Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 19

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 19

The House of Fear

  • Once darkness falls, Alan and Davie head toward Aucharn, home of James Stewart.
  • They arrive at around 10:30 at night, and there are men bustling all around the house. Alan uses three whistles to indicate that he and Davie are there.
  • A tall, handsome man meets Davie and Alan at the gate to the yard. He addresses them in Gaelic.
  • Alan asks the man – James Stewart himself – to speak in Scots, since Davie doesn't speak Gaelic. He also avoids giving James Davie's name, though he does tell James that Davie is a laird in the Lowlands.
  • James tells Alan that this whole Red Fox/Colin Roy murder thing is a giant mess. It's all very well to want to get rid of the guy, but now that it's actually happened, someone's going to have to take the "wyte" (blame) for it.
  • As they're talking about all this, the men are running around in a great tizzy burying things.
  • A young woman comes out of the house carrying a bundle, which turns out to be Alan's French clothes. Alan's really angry and demands the clothes back.
  • James tells Alan that they're hiding anything remotely suspicious, especially weapons, in case the soldiers search his house.
  • Alan goes off into the barn to change into his French clothes while Davie stays behind with James.
  • Davie is saddened and embarrassed by James's obvious fear over what's going to happen to him and his family now that this murder has taken place. James is so on edge that, when he sees his son burning something that James doesn't want burned, he goes into a total rage and starts hitting the kid and yelling, "Do you wish to hang your father?" (19.19).
  • Alan comes back in his French finery, and Davie is given a change of clothes.
  • The men of James's household give Alan and Davie a sword each, guns, ammo, food, brandy, and a very small amount of money for their travels.
  • Alan is worried about how little money they have, but James says that it's better for Alan to run away now rather than waiting for a few extra bucks.
  • James tells Alan that the English are certain to be hunting him for the murder. He says that if he's caught, James will hang, too, since he's known to be Alan's associate.
  • James exclaims that he and Alan have royally screwed up by talking so publicly about Red Fox before his murder.
  • James then gives Alan two pieces of bad news. To clear himself of Red Fox's murder, James is going to put up wanted posters all over the Highlands offering a reward for Alan's capture. And, he's going to do the same for Alan's "friend from the Lowlands" (19.30) – a.k.a. Davie – so that James won't be blamed for the murder.
  • This finger-pointing at Davie really upsets Alan. It makes him look like he's betrayed Davie by having brought him to James.
  • But James says that Davie would've gotten the blame anyway, since he was spotted by Mungo Campbell (remember, the lawyer travelling with Red Fox?). And the posters won't have Davie's name on them, just a description of his clothes, his age, and so on.
  • Alan asks Davie what he thinks of James's plan.
  • Davie says the one person James should be "papering" (19.37) – in other words, selling out to the law – is the actual murderer, so that innocent folks (like Davie and Alan) don't have to run like this.
  • Both Alan and James are shocked at this suggestion because it would mean letting down their allies, the Camerons – one of whom is the murderer. They seem totally horrified by the idea that the actual murderer might get caught.
  • Davie gives up arguing and says all right, fine, since they seem to want to put up innocent men for the crime, they should just go ahead and do it.
  • At this, Mrs. Stewart (who has been weeping by the fire all this time) leaps up and hugs Davie for his generosity.
  • Alan warns that the Campbells and the English soldiers are going to be there soon, so he and Davie had better get a move on. They go out into the night.

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