Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 23

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 23

Cluny's Cage

  • Cluny's house, on top of a rocky cliff, is known as "Cluny's Cage" (23.4), and it's built around a thick group of trees used as living supports for the structure.
  • Since the end of the Jacobite uprising in 1746, Cluny had spent his time moving from hiding place to hiding place, from caves to the homes of his clansmen to this Cage, whenever soldiers got too near.
  • (By the way, Davie spends this chapter calling most of Cluny's attendants "gillies." A gillie is a Scots word for a guide or assistant in hunting and fishing (source.)
  • Cluny welcomes Alan (whom he calls by his clan name, Stewart). Alan introduces Davie, emphasizing that he is the Laird of Shaws.
  • Cluny comments that, even though his Cage is a bit rough, he's had royalty there (presumably referring to Bonnie Prince Charlie, Charles Edward Stuart, who would have been the grandson of King James the II and VII). As a passionate Jacobite, Cluny toasts the "Restoration" (23.11) – the restoration of the Stuart family to the throne of England and Ireland. (If you want to refresh your memory of all of this history, see our note on the line-by-line analysis of Chapter 9: "The Man With the Belt of Gold.")
  • Anyway, Cluny's gotten a bit weird being in hiding all of these years. He spends most of his time alone, since he's, you know, on the run, and that tends to make people a little nuts.
  • Davie can't eat very much of the meal he's been given (not because it isn't good, but because he's so unsettled), but he does listen with interest to Cluny's stories of Prince Charlie.
  • After supper, Cluny brings out a deck of cards.
  • Davie has been taught that it's neither Christian nor gentlemanly to bet on cards. He tells Cluny and Alan that, while he won't judge them, he doesn't think it's moral to play.
  • Cluny is (naturally) offended.
  • Alan defends Davie, saying that he's a good man but probably a bit tired. Davie should go to bed and Alan will play Cluny in any game that he chooses.
  • Cluny says that's all fine, that any guest of his can do whatever he chooses – and if there's any lack of satisfaction in his hospitality, he'll be happy to step outside and settle the matter.
  • Davie agrees that he's just tired, and that his protests are the result of a promise to his father.
  • Cluny sends Davie to bed still looking angry.
  • Davie pretty much passes out as soon as he hits the bed.
  • A barber is called to examine Davie (barbers often doubled as doctors at the time) but, as the barber speaks in Gaelic, Davie has no clue what he's saying.
  • Meanwhile, Cluny and Alan spend most of their time playing cards.
  • On the second day of Davie's illness, Alan comes over and asks Davie for a loan. If Davie hadn't been so sick, he probably wouldn't have done it, but as it is, he gives Alan his purse.
  • Davie finally wakes up on the third day feeling weak but better, and ready to eat.
  • Davie sees cards on the table between Alan and Cluny but no gold. Alan has gambled away all of his own money and Davie's as well.
  • Cluny gets upset and says that, of course he isn't planning to keep the money! He's just been lonely in his Cage and wanting a bit of sport. Davie asks Cluny to come outside with him and then pretty much guilts him into actually, legitimately giving back the gold (though Cluny resents Davie for it).

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