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A sixteen-year-old orphan is kidnapped by his villainous uncle, but later escapes and becomes involved in the struggle of the Scottish highlanders against English rule.
A sixteen-year-old orphan is kidnapped by his villainous uncle, but later escapes and becomes involved in the struggle of the Scottish highlanders against English rule.
Gr 7 Up
This retelling of Stevenson's classic hits the high points of what was originally a densely written story, making it more palatable for reluctant readers or those who want to revisit the original. The text and dialogue retain the spirit of the novel, but the hard-to-read Scottish accents are softened and the passages in which characters speak to each other in Latin have been removed. On the whole this is an engaging adaptation, aided by Kennedy's vibrant illustrations in a palette dominated by blues, greens, and sepia tones. The action scenes are exciting, and readers will get a good feel for the dangers of the sea and the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. However, adapting some parts of the book and using other parts verbatim can be confusing. For example, the last sentence, about David Balfour finding the doors of the British Linen Company's bank, is quoted verbatim. Earlier mention of this bank is not included, which might leave readers wondering why it is significant. Quibbles aside, this book would make a good bridge to the novel for readers who want to delve deeper into the story, and will also prove to those readers who think they hate classics that some of them are actually kind of cool.
—Andrea LipinskiCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
I SET OFF UPON MY JOURNEY TO THE HOUSE OF SHAWS
I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house. The sun began to shine upon the summit of the hills as I went down the road; and by the time I had come as far as the manse, the blackbirds were whistling in the garden lilacs, and the mist that hung around the valley in the time of the dawn was beginning to arise and die away.
Mr. Campbell, the minister of Essendean, was waiting for me by the garden gate, good man! He asked me if I had breakfasted; and hearing that I lacked for nothing, he took my hand in both of his and cupped it kindly under his arm.
"Well, Davie lad," said he, "I will go with you as far as the ford, to set you on the way."
And we began to walk forward in silence.
"Are ye sorry to leave Essendean?" said he, after a while.
"Why, sir," said I, "if I knew where I was going, or what was likely to become of me, I would tell you candidly. Essendean is a good place indeed, and I have been very happy there; but then I have never been anywhere else. My father and mother, since they are both dead, I shall be no nearer to in Essendean than in the Kingdom of Hungary; and, to speak truth, if I thought I had a chance to better myself where I was going I would go with a good will."
"Ay?" said Mr. Campbell. "Very well, Davie. Then it behoves me to tell your fortune; or so far as I may. When your mother was gone, and your father (the worthy, Christian man) began to sicken for his end, he gave me in charge a certain letter, which he said was your inheritance. 'So soon,' says he, 'as I am gone, and the house is redd up and the gear disposed of' (all which, Davie, hath been done), 'give my boy this letter into his hand, and start him off to the house of Shaws, not far from Cramond. That is the place I came from,' he said, 'and it's where it befits that my boy should return. He is a steady lad,' your father said, 'and a canny goer; and I doubt not he will come safe, and be well liked where he goes.'"
"The house of Shaws!" I cried. "What had my poor father to do with the house of Shaws?"
"Nay," said Mr. Campbell, "who can tell that for a surety? But the name of that family, Davie boy, is the name you bear–Balfours of Shaws: an ancient, honest, reputable house, peradventure in these latter days decayed. Your father, too, was a man of learning as befitted his position; no man more plausibly conducted school; nor had the manner or the speech of a common dominie; but (as ye will yourself remember) I took aye a pleasure to have him to the manse to meet the gentry; and those of my own house, Campbell of Kilrennet, Campbell of Dunswire, Campbell of Minch, and others, all well-kenned gentlemen, had pleasure in his society. Lastly, to put all the elements of this affair before you, here is the testamentary letter itself, superscrived by the own hand of our departed brother."
He gave me the letter, which was addressed in these words: "To the hands of Ebenezer Balfour, Esquire, of Shaws, in his house of Shaws, these will be delivered by my son, David Balfour." My heart was beating hard at this great prospect now suddenly opening before a lad of seventeen years of age, the son of a poor country dominie in the Forest of Ettrick.
"Mr. Campbell," I stammered, "and if you were in my shoes, would you go?"
"Of a surety," said the minister, "that would I, and without pause. A pretty lad like you should get to Cramond (which is near in by Edinburgh) in two days of walk. If the worst came to the worst, and your high relations (as I cannot but suppose them to be somewhat of your blood) should put you to the door, ye can but walk the two days back again and risp1 at the manse door. But I would rather hope that ye shall be well received, as your poor father forecast for you, and for anything that I ken come to be a great man in time. And here, Davie laddie," he resumed, "it lies near upon my conscience to improve this parting, and set you on the right guard against the dangers of the world."
Here he cast about for a comfortable seat, lighted on a big boulder under a birch by the trackside, sate down upon it with a very long, serious upper lip, and, the sun now shining in upon us between two peaks, put his pocket-handkerchief over his cocked hat to shelter him. There, then, with uplifted forefinger, he first put me on my guard against a considerable number of heresies, to which I had no temptation, and urged upon me to be instant in my prayers and reading of the Bible. That done, he drew a picture of the great house that I was bound to, and how I should conduct myself with its inhabitants.
"Be soople, Davie, in things immaterial," said he. "Bear ye this in mind, that, though gentle born, ye have had a country rearing. Dinna shame us, Davie, dinna shame us! In yon great, muckle2 house, with all these domestics, upper and under, show yourself as nice, as circumspect, as quick at the conception, and as slow of speech as any. As for the laird–remember he's the laird; I say no more: honour to whom honour. It's a pleasure to obey a laird; or should be, to the young."
"Well, sir," said I, "it may be; and I'll promise you I'll try to make it so."
"Why, very well said," replied Mr. Campbell, heartily. "And now to come to the material, or (to make a quibble) to the immaterial. I have here a little packet which contains four things." He tugged it, as he spoke, and with some great difficulty, from the skirt pocket of his coat. "Of these four things, the first is your legal due: the little pickle money for your father's books and plenishing, which I have bought (as I have explained from the first) in the design of re-selling at a profit to the incoming dominie. The other three are gifties that Mrs. Campbell and myself would be blithe of your acceptance. The first, which is round, will likely please ye best at the first off-go; but, O Davie laddie, it's but a drop of water in the sea; it'll help you but a step, and vanish like the morning. The second, which is flat and square and written upon, will stand by you through life, like a good staff for the road, and a good pillow to your head in sickness. And as for the last, which is cubical, that'll see you, it's my prayerful wish, into a better land."
With that he got upon his feet, took off his hat, and prayed a little while aloud, and in affecting terms, for a young man setting out into the world; then suddenly took me in his arms and embraced me very hard; then held me at arm's-length, looking at me with his face all working with sorrow; and then whipped about, and crying goodbye to me, set off backward by the way that we had come at a sort of jogging run. It might have been laughable to another; but I was in no mind to laugh. I watched him as long as he was in sight; and he never stopped hurrying, nor once looked back. Then it came in upon my mind that this was all his sorrow at my departure; and my conscience smote me hard and fast, because I, for my part, was overjoyed to get away out of that quiet countryside, and go to a great, busy house, among rich and respected gentlefolk of my own name and blood.
"Davie, Davie," I thought, "was ever seen such black ingratitude? Can you forget old favours and old friends at the mere whistle of a name? Fie, fie; think shame!"
And I sat down on the boulder the good man had just left, and opened the parcel to see the nature of my gifts. That which he had called cubical, I had never had much doubt of; sure enough it was a little Bible; to carry in a plaid-neuk.1 That which he had called round, I found to be a shilling piece; and the third, which was to help me so wonderfully both in health and sickness all the days of my life, was a little piece of coarse yellow paper, written upon thus in red ink:
"To make lilly of the valley water.–Take the flowers of lilly of the valley and distil them in sack, and drink a spooneful or two as there is occasion. It restores against the Gout; it comforts the heart and strengthens the memory; and the flowers, put into a Glasse, close stopt, and set into ane hill of ants for a month, then take it out, and you will find a liquor which comes from the flowers, which keep in a vial; it is good, ill or well, and whether man or woman."
And then, in the minister's own hand, was added:
"Likewise for sprains, rub it in; and for the cholic, a great spooneful in the hour."
To be sure, I laughed over this; but it was rather tremulous laughter; and I was glad to get my bundle on my staff's end and set out over the ford and up the hill upon the farther side; till, just as I came on the green droveroad running wide through the heather, I took my last look of Kirk Essendean, the trees about the manse, and the big rowans in the kirkyard where my father and my mother lay.
I COME TO MY JOURNEY'S END
On the forenoon of the second day, coming to the top of a hill, I saw all the country fall away before me down to the sea; and in the midst of this descent, on a long ridge, the city of Edinburgh smoking like a kiln. There was a flag upon the castle, and ships moving or lying anchored in the firth; both of which, for as far away as they were, I could distinguish clearly; and both brought my country heart into my mouth.
Presently after, I came by a house where a shepherd lived, and got a rough direction for the neighbourhood of Cramond; and so, from one to another, worked my way to the westward of the capital by Colinton, till I came out upon the Glasgow road. And there, to my great pleasure and wonder, I beheld a regiment marching to the fifes, every foot in time; an old redfaced general on a grey horse at the one end, and at the other the company of Grenadiers, with their Pope's-hats. The pride of life seemed to mount into my brain at the sight of the red coats and the hearing of that merry music.
A little farther on, and I was told I was in Cramond parish, and began to substitute in my inquiries the name of the house of Shaws. It was a word that seemed to surprise those of whom I sought my way. At first I thought the plainness of my appearance, in my country habit, and that all dusty from the road, consorted ill with the greatness of the place to which I was bound. But after two, or maybe three, had given me the same look and the same answer, I began to take it in my head there was something strange about the Shaws itself.
The better to set this fear at rest, I changed the form of my inquiries; and spying an honest fellow coming along a lane on the shaft of his cart, I asked him if he had ever heard tell of a house they called the house of Shaws.
He stopped his cart and looked at me, like the others.
"Ay," said he. "What for?"
"It's a great house?" I asked.
"Doubtless," says he. "The house is a big, muckle house."
"Ay," said I, "but the folk that are in it?"
"Folk?" cried he. "Are ye daft? There's nae folk there–to call folk."
"What?" say I; "not Mr. Ebenezer?"
"Ou, ay," says the man; "there's the laird, to be sure, if it's him you're wanting. What'll like be your business, mannie?"
"I was led to think that I would get a situation," I said, looking as modest as I could.
"What?" cries the carter, in so sharp a note that his very horse started; and then, "Well, mannie," he added, "it's nane of my affairs; but ye seem a decent-spoken lad; and if ye'll take a word from me, ye'll keep clear of the Shaws."
The next person I came across was a dapper little man in a beautiful white wig, whom I saw to be a barber on his rounds; and knowing well that barbers were great gossips, I asked him plainly what sort of a man was Mr. Balfour of the Shaws.
"Hoot, hoot, hoot," said the barber, "nae kind of a man, nae kind of a man at all"; and began to ask me very shrewdly what my business was; but I was more than a match for him at that, and he went on to his next customer no wiser than he came.
I cannot well describe the blow this dealt to my illusions. The more indistinct the accusations were, the less I liked them, for they left the wider field to fancy. What kind of a great house was this, that all the parish should start and stare to be asked the way to it? or what sort of a gentleman, that his ill-fame should be thus current on the wayside? If an hour's walking would have brought me back to Essendean, I had left my adventure then and there, and returned to Mr. Campbell's. But when I had come so far a way already, mere shame would not suffer me to desist till I had put the matter to the touch of proof; I was bound, out of mere self-respect, to carry it through; and little as I liked the sound of what I heard, and slow as I began to travel, I still kept asking my way and still kept advancing.
It was drawing on to sundown when I met a stout, dark, sour-looking woman coming trudging down a hill; and she, when I had put my usual question, turned sharp about, accompanied me back to the summit she had just left, and pointed to a great bulk of building standing very bare upon a green in the bottom of the next valley. The country was pleasant round about, running in low hills, pleasantly watered and wooded, and the crops, to my eyes, wonderfully good; but the house itself appeared to be a kind of ruin; no road led up to it; no smoke arose from any of the chimneys; nor was there any semblance of a garden. My heart sank. "That!" I cried.
The woman's face lit up with a malignant anger.
"That is the house of Shaws!" she cried. "Blood built it; blood stopped the building of it; blood shall bring it down. See here!" she cried again–"I spit upon the ground, and crack my thumb at it! Black be its fall! If ye see the laird, tell him what ye hear; tell him this makes the twelve hunner and nineteen time that Jennet Clouston has called down the curse on him and his house, byre and stable, man, guest, and master, wife, miss, or bairn–black, black be their fall!"
And the woman, whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch1 sing-song, turned with a skip, and was gone. I stood where she left me, with my hair on end. In those days folk still believed in witches and trembled at a curse; and this one, falling so pat, like a wayside omen, to arrest me ere I carried out my purpose, took the pith out of my legs.
I sat me down and stared at the house of Shaws. The more I looked, the pleasanter that country-side appeared; being all set with hawthorn bushes full of flowers; the fields dotted with sheep; a fine flight of rooks in the sky; and every sign of a kind soil and climate; and yet the barrack in the midst of it went sore against my fancy.
Country folk went by from the fields as I sat there on the side of the ditch, but I lacked the spirit to give them a good-e'en. At last the sun went down, and then, right up against the yellow sky, I saw a scroll of smoke go mounting, not much thicker, as it seemed to me, than the smoke of a candle; but still there it was, and meant a fire, and warmth, and cookery, and some living inhabitant that must have lit it; and this comforted my heart.
So I set forward by a little faint track in the grass that led in my direction. It was very faint indeed to be the only way to a place of habitation; yet I saw no other. Presently it brought me to stone uprights, with an unroofed lodge beside them, and coats of arms upon the top. A main entrance it was plainly meant to be, but never finished; instead of gates of wrought iron, a pair of hurdles were tied across with a straw rope; and as there were no park walls, nor any sign of avenue, the track that I was following passed on the right hand of the pillars, and went wandering on toward the house.
The nearer I got to that, the drearier it appeared. It seemed like the one wing of a houes that had never been finished. What should have been the inner end stood open on the upper floors, and showed against the sky with steps and stairs of uncompleted masonry. Many of the windows were unglazed, and bats flew in and out like doves out of a dove-cote.
The night had begun to fall as I got close; and in three of the lower windows, which were very high up and narrow, and well barred, the changing light of a little fire began to glimmer.
Was this the place I had been coming to? Was it within these walls that I was to seek new friends and begin great fortunes? Why, in my father's house on Essen-Waterside, the fire and the bright lights would show a mile away, and the door open to a beggar's knock!
I came forward cautiously, and giving ear as I came, heard some one rattling with dishes, and a little dry, eager cough that came in fits; but there was no sound of speech, and not a dog barked.
The door, as well as I could see it in the dim light, was a great piece of wood all studded with nails; and I lifted my hand with a faint heart under my jacket, and knocked once. Then I stood and waited. The house had fallen into a dead silence; a whole minute passed away, and nothing stirred but the bats overhead. I knocked again, and hearkened again. By this time my ears had grown so accustomed to the quiet, that I could hear the ticking of the clock inside as it slowly counted out the seconds; but whoever was in that house kept deadly still, and must have held his breath.
I was in two minds whether to run away; but anger got the upper hand, and I began instead to rain kicks and buffets on the door, and to shout out aloud for Mr. Balfour. I was in full career, when I heard the cough right overhead, and jumping back and looking up, beheld a man's head in a tall nightcap, and the bell mouth of a blunderbuss, at one of the first story windows.
"It's loaded," said a voice.
"I have come here with a letter," I said, "to Mr. Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws. Is he here?"
"From whom is it?" asked the man with the blunderbuss.
"That is neither here nor there," said I, for I was growing very wroth.
"Well," was the reply, "ye can put it down upon the doorstep, and be off with ye."
"I will do no such thing," I cried. "I will deliver it into Mr. Balfour's hands, as it was meant I should. It is a letter of introduction."
"A what?" cried the voice, sharply.
I repeated what I had said.
"Who are ye yourself?" was the next question, after a considerable pause.
"I am not ashamed of my name," said I. "They call me David Balfour."
At that, I made sure the man started, for I heard the blunderbuss rattle on the windowsill; and it was after quite a long pause, and with a curious change of voice, that the next question followed:
"Is your father dead?"
I was so much surprised at this, that I could find no voice to answer, but stood staring.
"Ay," the man resumed, "he'll be dead, no doubt; and that'll be what brings ye chapping to my door." Another pause, and then defiantly, "Well, man," he said, "I'll let ye in"; and he disappeared from the window.
Posted March 21, 2011
I'm reading this book for a book report, oh my I can't understand anything anyone is saying, sometimes I can't even tell who is talking! There are like 20 "ye" 's on each page, and it's very boring most times. I also do not recommend this for 8th graders and under, especially ones with a small attention span like me. Its 263 pages so it takes awhile to read, waste of time. Overall I do not recommend this book unless you were born in the 1800's.
10 out of 27 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 17, 2010
I thought it was a very good story and wasn't sure what the writing from that period would be like. I am very happy that I took the chance and downloaded the story. I usually read fiction crime thrillers and this book kept my attention and I read it as quickly as I do my other choices. The story follows a nice line and gives a nice packaged ending that one would expect, no real twists or anything of that kind.
7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 11, 2007
Posted August 22, 2010
Posted December 7, 2008
Stevenson, well within his element in regards to the setting, re-demonstrates his mastery as a storyteller with Kidnapped; but unlike his works such as Treasure Island this compelling adventure story's plot and thematic elements are woven in the context of a real historical conflict. Through this spirited depiction of the Whig vs. Jacobite struggle, Stevenson is definitely trying to redeem the image of the Highlands that the English had strived so hard to tarnish back in his day. This is totally comprehensible in characters like Alan and James of the Glens who both exhibit noble manners and honor that was allegedly uncharacteristic of catholic scots in the 1700s. What's truly interesting in this book, however, is the centrality of the unlikely friendship between David Balfour and Alan Stewart. Despite their incredibly divergent upbringings (a rebellious catholic highlander and a goody-good protestant whig) they are able to transcend their own misapprehensions and prevail over the sprawling cast of cutthroats looking to sell them into bondage. Throughout this plot steeped in treachery and redemption, there are instances of benevolence and compassion revealed by the majority of misfortunes they experience, like when Alan loses their money to Cluny MacPherson. I think it's inventive how he uses the screw-ups to shed light on how important it is to swallow pride and resolve problems with the people you truly respect. I was also impressed with how the events of the story also preserved the importance of virtues like loyalty and valor, which surface from time to time in the highlander characters such as Macrob who continue the resistance for justice against English oppressors. Another entertaining aspect of the story is Stevenson's use of motifs in tying together its major plot elements. Much like the "hands" motiff in Treasure Island, Stevenson is very consistent in using themes like inheritance, especially primogeniture, to impress upon the reader what was principal or significant back in those times. All and all, it is a very exciting read and especially appealing to anyone of Scottish descent.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2006
This is one of the best audio books I have ever heard. The narration is outstanding and great theater. The old English is beautiful (the old English is readily understood with a little thought - if the language daunts you, you might enjoy instead 'Goodnight Moon'.)
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 2, 2013
I felt the urge to write this reveiew after reading one written March 21, 2011, in which the writer of the review was reading Kidnapped for school, and complained of the length (236 pages) and the oldfashioned writing. I have two things to say to that. One, when was written people, as individuals were much smarter than they are now, being able to read very complex books with difficult language, and comprehend them perfectly. Two, I happen to have read Nicholas Nickelby by Charles Dickens, which for your information is 755 pages long and i read it cover to cover. I am twelve. For those who want to know whether this is a good book or not, I highly reccomend it. Best of luck on your own readinging adventure!
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Posted January 9, 2013
Posted February 14, 2007
Help! Help! Those are the words of David Balfour. David Balfour is a seventeen year old boy in a realistic fiction book called Kidnapped. In the book David¿s father is dieing so he gives a man named Mr. Campbell a letter to give to David. David receives the letter after his father dies and the letter says to go to a place called the house of Shaws. When David gets there he realizes that the man living there is his uncle. Later his uncle sells David to a ship captain named Hoseason for a slave because the house that his uncle lives in is David¿s and David¿s uncle wants it all to himself. Then a guy named Alan Breck Stewart comes on the ship. David overhears plot to get Alan¿s money so David warns Alan and they both fight the crew. Later David falls of the ship and swims back to land. I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone that likes action and adventure books. I would recommend the book because it was interesting. It was interesting because the author wrote the book in first-person point of view. This made the story come form the main characters eyes and thoughts. Also I would recommend it because the imagery that Robert Louis Stevenson used was great. The imagery that Robert Louis Stevenson used was great because when I was reading the book I could picture the events that were happening in the story.
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Posted March 12, 2014
I had to pick a book on a list i was given to in class and then write an essay on the book i read, if the book was classic or not. I didnt want to read this book at 1st but i couldnt put the book down once i started. I loved this book it might seem odd but it was really good. :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2014
This book really doesn't require a big introduction, it's a timeless classic that has lasted through the years.
To the 8th grader would rather drink poison than read this book. I'm 62 years old and I first read this book when I was 4years old. As one ages they find old books like these to be companions and friends. I'm sorry you feel forced to read such treasured book. However, I've found that if I just read the book, I'll get involved in it and start to enjoy it. Sort of like the twilight books that I would rather eat glass than be forced to read them. ...smile.