Il ragazzo rapito (1967)

Texts by Mino Milani

Drawings by Hugo Pratt

This abridgement and adaptation of the novel “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson appeared in “Corriere dei Piccoli” from issue 29 (July, 1967), edizioni Corsera-F.lli Crespi.

This work is undoubtedly less well-known than Treasure Island, but no less compelling. The setting of the adventure is well defined here and starts one morning in June, 1751 at the outset of the sad events that are to befall David Balfour, a young boy who is heir to the large estate of Shaws of which his father, unfortunately deceased, was the owner. The boy’s villainous uncle Ebenezer goes to all lengths to eliminate his young nephew but when his attempts are unsuccessful he has him kidnapped by a ruffian and forcibly embarked on a brig. The poor boy suffers an unending string of unfortunate experiences until his meeting with Alan Breck Stewart, a Scottish pirate fighting for the independence of his homeland. With his help, David manages to frustrate Uncle Ebenezer’s plans and thus become the rightful heir and owner of the Shaws estate. This very complex plot is masterfully rendered by Pratt with images that convey the charm of the arid landscape of the windswept Scottish highlands, the scenes of sea life on board the brig, and especially the wide range of feelings in the boy’s breast, from fear to despair, anguish to desperation; the scene where David is shipwrecked alone on a tiny island lost in the stormy sea is especially noteworthy.