A few hundred years ago, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a classic adventure caper called Kidnapped. This is admirable for two reasons:
1) He resisted the urge to add an exclamation point to the end of his title.
2) He boldly proceeded to give away the entire plot with the book’s subtitle.
Seriously, the subtitle runs on for 70 words, mentioning how the hero David Balfour is kidnapped, shipwrecked, trapped in the wild highlands, and suffered at the hands of his uncle Ebenezer. You could watch four or five Michael Bay movies in a row and not find that much adventure.
If this book makes you deathly afraid of your uncle, then it is probably with good reason. Uncles get a bad rap in literature. They are forever stealing your inheritance, murdering your parents, claiming your kingdom, or making unwanted romantic advances. And I will warn you: If you have an uncle named “Ebenezer” in your family, you might as well just accept that most of your life is going to be a living nightmare.
Fortunately my uncles have names like Dennis and Tim and Devon, and there’s a strong chance that they’d find it utterly inconvenient to dump me in the Scottish highlands. But I’m watching my back just in case.
David Balfour begins to suspect that his uncle is up to no good when he is sent to fetch a chest from the top of a tower in the middle of the night, without a light and sometimes with gaps in the staircase. This, I think, is a good indicator that someone wants to get rid of you.
David doesn’t take the hint, so his uncle is forced to sell him into slavery, the titular “kidnapping” of the story. As with all slavery stories, this one has a happy ending: a shipwreck.
David survives in the wild along with another unfortunate companion, and eventually they come across Robin Oig, the son of famous Scottish renegade Rob Roy. Oig has great distaste for David’s companion, and it is clear that this can be settled in only one way.
A duel of bagpipes.
I am not sure why we as a civilization have gotten away from settling our disputes with bagpipes, but I can see many advantages to it. Besides the obvious reduction in bloodshed, there’s a bundle of money to be saved (although I’m sure the defense contractors can find many ways to plaid the budget).
We could probably cut down on all those strip searches at the airport as well. If a terrorist wants to smuggle a bagpipe on the plane, what’s the worst that can happen? We have to listen to a few dozen variations of Amazing Grace? I guess if the guy really can’t play, that could be somewhat torturous, but it’s better than being x-rayed all the time or having my toothpaste confiscated.
Eventually David makes his way back to his uncle and tricks Ebenezer into a confession that yes, he had arranged to have David kidnapped. This means that David now gets his rightful inheritance, which he promptly blows on video games and Red Bull.
Up next, #77…