Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped" Chapter 1-15

Vocabulary study list for Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped" (Chapter 1-15).
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definitions & notes only words
  1. true-blue
    marked by unswerving loyalty
    "Why, sir," replied the captain, "I am a true-blue Protestant, and I thank God for it."
  2. catechist
    one who instructs catechumens in preparation for baptism
    He was quite blind, and told me he was a catechist, which should have put me at my ease.
  3. testamentary
    of or relating to a will or testament or bequeathed by a will or testament
    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."
  4. break bread
    have a meal, usually with company
    With what little English he had, he gave me to understand that my shipmates had got safe ashore, and had broken bread in that very house on the day after.
  5. highway robbery
    robbery of travellers on or near a public road
    "That is a very dangerous man," he said; "Duncan Mackiegh is his name; he can shoot by the ear at several yards, and has been often accused of highway robberies, and once of murder."
  6. firelock
    a muzzle loader that had a flintlock type of gunlock
    "The trouble is," resumed the captain, "that all our firelocks, great and little, are in the round-house under this man's nose; likewise the powder.
  7. hornpipe
    an ancient single-reed woodwind; usually made of bone
    He had no sooner seen me than he began to dance some steps of the sea- hornpipe (which I had never before heard of far less seen), snapping his fingers in the air and footing it right cleverly.
  8. embroider
    decorate with needlework
    With the first peep of day I opened my eyes, to find myself in a great chamber, hung with stamped leather, furnished with fine embroidered furniture, and lit by three fair windows.
  9. warlock
    a male witch or demon
    I'm nae warlock, to find a fortune for you in the bottom of a parritch bowl; but just you give me a day or two, and say naething to naebody, and as sure as sure, I'll do the right by you."
  10. feckless
    generally incompetent and ineffectual
    If ye miss that, ye must be as feckless at the sailoring as I have found ye at the fighting.
  11. shrift
    the act of being shriven
    "Ay" said he, "if they got hands on me, it would be a short shrift and a lang tow for Alan!
  12. encumber
    hold back
    At the moment of the blow, the stern had been thrown into the air, and the man (having his hands free, and for all he was encumbered with a frieze overcoat that came below his knees) had leaped up and caught hold of the brig's bowsprit.
  13. haggle
    an instance of intense argument (as in bargaining)
    Last night ye haggled and argle-bargled like an apple-wife; and then passed me your word, and gave me your hand to back it; and ye ken very well what was the upshot.
  14. prayerful
    disposed to pray or appearing to pray
    And as for the last, which is cubical, that'll see you, it's my prayerful wish, into a better land."
  15. colander
    bowl-shaped strainer used to wash or drain foods
    All the while I was eating, and after that when I was drinking the punch, I could scarce come to believe in my good fortune; and the house, though it was thick with the peat-smoke and as full of holes as a colander, seemed like a palace.
  16. rummage
    search haphazardly
    In the cupboard were a few bottles, some apparently of medicine; a great many bills and other papers, which I should willingly enough have rummaged, had I had the time; and a few necessaries that were nothing to my purpose.
  17. blunderbuss
    a short musket of wide bore with a flared muzzle
    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-storey windows.
  18. elegiac
    resembling or characteristic of a lament for the dead
    Indeed, he bore some grudge against the family and friends of Ardshiel, and before he was drunk he read me a lampoon, in very good Latin, but with a very ill meaning, which he had made in elegiac verses upon a person of that house.
  19. trudge
    walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
    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 o
  20. miserly
    characterized by or indicative of lack of generosity
    Now, my uncle seemed so miserly that I was struck dumb by this sudden generosity, and could find no words in which to thank him.
  21. dangle
    hang freely
    The foot of a second fellow, whose legs were dangling through the skylight, struck me at the same time upon the head; and at that I snatched another pistol and shot this one through the thigh, so that he slipped through and tumbled in a lump on his
  22. quibble
    evade the truth of a point by raising irrelevant objections
    "And now to come to the material, or (to make a quibble) to the immaterial.
  23. deride
    treat or speak of with contempt
    To be sure, I would tell him how kindly I had myself been used upon that dry land he was so much afraid of, and how well fed and carefully taught both by my friends and my parents: and if he had been recently hurt, he would weep bitterly and swear to run
  24. circumspect
    heedful of potential consequences
    In yon great, muckle 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.
  25. kinsfolk
    people descended from a common ancestor
    "I confess, sir," said I, "when I was told that I had kinsfolk well-to-do, I did indeed indulge the hope that they might help me in my life.
  26. swordsman
    someone skilled at fencing
    He was the prettiest man of his kindred; and the best swordsman in the Hielands, David, and that is the same as to say, in all the world, I should ken, for it was him that taught me.
  27. lampoon
    ridicule with satire
    Indeed, he bore some grudge against the family and friends of Ardshiel, and before he was drunk he read me a lampoon, in very good Latin, but with a very ill meaning, which he had made in elegiac verses upon a person of that house.
  28. bludgeon
    a club used as a weapon
    The warlock of Essendean, they say, had made a mirror in which men could read the future; it must have been of other stuff than burning coal; for in all the shapes and pictures that I sat and gazed at, there was never a ship, never a seaman with a hairy c
  29. knotty
    tangled in snarls
    I looked, too, at the seamen with the skiff--big brown fellows, some in shirts, some with jackets, some with coloured handkerchiefs about their throats, one with a brace of pistols stuck into his pockets, two or three with knotty bludgeons, and all
  30. wince
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    The captain stood, indeed; but he neither winced nor drew back a foot.
  31. shambles
    a condition of great disorder
    The round-house was like a shambles; three were dead inside, another lay in his death agony across the threshold; and there were Alan and I victorious and unhurt.
  32. huddle
    a disorganized and densely packed crowd
    He lay as he had fallen, all huddled, with one knee up and one arm sprawling abroad; his face had a strange colour of blue, and he seemed to have ceased breathing.
  33. crackle
    make a crackling sound
    But the weeds were new to me--some green, some brown and long, and some with little bladders that crackled between my fingers.
  34. dour
    showing a brooding ill humor
    "In all that time, sir, ye should have learned to know me: I'm a stiff man, and a dour man; but for what ye say the now--fie, fie!--it comes from a bad heart and a black conscience.
  35. upshot
    a phenomenon that is caused by some previous phenomenon
    Last night ye haggled and argle-bargled like an apple-wife; and then passed me your word, and gave me your hand to back it; and ye ken very well what was the upshot.
  36. propagate
    multiply through reproduction
    This I found to be another catechist, but of a different order from the blind man of Mull: being indeed one of those sent out by the Edinburgh Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, to evangelise the more savage places of the Highlands.
  37. pith
    spongelike central cylinder of the stems of flowering plants
    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.
  38. storey
    a structure consisting of a room or set of rooms at a single position along a vertical scale
    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- storey windows.
  39. wildcat
    any small or medium-sized cat resembling the domestic cat and living in the wild
    He said impudently, "No."
    At that I boiled over, and lifted my hand to strike him; and he, drawing a knife from his rags, squatted back and grinned at me like a wildcat.
  40. frieze
    an ornament consisting of a horizontal sculptured band
    At the moment of the blow, the stern had been thrown into the air, and the man (having his hands free, and for all he was encumbered with a frieze overcoat that came below his knees) had leaped up and caught hold of the brig's bowsprit.
  41. vial
    a small bottle that contains a drug
    It is good 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 kee
  42. dearth
    an insufficient quantity or number
    He showed me tattoo marks, baring his breast in the teeth of the wind and in spite of my remonstrances, for I thought it was enough to kill him; he swore horribly whenever he remembered, but more like a silly schoolboy than a man; and boasted of many wild
  43. reputable
    held in high esteem and honor
    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.
  44. skylight
    a window in a roof to admit daylight
    A small window with a shutter on each side, and a skylight in the roof, gave it light by, day; and after dark there was a lamp always burning.
  45. dapper
    marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners
    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.
  46. scuttle
    an entrance equipped with a hatch
    The day being calm and the wind fair, the scuttle was open, and not only the good daylight, but from time to time (as the ship rolled) a dusty beam of sunlight shone in, and dazzled and delighted me.
  47. canny
    showing self-interest and shrewdness in dealing with others
    He is a steady lad,' your father said, 'and a canny goer; and I doubt not he will come safe, and be well lived where he goes.'"
  48. rapine
    the act of despoiling a country in warfare
    They seemed in great poverty; which was no doubt natural, now that rapine was put down, and the chiefs kept no longer an open house; and the roads (even such a wandering, country by--track as the one I followed) were infested with beggars.
  49. computation
    the procedure of calculating
    How long, therefore, I lay waiting to hear the ship split upon some rock, or to feel her reel head foremost into the depths of the sea, I have not the means of computation.
  50. makeshift
    done or made using whatever is available
    All those makeshifts were condemned and punished, for the law was harshly applied, in hopes to break up the clan spirit; but in that out-of-the-way, sea-bound isle, there were few to make remarks and fewer to tell tales.
  51. navigate
    direct carefully and safely
    "That's Mr. Shuan that navigates the brig; he's the finest seaman in the trade, only for drink; and I tell you I believe it!
  52. amaze
    affect with wonder
    It was the spare yard I had got hold of, and I was amazed to see how far I had travelled from the brig.
  53. decoy
    something used to lure fish or other animals
    In a town, he thought every second person a decoy, and every third house a place in which seamen would be drugged and murdered.
  54. nettle
    plant having stinging hairs that cause skin irritation
    It never occurred to him to doubt me, for a Highlander is used to see great gentlefolk in great poverty; but as he had no estate of his own, my words nettled a very childish vanity he had.
  55. Gaelic
    any of several related languages of the Celts in Ireland and Scotland
    And presently he sat down upon the table, sword in hand; the air that he was making all the time began to run a little clearer, and then clearer still; and then out he burst with a great voice into a Gaelic song.
  56. banging
    a continuing very loud noise
    All my watch there was nothing stirring; and by the banging of the helm, I knew they had even no one at the tiller.
  57. rife
    excessively abundant
    "I'm a cold- rife man by my nature; I have a cold blood, sir.
  58. jeopardy
    a source of danger
    Now, I longed to see the inside of a ship more than words can tell; but I was not going to put myself in jeopardy, and I told him my uncle and I had an appointment with a lawyer.
  59. Esquire
    a title of respect for a member of the English gentry ranking just below a knight; placed after the name
    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."
  60. scurry
    move about or proceed hurriedly
    The smell of the hole in which I lay seemed to have become a part of me; and during the long interval since his last visit I had suffered tortures of fear, now from the scurrying of the ship's rats, that sometimes pattered on my very face, and now
  61. rudiment
    the elementary stage of any subject
    "Ye have some rudiments of sense," said Alan, grimly.
  62. rebuff
    a deliberate discourteous act
    Mr. Riach, perhaps from caution, would never suffer me to say another word about my story; the captain, whom I tried to approach, rebuffed me like a dog and would not hear a word; and as the days came and went, my heart sank lower and lower, till I
  63. scabbard
    a sheath for a sword or dagger or bayonet
    The first was full of meal; the second of moneybags and papers tied into sheaves; in the third, with many other things (and these for the most part clothes) I found a rusty, ugly-looking Highland dirk without the scabbard.
  64. piper
    someone who plays the bagpipe
    He's paid the piper."
  65. cutlass
    a short heavy curved sword with one edge
    My uncle got into his hat and coat, and buckled an old rusty cutlass on; and then we trod the fire out, locked the door, and set forth upon our walk.
  66. dominie
    a clergyman; especially a settled minister or parson
    Your father, too, was a man of learning as befitted his position; no man more plausibly conducted school; nor had he 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
  67. fife
    a small high-pitched flute similar to a piccolo
    And there, to my great pleasure and wonder, I beheld a regiment marching to the fifes, every foot in time; an old red-faced general on a grey horse at the one end, and at the other the company of Grenadiers, with their Pope's-hats.
  68. blithe
    carefree and happy and lighthearted
    The other three are gifties that Mrs. Campbell and myself would be blithe of your acceptance.
  69. immaterial
    lacking importance; not mattering one way or the other
    "Be soople, Davie, in things immaterial," said he.
  70. tiller
    someone who prepares the soil for the planting of crops
    All my watch there was nothing stirring; and by the banging of the helm, I knew they had even no one at the tiller.
  71. abate
    become less in amount or intensity
    My clothes were beginning to rot; my stockings in particular were quite worn through, so that my shanks went naked; my hands had grown quite soft with the continual soaking; my throat was very sore, my strength had much abated, and my heart so turn
  72. surety
    something clearly established
    "Nay," said Mr. Campbell, "who can tell that for a surety?
  73. troth
    a solemn pledge of fidelity
    " Troth and indeed, they will do him no harm; the more's the pity!
  74. grenadier
    an infantryman equipped with grenades
    And there, to my great pleasure and wonder, I beheld a regiment marching to the fifes, every foot in time; an old red-faced general on a grey horse at the one end, and at the other the company of Grenadiers, with their Pope's-hats.
  75. fiddler
    someone who manipulates in a nervous or unconscious manner
    He said they would get under way as soon as the ebb set, and expressed his gladness to be out of a port where there were no taverns and fiddlers; but all with such horrifying oaths, that I made haste to get away from him.
  76. sufficiency
    the quality of being enough for the end in view
    He gave me good-morning civilly; and I gave the same to him, smiling down upon him, from the heights of my sufficiency.
  77. Jacobite
    a supporter of James II after he was overthrown or a supporter of the Stuarts
    "So?" said the gentleman in the fine coat: "are ye of the honest party?" (meaning, Was he a Jacobite? for each side, in these sort of civil broils, takes the name of honesty for its own).
  78. grouse
    popular game bird having a plump body and feathered legs
    The good woman set oat-bread before me and a cold grouse, patting my shoulder and smiling to me all the time, for she had no English; and the old gentleman (not to be behind) brewed me a strong punch out of their country spirit.
  79. bristle
    a stiff hair
    While I was hailing the brig, I spied a tract of water lying between us where no great waves came, but which yet boiled white all over and bristled in the moon with rings and bubbles.
  80. seaport
    a sheltered port where ships can take on or discharge cargo
    "Have you no friends?" said I.
    He said he had a father in some English seaport, I forget which.
  81. bereft
    sorrowful through loss or deprivation
    With the clear perception of my plight, there fell upon me a blackness of despair, a horror of remorse at my own folly, and a passion of anger at my uncle, that once more bereft me of my senses.
  82. confuse
    mistake one thing for another
    When I returned again to life, the same uproar, the same confused and violent movements, shook and deafened me; and presently, to my other pains and distresses, there was added the sickness of an unused landsman on the sea.
  83. skiff
    a small boat propelled by oars or by sails or by a motor
    A skiff, however, lay beside the pier, with some seamen sleeping on the thwarts; this, as Ransome told me, was the brig's boat waiting for the captain; and about half a mile off, and all alone in the anchorage, he showed me the Covenant herself.
  84. parley
    a negotiation between enemies
    He was still so engaged when we were hailed by Mr. Riach from the deck, asking for a parley; and I, climbing through the skylight and sitting on the edge of it, pistol in hand and with a bold front, though inwardly in fear of broken glass, hailed h
  85. agility
    the gracefulness of a quick and nimble person or animal
    It showed he had luck and much agility and unusual strength, that he should have thus saved himself from such a pass.
  86. toot
    a blast of a horn
    "Hoot- toot!" said Uncle Ebenezer, "dinnae fly up in the snuff at me.
  87. parole
    a conditional release from imprisonment
    Thereupon I consulted with Alan, and the parley was agreed to and parole given upon either side; but this was not the whole of Mr. Riach's business, and he now begged me for a dram with such instancy and such reminders of his former kindness, that
  88. tribulation
    an annoying or frustrating or catastrophic event
    The warlock of Essendean, they say, had made a mirror in which men could read the future; it must have been of other stuff than burning coal; for in all the shapes and pictures that I sat and gazed at, there was never a ship, never a seaman with a hairy c
  89. replenish
    fill something that had previously been emptied
    All aglow from my bath, I sat down once more beside the fire, which I replenished, and began gravely to consider my position.
  90. sheaf
    a package of several things tied together
    The first was full of meal; the second of moneybags and papers tied into sheaves; in the third, with many other things (and these for the most part clothes) I found a rusty, ugly-looking Highland dirk without the scabbard.

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