Kidnapped | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Kidnapped | Chapter 17 : The Death of the Red Fox | Summary



Mr. Henderland helps David secure passage into Appin on a small boat belonging to a member of his church, saving David a significant amount of travel. David leaves the boat at the wood of Lettermore and, sitting down to lunch, ponders whether it is right for him to be searching for an outlaw instead of heading independently to his own home. About this time, some men on horseback pass, and David learns that one of them is Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure, the Red Fox. As they speak, the Red Fox is shot and dies. David runs after the murderer into the woods, only to realize that the soldiers with the Red Fox think him to be a part of the murder plot. Suddenly, David hears the voice of Alan Breck, who pulls him into the brush and helps him escape with a long run through the heather—a wild Scottish plant that grows high enough to conceal them.


David's youthful naiveté is once again on display as he confronts a man whom he recognizes to be either an outlaw or a very powerful man, because the man travels accompanied by a lawyer and a servant who wears tartan, which had been outlawed. Instead of hiding or simply passing by, he asks for directions to Aucharn, which implies that he is affiliated with the Stewart men who live there. He asks this to the outlaw/powerful man without knowing which side of the clans he prefers, a reckless action if the man proves to be opposed to the Stewarts. The man, who is called the Red Fox, is a part of the Campbell family and is in fact aligned against the Stewarts. If the man had not been shot while David was speaking with him, it is unclear what his next action toward David would be. The Red Fox says that "on any other day" he would point David in the right direction, but he never finishes explaining what he was planning to do on this day. David took several unnecessary risks by engaging with this man and openly asking for direction without knowing whom he was asking.

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