Kidnapped | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Kidnapped | Chapter 18 : I Talk with Alan in the Wood of Lettermore | Summary



After Alan and David have recovered from their dash through the countryside, David accuses Alan of being a part of the murder of the Red Fox. Offended, Alan claims no involvement in the crime—carrying a fishing rod, he has left the house he was hiding in for a day of fishing—but proudly admits that he exposed himself and David so that the soldiers would follow their run instead of the murderer's. He tells David that it was the just thing to do, because they were innocent and should try to protect someone "in difficulty." They hide among some trees for the rest of the day, and Alan tells David the story of how he and some of the crew escaped the sinking Covenant. Alan says that, once they were ashore, Captain Hoseason tried to rob him, but Mr. Riach defended Alan long enough for him to get away.


Although Alan is offended when David accuses him of being involved in the murder of the Red Fox, both David and the reader have good cause for suspicion. When they were on the ship and first spoke of the Red Fox, Alan openly told David that he would like it if the man were killed: "... there grows not enough heather in Scotland to hide him from my vengeance!" In light of these words Alan's presence near the scene of the crime is highly suspicious. Indeed, at this point the reader has learned, alongside David, to be suspicious of almost everyone that a traveler meets upon his adventures. What saves Alan from David's suspicion is the fact that he carries only a fishing rod and that the man was taken out by a gun. In fact David did significantly more to help the murderer than Alan. As David kept the Red Fox standing still for a few minutes as they spoke, the shooter had a chance to aim more accurately at his target. He is an unknowing accomplice in the murder, but he does not see himself this way.

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