Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 8

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 8

The Round-House

  • Things take a dark turn: one night, a man comes into the forecastle muttering "Shuan had done for him at last" (8.1).
  • Captain Hoseason enters as well and addresses Davie (much to his surprise).
  • Hoseason tells Davie that, from now on, he's going to serve in the round-house, the highest cabin in a ship (source), which houses Captain Hoseason, Shuan, and Riach. In other words, Davie's the ship's new cabin boy. But what's happened to the old cabin boy?
  • At this point, two sailors come in to the forecastle carrying Ransome, whose face is pale and contorted.
  • Hoseason quickly sends Davie away.
  • Davie notices that, even though it's eleven at night, the sun is only just setting. But he doesn't realize what that means. The thing is, in the far northern Scottish islands (the Orkney and the Shetland Islands) in the summer, the sun stays in the sky until late at night.
  • Davie has gotten turned around: he thinks, because he's been locked up for so long, that they must be nearly across the Atlantic. But they haven't even left Scotland yet. The headwinds blowing against the ship's masts have been blowing so strong in the wrong direction that the Covenant is hardly making any progress.
  • Davie makes it to the round-house, where he sees Shuan sitting in a daze staring at the table.
  • Captain Hoseason comes in looking stern, followed by Riach. Riach gives "the captain a glance that meant the boy was dead as plain as speaking" (8.10). (That's a lot of grim news to cram into one glance.)
  • Shuan reaches for the bottle of brandy in front of him, and Riach snatches it from him. Shuan jumps up, looking fit to kill Riach.
  • Hoseason tells Shuan to sit down. Does he know what he's done?! He's killed Ransome!
  • Shuan replies that Ransome brought him a dirty pannikin (a small cup).
  • This reply freaks out Hoseason, Riach, and Davie.
  • Hoseason tells Shuan to go lie down, and Shuan, crying a little, takes off his sea boots and obeys.
  • Riach tells Hoseason he should have done something long ago to put a stop to Shuan's abuse of Ransome. Hoseason tells Riach that they must not tell anyone back in Dysart (the ship's home harbor) what's really happened here tonight. Ransome went overboard, and that's their story. Then Riach and Hoseason settle in for a drink.
  • Davie quickly adapts to his duties, which include serving meals and bringing the officers drinks when they ask for them. Working for all three officers, he's always busy.
  • Hoseason and Riach are both patient with his mistakes (perhaps because they're feeling bad about Ransome).
  • Shuan seems to have gone a little crazy after his murder of Ransome: whenever Davie is around, Shuan stares at him continually. In fact, Shuan doesn't seem to recall exactly what happened to Ransome, confuses Davie with Ransome, and generally worries all the time.
  • Davie enjoys the stories he can sometimes get Riach and Hoseason to tell him about the world, but he's still not exactly happy. He hates serving three men he doesn't respect, and he's dreading his future life as a slave on a plantation.

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