Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 22

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 22

The Flight in the Heather: The Moor

  • Alan and Davie travel for a solid seven hours until they reach a patch of barren, open ground they have to cross.
  • Alan says that this is a "kittle" (22.3) bit – Scots for tricky or perplexing.
  • Davie is confused: he thinks that Alan is just asking if Davie can go on when he must be tired.
  • But no, says Alan, the issue is this: behind them is Appin, crawling with English soldiers. To the south is the country of the Campbells, so that's obviously no good. There's no point in going north because Alan's trying to get to France, Davie to Queensferry. So they have to go east. But east is the moors, a long area of flat, boggy country that gives very little cover for them if they're spotted by soldiers.
  • Davie says whatever, it's dangerous whichever way they go; they may as well go forward.
  • Alan's psyched and compliments Davie on his courage.
  • So they go on, crawling under whatever cover they can find and startling at every sound.
  • They lie down for a rest and Davie takes watch – but he manages to fall asleep.
  • Davie wakes with a start and realizes that he's drowsed off. As he's been sleeping, a group of soldiers has started coming closer to them from the southeast.
  • Davie wakes Alan, who immediately works out that Davie has fallen asleep on his watch (though he doesn't scold Davie for it).
  • Alan points to a distant mountain, Ben Alder, and says that if they can make it there by the next morning, they'll be safe. So they have to run across the moors on their hands and knees, ducking behind shrubs of heather and generally trying not to be seen.
  • Davie is absolutely exhausted and wishes desperately that he could just give up. But he's afraid of Alan's anger.
  • Finally, Davie is on the verge of collapsing and says that he can't go on. Alan replies that they can't rest: they've gotten away from Appin just in time, and if they don't keep going, they'll waste the lead they've established over the English.
  • Alan offers to carry Davie. Davie is so stunned by this offer that he says he'll go on. But he's feeling like death as he keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
  • The two of them keep staggering forward, bent in half and keeping low to the ground. They're both so tired that they walk straight into an ambush.
  • Three or four guys suddenly jump out from the heather and press their knives against Davie and Alan's throats.
  • Alan and the guys start chatting in Gaelic. It turns out that these fellows are "Cluny's men" (22.39). They send a messenger to Cluny Macpherson with news of who they've found on the moors.
  • Cluny Macpherson (this would be Ewen Macpherson of Cluny; check out this link for more on the Macphersons) was one of the major rebels in the 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie uprising, so Davie is surprised to hear that he is still hanging around Scotland with a price on his head after six years.
  • Alan's feeling relieved to have fallen in with fellow Jacobites.
  • Alan lies down to sleep, but Davie, even though he's tired, keeps tossing and turning.
  • The messenger returns from Cluny with the news that the clan will welcome them.
  • Davie, meanwhile, feels too sick to eat anything, and he's become so lightheaded that he can't concentrate. Two of Cluny's guards help him to Cluny's home in the mountain of Ben Alder.

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