Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 3

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 3

I Make Acquaintance of My Uncle

  • The door opens and Davie goes in, only to be told to go into the kitchen and not to touch anything.
  • The nightcapped man closes and relocks the door behind Davie, then joins him in the kitchen.
  • Davie gets a better look at him: he is thin, stooped, grey, unshaven, and somewhere between fifty and seventy. Davie thinks he looks like a servant – and a bad one, at that.
  • The guy asks if Davie is hungry and offers him porridge ("parritch" (3.5)) while taking a mug of beer for himself.
  • The guy wants Davie's letter; Davie won't give it to anyone but Ebenezer.
  • "Who de ye think I am?" (3. 9) answers the man. It's his uncle!
  • Davie is immensely disappointed at this news, and he wants to cry but manages not to. Instead, he silently hands over the letter to Ebenezer.
  • Ebenezer asks if Davie "kens" (Scots for "knows") what's in the letter? Davie admits that, when he heard he had rich relations, he was hopeful of help, but he's not a beggar, if that's what Ebenezer is asking.
  • During this whole conversation, Ebenezer is working hard to avoid meeting Davie's eyes. Davie wonders if this is because Ebenezer has lived alone too long.
  • Ebenezer claims that Davie's father, Alexander, was secretive. Davie admits that he didn't know that his father had a brother until after his death.
  • Ebenezer seems happy about this news, then offers to show Davie to bed.
  • Ebenezer says that he doesn't believe in lighting houses, so keeps the old place in complete darkness. He shows Davie to a cold, dark, damp room and locks him in from the outside.
  • The next morning, Ebenezer lets Davie out of his room and the two have breakfast together: beer and porridge again.
  • Ebenezer asks after Davie's mother (who is dead) and his friends. Davie tells Ebenezer about "different gentlemen" (3.40) named Campbell (he's stretching the truth here because he doesn't want to seem helpless – we know there's only one Mr. Campbell).
  • Ebenezer tells Davie that family is very important to him, and that if Davie will give him a day or two and will "say naething to naebody," he'll "do right" (3.43) by Davie.
  • Davie says that he'll be very grateful. He then asks if he can put his bed sheets out to dry because they were damp the night before. Ebenezer seems a little angry at this request (which we think is pretty reasonable), but he soon changes his tune and reminds Davie that the two of them belong to the same family.
  • Davie passes along Jennet Clouston's curses, which sends Ebenezer into a rage. He gets dressed to go out.
  • Ebenezer tells Davie that when he's not home he'll have to lock Davie out of the house.
  • Davie won't stand for this. He complains that Ebenezer doesn't even seem to like him, so he can't imagine why Ebenezer is keeping him there.
  • Again, Ebenezer seems very angry, but he hides it quickly and protests that he likes Davie just fine. Ebenezer really seems to want Davie to stay at the house of Shaws.

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