by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped Exploration Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Why, sir," said I, "if I knew where I was going, or what was likely to become of me, I would tell you candidly. Essendean is a good place indeed, and I have been very happy there; but then I have never been anywhere else. My father and mother, since they are both dead, I shall be no nearer to in Essendean than in the Kingdom of Hungary, and, to speak truth, if I thought I had a chance to better myself where I was going I would go with a good will." (1.5)
Davie starts out the novel as a totally naïve kid. He has "never been anywhere" besides his hometown of Essendean, and he has no idea "what [is] likely to become of [him]." This is pretty much how all coming-of-age stories start: with an empty foundation on which Davie's adult self will be built.
There was now no doubt about my uncle's enmity; there was no doubt I carried my life in my hand, and he would leave no stone unturned that he might compass my destruction. But I was young and spirited, and like most lads that have been country-bred, I had a great opinion of my shrewdness. I had come to his door no better than a beggar and little more than a child; he had met me with treachery and violence; it would be a fine consummation to take the upper hand, and drive him like a herd of sheep. (5.2)
Ah, the arrogance of the naïve. Davie thinks he has gotten the upper hand over his uncle and is going straight to the top, to "drive him like a herd of sheep." But it's way too early in the novel for that: Davie has to learn a few things about the world first.
Away I went, therefore, leaving the two men sitting down to a bottle and a great mass of papers; and crossing the road in front of the inn, walked down upon the beach. With the wind in that quarter, only little wavelets, not much bigger than I had seen upon a lake, beat upon the shore. But the weeds were new to me–some green, some brown and long, and some with little bladders that crackled between my fingers. Even so far up the firth, the smell of the sea-water was exceedingly salt and stirring; the Covenant, besides, was beginning to shake out her sails, which hung upon the yards in clusters; and the spirit of all that I beheld put me in thoughts of far voyages and foreign places. (6.7)
Davie gets his first hankering for adventure when he sees the Queensferry harbor, where everything makes him think of "far voyages and foreign places." At this point he's still got a fairly romantic notion of adventure – as, perhaps, do we. But the novel is there to set us straight: the life of adventure is often no picnic!