Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 17

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 17

The Death of Red Fox

  • Henderland arranges for one of his parishioners, a fisherman, to take Davie by boat to Linnhe Loch in the country of Appin, which is Davie's final destination.
  • As Davie travels to Appin (Alan's country), he sees a troop of red-coated soldiers, which makes him worry about Alan.
  • The fisherman drops Davie off at Lettermore, a forest in Appin.
  • Davie settles down to eat a bit of bread. He wonders what to do next: should he join an outlaw like Alan, or should he walk south back to his home?
  • As he's sitting down in this fine birch forest, he sees a group of four travelers coming down the road.
  • The first is a big red-headed man; the second is a lawyer in black clothes and a white wig; the third is a servant dressed in the plaid of the Campbell family (so his master must be in good with the government, since wearing the mark of a Highland clan is against the law at this time); and the fourth is a sheriff's officer.
  • Though he can't explain why, seeing these travelers suddenly makes Davie determined to go on with his plan to join Alan.
  • He stands up and asks the four for directions to Aucharn.
  • The big red-headed man turns to the lawyer and says that this seems like a bad omen: he's on his way to Duror "on the job" (17.11) and here is a boy who's appeared out of the blue to ask directions to Aucharn.
  • The lawyer, Mungo, says that "Glenure" (that's the red-headed guy – in other words, Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure, the Red Fox) shouldn't joke about such things.
  • Red Fox asks Davie what he's looking for in Aucharn.
  • Davie answers that he's seeking a man who lives there.
  • Red Fox says, "James of the Glens" (in other words, James Stewart, Ardshiel's brother). He then turns to Mungo the lawyer and suggests that James Stewart might be rallying his troops.
  • The lawyer answers that it would be better for Red Fox and his group to sit and wait for the English soldiers to come to them.
  • Davie chips in that he's no servant of either Red Fox or James Stewart, but is loyal to King George.
  • Red Fox approves of Davie's loyalty to the king, but, as the King's "Factor" (or representative), he has to wonder why Davie is so far from home, and why he's visiting Ardshiel's brother just now.
  • Just then, a shot rings out, and Red Fox collapses on the road.
  • Red Fox cries out, "O, I am dead!" (17.23) several times over as the lawyer holds him in his arms.
  • Red Fox fumbles with his jacket looking for his wound. Before he can find it, he dies.
  • The lawyer goes pale, the servant starts to cry, Davie stands staring, and the sheriff's officer turns back up the road to bring the soldiers faster.
  • Davie immediately begins running up the side of the hill to track the gunman.
  • He gets to the top of the hill and sees a big man in a black coat carrying a long flintlock hunting rifle. Davie shouts, "Here! I see him!" (17.31) and the murderer begins to run away.
  • Davie loses track of the murderer and doubles back to the scene of the crime. The sheriff's officer and the lawyer gesture for Davie to come back.
  • The lawyer calls to the soldiers to catch Davie, assuming that he stopped Red Fox intentionally to give the gunman a chance to fire. Davie overhears this call and is absolutely terrified.
  • It hasn't occurred to Davie that he might be considered a suspect, so he just stands there, with the soldiers are coming towards him.
  • A voice tells him to "jouk" ("duck," 7.40) into the trees, which Davie does. The soldiers start firing after him.
  • Who could the voice belong to but Alan Breck?
  • The two run like crazy. Alan occasionally stands up tall to give the soldiers pursuing them a chance to see him.
  • Then, once the two have reached the top of a nearby mountain, they creep back down to Lettermore to throw the soldiers off the track.
  • There they collapse on the turf, exhausted.

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