Kidnapped | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Kidnapped | Chapter 19 : The House of Fear | Summary

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Summary

Travelling at night to avoid detection by soldiers on the lookout for the killers of the Red Fox, Alan and David reach the house of Alan's kinsman (relative), James Stewart of the Glens, where Alan had been staying. News of the Red Fox's death has already reached James's clan, and they are taking action to protect themselves from retaliation, as James and Alan had often spoken of their desire to see the Red Fox dead. The clansmen are burying anything illegal, from their guns to Alan's French overcoat, which he had left there when he went fishing. The men agree that Alan and David must flee from the soldiers, and James helps them prepare. He then tells them that he must "paper" them—distribute wanted fliers with their description and a reward—but will only do so with their permission. Alan agrees readily, and David, who is slightly offended by the betrayal, is shocked by the gratitude he receives when he also agrees.

Analysis

Alan and David have a significant difference of opinion about how his kinsman James is willing to help them. James offers Alan and David assistance, including a change of clothes and what money he has available. As they prepare to leave, however, James says that he will have to "paper" them. That is, in order to try to avoid persecution for involvement in the murder or as an accomplice to the killers, James will need to distribute wanted fliers with a reward.

Alan understands James's predicament and does not see this as a betrayal, especially because James told him that he would have to do it to save himself and his family. David, by contrast, feels that James is being disloyal by giving descriptions of the two of them to their enemies, even though James has told him that he will provide the details about the clothes that David has just discarded. David does not understand the difficult situation that James is in. James needs to demonstrate loyalty to the English soldiers even if he personally feels loyalty to Alan and David and prefers to help them. James's wife, Mrs. Stewart, is extraordinarily grateful to David for agreeing that James can "paper" him because James would not do so without his permission, and to avoid doing this would result in imprisonment and possibly death for James.

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