Kidnapped | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Kidnapped | Chapter 5 : I Go to the Queen's Ferry | Summary

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Summary

In the morning David brings Ebenezer downstairs for breakfast and begins to question him, but a knock on the door interrupts them. A young boy named Ransome delivers to Ebenezer a letter requesting a meeting from Mr. Hoseason, captain of a trading "brig"—a two-masted sailing ship—named the Covenant. The letter requests a meeting, and Ebenezer convinces David that if they all go to the town of Queen's Ferry, David and his uncle can have a meeting with a lawyer (Mr. Rankeillor) to settle David's inheritance. Along the way, Ransome tells David about his rough life at sea with Captain Hoseason and the first mate Mr. Shuan.

Analysis

Despite his misadventures the previous night, David has not yet become as suspicious of his uncle as he should be. David is still operating under the assumption that his family relationship will prevail over any of his uncle's bad intentions. He is not even concerned by the knowledge that the captain his uncle will meet is a captain of a ship that sometimes carries criminals and "the still more unhappy innocents who were kidnapped ... for private interest or vengeance." These men, David knows, will be sold into slavery in the Carolinas. Hearing Ransome's words and pitying these men, David still does not make the connection among his uncle, the ship, and himself. Still not knowing that he is the true heir of what he thinks is his uncle's property, David thus does not yet understand the scale of the impact his presence would mean for his uncle. Ransome's description of the slaves on the ship, as well as his own brutal life on board, foreshadow the events to come, even if David does not yet realize it.

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