2 Kidnapped!

2 Kidnapped!

2 Kidnapped!


  When I woke up in darkness,my head was hurting badly,and I was unable to move my hands or feet.I could hear the sailors’ shouts and the sound of the wind and the waves.The whole world seemed to go up,up,up,and then down again.I felt very ill,and at first could not under stand what was happening.After a while I realized that I must be somewhere inside the ship,which was moving very fast through the water.‘I've been kidnapped!’I thought angrily.It was clear that my uncle and the captain had planned it together.I began to feel frightened and hopeless,as I lay there in the dark.

  Some hours later,a light shone in my face.Mr Riach,one of the ship's officers,stood looking down at me.He washed the cut on my head,gave me some water,and told me kindly to go to sleep.The next time he came,I was feeling very hot and ill.He had brought Captain Hoseason with him.

  ‘Now,sir,see for yourself,’ said Mr Riach.‘The lad's seriously ill.We must take him out of this unhealthy hole at once.

  ‘That's none of your business,’answered the captain.‘Ye're paid to do your job,not to worry about the by.He's staying down here.’

  ‘I'm only paid to be an officer on this ship,’ replied Mr Riach sharply.He looked hard at the captain.‘I'm not paid,like you,to kidnap and murder—’

  Hoseason turned on him angrily.‘What did ye say?’be cried.‘What do ye mean?’

  ‘You understand,’ said Mr Riach,looking calmly at him.

  ‘You should know me by now,Mr Riach.I'm a hard man.But if ye say the lad will die—’

  ‘Aye,he will!’ said Mr Riach.

  ‘Well,sir,put him where ye like!’

  So I was carried up into the sunlight a few minutes later,and put in a cabin where some of the sailors were sleeping.It was a wonderful feeling to see the daylight and to be able to talk to people again.I lay in the cabin for several days,and after a while began to feel better.The sailors were kind to me in their way.They brought me food and drink, and told me about their families at home.I discovered from them that the ship was sailing to the Carolinas,in North America.There the captain was planning to sell me as a slave,to work in a rich man's house or on a farm.

  I also learnt that both the ship's officers,Mr Riach and Mr Shuan,enjoyed drinking far too much.The sailors liked Mr Shuan,but said that he was sometimes violent when he had drunk a lot.One of the sailors was a young boy, called Ransome.His job was to bring meals to the captain and officers in the round-house,a big cabin on the top of the ship,where the officers slept and ate.When Ransome dropped something or did something wrong,Mr Shuan used to hit him,and I often saw the poor boy crying.

  One night,about nine o’clock,I heard one of the sailors in the cabin saying quietly to the others,‘Shuan's killed him at last!’We all knew who he meant.Just then the captain came in.I was surprised to see him walk towards me and say kindly,‘My man,We Want ye to help us in the round-house.From now on,ye'll sleep there instead of Ransome.’As he spoke,two sailors carried Ransome into the cabin His face was as white as a sheet,and he did not move.My blood ran cold when I saw him.

  I obeyed the captain,and ran to the round-house.It was a large room,with a table,a bench and locked cupboards All the best food and drink was kept there,under the captain's eyes,as well as the guns.When I entered,I saw Mr Shuan sitting at the table,with a bottle of whisky in front of him.He did not seem to notice what was happening around him,and was looking fixedly at the table.

  Mr Riach soon joined the captain and me.He looked at Hoseason meaningfully,and I understood from his look that Ransome was dead.We three all stood silently looking down at Mr Shuan.

  Suddenly the captain stepped forward.‘Do ye know what ye've done?’he cried.‘Ye've murdered the boy!’

  Mr Shuan put a hand to his head.‘Well,’he said,‘he brought me a dirty glass!’

  The captain and Mr Riach and I looked at each other,almost frightened.Then Hoseason took Mr Shuan by the arm,and told him to go to bed.The murderer cried a little at first,but he took off his boots and lay down,like a small child.

  ‘Mr Riach,’ said the captain,when we could see that Mr Shuan was asleep,‘nobody on land must know what happened tonight.We'll say that the boy fell into the sea.Get us a drink,David,we both need one,’and he gave me the key to the cupboards.

  In the next few days I was very busy,running here and there with the officers’food and drink.Mr Riach and the cap tain were surprisingly patient with me when I made mistakes.Perhaps they were thinking of the poor boy who had died.But Mr Shuan was very strange after Ransome's death. He did not seem to know what he had done,or to recognize me.On my second day in the round-house,he looked at me with a white face and fear in his eyes.‘You weren't here before?’he asked.

  ‘No,sir,’I replied.

  ‘There was another boy?’he asked.‘Ah!Yes,I thought so,’and sitting down,he called for some more whisky.

  It wasn't a hard life for me.I was able to eat well,and talk to Mr Riach,who spoke to me like a friend.But I could not forget poor Ransome.As the days passed,I became more and more worried.I knew that,when the ship arrived in the Carolinas,I would no longer be a free man,but a slave.I thought hard,but there did not seem to be any way of escaping.

  About a week later,we were sailing round the rocky coast of northern Scotland in very bad weather.It was difficult to see anything because of the thick fog.One evening there was a great crash,and the officers ran out to see what had happened.I thought we had hit a rock,but in fact it was a small boat As we watched,the boat broke in two,and went to the bottom with all its men,except the one passenger.At the moment of the crash,this man managed to jump up and catch the side of the ship and pull himself up.

  The captain brought him into the round-house He was smallish but well-built,with an open,sunburnt face,and bright,amused eyes When he took off his long coat,I could see that he had a pair of pistols and was wearing a sword at his side.Although his life had clearly been in great danger,he seemed very calm,and spoke politely to the captain Hoseason was looking with interest at the man's clothes.He Was Wear ing a hat with feathers,a blue coat with silver buttons,and expensive-looking lace round his neck.

  ‘I'm sorry about the boat,sir,’ said the captain.

  ‘I've lost some grand friends today,’ replied the stranger,‘and that's worse than losing ten boats.’

  ‘Well,sir,there are more men in the world than boats,’ replied the captain,still watching him closely.‘I know,be cause I've been in France,like you.’

  He said these last words clearly and carefully.They seemed to have a special meaning.The stranger put his hand quickly on his pistol.

  ‘Don't worry,’ said Hoseason.‘Ye've a French soldier's coat on your back and a Scottish tongue in your head,that's true,but so has many an honest man these days.’

  ‘Well,sir,’ replied the stranger,‘I must tell you that I'm one of those honest Highlanders who were proud to fight for their homes,their clan and their country in 1745,against the English King.And I must tell you another thing.If King George's soldiers find me,I'll be in trouble.I was on my way to France,where some of my clansmen live now.But in the fog my boat missed the French ship that was meeting me.So if you can take me to France,I'll pay you well.’

  He opened his purse and showed that it was full of gold coins.The captain seemed excited as he looked at the money,and then at the man's face.

  ‘To France?’he replied.‘No,I can't do that.But to the Highlands,aye,we can discuss that.’ They sat down together,and in the end agreed that the captain would take the stranger to Loch Linnhe,on the northwest coast of Scot land,for sixty pounds.There the Highlander would be among friends,and safe from the English army.He and Hoseason shook hands,and the captain left me alone with the stranger.

  He had told the captain that the gold was not his own.Some of the Highlanders had escaped to France after the Forty-Five,but their friends and clansmen in Scotland sometimes managed to find a little money to send them.It was this man's job to take the money across to France,and he did this by travelling secretly to Scotland as often as possible.I thought he was very brave.‘If he's caught by the English army,they'll kill him!’ I told myself.I liked the way he seemed to enjoy living dangerously.

  When he asked me for whisky,I had to go to ask the cap tain for the key to the cupboard.I found Hoseason and his officers talking quietly in a corner,and heard them planning to kill the stranger and steal his money.They seemed to think that I would help them,and asked me to bring them secretly some guns from the round-house.I went slowly back to the stranger,not sure what I should do.But when I entered the round-house,and saw him eating his supper,I decided at once.

  ‘They're going to attack you,and murder you!’ I told him.

  ‘What!’he cried,jumping up.‘Will ye stand with me,against them?’

  ‘I will! I'm no thief or murderer!’I replied bravely.

  ‘Are ye for King George?’

  ‘More or less,’I answered.

  ‘Well,Mr More-or-Less,what's your name?’

  ‘David Balfour,’I said,and then,thinking that a man with so fine a coat must like fine people,I added,‘of Shaws.’

  ‘My name is Stewart,’he said proudly.‘Alan Breck,they call me.And Stewart is a king's name,so it's good enough for me,although I have no name of a farmhouse to add to it.’He looked around him.‘Now,David,I'll take any man who comes in through this door.You must watch the window, and the door behind me,and shoot anyone who tries to enter.

  He gave me a pistol.I was very frightened,but tried hard not to show it.The ship seemed very quiet.Suddenly there was the sound of running feet,and a shout,and then I heard fighting in the doorway.I looked over my shoulder,and saw Mr Shuan, just as Alan drove his sword into the officer's body.Then several men ran at my door.I did not want to hurt them,but it was now or never.I lifted my pistol and shot at them.One man fell,and the others ran away.After a few moments,the sailors attacked again.Alan fought as bravely as before, his sword now red with blood. He was clearly enjoying himself.I had no time to think,but when two more men appeared at the window,I shot them too.Now there were several bodies on the floor,and blood everywhere.

  Suddenly I realized that we had won,and that the danger was over.Alan was driving the men out of the round-house like sheep.When he returned,he took me in his arms.

  ‘David!’he cried.‘I love ye like a brother.And oh,man,am I not a grand fighter?’I had to agree.He took a knife from the table and cut a silver button off his blue coat.‘Take this,David.The buttons come from my father,Duncan Stewart.where ye show that button,the friends of Alan Breck will come to ye.’He spoke as proudly as a king,and I tried not to smile.

  We slept in the round-house,one of us keeping watch all night,and the next morning the captain came to speak to us. ‘Ye'veve won the fight,sir,’he said to Alan.‘We're sailing through the Little Minch now,and I'll keep my promise to take ye to Loch Linnhe.But ye've killed my chief officer,Shuan,and without him I can't find my way safely round these rocky coasts.We'll go round the island of Mull,but I warn ye,it'll be dangerous.

  Hoseason was right to be worried.All that day Alan and I sat in the round-house and told each other the stories of our lives,but by night the wind was growing stronger and the sailors found it hard to keep the ship away from the dangerous rocks.As we came round Earraid,a small island close to the larger island of Mull,there was a sudden,terrible crash,and we realized that the ship had hit a rock.There was only one thing to do-leave the ship and try to reach land in the ship's boat.But as we were climbing down into the boat,a great wave hit the ship and knocked some of us into the sea.

  I went down and came up again several times . Then,luckily,I managed to find a piece of wood,which helped me to stay up in the water.I looked round,but could not see Alan , or any of the sailors,or the boat.My only hope was to try to swim to Earraid,which I could see,not far away,in the moonlight.It was hard,tiring work,but I reached it,and was very grateful to step on to dry land at last.


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