Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 21

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 21

The Flight in the Heather: The Heugh of Corrynakiegh

  • Before dawn, Alan and Davie reach their goal: a giant cleft in the peak of a mountain that gives them a view of the sea and parts of both Appin and Mamore, the land of the Camerons.
  • This cleft in the mountain is called the Heugh of Corrynakiegh.
  • They spend five days in a cave nestled in this cleft, sleeping on beds made of heather and covering themselves with Alan's coat.
  • They pass most of their time catching and grilling trout from a local stream. Alan also starts teaching Davie how to use a sword.
  • Alan wants to send word to James Stewart about where they are so that James can send them some money ("siller" = "silver" (21.6)).
  • Alan asks for the silver button he gave Davie back on the Covenant, which he ties to a little cross he makes out of pieces of birch and evergreen.
  • Alan plans to wait until nightfall, then sneak down to a nearby "clachan," or small village, where a good friend of his lives. This friend is named John Breck Maccoll, and he is a tenant of Appin. Alan plans to leave his little cross in John's window.
  • This form of the cross is a symbol, a "fiery cross," that signals a gathering of the Stewart clan. Since there's no word with the cross, Alan hopes that John will think: okay, no gathering of the clan, but there is something up.
  • Alan further expects that John will see the silver button tied to the cross, recognize it as Duncan Stewart's, and will think: aha! The son of Duncan Stewart (that would be our own Alan Breck Stewart) is out in the heather and needs help.
  • Furthermore, by choosing one birch branch and one pine branch, John will be able to work out that Alan is hiding out in a forest that has both pines and birches, which is relatively rare in this area and definitely points to Corrynakiegh.
  • Davie asks the obvious question: why not just write the man a note?
  • Alan explains that John can't read and they don't have time to wait two or three years for him to go to school and learn (ha!).
  • Alan successfully sneaks down that night to leave his fiery cross for John.
  • The next day around noon, a large, bearded man comes searching around the heather for Alan and Davie. Alan guides him over with a series of whistles.
  • John refuses to memorize a verbal message because "She was forget it" (21.24) (his English isn't great; he means that he would forget it).
  • So Alan writes a note addressed "Dear Kinsman" (speaking to James Stewart). In the note, Alan asks for James to send him money via John, who knows ("kens") where Alan and Davie are hiding.
  • John returns the evening of the third day bearing both money and news. The news is all bad: a reward of a hundred pounds has been offered for the capture of Alan and Davie, and James Stewart and some of his servants have already been put in jail.
  • John has also brought one of the wanted posters describing Alan and Davie. Alan's description focuses chiefly on his French clothes, while Davie's details the rags he was wearing when he arrived at Aucharn.
  • Davie is feeling pretty safe: he's had a change of clothes, so the wanted poster doesn't threaten him too much. Still, he insists that Alan must also give up his French clothing.
  • Alan won't do it because he's too worried about looking good once he arrives in France.
  • Davie starts thinking that he'd be a lot safer if he ditched Alan, since Alan's much more conspicuous than he is. Also, it'd be a lot more economical, since between them they have about six pounds in cash. Davie just has to get to Queensferry, but Alan has to get all the way to France.
  • Still, Davie knows that it would never occur to Alan that he might be anything but a help to Davie, and Davie doesn't want to hurt Alan's feelings, so he keeps quiet.
  • John pretends for a few moments that he has lost Alan's silver button, but he finally returns it to Alan, who gives it back to Davie. John goes off on his own business, and Davie and Alan start off on the run again.

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