Set in Scotland after the Jacobite rebellion, young David Balfour leaves home and goes to the sinister House of Shaws. There, he finds himself kidnapped, the victim of his uncle’s plot to cheat him of his inheritance, aboard a ship bound for America. He teams up with the Jacobite loyalist and spy, Alan Breck and they take on the ship’s crew in a courageous battle but are soon shipwrecked. Later, they find themselves suspected of the murder of ‘Red Fox’, a notorious enemy of the Jacobeans. They flee across the Highlands in a perilous journey back to David’s home where he finally claims his inheritance. First serialised in Young Folks magazine in 1886, and issued as a book later that year, Kidnapped provided much of the inspiration for John Buchan’s The Thirty Nine Steps and a generation of subsequent thrillers.
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 clapped 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.