there some kind of message here about the fragility of investing all your love in objects that can be taken from you?