Kidnapped | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Kidnapped | Chapter 20 : The Flight in the Heather: The Rocks | Summary



Alan leads David on a flight through the countryside all night, seeking a safe place to hide for the length of the day. With a great effort, they reach a place of safety in a hollow atop the meeting of two boulders. David sleeps and wakes at 9 o'clock in the morning to the news that a huge number of English troops have camped in the valley below them, with sentries posted all around. Alan and David must lie flat atop the boulders, exposed to the burning sun with only whisky to drink, while the soldiers search around and below them. By 2 o'clock in the afternoon the soldiers have finished with their search, and the two hiding men can take the sun no more. They drop down on the far side from the camp and sneak away.


Throughout their travels, David must rely on Alan's knowledge of the danger they face and the safe places they can reach. David struggles to keep up with Alan and barely manages to follow him to the place of safety that Alan has chosen. He does not understand the fear with which Alan acts as they cross the valley and climb up the rock because David cannot see any soldiers. When he wakes, he sees the valley filled with soldiers and sentries placed all over. Alan correctly predicted that the soldiers would stake out this valley and that they would be caught if they did not reach it or stop before it. Without knowledge of the landscape and the habits of the soldiers, David would be completely lost and unlikely to make it to his final destination. This scene serves as a reminder of the danger they face and the certainty that David must rely on Alan to guide him to safety.

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