David Balfour goes to the house of Shaws to meet his only relative Mr. Ebenezer Balfour. David soon discovers evidence that his father may have been older than his uncle, thus making himself the rightful heir to the estate. But Ebenezer plans an "accident" so as not to give David's inheritance.
Ebenezer promises to tell David the whole story of his father the next morning. But a ship's cabin boy named Ransome arrives the next day, and tells Ebenezer that Captain Hoseason needs to meet him to discuss business. Ebenezer takes David to where Hoseason awaits, without knowing that his uncle has ordered the captain to kidnap him.
David learns that the Captain plans to sell him when they arrive in the Carolinas. But when the ship strikes a small boat, another man named Alan Breck joins the sailors and offers Hoseason a large sum of money to drop him off on the mainland.
David later overhears the crew plotting to kill Alan and take all his money. He tells Alan what he had heard. The two barricade themselves in the round-house, where Alan kills the murderous Shuan and David wounds Hoseason. As their adventures and misadventure unfold, David and Alan see their differences from one another yet unexpectedly see each other as an ally and a friend.