Study Guide

Kidnapped Chapter 9

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 9

The Man With the Belt of Gold

  • The Covenant's bad luck with the winds continues, and the ship makes little progress. Eventually they decide to turn south to stop going against the prevailing winds.
  • On the tenth day of his career as cabin boy, Davie is serving Riach and Hoseason their dinner when the ship suddenly hits something with a bang.
  • It's night, the fog is thick, and the Covenant has managed to run down a rowboat. All of the boat's crew are lost except for one man.
  • This single survivor is small and nimble, carries a pair of pistols and a sword, and has elegant manners. Davie immediately sees friend material in the stranger.
  • Davie can also tell that the captain has noticed the stranger's expensive clothing; he is no doubt eager to make a buck or two off this guy.
  • Hoseason and the stranger then have a weird coded conversation that Davie doesn't entirely follow. The captain tells the stranger that he has been to France. He notes that the stranger has a Scottish tongue and a French coat. The stranger asks, pretty much point blank, if Hoseason is a Jacobite. Hoseason says he's a Protestant, but he's willing to help a guy out anyway.
  • So what does all this stuff about France, Scotland, and the Jacobites mean? Forgive us for a long side note, but you really need this historical information to understand what this new character is all about.
  • Okay, here's the deal: in the 1640s and 50s, England had its very own civil war between believers in the divine rule of the king (also known as the Royalists) and supporters of a democratically elected Parliament . At its most basic level, this war boiled down to a struggle over what gives a king power: is it god (as the Royalists felt) or politics (as the Parliamentarians believed)?
  • The Parliament won, for a little while at least, and King Charles I had his head chopped off. But then his son, Charles II, was put back on the throne, and his brother, King James II of England and VII of Scotland, followed Charles II. A happy ending for the Royalists, you might think. But no! The Parliamentarians weren't done yet.
  • There was another revolution, in 1688, which removed James II and VII from power. (This is only one guy, even though he's got lots of numbers following his name. If you want to know why he's the 2nd James of England but the 7th of Scotland, it's because Scotland had its own line of kings, a bunch of them named James, before lucky James the First/Sixth got to take the English throne and keep the Scottish throne after the death of the childless English Queen Elizabeth I.)
  • The Parliament determined that it had the right to appoint kings to the throne, and never mind about God. Parliament gave the English throne jointly to James II and VII's son-in-law and daughter, William and Mary (source).
  • BUT! A number of people refused to recognize this new king and queen and continued to support James II and VII as the legitimate king of Scotland and England. These people were called the Jacobites. James II and VII fled to the European continent (France for a bit, then Spain), and his supporters began gathering support to return him to the throne.
  • The Jacobites were particularly strong in Scotland because: (a) by birth, James was the king of Scotland and (b) many religious Scots felt that it was going against their faith to support a king who was appointed by Parliament (in other words, by humans) rather than by God.
  • (An additional complication, as though we needed any more with this crazy history: many Catholics supported James II and VII and his family because he believed in religious tolerance, unlike the strongly anti-Catholic Protestants who controlled the Parliament during the English Civil War. That's why Hoseason implies that he's not a Jacobite by telling the stranger that he's a Protestant, although Protestantism and Jacobitism aren't really mutually exclusive. This also gets us into some of the geography of Scotland, since Catholicism was much more prevalent in the Scottish Highlands [a Jacobite stronghold] than in the Scottish Lowlands.)
  • So, one last thing: in 1745, one of James II and VII's descendants, Charles Edward Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, attempted to invade Britain, first from France, then from Scotland, with the support of a number of Highland Scottish clans. This was the last serious Jacobite uprising. Bonnie Prince Charlie and his forces were defeated in 1746 at Culloden Moor, and the Prince fled back to France (source).
  • So that's why the stranger's French coat and Scottish tongue imply that he's a Jacobite.
  • To pick up our story once again, the stranger admits that he is "one of those honest gentlemen that were in trouble about the years forty-five and six" (9.23) – in other words, he took part in Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 uprising against the current British king. He's been trying to get to France because he'll be in trouble if he runs into any British soldiers (whom he calls the "red-coated gentry") (9.23).
  • Hoseason says he can't take the stranger all the way to France, but he'll consider taking him back to where he came from in Scotland.
  • After negotiations that we don't get to hear, because Davie has to go get food from the ship's galley, the stranger shows Hoseason his money belt. The money apparently isn't his; it belongs to the head of his clan, who is also a Jacobite.
  • The stranger warns Hoseason that, if Hoseason hands him over to the English army, all of his money (including any that he's paid to Hoseason) will go to the arresting officers. So if Hoseason wants the agreed-upon price of 60 guineas, Hoseason better keep his mouth shut. Hoseason agrees.
  • Hoseason leaves the room. Davie asks the stranger if he is, indeed, a Jacobite.
  • The stranger says yes and guesses that Davie is a Whig. (A Whig would be a supporter of the current king of England – King George II when the book is set, in 1751.)
  • Davie doesn't want to offend the stranger, so he doesn't really answer – but secretly, he is a Whig.
  • The stranger asks for more drink, and Davie goes to get it. He has to ask the captain for a key to the liquor cabinet.
  • Davie overhears Riach and Hoseason talking: they're planning to ambush the stranger.
  • Davie calls out to the captain to ask for the key.
  • Seeing Davie, Riach and Hoseason seize an opportunity. They want to hold the stranger at gunpoint, but all of their guns are in the round-house with the stranger. They want Davie to go into the round-house and bring out the guns; they think it will look less suspicious to the stranger for a boy to get the guns instead of an officer.
  • Hoseason promises that, if Davie does them this favor, they'll watch his back when they get to Carolina. Hoseason also offers Davie a share of the money from the stranger's belt.
  • Davie promises to help. But secretly, he's trying to figure out how to save the stranger's life.
  • When Davie returns to the round-house, he tells the stranger straight out that the officers of the ship are trying to murder him, and that they've already killed someone during the voyage. Davie promises to stand by the stranger.
  • Finally, we get the stranger's name: he introduces himself as Alan Breck Stewart. He calls Stewart "a king's name" (9.65) because the family name of James II and VII and his descendants is Stuart.
  • Alan is pretty vain and clearly feels a little annoyed when Davie introduces himself as "David Balfour of Shaws" – in other words, as a member of the Scottish landowner class. So he claims to forget Davie's estate name and calls him "David" instead.
  • Alan gives Davie a sword and tells him to keep loading Alan's pistols while they're fighting.
  • Davie tells Alan that they're up against fifteen men. Alan's not happy about the odds, but he's glad to have Davie there watching his back.
  • By the way, Alan uses the word "pretty" in this conversation. He doesn't mean cute or beautiful. In the eighteenth century, "pretty" means skillful or clever (source).
  • Alan sets Davie to guarding the skylight and the window, while he stations himself at the open door. They wait.

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