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´╗┐Title: In Freedom's Cause : A Story of Wallace and Bruce
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In Freedom's Cause : A Story of Wallace and Bruce" ***

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In Freedom's Cause

G. A. Henty


       I  Glen Cairn
      II  Leaving Home
     III  Sir William Wallace
      IV  The Capture of Lanark
       V  A Treacherous Plot
      VI  The Barns of Ayr
     VII  The Cave in the Pentlands
    VIII  The Council at Stirling
      IX  The Battle of Stirling Bridge
       X  The Battle of Falkirk
      XI  Robert The Bruce
     XII  The Battle of Methven
    XIII  The Castle of Dunstaffnage
     XIV  Colonsay
      XV  A Mission to Ireland
     XVI  An Irish Rising
    XVII  The King's Blood Hound
   XVIII  The Hound Restored
     XIX  The Convent of St. Kenneth
      XX  The Heiress of the Kerrs
     XXI  The Siege of Aberfilly
    XXII  A Prisoner
   XXIII  The Escape from Berwick
    XXIV  The Progress of the War
     XXV  The Capture of a Stronghold
    XXVI  Edinburgh
   XXVII  Bannockburn



There are few figures in history who have individually exercised
so great an influence upon events as William Wallace and Robert
Bruce. It was to the extraordinary personal courage, indomitable
perseverance, and immense energy of these two men that Scotland
owed her freedom from English domination. So surprising were the
traditions of these feats performed by these heroes that it was at
one time the fashion to treat them as belonging as purely to legend
as the feats of St. George or King Arthur.  Careful investigation,
however, has shown that so far from this being the case, almost
every deed reported to have been performed by them is verified by
contemporary historians. Sir William Wallace had the especial bad
fortune of having come down to us principally by the writings of
his bitter enemies, and even modern historians, who should have
taken a fairer view of his life, repeated the cry of the old English
writers that he was a bloodthirsty robber. Mr. W. Burns, however,
in his masterly and exhaustive work, The Scottish War of Independence,
has torn these calumnies to shreds, and has displayed Wallace as
he was, a high minded and noble patriot. While consulting other
writers, especially those who wrote at the time of or but shortly
after the events they record, I have for the most part followed
Burns in all the historical portions of the narrative. Throughout
the story, therefore, wherein it at all relates to Wallace, Bruce,
and the other historical characters, the circumstances and events
can be relied upon as strictly accurate, save only in the earlier
events of the career of Wallace, of which the details that have
come down to us are somewhat conflicting, although the main features
are now settled past question.

Yours sincerely,

Chapter I

Glen Cairn

The village of Glen Cairn was situated in a valley in the broken
country lying to the west of the Pentland Hills, some fifteen miles
north of the town of Lanark, and the country around it was wild
and picturesque.  The villagers for the most part knew little of
the world beyond their own valley, although a few had occasionally
paid visits to Glasgow, which lay as far to the west as Lanark was
distant to the south. On a spur jutting out from the side of the
hill stood Glen Cairn Castle, whose master the villagers had for
generations regarded as their lord.

The glory of the little fortalice had now departed. Sir William
Forbes had been killed on his own hearthstone, and the castle had
been sacked in a raid by the Kerrs, whose hold lay to the southwest,
and who had long been at feud with the Forbeses. The royal power
was feeble, and the Kerrs had many friends, and were accordingly
granted the lands they had seized; only it was specified that Dame
Forbes, the widow of Sir William, should be allowed to reside in
the fortalice free from all let or hindrance, so long as she meddled
not, nor sought to stir up enmity among the late vassals of her
lord against their new masters.

The castle, although a small one, was strongly situated.  The spur
of the hill ran some 200 yards into the valley, rising sharply
some 30 or 40 feet above it. The little river which meandered down
the valley swept completely round the foot of the spur, forming a
natural moat to it, and had in some time past been dammed back, so
that, whereas in other parts it ran brightly over a pebbly bottom,
here it was deep and still. The fortalice itself stood at the
extremity of the spur, and a strong wall with a fortified gateway
extended across the other end of the neck, touching the water on
both sides.  From the gateway extended two walls inclosing a road
straight to the gateway of the hold itself, and between these walls
and the water every level foot of ground was cultivated; this garden
was now the sole remains of the lands of the Forbeses.

It was a narrow patrimony for Archie, the only son of Dame Forbes,
and his lady mother had hard work to keep up a respectable state,
and to make ends meet. Sandy Grahame, who had fought under her
husband's banner and was now her sole retainer, made the most of the
garden patches. Here he grew vegetables on the best bits of ground
and oats on the remainder; these, crushed between flat stones,
furnished a coarse bread.  From the stream an abundance of fish could
always be obtained, and the traps and nets therefore furnished a
meal when all else failed. In the stream, too, swam a score and more
of ducks, while as many chickens walked about the castle yard, or
scratched for insects among the vegetables. A dozen goats browsed
on the hillside, for this was common ground to the village, and
Dame Forbes had not therefore to ask for leave from her enemies,
the Kerrs. The goats furnished milk and cheese, which was deftly
made by Elspie, Sandy's wife, who did all the work indoors, as her
husband did without. Meat they seldom touched.  Occasionally the
resources of the hold were eked out by the present of a little
hill sheep, or a joint of prime meat, from one or other of her old
vassals, for these, in spite of the mastership of the Kerrs, still
at heart regarded Dame Mary Forbes as their lawful mistress, and
her son Archie as their future chief.  Dame Mary Forbes was careful
in no way to encourage this feeling, for she feared above all things
to draw the attention of the Kerrs to her son. She was sure that
did Sir John Kerr entertain but a suspicion that trouble might ever
come from the rivalry of this boy, he would not hesitate a moment
in encompassing his death; for Sir John was a rough and violent
man who was known to hesitate at nothing which might lead to his
aggrandizement. Therefore she seldom moved beyond the outer wall
of the hold, except to go down to visit the sick in the village.
She herself had been a Seaton, and had been educated at the nunnery
of Dunfermline, and she now taught Archie to read and write,
accomplishments by no means common even among the better class in
those days.  Archie loved not books; but as it pleased his mother,
and time often hung heavy on his hands, he did not mind devoting
two or three hours a day to the tasks she set him. At other times
he fished in the stream, wandered over the hills, and brought in
the herbs from which Dame Forbes distilled the potions which she
distributed to the villagers when sick.

Often he joined the lads of the village in their games.  They
all regarded him as their leader; but his mother had pressed upon
him over and over again that on no account was he to assume any
superiority over the others, but to treat them strictly as equals.
Doubtless the Kerrs would from time to time have news of what was
doing in Glen Cairn; and while they would be content to see him
joining in the sports of the village lads, with seemingly no wish
beyond that station, they would at once resent it did they see
any sign on his part of his regarding himself as a chief among the

No inconsiderable portion of Archie's time was occupied in acquiring
the use of arms from Sandy Grahame. His mother, quiet and seemingly
resigned as she was, yet burned with the ambition that he should
some day avenge his father's death, and win back his father's lands.
She said little to him of her hopes; but she roused his spirit by
telling him stories of the brave deeds of the Forbeses and Seatons,
and she encouraged him from his childhood to practise in arms with
Sandy Grahame.

In this respect, indeed, Archie needed no stimulant.  From Sandy
even more than from his mother he had heard of his brave father's
deeds in arms; and although, from the way in which she repressed any
such utterances, he said but little to his mother, he was resolved
as much as she could wish him to be, that he would some day win
back his patrimony, and avenge his father upon his slayers.

Consequently, upon every opportunity when Sandy Grahame could spare
time from his multifarious work, Archie practised with him, with
sword and pike. At first he had but a wooden sword. Then, as his
limbs grew stronger, he practised with a blunted sword; and now
at the age of fifteen Sandy Grahame had as much as he could do to
hold his own with his pupil.

At the time the story opens, in the springtime of the year 1293,
he was playing at ball with some of the village lads on the green,
when a party of horsemen was seen approaching.

At their head rode two men perhaps forty years old, while a lad of
some eighteen years of age rode beside them.  In one of the elder
men Archie recognized Sir John Kerr.  The lad beside him was his
son Allan. The other leader was Sir John Hazelrig, governor of
Lanark; behind them rode a troop of armed men, twenty in number.
Some of the lads would have ceased from their play; but Archie

"Heed them not; make as if you did not notice them.  You need not
be in such a hurry to vail your bonnets to the Kerr."

"Look at the young dogs," Sir John Kerr said to his companion.
"They know that their chief is passing, and yet they pretend that
they see us not."

"It would do them good," his son exclaimed, "did you give your
troopers orders to tie them all up and give them a taste of their
stirrup leathers."

"It would not be worth while, Allan," his father said.  "They will
all make stout men-at-arms some day, and will have to fight under
my banner. I care as little as any man what my vassals think of
me, seeing that whatsoever they think they have to do mine orders.
But it needs not to set them against one needlessly; so let the
varlets go on with their play undisturbed."

That evening Archie said to his mother, "How is it, mother, that
the English knight whom I today saw ride past with the Kerr is
governor of our Scottish town of Lanark?"

"You may well wonder, Archie, for there are many in Scotland
of older years than you who marvel that Scotsmen, who have always
been free, should tolerate so strange a thing.  It is a long story,
and a tangled one; but tomorrow morning I will draw out for you
a genealogy of the various claimants to the Scottish throne, and
you will see how the thing has come about, and under what pretence
Edward of England has planted his garrisons in this free Scotland
of ours."

The next morning Archie did not forget to remind his mother of her

"You must know," she began, "that our good King Alexander had three
children--David, who died when a boy; Alexander, who married a
daughter of the Count of Flanders, and died childless; and a daughter,
Margaret, who married Eric, the young King of Norway. Three years
ago the Queen of Norway died, leaving an only daughter, also named
Margaret, who was called among us the `Maid of Norway,' and who,
at her mother's death, became heir presumptive to the throne, and
as such was recognized by an assembly of the estates at Scone. But
we all hoped that the king would have male heirs, for early last
year, while still in the prime of life, he married Joleta, daughter
of the Count of Drew. Unhappily, on the 19th of March, he attended
a council in the castle of Edinburgh, and on his way back to his
wife at Kinghorn, on a stormy night, he fell over a precipice and
was killed.

"The hopes of the country now rested on the `Maid of Norway,' who
alone stood between the throne and a number of claimants, most of
whom would be prepared to support their claims by arms, and thus
bring unnumbered woes upon Scotland. Most unhappily for the country,
the maid died on her voyage to Scotland, and the succession therefore
became open.

"You will see on this chart, which I have drawn out, the lines by
which the principal competitors--for there were nigh upon a score
of them--claimed the throne.

"Before the death of the maid, King Edward had proposed a marriage
between her and his young son, and his ambassadors met the Scottish
commissioners at Brigham, near Kelso, and on the 18th of July, 1290,
the treaty was concluded. It contained, besides the provisions of
the marriage, clauses for the personal freedom of Margaret should
she survive her husband; for the reversion of the crown failing
her issue; for protection of the rights, laws, and liberties of
Scotland; the freedom of the church; the privileges of crown vassals;
the independence of the courts; the preservation of all charters
and natural muniments; and the holding of parliaments only within
Scotland; and specially provided that no vassal should be compelled
to go forth of Scotland for the purpose of performing homage or
fealty; and that no native of Scotland should for any cause whatever
be compelled to answer, for any breach of covenant or from crime
committed, out of the kingdom.

"Thus you see, my boy, that King Edward at this time fully recognized
the perfect independence of Scotland, and raised no claim to any
suzerainty over it. Indeed, by Article I it was stipulated that
the rights, laws, liberties, and customs of Scotland should remain
for ever entire and inviolable throughout the whole realm and its
marches; and by Article V that the Kingdom of Scotland shall remain
separate and divided from England, free in itself, and without
subjection, according to its right boundaries and marches, as

"King Edward, however, artfully inserted a salvo, `saving the rights
of the King of England and of all others which before the date of
this treaty belong to him or any of them in the marches or elsewhere.'
The Scottish lords raised no objection to the insertion of this
salvo, seeing that it was of general purport, and that Edward
possessed no rights in Scotland, nor had any ever been asserted
by his predecessors--Scotland being a kingdom in itself equal to
its neighbour--and that neither William the Norman nor any of his
successors attempted to set forward any claims to authority beyond
the Border.

"No sooner was the treaty signed than Edward, without warrant
or excuse, appointed Anthony Beck, the warlike Bishop of Durham,
Lieutenant of Scotland, in the name of the yet unmarried pair; and
finding that this was not resented, he demanded that all the places
of strength in the kingdom should be delivered to him. This demand
was not, however, complied with, and the matter was still pending
when the Maid of Norway died. The three principal competitors--Bruce,
Baliol, and Comyn--and their friends, at once began to arm; but
William Fraser, Bishop of St. Andrews, a friend of Baliol, wrote to
King Edward suggesting that he should act as arbitrator, and more
than hinting that if he chose Baliol he would find him submissive
in all things to his wishes.  Edward jumped at the proposal, and
thereupon issued summonses to the barons of the northern counties
to meet him at Norham on the 3d of June; and a mandate was issued
to the sheriffs of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, York,
and Lancaster, to assemble the feudal array at the same rendezvous.

"Now, you know, my son, that, owing to the marriages between royal
families of England and Scotland, there has been a close connection
between the countries. Many Scotch barons have married English
heiresses, and hold lands in both countries, while Scottish maidens
have married English knights. Thus it happens that a great number
of the Scotch nobility are as much Englishmen as Scotchmen, and are
vassals to England for lands held there. Four of the competitors,
John Baliol, Robert Bruce, John Comyn, and William Ross, are all
barons of England as well as of Scotland, and their lands lying
in the north they were, of course, included in the invitation. In
May, Edward issued an invitation to the Bishops of St. Andrews,
Glasgow, and other Scotch nobles to come to Norham, remain there,
and return, specially saying that their presence there was not to
be regarded as a custom through which the laws of Scotland might
in any future time be prejudiced. Hither then came the whole power
of the north of England, and many of the Scotch nobles.

"When the court opened, Roger Brabazon, the king's justiciary,
delivered an address, in which he stated that Edward, as lord
paramount of Scotland, had come there to administer justice between
the competitors for the crown, and concluded with the request that
all present should acknowledge his claim as lord paramount.  The
Scottish nobles present, with the exception of those who were
privy to Edward's designs, were filled with astonishment and dismay
at this pretension, and declared their ignorance of any claim of
superiority of the King of England over Scotland. The king, in a
passion, exclaimed:

"'By holy Edward, whose crown I wear, I will vindicate my just
rights, or perish in the attempt.'

"However, he saw that nothing could be done on the instant, and
adjourned the meeting for three weeks, at the end of which time the
prelates, nobles, and community of Scotland were invited to bring
forward whatever they could in opposition to his claim to supremacy.

"At the time fixed the Scotch nobles again met, but this time on
the Scottish side of the Border, for Edward had gathered together
the whole of the force of the northern counties.

"Besides the four claimants, whose names I have told you, were Sir
John Hastings, Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, William de Vesci,
Robert de Pinkeny, Nicholas de Soulis, Patrick Galythly, Roger de
Mandeville, Florence, Count of Holland, and Eric, King of Norway.
With the exception of Eric, the Count of Holland, Dunbar, and
Galythly, all of these were of Norman extraction, and held possessions
in England.  When the meeting was opened the prelates and nobles
present advanced nothing to disprove Edward's claim to supremacy.
The representatives of the commons, however, did show reason against
the claim, for which, indeed, my son, as every man in Scotland
knows, there was not a shadow of foundation.

"The king's chancellor declared that there was nothing in these
objections to Edward's claim, and therefore he resolved, as lord
paramount, to determine the question of succession. The various
competitors were asked whether they acknowledged Edward as lord
paramount, and were willing to receive his judgment as such; and
the whole of these wretched traitors proceeded to barter their
country for their hopes of a crown, acknowledged Edward as lord
paramount, and left the judgment in his hands.

"Bruce and Baliol received handsome presents for thus tamely
yielding the rights of Scotland. All present at once agreed that
the castles and strongholds of Scotland should be surrendered into
the hands of English commanders and garrisons. This was immediately
done; and thus it is, Archie, that you see an English officer
lording it over the Scotch town of Lanark.

"Then every Scotchman was called upon to do homage to the English
king as his lord paramount, and all who refused to do so were
seized and arrested. Finally, on the 17th of November last, 1292--the
date will long be remembered in Scotland--Edward's judgment
was given at Berwick, and by it John Baliol was declared King of

"Thus for eighteen months Scotland was kept in doubt; and this was
done, no doubt, to enable the English to rivet their yoke upon our
shoulders, and to intimidate and coerce all who might oppose it."

"There were some that did oppose it, mother, were there not?--some
true Scotchmen who refused to own the supremacy of the King of

"Very few, Archie. One Sir Malcolm Wallace, a knight of but small
estate, refused to do so, and was, together with his eldest son,
slain in an encounter with an English detachment under a leader
named Fenwick at Loudon Hill."

"And was he the father of that William Wallace of whom the talk was
lately that he had slain young Selbye, son of the English governor
of Dundee?"

"The same, Archie."

"Men say, mother, that although but eighteen years of age he is of
great stature and strength, of very handsome presence, and courteous
and gentle; and that he was going quietly through the streets when
insulted by young Selbye, and that he and his companions being set
upon by the English soldiers, slew several and made their escape."

"So they say, Archie. He appears from all description of him
to be a remarkable young man, and I trust that he will escape the
vengeance of the English, and that some day he may again strike
some blows for our poor Scotland, which, though nominally under
the rule of Baliol, is now but a province of England."

"But surely, mother, Scotchmen will never remain in such a state
of shameful servitude!"

"I trust not, my son; but I fear that it will be long before we
shake off the English yoke. Our nobles are for the most part of
Norman blood; very many are barons of England; and so great are the
jealousies among them that no general effort against England will
be possible. No, if Scotland is ever to be freed, it will be by
a mighty rising of the common people, and even then the struggle
between the commons of Scotland and the whole force of England aided
by the feudal power of all the great Scotch nobles, would be well
nigh hopeless."

This conversation sank deeply into Archie's mind; day and night
he thought of nothing but the lost freedom of Scotland, and vowed
that even the hope of regaining his father's lands should be
secondary to that of freeing his country. All sorts of wild dreams
did the boy turn over in his mind; he was no longer gay and light
hearted, but walked about moody and thoughtful. He redoubled his
assiduity in the practice of arms; and sometimes when fighting with
Sandy, he would think that he had an English man-at-arms before him,
and would strike so hotly and fiercely that Sandy had the greatest
difficulty in parrying his blows, and was forced to shout lustily
to recall him from the clouds. He no longer played at ball with the
village lads; but, taking the elder of them aside, he swore them
to secrecy, and then formed them into a band, which he called the
Scottish Avengers. With them he would retire into valleys far away
from the village, where none would mark what they were doing, and
there they practised with club and stake instead of broadsword
and pike, defended narrow passes against an imaginary enemy, and,
divided into two parties, did battle with each other.

The lads entered into the new diversion with spirit.  Among the
lower class throughout Scotland the feeling of indignation at the
manner in which their nobles had sold their country to England was
deep and passionate. They knew the woes which English domination
had brought upon Wales and Ireland; and though as yet without a
leader, and at present hopeless of a successful rising, every true
Scotchman was looking forward to the time when an attempt might be
made to throw off the English yoke.

Therefore the lads of Glen Cairn entered heart and soul into
the projects of their "young chief," for so they regarded Archie,
and strove their best to acquire some of the knowledge of the use
of sword and pike which he possessed. The younger lads were not
permitted to know what was going on--none younger than Archie
himself being admitted into the band, while some of the elders were
youths approaching man's estate. Even to his mother Archie did not
breathe a word of what he was doing, for he feared that she might
forbid his proceedings. The good lady was often surprised at the
cuts and bruises with which he returned home; but he always turned
off her questions by muttering something about rough play or a
heavy fall, and so for some months the existence of the Scottish
Avengers remained unsuspected.

Chapter II

Leaving Home

One day when "the Avengers" were engaged in mimic battle in a glen
some two miles from the village they were startled with a loud
shout of "How now, what is this uproar?" Bows were lowered and
hedge stakes dropped; on the hillside stood Red Roy, the henchman
of Sir John Kerr, with another of the retainers. They had been
crossing the hills, and had been attracted by the sound of shouting.
All the lads were aware of the necessity for Archie's avoiding the
notice of the Kerrs, and Andrew Macpherson, one of the eldest of
the lads, at once stepped forward:  "We are playing," he said, "at
fighting Picts against Scots."

This was the case, for the English were so hated that Archie had
found that none would even in sport take that name, and the sides
were accordingly dubbed Scots and Picts, the latter title not being
so repugnant, and the companies changing sides each day.

"It looks as if you were fighting in earnest," Roy said grimly,
"for the blood is streaming down your face."

"Oh, we don't mind a hard knock now and again," Andrew said
carelessly. "I suppose, one of these days, we shall have to go out
under Sir John's banner, and the more hard knocks we have now, the
less we shall care for them then."

"That is so," Roy said; "and some of you will soon be able to handle
arms in earnest. Who are your leaders?" he asked sharply, as his
eye fixed on Archie, who had seated himself carelessly upon a rock
at some little distance.

"William Orr generally heads one side, and I the other."

"And what does that young Forbes do?" Red Roy asked.

"Well, he generally looks on," Andrew replied in a confidential
tone; "he is not much good with the bow, and his lady mother does
not like it if he goes home with a crack across the face, and I
don't think he likes it himself; he is but a poor creature when it
comes to a tussle."

"And it is well for him that he is," Red Roy muttered to himself;
"for if he had been likely to turn out a lad of spirit, Sir John
would have said the word to me before now; but, seeing what he is,
he may as well be left alone for the present.  He will never cause
trouble." So saying, Red Roy strolled away with his companion, and
left the lads to continue their mimic fight.

News travelled slowly to Glen Cairn; indeed, it was only when
a travelling chapman or pedlar passed through, or when one of the
villagers went over to Lanark or Glasgow, carrying the fowls and
other produce of the community to market, that the news came from

Baliol was not long before he discovered that his monarchy was but
a nominal one. The first quarrel which arose between him and his
imperious master was concerning the action of the courts. King Edward
directed that there should be an appeal to the courts at Westminster
from all judgments in the Scottish courts. Baliol protested that it
was specifically agreed by the Treaty of Brigham that no Scotchman
was liable to be called upon to plead outside the kingdom; but
Edward openly declared, "Notwithstanding any concessions made before
Baliol became king, he considered himself at liberty to judge in
any case brought before him from Scotland, and would, if necessary,
summon the King of Scots himself to appear in his presence." He
then compelled Baliol formally to renounce and cancel not only the
Treaty of Brigham, but every stipulation of the kind "known to
exist, or which might be thereafter discovered." Another appeal
followed, and Baliol was cited to appear personally, but refused;
he was thereupon declared contumacious by the English parliament,
and a resolution was passed that three of the principal towns of
Scotland should be "seized," until he gave satisfaction. All this
was a manifest usurpation, even allowing Edward's claims to supremacy
to be well founded.

At this moment Edward became involved in a quarrel with his own
lord superior Phillip, king of France, by whom he was in turned
summoned to appear under the pain of contumacy. Edward met this
demand by a renunciation of allegiance to Phillip and a declaration
of war, and called upon Baliol for aid as his vassal; but Baliol
was also a vassal of the French king, and had estates in France
liable to seizure. He therefore hesitated. Edward further ordered
him to lay an embargo upon all vessels in the ports of Scotland,
and required the attendance of many of the Scottish barons in his
expedition to France. Finding his orders disobeyed, on the 16th
of October Edward issued a writ to the sheriff of Northampton,
"to seize all lands, goods, and chattels of John Baliol and other

The Scotch held a parliament at Scone. All Englishmen holding office
were summarily dismissed. A committee of the estates was appointed
to act as guardian of the kingdom, and Baliol himself was deprived
of all active power; but an instrument was prepared in his name,
reciting the injuries that he and his subjects had sustained at the
hands of the English king, and renouncing all further allegiance.
Following this up, a league was concluded, offensive and defensive,
between the French king and Scotland, represented by the prelates,
nobles, and community. Edward Baliol, the king's son, was contracted
to marry the French king's niece. Phillip bound himself to assist
Scotland against any invasion of England, and the Scotch agreed to
cross the Border in case Edward invaded France.

In making this alliance the Scots took the only step possible; for
they had no choice between fighting England with France as their
ally, or fighting France as the subjects of King Edward. The contest
which was approaching seemed all but hopeless. The population
of England was six times as large as that of Scotland, and Edward
could draw from Ireland and Wales great numbers of troops. The
English were trained to war by constant fighting in France, Ireland,
and Wales; while the Scots had, for a very long period, enjoyed
a profound peace, and were for the most part wholly ignorant of

Edward at once prepared to invade Scotland; in January he seized
the lands owned by Comyn in Northumberland and sold them, directing
the money to be applied to the raising and maintenance of 1000
men-at-arms and 60,000 foot soldiers, and in February issued a writ
for the preparation of a fleet of 100 vessels.

On the 25th of March he crossed the Tweed with 5000 horse and 30,000
foot. The Scotch leaders were, of course, aware of the gathering
storm, and, collecting their forces, attempted a diversion by
crossing the Border to the west and making a raid into Cumberland.
King Edward, however, marched north and besieged Berwick, the richest
and most flourishing of the towns of Scotland. With the exception
of the castle, it was weakly fortified. The attack was commenced
by the fleet, who were, however, repulsed and driven off. A land
assault, led by the king in person, was then made; the walls were
captured, and the town completely sacked. The inhabitants were
butchered without distinction of age, sex, or condition, and even
those who fled to the churches were slain within the sanctuary.
Contemporary accounts differ as to the numbers who perished on this
occasion. Langtoff says 4000; Hemingford, 8000; Knighton, another
English writer, says 17,000; and Matthew of Westminster, 60,000.
Whichever of these writers is correct, it is certain that almost
the whole of the men, women, and children of the largest and most
populous Scottish town were butchered by the orders of the English
king, who issued direct orders that none should be spared.  From
this terrible visitation Berwick, which was before called the
Alexandria of the West, never recovered.  The castle, which was held
by Sir William Douglas, surrendered immediately; and Sir William,
having sworn fealty to the English king, was permitted to depart.

The English army now marched north. Patrick, Earl of Dunbar,
was with King Edward; but his wife, a noble and patriotic woman,
surrendered the castle to the Scots. The Earl of Surrey, with
a powerful army, sat down before it. The Scotch nobles and people
marched in great numbers, but with little order and discipline,
to raise the siege. They were met by Surrey, whose force, inured
to arms, easily routed the Scotch gathering, no fewer than 10,000
being killed in the conflict and retreat. The English army was
joined by 15,000 Welsh and 30,000 from Ireland, and marched through
Scotland, the castles and towns opening their gates to Edward as
he came, and the nobles, headed by James the Stewart, coming in and
doing homage to him. Baliol was forced to appear in the churchyard
of Strath-Cathro, near Montrose, arrayed in regal robes, and to
resign his kingdom to the Bishop of Durham as Edward's representative,
and to repeat the act a few days afterwards at Brechin in presence
of the king himself. He was then, with his son, sent a prisoner to
London, where they were confined in the Tower for several years.
From Brechin Edward marched through the whole of Scotland, visiting
all the principal towns. He had now dropped the title of Lord
Paramount of Scotland, the country being considered as virtually
part of England. Garrisons were placed in every stronghold in the
country, and many new castles were raised to dominate the people.
The public documents were all carried away to England, the great
seal broken in pieces, and the stone of Scone--upon which, for
five hundred years, every Scotch monarch had been crowned--was
carried away to Westminster, where it has ever since formed the
seat of the thrones upon which English monarchs have been crowned.

The tide of war had not passed near Glen Cairn; but the excitement,
as from time to time the news came of stirring events, was very
great. The tidings of the massacre of Berwick filled all with
consternation and grief. Some of the men quitted their homes and
fought at Dunbar, and fully half of these never returned; but great
as was the humiliation and grief at the reverses which had befallen
the Scotch arms, the feeling was even deeper and more bitter at the
readiness with which the whole of the Scotch nobles flocked in to
make their peace with King Edward.

It seemed so incredible that Scotland, which had so long successfully
resisted all invaders, should now tamely yield without a struggle,
that the people could scarce believe it possible that their boasted
freedom was gone, that the kingdom of Scotland was no more, and the
country become a mere portion of England.  Thus, while the nobles
with their Norman blood and connections accepted the new state of
things contentedly enough, well satisfied to have retained rank and
land, a deep and sullen discontent reigned among the people; they
had been betrayed rather than conquered, and were determined that
some day there should be an uprising, and that Scotland would make
a great effort yet for freedom.  But for this a leader was needed,
and until such a one appeared the people rested quiet and bided
their time.

From time to time there came to Glen Cairn tales of the doings of
that William Wallace who had, when the English first garrisoned the
Scottish castles, while Edward was choosing between the competitors
for her throne, killed young Selbye at Dundee, and had been outlawed
for the deed. After that he went and resided with his uncle, Sir
Ronald Crawford, and then with another uncle, Sir Richard Wallace
of Riccarton. Here he gathered a party of young men, eager spirits
like himself, and swore perpetual hostility to the English.

One day Wallace was fishing in the Irvine when Earl Percy, the
governor of Ayr, rode past with a numerous train.  Five of them
remained behind and asked Wallace for the fish he had taken. He
replied that they were welcome to half of them. Not satisfied with
this, they seized the basket and prepared to carry it off. Wallace
resisted, and one of them drew his sword. Wallace seized the staff
of his net and struck his opponent's sword from his hand; this he
snatched up and stood on guard, while the other four rushed upon
him.  Wallace smote the first so terrible a blow that his head was
cloven from skull to collarbone; with the next blow he severed the
right arm of another, and then disabled a third.  The other two
fled, and overtaking the earl, called on him for help; "for," they
said, "three of our number who stayed behind with us to take some
fish from the Scot who was fishing are killed or disabled."

"How many were your assailants?" asked the earl.

"But the man himself," they answered; "a desperate fellow whom we
could not withstand."

"I have a brave company of followers!" the earl said with scorn.
"You allow one Scot to overmatch five of you! I shall not return
to seek for your adversary; for were I to find him I should respect
him too much to do him harm."

Fearing that after this adventure he could no longer remain in
safety with his uncle, Wallace left him and took up his abode in
Lag Lane Wood, where his friends joining him, they lived a wild
life together, hunting game and making many expeditions through the
country. On one occasion he entered Ayr in disguise; in the middle
of a crowd he saw some English soldiers, who were boasting that they
were superior to the Scots in strength and feats of arms. One of
them, a strong fellow, was declaring that he could lift a greater
weight than any two Scots. He carried a pole, with which he offered,
for a groat, to let any Scotchman strike him on the back as hard
as he pleased, saying that no Scotchman could strike hard enough
to hurt him.

Wallace offered him three groats for a blow. The soldier eagerly
accepted the money, and Wallace struck him so mighty a blow that
his back was broken and he fell dead on the ground. His comrades
drew their swords and rushed at Wallace, who slew two with the
pole, and when it broke drew the long sword which was hidden in
his garments, and cut his way through them.

On another occasion he again had a fracas with the English in Ayr,
and after killing many was taken prisoner.  Earl Percy was away,
and his lieutenant did not venture to execute him until his return.
A messenger was sent to the Earl, but returned with strict orders
that nothing should be done to the prisoner until he came back.
The bad diet and foul air of the dungeon suited him so ill, after
his free life in the woods, that he fell ill, and was reduced
to so weak a state that he lay like one dead--the jailer indeed
thought that he was so, and he was carried out to be cast into the
prison burial ground, when a woman, who had been his nurse, begged
his body. She had it carried to her house, and then discovered that
life yet remained, and by great care and good nursing succeeded
in restoring him. In order to prevent suspicion that he was still
alive a fictitious funeral was performed.  On recovering, Wallace
had other frays with the English, all of which greatly increased
his reputation throughout that part of the country, so that more
adherents came to him, and his band began to be formidable. He
gradually introduced an organization among those who were found to
be friendly to the cause, and by bugle notes taken up and repeated
from spot to spot orders could be despatched over a wide extent of
country, by which the members of his band knew whether to assemble
or disperse, to prepare to attack an enemy, or to retire to their

The first enterprise of real importance performed by the band was
an attack by Wallace and fifty of his associates on a party of
soldiers, 200 strong, conveying provisions from Carlisle to the
garrison of Ayr.  They were under the command of John Fenwick,
the same officer who had been at the head of the troop by which
Wallace's father had been killed.  Fenwick left twenty of his men
to defend the wagons, and with the rest rode forward against the
Scots. A stone wall checked their progress, and the Scotch, taking
advantage of the momentary confusion, made a furious charge upon
them with their spears, cutting their way into the midst of them
and making a great slaughter of men and horses. The English rode
round and round them, but the Scots, defending themselves with spear
and sword, stood so staunchly together that the English could not
break through.

The battle was long and desperate, but Wallace killed Fenwick with
his own hand, and after losing nigh a hundred of their number the
English fled in confusion. The whole convoy fell into the hands of
the victors, who became possessed of several wagons, 200 carriage
horses, flour, wine, and other stores in great abundance; with
these they retired into the forest of Clydesdale.

The fame of this exploit greatly increased the number of Wallace's
followers. So formidable did the gathering become that convoys by
land to Ayr were entirely interrupted, and Earl Percy held a council
of the nobility at Glasgow, and consulted them as to what had best
be done. Finally, Sir Ronald Crawford was summoned and told that
unless he induced his nephew to desist from hostilities they should
hold him responsible and waste his lands. Sir Ronald visited the
band in Clydesdale forest, and rather than harm should come upon
him, Wallace and his friends agreed to a truce for two months. Their
plunder was stowed away in places of safety, and a portion of the
band being left to guard it the rest dispersed to their homes.

Wallace returned to his uncle's, but was unable long to remain
inactive, and taking fifteen followers he went with them in disguise
to Ayr.  Wallace, as usual, was not long before he got into a
quarrel. An English fencing master, armed with sword and buckler,
was in an open place in the city, challenging any one to encounter
him. Several Scots tried their fortune and were defeated, and then
seeing Wallace towering above the crowd he challenged him. Wallace
at once accepted, and after guarding himself for some time, with
a mighty sweep of his sword cleft through buckler, arm, headpiece,
and skull.  The English soldiers around at once attacked him; his
friends rallied round him, and after hard fighting they made their
way to the spot where they had left their horses and rode to Lag
Lane Wood.

When Earl Percy heard that Wallace had been the leader in this
fray, and found on inquiry that he had slain the sword player in
fair fight after having been challenged by him, he refused to regard
him as having broken the truce, for he said the soldiers had done
wrong in attacking him. Earl Percy was himself a most gallant
soldier, and the extraordinary personal prowess of Wallace excited
in him the warmest admiration, and he would fain, if it had been
possible, have attached him to the service of England.

As soon as the truce was over Wallace again attacked the English.
For a time he abode with the Earl of Lennox, who was one of the
few who had refused to take the oath of allegiance, and having
recruited his force, he stormed the stronghold called the Peel
of Gargunnock, near Stirling. Then he entered Perth, leaving his
followers in Methven Wood, and hearing that an English reinforcement
was upon the march, formed an ambush, fell upon them, and defeated
them; and pressing hotly upon them entered so close on their heels
into Kincleven Castle, that the garrison had no time to close the
gate, and the place was captured. Great stores and booty were found
here; these were carried to the woods, and the castle was burned
to the ground, as that of Gargunnock had been, as Wallace's force
was too small to enable him to hold these strongholds. Indignant
at this enterprise so close to their walls the English moved out
the whole garrison, 1000 strong, against Wallace, who had with him
but fifty men in all. After a desperate defence, in which Sir John
Butler and Sir William de Loraine, the two officers in command,
were killed by Wallace himself, the latter succeeded in drawing off
his men; 120 of the English were killed in the struggle, of whom
more than twenty are said to have fallen at the hands of Wallace
alone. Many other similar deeds did Wallace perform; his fame grew
more and more, as did the feeling among the Scotch peasantry that
in him they had found their champion and leader.

Archie eagerly drank in the tale of Wallace's exploits, and his soul
was fired by the desire to follow so valiant a leader. He was now
sixteen, his frame was set and vigorous, and exercise and constant
practice with arms had hardened his muscles. He became restless
with his life of inactivity; and his mother, seeing that her quiet
and secluded existence was no longer suitable for him, resolved
to send him to her sister's husband, Sir Robert Gordon, who dwelt
near Lanark.  Upon the night before he started she had a long talk
with him.

"I have long observed, my boy," she said, "the eagerness with
which you constantly practise at arms; and Sandy tells me that he
can no longer defend himself against you. Sandy, indeed is not a
young man, but he is still hale and stout, and has lost but little
of his strength. Therefore it seems that, though but a boy, you may
be considered to have a man's strength, for your father regarded
Sandy as one of the stoutest and most skilful of his men-at-arms.
I know what is in your thoughts; that you long to follow in
your father's footsteps, and to win back the possessions of which
you have been despoiled by the Kerrs. But beware, my boy; you are
yet but young; you have no friends or protectors, save Sir Robert
Gordon, who is a peaceable man, and goes with the times; while
the Kerrs are a powerful family, able to put a strong body in the
field, and having many powerful friends and connections throughout
the country. It is our obscurity which has so far saved you, for
Sir John Kerr would crush you without mercy did he dream that you
could ever become formidable; and he is surrounded by ruthless
retainers, who would at a word from him take your life; therefore
think not for years to come to match yourself against the Kerrs.
You must gain a name and a following and powerful friends before
you move a step in that direction; but I firmly believe that the
time will come when you will become lord of Glencairn and the hills
around it. Next, my boy, I see that your thoughts are ever running
upon the state of servitude to which Scotland is reduced, and have
marked how eagerly you listen to the deeds of that gallant young
champion, Sir William Wallace. When the time comes I would hold
you back from no enterprise in the cause of our country; but at
present this is hopeless.  Valiant as may be the deeds which Wallace
and his band perform, they are as vain as the strokes of reeds upon
armour against the power of England."

"But, mother, his following may swell to an army."

"Even so, Archie; but even as an army it would be but as chaff before
the wind against an English array.  What can a crowd of peasants,
however valiant, do against the trained and disciplined battle of
England.  You saw how at Dunbar the Earl of Surrey scattered them
like sheep, and then many of the Scotch nobles were present. So
far there is no sign of any of the Scottish nobles giving aid or
countenance to Wallace, and even should he gather an army, fear
for the loss of their estates, a jealousy of this young leader,
and the Norman blood in their veins, will bind them to England,
and the Scotch would have to face not only the army of the invader,
but the feudal forces of our own nobles. I say not that enterprises
like those of Wallace do not aid the cause, for they do so greatly
by exciting the spirit and enthusiasm of the people at large, as
they have done in your case. They show them that the English are
not invincible, and that even when in greatly superior numbers
they may be defeated by Scotchmen who love their country. They keep
alive the spirit of resistance and of hope, and prepare the time
when the country shall make a general effort. Until that time
comes, my son, resistance against the English power is vain. Even
were it not so, you are too young to take part in such strife, but
when you attain the age of manhood, if you should still wish to
join the bands of Wallace--that is, if he be still able to make
head against the English--I will not say nay.  Here, my son,
is your father's sword. Sandy picked it up as he lay slain on the
hearthstone, and hid it away; but now I can trust it with you. May
it be drawn some day in the cause of Scotland! And now, my boy,
the hour is late, and you had best to bed, for it were well that
you made an early start for Lanark."

The next morning Archie started soon after daybreak.  On his back
he carried a wallet, in which was a new suit of clothes suitable
for one of the rank of a gentleman, which his mother had with great
stint and difficulty procured for him.  He strode briskly along,
proud of the possession of a sword for the first time. It was in
itself a badge of manhood, for at that time all men went armed.

As he neared the gates of Lanark he saw a party issue out and ride
towards him, and recognized in their leader Sir John Kerr. Pulling
his cap down over his eyes, he strode forward, keeping by the side
of the road that the horsemen might pass freely, but paying no heed
to them otherwise.

"Hallo, sirrah!" Sir John exclaimed, reining in his horse, "who
are you who pass a knight and a gentleman on the highway without
vailing his bonnet in respect?"

"I am a gentleman and the son of a knight," Archie said, looking
fearlessly up into the face of his questioner. "I am Archie Forbes,
and I vail my bonnet to no man living save those whom I respect
and honour."

So saying, without another word he strode forward to the town. Sir
John looked darkly after him.

"Red Roy," he said sternly, turning to one who rode behind him,
"you have failed in your trust. I told you to watch the boy, and
from time to time you brought me news that he was growing up but
a village churl. He is no churl, and unless I mistake me, he will
some day be dangerous. Let me know when he next returns to the
village; we must then take speedy steps for preventing him from
becoming troublesome."

Chapter III

Sir William Wallace

Archie's coming had been expected by Sir Robert Gordon, and he was
warmly welcomed. He had once or twice a year paid short visits to
the house, but his mother could not bring herself to part with him
for more than a few days at a time; and so long as he needed only
such rudiments of learning as were deemed useful at the time, she
herself was fully able to teach them; but now that the time had come
when it was needful that he should be perfected in the exercises
of arms, she felt it necessary to relinquish him.

Sir Robert Gordon had no children of his own, and regarded his
nephew as his heir, and had readily undertaken to provide him with
the best instruction which could be obtained in Lanark. There was
resident in the town a man who had served for many years in the
army of the King of France, and had been master of arms in his
regiment. His skill with his sword was considered marvellous by
his countrymen at Lanark, for the scientific use of weapons was as
yet but little known in Scotland, and he had also in several trials
of skill easily worsted the best swordsmen in the English garrison.

Sir Robert Gordon at once engaged this man as instructor to Archie.
As his residence was three miles from the town, and the lad urged
that two or three hours a day of practice would by no means satisfy
him, a room was provided, and his instructor took up his abode in
the castle. Here, from early morning until night, Archie practised,
with only such intervals for rest as were demanded by his master
himself. The latter, pleased with so eager a pupil, astonished at
first at the skill and strength which he already possessed, and
seeing in him one who would do more than justice to all pains that
he could bestow upon him, grudged no labour in bringing him forward
and in teaching him all he knew.

"He is already an excellent swordsman," he said at the end of
the first week's work to Sir Robert Gordon; "he is well nigh as
strong as a man, with all the quickness and activity of a boy. In
straightforward fighting he needs but little teaching. Of the finer
strokes he as yet knows nothing; but such a pupil will learn as
much in a week as the ordinary slow blooded learner will acquire
in a year. In three months I warrant I will teach him all I know,
and will engage that he shall be a match for any Englishman north
of the Tweed, save in the matter of downright strength; that he will
get in time, for he promises to grow out into a tall and stalwart
man, and it will need a goodly champion to hold his own against
him when he comes to his full growth."

In the intervals of pike and sword play Sir Robert Gordon himself
instructed him in equitation; but the lad did not take to this so
kindly as he did to his other exercises, saying that he hoped he
should always have to fight on foot. Still, as his uncle pointed
out that assuredly this would not be the case, since in battle
knights and squires always fought on horseback, he strove hard to
acquire a firm and steady seat.  Of an evening Archie sat with his
uncle and aunt, the latter reading, the former relating stories of
Scotch history and of the goings and genealogies of great families.
Sometimes there were friends staying in the castle; for Sir Robert
Gordon, although by no means a wealthy knight, was greatly liked,
and, being of an hospitable nature, was glad to have guests in the

Their nearest neighbour was Mistress Marion Bradfute of Lamington,
near Ellerslie. She was a young lady of great beauty. Her father had
been for some time dead, and she had but lately lost her mother,
who had been a great friend of Lady Gordon. With her lived as
companion and guardian an aunt, the sister of her mother.

Mistress Bradfute, besides her estate of Lamington, possessed
a house in Lanark; and she was frequently at Sir Robert's castle,
he having been named one of her guardians under her father's will.
Often in the evening the conversation turned upon the situation
of Scotland, the cruelty and oppression of the English, and the
chances of Scotland some day ridding herself of the domination.

Sir Robert ever spoke guardedly, for he was one who loved not strife,
and the enthusiasm of Archie caused him much anxiety; he often,
therefore, pointed out to him the madness of efforts of isolated
parties like those of Wallace, which, he maintained, advanced in
no way the freedom of the country, while they enraged the English
and caused them to redouble the harshness and oppression of their
rule.  Wallace's name was frequently mentioned, and Archie always
spoke with enthusiasm of his hero; and he could see that, although
Mistress Bradfute said but little, she fully shared his views. It
was but natural that Wallace's name should come so often forward,
for his deeds, his hairbreadth escapes, his marvellous personal
strength and courage, were the theme of talk in every Scotch home;
but at Lanark at present it was specially prominent, for with his
band he had taken up his abode in a wild and broken country known
as Cart Lane Craigs, and more than once he had entered Lanark and
had had frays with the English soldiers there.

It was near a year since the defeat of Dunbar; and although the
feats of Wallace in storming small fortalices and cutting off English
convoys had excited at once hope amongst the Scotch and anger in the
English, the hold of the latter on the conquered country appeared
more settled than ever.  Wallace's adherents had indeed gained in
strength; but they were still regarded as a mere band of outlaws
who might be troublesome, but were in no degree formidable.

Every great town and hold throughout Scotland was garrisoned by
English in force deemed amply sufficient to repress any trouble
which might arise, while behind them was the whole power of England
ready to march north in case it should be needed. It seemed, indeed,
that Scotland was completely and for ever subjugated.

One afternoon, when Archie had escorted Mistress Bradfute to
Lamington, she said to him as he bade her farewell:

"I think you can keep a secret, Master Forbes."

"I trust so," Archie replied.

"I know how much you admire and reverence Sir William Wallace. If
you will come hither this evening, at eight o'clock, you shall see

Archie uttered an exclamation of delight and surprise.

"Mind, Archie, I am telling you a secret which is known only to
Sir William himself and a few of his chosen followers; but I have
obtained his permission to divulge it to you, assuring him that
you can be fully trusted."

"I would lay down my life for him," the lad said.

"I think you would, Archie; and so would I, for Sir William Wallace
is my husband!"

Archie gave a gasp of astonishment and surprise.

"Yes," she repeated, "he is my husband. And now ride back to your
uncle's. I left the piece of embroidery upon which I was working on
your aunt's table. It will be a good excuse for you to ride over
with it this evening." So saying, she sprang lightly from the
pillion on which she had been riding behind Archie. The lad rode
back in wild excitement at the thought that before night he was
to see his hero whose deeds had, for the last three years, excited
his admiration and wonder.

At eight o'clock exactly he drew rein again at Lamington.  He was
at once admitted, and was conducted to a room where the mistress
of the house was sitting, and where beside her stood a very tall
and powerfully built young man, with a singularly handsome face
and a courteous and gentle manner which seemed altogether out of
character with the desperate adventures in which he was constantly

In Scotland the laws of chivalry, as they were strictly observed
in the courts of England and France, did not prevail. Sir William
Wallace had not received the order of knighthood; but in Scotch
families the prefix of Sir descended from father to eldest son, as
it does in the present day with the title of Baronet. Thus William
Wallace, when his father and elder brother were killed, succeeded
to the title.  Knighthoods, or, as we should call them, baronetcies,
were bestowed in Scotland, as in England, for bravery in the field
and distinguished services. The English, with their stricter laws
of chivalry, did not recognize these hereditary titles; and Sir
William Wallace and many of his adherents who bear the prefix of
Sir in all Scotch histories, are spoken of without that title in
contemporary English documents. Archie himself had inherited the
title from his father; and the prefix was, indeed, applied to the
heads of almost all families of gentle blood in Scotland.

"This, Sir William," Marion said, "is Sir Archibald Forbes, of whom
I have often spoken to you as one of your most fervent admirers.
He is a true Scotsman, and he yearns for the time when he may draw
his sword in the cause of his country."

"He is over young yet," Sir William said smiling; "but time will
cure that defect. It is upon the young blood of Scotland that our
hopes rest. The elders are for the most part but half Scotchmen, and
do not feel shame for their country lying at the feet of England;
but from their sons I hope for better things. The example of my
dear friend, Sir John Grahame, is being followed; and I trust that
many young men of good family will soon join them."

"I would that the time had come when I too could do so, sir," Archie
said warmly. "I hope that it will not be long before you may think
me capable of being admitted to the honour of fighting beside you.
Do you not remember that you yourself were but eighteen when you
slew young Selbye?"

"I am a bad example to be followed," Sir William replied with a
smile; "besides, nature made an exception in my case and brought
me to my full strength and stature full four years before the time.
Mistress Marion tells me, however, that you too are strong beyond
your years."

"I have practised unceasingly, sir, with my weapons for the last
two years; and deem me not boastful when I say that my instructor,
Duncan Macleod of Lanark, who is a famous swordsman, says that
I could hold my own and more against any English soldier in the

"I know Duncan by report," Sir William replied, "and that he is a
famous swordsman, having learned the art in France, where they are
more skilled by far than we are in Scotland. As for myself, I must
own that it is my strength rather than my skill which gives me an
advantage in a conflict; for I put my trust in a downright blow,
and find that the skill of an antagonist matters but little, seeing
that my blow will always cleave through sword as well as helm.
Nevertheless I do not decry skill, seeing that between two who
are in any ways equally matched in strength and courage the most
skilful swordsman must assuredly conquer.  Well, since that be the
report of you by Master Duncan, I should think you might even take
to arms at the age that I did myself and when that time comes,
should your intentions hold the same, and the English not have made
an end of me, I shall be right glad to have you by my side. Should
you, in any of your visits to Lanark--whither, Marion tells me, you
ride frequently with Sir Robert Gordon--hear ought of intended
movements of English troops, or gather any news which it may concern
me to know, I pray you to ride hither at once. Marion has always
messengers whom she may despatch to me, seeing that I need great
care in visiting her here, lest I might be surprised by the English,
who are ever upon the lookout for me. And now farewell! Remember
that you have always a friend in William Wallace."

Winter was now at hand, and a week or two later Mistress Marion
moved into her house in Lanark, where Archie, when he rode in,
often visited her. In one of her conversations she told him that
she had been married to Sir William nigh upon two years, and that
a daughter had been born to her who was at present kept by an old
nurse of her own in a cottage hard by Lamington. "I tell you this,
Archie," she said, "for there is no saying at what time calamity
may fall upon us. Sir William is so daring and careless that I
live in constant dread of his death or capture; and did it become
known that I am his wife, doubtless my estate would be forfeited
and myself taken prisoner; and in that case it were well that my
little daughter should find friends."

"I wonder that you do not stay at Lamington," Archie said; "for
Sir William's visits to you here may well be discovered, and both
he and you be put in peril."

"I would gladly do so," she said; "but as you may have heard, Young
Hazelrig, the governor's son, persecutes me with his attentions;
he is moved thereto methinks rather by a desire for my possessions
than any love for myself.  He frequently rode over to Lamington
to see me, and as there are necessarily many there who suspect, if
they do not know, my secret, my husband would be more likely to be
surprised in a lonely house there, than he would be in the city,
where he can always leave or enter our abode by the passage into
a back street unseen by any."

A few days later Archie had ridden into Lanark bearing a message
from his uncle; he had put up his horse, and was walking along the
principal street when he heard a tumult and the clashing of swords;
he naturally hurried up to see what was the cause of the fray, and
he saw Sir William Wallace and a young companion defending themselves
with difficulty against a number of English soldiers led by young
Hazelrig, the son of the governor, and Sir Robert Thorne, one of
his officers. Archie stood for a few moments irresolute; but as
the number of the assailants increased, as fresh soldiers hearing
the sound of the fray came running down the street, and Sir William
and his friend, although they had slain several, were greatly
overmatched, he hesitated no longer, but, drawing his sword, rushed
through the soldiers, and placing himself by the side of Wallace,
joined in the fray. Wallace recognized him with a nod.

"It is sooner than I bargained for, Sir Archie; but you are very
welcome. Ah! that was well smitten, and Duncan did not overpraise
your skill," he exclaimed, as Archie cut down one soldier, and
wounded another who pressed upon him.

"They are gathering in force, Sir William," the knight's companion
said, "and if we do not cut our way through them we shall assuredly
be taken." Keeping near the wall they retreated down the street,
Archie and Sir John Grahame, for it was he, clearing the way, and
Wallace defending the rear. So terrific were the blows he dealt
that the English soldiers shrank back from attacking him.

At this moment two horsemen rode up and reined in their horses to
witness the fray. They were father and son, and the instant the
eyes of the elder fell upon Archie he exclaimed to his son:

"This is good fortune. That is young Forbes fighting by the side
of the outlaw Wallace. I will finish our dispute at once."

So saying he drew his sword, and urged his horse through the
soldiers towards Archie; the latter equally recognized the enemy of
his family. Sir John aimed a sweeping blow at him.  The lad parried
it, and, leaping back, struck at the horse's leg. The animal fell
instantly, and as he did so Archie struck full on the helm of Sir
John Kerr, stretching him on the ground beside his horse.

By this time the little party had retreated down the street until
they were passing the house of Marion Bradfute. The door opened,
and Marion herself cried to them to enter. So hemmed in were they,
indeed, that further retreat was now impossible, and there being
no time for hesitation, Wallace and his companions sprang in before
their assailants could hinder them, and shut the door behind them.

"Marion," Wallace exclaimed, "why did you do this? It mattered
not were I killed or taken; but now you have brought danger upon

"But it mattered much to me. What would life be worth were you
killed? Think not of danger to me. Angry as they may be, they will
hardly touch a woman. But waste no time in talking, for the door
will soon yield to their blows. Fly by the back entrance, while
there is time."

So saying, she hurried them to the back of the house, and without
allowing them to pause for another word almost pushed them out, and
closed the door behind them. The lane was deserted; but the shouts
and clamour of the English soldiers beyond the houses rose loud in
the air. "Quick, Sir William," Sir John Grahame said, "or we shall
be cut off!  They will bethink them of the back way, and send
soldiers down to intercept us."

Such, indeed, was the case, for as they ran they heard shouts behind,
and saw some English soldiers entering the other end of the lane.
In front, however, all was clear, and running on they turned into
another street, and then down to the gate. The guard, hearing the
tumult, had turned out, and seeing them running, strove to bar
their way. Wallace, however, cleared a path by sweeping blows with
his sword, and dashing through the gates into the open country
they were safe. For some distance they ran without checking their
speed, and then as they neared a wood, where they no longer feared
pursuit, they broke into a walk.

"My best thanks to you," Wallace said to Archie. "You have indeed
proved yourself a staunch and skilful swordsman, and Duncan's opinion
is well founded.  Indeed I could wish for no stouter sword beside
me in a fight; but what will you do now? If you think that you were
not recognized you can return to your uncle; but if any there knew
you, you must even then take to the woods with me."

"I was recognized," Archie said in a tone of satisfaction.  "The
armed knight whom you saw attack me was Sir John Kerr, the slayer
of my father and the enemy of my house.  Assuredly he will bring
the news of my share in the fray to the ears of the governor."

"I do not think that he will carry any news for some time," Sir
William replied; "for that blow you gave him on the head must have
well nigh brought your quarrel to an end.  It is a pity your arm
had not a little more weight, for then, assuredly you would have
slain him."

"But the one with him was his son," Archie said, "and would know
me too; so that I shall not be safe for an hour at my uncle's."

"In that case, Sir Archie, you must needs go with me, there being
no other way for it, and truly, now that it is proved a matter of
necessity, I am glad that it has so chanced, since I see that your
youth is indeed no drawback; and Sir John Grahame will agree with
me that there is no better sword in my company."

"Yes, indeed," the young knight said. "I could scarce believe my
eyes when I saw one so young bear himself so stoutly. Without his
aid I could assuredly have made no way through the soldiers who
barred our retreat; and truly his sword did more execution than
mine, although I fought my best. If you will accept my friendship,
young sir, henceforth we will be brothers in arms." Colouring with
pleasure, Archie grasped the hand which the young knight held out
to him.

"That is well said, Sir John," Wallace assented. "Hitherto you and
I have been like brothers; henceforth there will be three of us,
and I foresee that the only difficulty we shall have with this
our youngest relation will be to curb his courage and ardour. Who
knows," he went on sadly, "but that save you two I am now alone in
the world! My heart misgives me sorely as to the fate of Marion; and
were it not for the sake of Scotland, to whom my life is sworn, I
would that I had stopped and died outside her door before I entered
and brought danger upon her head. Had I had time to reflect, methinks
I would have done so; but I heard her call, I saw the open door,
and without time for thought or reflection I leapt in."

"You must not blame yourself, Sir William," Grahame said, "for,
indeed, there was no time for thought; nor will I that it should
have been otherwise, even should harm, which I cannot believe,
befall Mistress Marion.  It is on you that the hopes of Scotland
now rest. You have awakened her spirit and taught the lesson of
resistance. Soon I hope that the fire now smouldering in the breast
of every true Scotsman will burst into flame, and that Scotland
will make a great effort for freedom; but were you to fall now,
despair would seize on all and all hope of a general rising be at
an end."

Wallace made no reply, but strode silently forward. A short distance
farther they came to the spot where three of Wallace's followers
were holding horses, for he had on his entry into Lanark, been
accompanied by another of his party, who had been slain at the
commencement of the fray. Wallace bade Archie mount the spare horse,
and they then rode to Cart Lane Craigs, scarce a word being spoken
on their journey.

Wallace's headquarters were upon a narrow shelf of rock on the face
of a steep and craggy hill. It was well chosen against surprise,
and could be held against sudden attack even by a large force,
since both behind and in front the face of the hill was too steep
to be climbed, and the only approach was by a steep and winding
path which two men could hold against a host. The ledge was some
50 feet long by 12 wide.  At the back a natural depression in the
crags had been deepened so as to form a shallow cave just deep
enough to afford a defense against the weather; here a pile of
heather served as a bed for Wallace, Grahame, and one or two others
of the leaders of his company, and here Wallace told Archie that
his place was to be. On the ledge without were some low arbours of
heather in which lay ten of Wallace's bravest companions; the rest
of his band were scattered among the surrounding hills, or in the
woods, and a bugle note repeated from place to place would call
all together in a short space of time.

Of stores and provisions there was no lack, these having been
obtained in very large quantities from the convoys of supplies and
the castles that had been captured. Money, too, was not wanting,
considerable amounts having fallen into their hands, and the
peasantry through all the country round were glad in every way to
assist the band, whom they regarded as their champions.

Archie sat down by Sir John Grahame, who gave him particulars
regarding the strength of the various bands, their position, the
rules which had been laid down by Wallace for their order, the system
of signals and other particulars; while Wallace paced restlessly up
and down the narrow shelf, a prey to the keenest anxiety. Towards
nightfall two of the men were despatched towards Lanark to endeavour
to find out what had taken place there; but in an hour they returned
with a woman, whom both Sir William and Archie recognized as one of
the female attendants of Marion. A single glance sufficed to tell
her tale. Her face was swollen with crying, and wore a look of
horror as well as of grief.

"She is dead!" Wallace exclaimed in a low voice.

"Alas!" the woman sobbed, "that I should have to tell it.  Yes, my
dear mistress is dead; she was slain by the orders of the governor
himself, for having aided your escape."

A groan burst from Wallace, a cry of horror and indignation from
his followers. The former turned, and without a word strode away
and threw himself upon the heather. The others, heart struck at
the cruel blow which had befallen their chief, and burning with
indignation and rage, could only utter oaths of vengeance and curses
on the English tyrants.

After a time Grahame went to the cave, and putting his hand on
Wallace's shoulder strove to address a few words of consolation to

Sir William rose: "I have done with weeping, Grahame, or rather I
will put off my weeping until I have time for it.  The first thing
to think of is vengeance, and vengeance I swear that I will have.
This night I will strike the first blow in earnest towards freeing
Scotland. It may be that God has willed it that this cruel blow,
which has been struck at me, shall be the means of bringing this
about. Hitherto, although I have hated the English and have fought
against them, it has been but fitfully and without order or method,
seeing that other things were in my heart. Henceforth I will live
but for vengeance and Scotland. Hitherto the English have regarded
me as an outlaw and a brigand. Henceforth they shall view me as an
enemy to be dreaded. Sound the signal of assembly at once. Signify
that as many as are within reach shall gather below in two hours.
There will be but few, for, not dreaming of this, the bands but
two days since dispersed. But even were there none but ourselves
it would suffice. Tonight we will take Lanark."

Chapter IV

The Capture of Lanark

A low shout of enthusiasm rose from Wallace's followers, and they
repeated his words as though it had been a vow: "Tonight we will
take Lanark." The notes of a bugle rang through the air, and Archie
could hear them repeated as by an echo by others far away in the

The next two hours were spent in cooking and eating a meal; then
the party on the ledge descended the narrow path, several of their
number bearing torches. At a short distance from its foot some other
torches were seen, and fifteen men were found gathered together.

In a few words the sad news of what had taken place at Lanark was
related to them and the determination which had been arrived at,
and then the whole party marched away to the west. Archie's heart
beat with excitement as he felt himself engaged in one of the adventures
which had so filled his thoughts and excited his admiration. An
adventure, too, far surpassing in magnitude and importance any in
which Wallace had hitherto been engaged.

It seemed almost like an act of madness for twenty-five men to
attack a city garrisoned by over 500 English troops, defended by
strong walls; but Archie never doubted for a moment that success
would attend the enterprise, so implicit was his confidence in his
leader. When at some little distance from the town they halted,
and Wallace ordered a tree to be felled and lopped of its branches.
It was some eight inches in diameter at the butt and thirty feet
long. A rope had been brought, and this was now cut into lengths
of some four feet. Wallace placed ten of his men on each side of
the tree, and the cords being placed under it, it was lifted and
carried along with them.

Before they started Wallace briefly gave them his orders, so that
no word need be spoken when near the town.  The band were, when
they entered, to divide in three. Sir John Grahame, with a party,
was to make for the dwelling of Sir Robert Thorne. Auchinleck, who
had arrived with the party summoned by the bugle, was to arouse
the town and attack any parties of soldiers in the street, while
Wallace himself was to assault the house of Hazelrig. He bade Archie
accompany him.

Knowing the town well Wallace led the party to the moat at a spot
facing a sally port. They moved without a word being spoken. The
men bearing the tree laid it noiselessly to the ground. Wallace
himself sprang into the moat and swam across. The splash in the
water attracted the attention of a sentry over the gate, who at
once challenged. There was no answer, and the man again shouted,
peering over the wall to endeavour to discover what had caused
the splash. In a few vigorous strokes Wallace was across, hauled
himself up to the sill of the door, and with his heavy battleaxe
smote on the chains which held up the drawbridge. Two mighty blows
and the chains yielded, and the drawbridge fell with a crash across
the moat.

Instantly the men lifted the tree, and dashing across swung it
like a battering ram against the door--half a dozen blows, and
the oak and iron yielded before it. The door was burst in and the
party entered Lanark.  The sentry on the wall had fled at once to
arouse the garrison. Instantly the three leaders started to perform
the tasks assigned to them.  As yet the town lay in profound sleep,
although near the gate windows were opening and heads were being
put out to ascertain the cause of the din. As the Scots ran forward
they shouted "Death to the English, death to the bloody Hazelrig!"
The governor had long been odious for his cruelty and tyranny, and
the murder of Marion Bradfute had that day roused the indignation
of the people to the utmost. Not knowing how small was the force
that had entered the town, but hoping only that deliverers had
arrived, numbers of the burghers rose and armed themselves, and
issued forth into the streets to aid their countrymen. Wallace soon
arrived at the governor's house, and with a few blows with his axe
broke in the door; then he and his followers rushed into the house,
cutting down the frightened men as they started up with sudden
alarm, until he met Sir John Hazelrig, who had snatched up his arms
and hurried from his chamber.

"Villain!" Wallace exclaimed, seizing him by his throat; "your time
has come to make atonement for the murder of my wife."

Then dragging him into the street he called upon the burghers,
who were running up, to witness the execution of their tyrant,
and stepping back a pace smote off his head with his sword. Young
Hazelrig was also killed, as were all soldiers found in the house.
The alarm bells were ringing now, and in a few minutes the armed
burghers swarmed in the street. As the English soldiers, as yet
but scarce awake, and bewildered by this sudden attack, hurried
from their houses, they were fallen upon and slain by Wallace and
the townspeople. Some of those in the larger houses issuing forth
together were able to cut their way through and to make their
escape by the gates; many made for the walls, and dropping in the
moat swam across and escaped; but two hundred and fifty of their
number were left dead in the streets. The town, once cleared of the
English, gave itself up to wild rejoicings; bonfires were lighted
in the streets, the bells were rung, and the wives and daughters
of the citizens issued out to join in their rejoicing and applaud
their liberators.

Wallace held council at once with the chief burghers.  Their talk
was a grave one, for though rejoicing in the liberation of the city,
they could not but perceive that the situation was a serious one.
By the defeat and destruction of the garrison, and the slaying of
the governor, the town would bring upon itself the terrible wrath
of King Edward, and of what he was capable the murdered thousands
at Berwick sufficiently attested. However, the die was cast and there
was no drawing back, and the burghers undertook to put their town
in a state of full defence, to furnish a contingent of men-at-arms to
Wallace, and to raise a considerable sum of money to aid him in the
carrying on of the war; while he on his part undertook to endeavour,
as fast as possible, to prevent the English from concentrating their
forces for a siege of the town, by so harassing their garrisons
elsewhere that none would be able to spare troops for any general

Proclamations were immediately made out in the name of Wallace,
and were sent off by mounted messengers throughout the country.
In these he announced to the people of Scotland that he had raised
the national banner and had commenced a war for the freeing of the
country from the English, and that as a first step he had captured
Lanark. He called upon all true Scotchmen to rally round him.

While the council was being held, the wives of the burghers had
taken the body of Marion from the place where it had been cast,
and where hitherto none had dared to touch it, and had prepared it
for burial, placing it in a stone coffin, such as were in use in
those days, upon a car which was covered with trappings of white and
green boughs.  Soon after daybreak a great procession was formed,
and accompanied by all the matrons and maids of Lanark the body
was conveyed to the church at Ellerslie, and there buried with
the rites of the church. This sad duty ended, Wallace mounted his
horse and rode for Cart Lane Craigs, which he had named as the
rendezvous where all who loved Scotland and would follow him, were
to assemble. Archie rode first to Sir Robert Gordon's. His uncle
received him kindly.

"Ah! my boy," he said, "I feared that your wilful disposition would
have its way. You have embarked young on a stormy course, and none
can say where it will end. I myself have no hope that it can be
successful. Did the English rule depend solely on the troops which
garrison our towns and fortresses, I should believe that Wallace
might possibly expel them; but this is as nothing. Edward can march
a hundred and fifty thousand trained soldiers hither, and how will
it be possible for any gathering of Scotchmen to resist these?
However, you have chosen your course, and as it is too late to
draw back now, I would not dispirit you. Take the best of my horses
from the stable, and such arms and armour as you may choose from
the walls. Here is a purse for your own private needs, and in this
other are a hundred pounds, which I pray you hand to Sir William
Wallace. Fighting never was in my way, and I am too old to begin
now. Tell him, however, that my best wishes are with him. I have
already sent word to all my tenants that they are free, if they
choose, to follow his banner."

"You have plenty of pikes and swords in the armoury, uncle; weapons
will be very useful; can I take some of them?"

"Certainly, Archie, as many as you like. But your aunt wants you
to ride at once to Glen Cairn, to ask your mother to come over here
and take up her abode till the stormy times are over. The news of
last night's doings in Lanark will travel fast, and she will be
terribly anxious. Besides, as the Kerrs are heart and soul with the
English faction, like enough they will take the opportunity of the
disturbed times, and of your being involved in the rising, to destroy
the hold altogether, seeing that so long as it stands there it is
a sort of symbol that their lordship over the lands is disputed."

"The very thing that I was going to ask you, uncle. My mother's
position at Glen Cairn would always be on my mind.  As to the
Kerrs, let them burn the castle if they will. If the rising fail,
and I am killed, the line will be extinct, and it matters little
about our hold. If we succeed, then I shall regain my own, and shall
turn the tables on the Kerrs, and will rebuild Glen Cairn twice as
strong as before. And now can I take a cart to convey the arms?"

"Certainly, Archie; and may they be of service in the cause. You
will, I suppose, conduct your mother hither?"

Archie replied that he should do so, and then at once made his
preparations for the start. His uncle's armoury was well supplied,
and Archie had no difficulty in suiting himself. For work like
that which he would have to do he did not care to encumber himself
with heavy armour, but chose a light but strong steel cap, with a
curtain of mail falling so as to guard the neck and ears, leaving
only the face exposed, and a shirt of the same material. It was
of fine workmanship and of no great weight, and did not hamper
his movements.  He also chose some leg pieces for wearing when on
horseback. He had already his father's sword, and needed only a
light battleaxe and a dagger to complete his offensive equipment.
Then he took down from the racks twenty swords and as many short
pikes, and bonnets strengthened with iron hoops, which, although
light, were sufficient to give much protection to the head. These
were all placed in a light cart, and with one of his uncle's
followers to drive, he took his seat in the cart, and started for
Cart Lane Craigs.

Here he concealed the arms in a thicket, and then went up to speak
to his leader.

"May I take ten men with me to Glen Cairn, Sir William? I am going
to fetch my mother to reside with my uncle until the storm is
over. He has sent you a hundred pounds towards the expenses of the
struggle. I want the guard because it is possible that the Kerrs
may be down there. I hear Sir John was carried away, three hours
after the fight, in a litter; it was well for him that he was not
in Lanark when we took it. But like enough this morning, if well
enough to give orders, he may be sending down to Glen Cairn to see
if I have returned, and may burn the hold over my mother's head."

"Certainly," Sir William replied. "Henceforth I will put twenty
men under your special orders, but for today Sir John Grahame shall
tell off some of his own party. Of course they will go well armed."

Half riding in the cart and half walking by turns, the party reached
Glen Cairn late in the afternoon. The news of the fall of Lanark
had already penetrated even to that quiet village, and there was
great excitement as Archie and his party came in. One of Wallace's
messengers had passed through, and many of the men were preparing
to join him. Dame Forbes was at once proud and grieved when Archie
told her of the share which he had had in the street fray at Lanark,
and in the capture of the town. She was proud that her son should
so distinguish himself, grieved that he should, at so young an
age, have become committed to a movement of whose success she had
but little hope. However, she could not blame him, as it seemed as
if his course had been forced upon him. She agreed to start early
the next morning.

It was well for Archie that he had brought a guard with him,
for before he had been an hour in the hold a boy ran in from the
village saying that a party of the Kerrs was close at hand, and
would be there in a few minutes. Archie set his men at once to pile
up a barricade of stones breast high at the outer gate, and took
his position there with his men. He had scarcely completed his
preparations when the trampling of horses was heard and a party
of ten men, two of whom bore torches, headed by young Allan Kerr,
rode up. They drew rein abruptly as they saw the barricade with
the line of pikes behind it.

"What want you here, Allan Kerr?" Archie said.

"I came in search of you, little traitor," young Kerr replied

"Here I am," Archie said; "why don't you come and take me?"

Allan saw that the number of the defenders of the gate exceeded
that of his own party, and there might, for aught he knew, be more

"I will take you tomorrow," he said.

"Tomorrow never comes," Archie replied with a laugh.  "Your father
thought to take me yesterday. How is the good knight? Not suffering,
I trust, greatly either in body or temper?"

"You shall repent this, Archibald Forbes," Allan Kerr exclaimed
furiously. "It will be my turn next time."

And turning his horse he rode off at full speed, attended by his

"We had best start at once, Master Archie," Sandy Graham said:
"it is eight miles to the Kerrs' hold, and when Allan Kerr returns
there you may be sure they will call out their vassals and will be
here betimes in the morning. Best get another cart from the village,
for your men are weary and footsore, seeing that since yesterday
even they have been marching without ceasing. Elspie will by this
time have got supper ready.  There was a row of ducks and chickens
on the spit when I came away."

"That were best, Sandy. Do you see to their comforts, and aid my
mother pack up such things as she most values, and I will go myself
down to the village for the cart, for I wish to speak with some

Archie had no difficulty in engaging two carts, as he thought that
one would be needed for his mother and what possessions she might
take. Then he went from house to house and saw his old companions,
and told them of his plans, which filled them with delight. Having
done this he returned to the hold, hastily ate the supper which
had been put aside for him, and then saw that his mother's chests,
which contained all her possessions save a few articles of heavy
furniture, were placed in one of the carts. A bed was then laid
on its floor upon which she could sit comfortably. Elspie mounted
with her. Archie, Sandy, and the men took their places in the other
carts, and the party drove off. They had no fear of interruption,
for the Kerrs, ignorant of the number who had arrived with Archie
at Glen Cairn, would not venture to attack until they had gathered
a considerable force, and would not be likely to set out till
morning, and long before that time Dame Forbes would have arrived
at her sister's.

The journey was indeed performed without incident, the escort
leaving them when within two or three miles of Lanark, and making
their way direct to the craigs, whither Archie, the moment he had
seen his mother safely at Sir Robert Gordon's, returned. He did
not mount the craig, but wrapping himself in his cloak lay down at
its foot.

As soon as it was daylight he walked out a mile on the road towards
Glen Cairn. He soon saw a party approaching in military order. They
halted when they reached him. They were twenty in number, and were
the lads of his band at Glen Cairn, ranging between the ages of
sixteen and eighteen.  They had originally been stronger, but some
of the elders had already joined Wallace's followers.

"Now," Archie said, "I can explain matters farther than I did last
night. I have procured arms for you all, and I hope that you will
have opportunities of using them. But though some of you are old
enough to join Wallace's band, there are others whom he might not
deem fit to take part in such desperate enterprises.  Therefore
at first make but little show of your arms. I shall present you to
Sir William, telling him that I have brought you hither to serve
as messengers, and to enter towns held by the English and gather
news, seeing that lads would be less suspected than men. But I
propose farther, what I shall not tell him, that you shall form a
sort of bodyguard to him. He takes not sufficient care of himself,
and is ever getting into perils.  I propose that without his
knowing it, you shall be ever at hand when he goes into danger of
this sort, and may thus prevent his falling into the hands of his
enemies. Now, mind, lads, this is a great and honourable mission.
You must be discreet as well as brave, and ready all of you to give
your lives, if need be, for that of Scotland's champion. Your work
as messengers and scouts will be arduous and wearisome. You must
be quiet and well behaved--remember that boys' tricks and play
are out of place among men engaged in a desperate enterprise. Mingle
not much with the others. Be active and prompt in obeying orders,
and be assured that you will have opportunities of winning great
honour and credit, and of having your full share of hard knocks.
You will, as before, be divided into two companies, William Orr and
Andrew Macpherson being your lieutenants in my absence. You will
obey their orders as implicitly as mine. Cluny, you have, I suppose,
brought, as I bade you last night, some of your sister's garments?"

"Yes, Sir Archie," the boy, who was fair and slight, said, with a
smile on his face.

"That is right. I know you are as hearty and strong as the rest;
but seeing that your face is the smoothest and softest of any,
you will do best should we need one in disguise as a girl. And now
come with me. I will show you where your arms are placed; but at
present you must not take them. If I led you as an armed band to
Wallace he might deem you too young. I must present you merely as
lads whom I know to be faithful and trustworthy, and who are willing
to act as messengers and scouts to his force."

So saying Archie led the band to the thicket where he had placed
their arms, and the lads were pleased when they saw the pikes,
swords, and head pieces. Then he led them up the craig to Wallace.

"Why, whom have you here?" Sir William exclaimed in surprise. "This
will not do, Sir Archie. All lads are not like yourself, and were
I to take such boys into my ranks I should have all the mothers in
Scotland calling out against me."

"I have not brought them to join your ranks, Sir William, although
many of them are stout fellows who might do good service at a
pinch. I have brought them to act as messengers and scouts. They
can carry orders whithersoever you may have occasion to send. They
can act as scouts to warn you of the approach of an enemy; or if
you need news of the state of any of the enemy's garrisons, they
can go thither and enter without being suspected, when a man might
be questioned and stopped. They are all sons of my father's vassals
at Glen Cairn, and I can answer for their fidelity. I will take
them specially under my own charge, and you will ever have a fleet
and active messenger at hand when you desire to send an order."

"The idea is not a bad one," Sir William replied; "and in such a
way a lad may well do the work of a man.  Very well, Sir Archie,
since you seem to have set your mind upon it I will not say nay.
At any rate we can give the matter a trial, understanding that you
take the charge of them and are responsible for them in all ways.
Now, lads," he said turning, "you have heard that your lord, for
he is your rightful lord, and will, if Scotland gains the day, be
your real lord again, has answered for you. It is no boys' play
in which you have taken service, for the English, if they conquer
us, will show no further mercy to you than to others of my band. I
understand then that you are all prepared, if need be, to die for
Scotland. Is this so?"

"We are, sir," the lads exclaimed together.

"Then so be it," Sir William said. "Now, Sir Archie, do you fix
a place for their encampment, and make such other arrangements
as you may think fit. You will, of course, draw rations and other
necessaries for them as regular members of the band."

Archie descended with his troop from the craigs, and chose a spot
where they would be apart from the others. It was a small piece of
ground cut off by the stream which wound at the foot of the craigs,
so that to reach it it was necessary to wade knee deep through the
water. This was no inconvenience to the lads, all of whom, as was
common with their class at the time, were accustomed to go barefoot,
although they sometimes wore a sort of sandal. Bushes were cut
down, and arbours made capable of containing them. The spot was
but a little distance from the foot of the path up the craigs, and
any one descending the path could be seen from it.

Archie gave orders that one was always to be above in readiness to
start instantly with a message; that a sentry was to be placed at
the camp, who was to keep his eyes upon the path, and the moment
the one on duty above was seen to leave, the next upon the list was
to go up and take his place.  None were to wander about the wood,
but all were to remain in readiness for any duty which might be
required. The two lieutenants were charged to drill them constantly
at their exercises so as to accustom them to the weight and handle
of their arms. Two were to be sent off every morning to the depot
where the provisions were issued, to draw food for the whole for
the day, and four were to be posted five miles away on the roads
leading towards the craigs to give warning of the approach of any
enemies. These were to be relieved every six hours. They were to
be entirely unarmed, and none were to issue from the camp with arms
except when specially ordered.

Having made these arrangements, and taking with him one of the band
as the first on duty above, he rejoined Wallace at his post on the

Wallace's numbers now increased fast. On hearing of the fall of
Lanark, and on the receipt of the proclamation calling upon all
true Scotchmen to join him in his effort to deliver their country
from its yoke, the people began to flock in in great numbers. Richard
Wallace of Riccarton and Robert Boyd came in with such force as
they could collect from Kyle and Cunningham, among whom were not
less than 1000 horsemen. Sir John Grahame, Sir John of Tinto, and
Auchinleck assembled about 3000 mounted troops and a large number
of foot, many of whom, however, were imperfectly armed. Sir Ronald
Crawford, Wallace's uncle, being so close to Ayr, could not openly
join him, but secretly sent reinforcements and money. Many other
gentlemen joined with their followers.

The news of the fall of Lanark and of the numbers who were flocking
to join Wallace paralysed the commanders of the English garrisons,
and for a time no steps were taken against him; but news of the
rising was instantly sent to King Edward, who, furious at this
fresh trouble in Scotland, which he had deemed finally conquered,
instantly commenced preparations for another invasion. A body of
troops was at once sent forward from England, and, being strengthened
by bodies drawn from all the garrisons, assembled at Biggar.  The
army was commanded by the Earl of Kent. Heralds were sent to Wallace
offering him not only pardon but an honourable post if he would
submit, but warning him that if he refused this offer he should,
when taken, be treated as a rebel and hung.

Wallace briefly refused submission, and said that he should be
ready to give battle on the following morning.

At daybreak the army set forth, divided into three parts.  Wallace,
with Boyd and Auchinleck, commanded one; Sir John Grahame, with
Wallace of Riccarton, the second; Sir Walter of Newbigging, with his
son David and Sir John Clinto, the third. The cavalry were placed
in front. The footmen, being imperfectly armed and disciplined,
and therefore unable to withstand the first charge of the English,
followed the cavalry.

Before marching forward Wallace called the commanders round him
and charged them earnestly to restrain their men from plunder until
the contest was decided, pointing out that many a battle had been
lost owing to the propensity of those who gained the first advantage
to scatter for plunder. Just as the Scotch were moving, a body of
300 horsemen, well armed and equipped, from Annandale and Eskdale,
led by Halliday, Kirkpatrick, and Jardine, joined them; and with
this accession of strength they marched forward confidently against
the enemy.

Chapter V

A Treacherous Plot

So rapid was the advance of Wallace's army that the English had
scarce time to form when they were upon them. The Scotch charged
with extreme impetuosity among the English ranks, directing the
onslaught principally against the centre, commanded by the Earl of

The English resisted stoutly; but the Earl of Kent was struck down
by Wallace himself, and was with difficulty borne off the field;
and after severe fighting, the whole English army was thrown into
disorder and took to flight. Some hundreds were killed in action,
and many more in the pursuit which followed; this, however, Wallace
would not allow to be pushed too far lest the fugitives should
rally and turn. Then the victorious Scots returned to the English
camp. In this was found a great abundance of provisions, arms,
and other valuable booty. Many of the cattle were killed, and a
sumptuous feast prepared. Then Wallace had the whole of the spoil
carried off into a place of safety in the heart of a neighbouring
bog, and he himself fell back to that shelter.

In the morning the English, who had rallied when the pursuit had
ceased, again advanced, hoping to find Wallace unprepared. They
were now commanded by the Earl of Lancaster, and had received some
reinforcements in the night.  They passed over the scene of the
previous day's battle, and at last came in sight of the Scotch
army. Wallace at first advanced, and then, as if dismayed at their
superior strength, retired to the point where, in order to reach
them, the English would have to cross a portion of the bog. The
surface was covered with moss and long grass, and the treacherous
nature of the ground was unperceived by the English, who, filled
with desire to wipe out their defeat of the preceding day, charged
impetuously against the Scotch line. The movement was fatal, for
as soon as they reached the treacherous ground their horses sunk
to the saddle girths. The Scotch had dismounted on firmer ground
behind, and now advanced to the attack, some working round the
flanks of the morass, others crossing on tufts of grass, and so
fell upon the struggling mass of English. The Earl of Westmoreland
and many others of note were killed, and the Earl of Lancaster,
with the remains of his force, at once retreated south and recrossed
the Border.

Archie had taken no part in the first battle. Wallace had asked
him whether he would fight by his side or take command of a body
of infantry; and he chose the latter alternative. Almost all the
knights and gentlemen were fighting on horse with their followers,
and Archie thought that if these were repulsed the brunt of the fray
would fall upon the infantry. On this occasion, then, he gathered
with his band of lads a hundred or so pikemen, and formed them in
order, exhorting them, whatever happened, to keep together and to
stand stoutly, even against a charge of horse. As the victory was
won entirely by the cavalry he had no opportunity of distinguishing
himself. Upon the second day, however, he did good service,
as he and his lightly armed footmen were able to cross the bog in
places impracticable to the dismounted men-at-arms in their heavy

The victory of Biggar still further swelled Wallace's forces. Sir
William Douglas joined him, and other gentlemen. A great meeting
was held at Forest Kirk, when all the leaders of Wallace's force
were present; and these agreed to acknowledge him as general of
the Scottish forces against England, with the title of Warden of

King Edward was at this time busied with his wars in France, and
was unable to despatch an army capable of effecting the reconquest
of that portion of Scotland now held by Wallace; and as the English
forces in the various garrisons were insufficient for such purpose,
the Earl of Percy and the other leaders proposed a truce. This
was agreed to. Although Wallace was at the head of a considerable
force, Sir William Douglas was the only one among the Scottish
nobles of importance who had joined him; and although the successes
which he had gained were considerable, but little had been really
done towards freeing Scotland, all of whose strong places were
still in the hands of the English, and King Edward had not as yet
really put out his strength.

The greater portion of the army of Wallace was now dispersed.

Shortly afterwards the governor of Ayr issued a notice that a great
council would be held at that town, and all the Scotch gentlemen
of importance in the district were desired to attend. Wallace was
one of those invited; and deeming that the governor might have
some proposition of Edward to lay before them, he agreed to do so.
Although a truce had been arranged, he himself with a band of his
most devoted followers still remained under arms in the forest,
strictly keeping the truce, but holding communications with his friends
throughout the country, urging them to make every preparation, by
collecting arms and exercising their vassals, to take the field with
a better appointed force at the conclusion of the truce. Provisions
and money were in abundance, so large had been the captures effected;
but Wallace was so accustomed to the free life of the woods that he
preferred to remain there to taking up his abode in a town. Moreover,
here he was safe from treachery; for he felt sure that although the
English nobles and leaders would be incapable of breaking a truce,
yet that there were many of lower degree who would not hesitate at
any deed of treachery by which they might gain reward and credit
from their king. Archie's band were found of the greatest service
as messengers; and although he sometimes spent a few days at Sir
Robert Gordon's with his mother, he generally remained by the side
of Wallace. The spot where the Scottish leader was now staying lay
about halfway between Lanark and Ayr.

Archie heard with uneasiness the news of the approaching council,
and Wallace's acceptance of the invitation. The fact that the Earl
of Percy, a very noble knight and gentleman, had been but lately
recalled from the governorship of Ayr and had been replaced by
one of somewhat low degree, Arlouf of Southampton, still further
increased his doubts. It seemed strange that the governorship of so
important a town--a post deemed fitting for Earl Percy--should
be bestowed on such a man, were it not that one was desired who
would not hesitate to perform an action from which any honourable
English gentleman would shrink.

Two days before the day fixed for the council he called Cluny
Campbell and another lad named Jock Farrel to him.

"I have a most important mission for you," he said. "You have heard
of the coming council at Ayr. I wish to find out if any evil is
intended by the governor. For this purpose you two will proceed
thither. You Cluny will put on the garments which you brought with
you; while you Jock had best go as his brother. Here is money. On
your way procure baskets and buy chickens and eggs, and take them
in with you to sell.  Go hither and thither among the soldiers
and hear what they say. Gather whether among the townspeople there
is any thought that foul play may be intended by the English. Two
of the band will accompany you to within a mile of Ayr, and will
remain there in order that you may from time to time send news by
them of aught that you have gathered. Remember that the safety of
Wallace, and with it the future of Scotland, may depend upon your
care and vigilance. I would myself have undertaken the task; but
the Kerrs are now, I hear, in Ayr, and a chance meeting might ruin
all; for whatever the truce between English and Scotch, they would
assuredly keep no truce with me did they meet me. Mind, it is a
great honour that I have done you in choosing you, and is a proof
that I regard you as two of the shrewdest of my band, although the
youngest among them."

Greatly impressed with the importance of their mission, the lads
promised to use their utmost vigilance to discover the intentions
of the governor; and a few minutes later, Cluny being attired in
his sister's clothes, and looking, as Archie laughingly said, "a
better looking girl than she was herself," they started for Ayr,
accompanied by two of their companions. They were to remain there
until the conclusion of the council, but their companions would be
relieved every six hours. Upon their way they procured two baskets,
which they filled with eggs and chickens; and then, leaving their
comrades a mile outside Ayr, fearlessly entered the town.

The council was to take place in a large wooden building some short
distance outside the town, which was principally chosen because it
was thought by the governor that the Scotch gentlemen would have
less reluctance to meet him there than if they were asked to enter
a city with a strong garrison of English.

The first day the lads succeeded in finding out nothing which could
give any countenance to suspicion that treachery was intended. They
had agreed to work separately, and each mingled among the groups
of citizens and soldiers, where the council was the general topic
of conversation.  There was much wonder and speculation as to the
object for which the governor had summoned it, and as to the terms
which he might be expected to propound, but to none did the idea
of treachery or foul play in any way occur; and when at night they
left the town and sent off their message to Archie, the lads could
only say that all seemed fair and honest, and that none either of
the townspeople or soldiers appeared to have the least expectation
of trouble arising at the council.  The following morning they
agreed that Jock should hang round the building in which the council
was to be held, and where preparations for the meeting and for a
banquet which was afterwards to take place were being made, while
Cluny should continue his inquiries within the walls. Jock hid away
his basket and joined those looking on at the preparations. Green
boughs were being carried in for decorating the walls, tables, and
benches for the banquet. These were brought from the town in country
carts, and a party of soldiers under the command of an officer
carried them in and arranged them. Several of the rustics looking
on gave their aid in carrying in the tables, in order that they
might take home to their wives an account of the appearance of the
place where the grand council was to be held. Jock thrust himself
forward, and seizing a bundle of green boughs, entered the barn.
Certainly there was nothing here to justify any suspicions. The
soldiers were laughing and joking as they made the arrangements;
clean rushes lay piled against a wall in readiness to strew over
the floor at the last moment; boughs had been nailed against the
walls, and the tables and benches were sufficient to accommodate
a considerable number.  Several times Jock passed in and out, but
still without gathering a word to excite his suspicions. Presently
Arlouf himself, a powerful man with a forbidding countenance, rode
up and entered the barn. He approached the officer in command of
the preparations; and Jock, pretending to be busy in carrying his
boughs, managed to keep near so as to catch something of their

"Is everything prepared, Harris?"

"Yes, sir; another half hour's work will complete everything."

"Do you think that is strong enough?" the governor asked.

"Ay; strong enough for half a dozen of these half starved Scots."

"One at a time will do," the governor said; and then, after a few
more words, left the barn and rode off to Ayr.

Jock puzzled his head in vain over the meaning of the words he had
heard. The governor had while speaking been facing the door; but
to what he alluded, or what it was that the officer had declared
strong enough to hold half a dozen Scots, Jock could not in the
slightest degree make out. Still the words were strange and might
be important; and he resolved, directly the preparations were
finished and the place closed, so that there could be no chance of
his learning more, to return himself to Archie instead of sending
a message, as much might depend upon his repeating, word for word,
what he had heard, as there was somehow, he felt, a significance in
the manner in which the question had been asked and answered more
than in the words themselves.

Cluny had all day endeavoured in vain to gather any news. He had
the day before sold some of his eggs and chickens at the governor's
house, and towards evening he determined again to go thither and
to make an attempt to enter the house, where he had heard that the
officers of the garrison were to be entertained that evening at a
banquet. "If I could but overhear what is said there, my mind would
be at rest. Certainly nothing is known to the soldiers; but it may
well be that if treachery is intended tomorrow, the governor will
this evening explain his plans to his officers."

He had, before entering the town, again filled up his basket with
the unsold portion of Jock's stock, for which the latter had no
further occasion. The cook at the governor's, when he had purchased
the eggs on the previous day, had bade him call again, as Cluny's
prices were considerably below those in the market. It was late
in the afternoon when he again approached the house. The sentry at
the gate asked no question, seeing a girl with a basket, and Cluny
went round again to the door of the kitchen.

"How late you are, girl!" the cook said angrily. "You told me you
would come again today, and I relied upon you, and when you did
not come it was too late, for the market was closed."

"I was detained, sir," Cluny said, dropping a curtsey; "my mother
is ill, and I had to look after the children and get the dinner
before they went away."

"There, don't waste time talking," the cook said, snatching the
basket from him. "I have no time to count the eggs now; let me know
the tale of them and the chickens at the same price as you charged
yesterday, and come for your money tomorrow; I have no time to pay
now. Here," he called to one of the scullions, "take out these eggs
and chickens quickly, but don't break any, and give the basket to
the girl here."

So saying he hurried off to attend to his cooking.

Cluny looked round. But three paces away a half open door led into
the interior of the house. His resolution was taken in a moment.
Seeing that none were looking at him he stole through the door,
his bare feet falling noiselessly on the stones. He was now in
a spacious hall. On one side was an open door, and within was a
large room with tables spread for a banquet. Cluny entered at once
and looked round for a place of concealment; none was to be seen.
Tablecloths in those days were almost unknown luxuries. The tables
were supported by trestles, and were so narrow that there was
no possibility of hiding beneath them; nor were there hangings or
other furniture behind which he could be concealed. With a beating
heart he turned the handle of a door leading into another apartment,
and found himself in a long and narrow room, used apparently as
the private office of the governor.  There were many heavy chairs
in the room, ranged along the wall, and Cluny crouched in a corner
by the window beside a chair standing there. The concealment was a
poor one, and one searching would instantly detect him; but he had
no fear of a search, for he doubted not that the cook, on missing
him, would suppose that he had left at once, intending to call
for his money and basket together the next morning. It was already
growing dusk, and should no one enter the room for another half
hour he would be hidden in the shadow in the corner of the room;
but it was more probable still that no one would enter.

The time passed slowly on, and the darkness rapidly increased. Through
the door, which Cluny had drawn to but had not tightly closed on
entering, he could hear the voices of the servants as they moved
about and completed the preparations in the banquet hall. Presently
all was quiet, but a faint light gleaming in through the crack
of the door showed that the lights were lit and that all was in
readiness for the banquet. Half an hour later and there was a heavy
trampling of feet and the sound of many voices. The door was suddenly
closed, and Cluny had no doubt that the dinner was beginning. Rising
to his feet he made to the door and listened attentively.

A confused din met his ears, but no distinct words were audible.
He could occasionally faintly hear the clattering of plates and
the clinking of glasses. All this continued for nigh two hours, and
then a sudden quiet seemed to fall upon the assembly. Cluny heard
the door close, and guessed that the banquet was at an end and the
servitors dismissed. Now, if ever, would something of importance
be said within, and Cluny would have given his life to be able to
hear it. Many times he thought of turning the handle and opening
the door an inch or two. Locks in those days were but roughly made;
the slightest sound might attract attention, and in that case not
only would his own life be forfeited, but no news of the governor's
intentions--no matter what they might be--could reach Wallace;
so, almost holding his breath, he lay on the ground and listened
with his ear to the sill of the door. The silence was succeeded by
a steady monotonous sound as of one addressing the others. Cluny
groaned in spirit, for no word could he hear. After some minutes
the murmur ceased, and then many voices were raised together; then
one rose above the rest, and then, distinct and clear, came a voice
evidently raised in anger.

"As you please, Master Hawkins; but if you disobey my orders,
as King Edward's governor here, you will take the consequences. I
shall at once place you in durance, and shall send report to the
king of your mutinous conduct."

"Be that as it may," another voice replied; "whatever befall me, I
tell you, sir, that Thomas Hawkins will take no part in an act of
such foul and dastardly treachery. I am a soldier of King Edward.
I am paid to draw my sword against his enemies, and not to do the
bloody work of a murderer."

"Seize him!" the governor shouted. "Give him in charge to the guard,
to lay in the castle dungeon."

There was a movement of feet now heard, but Cluny waited no
longer. The angry utterances had reached his ear, and knowing that
his mission was accomplished he thought only now of escape before
detection might take place. He had noticed when he entered the room
that the windows were, as was usually the case with rooms on the
lower floors, barred; but he saw also that the bars were wide enough
apart for a lad of his slimness to crawl through. The banqueting
room was raised three steps above the hall, and the room that he
was in was upon the same level; the window was four feet from the
floor, and would therefore be probably seven or eight above the
ground without, which would account for its not being more closely
barred. He speedily climbed up to it and thrust himself through the
bars, but not without immense difficulty and great destruction to
his feminine garments.

"Poor Janet!" Cluny laughed to himself as he dropped from the
window to the ground. "Whatever would she say were she to see the
state of her kirtle and petticoats!"

The moon was young, but the light was sufficient to enable Cluny
to see where he was. The window opened into a lane which ran down
by the side of the governor's house, and he was soon in the principal
street. Already most of the citizens were within their houses. A
few, provided with lanterns, were picking their way along the uneven
pavement.  Cluny knew that it was impossible for him to leave the
town that night; he would have given anything for a rope by which
he might lower himself from the walls, but there was no possibility
of his obtaining one. The appearance of a young girl wandering in
the streets alone at night would at once have attracted attention
and remarks. So Cluny withdrew into a dark archway, and then sat
down until the general silence told him that all had retired to
rest. Then he made his way along the street until he neared the
gateway, and there lying down by the wall he went to sleep.

When the gate was opened in the morning Cluny waited until a few
persons had passed in and out and then approached it.  "Hallo! lass,"
the sergeant of the guard, who was standing there, said. "You are
a pretty figure with your torn clothes!  Why, what has happened to

"If you please, sir," Cluny said timidly, "I was selling my eggs
to the governor's cook, and he kept me waiting, and I did not know
that it was so late, and when I got to the gates they were shut,
and I had nowhere to go; and then, please sir, as I was wandering
about a rough soldier seized me and wanted to kiss me, and of
course I would not let him, and in the struggle he tore my clothes
dreadfully; and some burghers, who heard me scream, came up and the
man left me, and one of the burghers let me sleep in his kitchen,
and I don't know what mother will say to my clothes;" and Cluny
lifted the hem of his petticoat to his eyes.

"It is a shame, lass," the sergeant said good temperedly; "an I
had been there I would have broke the fellow's sconce for him; but
another time, lass, you should not overstay the hour; it is not good
for young girls to be roaming at night in a town full of soldiers.
There, I hope your mother won't beat you, for, after all, it was
the fault of the governor's cook rather than yours."

Cluny pursued his way with a quiet and depressed mien until he was
fairly out of sight of the gates. Then he lifted his petticoats to
a height which would have shocked his sister Janet, to give free
play to his limbs, and at the top of his speed dashed down the road
toward Lanark. He found his two companions waiting at the appointed
spot, but he did not pause a moment.

"Are you mad, Cluny?" they shouted.

And indeed the wild figure, with its tucked up garments, tearing
at full speed along the road, would have been deemed that of a mad
girl by any who had met it.

"Come on!" he shouted. "Come on, it is for life or death!" and
without further word he kept on at full speed.  It was some time
before his companions overtook him, for they were at first too
convulsed by laughter at Cluny's extraordinary appearance to be able
to run. But presently, sobered by the conviction that something of
extreme importance must have happened, they too started at their
best speed, and presently came up with Cluny, upon whose pace the
mile he had already run told heavily.

"For the sake of goodness, Cluny, go slower," one of them panted
out as they came to him. "We have nine miles yet to run, and if we
go on like this we shall break down in another half mile, and have
to walk the rest."

Cluny himself, with all his anxiety to get on, was beginning to
feel the same, and he slackened his pace to a slinging trot, which
in little over an hour brought them to the wood.

Chapter VI

The Barns of Ayr

Archie was anxiously awaiting the arrival of his messenger, for the
three lads were met two miles out by another who had been placed on
watch, and had come on ahead at full speed with the news of their
approach.  The report brought in by Jock Farrell of the words that
he had overheard in the barn prepared for the meeting, had been
reported by Archie to Wallace. Sir John Grahame and the other
gentlemen with him all agreed that they were strange, and his friends
had strongly urged their leader not to proceed to the meeting.
Wallace, however, persisted in his resolution to do so, unless
he received stronger proofs than those afforded by the few words
dropped by the governor and his officer, which might really have
no evil meaning whatever. He could not throw doubt upon the fair
intentions of King Edward's representative, for it might well be
said that it was the grossest insult to the English to judge them
as guilty of the intention of a foul act of treachery upon such
slight foundation as this. "It would be a shame indeed," he said,
"were I, the Warden of Scotland, to shrink from appearing at
a council upon such excuse as this." The utmost that Archie could
obtain from him was that he would delay his departure in the morning
until the latest moment, in order to see if any further news came
from Ayr.

The meeting was to be held at ten o'clock, and until a little before
nine he would not set out. He was in the act of mounting his horse
when Cluny Campbell arrived.

"What are your news, Cluny?" Archie exclaimed, as the lads, panting
and exhausted, ran up.

"There is treachery intended. I overheard the governor say so."

"Come along with me," Archie exclaimed; "you are just in time,
and shall yourself tell the news. Draw your bridle, Sir William,"
he exclaimed as he ran up to the spot where Sir William Wallace,
Grahame, and several other gentlemen were in the act of mounting.
"Treachery is intended--my messenger has overheard it. I know
not his tale, but question him yourself."

Important as was the occasion, the Scottish chiefs could not resist
a smile at the wild appearance of Archie's messenger.

"Is it a boy or a girl?" Wallace asked Archie, "for it might be

"He is one of my band, sir. I sent him dressed in this disguise as
it would be the least suspected. Now, Cluny, tell your own story."

Cluny told his story briefly, but giving word for word the sentences
that he had heard spoken in anger by the governor and his officer.

"I fear there can be no doubt," Wallace said gravely when the
lad had finished--"that foul play of some kind is intended, and
that it would be madness to trust ourselves in the hands of this
treacherous governor.  Would that we had had the news twenty-four
hours earlier; but even now some may be saved. Sir John, will you
gallop, with all your mounted men, at full speed towards Ayr. Send
men on all the roads leading to the council, and warn any who may
not yet have arrived against entering."

Sir John Grahame instantly gave orders to all those who had horses,
to mount and follow him at the top of their speed; and he himself,
with the other gentlemen whose horses were prepared, started at
once at full gallop.

"Sir Archie, do you cause the `assembly' to be sounded, and send
off your runners in all directions to bid every man who can be
collected to gather here this afternoon at three o clock. If foul
play has been done we can avenge, although we are too late to save,
and, by Heavens, a full and bloody revenge will I take."

It was not until two in the afternoon that Sir John Grahame returned.

"The worst has happened; I can read it in your face," Wallace

"It is but too true," Sir John replied. "For a time we could obtain
no information. One of my men rode forward until close to the Barns,
and reported that all seemed quiet there. A guard of soldiers were
standing round the gates, and he saw one of those invited, who had
arrived a minute before him, dismount and enter quietly. Fortunately
I was in time to stop many gentlemen who were proceeding to the
council, but more had entered before I reached there. From time
to time I sent forward men on foot who talked with those who were
standing without to watch the arrivals. Presently a terrible rumour
began to spread among them--whether the truth was known from some
coarse jest by one of the soldiers, or how it came out, I know not.
But as time went on, and the hour was long past when any fresh
arrivals could be expected, there was no longer motive for secrecy,
and the truth was openly told. Each man as he entered was stopped
just inside the door. A noose was dropped over his neck, and he
was hauled up to a hook over the door. All who entered are dead."

A cry of indignation and rage broke from Wallace and those standing
round him, and the Scottish leader again repeated his oath to take
a bloody vengeance for the deed.

"And who are among the murdered?" he asked, after a pause.

"Alas! Sir William," Grahame said, "your good uncle, Sir Ronald
Crawford, the Sheriff of Ayr, is one; and also Sir Richard Wallace
of Riccartoun; Sir Bryce Blair, and Sir Neil Montgomery, Boyd,
Barclay, Steuart, Kennedy, and many others."

Wallace was overwhelmed with grief at the news that both his uncles,
to whom he was greatly attached, had perished. Most of those around
had also lost relatives and friends, and none could contain their
grief and indignation.

"Was my uncle, Sir Robert Gordon, among the victims?" Archie

"No," Sir John replied; "happily he was one of the last who came
along the road."

"Thank God for that!" Archie said earnestly; "my uncle's slowness
has saved his life. He was ever late for business or pleasure, and
my aunt was always rating him for his unpunctuality. She will not
do so again, for assuredly it has saved his life."

The men came in but slowly, for the bands had all dispersed to
their homes, and it was only those who lived within a few miles
who could arrive in time. Little over fifty men had come in by the
hour named. With these Wallace started at once towards Ayr. Archie's
band fell in with their arms, for they too burned to revenge the
massacre, and Wallace did not refuse Archie's request that they
might join.

"Let them come," he said; "we shall want every sword and pike

This was the first time that Wallace had seen the band under arms,
for at the battle of Biggar, Archie had kept them from his sight,
fearing that he might order them from the field.

"They look well, Sir Archie, and in good military order.  Hitherto
I have regarded them but as messengers, and as such they have done
good service indeed; but I see now that you have them in good order,
and that they can do other service on a pinch."

One member of Wallace's band was left behind, with orders to wait
until seven o'clock, and then to bring on as fast as they could
march all who might arrive before that hour. The band marched to
within a mile of the barns. They then halted at a stack of straw,
and sat down while one of Archie's band went forward to see what was
being done. He reported that a great feast, at which the governor
and all the officers of the garrison, with other English dwelling
in town, were present, was just beginning in the great barn where
the massacre had taken place.

Soon after nine o'clock the man who had been left behind, with ten
others, who had come in after Wallace had marched, came up. Each
man, by Wallace's directions, drew a great truss of straw from the
stack, and then the party, now eighty in all, marched toward the
barn. Wallace's instructions were that so soon as the work had
fairly begun, Grahame, with Archie and half the band, was to hurry
off to seize the gate of Ayr, feigning to be a portion of the guard
at the barn.

When they approached the spot they saw that the wooden building was
brightly lit up with lights within, and the English guard, some
fifty in number, were standing carelessly without, or, seated
round fires, were carousing on wine which had been sent out by the
revellers within.

The Scotch stole up quietly. Wallace's party, composed of half the
strength, handed their bundles of straw to the men of Grahame's
company; then with a sudden shout they fell upon the English
soldiers, while Grahame's men, running straight to the door of the
barn, threw down their trusses of straw against it, and Sir John,
snatching down a torch which burned beside the entrance, applied
fire to the mass, and then, without a moment's delay, started at a
run towards the town. Taken wholly by surprise the English soldiers
were slain by Wallace and his men almost before they had time
to seize their arms. Then the Scots gathered round the barn.  The
flames were already leaping up high, and a terrible din of shouts
and cries issued from within. The doors had been opened now, but
those within were unable to force their way across the blazing mass
of straw. Many appeared at the windows and screamed for mercy, and
some leapt out, preferring to fall by the Scottish swords rather
than to await death by fire within.

The flames rose higher and higher, and soon the whole building
was enveloped, and ere many minutes all those who had carried out,
if not planned, the massacre of Ayr had perished. In the meantime
Grahame and his party had reached the gate of Ayr. Bidding others
follow him at a distance of about a hundred yards, he himself, with
Archie and ten of his followers, ran up at full speed.

"Quick!" he shouted to the sentry on the gate. "Lower the bridge
and let us in. We have been attacked by Wallace and the Scots, and
they will speedily be here."

The attention of the guard had already been attracted by the sudden
burst of light by the barns. They had heard distant shouts, and
deemed that a conflagration had broken out in the banqueting hall.
Not doubting for an instant the truth of Grahame's story, they
lowered the drawbridge instantly, and Sir John and his companions
rushed across.

The guard were only undeceived when Grahame and his followers fell
upon them with their heavy broadswords.  They had left their arms
behind when they had assembled on the walls to look at the distant
flames, and were cut down to a man by the Scots. By this time the
rest of Grahame's band had arrived.

So short and speedy had been the struggle that no alarm had been
given in the town. The inmates of a few houses near opened their
windows and looked out.

"Come down as quickly as you may," Sir John said to them; "we have
taken Ayr."

Several of the burghers were soon in the street.

"Now," Sir John said, "do two of you who know the town well go
with me and point out the houses in which the English troops are
quartered; let the others go from house to house, and bid every
man come quickly with his sword to strike a blow for freedom."

Sir John now went round the town with the guides and posted two or
more men at the door of each house occupied by the English. Soon
the armed citizens flocked into the streets, and when sufficient
were assembled the blowing of a horn gave the signal. The doors of
the houses were beaten in with axes, and, pouring in, the Scotch
slew the soldiers before they had scarce awakened from sleep. Very
few of the English in the town escaped to tell of the terrible
retaliation which had been taken for the massacre of Ayr.

One of the few who were saved was Captain Thomas Hawkins. Archie,
mindful of the part which he had taken, and to which, indeed, the
discovery of the governor's intention was due, had hurried direct to
the prison, and when this was, with the rest of the town, taken,
discovered the English officer in chains in a dungeon, and protected
him from all molestation.

The next morning he was brought before Wallace, who expressed to
him his admiration of the honourable course which he had adopted,
gave him a rich present out of the booty which had been captured,
and placed him on a ship bound for England.

A week after the capture of Ayr one of Archie's band came into his
hut. Tears were running down his cheeks, and his face was swollen
with weeping.

"What is it, Jock?" Archie asked kindly.

"Ah! Sir Archie! we have bad news from Glen Cairn.  One has come
hither who says that a few days since the Kerrs, with a following
of their own retainers, came down to the village. Having heard
that some of us had followed you to the wars, they took a list of
all that were missing, and Sir John called our fathers up before
him. They all swore, truly enough, that they knew nought of our
intentions, and that we had left without saying a word to them.
Sir John refused to believe them, and at first threatened to hang
them all.  Then after a time he said they might draw lots, and
that two should die. My father and Allan Cunninghame drew the evil
numbers, and Kerr hung them up to the old tree on the green and put
fire to the rooftrees of all the others. Ah! but there is weeping
and wailing in Glen Cairn!"

Archie was for a while speechless with indignation. He knew well
that this wholesale vengeance had not been taken by the Kerrs because
the sons of the cottagers of Glen Cairn had gone to join the army
of Wallace, but because he deemed them to be still attached to their
old lord; and it was to their fidelity to the Forbeses rather than
to Scotland that they owed the ruin which had befallen them.

"My poor Jock!" he said, "I am grieved, indeed, at this misfortune.
I cannot restore your father's life, but I can from the spoils of
Ayr send a sufficient sum to Glen Cairn to rebuild the cottages
which the Kerrs have destroyed. But this will not be enough--we
will have vengeance for the foul deed. Order the band to assemble
at dusk this evening, and tell Orr and Macpherson to come here to
me at once."

Archie had a long consultation with his two young lieutenants,
whose fathers' cottages had with the others been destroyed.

"What we have to do," Archie said, "we must do alone.  Sir William
has ample employment for his men, and I cannot ask him to weaken
his force to aid me in a private broil; nor, indeed, would any aid
short of his whole band be of use, seeing that the Kerrs can put
three hundred retainers in the field. It is not by open force that
we must fight them, but by fire and harassment. Fighting is out
of the question; but we can do him some damage without giving him
a chance of striking a blow at us. As he has lighted Glen Cairn,
so shall he see fires blazing round his own castle of Aberfilly.
We will not retaliate by hanging his crofters and vassals; but if
he or any of his men-at-arms falls into our hands, we will have
blood for blood."

In the course of the afternoon Archie saw his chief and begged
leave to take his troop away for some time, telling Sir William of
the cruel treatment which the Kerrs had dealt at Glen Cairn, and
his determination to retaliate for the deed.

"Aberfilly is a strong castle, Archie," Wallace said; "at least so
people say, for I have never seen it, so far does it lie removed
from the main roads. But unless by stratagem, I doubt if my force
is strong enough to capture it; nor would I attack were I sure of
capturing it without the loss of a man.  The nobles and landowners
stand aloof from me; but it may be that after I have wrested some
more strong places from the English, they may join me. But I would
not on any account war against one of them now. Half the great
families are united by ties of blood or marriage. The Kerrs, we
know, are related to the Comyns and other powerful families; and
did I lift a hand against them, adieu to my chance of being joined
by the great nobles. No; openly hostile as many of them are, I must
let them go their way, and confine my efforts to attacking their
friends the English. Then they will have no excuse of personal
feud for taking side against the cause of Scotland. But this does
not apply to you. Everyone knows that there has long been a blood
feud between the Forbeses and the Kerrs, and any damage you may
do them will be counted as a private feud. I think it is a rash
adventure that you are undertaking with but a handful of boys,
although it is true that a boy can fire a roof or drive off a
bullock as well as a man. However, this I will promise you, that
if you should get into any scrape I will come with what speed I
can to your rescue, even if it embroil me with half the nobles of
Scotland. You embroiled yourself with all the power of England in
my behalf, and you will not find me slack in the hour of need. But
if I join in the fray it is to rescue my friend Archie Forbes, and
not to war against John Kerr, the ally of the English, and my own

Archie warmly thanked his leader, but assured him that he had no
thought of placing himself in any great peril.

"I am not going to fight," he said, "for the Kerr and his retainers
could eat us up; we shall trust to our legs and our knowledge of
the mountains."

After dark Archie and his band started, and arrived within ten miles
of Aberfilly on the following morning.  They rested till noon, and
then again set out. When they approached one of the outlying farms
of the Kerrs, Archie halted his band, and, accompanied by four of
the stoutest and tallest of their number, went on to the crofter's
house. The man came to the door.

"What would you, young sir?" he said to Archie.

"I would," Archie said, "that you bear a message from me to your

"I know not what your message may be; but frankly, I would rather
that you bore it yourself, especially if it be of a nature to anger
Sir John."

"The message is this," Archie said quietly: "tell him that Archibald
Forbes bids him defiance, and that he will retort upon him and his
the cruelties which he has wrought in Glen Cairn, and that he will
rest not night nor day until he has revenge for the innocent blood
shed and rooftrees ruthlessly burned."

"Then," the crofter said bluntly, "if you be Archibald Forbes, you
may even take your message yourself. Sir John cares not much upon
whose head his wrath lights, and I care not to appear before him
as a willing messenger on such an errand."

"You may tell him," Archie said quietly, "that you are no willing
messenger; for that I told you that unless you did my errand your
house should, before morning, be a heap of smoking ashes. I have
a following hard by, and will keep my word."

The crofter hesitated.

"Do my bidding; and I promise you that whatever may befall the
other vassals of the Kerrs, you shall go free and unharmed."

"Well, if needs must, it must," the crofter said; "and I will
do your bidding, young sir--partly because I care not to see my
house in ruins, but more because I have heard of you as a valiant
youth who fought stoutly by the side of Wallace at Lanark and
Ayr--though, seeing that you are but a lad, I marvel much that you
should be able to hold your own in such wild company. Although
as a vassal of the Kerrs I must needs follow their banner, I need
not tell you, since you have lived so long at Glen Cairn, that the
Kerrs are feared rather than loved, and that there is many a man
among us who would lief that our lord fought not by the side of the
English. However, we must needs dance as he plays; and now I will
put on my bonnet and do your errand. Sir John can hardly blame me
greatly for doing what I needs must."

Great was the wrath of Sir John Kerr when his vassal reported to
him the message with which he had been charged, and in his savage
fury he was with difficulty dissuaded from ordering him to be hung
for bringing such a message. His principal retainers ventured,
however, to point out that the man had acted upon compulsion, and
that the present was not the time, when he might at any moment
have to call upon them to take the field, to anger his vassals, who
would assuredly resent the undeserved death of one of their number.

"It is past all bearing," the knight said furiously, "that an insolent
boy like this should first wound me in the streets of Lanark, and
should then cast his defiance in my teeth--a landless rascal,
whose father I killed, and whose den of a castle I but a month ago
gave to the flames. He must be mad to dare to set his power against
mine. I was a fool that I did not stamp him out long ago; but woe
betide him when we next meet!  Had it not been that I was served
by a fool"--and here the angry knight turned to his henchman, Red
Roy--"this would not have happened. Who could have thought that
a man of your years could have suffered himself to be fooled by a
boy, and to bring me tales that this insolent upstart was a poor
stupid lout! By Heavens! to be thus badly served is enough to make
one mad!"

"Well, Sir John," the man grumbled, "the best man will be sometimes
in error. I have done good service for you and yours, and yet ever
since we met this boy outside the gates of Lanark you have never
ceased to twit me concerning him.  Rest secure that no such error
shall occur again, and that the next time I meet him I will pay him
alike for the wound he gave you and for the anger he has brought
upon my head. If you will give orders I will start at daybreak
with twenty men.  I will take up his trail at the cottage of John
Frazer, and will not give up the search until I have overtaken and
slain him."

"Do so," the knight replied, "and I will forgive your having
been so easily fooled. But this fellow may have some of Wallace's
followers with him, and contemptible as the rabble are, we had best
be on our guard.  Send round to all my vassals, and tell them to
keep good watch and ward, and keep a party of retainers under arms
all night in readiness to sally out in case of alarm."

The night, however, passed quietly. The next day the knight sallied
out with a strong party of retainers, and searched the woods and
lower slopes of the hill, but could find no signs of Archie and
his followers, and at nightfall returned to the castle in a rage,
declaring that the defiance sent him was a mere piece of insolent
bravado. Nevertheless, he kept the horses again saddled all night
ready to issue out at the slightest alarm.  Soon after midnight
flames suddenly burst out at a dozen of the homesteads. At the
warder's shout of alarm Sir John Kerr and his men-at-arms instantly
mounted. The gate was thrown open and the drawbridge lowered, and
Sir John rode out at the head of his following.  He was within a
few feet of the outer end of the drawbridge when the chains which
supported this suddenly snapped. The drawbridge fell into the moat,
plunging all those upon it into the water.

Archie, with his band, after detaching some of their number to fire
the homesteads, had crept up unperceived in the darkness to the
end of the drawbridge, and had noiselessly cut the two projecting
beams upon which its end rested when it was lowered. He had intended
to carry out this plan on the previous night, but when darkness set
in not a breath of wind was stirring, and the night was so still
that he deemed that the operation of sawing through the beams could
not be effected without attracting the attention of the warders
on the wall, and had therefore retreated far up in the recesses of
the hills. The next night, however, was windy, and well suited to
his purpose, and the work had been carried out without attracting
the attention of the warders. When Kerr and his men-at-arms rode
out, the whole weight of the drawbridge and of the horsemen crossing
it was thrown entirely upon the chains, and these yielded to a
strain far greater than they were calculated to support.

The instant the men-at-arms were precipitated into the moat, Archie
and his companions, who had been lying down near its edge, leapt to
their feet, and opened fire with their bows and arrows upon them.
It was well for Sir John and his retainers that they had not stopped to
buckle on their defensive armour. Had they done so every man must
have been drowned in the deep waters. As it was, several were killed
with the arrows, and two or three by the hoofs of the struggling
horses. Sir John himself, with six of the eighteen men who had
fallen into the moat, succeeded in climbing up the drawbridge and
regaining the castle. A fire of arrows was at once opened from the
walls, but Archie and his followers were already out of bowshot;
and knowing that the fires would call in a few minutes to the spot
a number of the Kerr's vassals more than sufficient to crush them
without the assistance of those in the castle, they again made for
the hills, well satisfied with the first blow they had struck at
their enemies.

The rage of Sir John Kerr was beyond all expression.  He had himself
been twice struck by arrows, and the smart of his wounds added to
his fury. By the light of the burning barns the garrison were enabled
to see how small was the party which had made this audacious attack
upon them; and this increased their wrath.  Men were instantly set
at work to raise the drawbridge from the moat, to repair the chains,
and to replace the timbers upon which it rested; and a summons was
despatched to the whole of the vassals to be at the castle in arms
by daybreak.

Again the woods were searched without success, and the band then
divided into five parties, each forty strong.  They proceeded to
explore the hills; but the Pentlands afforded numerous hiding places
to those, like Archie and most of his band, well acquainted with
the country; and after searching till nightfall the parties retired,
worn out and disheartened, to the castle. That night three of the
outlying farms were in flames, and the cattle were slaughtered in
their byres, but no attack was made upon the dwelling houses.  The
following night Sir John distributed the whole of his vassals among
the farms lying farthest from the castle, putting twenty men in
each; but to his fury this time it was five homesteads nearer at
hand which were fired. The instant the first outburst of flame was
discovered the retainers hurried to the spot; but by the time they
reached it no sign of the assailants was visible; the flames had
however taken too good a hold of the various barns and outbuildings
to be extinguished.

Chapter VII

The Cave in the Pentlands

John Kerr was well nigh beside himself with fury.

If this was to go on, the whole of his estate would be harried,
his vassals ruined, and his revenues stopped, and this by a mere
handful of foes. Again he started with his vassals to explore the
hills, this time in parties of ten only, so as to explore thoroughly
a larger space of ground. When at evening the men returned, it was
found that but two men of one of the parties, composed entirely of
men-at-arms from the castle, came back.  They reported that when
in a narrow ravine showers of rocks were hurled down upon them from
both sides.  Four of their number were killed at once, and four
others had fallen pierced by arrows from an unseen foe as they fled
back down the ravine.

"Methinks, Sir John," Red Roy said, "that I know the place where
the Forbeses may have taken up their abode.  When I was a boy I
was tending a herd of goats far up in the hills, and near the pass
where this mischance has today befallen us I found a cave in the
mountain's side. Its entrance was hidden by bushes, and I should
not have found it had not one of the goats entered the bush and
remained there so long that I went to see what he was doing. There
I found a cave. The entrance was but three feet high, but inside
it widened out into a great cavern, where fifty men could shelter.
Perchance Archie Forbes or some of his band may also have discovered
it; and if so, they might well think that no better place of
concealment could be found."

"We will search it tomorrow," the knight said. "Tell the vassals
to gather here three hours before daybreak.  We will start so as
to be there soon after sunrise. If they are on foot again tonight
they will then be asleep.  Did you follow the cave and discover
whether it had any other entrances beyond that by which you entered?"

"I know not," the henchman replied; "it goes a long way into the
hills, and there are several inner passages; but these I did not
explore, for I was alone and feared being lost in them."

The next night some more homesteads were burnt, but this time the
vassals did not turn out, as they had been told to rest until the
appointed hour whatever might befall.

Three hours before daybreak a party of fifty picked men assembled
at the castle, for this force was deemed to be ample.  The two men
who had escaped from the attack on the previous day led the way
to the ravine, and there Red Roy became the guide and led the band
far up the hillside. Had it been possible they would have surrounded
the cave before daylight, but Roy said that it was so long since
he had first found the cave, that he could not lead them there
in the dark, but would need daylight to enable him to recognize
the surroundings. Even when daylight came he was for some time at
fault, but he at last pointed to a clump of bushes, growing on a
broken and precipitous face of rock, as the place where the cave
was situated.

Red Roy was right in his conjecture. Archie had once, when wandering
among the hills, shot at a wild cat and wounded it, and had followed
it to the cave to which it had fled, and seeing it an advantageous
place of concealment had, when he determined to harry the district
of the Kerrs, fixed upon it as the hiding place for his band. Deeming
it possible, however, that its existence might be known to others,
he always placed a sentry on watch; and on the approach of the Kerrs,
Cluny Campbell, who happened to be on guard, ran in and roused the
band with the news that the Kerrs were below. Archie immediately
crept out and reconnoitred them; from the bushes he could see that
his foes were for the present at fault. Sir John himself was standing
apart from the rest, with Red Roy, who was narrowly scrutinizing
the face of the cliff, and Archie guessed at once that they were
aware of the existence of the cavern, though at present they could
not determine the exact spot where it was situated. It was too late
to retreat now, for the face of the hill was too steep to climb
to its crest, and their retreat below was cut off by the Kerrs. He
therefore returned to the cave, leaving Cluny on guard.

"They are not sure as to the situation of the cave yet," he said,
"but they will find it. We can hold the mouth against them for any
time, but they might smoke us out, that is our real danger; or if
they fail in that, they may try starvation.  Do half a dozen of you
take brands at once from the embers and explore all the windings
behind us; they are so narrow and low that hitherto we have not
deemed it worth while to examine them, but now they are really our
only hope; some of them may lead round to the face of the hill,
and in that case we may find some way by which we may circumvent
the Kerrs."

Six of the lads at once started with flaming pine knots, while
Archie returned to the entrance. Just as he took his place there
he saw Red Roy pointing towards the bushes. A minute or two later
Sir John and his followers began to advance. Archie now called out
the rest of his band, who silently took their places in the bushes
beside him. Led by Sir John and his personal retainers, the assailants
approached the foot of the rocks and began to make their way up,
using the utmost precaution to avoid any noise. There was no longer
any need for concealment, and as the foremost of the assailants
began to climb the great boulders at the foot of the precipice,
a dozen arrows from the bush above alighted among them; killing
three and wounding several others. Sir John Kerr shouted to his
men to follow him, and began to clamber up the hill. Several arrows
struck him, but he was sheathed in mail, as were his men-at-arms,
and although several were wounded in the face and two slain they
succeeded in reaching the bushes, but they could not penetrate
further, for as they strove to tear the bushes aside and force an
entry, those behind pierced them with their spears, and as but four
or five assailants at a time could gain a footing and use their
arms they were outnumbered and finally driven back by the defenders.
When Sir John, furious at his discomfiture, rejoined his vassals
below, he found that the assault had already cost him eight of his
best men. He would, however, have again led them to the attack,
but Red Roy said:

"It were best, my lord, to send back and bid fifty of the vassals
to come up hither at once, with bows and arrows.  They can so riddle
those bushes that the defenders will be unable to occupy them to
resist our advance."

"That were a good step," Sir John said; "but even when we gain
the ledge I know not how we shall force our way through the hole,
which you say is but three feet high."

"There is no need to force our way in," Red Roy replied; "each
man who climbs shall carry with him a faggot of wood, and we will
smoke them in their holes like wolves."

"`Tis well thought of, Roy; that assuredly is the best plan.  Send
off at once one of the most fleet footed of the party."

Archie, watching from above, saw the assailants draw back out of
bowshot, and while one of their number started at full speed down
the hillside, the others sat down, evidently prepared to pass some
time before they renewed the attack.  Leaving two of the party on
guard, Archie, with the rest, re-entered the cavern.  The searchers
had just returned and reported that all the various passages came
to nothing, save one, which ascended rapidly and terminated in a
hole which looked as if it had been made by rabbits, and through
which the light of day could be seen.

"Then it is there we must work," Archie said. "I will myself go
and examine it."

The passage, after ascending to a point which Archie judged to
be nigh a hundred feet above the floor of the cave, narrowed to a
mere hole, but two feet high and as much wide. Up this he crawled
for a distance of four or five yards, then it narrowed suddenly
to a hole three or four inches in diameter, and through this, some
three feet farther, Archie could see the daylight through a clump
of heather. He backed himself down the narrow passage again until
he joined his comrades. "Now," he said, "do four of you stay here,
and take it by turns, one after the other, to enlarge the hole
forward to the entrance. As you scrape the earth down you must past
it back handful by handful. Do not enlarge the outer entrance or
disturb the roots of the heather growing there. Any movement might
be noticed by those below. It is lucky, indeed, that the rock ends
just when it gets to its narrowest, and that it is but sandy soil
through which we have to scrape our way.  It will be hard work,
for you have scarce room to move your arms, but you have plenty of
time since we cannot sally out till nightfall."

The hours passed slowly, and about noon the lookout reported that
a number of bowmen were approaching.

"They are going to attack this time under cover of their fire,"
Archie said, "and as I do not wish to hazard the loss of any lives,
we will keep within the cave and let them gain the ledge. They can
never force their way through the narrow entrance. The only thing
I fear is smoke. I purpose that if they light a fire at the mouth
of the cave, we shall retire at once up the passage where we are
working, and block it up at a narrow place a short distance after
it leaves this cavern, with our clothes. You had best take off some
of your things, scrape up the earth from the floor of the cavern,
and each make a stout bundle, so that we can fill up the hole

This was soon done, and the bundles of earth were laid in readiness
at the point upon which their leader had fixed.  In the meantime
Archie had rejoined the lookout.

"They have been scattered for some time," the guard said, "and have
been cutting down bushes and making them into faggots."

"Just what I expected," Archie exclaimed. "The bowmen are joining
them now. We shall soon see them at work."

Sir John Kerr now marshalled his retainers. He and his men-at-arms
drew their swords, and the rest, putting the bundles of faggots on
their shoulders, prepared to follow, while the bowmen fitted their
arrows to the string.

"Fall back inside the cave," Archie said; "it is of no use risking
our lives."

The band now gathered in a half circle, with level spears, round
the entrance. Soon they heard a sharp tapping sound as the arrows
struck upon the rock, then there was a crashing among the bushes.

"Come on!" Sir John Kerr shouted to the vassals. "The foxes have
slunk into their hole." Then came low thuds as the faggots were
cast down. The light which had streamed in through the entrance
gradually became obscure, and the voices of those without muffled.
The darkness grew more intense as the faggots were piled thicker
and thicker; then suddenly a slight odour of smoke was perceived.

"Come along now," Archie said; "they have fired the pile, and there
is no fear of their entrance."

Two of their number, with blazing pine knots, led the way. When
they reached the narrow spot all passed through, Archie and Andrew
Macpherson last; these took the bundles of earth, as the others
passed them along from behind, and built them up like a wall across
the entrance, beating them down as they piled them, so as to make
them set close and fill up every crevice. Several remained over
after the wall was completed; these were opened and the earth crammed
into the crevices between the bags. The smell of smoke had grown
strong before the wall was completed, but it was not too oppressive
to breathe. Holding the torch close to the wall, Archie and his
comrade stopped closely the few places through which they saw that
the smoke was making its way, and soon had the satisfaction of
seeing that the barrier was completely smoke tight.

There was plenty of air in the passage to support life for some
time, but Archie called back to those who were labouring to enlarge
the exit, in order to allow as much fresh air as possible to enter.
A strong guard, with spears, was placed at the barrier, although
Archie deemed that some hours at least would elapse before the Kerrs
could attempt to penetrate the cave. The fire would doubtless be
kept up for some time, and after it had expired it would be long
before the smoke cleared out sufficiently from the cave to allow
of any one entering it. After a time, finding that there was no
difficulty in breathing, although the air was certainly close and
heavy, Archie again set the lads at work widening the entrance,
going up himself to superintend the operation.  Each in turn crept
forward, loosened a portion of the earth with his knife, and then
filling his cap with it, crawled backward to the point where the
passage widened.  It was not yet dark when the work was so far done
that there now remained only a slight thickness of earth, through
which the roots of the heath protruded, at the mouth of the passage,
and a vigorous push would make an exit into the air.  The guard at
the barrier had heard no movement within.  Archie withdrew one of
the bags; but the smoke streamed through so densely that he hastily
replaced it, satisfied that some hours must still elapse before
the assailants would enter the cave. They watched impatiently
the failing light through the hole, and at last, when night was
completely fallen, Archie pushed aside the earth and heather, and
looked around. They were, it seemed to him, on the side of the hill
a few yards from the point where it fell steeply away. The ground
was thickly covered with heather. He soon made his way out and
ordered Andrew Macpherson, who followed him, to remain lying at
the entrance, and to enjoin each, as he passed out, to crawl low
among the heather, so that they might not show against the skyline,
where, dark as it was, they might attract the attention of those
below. Archie himself led the way until so far back from the edge
as to be well out of sight of those in the valley. Then he gained
his feet, and was soon joined by the whole of his band.

"Now," he said, "we will make for Aberfilly; they think us all
cooped up here, and will be rejoicing in our supposed deaths. We
will strike one more blow, and then, driving before us a couple of
score of oxen for the use of the army, rejoin Wallace. Methinks we
shall have taken a fair vengeance for Kerr's doings at Glen Cairn."

The consternation of the few men left in the castle was great when,
three hours after sunset, eight homesteads burst suddenly into
flames. They dared not sally out, and remained under arms until
morning, when Sir John and his band returned more furious than ever,
as they had penetrated the cavern, discovered the barrier which
had cut off the smoke, and the hole by which the foe had escaped;
and their fury was brought to a climax when they found the damage
which had been inflicted in their absence. Many a week passed before
the garrison of Aberfilly and the vassals of the Kerrs were able
to sleep in peace, so great was the scare which Archie's raid had
inflicted upon them.

The truce was now at an end. The indignation excited by the
treachery of the English spread widely through Scotland, and the
people flocked to Wallace's standard in far greater numbers than
before, and he was now able to undertake operations on a greater
scale. Perth, Aberdeen, Brechin, and other towns fell into his
hands, and the castle of Dundee was invested. In the south Sir
William Douglas captured the castles of Sanquhar, Desdeir, and
others, and the rapid successes of the Scots induced a few of the
greater nobles to take the field, such as the Steward of Scotland,
Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell, Sir Richard Lundin, and Wishart,
Bishop of Glasgow.

Wallace was one day lamenting to Archie and his friend Grahame
that the greater nobles still held aloof.  "Above all," he said, "I
would fain see on our side either Comyn or the young Bruce. Baliol
is a captive in London, and it is to Comyn or Bruce that Scotland
must look for her king. So long as only I, a poor knight, am at the
head of this rising, it is but a rebellion against Edward, and its
chances are still so weak that but few men, who have aught to lose,
join us; but if Bruce or Comyn should raise his banner all would
receive him as our future king. Both are lords of wide territories,
and besides the forces they could bring into the field, they would
be joined by many of the principal nobles, although it is true that
the adherents of the other would probably arm for Edward. Still
the thought of a king of their own would inflame the popular mind,
and vast numbers who now hesitate to join a movement supported by
so little authority, would then take up arms."

"Which of the two would you rather?" Archie asked.

"I would rather the Bruce," Wallace said. "His father is an inert
man and a mere cypher, and the death of his grandfather, the
competitor, has now brought him prominently forward. It is true
that he is said to be a strong adherent of England and a personal
favourite of Edward; that he spends much of his time in London; and
is even at the present moment the king's lieutenant in Carrick and
Annandale, and is waging war for him against Sir William Douglas.
Still Comyn is equally devoted to England; he is older, and less
can be hoped from him. Bruce is young; he is said to be of great
strength and skill in arms, and to be one of the foremost knights
in Edward's court. He is, I hear, of noble presence, and is much
loved by those with whom he comes in contact.  Did such a man
determine to break with Edward, and to strive to win the crown
of Scotland as a free gift of her people, instead of as a nominee
of Edward, and to rule over an independent kingdom instead of an
English province, he would attract all hearts to him, and may well
succeed where I, as I foresee, must sooner or later fail."

"But why should you fail when you have succeeded so far?" Archie

"Because I have with me but a small portion of the people of
Scotland. The whole of the northern lords hold aloof, and in the
south Carrick and Annandale and Galloway are hostile. Against me
I have all the power of England, Wales, and Ireland; and although
I may for a time win victories and capture towns I am certain,
Archie, in the end to be crushed."

"And will all our efforts have been in vain?" Archie said, with
tears in his eyes.

"By no means, my brave lad; we shall have lighted the fire of a
national resistance; we shall have shown the people that if Scotland,
divided against herself, and with all her great nobles and their
vassals standing sullenly aloof, can yet for a long time make head
against the English, assuredly when the time shall come, and she
shall rise as one man from the Solway to Caithness, her freedom
will be won. Our lives will not have been thrown away, Archie, if
they have taught this lesson."

Wallace had by this time returned from his expedition farther
north, and his force was in camp near Lanark, which town, when not
engaged in distant enterprises, was regarded as the centre of the
movement. That evening Archie said, that as his leader purposed to
give his troops rest for a week or two, he should go to his uncle's
for a short time.

"And if you can spare them, Sir William, I would fain let my band
go away for the same time. They have now been six months from home."

"Certainly," Wallace said, "they need a rest after their hard work.
They are ever afoot, and have been of immense service."

Having obtained this permission, Archie went to the spot where his
band were encamped. "I have another expedition for you," he said,
"this time all together; when that is over you will be able to go
home for a few days for a rest. They will all be glad to see you,
and may well be proud of you, and I doubt not that the spoil which
you gathered at Ayr and elsewhere will create quite a sensation at
Glen Cairn. There are some of you who are, as I remember in the old
days, good shots with the bow and arrow. Do ten of you who were
the best at home get bows and arrows from the store. Here is an
order for you to receive them, and be all in readiness to march at

The next morning the band set out in a southwesterly direction,
and after a long day's march halted near Cumnock.  In the morning
they started at the same time, observing more caution as they went,
for by the afternoon they had crossed the stream and were within the
boundaries of Carrick. They halted for the night near Crossraguel
Abbey. Here for the first time Archie confided to his followers
the object of their march.

"We are now," he said, "within a few miles of Turnberry Castle, the
residence of Bruce. Sir William has a great desire to speak with
him; but, seeing that Bruce is at present fighting for King Edward
against Douglas, there is little chance of such a meeting coming
about with his goodwill. He has recently returned from Douglasdale.
Here, in the heart of his own country, it is like enough that he
may ride near his castle with but a few horsemen. In that case we
will seize him, without, I trust, having to do him hurt, and will
bear him with us to Lanark. We may have to wait some time before
we find an opportunity; but even if the ten days for which I have
asked, lengthen to as many weeks, Sir William will not grudge the
time we have spent if we succeed. Tomorrow morning let those who
have bows go out in the forest and see if they can shoot a deer;
or failing that, bring in a sheep or two from some of the folds.
As each of you has brought with you meal for ten days, we shall be
able to keep an eye on Turnberry for some time."

The next day Archie, with Andrew Macpherson and Cluny Campbell,
made their way through the woods until within sight of the castle,
which was but a mile distant. The strongholds of the lords of
Carrick stood on a bold promontory washed by the sea.

"It would be a hard nut to crack, Sir Archie," his lieutenant said.
"Unless by famine, the place could scarce be taken."

"No," Archie replied, "I am glad that our mission is rather to
capture the earl than his castle. It is a grand fortalice.  Would
that its owner were but a true Scotchman! This is a good place on
which we are standing, Andrew, to place a scout. Among the trees
here he can watch the road all the way from the castle to the point
where it enters the forest.  Do you, Cluny, take post here at once.
Mark well all that passes, and what is doing, and all bodies of men
who enter or leave the castle. There is no occasion to bring news
to me, for it would be unlikely that we should meet in the forest;
you have therefore only to watch. Tomorrow I shall return with the
band, and encamp in the woods farther back. Directly we arrive,
you will be relieved of your guard."

The following day the band moved up to a spot within half a mile
of the seaward edge of the forest, and a few hundred yards from the
road to Crossraguel Abbey.  It was only on this road that Archie
could hope to effect a capture; for the country near the coast was
free of trees, and no ambush could be set. The lords of Carrick
were, moreover, patrons of the abbey; and Bruce might ride over
thither with but a small party, whereas, if journeying south, or
southeast towards Douglasdale, he would probably be marching with
a strong force. For several days they watched the castle; bodies of
mounted men entered and departed. Twice parties, among whom ladies
could be seen, came out with their hawks; but none came within
reach of their lurking foes.

On the fifth morning, however, the lad on watch ran into the glade
in which they were encamped and reported that a small body of
seemingly two or three knights, with some ladies, followed by four
mounted men, had left the castle and were approaching by the route
towards the abbey.

Not a moment was lost. Archie placed six of his company, with pike
and sword, close to the road, to form across it when he gave the
order, and to bar the retreat of any party who had passed. Another
party of equal strength he placed 100 yards further on, and with
them himself took post; while he placed four, armed with bows and
arrows, on either side, near the party which he commanded. Scarcely
had his preparations been made when a trampling of horses was heard,
and the party were seen approaching. They consisted of Robert Bruce,
his brother Nigel, and three of his sisters--Isabel, Mary, and
Christina. Behind rode four men-at-arms.  From the description which
he had heard of him Archie had no doubt that the elder of the two
knights was Robert Bruce himself, and when they approached within
thirty yards he gave a shout, and, with his band, with levelled
spears, drew up across the road. At the same moment the other party
closed in behind the horsemen; and the eight archers, with bent
bows and arrows drawn to the head, rose among the trees. The party
reined in their horses suddenly.

"Hah! what have we here?" Bruce exclaimed. "An ambush--and on
all sides too!" he added as he looked round.  "What means this?
Are you robbers who thus dare attack the Bruce within a mile of
Turnberry?  Why, they are but lads," he added scornfully. "Rein
back, girls; we and the men-at-arms will soon clear a way for you
through these varlets. Nay, I can do it single handed myself."

"Halt! Sir Robert Bruce," Archie exclaimed in a loud clear voice.
"If you move I must perforce give the word, and it may well be that
some of the ladies with you may be struck with the arrows; nor,
young though my followers may be, would you find them so easy a
conquest as you imagine. They have stood up before the English ere
now; and you and your men-at-arms will find it hard work to get
through their pikes; and we outnumber you threefold. We are no
robbers. I myself am Sir Archibald Forbes."

"You!" exclaimed Robert Bruce, lowering his sword, which he
had drawn at the first alarm and held uplifted in readiness for a
charge; "you Sir Archibald Forbes! I have heard the name often as
that of one of Wallace's companions, who, with Sir John Grahame,
fought with him bravely at the captures of Lanark, Ayr, and other
places, but surely you cannot be he!"

"I am Sir Archibald Forbes, I pledge you my word," Archie said
quietly; "and, Sir Robert Bruce, methinks that if I, who am, as
you see, but yet a lad--not yet having reached my seventeenth
year--can have done good service for Scotland, how great the
shame that you, a valiant knight and a great noble, should be in
the ranks of her oppressors, and not of her champions! My name will
tell you that I have come hither for no purpose of robbery. I have
come on a mission from Wallace--not sent thereon by him, but
acting myself in consequences of words which dropped from him.  He
said how sad it was that you, who might be King of a Scotland free
and independent, by the choice of her people, should prefer the
chance of reigning, a mere puppet of Edward, over an enslaved land.
He spoke in the highest terms of your person, and held that, did
you place yourself at its head, the movement which he commands
would be a successful one. Then I determined, unknown to him, to
set out and bring you to him face to face--honourably and with
courtesy if you would, by force if you would not. I would fain it
shall be the former; but believe me, you would not find it easy to
break away through the hedge of pikes now around you."

By this time the whole party had gathered round the horsemen. Bruce
hesitated; his mind was not yet made up as to his future course.
Hitherto he had been with England, since upon Edward only his chances
seemed to depend; but latterly he had begun to doubt whether even
Edward could place him on the throne in despite of the wishes of
his countrymen. His sisters, who, taking after their mother, were
all true Scotchwomen, now urged upon him to comply with Archie's
request and accompany him to Lanark. Their hearts and wishes were
entirely with the champion of their country.

"Go with him, Robert," Isabel, the eldest, exclaimed.  "Neither
I nor my sisters fear being struck with the arrows, although such
might well be the case should a conflict begin; but, for your own
sake and Scotland's, go and see Wallace.  No harm can arise from
such a journey, and much good may come of it. Even should the
news of your having had an interview with him come to the ears of
Edward, you can truly say that you were taken thither a captive,
and that we being with you, you were unable to make an effort to
free yourself.  This young knight, of whose deeds of gallantry we
have all heard"--and she smiled approvingly at Archie--"will
doubtless give you a safeguard, on his honour, to return hither
free and unpledged when you have seen Wallace."

"Willingly, lady," Archie replied. "One hour's interview with my
honoured chief is all I ask for. That over, I pledge myself that
the Earl of Carrick shall be free at once to return hither, and
that an escort shall be provided for him to protect him from all
dangers on the way."

Chapter VIII

The Council at Stirling

Archie had been mounted on the march from the camp, and his horse
being now brought, he started with Bruce, young Nigel and the ladies
saluting him cordially.

"I trust," the former said, "that Wallace will succeed in converting
my brother. I am envious of you, Sir Archie. Here are you, many
years younger than I am, and yet you have won a name throughout
Scotland as one of her champions; while I am eating my heart out,
with my brother, at the court of Edward."

"I trust it may be so, Sir Nigel," Archie answered. "If Sir Robert
will but join our cause, heart and soul, the battle is as good as

The journey passed without adventure until they arrived within two
miles of Lanark, where Archie found Wallace was now staying. On
the road Bruce had had much conversation with Archie, and learned
the details of many adventures of which before he had only heard
vaguely by report. He was much struck by the lad's modesty and
loyal patriotism.

"If ever I come to my kingdom, Sir Archie," he said, "you shall
be one of my most trusted knights and counsellors; and I am well
assured that any advice you may give will be ever what you think
to be right and for the good of the country, without self seeking
or in the interest of any; and that is more than I could look for
in most counsellors. And now methinks that as we are drawing near
to Lanark, it will be well that I waited here in this wood, under
the guard of your followers, while you ride forward and inform
Wallace that I am here. I care not to show myself in Lanark, for
busy tongues would soon take the news to Edward; and as I know not
what may come of our interview, it were well that it should not be
known to all men."

Archie agreed, and rode into the town.

"Why, where have you been, truant?" Sir William exclaimed as Archie
entered the room in the governor's house which had been set apart
for the use of Wallace since the expulsion of the English. "Sir
Robert Gordon has been here several times, and tells me that they
have seen nought of you; and although I have made many inquiries I
have been able to obtain no news, save that you and your band have
disappeared.  I even sent to Glen Cairn, thinking that you might
have been repairing the damages which the fire, lighted by the
Kerrs, did to your hold; but I found not only that you were not
there yourself, but that none of your band had returned thither.
This made it more mysterious; for had you alone disappeared I should
have supposed that you had been following up some love adventure,
though, indeed, you have never told me that your heart was in any
way touched."

Archie laughed. "There will be time enough for that, Sir William,
ten years hence; but in truth I have been on an adventure on my
own account."

"So, in sober earnest, I expected, Archie, and feared that your
enterprise might lead you into some serious scrape since I deemed
that it must have been well nigh a desperate one or you would not
have hidden it from my knowledge."

"It might have led to some blows, Sir William, but happily it did
not turn out so. Knowing the importance you attached to the adhesion
of the cause of Scotland of Robert the Bruce, I determined to fetch
him hither to see you; and he is now waiting with my band for your
coming, in a wood some two miles from the town."

"Are you jesting with me?" Wallace exclaimed. "Is the Bruce really
waiting to see me? Why, this would be well nigh a miracle."

"It is a fact, Sir William; and if you will cause your horse to
be brought to the door I will tell you on the road how it has come

In another five minutes Sir William and his young follower were
on their way, and the former heard how Archie had entrapped Robert
Bruce while riding to Crossraguel Abbey.

"It was well done, indeed," the Scottish leader exclaimed; "and
it may well prove, Archie, that you have done more towards freeing
Scotland by this adventure of yours than we have by all our months
of marching and fighting."

"Ah! Sir William, but had it not been for our marching and fighting
Bruce would never have wavered in his allegiance to Edward. It was
only because he begins to think that our cause may be a winning
one that he decides to join it."

The meeting between Wallace and Bruce was a cordial one. Each
admired the splendid proportions and great strength of the other,
for it is probable that in all Europe there were no two more
doughty champions; although, indeed, Wallace was far the superior
in personal strength while Bruce was famous through Europe for his
skill in knightly exercise.

Archie withdrew to a distance while the leaders conversed. He
could see that their talk was animated as they strode together up
and down among the trees, Wallace being the principal speaker. At
the end of half an hour they stopped, and Wallace ordered the horses
to be brought, and then called Archie to them.

"Sir Robert has decided to throw in his lot with us," he said, "and
will at once call out his father's vassals of Carrick and Annandale.
Seeing that his father is at Edward's court, it may be that many
will not obey the summons. Still we must hope that, for the love
of Scotland and their young lord, many will follow him. He will
write to the pope to ask him to absolve him for the breach of his
oath of homage to Edward; but as such oaths lie but lightly on men's
minds in our days, and have been taken and broken by King Edward
himself, as well as by Sir William Douglas and other knights who are
now in the field with me, he will not wait for the pope's reply,
but will at once take the field. And, indeed, there is need for
haste, seeing that Percy and Clifford have already crossed the
Border with an English army and are marching north through Annandale
towards Ayr."

"Goodbye, my captor," Bruce said to Archie as he mounted his horse;
"whatever may come of this strife, remember that you will always
find a faithful friend in Robert Bruce."

Wallace had, at Archie's request, brought six mounted men-at-arms
with him from Lanark, and these now rode behind Bruce as his escort
back to his castle of Turnberry. There was no time now for Archie
and his band to take the rest they had looked for, for messengers
were sent out to gather the bands together again, and as soon as
a certain portion had arrived Wallace marched for the south. The
English army was now in Annandale, near Lochmaben. They were far
too strong to be openly attacked, but on the night following his
arrival in their neighbourhood Wallace broke in upon them in the
night. Surprised by this sudden and unexpected attack, the English
fell into great confusion. Percy at once ordered the camp to be
set on fire.  By its light the English were able to see how small
was the force of their assailants, and gathering together soon
showed so formidable a front that Wallace called off his men, but
not before a large number of the English had been killed. Many of
their stores, as well as the tents, were destroyed by the conflagration.
The English army now proceeded with slow marches towards Ayr.  At
Irvine the Scotch leaders had assembled their army--Douglas,
Bruce, The Steward, Sir Richard Loudon, Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow,
and others.  Their forces were about equal to those of the English
marching against them. Wallace was collecting troops further north,
and Archie was of course with him.

"I fear," the lad said one day, "that we shall not be able to reach
Irvine before the armies join battle."

"Sir William Douglas and Bruce are there, and as it lies in their
country it were better to let them win the day without my meddling.
But, Archie, I fear there will be no battle.  News has reached
me that messengers are riding to and fro between Percy's army and
the Scots, and I fear me that these half hearted barons will make

"Surely that cannot be! It were shame indeed to have taken up the
sword, and to lay it down after scarce striking a blow."

"Methinks, Archie, that the word shame is not to be found in the
vocabulary of the nobles of this unhappy land. But let us hope for
the best; a few days will bring us the news."

The news when it came was of the worst. All the nobles, headed by
Wishart, Douglas, and Bruce, with the exception only of Sir Andrew
Moray of Bothwell, had made their submission, acknowledging their
guilt of rebellion, and promising to make every reparation required
by their sovereign lord.  Percy, on his part, guaranteed their lives,
lands, goods, and chattels, and that they should not be imprisoned
or punished for what had taken place.

Sir William Douglas and Bruce were ordered to find guarantees for
their good conduct; but Sir William Douglas, finding himself unable
to fulfil his engagements, surrendered, and was thrown into prison
in Berwick Castle, and there kept in irons until he died, his death
being attributed, by contemporary historians, to poison.

The surrender of the leaders had little result upon the situation.
The people had won their successes without their aid, and beyond
the indignation excited by their conduct, the treaty of Irvine did
nothing towards ensuring peace, and indeed heightened the confidence
of the people in Wallace.  The movement spread over the whole
of Scotland. Skirmishes and unimportant actions took place in
all quarters. The English were powerless outside the walls of the
fortresses, and in Berwick and Roxburgh alone was the English power
paramount. Most of the great nobles, including Comyn of Buchan,
Comyn of Badenoch, and twenty-six other powerful Scottish lords,
were at Edward's court, but many of their vassals and dependants
were in the field with Wallace.

About this time it came to the ears of the Scotch leader that Sir
Robert Cunninghame, a Scotch knight of good family, who had hitherto
held aloof from any part in the war, had invited some twelve others
resident in the counties round Stirling, to meet at his house in
that city that they might talk over the circumstances of the times.
All these had, like himself, been neutral, and as the object of
the gathering was principally to discover whether some means could
not be hit upon for calming down the disorders which prevailed,
the English governor had willingly granted safe conducts to all.

"Archie," Sir William said, "I mean to be present at the interview.
They are all Scotch gentlemen, and though but lukewarm in the cause
of their country, there is no fear that any will be base enough
to betray me; and surely if I can get speech with them I may rouse
them to cast in their lot with us."

"It were a dangerous undertaking, Sir William, to trust yourself
within the walls of Stirling," Archie said gravely.  "Remember how
many are the desperate passes into which your adventurous spirit
has brought you, and your life is of too great a consequence to
Scotland to be rashly hazarded."

"I would not do it for a less cause," Sir William said; "but the
gain may be greater than the risk. So I shall go, Archie, your wise
counsel notwithstanding, and you shall journey with me to see that
I get not into scrapes, and to help me out of them should I, in
spite of your care, fall into them."

"When is the day for the meeting?" Archie asked.

"In three days' time. The day after tomorrow we will move in that
direction, and enter the town early the next day."

No sooner had he left Wallace than Archie called his band together.
They still numbered twenty, for although three or four had fallen,
Archie had always filled up their places with fresh recruits, as
there were numbers of boys who deemed it the highest honour to be
enrolled in their ranks.  Archie drew aside his two lieutenants,
Andrew Macpherson and William Orr.

"I have an enterprise on hand," he said, "which will need all your
care, and may call for your bravery. Sir William Wallace purposes
to enter Stirling in disguise, to attend a meeting of nobles to be
held at the residence of Sir Robert Cunninghame. I am to accompany
him thither. I intend that the band shall watch over his safety,
and this without his having knowledge of it, so that if nought comes
of it he may not chide me for being over careful of his person. You
will both, with sixteen of the band, accompany me. You will choose
two of your most trusty men to carry out the important matter of
securing our retreat. They will procure a boat capable of carrying
us all, and will take their place in the bend of the links of
Forth nearest to the castle, and will hoist, when the time comes,
a garment on an oar, so that we may make straight for the boat. The
ground is low and swampy, and if we get a fair start even mounted
men would scarce overtake us across it. I think, William, that the
last recruit who joined was from Stirling?"

"He was, Sir Archie. His parents reside there. They are vendors of
wood, as I have heard him say."

"It could not be better," Archie replied; "and seeing that they
have allowed their son to join us, they must surely be patriots. My
purpose is, that on the morning of the interview you shall appear
before the gates with a cart laden with firewood, and this you shall
take to the house of Campbell's father. There you will unload the
firewood, and store the arms hidden beneath it, placing them so
that they may be readily caught up in case of necessity. In twos
and threes, carrying eggs, fowls, firewood, and other articles,
as for sale, the rest of the band will come into the town, joining
themselves with parties of country people, so that the arrival of
so many lads unaccompanied will not attract notice. James Campbell
will go with you, and will show you the way to his father's house.
He will remain near the gate, and as the others enter will guide
them there, so that they will know where to run for their arms should
there be need. You must start tomorrow, so as to enter Stirling on
the next day and arrange with his father for the keeping of the
arms.  His mother had best leave the town that evening. Should
nought occur she can return unsuspected; but should a tumult arise,
and the arms have to be used, his father must leave the town with
us. He shall be handsomely rewarded, and provision made for him
in the future. When you see me enter with Sir William, bid Jock
Farrell follow me at a little distance; he will keep me always in
sight, and if he see me lift my hand above my head he will run with
all speed to give you the news. On his arrival, you, Andrew, with
the half you command, will hurry up to my assistance; while you,
William, with the others, will fall suddenly upon the guard at the
gate, and will at all hazards prevent them from closing it, and so
cutting off our retreat, until we arrive. Seize, if you can, the
moment when a cart is passing in or out, and slay the horse in the
shafts, so that as he falls the cart will prevent the gate from
being closed, and so keep the way open, even should you not be able
to resist the English until we come up. Have all the band outside
Stirling on the night before, so that you will be able to make every
arrangement and obtain a cart in readiness for taking in the wood
and arms in the morning. Let all bring their bows and arrows, in
addition to pike and sword, for the missiles may aid us to keep the
soldiers at bay. Now, Andrew, repeat all my instructions, so that
I may be sure that you thoroughly understand my wishes, for any
small error in the plan might ruin the whole adventure."

On the morning of the day fixed for the meeting Sir William Wallace,
accompanied by Archie, entered the gates of Stirling. Both were
attired as young farmers, and they attracted no special attention
from the guards. For a time they strolled about the streets. They
saw the gentlemen who had been invited by Sir Robert Cunninghame
arrive one by one. Others, too, known as being specially attached
to the English party, rode in, for the governor had invited those
who assembled at Cunninghame's to meet him afterwards in the castle
in order that he might hear the result of their deliberations; and
he had asked several others attached to the English party to be

When most of the gentlemen invited had entered Sir Robert Cunninghame's
Wallace boldly followed them; and Archie sat down on a doorstep
nearly opposite. Presently he saw two figures which he recognized
riding up the street, followed, as the others had been by four
armed retainers.  They were Sir John Kerr and his son. Archie rose
at once, and turned down at a side street before they came up, as
a recognition of him would be fatal to all their plans. When they
had passed up the street to the castle he returned and resumed
his seat, feeling more uneasy than before, for the Kerrs had seen
Wallace in the affray at Lanark, and a chance meeting now would
betray him. An hour and a half passed, and then Archie saw the
Kerrs riding down the street from the castle. Again he withdrew
from sight, this time down an archway, whence he could still see
the door on the opposite side. Hitherto he had been wishing to see
it open and for Wallace to appear; and now he dreaded this above
all things.  His worst fears were realized, for just as the horsemen
reached the spot the door opened, and Wallace stepped out. His
figure was too remarkable to avoid notice; and no sooner did Sir John
Kerr's eye fall upon him than he exclaimed, "The traitor Wallace!
Seize him, men; there is a high reward offered for him; and King
Edward will give honour and wealth to all who capture him."

As Sir John spoke Archie darted across the street and placed himself
by Wallace's side, holding his hand high above his head as he did
so; and at the instant he saw Jock Farrell, who had been lounging
at a corner a few yards away, dart off down the street at the top
of his speed.

Sir John and his retainers drew their swords and spurred forward;
but the horses recoiled from the flashing swords of Wallace and
his companion.

"Dismount," Sir John shouted, setting the example; "cut them both
down; one is as bad as the other. Ten pounds to the man who slays
the young Forbes."

Wallace cut down two of the retainers as they advanced against
them, and Archie badly wounded a third.  Then they began to retreat
down the street; but by this time the sound of the fray had called
together many soldiers who were wandering in the streets; and these,
informed by Sir John's shouts of "Down with Wallace! Slay! Slay!"
that the dreaded Scotch leader was before them, also drew and joined
in the fight.  As they came running up from both sides, Wallace
and Archie could retreat no further, but with their backs against
the wall kept their foes at bay in a semicircle by the sweep of
their swords.

The fight continued by two or three minutes, when a sudden shout
was heard, and William Orr, with eight young fellows, fell upon the
English soldiers with their pikes. The latter, astonished at this
sudden onslaught, and several of their number being killed before
they had time to turn and defend themselves, fell back for a moment,
and Wallace and Archie joined their allies, and began to retreat,
forming a line of pikes across the narrow street. Wallace, Archie,
William Orr, and three of the stoutest of the band were sufficient
for the line, and the other five shot between them. So hard and
fast flew their arrows that several of the English soldiers were
slain, and the others drew back from the assault.

Andrew Macpherson's sudden attack at the gate overpowered the guard,
and for a while he held possession of it, and following Archie's
instructions, slew a horse drawing a cart laden with flour in the
act of entering.  Then the guard rallied, and, joined by other
soldiers who had run up, made a fierce attack upon him; but his
line of pikes drawn up across the gate defied their efforts to break
through. Wallace and his party were within fifty yards of the gate
when reinforcements from the castle arrived. Sir John Kerr, furious
at the prospect of his enemies again escaping him, headed them in
their furious rush. Wallace stepped forward beyond the line and
met him. With a great sweep of his mighty sword he beat down Sir
John's guard, and the blade descending clove helmet and skull, and
the knight fell dead in his tracks.

"That is one for you, Archie," Wallace said, as he cut down a

In vain did the English try to break through the line of pikes.
When they arrived within twenty yards of the gate, Wallace gave
the order, and the party turning burst through the English who were
attacking its defenders and united with them.

"Fall back!" Wallace shouted, "and form without the gates. Your
leader and I will cover the retreat."

Passing between the cart and the posts of the gates, the whole
party fell back. Once through, Wallace and Archie made a stand, and
even the bravest of the English did not venture to pass the narrow
portals, where but one could issue at a time.

The band formed in good order and retreated at a rapid step. When
they reached a distance of about 300 yards, Wallace and Archie,
deeming that sufficient start had been gained, sprang away, and
running at the top of their speed soon rejoined them.

"Now, Archie, what next?" Sir William asked; "since it is you who
have conjured up this army, doubtless your plans are laid as to what
shall next be done. They will have horsemen in pursuit as soon as
they remove the cart."

"I have a boat in readiness on the river bank, Sir William. Once
across and we shall be safe. They will hardly overtake us ere we
get there, seeing how swampy is the ground below."

At a slinging trot the party ran forward, and soon gained the
lower ground. They were halfway across when they saw a large body
of horsemen following in pursuit.

"A little to the right, Sir William," Archie said; "you see that
coat flying from an oar; there is the boat."

As Archie had expected, the swampy ground impeded the speed of
the horsemen. In vain the riders spurred and shouted, the horses,
fetlock deep, could make but slow advance, and before they reached
the bank the fugitives had gained the boat and were already halfway
across the stream.  Then the English had the mortification of seeing
them land and march away quietly on the other side.

Chapter IX

The Battle of Stirling Bridge

Upon rejoining his force Sir William Wallace called the few knights
and gentlemen who were with him together, and said to them:

"Methinks, gentlemen, that the woes of this contest should not fall
upon one side only. Every one of you here are outlawed, and if you
are taken by the English will be executed or thrown in prison for
life, and your lands and all belonging to you forfeited. It is time
that those who fight upon the other side should learn that they
too run some risk. Besides leading his vassals in the field against
us, Sir John Kerr twice in arms has attacked me, and done his best
to slay me or deliver me over to the English. He fell yesterday by
my hand at Stirling, and I hereby declare forfeit the land which
he held in the county of Lanark, part of which he wrongfully took
from Sir William Forbes, and his own fief adjoining.  Other broad
lands he owns in Ayrshire, but these I will not now touch; but the
lands in Lanark, both his own fief and that of the Forbeses, I,
as Warden of Scotland, hereby declare forfeit and confiscated, and
bestow them upon my good friend, Sir Archie Forbes. Sir John Grahame,
do you proceed tomorrow with five hundred men and take possession
of the hold of the Kerrs. Sir Allan Kerr is still at Stirling, and
will not be there to defend it. Like enough the vassals will make
no resistance, but will gladly accept the change of masters. The
Kerrs have the reputation of being hard lords, and their vassals
cannot like being forced to fight against the cause of their country.
The hired men-at-arms may resist, but you will know how to make
short work of these. I ask you to go rather than Sir Archibald
Forbes, because I would not that it were said that he took the
Kerr's hold on his private quarrel.  When you have captured it he
shall take a hundred picked men as a garrison. The place is strong.

"Your new possessions, Archie, will, as you know, be held on
doubtful tenure. If we conquer, and Scotland is freed, I doubt in
no way that the king, whoever he may be, will confirm my grant.
If the English win, your land is lost, be it an acre or a county.
And now let me be the first to congratulate you on having won by
your sword and your patriotism the lands of your father, and on
having repaid upon your family's enemies the measure which they
meted to you. But you will still have to beware of the Kerrs. They
are a powerful family, being connected by marriage with the Comyns
of Badenoch, and other noble houses.  Their lands in Ayr are as
extensive as those in Lanark, even with your father's lands added
to their own.  However, if Scotland win the day the good work that
you have done should well outweigh all the influence which they
might bring to bear against you.

"And now, Archie, I can, for a time, release you. Ere long Edward's
army will be pouring across the Border, and then I shall need every
good Scotchman's sword. Till then you had best retire to your new
estates, and spend the time in preparing your vassals to follow
you in the field, and in putting one or other of your castles in
the best state of defence you may. Methinks that the Kerr's hold
may more easily be made to withstand a lengthened siege than Glen
Cairn, seeing that the latter is commanded by the hill beside it.
Kerr's castle, too, is much larger and more strongly fortified. I
need no thanks," he continued, as Archie was about to express his
warm gratitude; "it is the Warden of Scotland who rewards your
services to the country; but Sir William Wallace will not forget
how you have twice stood beside him against overwhelming odds, and
how yesterday, in Stirling, it was your watchful care and thoughtful
precaution which alone saved his life."

Archie's friends all congratulated him warmly, and the next morning,
with his own band, he started for Glen Cairn.  Here the news that
he was once more their lawful chief caused the greatest delight.
It was evening when he reached the village, and soon great bonfires
blazed in the street, and as the news spread burned up from many
an outlying farm.  Before night all the vassals of the estate came
in, and Glen Cairn and the village was a scene of great enthusiasm.

Much as Archie regretted that he could not establish himself in
the hold of his father, he felt that Wallace's suggestion was the
right one. Glen Cairn was a mere shell, and could in no case be
made capable of a prolonged resistance by a powerful force. Whereas,
the castle of the Kerrs was very strong. It was a disappointment
to his retainers when they heard that he could not at once return
among them; but they saw the force of his reasons, and he promised
that if Scotland was freed and peace restored, he would again make
Glen Cairn habitable, and pass some of his time there.

"In the meantime," he said, "I shall be but eight miles from you,
and the estate will be all one. But now I hope that for the next
three months every man among you will aid me--some by personal
labour, some by sending horses and carts--in the work of
strengthening to the utmost my new castle of Aberfilly, which I
wish to make so strong that it will long resist an attack. Should
Scotland be permanently conquered, which may God forfend, it could
not, of course, be held; but should we have temporary reverses we
might well hold out until our party again gather head."

Every man on the estate promised his aid to an extent far beyond
that which Archie, as their feudal superior, had a right to demand
from them. They had had a hard time under the Kerrs, who had raised
all rents, and greatly increased their feudal services. They were
sure of good treatment should the Forbeses make good their position
as their lords, and were ready to make any sacrifices to aid them
to do so.

Next morning a messenger arrived from Sir John Grahame, saying that
he had, during the night, stormed Aberfilly, and that with scarce
an exception all the vassals of the Kerrs--when upon his arrival
on the previous day they had learned of his purpose in coming,
and of the disposition which Wallace had made of the estate--had
accepted the change with delight, and had joined him in the assault
upon the castle, which was defended only by thirty men-at-arms.
These had all been killed, and Sir John invited Archie to ride
over at once and take possession. This he did, and found that the
vassals of the estate were all gathered at the castle to welcome
him.  He was introduced to them by Sir John Grahame, and they
received Archie with shouts of enthusiasm, and all swore obedience
to him as their feudal lord.  Archie promised them to be a kind
and lenient chief, to abate any unfair burdens which had been laid
upon them, and to respect all their rights.

"But," he said, "just at first I must ask for sacrifices from you.
This castle is strong, but it must be made much stronger, and must
be capable of standing a continued siege in case temporary reverses
should enable the English to endeavour to retake it for their
friend, Sir Allan Kerr. My vassals at Glen Cairn have promised an
aid far beyond that which I can command, and I trust that you also
will extend your time of feudal service, and promise you a relaxation
in future years equivalent to the time you may now give."

The demand was readily assented to, for the tenants of Aberfilly
were no less delighted than those of Glen Cairn to escape from the
rule of the Kerrs. Archie, accompanied by Sir John Grahame, now
made an inspection of the walls of his new hold. It stood just where
the counties of Linlithgow and Edinburgh join that of Lanark. It
was built on an island on a tributary of the Clyde. The stream was
but a small one, and the island had been artificially made, so that
the stream formed a moat on either side of it, the castle occupying
a knoll of ground which rose somewhat abruptly from the surrounding
country. The moat was but twelve feet wide, and Archie and Sir John
decided that this should be widened to fifty feet and deepened to
ten, and that a dam should be built just below the castle to keep
back the stream and fill the moat. The walls should everywhere be
raised ten feet, several strong additional flanking towers added,
and a work built beyond the moat to guard the head of the drawbridge.
With such additions Aberfilly would be able to stand a long siege
by any force which might assail it.

Timber, stones, and rough labour there were in abundance, and
Wallace had insisted upon Archie's taking from the treasures which
had been captured from the enemy, a sum of money which would be
ample to hire skilled masons from Lanark, and to pay for the cement,
iron, and other necessaries which would be beyond the resources
of the estate.  These matters in train, Archie rode to Lanark and
fetched his proud and rejoicing mother from Sir Robert Gordon's
to Aberfilly. She was accompanied by Sandy Graham and Elspie:  the
former Archie appointed majordomo, and to be in command of the
garrison whenever he should be absent.

The vassals were as good as their word. For three months the work
of digging, quarrying, cutting, and squaring timber and building
went on without intermission. There were upon the estates fully
three hundred ablebodied men, and the work progressed rapidly. When,
therefore, Archie received a message from Wallace to join him near
Stirling, he felt that he could leave Aberfilly without any fear
of a successful attack being made upon it in his absence.

There was need, indeed, for all the Scotch, capable of bearing
arms, to gather round Wallace. Under the Earl of Surrey, the high
treasurer Cressingham, and other leaders, an army of 50,000 foot
and 1000 horse were advancing from Berwick, while 8000 foot and
300 horse under Earl Percy advanced from Carlisle.  Wallace was
besieging the castle of Dundee when he heard of their approach,
and leaving the people of Dundee to carry on the siege under the
command of Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, he himself marched to defend
the only bridge by which Edward could cross the Forth, near Stirling.

Thus far Surrey had experienced no resistance, and at the head
of so large and well appointed a force he might well feel sure
of success. A large proportion of his army consisted of veterans
inured to service in wars at home, in Wales, and with the French,
while the mail clad knights and men-at-arms looked with absolute
contempt upon the gathering which was opposed to them. This consisted
solely of popular levies of men who had left their homes and taken
up arms for the freedom of their country. They were rudely armed and
hastily trained. Of all the feudal nobles of Scotland who should have
led them, but one, Sir Andrew Moray, was present. Their commander
was still little more than a youth, who, great as was his individual
valour and prowess, had had no experience in the art of war on
a large scale; while the English were led by a general whose fame
was known throughout Europe.

The Scots took up their station upon the high ground north of the
Forth, protected from observation by the precipitous hill immediately
behind Cambuskenneth Abbey and known as the Abbey Craig. In a bend
of the river, opposite the Abbey Craig, stood the bridge by which
the English army were preparing to cross.  Archie stood beside
Wallace on the top of the craig, looking at the English array.

"It is a fair sight," he said; "the great camp, with its pavilions,
its banners, and pennons, lying there in the valley, with the old
castle rising on the lofty rock behind them. It is a pity that such
a sight should bode evil to Scotland."

"Yes," Wallace said; "I would that the camp lay where it is, but
that the pennons and banners were those of Scotland's nobles, and
that the royal lions floated over Surrey's tent.  Truly that were
a sight which would glad a Scot's heart. When shall we see ought
like it? However, Archie," he went on in a lighter tone, "methinks
that that will be a rare camp to plunder."

Archie laughed. "One must kill the lion before one talks of dividing
his skin," he said; "and truly it seems well nigh impossible that
such a following as yours, true Scots and brave men though they
be, yet altogether undisciplined and new to war, should be able to
bear the brunt of such a battle."

"You are thinking of Dunbar," Wallace said; "and did we fight in
such a field our chances would be poor; but with that broad river
in front and but a narrow bridge for access, methinks that we can
render an account of them."

"God grant it be so!" Archie replied; "but I shall be right glad
when the day is over."

Three days before the battle the Steward of Scotland, the Earl of
Lennox, and others of the Scotch magnates entered Surrey's camp
and begged that he would not attack until they tried to induce the
people to lay down their arms.  They returned, however, on the third
day saying that they would not listen to them, but that the next
day they would, themselves, join his army with their men-at-arms.
On leaving the camp that evening the Scotch nobles, riding homeward,
had a broil with some English soldiers, of whom one was wounded by
the Earl of Lennox. News being brought to Surrey, he resolved to
wait no longer, but gave orders that the assault should take place
on the following morning. At daybreak of the 11th of September,
1297, one of the outposts woke Wallace with the news that the English
were crossing the bridge. The troops were at once got under arms,
and were eager to rush down to commence the battle, but Wallace
restrained them. Five thousand Welsh foot soldiers crossed the
bridge, then there was a pause, and none were seen following them.
"Were we to charge down now, Sir William," Archie said, "surely we
might destroy that body before aid could come to them."

"We could do, Archie, as you say," Wallace replied, "but such
a success would be of little worth, nay, would harm rather than
benefit us, for Surrey, learning that we are not altogether to be
despised, as he now believes, would be more prudent in future and
would keep his army in the flat country, where we could do nought
against it. No, to win much one must risk much, and we must wait
until half Surrey's army is across before we venture down against

Presently the Welsh were seen to retire again. Their movement had
been premature. Surrey was still asleep, and nothing could be done
until he awoke; when he did so the army armed leisurely, after which
Surrey bestowed the honour of knighthood upon many young aspirants.
The number of the Scots under Wallace is not certainly known; the
majority of the estimates place it below twenty thousand, and as
the English historian, who best describes the battle, speaks of it
as the defeat of the many by the few, it can certainly be assumed
that it did not exceed this number.

Only on the ground of his utter contempt for the enemy can the
conduct of the Earl of Surrey, in attempting to engage in such a
position, be understood. The bridge was wide enough for but two,
or at most three, horsemen to cross abreast, and when those who had
crossed were attacked assistance could reach them but slowly from
the rear.

The English knights and men-at-arms, with the Royal Standard and
the banner of the Earl of Surrey, crossed first.  The men-at-arms
were followed by the infantry, who, as they passed, formed up on
the tongue of land formed by the winding of the river.

When half the English army had passed Wallace gave the order to
advance. First Sir Andrew Moray, with two thousand men, descended
the hills farther to the right, and on seeing these the English
cavalry charged at once against them.  The instant they did so
Wallace, with his main army, poured down from the craig impetuously
and swept away the English near the head of the bridge, taking
possession of the end, and by showers of arrows and darts preventing
any more from crossing. By this maneuver the whole of the English
infantry who had crossed were cut off from their friends and inclosed
in the narrow promontory.

The English men-at-arms had succeeded in overthrowing the Scots,
against whom they had charged, and had pursued them some distance;
but upon drawing rein and turning to rejoin the army, they found
the aspect of affairs changed indeed. The troops left at the head
of the bridge were overthrown and destroyed.  The royal banner and
that of Surrey were down, and the bridge in the possession of the
enemy.  The men-at-arms charged back and strove in vain to recover
the head of the bridge. The Scots fought stubbornly; those in front
made a hedge of pikes, while those behind hurled darts and poured
showers of arrows into the English ranks.  The greater proportion
of the men-at-arms were killed. One valiant knight alone, Sir
Marmaduke de Twenge, with his nephew and a squire, cut their way
through the Scots, and crossed the bridge. Many were drowned in
attempting to swim the river, one only succeeding in so gaining
the opposite side.

The men-at-arms defeated, Wallace and the chosen band under him,
who had been engaged with them, joined those who were attacking the
English and Welsh, now cooped up in the promontory. Flushed with
the success already gained the Scots were irresistible, and almost
every man who had crossed was either killed or drowned in attempting
to swim the river. No sooner had he seen that the success in this
quarter was secure than Wallace led a large number of his followers
across the bridge. Here the English, who still outnumbered his army,
and who had now all the advantage of position which had previously
been on the side of the Scots, might have defended the bridge, or
in good order have given him battle on the other side.  The sight,
however, of the terrible disaster which had befallen nearly half
their number before their eyes, without their being able to render
them the slightest assistance, had completely demoralized them,
and as soon as the Scotch were seen to be crossing the bridge they
fled in terror. A hot pursuit was kept up by the fleet footed and
lightly armed Scots, and great numbers of fugitives were slain.

More than 20,000 English perished in the battle or flight, and the
remainder crossed the Border a mere herd of broken fugitives.

The Earl of Surrey, before riding off the field, committed the charge
of the Castle of Stirling to Sir Marmaduke de Twenge, promising him
that he would return to his relief within ten weeks at the utmost.
All the tents, wagons, horses, provisions, and stores of the English
fell into the hands of their enemies, and every Scotch soldier
obtained rich booty.

Cressingham was among the number killed. It was said by one
English historian, and his account has been copied by many others,
that Cressingham's body was flayed and his skin divided among the
Scots; but there appears no good foundation for the story, although
probably Cressingham, who had rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious
and hateful to the Scots, was hewn in pieces. But even were it
proved that the ill story is a true one, it need excite no surprise,
seeing the wholesale slaying, plundering, and burning which had
been carried on by the English, and that the Scottish prisoners
falling into their hands were often mutilated and tortured before
being executed and quartered. The English historians were fond of
crying out that the Scotch were a cruel and barbarous people whenever
they retaliated for the treatment which they suffered; but so far
from this being the case, it is probable that the Scotch, before
the first invasion of Edward, were a more enlightened and, for
their numbers, a more well-to-do people than the English. They had
for many years enjoyed peace and tranquillity, and under the long
and prosperous reign of Alexander had made great advances, while
England had been harassed by continuous wars and troubles at home
and abroad. Its warlike barons, when not engaged under its monarchs
in wars in Wales, Ireland, and France, occupied themselves in quarrels
with each other, or in struggles against the royal supremacy; and
although the higher nobles, with their mailclad followers, could
show an amount of chivalrous pomp unknown in Scotland, yet the
condition of the middle classes and of the agricultural population
was higher in Scotland than in England.

Archie, as one of the principal leaders of the victorious army,
received a share of the treasure captured in the camp sufficient to
repay the money which he had had for the strengthening of the Castle
of Aberfilly, and on the day following the battle he received
permission from Sir William to return at once, with the 250 retainers
which he had brought into the field, to complete the rebuilding of
the castle. In another three months this was completed, and stores
of arms and munition of all kinds collected.

Immediately after the defeat at Stirling Bridge, King Edward summoned
the Scottish nobles to join Brian Fitzallan, whom he appointed
governor of Scotland, with their whole forces, for the purpose of
putting down the rebellion. Among those addressed as his allies were
the Earls Comyn of Badenoch, Comyn of Buchan, Patrick of Dunbar,
Umfraville of Angus, Alexander of Menteith, Malise of Strathearn,
Malcolm of Lennox, and William of Sutherland, together with James
the Steward, Nicholas de la Haye, Ingelram de Umfraville, Richard
Fraser, and Alexander de Lindsay of Crawford. From this enumeration
it is clear that Wallace had still many enemies to contend with at
home as well as the force of England. Patrick of Dunbar, assisted
by Robert Bruce and Bishop Anthony Beck, took the field, but was
defeated.  Wallace captured all the castles of the earl save Dunbar
itself, and forced him to fly to England; then the Scotch army
poured across the Border and retaliated upon the northern counties
for the deeds which the English had been performing in Scotland
for the last eight years. The country was ravaged to the very walls
of Durham and Carlisle, and only those districts which bought off
the invaders were spared.  The title which had been bestowed upon
Wallace by a comparatively small number was now ratified by the
commonalty of the whole of Scotland; and associated with him was
the young Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell, whose father had been the
only Scotch noble who had fought at Stirling, and it is notable
that in some of the documents of the time Wallace gives precedence
to Andrew Moray.

They proceeded to effect a military organization of the country,
dividing it up into districts, each with commanders and lieutenants.
Order was established and negotiations entered into for the mutual
safeguard of traders with the Hanse towns.

The nobles who ventured to oppose the authority of Wallace and his
colleague were punished in some cases by the confiscation of lands,
which were bestowed upon Sir Alexander Scrymgeour and other loyal
gentlemen, and these grants were recognized by Bruce when he became
king. In these deeds of grant Wallace and Moray, although acting as
governors of Scotland, state that they do so in the name of Baliol
as king, although a helpless captive in England. For a short time
Scotland enjoyed peace, save that Earl Percy responded to the raids
made by the Scots across the Border, by carrying fire and sword
through Annandale; and the English writers who complain of the
conduct of the Scots, have no word of reprobation for the proclamation
issued to the soldiers on crossing the Border, that they were free
to plunder where they chose, nor as to the men and women slain,
nor the villages and churches committed to the flames.

Chapter X

The Battle of Falkirk

While Wallace was endeavouring to restore order in Scotland, Edward
was straining every nerve to renew his invasion. He himself was
upon the Continent, but he made various concessions to his barons
and great towns to induce them to aid him heartily, and issued writs
calling upon the whole nobility remaining at home, as they valued
his honour and that of England, to meet at York on January 20th,
"and proceed under the Earl of Surrey to repress and chastise the
audacity of the Scots." At the same time he despatched special
letters to those of the Scottish nobles who were not already in
England, commanding them to attend at the rendezvous.

The call upon the Scotch nobles was not generally responded to.
They had lost much of their power over their vassals, many of whom
had fought under Wallace in spite of the abstention of their lords.
It was clear, too, that if they joined the English, and another
defeat of the latter took place, their countrymen might no longer
condone their treachery, but their titles and estates might be
confiscated. Consequently but few of them presented themselves at
York. There, however, the English nobles gathered in force. The
Earls of Surrey, Gloucester, and Arundel; the Earl Mareschal and
the great Constable were there; Guido, son of the Earl of Warwick,
represented his father. Percy was there, John de Wathe, John de
Seagrave, and very many other barons, the great array consisting
of 2000 horsemen heavily armed, 1200 light horsemen, and 100,000
foot soldiers.

Sir Aymer de Vallance, Earl of Pembroke, and Sir John Sieward, son
of the Earl of March, landed with an army in Fife, and proceeded
to burn and waste. They were met by a Scotch force under Wallace
in the forest of Black Ironside, and were totally defeated.

Surrey's army crossed the Border, raised the siege of Roxburgh,
and advanced as far as Kelso. Wallace did not venture to oppose
so enormous a force, but wasted the country on every side so that
they could draw no provisions from it, and Surrey was forced to
fall back to Berwick; this town was being besieged by a Scottish
force, which retired at his approach. Here the English army halted
upon receipt of orders from Edward to wait his coming. He had hastily
patched up a peace with France, and, having landed at Sandwich,
summoned the parliament, and on the 27th of May issued writs to
as many as 154 of his great barons to meet him at Roxburgh on the
24th of June. Here 3000 cavalry, men and horses clothed in complete
armour; 4000 lighter cavalry, the riders being armed in steel but
the horses being uncovered; 500 splendidly mounted knights and
men-at-arms from Gascony; and at least 80,000 infantry assembled
together, with abundance of materials and munition of war of all
kinds. This huge army marched from Roxburgh, keeping near the coast,
receiving provisions from a fleet which sailed along beside them.
But in spite of this precaution it was grievously straitened, and
was delayed for a month near Edinburgh, as Wallace so wasted the
country that the army were almost famished, and by no efforts were
they able to bring on a battle with the Scots, whose rapid marches
and intimate acquaintance with the country baffled all the efforts
of the English leaders to force on an action.

Edward was about to retreat, being unable any longer to subsist his
army, when the two Scottish Earls of Dunbar and Angus sent news to
the king that Wallace with his army was in Falkirk forest, about
six miles away, and had arranged to attack the camp on the following
morning. The English at once advanced and that evening encamped at
Linlithgow, and the next morning moved on against the Scots.

Late in the evening Archie's scouts brought in the news to Wallace
that the English army was within three miles, and a consultation
was at once held between the leaders. Most of them were in favour
of a retreat; but Comyn of Badenoch, who had lately joined Wallace,
and had been from his rank appointed to the command of the cavalry,
with some of his associates, urged strongly the necessity for
fighting, saying that the men would be utterly dispirited at such
continual retreats, and that with such immensely superior cavalry
the English would follow them up and destroy them. To these arguments
Wallace, Sir John Grahame, and Sir John Stewart, yielded their own
opinions, and prepared to fight. They took up their position so
that their front was protected by a morass, and a fence of stakes
and ropes was also fixed across so as to impede the advance or
retreat of the English cavalry.  The Scotch army consisted almost
entirely of infantry. These were about a third the number of those
of the English, while Comyn's cavalry were a thousand strong.

The infantry were formed in three great squares or circles, the
front rank kneeling and the spears all pointing outwards. In the
space between these squares were placed the archers, under Sir John

The English army was drawn up in three divisions, the first commanded
by the Earl Marechal, the Earl of Lincoln and Hereford; the second
by Beck, the warlike Bishop of Durham, and Sir Ralph Basset;
the third by the king himself.  The first two divisions consisted
almost entirely of knights and men-at-arms; the third, of archers
and slingers.

Wallace's plan of battle was that the Scottish squares should first
receive the brunt of the onslaught of the enemy, and that while
the English were endeavouring to break these the Scotch cavalry,
which were drawn up some distance in the rear, should fall upon
them when in a confused mass, and drive them against the fence or
into the morass.

The first division of the English on arriving at the bog made a
circuit to the west. The second division, seeing the obstacle which
the first had encountered, moved round to the east, and both fell
upon the Scottish squares. The instant they were seen rounding
the ends of the morass, the traitor Comyn, with the whole of the
cavalry, turned rein and fled from the field, leaving the infantry
alone to support the whole brunt of the attack of the English. So
impetuous was the charge of the latter that Sir John Stewart and
his archers were unable to gain the shelter of the squares, and
he was, with almost all his men, slain by the English men-at-arms.
Thus the spearmen were left entirely to their own resources.

Encouraged by Wallace, Grahame, Archie Forbes, and their other
leaders, the Scottish squares stood firmly, and the English cavalry
in vain strove to break the hedge of spears.  Again and again the
bravest of the chivalry of England tried to hew a way through. The
Scots stood firm and undismayed, and had the battle lain between
them and the English cavalry, the day would have been theirs. But
presently the king, with his enormous body of infantry, arrived on
the ground, and the English archers and slingers poured clouds of
missiles into the ranks of the Scots; while the English spearmen,
picking up the great stones with which the ground was strewn,
hurled them at the front ranks of their foes. Against this storm
of missiles the Scottish squares could do nothing. Such armour
as they had was useless against the English clothyard arrows, and
thousands fell as they stood.

Again and again they closed up the gaps in their ranks, but at last
they could no longer withstand the hail of arrows and stones, to
which they could offer no return. Some of them wavered. The gaps
in the squares were no longer filled up, and the English cavalry,
who had been waiting for their opportunity, charged into the midst
of them. No longer was there any thought of resistance. The Scots
fled in all directions. Numbers were drowned by trying to swim the
river Carron, which ran close by. Multitudes were cut down by the
host of English cavalry.

Sir Archie Forbes was in the same square with Wallace, with a few
other mounted men. They dashed forward against the English as they
broke through the ranks of the spearmen, but the force opposed them
was overwhelming.

"It is of no use, Archie; we must retire. Better that than throw
away our lives uselessly. All is lost now."

Wallace shouted to the spearmen, who gallantly rallied round him,
and, keeping together in spite of the efforts of the English cavalry,
succeeded in withdrawing from the field.  The other squares were
entirely broken and dispersed, and scarce a man of them escaped.

Accounts vary as to the amount of the slaughter, some English
writers placing it as double that of the army which Wallace could
possibly have brought into the field, seeing that the whole of the
great nobles stood aloof, and that Grahame, Stewart, and Macduff of
Fife were the only three men of noble family with him.  All these
were slain, together with some 25,000 infantry.

Wallace with about 5000 men succeeded in crossing a ford of the
Carron, and the English spread themselves over the country. The
districts of Fife, Clackmannan, Lanark, Ayr, and all the surrounding
country were wasted and burnt, and every man found put to the sword.
The Scotch themselves in retreating destroyed Stirling and Perth,
and the English found the town of St. Andrew's deserted, and burnt
it to the ground.

No sooner had Wallace retreated than he divided his force into
small bands, which proceeded in separate directions, driving off the
cattle and destroying all stores of grain, so that in a fortnight
after the battle of Falkirk the English army were again brought
to a stand by shortness of provisions, and were compelled to fall
back again with all speed to the mouth of the Forth, there to obtain
provisions from their ships. As they did so Wallace reunited his
bands, and pressed hard upon them. At Linlithgow he fell upon their
rear and inflicted heavy loss, and so hotly did he press them that
the great army was obliged to retreat rapidly across the Border,
and made no halt until it reached the fortress of Carlisle.

That it was compulsion alone which forced Edward to make his
speedy retreat we may be sure from the fact that after the victory
of Dunbar he was contented with nothing less than a clean sweep
of Scotland to its northern coast, and that he repeated the same
process when, in the year following the battle of Falkirk, he again
returned with a mighty army. Thus decisive as was the battle of
Falkirk it was entirely abortive in results.

When the English had crossed the Border, Wallace assembled the few
gentlemen who were still with him, and announced his intention of
resigning the guardianship of Scotland, and of leaving the country.
The announcement was received with exclamations of surprise and

"Surely, Sir William," Archie exclaimed, "you cannot mean it. You
are our only leader; in you we have unbounded confidence, and in
none else. Had it not been for the treachery of Comyn the field of
Falkirk would have been ours, for had the horse charged when the
English were in confusion round our squares they had assuredly been
defeated. Moreover, your efforts have retrieved that disastrous
field, and have driven the English across the Border."

"My dear Archie," Wallace said, "it is because I am the only leader
in whom you have confidence that I must needs go. I had vainly hoped
that when the Scottish nobles saw what great things the commonalty
were able to do, and how far, alone and unaided, they had cleared
Scotland of her tyrants, they would have joined us with their
vassals; but you see it is not so. The successes that I have gained
have but excited their envy against me. Of them all only Grahame,
Stewart, and Macduff stood by my side, while all the great earls
and barons either held aloof or were, like Bruce, in the ranks of
Edward's army, or like Comyn and his friends, joined me solely to
betray me. I am convinced now that it is only a united Scotland can
resist the power of England, and it is certain that so long as I
remain here Scotland never can be united. Of Bruce I have no longer
any hope; but if I retire Comyn may take the lead, and many at
least of the Scottish nobles will follow him. Had we but horsemen
and archers to support our spearmen, I would not fear the issue;
but it is the nobles alone who can place mounted men-at-arms in
the field.  Of bowmen we must always be deficient, seeing that our
people take not naturally to this arm as do the English; but with
spearmen to break the first shock of English chivalry, and with
horsemen to charge them when in confusion, we may yet succeed, but
horsemen we shall never get so long as the nobles hold aloof. It
is useless to try and change my decision, my friends. Sore grief
though it will be to me to sheathe my sword and to stand aloof
when Scotland struggles for freedom, I am convinced that only by my
doing so has Scotland a chance of ultimate success in the struggle.
Do not make it harder for me by your pleadings. I have thought long
over this, and my mind is made up. My heart is well nigh broken by
the death of my dear friend and brother in arms, Sir John Grahame,
and I feel able to struggle no longer against the jealousy and
hostility of the Scottish nobles."

Wallace's hearers were all in tears at his decision, but they felt
that there was truth in his words, that the Scottish nobles were
far more influenced by feelings of personal jealousy and pique than
by patriotism, and that so long as Wallace remained the guardian
of Scotland they would to a man side with the English. The next day
Wallace assembled all his followers, and in a few words announced
his determination, and the reasons which had driven him to take
it. He urged them to let no feelings of resentment at the treatment
he had experienced, or any wrath at the lukewarmness and treachery
which had hitherto marked the Scottish nobles, overcome their feeling
of patriotism, but to follow these leaders should they raise the
banner of Scotland, as bravely and devotedly as they had followed

Then he bade them farewell, and mounting his horse rode to the
seacoast and passed over to France.

Although he had retired from Scotland, Wallace did not cease from
war against the English; but being warmly received by the French
king fought against them both by sea and land, and won much renown
among the French.

After returning to England, Edward, finding that the Scottish leaders
still professed to recognize Baliol as king, sent him to the pope
at Rome, having first confiscated all his great possessions in
England and bestowed them upon his own nephew, John of Brittany;
and during the rest of his life Baliol lived in obscurity in Rome.
A portion of the Scotch nobles assembled and chose John Comyn of
Badenoch and John de Soulis as guardians of the kingdom. In the
autumn of the following year Edward again assembled a great army
and moved north, but it was late; and in the face of the approaching
winter, and the difficulty of forage, many of the barons refused
to advance. Edward himself marched across the Border; but seeing
that the Scots had assembled in force, and that at such a season
of the year he could not hope to carry his designs fully into
execution, he retired without striking a blow. Thereupon the castle
of Stirling, which was invested by the Scots, seeing no hope of
relief, surrendered, and Sir William Oliphant was appointed governor.

The next spring Edward again advanced with an army even greater
than that with which he had before entered Scotland. With him were
Alexander of Baliol, son of the late king, who was devoted to the
English; Dunbar, Fraser, Ross, and other Scottish nobles. The vast
army first laid siege to the little castle of Carlaverock, which,
although defended by but sixty men, resisted for some time the
assaults of the whole army, but was at last captured. The Scots
fell back as Edward advanced, renewing Wallace's tactics of wasting
the country, and Edward could get no further than Dumfries. Here,
finding the enormous difficulties which beset him, he made a pretence
of yielding with a good grace to the entreaties of the pope and the
King of France that he would spare Scotland; he retired to England
and disbanded his army, having accomplished nothing in the campaign
save the capture of Carlaverock.

The following summer he again advanced with the army, this time
supported by a fleet of seventy ships.  The Scots resorted to their
usual strategy, and, when winter came, the invaders had penetrated
no further than the Forth. Edward remained at Linlithgow for a
time, and then returned to England. Sir Simon Fraser, who had been
one of the leaders of the English army at Carlaverock, now imitated
Comyn's example, and, deserting the English cause, joined his

The greater part of the English army recrossed the Border, and the
Scots captured many of the garrisons left in the towns. Sir John
Seagrave next invaded Scotland with from 20,000 to 30,000 men, mostly
cavalry.  They reached the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, when Comyn
and Fraser advanced against them with 8000 men, chiefly infantry.
The English army were advancing in three divisions, in order
better to obtain provisions and forage. After a rapid night march
the Scotch came upon one of them, commanded by Seagrave in person;
and conceiving himself sufficiently strong to defeat the Scots unaided
by any of the other divisions, Sir John Seagrave immediately gave

As at Falkirk, the English cavalry were unable to break through
the Scottish pikes. Great numbers were killed or taken prisoners,
Seagrave himself being severely wounded and captured, with
twenty distinguished knights, thirty esquires, and many soldiers.
Scarcely was the battle over when the second English division, even
stronger than the first, arrived on the field. Encumbered by their
prisoners, the Scots were at a disadvantage; and fearing to be attacked
by these in the rear while engaged in front, they slaughtered the
greater portion of the prisoners, and arming the camp followers,
prepared to resist the English onslaught. This failed as the first
had done; the cavalry were defeated with great loss by the spearmen,
and many prisoners taken--among them Sir Ralph Manton.

The third English division now appeared; and the Scots, worn out
by their long march and the two severe conflicts they had endured,
were about to fly from the field when their leaders exhorted them
to one more effort. The second batch of prisoners were slaughtered,
and the pikemen again formed line to resist the English charge.
Again were the cavalry defeated, Sir Robert Neville, their leader,
slain, with many others, and the whole dispersed and scattered.
Sir Robert Manton, who was the king's treasurer, had had a quarrel
with Fraser, when the latter was in Edward's service, regarding
his pay; and Fraser is said by some historians to have now revenged
himself by slaying his prisoner. Other accounts, however, represent
Manton as having escaped.

The slaughter of the prisoners appears, although cruel, to have
been unavoidable; as the Scots, having before them a well appointed
force fully equal to their own in number, could not have risked
engaging, with so large a body of prisoners in their rear. None of
the knights or other leaders were slain, these being subsequently
exchanged or ransomed, as we afterwards find them fighting in the
English ranks.

Seeing by this defeat that a vast effort was necessary to conquer
Scotland, King Edward advanced in the spring of 1303 with an army
of such numbers that the historians of the time content themselves
with saying that "it was great beyond measure."  It consisted of
English, Welsh, Irish, Gascons, and Savoyards. One division, under
the Prince of Wales, advanced by the west coast; that of the king,
by the east; and the two united at the Forth. Without meeting any
serious resistance the great host marched north through Perth and
Dundee to Brechin, where the castle, under the charge of Sir Thomas
Maille, resisted for twenty days; and it was only after the death
of the governor that it surrendered.

The English then marched north through Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray
into Caithness, carrying utter destruction everywhere; towns and
hamlets, villages and farmhouses were alike destroyed; crops were
burned, forests and orchards cut down. Thus was the whole of Scotland
wasted; and even the rich abbeys of Abberbredok and Dunfermline,
the richest and most famous in Scotland, were destroyed, and the
whole levelled to the ground. The very fields were as far as possible
injured--the intention of Edward being, as Fordun says, to blot
out the people, and to reduce the land to a condition of irrecoverable
devastation, and thus to stamp out for ever any further resistance
in Scotland.

During the three years which had elapsed since the departure
of Wallace, Archie had for the most part remained quietly in his
castle, occupying himself with the comfort and wellbeing of his
vassals. He had, each time the English entered Scotland, taken the
field with a portion of his retainers, in obedience to the summons
of Comyn. The latter was little disposed to hold valid the grants
made by Wallace, especially in the case of Archie Forbes, the Kerrs
being connections of his house; but the feeling of the people in
general was too strongly in favour of the companion of Wallace for
him to venture to set it aside, especially as the castle could not
be captured without a long continued siege. Archie and many of the
nobles hostile to the claims of Comyn obeyed his orders, he being
the sole possible leader, at present, of Scotland. Edward, however,
had left them no alternative, since he had, in order to induce
the English nobles to follow him, formally divided among them the
lands of the whole of the Scotch nobles, save those actually fighting
in his ranks.

Archie was now nearly three-and-twenty, and his frame had fully
borne out the promise of his youth. He was over the average height,
but appeared shorter from the extreme breadth of his shoulders;
his arms were long and sinewy, and his personal strength immense.

From the time of his first taking possession of Aberfilly he had
kept a party of men steadily engaged in excavating a passage from
the castle towards a wood a mile distant. The ground was soft and
offered but few obstacles, but the tunnel throughout its whole
length had to be supported by massive timbers. Wood, however, was
abundant, and the passage had by this time been completed. Whenever,
from the length of the tunnel, the workmen began to suffer from
want of air, ventilation was obtained by running a small shaft
up to the surface; in this was placed a square wooden tube of six
inches in diameter, round which the earth was again filled in--a
few rapidly growing plants and bushes being planted round the
orifice to prevent its being noticed by any passerby.

Chapter XI

Robert The Bruce

At the last great invasion by Edward, Archie did not take the field,
seeing that Comyn, in despair of opposing so vast a host, did not
call out the levies.  Upon the approach of the English army under
the Prince of Wales he called the whole of his tenants into the
castle. Great stores of provisions had already been collected. The
women and children were sent away up into the hills, where provisions
had also been garnered, and the old men and boys accompanied them.
As the Prince of Wales passed north, bands from his army spreading
over the country destroyed every house in the district. Archie was
summoned to surrender, but refused to do so; and the prince, being
on his way to join his father on the Forth, after himself surveying
the hold, and judging it far too strong to be carried without
a prolonged siege, marched forward, promising on his return to
destroy it. Soon afterwards Archie received a message that Wallace
had returned. He at once took with him fifty men, and leaving the
castle in charge of Sandy Graham, with the rest of his vassals, two
hundred and fifty in number, he rejoined his former leader. Many
others gathered round Wallace's standard; and throughout Edward's
march to the north and his return to the Forth Wallace hung upon
his flanks, cutting off and slaying great numbers of the marauders,
and striking blows at detached bands wherever these were in numbers
not too formidable to be coped with.

Stirling was now the only great castle which remained in the hands
of the Scotch, and King Edward prepared to lay siege to this. Save
for the band of Wallace there was no longer any open resistance in
the field. A few holds like those of Archie Forbes still remained
in the hands of their owners, their insignificance, or the time
which would be wasted in subduing them, having protected them from
siege.  None of the nobles now remained in arms.

Bruce had for a short time taken the field; but had, as usual,
hastened to make his peace with Edward.  Comyn and all his adherents
surrendered upon promise of their lives and freedom, and that they
should retain their estates, subject to a pecuniary fine. All the
nobles of Scotland were included in this capitulation, save a few
who were condemned to suffer temporary banishment. Sir William
Wallace alone was by name specially exempted from the surrender.

Stirling Castle was invested on the 20th of April, 1304, and for
seventy days held out against all the efforts of Edward's army.
Warlike engines of all kinds had been brought from England for
the siege. The religious houses of St. Andrews, Brechin, and other
churches were stripped of lead for the engines. The sheriffs of
London, Lincoln, York, and the governor of the Tower were ordered
to collect and forward all the mangonels, quarrels, and bows and
arrows they could gather; and for seventy days missiles of all
kinds, immense stones, leaden balls, and javelins were rained upon
the castle; and Greek fire--a new and terrible mode of destruction--was
also used in the siege. But it was only when their provisions
and other resources were exhausted that the garrison capitulated;
and it was found that the survivors of the garrison which had
defended Stirling Castle for upwards of three months against the
whole force of England numbered, including its governor, Sir William
Oliphant, and twenty-four knights and gentlemen, but a hundred and
twenty soldiers, two monks, and thirteen females.

During the siege Wallace had kept the field, but Archie had, at
his request, returned to his castle, which being but a day's march
from Stirling, might at any moment be besieged.  Several times,
indeed, parties appeared before it, but Edward's hands were too
full, and he could spare none of the necessary engines to undertake
such a siege; and when Stirling at length fell he and his army
were in too great haste to return to England to undertake another
prolonged siege, especially as Aberfilly, standing in a retired
position, and commanding none of the principal roads, was a hold
of no political importance.

A short time afterwards, to Archie's immense grief, Sir William
Wallace was betrayed into the hands of the English.  Several
Scotchmen took part in this base act, the principal being Sir John
Menteith. Late historians, in their ardour to whitewash those who
have for ages been held up to infamy, have endeavoured to show that
Sir John Menteith was not concerned in the matter; but the evidence
is overwhelming the other way. Scotch opinion at the time, and
for generations afterwards, universally imputed the crime to him.
Fordun, who wrote in the reign of Robert Bruce, Bowyer, and Langtoft,
all Scotch historians, say that it was he who betrayed Wallace, and
their account is confirmed by contemporary English writings.  The
Chronicle of Lanercost, the Arundel MSS., written about the year
1320, and the Scala Chronica, all distinctly say that Wallace was
seized by Sir John Menteith; and finally, Sir Francis Palgrave has
discovered in the memoranda of the business of the privy council
that forty marks were bestowed upon the young man who spied out
Wallace, sixty marks were divided among some others who assisted
in his capture, and that to Sir John Menteith was given land of
the annual value of one hundred pounds--a very large amount in
those days.

The manner in which Wallace was seized is uncertain; but he was at
once handed by Sir John Menteith to Sir John Seagrave, and carried
by him to London. He was taken on horseback to Westminster, the
mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen, with a great number of horse and
foot, accompanying him.  There the mockery of a trial was held,
and he was in one day tried, condemned, and executed. He defended
himself nobly, urging truly that, as a native born Scotsman, he
had never sworn fealty or allegiance to England, and that he was
perfectly justified in fighting for the freedom of his country.

Every cruelty attended his execution. He was drawn through the
streets at the tails of horses; he was hung for some time by a
halter, but was taken down while yet alive; he was mutilated and
disembowelled, his head then cut off, his body divided in four,
his head impaled over London Bridge, and his quarters distributed
to four principal towns in Scotland. Such barbarities were common
at executions in the days of the Norman kings, who have been
described by modern writers as chivalrous monarchs.

A nobler character than Wallace is not to be found in history. Alone,
a poor and landless knight, by his personal valour and energy he
aroused the spirit of his countrymen, and in spite of the opposition
of the whole of the nobles of his country banded the people in
resistance against England, and for a time wrested all Scotland from
the hands of Edward. His bitter enemies the English were unable to
adduce any proofs that the epithets of ferocious and bloodthirsty,
with which they were so fond of endowing him, had even a shadow
of foundation, and we may rather believe the Scotch accounts that
his gentleness and nobility of soul were equal to his valour. Of
his moderation and wisdom when acting as governor of Scotland there
can be no doubt, while the brilliant strategy which first won the
battle of Stirling, and would have gained that of Falkirk had not
the treachery and cowardice of the cavalry ruined his plans, show
that under other circumstances he would have taken rank as one of
the greatest commanders of his own or any age.

He first taught his countrymen, and indeed Europe in general, that
steady infantry can repel the assaults even of mailclad cavalry.
The lesson was followed at Bannockburn by Bruce, who won under
precisely the same circumstances as those under which Wallace had
been defeated, simply because at the critical moment he had 500
horse at hand to charge the disordered mass of the English, while
at Falkirk Wallace's horse, who should have struck the blow, were
galloping far away from the battlefield. Nor upon his English
conquerors was the lesson lost, for at Cressy, when attacked by
vastly superior numbers, Edward III dismounted his army, and ordered
them to fight on foot, and the result gave a death blow to that
mailed chivalry which had come to be regarded as the only force
worth reckoning in a battle. The conduct of Edward to Wallace,
and later to many other distinguished Scotchmen who fell into his
hands, is a foul blot upon the memory of one of the greatest of
the kings of England.

Edward might now well have believed that Scotland was crushed for
ever. In ten years no less than twelve great armies had marched
across the Border, and twice the whole country had been ravaged
from sea to sea, the last time so effectually, that Edward had
good ground for his belief that the land would never again raise
its head from beneath his foot.

He now proceeded, as William of Normandy after Hastings had done,
to settle his conquest, and appointed thirty-one commissioners, of
whom twenty-one were English and ten so called Scotch, among them
Sir John Menteith, to carry out his ordinances. All the places of
strength were occupied by English garrisons.  The high officers and
a large proportion of the justiciaries and sheriffs were English,
and Edward ruled Scotland from Westminster as he did England.

Among the commissioners was Robert Bruce, now through the death
of his father, Lord of Annandale and Carrick; and Edward addressed
a proclamation to him, headed, "To our faithful and loyal Robert
de Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and all others who are in his company,
greeting;" and went on to say that he possessed the king's fullest
confidence. But though Scotland lay prostrate, the spirit of
resistance yet lingered in the hearts of the commonalty. Although
conquered now the memory of their past success still inspired them,
but until some leader presented himself none could stir. It was in
August that Wallace had been executed. Archie had received several
summonses from the English governors of Stirling and Lanark to
come in and do homage to Edward, but he had resolutely declined,
and the task of capturing his castle was too heavy a one to
be undertaken by any single garrison; still he saw that the time
must come, sooner or later, when he would have to choose between
surrender and death. When matters settled down it was certain that
a great effort would be made to root out the one recalcitrant south
of the Forth. For some time he remained gloomy and thoughtful,
a mood most unusual to him, and his mother, who was watching him
anxiously, was scarcely surprised when one day he said to her:

"Mother, I must leave you for a time. Matters can no longer continue
as they are. Surrender to the English I will not, and there remains
for me but to defend this castle to the last, and then to escape
to France; or to cross thither at once, and enter the service of
the French king, as did Wallace. Of these courses I would fain take
the latter, seeing that the former would bring ruin and death upon
our vassals, who have ever done faithful service when called upon,
and whom I would not see suffer for my sake. In that case I should
propose that you should return and live quietly with Sir Robert
Gordon until times change."

Dame Forbes agreed with her son, for she had long felt that further
resistance would only bring ruin upon him.

"There is yet one other course, mother, and that I am about to take;
it is well nigh a desperate one, and my hopes of success are small,
yet would I attempt it before I leave Scotland and give Aberfilly
back again to the Kerrs. Ask me not what it is, for it were best
that if it fail you should not know of it. There is no danger in
the enterprise, but for a month I shall be absent. On my return
you shall hear my final resolve."

Having attired himself as a lowland farmer, Archie proceeded to
Edinburgh, and there took ship for London; here he took lodgings
at an inn, which he had been told in Edinburgh was much frequented
by Scotchmen who had to go to London on business. His first care
was to purchase the garments of an English gentleman of moderate
means, so that he could pass through the streets without attracting

He was greatly impressed with the bustle and wealth of London.

"It is wonderful," he said to himself, "that we Scots, who were
after all but an army of peasants, could for nigh ten years have
supported a war against such a country as this, and it seems madness
to adventure farther in that way. If my present errand fails I will
assuredly hold firm to my resolve and seek a refuge in France."

Archie ascertained that Robert the Bruce lodged at Westminster,
and that great gaieties were taking place at the court for joy at
the final termination of hostilities with Scotland, now secured by
the execution of Wallace.  He despatched a letter to the earl by
a messenger from the inn, saying that one who had formerly known
him in Scotland desired earnestly to speak to him on matters of
great import, and begging him to grant a private interview with him
at his lodging at as early an hour as might be convenient to him.
The man returned with a verbal reply, that the earl would see the
writer at his lodging at nine o'clock on the following morning.

At the appointed time Archie presented himself at the house inhabited
by Bruce. To the request of the earl's retainer for his name and
business he replied that his name mattered not, but that he had
received a message from the earl appointing him a meeting at that

Two minutes later he was ushered into the private cabinet of Robert
Bruce. The latter was seated writing, and looked up at his unknown

"Do you remember me, Sir Robert Bruce?" Archie asked.

"Methinks I know your face, sir," the earl replied, "but I cannot
recall where I have seen it."

"It is five years since," Archie said, "and as that time has changed
me from a youth into a man I wonder not that my face has escaped

"I know you now!" the earl exclaimed, rising suddenly from his
seat. "You are Sir Archibald Forbes?"

"I am," Archie replied, "and I have come now on the same errand I
came then--the cause of our country.  The English think she is
dead, but, though faint and bleeding, Scotland yet lives; but there
is one man only who can revive her, and that man is yourself."

"Your mission is a vain one," Bruce replied. "Though I honour you,
Sir Archibald, for your faith and constancy; though I would give
much, ay all that I have, were my record one of as true patriotism
and sacrifice as yours, yet it were madness to listen to you. Have
I not," he asked bitterly, "earned the hatred of my countrymen?
Have I not three times raised my standard only to lower it again
without striking a blow?  Did I not fight by Edward at the field
of Falkirk? Ah!" he said in a changed tone, "never shall I forget
the horror which I felt as I passed over the field strewn with
Scottish corpses. Truly my name must be loathed in Scotland; and
yet, Sir Archibald, irresolute and false as I have hitherto proved
myself, believe me, I love Scotland, the land of my mother."

"I believe you, sir," Archie said, "and it is therefore that I
implore you to listen to me. You are now our only possible leader,
our only possible king. Baliol is a captive at Rome, his son a courtier
of Edward.  Wallace is dead. Comyn proved weak and incapable, and
was unable to rally the people to offer any opposition to Edward's
last march. Scotland needs a leader strong and valiant as Wallace,
capable of uniting around him a large body, at least, of the Scotch
nobles, and having some claim to her crown. You know not, sir, how
deep is the hatred of the English. The last terrible incursion of
Edward has spread that feeling far and wide, and while before it was
but in a few counties of the lowlands that the flame of resistance
really burnt, this time, believe me, that all Scotland, save perhaps
the Comyns and their adherents, would rise at the call. I say not
that success would at once attend you, for, forgive me for saying
so, the commonalty would not at first trust you; but when they saw
that you were fighting for Scotland as well as for your own crown,
that you had, by your action, definitely and for ever broken with
the English, and had this time entered heart and soul into the cause,
I am sure they would not hold back. Your own vassals of Carrick and
Annandale are a goodly array in themselves and the young Douglas
might be counted on to bring his dalesmen to your banner. There
are all the lords who have favoured your cause, and so stood aloof
from Comyn. You will have a good array to commence with; but above
all, even if unsuccessful at first, all Scotland would come in
time to regard you as her king and champion. Resistance will never
cease, for even Wallace was ever able to assemble bands and make
head against the English, so will it be with you, until at last
freedom is achieved, and you will reign a free king over a free
Scotland, and your name will be honoured to all time as the champion
and deliverer of our country. Think not, sir," he went on earnestly
as Bruce paced up and down the little room, "that it is too late.
Other Scotchmen, Fraser and many others, who have warred in the
English ranks, have been joyfully received when at length they
drew sword for Scotland.  Only do you stand forth as our champion,
believe me, that the memory of former weakness will be forgotten
in the admiration of present patriotism."

For two or three minutes Bruce strode up and down the room; then
he paused before Archie.

"By heavens," he said, "I will do it! I am not so sanguine as you,
I do not believe that success can ever finally attend the enterprise,
but, be that as it may, I will attempt it, win or die. The memory
of Robert Bruce shall go down in the hearts of Scotchmen as one
who, whatever his early errors, atoned for them at last by living
and dying in her cause. My sisters and brothers have long urged me
to take such a step, but I could never bring myself to brave the
power of England. Your words have decided me. The die is cast.
Henceforward Robert Bruce is a Scotchman. And now, Sir Archibald,
what think you my first step should be?"

"The English in Scotland are lulled in security, and a sudden blow
upon them will assuredly at first be wholly successful. You must
withdraw suddenly and quietly from here."

"It is not easy to do so," Bruce replied. "Although high in favour
with Edward, he has yet some suspicions of me--not," he said
bitterly, "without just cause--and would assuredly arrest me did
he know that I were going north. My only plan will be to appear
at court as usual, while I send down relays of horses along the
northern road. You will ride with me, Sir Archie, will you not?
But I must tell you that I have already, in some degree, prepared
for a movement in Scotland. Comyn and I have met and have talked
over the matter.  Our mutual claims to the crown stood in the way,
but we have agreed that one shall yield to the other, and that
whoso takes the crown shall give all his lands to be the property
of the other, in consideration of his waiving his claim and giving
his support. This we have agreed to, and have signed a mutual bond
to that effect, and though it is not so writ down we have further
agreed that I shall have the crown and that Comyn shall take Carrick
and Annandale; but this was for the future, and we thought not of
any movement for the present."

"It were a bad bargain, sir," Archie said gravely; "and one that I
trust will never be carried out. The Comyns are even now the most
powerful nobles in Scotland, and with Carrick and Annandale in
addition to their own broad lands, would be masters of Scotland,
let who would be called her king. Did he displease them, they
could, with their vassals and connections, place a stronger army
in the field than that which the king could raise; and could at any
moment, did he anger them, call in the English to his aid, and so
again lay Scotland under the English yoke."

"I will think of it, Sir Archie. There is much in what you say, and
I sorely doubt the Comyns. Henceforth do not fear to give me your
advice freely. You possessed the confidence of Wallace, and have
shown yourself worthy of it. Should I ever free Scotland and win
me a kingdom, believe me you will not find Robert Bruce ungrateful.
I will give orders tomorrow for the horses to be privately
sent forward, so that at any hour we can ride if the moment seem
propitious; meanwhile I pray you to move from the hostelry in the
city, where your messenger told me you were staying, to one close
at hand, in order that I may instantly communicate with you in case
of need. I cannot ask you to take up your abode here, for there
are many Scotchmen among my companions who might know your face,
or who, not knowing, might make inquiry of me as to your family;
but among the crowd of strangers who on some business or other at
the court throng the inns of the city of Westminster, one figure
more or less would excite neither question nor comment."

That afternoon Archie took up his abode at Westminster.  A week
later one of Bruce's retainers came in just as Archie was about to
retire to bed, and said that the Earl of Carrick wished immediately
to see Master Forbes. Sir Archie had retained his own name while
dropping the title. He at once crossed, to Bruce's lodging.

"We must mount at once!" the earl exclaimed as he entered. "What
think you? I have but now received word from a friend, who is
a member of the council, to say that this afternoon a messenger
arrived from the false Comyn with a letter to the king, containing
a copy of the bond between us.  Whether the coward feared the
consequences, or whether he has all along acted in treachery with
the view of bringing me into disgrace, and so ridding himself of
a rival, I know not; but the result is the same, he has disclosed
our plans to Edward. A council was hastily called, and it has but
just separated. It is to meet again in the morning, and the king
himself will be present. I am to be summoned before it, being, as
it is supposed, in ignorance of the betrayal of my plans. It was
well for me that Edward himself had pressing engagements, and was
unable to be present at the council. Had he been, prompt steps would
have been taken, and I should by this time be lying a prisoner in
the Tower. Even now I may be arrested at any moment. Have you aught
for which you wish to return to your inn?"

"No," Archie replied. "I have but a change of clothing there, which
is of no importance, and we had best lose not a moment's time. But
there is the reckoning to discharge."

"I will give orders," the earl said, "that it shall be discharged
in the morning. Now let us without a moment's delay make to the
stables and mount there. Here is a cloak and valise."

The earl struck a bell, and a retainer appeared.

"Allan, I am going out to pay a visit. Take these two valises to
the stable at once, and order Roderick to saddle the two bay horses
in the stalls at the end of the stables. Tell him to be speedy, for
I shall be with him anon. He is not bring them round here. I will
mount in the court."

Five minutes later Bruce and Archie, enveloped in thick cloaks
with hoods drawn over their faces, rode north from Westminster. At
first they went slowly, but as soon as they were out in the fields
they set spur to their horses and galloped on in the darkness.

The snow lay thick upon the ground, and the roads were entirely

"Farewell to London!" Bruce exclaimed. "Except as a prisoner I
shall never see it again. The die is cast this time, Sir Archie,
and for good; even if I would I can never draw back again. Comyn's
treachery has made my action irrevocable--it is now indeed death
or victory!"

All night they rode without drawing rein, save that they once
changed horses where a relay had been provided. They had little
fear of pursuit, for even when Bruce's absence was discovered none
of his household would be able to say where he had gone, and some
time must elapse before the conviction that he had ridden for
Scotland, in such weather, would occur to the king. Nevertheless,
they travelled fast, and on the 10th of February entered Dumfries.

Chapter XII

The Battle of Methven

Bruce had, during the previous week, sent messages saying to several
of his friends in Annandale and Carrick that he might at any time
be among them, and at Dumfries he found many of them prepared to
see him. The English justiciaries for the southern district of the
conquered kingdom were holding an assize, and at this most of the
nobles and principal men of that part were present.  Among these
were, of course, many of Bruce's vassals; among them also was John
Comyn of Badenoch, who held large estates in Galloway, in virtue
of which he was now present.

As soon as the news that Bruce had arrived in the town spread, his
adherents and vassals there speedily gathered round him, and as,
accompanied by several of them, he went through the town he met
Comyn in the precincts of the Grey Friars. Concerning this memorable
meeting there has been great dispute among historians. Some have
charged Bruce with inviting Comyn to meet him, with the deliberate
intention of slaying him; others have represented the meeting as
accidental, and the slaying of Comyn as the result of an outburst
of passion on the part of Bruce; but no one who weighs the facts,
and considers the circumstances in which Comyn was placed, can feel
the least question that the latter is the true hypothesis.

Bruce, whose whole course shows him to have been a man who acted
with prudence and foresight, would have been nothing short of mad had
he, just at the time when it was necessary to secure the goodwill
of the whole of the Scotch nobles, chosen that moment to slay Comyn,
with whom were connected, by blood or friendship, the larger half
of the Scotch nobles. Still less, had he decided upon so suicidal
a course, would he have selected a sanctuary as the scene of the
deed. To slay his rival in such a place would be to excite against
himself the horror and aversion of the whole people, and to enlist
against him the immense authority and influence of the church.
Therefore, unless we should conclude that Bruce--whose early
career showed him to be a cool and calculating man, and whose future
course was marked throughout with wisdom of the highest character--was
suffering from an absolute aberration of intellect, we must
accept the account by those who represent the meeting as accidental,
and the slaying as the result of an outburst of passion provoked
by Comyn's treachery, as the correct one.

When Bruce saw Comyn approaching he bade his followers stop where
they were and advanced towards Comyn, who was astonished at his

"I would speak with you aside, John Comyn," Bruce said; and the
two withdrew into the church apart from the observation of others.

Then Bruce broke into a torrent of invective against Comyn for his
gross act of treachery in betraying him by sending to Edward a copy
of their agreement.

"You sought," he said, "to send me to the scaffold, and so clear
the way for yourself to the throne of Scotland."

Comyn, finding that dissimulation was useless, replied as hotly.
Those without could hear the voices of the angry men rise higher
and higher; then there was a silence, and Bruce hurried out alone.

"What has happened?" Archie Forbes exclaimed.

"I fear that I have slain Comyn," Bruce replied in an agitated

"Then I will make sure," Kirkpatrick, one of his retainers, said;
and accompanied by Lindsay and another of his companions he ran in
and completed the deed.

Scarcely was this done than Sir Robert Comyn, uncle of the earl,
ran up, and seeing what had taken place, furiously attacked Bruce
and his party. A fierce fray took place, and Robert Comyn and
several of his friends were slain.

"The die is cast now," Bruce said when the fray was over; "but
I would give my right hand had I not slain Comyn in my passion;
however, it is too late to hesitate now. Gather together, my
friends, all your retainers, and let us hurry at once to attack
the justiciaries."

In a few minutes Kirkpatrick brought together those who had
accompanied him and his companions to the town, and they at once
moved against the courthouse. The news of Bruce's arrival and of
the fray with the Comyns had already reached the justiciaries, and
with their retainers and friends they had made hasty preparations
for defence; but seeing that Bruce's followers outnumbered them,
and that a defence might cost them their lives, they held parley
and agreed to surrender upon Bruce promising to allow them to
depart at once for England. Half an hour later the English had left

Bruce called a council of his companions.

"My friends," he said, "we have been hurried into a terrible strife,
and deeply do I regret that by my own mad passion at the treachery
of Comyn I have begun it by an evil deed; but when I tell you of the
way in which that traitor sought to bring me to an English block,
you will somewhat absolve me for the deed, and will grant that,
unhappy and unfortunate as it was, my passion was in some degree

He then informed them of the bond into which he and Comyn had
entered, and of its betrayal by Comyn to Edward.

"Thus it is," he said, "that the deed has taken place, and it
is too late to mend it. We have before us a desperate enterprise,
and yet I hope that we may succeed in it.  At any rate, this time
there can be no drawing back, and we must conquer or die. It was
certain in any case that Comyn and his party would oppose me, but
now their hostility will go to all lengths, while Edward will never
forgive the attack upon his justiciaries. Still we shall have some
breathing time. The king will not hear for ten days of events here,
and it will take him two months at least before he can assemble
an army on the Border, and Comyn's friends will probably do nought
till the English approach. However, let us hurry to Lochmaben
Castle; there we shall be safe from any sudden attack by Comyn's
friends in Galloway. First let us draw out papers setting forth
the cause of my enmity to Comyn, and of the quarrel which led to
his death, and telling all Scotchmen that I have now cut myself
loose for ever from England, and that I have come to free Scotland
and to win the crown which belongs to me by right, or to die in
the attempt."

Many of these documents being drawn out, messengers were despatched
with them to Bruce's friends throughout the country, and he and
his followers rode to Lochmaben.

Archie Forbes went north to his own estate, and at once gave
notice to his retainers to prepare to take the field, and to march
to Glasgow, which Bruce had named as the rendezvous for all well
disposed towards him. From time to time messages came from Bruce,
telling him that he was receiving many promises of support; the
whole of the vassals of Annandale and Carrick had assembled at
Lochmaben, where many small landowners with their retainers also
joined him.  As soon as his force had grown to a point when he
need fear no interruption on his march toward Glasgow, Bruce left
Lochmaben.  On his way he was joined by the first influential
nobleman who had espoused his cause; this was Sir James Douglas,
whose father, Sir William, had died in an English prison. At the
time of his capture his estates had been bestowed by Edward upon
Lord Clifford, and the young Douglas, then but a lad, had sought
refuge in France. After a while he had returned, and was living
with Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, who had been one of Wallace's
most active supporters.

The young Douglas, on receiving the news that Bruce was marching
north, at once mounted, rode off, and joined him. He was joyfully
received by Bruce, as not only would his own influence be great
among his father's vassals of Douglasdale, but his adhesion would
induce many others to join. Receiving news of Bruce's march,
Archie moved to Glasgow with his retainers. The English garrison
and adherents in Glasgow fled at his approach. Upon arriving there
Bruce solemnly proclaimed the independence of Scotland, and sent
out notices to all the nobles and gentry, calling upon them to join

Fortunately the Bishop of St. Andrews, and Wishart, Bishop of
Glasgow, another of Wallace's friends, at once declared strongly
for him, as did the Bishop of Moray and the Abbot of Scone. The
adhesion of these prelates was of immense importance to Bruce, as
to some extent the fact of their joining him showed that the church
felt no overwhelming indignation at the act of sacrilege which he
had committed, and enabled the minor clergy to advocate his cause
with their flocks.

Many of the great nobles hostile to the Comyn faction also joined
him; among these were the Earls of Athole, Lennox, Errol, and
Menteith; Christopher Seaton, Sir Simon Fraser, David Inchmartin,
Hugh de la Haye, Walter de Somerville, Robert Boyd, Robert Fleming,
David Barclay, Alexander Fraser, Sir Thomas Randolph, and Sir
Neil Campbell. Bruce's four brothers, Edward, Nigel, Thomas, and
Alexander, were, of course, with him. Bruce now moved from Glasgow
to Scone, and was there crowned King of Scotland on the 27th of
March, 1306, six weeks after his arrival at Dumfries.  Since the
days of Malcolm Canmore the ceremony of placing the crown on the
head of the monarch had been performed by the representative of
the family of Macduff, the earls of Fife; the present earl was in
the service of the English; but his sister Isobel, wife of Comyn,
Earl of Buchan, rode into Scone with a train of followers upon the
day after the coronation, and demanded to perform the office which
was the privilege of the family. To this Bruce gladly assented,
seeing that many Scotchmen would hold the coronation to be irregular
from its not having been performed by the hereditary functionary, and
that as Isabel was the wife of Comyn of Buchan, her open adhesion
to him might influence some of that faction. Accordingly on the
following day the ceremony was again performed, Isobel of Buchan
placing the crown on Bruce's head, an act of patriotism for which
the unfortunate lady was afterwards to pay dearly. Thus, although
the great majority of the Scotch nobles still held aloof, Bruce was
now at the head of a considerable force, and he at once proceeded
to overrun the country. The numerous English who had come across
the Border, under the belief that Scotland was finally conquered,
or to take possession of lands granted them by Edward, were all
compelled either to take refuge in the fortified towns and castles
held by English garrisons, or to return hastily to England.

When the news of the proceedings at Dumfries and the general
rising in the south of Scotland reached Edward he was at the city
of Winchester. He had been lately making a sort of triumphant
passage through the country, and the unexpected news that Scotland
which he had believed crushed beyond all possibility of further
resistance was again in arms, is said for a time to have driven
him almost out of his mind with rage.

Not a moment was lost. Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, was at
once commissioned to proceed to Scotland, to "put down rebellion
and punish the rebels," the whole military array of the northern
counties was placed under his orders, and Clifford and Percy were
associated with him in the commission. Edward also applied to the
pope to aid him in punishing the sacrilegious rebels who had violated
the sanctuary of Dumfries.  As Clement V was a native of Guienne,
and kept his court at Bordeaux within Edward's dominions, his
request was, of course, promptly complied with, and a bull issued,
instructing the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Carlisle to
excommunicate Bruce and his friends, and to place them and their
possessions under an interdict. It was now that the adhesion of
the Scottish prelates was of such vital consequence to Bruce. Had
the interdict been obeyed, the churches would have been closed,
all religious ceremonies suspended, the rites of the church would
have been refused even to dying men, and the dead would have been
buried without service in unconsecrated ground. So terrible a weapon
as this was almost always found irresistible, and its terrors had
compelled even the most powerful monarchs to yield obedience to
the pope's orders; but the Scotch prelates set the needs of their
country above the commands of the pope, and in spite of repeated bulls
the native clergy continued to perform their functions throughout
the whole struggle, and thus nullified the effect of the popish

King Edward was unable himself to lead his army against the Scots,
for he was now sixty-seven years old, and the vast fatigues and
exertions which he had undergone in the course of a life spent almost
continually in war had told upon him.  He had partially lost the
use of his limbs, and was forced to travel in a carriage or litter;
but when he reached London from Winchester a grand ceremony was
held, at which the order of knighthood was conferred by the king
upon the Prince of Wales, and three hundred aspirants belonging to
the principal families of the country, and orders were given that
the whole military array of the kingdom should, in the following
spring, gather at Carlisle, where Edward himself would meet them
and accompany them to Scotland.  The Earl of Pembroke, with Clifford
and Percy, lost no time in following the orders of Edward, and with
the military power of the northern counties marched into Scotland.
They advanced unopposed to the Forth, and crossing this river proceeded
towards Perth, near which town the Scottish army were gathered.
Archie Forbes, who stood very high in favour with Bruce, had urged
upon him the advantage of carrying out the tactics formerly adopted
by Wallace, and of compelling the enemy to fall back by cutting
off all food supplies, but Bruce would not, in this instance, be
guided by his counsel.

"When the king advances next spring with his great army, Sir Archie,
I will assuredly adopt the course which you point out, seeing
that we could not hope to withstand so great an array in a pitched
battle; but the case is different now. In the first place all the
castles and towns are in the hands of the English, and from them
Pembroke can draw such provision as he needs. In the second place
his force is not so superior to our own but that we may fight him
with a fair hope of victory; and whereas Wallace had never any
cavalry with him, save at Falkirk when they deserted him at the
beginning of the battle, we have a strong body of mounted men-at-arms,
the retainers of the nobles with me, therefore I do not fear to
give them battle in the open field."

In pursuance of this determination Bruce sent a challenge to Pembroke
to meet him with his army in the open field next day. Pembroke
accepted the challenge, and promised to meet his opponent on the
following morning, and the Scotch retired for the night to the
wood of Methven, near Perth. Here many of them set out on foraging
excursions, the knights laid aside their armour, and the army
prepared for sleep.

Archie Forbes was much dissatisfied at the manner in which Bruce had
hazarded all the fortunes of Scotland on a pitched battle, thereby
throwing away the great advantage which their superior mobility and
knowledge of the country gave to the Scots. He had disarmed like
the rest, and was sitting by a fire chatting with William Orr and
Andrew Macpherson, who, as they had been his lieutenants in the
band of lads he had raised seven years before, now occupied the
same position among his retainers, each having the command of a
hundred men. Suddenly one who had been wandering outside the lines
in search of food among the farmhouses ran hastily in, shouting
that the whole English army was upon them.

A scene of the utmost confusion took place. Bruce and his knights
hastily armed, and mounting their horses rode to meet the enemy.
There was no time to form ranks or to make any order of battle.
Archie sprang to his horse. He bade his lieutenants form the men
into a compact body and move forward, keeping the king's banner
ever in sight, and to cut their way to it whenever they saw it was
in danger.  Then, followed by his two mounted squires, he rode after
the king. The contest of Methven can scarce be called a battle, for
the Scots were defeated before it began. Many, as has been said,
were away; great numbers of footmen instantly took flight and
dispersed in all directions. Here and there small bodies stood and
fought desperately, but being unsupported were overcome and slain.
The king with his knights fought with desperate bravery, spurring
hither and thither and charging furiously among the English
men-at-arms.  Three times Bruce was unhorsed and as often remounted
by Sir Simon Fraser. Once he was so entirely cut off from his
companions by the desperation with which he had charged into the
midst of the English, that he was surrounded, struck from his horse,
and taken prisoner.

"The king is taken!" Archie Forbes shouted; "ride in, my lords,
and rescue him."

Most of the Scotch knights were so hardly pressed that they could
do nothing to aid the king; but Christopher Seaton joined Archie,
and the two knights charged into the midst of the throng of English
and cut their way to Bruce. Sir Philip Mowbray, who was beside
the captured monarch, was overthrown, and several others cut down.
Bruce leapt into his saddle again and the three for a time kept at
bay the circle of foemen; but such a conflict could have but one
end. Archie Forbes vied with the king in the strength and power of
his blows, and many of his opponents went down before him.  There
was, however, no possibility of extricating themselves from the
mass of their foes, and Bruce, finding the conflict hopeless, was
again about to surrender when a great shout was heard, and a close
body of Scottish spearmen threw themselves into the ranks of the
English horse.  Nothing could withstand the impetuosity of the
assault. The horsemen recoiled before the levelled spears, and the
pikemen, sweeping onward, surrounded the king and his companions.

"Well done, my brave fellows!" Archie cried; "now keep together in
a close body and draw off the field."

The darkness which had at first proved so disastrous to the Scots
was now favourable to them. The English infantry knew not what was
going on. The cavalry tried in vain to break through the ranks of
the spearmen, and these, keeping closely together, regained the
shelter of the wood, and drew off by way of Dunkeld and Killiecrankie
to the mountains of Athole. On their way they were joined by Edward
Bruce, the Earl of Athole, Sir Neil Campbell, Gilbert de la Haye,
and Douglas, and by many scattered footmen.

To his grief Bruce learned that Randolph, Inchmartin, Somerville,
Alexander Fraser, Hugh de la Haye, and others had been captured,
but the number killed had been small.  When once safe from pursuit
a council was held. It was agreed at once that it was impossible
that so large a body could find subsistence in the mountains of
Athole, cooped up as they were by their foes. The lowlands swarmed
with the English; to the north was Badenoch, the district of their
bitter enemies the Comyns; while westward lay the territory of
the MacDougalls of Lorne, whose chieftain, Alexander, was a nephew
by marriage of the Comyn killed by Bruce, and an adherent of the

Beyond an occasional deer, and the fish in the lochs and streams,
the country afforded no means of subsistence, it was therefore
decided to disband the greater portion of the force, the knights
and nobles, with a few of their immediate retainers, alone remaining
with the king, while the main body dispersed and regained their
homes. This was done; but a few days later a messenger came saying
that the queen, with the wives of many of the gentlemen, had arrived
at Aberdeen and sought to join the king. Although an accession
of numbers was by no means desirable, and the hardships of such
a life immense for ladies to support, there was no other resource
but for them to join the party, as they would otherwise have speedily
fallen into the hands of the English. Therefore Bruce, accompanied
by some of his followers, rode to Aberdeen and escorted the queen
and ladies to his mountain retreat.

It was a strange life that Bruce, his queen, and his little court
led. Sleeping in rough arbours formed of boughs, the party supported
themselves by hunting and fishing.

Gins and traps were set in the streams, and Douglas and Archie
were specially active in this pursuit; Archie's boyish experience
at Glen Cairn serving him in good stead. Between him and Sir James
Douglas a warm friendship had sprung up. Douglas was four years
his junior. As a young boy he had heard much of Archie's feats with
Wallace, and his father had often named him to him as conspicuous
for his bravery, as well as his youth. The young Douglas therefore
entertained the highest admiration for him, and had from the time
of his joining Bruce become his constant companion.

Bruce himself was the life and soul of the party. He was ever
hopeful and in high spirits, cheering his followers by his gaiety,
and wiling away the long evenings by tales of adventure and chivalry,
told when they were gathered round the fire.

Gradually the party made their way westward along Loch Tay and
Glen Dochart until they reached the head of Strathfillan; here, as
they were riding along a narrow pass, they were suddenly attacked
by Alexander MacDougall with a large gathering of his clansmen.
Several of the royal party were cut down at once, but Bruce with
his knights fought desperately. Archie Forbes with a few of the
others rallied round the queen with her ladies, and repelled every
effort of the wild clansmen to break through, and continued to draw
off gradually down the glen. Bruce, with Douglas, De la Haye, and
some others, formed the rearguard and kept back the mass of their
opponents. De la Haye and Douglas were both wounded, but the little
party continued to show a face to their foes until they reached
a spot where the path lay between a steep hill on one side and
the lake on the other.  Then Bruce sent his followers ahead, and
himself covered the rear.  Suddenly three of the MacDougalls, who
had climbed the hillside, made a spring upon him from above.  One
leapt on to the horse behind the king, and attempted to hold his
arms, another seized his bridle rein, while the third thrust his
hand between Bruce's leg and the saddle to hurl him from his horse.
The path was too narrow for Bruce to turn his horse, and spurring
forward he pressed his leg so close to the saddle that he imprisoned
the arm of the assailant beneath it and dragged him along with
him, while with a blow of his sword he smote off the arm of him
who grasped the rein. Then, turning in his saddle, he seized his
assailant who was behind him and by main strength wrenched him round
to the pommel of the saddle and there slew him. Then he turned and
having cut down the man whose arm he held beneath his leg, he rode
on and joined his friends.

In the course of the struggle the brooch which fastened his cloak
was lost. This was found by the MacDougalls and carried home as
a trophy, and has been preserved by the family ever since, with
apparently as much pride as if it had been proof of the fidelity
and patriotism of their ancestors, instead of being a memento of
the time when, as false and disloyal Scotchmen, they fought with
England against Scotland's king and deliverer.

Chapter XIII

The Castle of Dunstaffnage

Bruce's party were now more than ever straitened for provisions,
since they had to depend almost entirely upon such fish as they
might catch, as it was dangerous to stray far away in pursuit of
deer. Archie, however, with his bow and arrows ventured several
times to go hunting in order to relieve the sad condition of the
ladies, and succeeded two or three times in bringing a deer home
with him.

He had one day ventured much further away than usual.  He had not
succeeded in finding a stag, and the ladies had for more than a
week subsisted entirely on fish. He therefore determined to continue
the search, however long, until he found one. He had crossed several
wooded hills, and was, he knew, leagues away from the point where
he had left his party, when, suddenly emerging from a wood, he came
upon a road just at the moment when a party some twenty strong of
wild clansmen were traversing it. On a palfrey in their centre was
a young lady whom they were apparently escorting. They were but
twenty yards away when he emerged from the wood, and on seeing him
they drew their claymores and rushed upon him.  Perceiving that
flight from these swift footed mountaineers would be impossible,
Archie threw down his bow and arrows, and, drawing his sword, placed
his back against a tree, and prepared to defend himself until the

Parrying the blows of the first two who arrived he stretched them
dead upon the ground, and was then at once attacked by the whole of
the party together. Two more of his assailants fell by his sword;
but he must have been soon overpowered and slain, when the young
lady, whose cries to her followers to cease had been unheeded in
the din of the conflict, spurred her palfrey forward and broke into
the ring gathered round Archie.

The clansmen drew back a pace, and Archie lowered his sword.

"Desist," she cried to the former in a tone of command, "or my uncle
Alexander will make you rue the day when you disobeyed my orders.
I will answer for this young knight.  And now, sir," she said,
turning to Archie, "do you surrender your sword to me, and yield
yourself up a prisoner. Further resistance would be madness; you
have done too much harm already. I promise you your life if you
will make no further resistance."

"Then, lady," Archie replied, handing his sword to her, "I willingly
yield myself your prisoner, and thank you for saving my life from
the hands of your savage followers."

The young lady touched the hilt of his sword, and motioned him to
replace it in its scabbard.

"You must accompany me," she said, "to the abode of my uncle Alexander
MacDougall. I would," she continued, as, with Archie walking beside
her palfrey, while the Highlanders, with sullen looks, kept close
behind, muttering angrily to themselves at having been cheated by
the young lady of their vengeance upon the man who had slain four
of their number, "that I could set you at liberty, but my authority
over my uncle's clansmen does not extend so far; and did I bid them
let you go free they would assuredly disobey me. You are, as I
can see by your attire, one of the Bruce's followers, for no other
knight could be found wandering alone through these woods."

"Yes, lady," Archie said, "I am Sir Archibald Forbes, one of the
few followers of the King of Scotland."

The lady gave a sudden start when Archie mentioned his name, and
for some little time did not speak again.

"I would," she said at last in a low voice, "that you had been
any other, seeing that Alexander MacDougall has a double cause of
enmity against you--firstly, as being a follower of Bruce, who
slew his kinsman Comyn, and who has done but lately great harm to
himself and his clansmen; secondly, as having dispossessed Allan
Kerr, who is also his relative, of his lands and castle. My uncle
is a man of violent passions, and"--she hesitated.

"And he may not, you think," Archie went on, "respect your promise
for my life. If that be so, lady--and from what I have heard of
Alexander MacDougall it is like enough--I beg you to give me back
my surrender, for I would rather die here, sword in hand, than be
put to death in cold blood in the castle of Dunstaffnage."

"No," the lady said, "that cannot be. Think you I could see you
butchered before mine eyes after having once surrendered yourself
to me?  No, sir. I beseech you act not so rashly--that were certain
death; and I trust that my uncle, hostile as he may be against you,
will not inflict such dishonour upon me as to break the pledge I
have given for your safety."

Archie thought from what he had heard of the MacDougall that his
chance was a very slight one. Still, as the young ever cling to hope,
and as he would assuredly be slain by the clansmen, he thought it
better to take the chance, small as it was, and so continued his
march by the side of his captor's palfrey.

After two hours' journey they neared the castle of Alexander
of Lorne. Archie could not repress a thrill of apprehension as he
looked at the grim fortress and thought of the character of its
lord; but his bearing showed no fear, as, conversing with the young
lady, he approached the entrance.  The gate was thrown open, and
Alexander of Lorne himself issued out with a number of retainers.

"Ah! Marjory!" he said, "I am glad to see your bonny face at
Dunstaffnage. It is three months since you left us, and the time
has gone slowly; the very dogs have been pining for your voice.
But who have we here?" he exclaimed, as his eye fell upon Archie.

"It is a wandering knight, uncle," Marjory said lightly, "whom
I captured in the forest on my way hither. He fought valiantly
against Murdoch and your followers, but at last he surrendered to
me on my giving him my pledge that his life should be safe, and
that he should be treated honourably.  Such a pledge I am sure,
uncle," she spoke earnestly now, "you will respect."

Alexander MacDougall's brow was as black as night, and he spoke in
Gaelic with his followers.

"What!" he said angrily to the girl; "he has killed four of my
men, and is doubtless one of Bruce's party who slipped through my
fingers the other day and killed so many of my kinsmen and vassals.
You have taken too much upon yourself, Marjory. It is not by you
that he has been made captive, but by my men, and you had no power
to give such promise as you have made. Who is this young springall?"

"I am Sir Archibald Forbes," Archie said proudly--"a name which
may have reached you even here."

"Archibald Forbes!" exclaimed MacDougall furiously.  "What!  the
enemy and despoiler of the Kerrs! Had you a hundred lives you
should die. Didst know this, Marjory?" he said furiously to the
girl. "Didst know who this young adventurer was when you asked his
life of me?"

"I did, uncle," the girl said fearlessly. "I did not know his name
when he surrendered to me, and afterwards, when he told me, what
could I do? I had given my promise, and I renewed it; and I trust,
dear uncle, that you will respect and not bring dishonour upon it."

"Dishonour!" MacDougall said savagely; "the girl has lost her senses.
I tell you he should die if every woman in Scotland had given her
promise for his life. Away with him!" he said to his retainers;
"take him to the chamber at the top of the tower; I will give him
till tomorrow to prepare for death, for by all the saints I swear
he shall hang at daybreak. As to you, girl, go to your chamber,
and let me not see your face again till this matter is concluded.
Methinks a madness must have fallen upon you that you should thus
venture to lift your voice for a Forbes."

The girl burst into tears as Archie was led away. His guards took
him to the upper chamber in a turret, a little room of some seven
feet in diameter, and there, having deprived him of his arms, they
left him, barring and bolting the massive oaken door behind them.

Archie had no hope whatever that Alexander MacDougall would change
his mind, and felt certain that the following dawn would be his
last. Of escape there was no possibility; the door was solid and
massive, the window a mere narrow loophole for archers, two or
three inches wide; and even had he time to enlarge the opening he
would be no nearer freedom, for the moat lay full eighty feet below.

"I would I had died sword in hand!" he said bitterly; "then it
would have been over in a moment."

Then he thought of the girl to whom he had surrendered his sword.

"It was a sweet face and a bright one," he said; "a fairer and
brighter I never saw. It is strange that I should meet her now
only when I am about to die." Then he thought of the agony which
his mother would feel at the news of his death and at the extinction
of their race. Sadly he paced up and down his narrow cell till
night fell. None took the trouble to bring him food--considering,
doubtless, that he might well fast till morning. When it became
dark he lay down on the hard stone, and, with his arm under his head
was soon asleep--his last determination being that if possible
he would snatch a sword or dagger from the hand of those who came
to take him to execution, and so die fighting; or if that were
impossible, he would try to burst from them and to end his life by
a leap from the turret.

He was awakened by a slight noise at the door, and sprang to his
feet instantly, believing that day was at hand and his hour had
come. To his surprise a voice, speaking scarcely above a whisper,

"Hush! my son, make no noise; I am here as a friend." Then the
door closed, and Archie's visitor produced a lighted lantern from
the folds of his garments, and Archie saw that a priest stood before

"I thank you, father," he said gratefully; "you have doubtless come
to shrive me, and I would gladly listen to your ministrations.  I
would fain intrust you, too, with a message to my mother if you
will take it for me; and I would fain also that you told the Lady
Marjory that she must not grieve for my death, or feel that she is
in any way dishonoured by it, seeing that she strove to her utmost
to keep her promise, and is in no way to blame that her uncle has
overriden her."

"You can even give her your message yourself, sir knight," the
priest said, "seeing that the wilful girl has herself accompanied
me hither."

Thus saying, he stepped aside, and Archie perceived, standing
behind the priest, a figure who, being in deep shadow, he had not
hitherto seen. She came timidly forward, and Archie, bending on
one knee, took the hand she held out and kissed it.

"Lady," he said, "you have heard my message; blame not yourself,
I beseech you, for my death. Remember that after all you have
lengthened my life and not shortened it, seeing that but for your
interference I must have been slain as I stood, by your followers.
It was kind and good of you thus to come to bid me farewell."

"But I have not come to bid you farewell. Tell him, good Father
Anselm, our purpose here."

"`Tis a mad brain business," the priest said, shrugging his shoulders;
"and, priest though I am, I shall not care to meet MacDougall in
the morning. However, since this wilful girl wills it, what can I
do? I have been her instructor since she was a child; and instead
of being a docile and obedient pupil, she has been a tyrannical
master to me; and I have been so accustomed to do her will in all
things that I cannot say her nay now. I held out as long as I could;
but what can a poor priest do against sobs and tears? So at last
I have given in and consented to risk the MacDougall's anger, to
bring smiles into her face again. I have tried in vain to persuade
her that since it is the chief's doing, your death will bring no
dishonour upon her. I have offered to absolve her from the promise,
and if she has not faith in my power to do so, to write to the
pope himself and ask for his absolution for any breach that there
may be; but I might as well have spoken to the wind. When a young
lady makes up her mind, stone walls are less difficult to move; so
you see here we are.  Wound round my waist are a hundred feet of
stout rope, with knots tied three feet apart. We have only now to
ascend the stairs to the platform above and fix the rope, and in
an hour you will be far away among the woods."

Archie's heart bounded with joy with the hope of life and freedom;
but he said quietly, "I thank you, dear lady, with all my heart for
your goodness; but I could not accept life at the cost of bringing
your uncle's anger upon you."

"You need not fear for that," the girl replied. "My uncle is
passionate and headstrong--unforgiving to his foes or those he
deems so, but affectionate to those he loves. I have always been his
pet; and though, doubtless, his anger will be hot just at first,
it will pass away after a time. Let no scruple trouble you on that
score; and I would rather put up with a hundred beatings than live
with the knowledge that one of Scotland's bravest knights came to
his end by a breach of my promise. Though my uncle and all my people
side with the English, yet do not I; and I think the good father
here, though from prudence he says but little, is a true Scotsman
also. I have heard of your name from childhood as the companion
and friend of Wallace, and as one of the champions of our country;
and though by blood I ought to hate you, my feelings have been very
different. But now stand talking no longer; the castle is sound
asleep, but I tremble lest some mischance should mar our plans."

"That is good sense," Father Anselm said; "and remember, not a
word must be spoken when we have once left this chamber. There is
a sentry at the gate; and although the night is dark, and I deem
not that he can see us, yet must we observe every precaution."

"Holy father," Archie said, "no words of mine can thank you for
the part which you are playing tonight.  Believe me, Archie Forbes
will ever feel grateful for your kindness and aid; and should you
ever quit Dunstaffnage you will be welcomed at Aberfilly Castle. As
to you, lady, henceforth Archie Forbes is your knight and servant.
You have given me my life, and henceforth I regard it as yours. Will
you take this ring as my token? Should you ever send it to me, in
whatever peril or difficulty you may be, I will come to your aid
instantly, even should it reach me in a stricken battle.  Think not
that I speak the language of idle gallantry. Hitherto my thoughts
have been only on Scotland, and no maiden has ever for an instant
drawn them from her. Henceforth, though I fight for Scotland, yet
will my country have a rival in my heart; and even while I charge
into the ranks of the English, the fair image of Marjory MacDougall
will be in my thoughts."

Father Anselm gave a slight start of surprise as Archie concluded,
and would have spoken had not the girl touched him lightly. She
took the pledge from Archie and said, "I will keep your ring, Sir
Archibald Forbes; and should I ever have occasion for help I will
not forget your promise. As to your other words, I doubt not that
you mean them now; but it is unlikely, though I may dwell in your
thoughts, that you will ever in the flesh see Marjory MacDougall,
between whose house and yours there is, as you know, bitter enmity."

"There! there!" Father Anselm said impatiently; "enough, and more
than enough talk. Go to the door, Sir Archibald, and prepare to
open it directly I have blown out the light.  The way up the stairs
lies on your right hand as you go out."

Not another word was spoken. Noiselessly the little party made their
way to the roof; there one end of the rope was quickly knotted round
the battlement. Archie grasped the good priest's hand, and kissed
that of the girl; and then, swinging himself off the battlement,
disappeared at once in the darkness. Not a sound was heard for
some time, then the listening pair above heard a faint splash in
the water. The priest laid his hands on the rope and found that it
swung slack in the air; he hauled it up and twisted it again round
his waist. As he passed the door of the cell he pushed it to and
replaced the bars and bolts, and then with his charge regained the
portion of the castle inhabited by the family.

A few vigorous strokes took Archie across the moat, and an hour
later he was deep in the heart of the forest. Before morning broke
he was far beyond the risk of pursuit; and, taking the bearings of
the surrounding hills, he found himself, after some walking, at the
spot where he had left the royal party. As he had expected, it was
deserted; he, however, set out on the traces of the party, and that
night overtook them at their next encampment.

With the reticence natural to young lovers Archie felt a disinclination
to speak of what had happened, or of the services which Marjory
MacDougall had rendered him. As it was naturally supposed that he
had lost his way in the woods on the previous day, and had not reached
the encampment in the morning, until after they had started, few
questions were asked, and indeed the thoughts of the whole party
were occupied with the approaching separation which the night
before they had agreed was absolutely necessary. The ladies were
worn out with their fatigues and hardships, and the Earl of Athole,
and some of the other elder men, were also unable longer to support
it. Winter was close at hand, and the hardships would increase ten
fold in severity. Therefore it was concluded that the time had come
when they must separate, and that the queen and her companions,
accompanied by those who could still be mounted, should seek shelter
in Bruce's strong castle of Kildrummy. The Earl of Athole and the
king's brother Nigel were in charge of the party.

Bruce with his remaining companions determined to proceed into
Kintyre, the country of Sir Neil Campbell, and thence to cross for
a time to the north of Ireland. Sir Neil accordingly started to
obtain the necessary vessels, and the king and his company followed
slowly. To reach the Firth of Clyde it was necessary to cross Loch
Lomond. This was a difficult undertaking; but after great search
Sir James Douglas discovered a small boat sunk beneath the surface
of the lake. On being pulled out it was found to be old and leaky,
and would hold at best but three. With strips torn from their garments
they stopped the leaks as best they could, and then started across
the lake. There were two hundred to cross, and the passage occupied
a night and a day; those who could not swim being taken over in the
boat, while the swimmers kept alongside and when fatigued rested
their hands on her gunwales. They were now in the Lennox country,
and while Bruce and his friends were hunting, they were delighted
to come across the Earl of Lennox and some of his companions,
who had found refuge there after the battle of Methven.  Although
himself an exile and a fugitive the earl was in his own country,
and was therefore able to entertain the king and his companions
hospitably, and the rest and feeling of security were welcome indeed
after the past labours and dangers.

After a time Sir Neil Campbell arrived with the vessels, and,
accompanied by the Earl of Lennox, Bruce and his companions embarked
at a point near Cardross.  They sailed down the Clyde and round
the south end of Arran, until, after many adventures and dangers,
they reached the Castle of Dunaverty, on the south point of the Mull
of Kintyre, belonging to Angus, chief of Islay. Here they waited
for some time, but not feeling secure even in this secluded spot
from the vengeance of their English and Scottish foes, they again
set sail and landed at the Isle of Rathlin, almost midway between
Ireland and Scotland.  Hitherto Robert Bruce had received but little
of that support which was so freely given to Wallace by the Scotch
people at large; nor is this a matter for surprise. Baliol and
Comyn had in turn betrayed the country to the English, and Bruce
had hitherto been regarded as even more strongly devoted to the
English cause than they had been. Thus the people viewed his attempt
rather as an effort to win a throne for himself than as one to free
Scotland from English domination. They had naturally no confidence
in the nobles who had so often betrayed them, and Bruce especially
had, three or four times already, after taking up arms, made his
peace with England and fought against the Scots. Therefore, at first
the people looked on at the conflict with comparative indifference.
They were ready enough to strike for freedom, as they had proved
when they had rallied round Wallace, but it was necessary before
they did so that they should possess confidence in their leaders.
Such confidence they had certainly no cause whatever to feel in
Bruce. The time was yet to come when they should recognize in him a
leader as bold, as persevering, and as determined as Wallace himself.

The people of Rathlin were rude and ignorant, but simple and
hospitable. The island contained nothing to attract either adventurers
or traders, and it was seldom, therefore, that ships touched there,
consequently there was little fear that the news of the sojourn of
the Scotch king and his companions would reach the mainland, and
indeed the English remained in profound ignorance as to what had
become of the fugitives, and deemed them to be still in hiding
somewhere among the western hills.

Edward had in council issued a proclamation commanding "all the
people of the country to pursue and search for all who had been in
arms and had not surrendered, also all who had been guilty of other
crimes, and to deliver them up dead or alive, and that whosoever
were negligent in the discharge of his duty should forfeit their
castles and be imprisoned."

Pembroke, the guardian, was to punish at his discretion all who
harboured offenders. Those who abetted the slayers of Comyn, or who
knowingly harboured them or their accomplices, were to be "drawn
and hanged," while all who surrendered were to be imprisoned during
the king's pleasure. The edict was carried out to the letter, and
the English soldiery, with the aid of the Scotch of their party,
scoured the whole country, putting to the sword all who were found
in arms or under circumstances of suspicion.

Chapter XIV


Archie, having little else to do, spent much of his time in fishing.
As a boy he had learned to be fond of the sport in the stream of
Glen Cairn; but the sea was new to him, and whenever the weather
permitting he used to go out with the natives in their boats. The
Irish coast was but a few miles away, but there was little traffic
between Rathlin and the mainland. The coast there is wild and
forbidding, and extremely dangerous in case of a northerly gale
blowing up suddenly. The natives were a wild and savage race, and
many of those who had fought to the last against the English refused
to submit when their chiefs laid down their arms, and took refuge
in the many caves and hiding places afforded in the wild and broken
country on the north coast.

Thus no profitable trade was to be carried on with the Irish
mainland. The people of Rathlin were themselves primitive in their
ways. Their wants were few and easily satisfied.  The wool of their
flocks furnished them with clothing, and they raised sufficient grain
in sheltered spots to supply them with meal, while an abundance of
food could be always obtained from the sea. In fine weather they
took more than sufficient for their needs, and dried the overplus
to serve them when the winter winds kept their boats from putting
out. Once or twice in the year their largest craft, laden with dried
fish, would make across to Ayr, and there disposing of its cargo
would bring back such articles as were needed, and more precious
still, the news of what was passing in the world, of which the
simple islanders knew so little.  Even more than fishing, Archie
loved when the wind blew wildly to go down to the shore and watch
the great waves rolling in and dashing themselves into foam on
the rocky coast. This to him was an entirely new pleasure, and he
enjoyed it intensely. Perched on some projecting rock out of reach
of the waves, he would sit for hours watching the grand scene,
sometimes alone, sometimes with one or two of his comrades. The
influx of a hundred visitors had somewhat straitened the islanders,
and the fishermen were forced to put to sea in weather when they
would not ordinarily have launched their boats, for in the winter
they seldom ventured out unless the previous season had been
unusually bad, and the stores of food laid by insufficient for winter
consumption. Archie generally went out with an old man, who with
two grownup sons owned a boat. They were bold and skilful fishermen,
and often put to sea when no other boat cared to go out.

One evening the old man, as usual before going to sea, came into
the hut which Archie and Sir James Douglas inhabited, and told him
that he was going out early the next morning. "Fish are scarce,"
he said, "and it would be a disgrace on us islanders if our guests
were to run short of food."

"I shall be ready, Donald," Archie replied, "and I hope we shall
have good sport."

"I can't see what pleasure you take, Sir Archie," the young Douglas
said, when the fisherman had left, "in being tossed up and down on
the sea in a dirty boat, especially when the wind is high and the
sea rough."

"I like it best then," Archie replied; "when the men are rowing
against the wind, and the waves dash against the boat and the spray
comes over in blinding showers, I feel very much the same sort of
excitement as I do in a battle. It is a strife with the elements
instead of with men, but the feeling in both cases is akin, and
I feel the blood dancing fast through my veins and my lips set
tightly together, just as when I stand shoulder to shoulder with
my retainers, and breast the wave of English horsemen."

"Well, each to his taste, I suppose," Douglas said, laughing; "I
have not seen much of war yet, and I envy you with all my heart the
fights which you have gone through; but I can see no amusement in
getting drenched to the skin by the sea.  I think I can understand
your feeling, though, for it is near akin to my own when I sit on
the back of a fiery young horse, who has not yet been broken, and
feel him battle with his will against mine, and bound, and rear,
and curvet in his endeavours to throw me, until at last he is
conquered and obeys the slightest touch of the rein."

"No doubt it is the same feeling," Archie replied; "it is the joy
of strife in another form. For myself, I own I would rather fight
on foot than on horseback; I can trust myself better than I can
trust my steed, can wheel thrice while he is turning once, can defend
both sides equally well; whereas on horseback, not only have I to
defend myself but my horse, which is far more difficult, and if he
is wounded and falls I may be entangled under him and be helpless
at the mercy of an opponent."

"But none acquitted them better on horseback at Methven than you
did, Sir Archie," the young fellow said, admiringly. "Did you not
save the king, and keep at bay his foes till your retainers came
up with their pikes and carried him off from the centre of the
English chivalry?"

"I did my best," Archie said, "as one should always do; but I felt
even then that I would rather have been fighting on foot."

"That is because you have so much skill with your weapon, Sir
Archie," Douglas said. "On horseback with mace or battleaxe it is
mainly a question of sheer strength, and though you are very strong
there are others who are as strong as you. Now, it is allowed that
none of the king's knights and followers are as skilful as you
with the sword, and even the king himself, who is regarded as the
second best knight in Europe, owns that on foot and with a sword
he has no chance against you. That we all saw when you practiced
for the amusement of the queen and her ladies in the mountains of
Lennox.  None other could even touch you, while you dented all our
helmets and armour finely with that sword of yours. Had we continued
the sport there would not have been a whole piece of armour among
us save your own harness."

Archie laughed. "I suppose, Douglas, we all like best that in which
we most excel. There are many knights in the English army who would
assuredly overthrow me either in the tilting ring or in the field,
for I had not the training on horseback when quite young which is
needed to make a perfect knight, while I had every advantage in the
learning of sword playing, and I stick to my own trade. The world
is beginning to learn that a man on foot is a match for a
horseman--Wallace taught Europe that lesson. They are slow to believe it,
for hitherto armed knights have deemed themselves invincible, and
have held in contempt all foot soldiers.  Stirling, and Falkirk,
and Loudon Hill have taught them the difference, but it will be a
long time before they fairly own a fact so mortifying to chivalry;
but the time will come, be well assured, when battles will be
fought almost with infantry alone. Upon them the brunt of the day
will fall, and by them will victory be decided, while horsemen
will be used principally for pursuing the foe when he is broken,
for covering the retreat of infantry by desperate charges, or by
charging into the midst of a fray when the infantry are broken."

"All the better for Scotland," James Douglas said, cheerfully.
"We are not a nation of horsemen, and our mountains and hills, our
forests and morasses, are better adapted for infantry than cavalry;
so if ever the change you predict come to pass we shall be gainers
by it."

At daybreak next morning Archie went down to the cove where his
friend the fisherman kept his boat. The old man and his two sons
were already there, but had not launched their craft.

"I like not the look of the weather," the fisherman said when
Archie joined him. "The sky is dull and heavy, the sea is black
and sullen, but there is a sound in the waves as they break against
the rocks which seems to tell of a coming storm.  I think, however,
it will be some hours before it breaks, and if we have luck we may
get a haul or two before it comes on."

"I am ready to go or stay," Archie said; "I have no experience in
your weather here, and would not urge you against your own judgment,
whatever it be; but if you put out I am ready to go with you."

"We will try it," the fisherman said, "for food is running short;
but we will not go far from the shore, so that we can pull back if
the weather gets worse."

The boat was soon launched, the nets and oars were already on
board, and they quickly put out from the shore.  The boat carried
a small square sail, which was used when running before the wind.
In those days the art of navigation was in its infancy, and the art
of tacking against the wind had scarcely begun to be understood;
indeed, so high were the ships out of water, with their lofty poops
and forecastles, that it was scarce possible to sail them on a
wind, so great was the leeway they made. Thus when contrary winds
came mariners anchored and waited as patiently as they might for
a change, and voyage to a port but two days' sail with a favouring
wind was a matter of weeks when it was foul.

After rowing a mile from land the nets were put out, and for some
time they drifted near these. From time to time the old fisherman
cast an anxious eye at the sky.

"We must get in our nets," he said at last decidedly; "the wind is
rising fast, and is backing from the west round to the south. Be
quick, lads, for ere long the gale will be on us in its strength,
and if `tis from the south we may well be blown out to sea."

Without a moment's delay the fishermen set to work to get in the nets,
Archie lending a hand to assist them.  The younger men thoroughly
agreed in their father's opinion of the weather, but they knew too
well the respect due to age to venture upon expressing an opinion
until he had first spoken. The haul was a better one than they had
expected, considering that the net had been down but two hours.

"`Tis not so bad," the fisherman said, "and the catch will be right
welcome--that is," he added, as he looked toward the land, "if
we get it safely on shore."

The wind was now blowing strongly, but if it did not rise the boat
would assuredly make the land. Archie took the helm, having learned
somewhat of the steering on previous excursions, and the three
fishermen tugged at the oars. It was a cross sea, for although the
wind now blew nearly in their teeth, it had until the last half
hour been from the west, and the waves were rolling in from the
Atlantic. The boat, however, made fair progress, and Archie began
to think that the doubts of the fishermen as to their making the
shore were in no wise justified, when suddenly a gust, far stronger
than those they had hitherto met, struck the boat. "Keep her head
straight!" the fisherman shouted. "Don't let the wind take it one
side or the other.  Stick to it, boys; row your hardest; it is on
us now and in earnest, I fear."

The three men bent to their oars, but Archie felt that they were
no longer making headway. The boat was wide and high out of the
water; a good sea boat, but very hard to row against the wind.
Although the men strained at the oars, till Archie expected to see
the tough staves crack under their efforts, the boat did not seem
to move. Indeed it appeared to Archie that in the brief space when
the oars were out of the water the wind drove her further back than
the distance she had gained in the last stroke. He hoped, however,
that the squall was merely temporary, and that when it subsided
there would still be no difficulty in gaining the land. His hope
was not realized. Instead of abating, the wind appeared each moment
to increase in force.  Clouds of spray were blown on the top of
the waves, so that at times Archie could not see the shore before
him. For nearly half an hour the fishermen struggled on, but
Archie saw with dismay that the boat was receding from the shore,
and that they had already lost the distance they had gained before
the squall struck them. The old fisherman looked several times over
his shoulder.

"It is of no use," he said at last; "we shall never make Rathlin,
and must even run before the gale. Put up the helm, young sir, and
take her round. Wait a moment till the next wave has passed under
us--now!" In another minute the boat's head was turned from land,
and she was speeding before the gale.

"In with your oars, lads, and rig the mast, reef down the sail to
the last point; we must show a little to keep her dead before the
wind; we shall have a tremendous sea when we are once fairly away
from the shelter of the island. This gale will soon knock up the
sea, and with the cross swell from the Atlantic it will be as much
as we can do to carry through it."

The mast was stepped and a mere rag of sail hoisted, but this was
sufficient to drive the boat through the water at a great speed.
The old fisherman was steering now, and when the sail was hoisted
the four men all gathered in the stern of the boat.

"You will go between Islay and Jura, I suppose," one of the younger
men said.

"Ay," his father said briefly; "the sea will be too high to windward
of Islay."

"Could we not keep inside Jura?" Archie suggested; "and shelter in
some of the harbours on the coast of Argyle?"

"Ay," the old man said; "could we be sure of doing that it would
be right enough, but, strong as the wind is blowing her, it will
be stronger still when we get in the narrow waters between the
islands and the mainland, and it would be impossible to keep her
even a point off the wind; then if we missed making a harbour we
should be driven up through the Strait of Corrievrekan, and the
biggest ship which sails from a Scottish port would not live in the
sea which will be running there. No, it will be bad enough passing
between Islay and Jura; if we get safely through that I shall try
to run into the narrow strait between Colonsay and Oronsay; there
we should have good and safe shelter. If we miss that, we must
run inside Mull--for there will be no getting without it--and
either shelter behind Lismore island far up the strait, or behind
Kerara, or into the passage to Loch Etive."

"It will not be the last, I hope," Archie said, "for there stands
Dunstaffnage Castle, and the lands all belong to the MacDougalls.
It is but two months back I was a prisoner there, and though I then
escaped, assuredly if I again get within its walls I shall never
go out again. As well be drowned here."

"Then we will hope," the fisherman said, "that `tis into some other
harbour that this evil wind may blow us; but as you see, young sir,
the gale is the master and not we, and we must needs go where it
chooses to take us."

Fiercer and fiercer blew the gale; a tremendous cross sea was now
running, and the boat, stout and buoyant as she was, seemed every
moment as if she would be engulfed in the chaos of water. Small as
the sail had been it had been taken down and lashed with ropes to
the yard, so that now only about three square feet of canvas was

"We can show a little more," the fisherman shouted in Archie's ear,
"when we get abreast of Islay, for we shall then be sheltered from
the sea from the west, and can run more boldly with only a following
sea; but till we get out of this cross tumble we must not carry
on, we only want steerage way to keep her head straight."

Never before had Archie Forbes seen a great gale in all its strength
at sea, for those which had occurred while at Rathlin were as nothing
to the present; and although on the hillside round Glen Cairn the
wind sometimes blew with a force which there was no withstanding,
there was nothing to impress the senses as did this wild confusion
and turmoil of water. Buoyant as was the boat, heavy seas often broke
on board her, and two hands were constantly employed in bailing;
still Archie judged from the countenance of the men that they did
not deem the position desperate, and that they believed the craft
would weather the gale.  Towards midday, although the wind blew
as strongly as ever, there was a sensible change in the motion of
the boat. She no longer was tossed up and down with jerky and sudden
motion, as the waves seemed to rise directly under her, but rose
and fell on the following waves with a steady and regular motion.

"We are well abreast of Islay," the old fisherman said when Archie
remarked on the change to him. "There!  do you not see that dark
bank through the mist; that is Islay. We have no longer a cross sea,
and can show a little more sail to keep her from being pooped. We
will bear a little off toward the land--we must keep it in sight,
and not too far on our left, otherwise we may miss the straits and
run on to Jura."

A little more sail was accordingly shown to the gale, and the boat
scudded along at increased speed.

"How far is it to Colonsay?" Archie asked.

"Between fifty and sixty miles from Rathlin," the fisherman said.
"It was eight o'clock when we started, ten when the squall struck
us, it will be dark by four, and fast as we are running we shall
scarcely be in time to catch the last gleam of day. Come, boys,"
he said to his sons, "give her a little more canvas still, for it
is life and death to reach Colonsay before nightfall, for if we
miss it we shall be dashed on to the Mull long before morning."

A little more sail was accordingly shown, and the boat tore through
the water at what seemed to Archie to be tremendous speed; but she
was shipping but little water now, for though the great waves as
they neared her stern seemed over and over again to Archie as if
they would break upon her and send her instantly to the bottom,
the stout boat always lifted lightly upon them until he at length
felt free from apprehension on that score. Presently the fisherman
pointed out a dark mass over their other bow.

"That is Jura," he said; "we are fair for the channel, lads, but
you must take in the sail again to the smallest rag, for the wind
will blow through the gap between the islands with a force fit to
tear the mast out of her."

Through the rest of his life Archie Forbes regarded that passage
between Islay and Jura as the most tremendous peril he had ever
encountered. Strong as the wind had been before, it was as nothing
to the force with which it swept down the strait--the height of
the waves was prodigious, and the boat, as it passed over the crest
of a wave, seemed to plunge down a very abyss. The old fisherman
crouched low in the boat, holding the helm, while the other three
lay on the planks in the bottom. Speech was impossible, for the
loudest shouts would have been drowned in the fury of the storm. In
half an hour the worst was over. They were through the straits and
out in the open sea again, but Islay now made a lee for them, and
the sea, high as it was, was yet calm in comparison to the tremendous
waves in the Strait of Jura. More sail was hoisted again, and in
an hour the fisherman said, "Thank God, there are the islands."
The day was already fading, and Archie could with difficulty make
out the slightly dark mass to which the helm pointed.

"Is that Colonsay?" he asked.

"It is Oronsay," the fisherman said. "The islands are close together
and seem as if they had once been one, but have been cleft asunder
by the arm of a giant. The strait between them is very narrow, and
once within it we shall be perfectly sheltered. We must make as
close to the point of the island as we can well go, so as not to
touch the rocks, and then turn and enter the strait. If we keep
out any distance we shall be blown past the entrance, and then our
only remaining chance is to try and run her on to Colonsay, and
take the risk of being drowned as she is dashed upon the rocks."

The light had almost faded when they ran along at the end of Oronsay.
Archie shuddered as he saw the waves break upon the rocks and fly
high up into the air, and felt how small was the chance of their
escape should they be driven on a coast like that. They were but
fifty yards from the point when they came abreast of its extremity;
then the fisherman put down the helm and turned her head towards
the strait, which opened on their left.

"Down with the sail and mast, lads, and out with your oars; we must
row her in."

Not a moment was lost, the sail was lowered, the mast unstepped,
and the oars got out, with a speed which showed how urgent was
the occasion. Archie, who did not feel confidence in his power
to manager her now in such a sea, took his seat by the man on the
stroke thwart, and double banked his oar. Five minutes desperate
rowing and they were under shelter of Oronsay, and were rowing more
quickly up the narrow strait and towards the shore of Colonsay,
where they intended to land. A quarter of an hour more and they
stepped ashore.

The old fisherman raised his hat reverently. "Let us thank God
and all the saints," he said, "who have preserved us through such
great danger. I have been nigh fifty years at sea, and never was
out in so wild a gale."

For a few minutes all stood silent and bare headed, returning
fervent thanks for their escape.

"It is well," the old man said, as they moved inland, "that I have
been so far north before; there are but few in Rathlin who have
even been north of Islay, but sometimes when fish have been very
plentiful in the island, and the boat for Ayr had already gone,
I have taken up a boatload of fish to the good monks of Colonsay,
who, although fairly supplied by their own fishermen, were yet
always ready to pay a good price for them. Had you been in a boat
with one who knew not the waters, assuredly we must have perished,
for neither skill nor courage could have availed us. There! do you
see that light ahead? That is the priory, and you may be sure of
a welcome there."

The priory door was opened at their ring, and the monk who unclosed
it, greatly surprised at visitors on such a night, at once bade
them enter when he heard that they were fishermen whom the storm
had driven to shelter on the island.  The fishermen had to lend
their aid to the monk to reclose the door, so great was the power
of the wind. The monk shot the bolts, saying, "We need expect no
further visitors tonight;" and led them into the kitchen, where a
huge fire was blazing.

"Quick, brother Austin," he said to the monk, who acted as cook,
"warm up a hot drink for these poor souls, for they must assuredly
be well nigh perished with cold, seeing that they have been wet
for many hours and exposed to all the violence of this wintry gale."

Archie and his companions were, indeed, stiff with cold and exposure,
and could scarce answer the questions which the monks asked them.

"Have patience, brother! have patience!" brother Austin said. "When
their tongues are unfrozen doubtless they will tell you all that
you want to know. Only wait, I pray you, till they have drunk this
posset which I am preparing."

The monk's curiosity was not, however, destined to be so speedily
satisfied, for just as the voyagers were finishing their hot drinks
a monk entered with a message that the prior, having heard that
some strangers had arrived, would fain welcome and speak with them
in his apartment. They rose at once.

"When the prior has done questioning you," brother Austin said,
"return hither at once. I will set about preparing supper for you,
for I warrant me you must need food as well as drink. Fear not but,
however great your appetite may be, I will have enough to satisfy
it ready by the time you return."

"Welcome to Colonsay!" the prior said, as the four men entered his
apartment; "but stay--I see you are drenched to the skin; and it
were poor hospitality, indeed, to keep you standing thus even to
assure you of your welcome. Take them," he said to the monk, "to
the guest chamber at once, and furnish them with changes of attire.
When they are warm and comfortable return with them hither."

In ten minutes Archie and his companions re-entered the prior's
room. The prior looked with some astonishment at Archie; for in
the previous short interview he had not noticed the difference in
their attire, and had supposed them to be four fishermen. The monk,
however, had marked the difference; and on inquiry, finding that
Archie was a knight, had furnished him with appropriate attire.
The good monks kept a wardrobe to suit guests of all ranks, seeing
that many visitors came to the holy priory, and that sometimes the
wind and waves brought them to shore in such sorry plight that a
change of garments was necessary.

"Ah!" the prior said, in surprise; "I crave your pardon sir knight,
that I noticed not your rank when you first entered. The light is
somewhat dim, and as you stood there together at the door way I
noticed not that you were of superior condition to the others."

"That might well be, holy prior," Archie said, "seeing that we
were more like drowned beasts than Christian men.  We have had a
marvellous escape from the tempest--thanks to God and his saints!--seeing
that we were blown off Rathlin, and have run before the
gale down past Islay and through the Straits of Jura. Next to the
protection of God and His saints, our escape is due to the skill
and courage of my brave companions here, who were as cool and calm
in the tempest as if they had been sitting by the ingle fires at

"From Rathlin!" the prior said in surprise, "and through the strait
`twixt Islay and Jura! Truly that was a marvellous voyage in such
a gale--and as I suppose, in an open boat.  But how comes it,
sir knight--if I may ask the question without prying into your
private affairs--that you, a knight, were at Rathlin? In so wild
and lonely an island men of your rank are seldom to be found."

"There are many there now, holy prior, far higher in rank than
myself," Archie replied, "seeing that Robert the Bruce, crowned King
of Scotland, James Douglas, and others of his nobles and knights,
are sheltering there with him from the English bloodhounds."

"The Bruce at Rathlin!" the prior exclaimed, in surprise.  "The
last ship which came hither from the mainland told us that he was
a hunted fugitive in Lennox; and we deemed that seeing the MacDougalls
of Lorne and all the surrounding chiefs were hostile to him, and
the English scattered thickly over all the low country, he must
long ere this have fallen into the hands of his enemies."

"Thanks to Heaven's protection," Archie said devoutly, "the king
with a few followers escaped and safely reached Rathlin!"

"Thou shouldst not speak of Heaven's protection," the prior said,
sternly, "seeing that Bruce has violated the sanctuary of the
church, has slain his enemy within her walls, has drawn down upon
himself the anathema of the pope, and has been declared excommunicated
and accursed."

"The pope, holy father," Archie replied, "although supreme in
all holy things, is but little qualified to judge of the matter,
seeing that he draws his information from King Edward, under whose
protection he lives.  The good Bishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow,
with the Abbot of Scone, and many other dignitaries of the Scottish
church, have condoned his offense, seeing that it was committed
in hot blood and without prior intent. The king himself bitterly
regrets the deed, which preys sorely upon his mind; but I can answer
for it that Bruce had no thought of meeting Comyn at Dumfries."

"You speak boldly, young sir," the prior said, sternly, "for one
over whose head scarce two-and-twenty years can have rolled; but
enough now. You are storm staid and wearied; you are the guests of
the convent.  I will not keep you further now, for you have need
of food and sleep. Tomorrow I will speak with you again."

So saying, the prior sharply touched a bell which stood on a table
near him. The monk re-entered. The prior waved his hand: "Take these
guests to the refectory and see that they have all they stand in
need of, and that the bed chambers are prepared. In the morning I
would speak to them again."

Chapter XV

A Mission to Ireland

Father Austin was as good as his word, and it was long indeed
since Archie had sat down to such a meal as that which was spread
for him. Hungry as he was, however, he could scarce keep his eyes
open to its conclusion, so great was the fatigue of mind and body;
and on retiring to the chamber which the monks had prepared for
him, he threw himself on a couch and instantly fell asleep.  In
the morning the gale still blew violently, but with somewhat less
fury than on the preceding evening. He joined the monks at their
morning meal in the refectory, and after their repast they gathered
round him to listen to his news of what was doing in Scotland; for
although at ordinary times pilgrims came not unfrequently to visit
the holy isle of Colonsay, in the present stormy times men stirred
but little from home, and it was seldom that the monks obtained news
of what was passing on the mainland. Presently a servitor brought
word that the prior would see Archie.

"It was ill talking last night," the prior said, "with a man hungry
and worn out; but I gathered from what you said that you are not
only a follower of Bruce, but that you were with him at that fatal
day at Dumfries when he drew his dagger upon Comyn in the sanctuary."

"I was there, holy father," Archie replied, "and can testify that
the occurrence was wholly unpremeditated; but Bruce had received
sufficient provocation from the Comyn to afford him fair reason for
slaying him wheresoever they might meet. But none can regret more
than he does that that place of meeting was in a sanctuary. The
Comyn and Bruce had made an agreement together whereby the former
relinquished his own claims to the throne of Scotland on condition
that Bruce, on attaining the throne, would hand over to him all
his lordships in Carrick and Annandale."

"It were a bad bargain," the prior said, "seeing that Comyn would
then be more powerful than his king."

"So I ventured to tell the Bruce," Archie replied.

"Thou?" the prior said; "you are young, sir, to be in a position
to offer counsel to Robert Bruce."

"I am young, holy prior," Archie said modestly; "but the king is
good enough to overlook my youth in consideration of my fidelity
to the cause of Scotland. My name is Archibald Forbes."

"Sir Archibald Forbes!" the prior repeated, rising; "and are you
really that loyal and faithful Scottish knight who fought ever by
the side of Wallace, and have almost alone refused ever to bow the
knee to the English?  Even to this lonely isle tales have come of
your valour, how you fought side by side with Wallace, and were,
with Sir John Grahame, his most trusty friend and confidant. Many
of the highest and noblest of Scotland have for centuries made
their way to the shrine of Colonsay, but none more worthy to be
our guest. Often have I longed to see so brave a champion of our
country, little thinking that you would one day come a storm driven
guest. Truly am I glad to see you, and I say it even though you may
have shared in the deed at Dumfries, for which I would fain hope
from your words there is fairer excuse to be made than I had hitherto
deemed. I have thought that the Bishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow
were wrong in giving their countenance to a man whom the holy
father had condemned--a man whose prior history gives no ground
for faith in his patriotism, who has taken up arms, now for, now
against, the English, but has ever been ready to make terms with
the oppressor, and to parade as his courtier at Westminster. In
such a man I can have no faith, and deem that, while he pretends
to fight for Scotland, he is in truth but warring for his
own aggrandizement. But since you, the follower and friend of the
disinterested and intrepid champion of Scotland, speak for the
Bruce, it maybe that my judgement has been too severe upon him."

Archie now related the incident of his journey to London to urge
Bruce to break with Edward and to head the national movement. He
told how, even before the discovery of his agreement with Comyn,
brought about by the treachery of the latter, Bruce had determined
definitely to throw in his cause with that of Scotland; how upon
that discovery he had fled north, and, happening to meet Comyn at
Dumfries, within the limits of the sanctuary, had, in his indignation
and ire at his treachery, drawn and slain him. Then he told the
tale of what had taken place after the rout of Methven, how bravely
Bruce had borne himself, and had ever striven to keep up the hearts
of his companions; how cheerfully he had supported the hardships,
and how valiantly he had borne himself both at Methven and when
attacked by the MacDougalls of Lorne.

"Whatever his past may have been," Archie concluded, "I hold that
now the Bruce is as earnest in the cause of Scotland as was even
my dear leader Wallace. In strength and in courage he rivals that
valiant knight, for though I hold that Wallace was far more than
a match for any man of his time, yet Bruce is a worthy second to
him, for assuredly no one in Scotland could cross swords with him
on equal chances. That he will succeed in his enterprise it were
rash to say, for mighty indeed are the odds against him; but if
courage, perseverance, and endurance can wrest Scotland from the
hands of the English, Robert Bruce will, if he lives, accomplish
the task."

"Right glad am I," the prior replied, "to hear what you have told
me. Hitherto, owing to my memory of his past and my horror at his
crime--for though from what you tell me there was much to excuse
it, still it was a grievous crime--I have had but little interest
in the struggle, but henceforth this will be changed. You may
tell the king that from this day, until death or victory crown his
efforts, prayers will be said to heaven night and day at Colonsay
for his success."

It was four days before the storm was over and the sea sufficiently
calmed to admit of Archie's departure.  During that time he remained
as the honoured guest of the priory, and the good monks vied with
the prior in their attentions to the young knight, the tales of
whose doings, as one of Scotland's foremost champions, had so often
reached their lonely island. At the end of that time, the sea being
now calm and smooth, with a light wind from the north, Archie bade
adieu to his hosts and sailed from Colonsay.

Light as the wind was, it sufficed to fill the sail; and as the boat
glided over the scarce rippled water Archie could not but contrast
the quiet sleepy motion with the wild speed at which the boat had
torn through the water on her northern way. It was not until the
following morning that Rathlin again came in sight.

As the boat was seen approaching, and was declared by the islanders
to be that which they had regarded as lost in the storm a week
previously, the king, Douglas, and the rest of his followers made
their way down to the shore; and loud was the shout of welcome
which arose when Archie stood up and waved his hand.

"Verily, Archie Forbes," the king said as he warmly embraced the
young knight, "I shall begin to think that the fairies presided
at your birth and gave you some charm to preserve your life alike
against the wrath of men and of the elements. Never assuredly did
anyone pass through so many dangers unscathed as you have done."

"I hope to pass through as many more, sire, in your service," Archie
said smiling.

"I hope so, indeed," Bruce replied; "for it were an evil day for
me and for Scotland that saw you fall; but henceforth I will fret
no more concerning you. You alone of Wallace's early companions
have survived.  You got free from Dunstaffnage by some miracle
which you have never fully explained to me, and now it would seem
that even the sea refuses to swallow you."

"I trust," Archie said more gravely, "that the old saying is not
true in my case, and that hanging is not to be my fate.  Assuredly
it will be if I ever fall into the hands of Edward, and I shall
think it a cruel fate indeed if fortune, which has spared me so
often in battle, leads me to that cruel end at last."

"I trust not indeed, Sir Archie," the king said, "though hanging now
has ceased to be a dishonourable death when so many of Scotland's
best and bravest have suffered it at the English hands. However, I
cannot but think that your fairy godmother must have reserved for
you the fate of the heroes of most of the stories of my old nurse,
which always wound up with `and so he married, and lived happily
ever after.' And now, Archie, tell me all that has befallen you,
where you have been, and how you fared, and by what miraculous chance
you escaped the tempest. All our eyes were fixed on the boat when
you laboured to reach the shore, and had you heard the groans
we uttered when we saw you give up the effort as hopeless and fly
away to sea before the wind you would have known how truly all
your comrades love you. We gave you up as assuredly lost, for the
islanders here agreed that you had no chance of weathering the
gale, and that the boat would, ere many hours, be dashed to pieces
either on Islay or Jura, should it even reach so far; but the most
thought that you would founder long ere you came in sight of the

Accompanying the king with his principal companions to the hut
which he occupied, Archie related the incidents of the voyage and
of their final refuge at Colonsay.

"It was a wonderful escape," the king said when he finished, "and
the holy Virgin and the saints must assuredly have had you in their
especial care. You have cost us well nigh a fortune, for not one
of us but vowed offerings for your safety, which were, perchance,
the more liberal, since we deemed the chances of paying them so
small. However, they shall be redeemed, for assuredly they have
been well earned, and for my share I am bound, when I come to my
own, to give a piece of land of the value of one hundred marks a
year to the good monks of St. Killian's to be spent in masses for
the souls of those drowned at sea."

Some days later the king said to Archie, "I have a mission for you;
`tis one of danger, but I know that that is no drawback in your

"I am ready," Archie said modestly, "to carry out to the best of
my power any errand with which your majesty may intrust me."

"I have been thinking, Sir Archie, that I might well make some sort
of alliance with the Irish chieftains.  Many of these are, like
most of our Scotch nobles, on terms of friendship with England;
still there are others who hold aloof from the conquerors. It would
be well to open negotiations with these, so that they by rising
might distract Edward's attention from Scotland, while we, by our
efforts, would hinder the English from sending all their force
thither, and we might thus mutually be of aid to each other. At
present I am, certes, in no position to promise aid in men or money;
but I will bind myself by an oath that if my affairs in Scotland
prosper I will from my treasury furnish money to aid them in carrying
on the struggle, and that if I clear Scotland of her oppressors
I will either go myself or send one of my brothers with a strong
force to aid the Irish to follow our example. The mission is, as
you will see, Sir Archie, a dangerous one; for should any of the
English, or their Irish allies, lay hands on you, your doom would
be sealed. Still you may do me and Scotland great service should
you succeed in your mission. Even minor risings would be of much
utility, seeing that they would at any rate prevent Edward from
bringing over troops from Ireland to assist in our conquest. I have
thought the matter over deeply, and conclude that, young as you are,
I can intrust it to you with confidence, and that you are indeed
the best fitted among those with me to undertake it.  Douglas is
but a boy; my brother Edward is too hot and rash; Boyd is impatient
and headstrong, trusty and devoted to me though he is; but I am
sure that in you there is no lack either of prudence or courage.
Hence, Sir Archie, if you will undertake it I will intrust it to

"I will willingly undertake it, sire, since you think me fitting
for it, and deem it a high honour indeed that you have chosen me.
When will you that I start?"

"It were best to lose no time," the king replied, "and if you have
no reason for delay I would that you should embark tonight, so that
before daybreak you may have gained the Irish shore. They tell me
that there are many desperate men in refuge among the caves on the
coast, and among these you might choose a few who might be useful
to you in your project; but it is not in this part that a rising
can be effected, for the country inland is comparatively flat and
wholly in the hands of the English. It is on the west coast that
the resistance to the English was continued to the last, and here
from time to time it blazes out again. In those parts, as they tell
me, not only are there wild mountains and fastnesses such as we
have in Scotland, but there are great morasses and swamps, extending
over wide tracts, where heavy armed soldiers cannot penetrate,
and where many people still maintain a sort of wild independence,
defying all the efforts of the English to subdue them. The people
are wild and savage, and ever ready to rise against the English.
Here, then, is the country where you are most likely to find chiefs
who may enter into our plans, and agree to second our efforts for
independence.  Here are some rings and gold chains, which are all
that remain to me of my possessions. Money I have none; but with
these you may succeed in winning the hearts of some of these savage
chieftains. Take, too, my royal signet, which will be a guarantee
that you have power to treat in my name. I need not tell you to be
brave, Sir Archie; but be prudent--remember that your life is of
the utmost value to me. I want you not to fight, but simply to act
as my envoy. If you succeed in raising a great fire in the west
of Ireland, remain there and act as councillor to the chiefs,
remembering that you are just as much fighting for Scotland there
as if you were drawing sword against her foes at home. If you find
that the English arm is too strong, and the people too cowed and
disheartened to rise against it, then make your way back here by
the end of three months, by which time I hope to sail hence and to
raise my standard in Scotland again."

On leaving the king Archie at once conferred with Duncan the fisherman,
who willingly agreed that night to set him ashore in Ireland.

"I will land you," he said, "at a place where you need not fear
that any English will meet you. It is true that they have a castle
but three miles away perched on a rock on the coast.  It is called
Dunluce, and commands a wide seaward view, and for this reason it
were well that our boat were far out at sea again before morning
dawned, so that if they mark us they will not suppose that we have
touched on the coast; else they might send a party to search if
any have landed--not even then that you need fear discovery, for
the coast abounds in caves and hiding places. My sons have often
landed there, for we do a certain trade in the summer from the island
in fish and other matters with the natives there. If it pleases
you my son Ronald, who is hardy and intelligent, shall land with
you and accompany you as your retainer while you remain in Ireland.
The people there speak a language quite different to that which you
use in the lowlands of Scotland and in England, but the language
we speak among ourselves closely resembles it, and we can be easily
understood by the people of the mainland. You would be lost did
you go among the native Irish without an interpreter."

Archie thankfully accepted the offer, and that night, after bidding
adieu to the friends and his comrades, started in Duncan's boat.

"`Tis a strange place where I am going to land you," the fisherman
said; "such a place as nowhere else have my eyes beheld, though they
say that at the Isle of Staffa, far north of Colonsay, a similar
sight is to be seen. The rocks, instead of being rugged or square,
rise in close columns like the trunks of trees, or like the columns
in the church of the priory of Colonsay. Truly they seem as if
wrought by the hands of men, or rather of giants, seeing that no
men could carry out so vast a work. The natives have legends that
they are the work of giants of old times. How this may be I know
not, though why giants should have engaged in so useless a work
passes my understanding. However, there are the pillars, whosoever
placed them there.  Some of them are down by the level of the sea.
Here their heads seem to be cut off so as to form a landing place,
to which the natives give the name of the Giant's Causeway. Others
in low rows stand on the face of the cliff itself, though how any
could have stood there to work them, seeing that no human foot can
reach the base, is more than I can say. `Tis a strange and wonderful
sight, as you will say when the morning light suffers you to see

It was fortunate that Duncan knew the coast so well, and was able
by the light of the stars to find a landing place, for quiet as the
sea appeared a swell rose as they neared the shore, and the waves
beat heavily on the wild and rocky coast.  Duncan, however, steered
his boat to the very foot of the Causeway, and then, watching his
opportunity, Archie sprang ashore followed by Ronald. A few words
of adieu were spoken, and then the boat rowed out to sea again,
while Archie and Ronald turned away from the landing place.

"It were best," the young fisherman said, "to find a seat among the
rocks, and there to await the dawn, when I can guide you to some
caves hard by; but in the darkness we might well fall and break a
limb did we try and make our way across the coast."

A niche was soon found, and Archie and his companion sat down for
a while. Archie, however, soon discovered that the sides and back
of his seat were formed of the strange columns of which Duncan had
spoken, and that he was sitting upon the tops of others which had
broken off. Eagerly he passed his hands over the surface of these
strange pillars, and questioned his companion as to what he knew
about them; but Ronald could tell him no more than his father
had done, and Archie was forced to await the dawn to examine more
closely the strange columns. Daylight only added to his wonder.
On all sides of him stretched the columns, packed in a dense mass
together, while range above range they stood on the face of the
great cliffs above him. The more he examined them the more his
wonder grew.

"They can neither be the work of men nor giants," he said, "but
must have been called up by the fantastic freak of some powerful
enchanter. Hitherto I have not believed the tales of these mysterious
beings of old times; but after seeing these wonderful pillars I
can no longer doubt, for assuredly no mortal hand could have done
this work."

Ronald now urged that they had better be moving, as it was possible,
although unlikely enough, that one passing along the top of the
cliffs might get sight of them. They accordingly moved along the
shore, and in a quarter of a mile reached the mouth of a great
cave. The bottom was covered with rocks, which had fallen from the
roof, thickly clustered over with wet seaweed, which, indeed, hung
from the sides far up, showing that at high tide the sea penetrated
far into the cave.

"The ground rises beyond," Ronald said, "and you will find recesses
there which the tide never reaches." They moved slowly at first
until their eyes became accustomed to the darkness; then they kept
on, the ground getting more even as they ascended, until they stood
on a dry and level floor.

"Now I will strike a light," Ronald said, "and light the torch
which I brought with me. We are sure to find plenty of driftwood
cast up at the highest point the tide reaches. Then we can make a
fire, and while you remain here I will go out and find some of the
natives, and engage a guide to take us forward tonight."

Taking out his flint and steel, Ronald proceeded to strike a light,
and after several efforts succeeded in doing so and in igniting
some dried moss which he had brought with him, carefully shielded
from damp in the folds of his garment. As a light flame rose
he applied his torch to it; but as he did so, came an exclamation
of astonishment, for gathered in a circle round them were a dozen
wild figures. All were armed and stood in readiness to strike down
the intruders into their hiding place. They were barefooted, and
had doubtless been asleep in the cave until, when awakened by the
approaching footsteps and voices, they had silently arisen and
prepared to fall upon the intruders.

"We are friends," Ronald said in the native language when he
recovered from his start of surprise. "I am Ronald, a fisherman
from Rathlin, and was over here in the summer exchanging fish for

"I recollect you," one of the men said; "but what do you here so
strangely and secretly? Are the English hunting you too from your
island as they have done us?"

"They have not come to Rathlin yet," Ronald said.

"Doubtless they would do so, but `tis too poor to offer any
temptation for their greed. But they are our enemies as they are
yours. I am here to guide this Scottish knight, who is staying at
Rathlin, a fugitive from their vengeance like yourself, and who is
charged with a mission from the King of Scotland to your chiefs,
whom he would fain induce to join in a rising against the power of
the English."

"He is welcome," the man who appeared to be the leader of the party
replied, "and may he succeed in his object; but," he continued
bitterly, "I fear that the chance is a small one.  The Norman foot
is on our necks, and most of those who should be our leaders have
basely accepted the position of vassals to the English king. Still
there are brave hearts yet in Ireland who would gladly rise did they
see even a faint chance of success. Hundreds are there who, like
us, prefer to live the lives of hunted dogs in caves, in mountain
fastnesses, or in the bogs, rather than yield to the English yoke.
Tell me your plans and whither you would go; and I will give you
guides who know every foot of the country, and who can lead you to
the western hills, where, though no open resistance is made, the
English have scarce set foot.  There we generally find refuge;
and `tis only at times, when the longing to see the homes of our
childhood becomes too strong for us, that I and those you see--all
of whom were born and reared between this and Coleraine--come
hither for a time, when at night we can issue out and prowl round
the ruins of the homes of our fathers."

While this conversation had been going on, the others, seeing that
the visit was a friendly one, had set to work, and bringing up
driftwood from below, piled it round the little blaze which Ronald
had commenced, and soon had a great fire lighted. They then produced
the carcass of a sheep which they had the evening before carried
off. Ronald had brought with him a large pile of oaten cakes, and
a meal was speedily prepared.

Archie could not but look with surprise at the wild figures around
him, lit up by the dancing glare of the fire. Their hair lay in
tangled masses on their necks; their attire was of the most primitive
description, consisting but of one garment secured round the waist
by a strap of untanned leather; their feet and legs were bare.
Their hair was almost black; their eyes small and glittering, with
heavy overhanging brows; and they differed altogether in appearance
even from the wildest and poorest of the Scottish peasantry. In
their belts all bore long knives of rough manufacture, and most of
them carried slings hanging from the belt, in readiness for instant
use. In spite of the wildness of their demeanour they seemed kindly
and hospitable; and many were the questions which they asked Ronald
concerning the King of Scotland and his knights who were in refuge
at Rathlin.

When the meal was over all stretched themselves on the sand like so
many animals, and without further preparation went off to sleep.
Archie, knowing that nothing could be done until nightfall,
followed their example. The fire had by this time burned low, and
soon perfect stillness reigned in the great cavern, save that far
away at its mouth the low thunder of the waves upon the rocks came
up in a confused roar.

Chapter XVI

An Irish Rising

When night came on Archie started for the west, accompanied by
Ronald and two of the Irish as guides.  They crossed the country
without question or interference, and reached the wild mountains
of Donegal in safety. Archie had asked that his conductors should
lead him to the abode of the principal chieftain of the district.
The miserable appearance of the sparsely scattered villages through
which they had passed had prepared him to find that the superiors
of such a people would be in a very different position from the
feudal lords of the Highlands of Scotland. He was not surprised,
therefore, when his attendants pointed out a small hold, such as
would appertain to a small landowner on the Scottish Border, as the
residence of the chief. Around it were scattered a number of low
huts composed of turf, roofed with reeds. From these, when the
approach of strangers was reported, a number of wild looking figures
poured out, armed with weapons of the most primitive description.
A shout from Archie's guides assured these people that the newcomer
was not, as his appearance betokened him, a Norman knight, but
a visitor from Scotland who sought a friendly interview with the

Insignificant as was the hold, it was evident that something like
feudal discipline was kept up.  Two men, armed with pikes, were
stationed on the wall, while two others leant in careless fashion
against the posts of the open gate. On the approach of Archie an
elderly man, with a long white beard, came out to meet them.  Ronald
explained to him that Archie was a knight who had come as an emissary
from the King of Scotland to the Irish chieftains, and desired to
speak with the great Fergus of Killeen. The old man bowed deeply
to Archie, and then escorted him into the house.

The room which they entered occupied the whole of the ground
floor of the hold, and was some thirty feet wide by forty long. As
apparently trees of sufficient length to form the beams of so wide
an apartment could not be obtained, the floor above was supported
by two rows of roughly squared posts extending down from end to
end. The walls were perfectly bare. The beams and planks of the
ceiling were stained black by the smoke of a fire which burned in
one corner; the floor was of clay beaten hard. A strip some ten
feet wide, at the further end, was raised eighteen inches above the
general level, forming a sort of dais. Here, in a carved settle of
black wood, sat the chief. Some females, evidently the ladies of
his family, were seated on piles of sheepskins, and were plying
their distaffs; while an aged man was seated on the end of the dais
with a harp of quaint form on his knee; his fingers touched a last
chord as Archie entered, and he had evidently been playing while
the ladies worked. Near him on the dais was a fire composed of
wood embers, which were replenished from time to time with fresh
glowing pieces of charcoal taken from the fire at the other end of
the room, so that the occupants of the dais should not be annoyed
by the smoke arising close to them.

The chief was a fine looking man about fifty years old.  He was
clad in a loose fitting tunic of soft dark green cloth, confined at
the waist by a broad leathern band with silver clasp and ornaments,
and reaching to his knees. His arms were bare; on his feet he wore
sandals, and a heavy sword rested against the wall near his hand.
The ladies wore dresses of similar material and of somewhat similar
fashion, but reaching to the feet. They wore gold armlets; and the
chief's wife had a light band of gold round her head. The chief
rose when Archie entered; and upon the seneschal informing him of
the rank and mission of his visitor he stepped from the dais, and
advancing, greeted him warmly. Then he led him back to the dais,
where he presented to him the ladies of his family, ordering the
retainers, of whom about a score were gathered in the hall, to
place two piles of sheepskins near the fire. On one of these he sat
down, and motioned to Archie to take his place on the other--his
own chair being removed to a corner. Then, through the medium of
Ronald, the conversation began.

Archie related to the chief the efforts which the Scotch were
making to win their freedom from England, and urged in the king's
name that a similar effort should be made by the Irish; as the
forces of the English, being thereby divided and distracted, there
might be better hope of success. The chief heard the communication
in grave silence. The ladies of the family stood behind the chief
with deeply interested faces; and as the narrative of the long
continued struggle which the Scots were making for freedom continued
it was clear, by their glowing cheeks and their animated faces,
how deeply they sympathized in the struggle.

The wife of the chief, a tall and stately lady, stood immediately
behind him with her two daughters, girls of some seventeen or
eighteen years of age, beside her. As Ronald was translating his
words Archie glanced frequently at the group, and thought he had
never seen one fairer or more picturesque. There was a striking
likeness between mother and daughters; but the expression of staid
dignity in the one was in the others replaced by a bright expression
of youth and happiness. Their beauty was of a kind new to Archie.
Their dark glossy hair was kept smoothly in place by the fillet
of gold in the mother's case, and by purple ribbons in that of the
daughters. Their eyebrows and long eyelashes were black, but their
eyes were gray, and as light as those to which Archie was accustomed
under the fair tresses of his countrywomen.  The thing that struck
him most in the faces of the girls was their mobility, the expression
changing as it seemed in an instant from grave to gay--flushing
at one moment with interest at the tale of deeds of valour, paling
at the next at the recital of cruel oppression and wrong. When Archie
had finished his narrative he presented to the chief a beautifully
wrought chain of gold as a token from the King of Scotland.

The chief was silent for some time after the interpreter concluded
Archie's narrative; then he said:

"Sir knight, it almost seems to me as if I had been listening to
the tale of the wrongs of Ireland, save that it appears that the
mastery of the English here has been more firmly established than
with you. This may be from the nature of the country; our hills
are, for the most part, bare, while yours, you say, are covered
with forest. Thus the Normans could more easily, when they had once
gained the upper hand, crush out the last vestiges of opposition
than they could with you. As I judge from what you say, the English
in Scotland hold all the fortresses, and when the people rise they
remain sheltered in them until assistance comes from England. With
us it is different. First they conquer all the country; then from
a wide tract, a third perhaps of the island, they drive out the whole
of the people, and establish themselves firmly there, portioning the
land among the soldiery and repeopling the country with an English
race. Outside this district the Irish chieftains, like myself,
retain something of independence; we pay a tribute, and are in the
position of feudatories, being bound to furnish so many men for
the King of England's wars if called upon to do so.  The English
seldom come beyond their pale so long as the tribute is paid, and
the yoke, therefore, weighs not so heavy upon us; but were we to
rise, the English army would pour out from its pale and carry fire
and sword throughout the country.

"We, like you, have been without one who would unite us against the
common enemy. Our great chiefs have, for the most part, accepted
English titles, and since their power over the minor chiefs is
extended, rather than decreased by the changed circumstances, they
are well content, for they rule now over their districts, not only
as Irish chieftains, but as English lieutenants. You have seen,
as you journeyed here, how sparse is the population of our hills,
and how slight would be the opposition which we could offer, did
the Earl of Ulster sweep down upon us with trained English soldiers.

"Were there a chance of success, Fergus of Killeen would gladly
draw the sword again; but I will not bring ruin upon my family
and people by engaging in a hopeless enterprise.  Did I raise
my standard, all Donegal would take up arms; but Donegal alone is
powerless against England. I know my people--they are ready for
the fray, they would rush to battle and perish in thousands to win
victory, but one great defeat would crush them. The story of the
long fight which your Wallace, with a small following, made against
the power of England, will never be told of an Irish leader. We
have bravery and reckless courage, but we have none of the stubborn
obstinacy of your Scottish folk. Were the flag raised the people
would flock to it, and would fight desperately; but if they lost,
there would be utter and complete collapse. The fortitude to support
repeated defeats, to struggle on when the prospect seems darkest,
does not belong to my people.

"It is for this reason that I have no hope that Ireland will ever
regain its independence. She may struggle against the yoke, she
may blaze out again and again in bloody risings, our sons may die
in tens of thousands for her; but never, I believe, as long as the
men of the two countries remain what they are, will Ireland recover
her independence, for, in the long run, English perseverance and
determination will overcome the fitful courage of the Irish.  I
grieve that I should say it.  I mourn that I feel it my duty to
repress rather than to encourage the eager desire of my people to
draw the sword and strike for freedom; but such is my conviction.

"But understand, sir knight, that whatever I may think, I shall
not be backward in doing my part. If Ireland again rises, should
the other native chieftains determine to make one more effort to
drive the English across the channel, be sure that Fergus of Killeen
and the men of Donegal will be in the front of the battle. No heart
beats more warmly for freedom than mine; and did I stand alone I
would take to the bogs and join those who shelter there, defying
the might of England. But I have my people to think of. I have seen
how the English turn a land to desolation as they sweep across it,
and I will not bring fire and sword into these mountain valleys
unless all Ireland is banded in a common effort. You have seen
Scotland wasted from sea to sea, her cities burned, her people
slain by thousands, her dales and valleys wasted; and can you tell
me that after these years of struggle you have gained any such
advantage as would warrant your advising me to rise against England?"

Archie was silent. Thinking over the struggle in which he had
taken part for so many years, and remembering the woes that it had
brought on Scotland, and that, after fighting so long, Bruce and
the handful of fugitives at Rathlin were the sole survivors of the
patriotic party, he could not but acknowledge at heart the justice
of the chiefs words. His sole hope for Scotland now rested in the
perseverance and personal valour of the king, and the stubborn
character of the people, which he felt assured would lead them
to rise again and again, in spite of disaster and defeat, until
freedom was won. The Irish possessed no Bruce; their country was
less defendible than Scotland; and if, as Fergus said, they had none
of that indomitable perseverance which enabled the Scotch people
again and again to rise against the yoke, what hope could there
be of final success, how could he be justified in urging upon the
chieftain a step which would bring fire and sword into those quiet
valleys! For some time, therefore, after Ronald had translated the
chief's speech he remained silent.

"I will not urge you further, sir," he said, "for you are surely
the best judge of what is good for your people, and I have seen
such ruin and desolation in Scotland, so many scores of ruined
towns and villages, so many thousands of levelled homesteads, that
I will not say a single word to urge you to alter your resolution.
It is enough for me that you have said that if Ireland rises you
will also draw the sword. I must carry out my instructions, and
hence shall travel south and visit other chiefs; they may view
matters differently, and may see that what Ireland cannot do alone
she may do in conjunction with Scotland."

"So be it!" Fergus said. "Believe me, if you raise a flame through
the west the north will not hang back.  And now I trust that you
will remain here for a few days as my guest. All that I have is
yours, and my wife and daughters will do their best to make the
time pass pleasantly for you."

Archie remained three days at the chiefs hold, where the primitive
life interested him greatly. A lavish hospitality was exercised.
Several sheep were killed and roasted each day, and all comers were
free to join the repast. The chief's more immediate retainers, some
twenty in number, ate, lived, and slept in the great hall; while
tables were spread outside, at which all who came sat down without
question. The upper rooms of the hold were occupied by the chief,
the ladies of his family, and the female domestics. Here they retired
when they felt disposed, but their meals were served on the dais.
In the evening the harper played and sang legends of deeds of bravery
in the day of Ireland's independence; and as Ronald translated the
songs to him Archie could not but conclude privately that civil war,
rapine, strife, and massacre must have characterized the country
in those days.

At the conclusion of his stay Fergus appointed two of the retainers
to accompany Archie south, and to give assurance to the various
wild people through whom he might pass, that Archie's mission was
a friendly one to Ireland, and that he was an honoured friend and
guest of the chief of Killeen.

On his arrival in Mayo Archie found matters more favourable to his
mission. An insurrection had already broken out, headed by some of
the local chieftains, originating in a broil between the English
soldiers of a garrison and the natives. The garrison had been
surprised and massacred, and the wild Irish were flocking to arms.
By the chieftains here Archie, on explaining his mission, was warmly
welcomed.  As they were already in arms no urging on his part was
needed, and they despatched messengers throughout the country,
saying that an emissary from Scotland had arrived, and calling upon
all to rise and to join with the Scotch in shaking off the yoke of

Archie had therefore to travel no farther, and decided that he
could best carry out his mission by assisting to organize and lead
the Irish forces. These he speedily discovered were beyond all
comparison inferior, both in arms, in discipline, and in methods
of fighting, to the Scots.  For a dashing foray they would be
excellent. Hardy, agile, and full of impetuosity, they would bear
down all resistance instantly, were that resistance not too strong;
but against stubborn and well armed troops they would break like
a wave against a rock.  Archie saw that with such troops anything
like regular war would be impossible, and that the struggle must
be one of constant surprises, attacks, and forays, and that they
could succeed only by wearing out and not by defeating the enemy.
With such tactics as these they might by long perseverance succeed;
but this was just what Fergus had warned him they would not practise,
and that their courage was rather of a kind which would lead them
to dash desperately against the line of levelled spears, rather
than continue a long and weary struggle under apparently hopeless

The chiefs, hearing from Archie that he had acted as one of Wallace's
lieutenants in battles where the English had been heavily defeated,
willingly consented that he should endeavour to instil the tactics
by which those battles had been won into their own followers; but
when they found that he proposed that the men should remain stationary
to withstand the English charges, they shook their heads.

"That will never do for our people," they said. "They must attack
sword in hand. They will rush fearlessly down against any odds, but
you will never get them steadily to withstand a charge of men-at-arms."

Archie, however, persuaded them to allow him to organize a band of
two hundred men under his immediate orders. These were armed with
long pikes, and were to form a sort of reserve, in order that if
the wild charge of the main body failed in its object these could
cover a retreat, or serve as a nucleus around which they could
rally. The army swelled rapidly; every day fresh chiefs arrived
with scores of wild tribesmen.  Presently the news came that an
English force was advancing from the Pale against them.  A council
was held at which Archie was present. Very strongly he urged his
views upon the chieftains, namely: that they should altogether
decline a pitched battle; but that, divided into numerous parties,
they should enter the Pale, destroying weak garrisons and ravaging
the country, trying to wear out the English by constant skirmishes
and night attacks, but refusing always to allow themselves to be
tempted into an engagement.

"The English cannot be everywhere at once," he urged.  "Let them
hold only the ground on which their feet stand.  As they advance
or retire, close ever in on their rear, drive off their cattle and
destroy their crops and granaries in the Pale; force them to live
wholly in their walled towns, and as you gain in strength capture
these one by one, as did we in Scotland. So, and so only, can you
hope for ultimate success."

His advice was received with a silence which he at once saw betokened
disapproval. One after another of the Irish chieftains rose and
declared that such a war could not be sustained.

"Our retainers," they said, "are ready to fight, but after fighting
they will want to return to their homes; besides, we are fifteen
thousand strong, and the English men-at-arms marching against us
are but eight hundred; it would be shameful and cowardly to avoid a
battle, and were we willing to do so our followers would not obey
us. Let us first destroy this body of English, then we shall be
joined by others, and can soon march straight upon Dublin."

Archie saw that it was hopeless to persevere, and set out the
following day with the wild rabble, for they could not be termed
an army, to meet the English. The leaders yielded so far to his
advice as to take up a position where they would fight with the best
chance of success. The spot lay between a swamp extending a vast
distance, and a river, and they were thus open only to an attack
in front, and could, if defeated, take refuge in the bog, where
horsemen could not follow them.

On the following morning the English were seen approaching. In
addition to the 800 men-at-arms were 1000 lightly equipped footmen,
for experience had taught the English commanders that in such a
country lightly armed men were necessary to operate where the wide
extending morasses prevented the employment of cavalry. The English
advanced in solid array: 300 archers led the way; these were
followed by 700 spearmen, and the men-at-arms brought up the rear.
The Irish were formed in disordered masses, each under its own
chieftain. The English archers commenced the fight with a shower
of arrows. Scarcely had these began to fall when the Irish with a
tremendous yell rushed forward to the assault. The English archers
were swept like chaff before them. With reckless bravery they threw
themselves next upon the spearmen. The solid array was broken by
the onslaught, and in a moment both parties were mixed up in wild

The sight was too much for Archie's band to view unmoved, and these,
in spite of his shouts, left their ground and rushed at full speed
after their companions and threw themselves into the fight.

Archie was mounted, having been presented with a horse by one of
the chiefs, and he now, although hopeless of the final result, rode
forward. Just as he joined the confused and struggling mass the
English men-at-arms burst down upon them. As a torrent would cleave
its way through a mass of loose sand, so the English men-at-arms
burst through the mass of Irish, trampling and cutting down all in
their path. Not unharmed, however, for the Irish fought desperately
with axe and knife, hewing at the men-at-arms, stabbing at the
horses, and even trying by sheer strength to throw the riders to
the ground. After passing through the mass the men-at-arms turned
and again burst down upon them. It was a repetition of the first
charge. The Irish fought desperately, but it was each for himself;
there was neither order nor cohesion, and each man strove only to
kill a foe before being himself slain.  Archie and the chiefs, with
the few mounted men among the retainers, strove in vain to stem
the torrent. Under the orders of their leaders the English kept
in a compact mass, and the weight of the horses and armour bore
down all opposition. Four times did the men-at-arms burst through
the struggling mass of Irish. As they formed to charge the fifth
time the latter lost heart, and as if acting under a simultaneous
influence they turned and fled.

The English horse burst down on the rear of the mass of fugitives,
hewing them down in hundreds. Those nearest to the river dashed in,
and numbers were drowned in striving to cross it. The main body,
however, made for the swamp, and though in the crush many sank in
and perished miserably here, the great majority, leaping lightly
from tuft to tuft, gained the heart of the morass, the pursuing
horse reining up on its edge.

Ronald had kept near Archie in the fight, and when all was lost
ran along by the side of his horse, holding fast to the stirrup
leather. The horsemen still pressed along between the river and
the morass, and Archie, following the example of several of the
chiefs, alighted from his saddle, and with his companion entered
the swamp. It was with the greatest difficulty that he made his
way across it, and his lightly armed companion did him good service
in assisting several times to drag him from the treacherous mire
when he began to sink in it. At last they reached firmer ground in
the heart of the swamp, and here some 5000 or 6000 fugitives were
gathered.  At least 4000 had fallen on the field. Many had escaped
across the river, although numbers had lost their lives in the
attempt. Others scattered and fled in various directions. A few
of the chiefs were gathered in council when Archie arrived. They
agreed that all was lost and there was nothing to do but scatter
to their homes. Archie took no part in the discussion. That day's
experience had convinced him that nothing like a permanent and
determined insurrection was possible, and only by such a movement
could the Scottish cause be aided, by forcing the English to send
reinforcements across St.  George's Channel. After seeing the
slaughter which had taken place, he was rejoiced at heart that the
rising had commenced before he joined it, and was in no way the
result of his mission, but was one of the sporadic insurrections
which frequently broke out in Ireland, only to be instantly and
sternly repressed.

"We have failed, Sir Knight," one of the chiefs said to him, "but
it was not for want of courage on the part of our men."

"No, indeed," Archie replied through his interpreter; "never did I
see men fight more fiercely, but without discipline and organization
victory is well nigh impossible for lightly armed footmen against
heavy mailclad cavalry."

"The tactics you advised were doubtless good," the chief said; "I
see their wisdom, but they are well nigh impossible to carry out
with such following as ours. They are ever impatient for the fray,
but quickly wearied by effort; ready to die, but not to wait; to
them prudence means cowardice, and their only idea of fighting is
to rush full at a foe. See how they broke the English spearmen!"

"It was right well done," Archie replied, "and some day, when well
trained and disciplined, Irish soldiers will be second to none in
the world; but unless they will submit to training and discipline
they can never hope to conquer the English."

"And now, Sir Knight, what do you propose doing?" the chief said.

"I shall make my way north," Archie replied, "and shall rejoin my
king at Rathlin."

"I will send two of my men with you. They know every foot of the
morasses of this neighbourhood, and when they get beyond the point
familiar to them will procure you two others to take their places.
It will need all your prudence and courage to get through, for
the English men-at-arms will be scouring the country in groups of
four, hunting all those they come across like wolves. See, already!"
and he pointed to the horizon; "they are scattering round the edge
of the morass to inclose us here; but it is many miles round, and
before tomorrow is gone not a man will be left here."

When darkness fell, Archie, accompanied by Ronald and his guides,
set out on his journey. Alone he could never have found his way
through the swamps, but even in the darkness his guides moved along
quickly, following tracks known to them with the instinct of hounds;
Archie kept close on their heels, as a step only a few inches from
the track might plunge him in a deep morass, in which in a few
seconds he would sink out of sight. On nearing the edge of the
bog the guides slackened their pace. Motioning to Archie to remain
where he was, they crept forward noiselessly into the darkness.
Not far off he could hear the calls of the English horsemen. The
sounds were repeated again and again until they died away in the
distance, showing that a cordon had been drawn round the morass so
as to inclose the fugitives from the battle of the previous day.

In a quarter of an hour the guides returned as noiselessly as they
had departed, and Archie continued the march at their heels. Even
greater caution than before was now necessary in walking, for the
English, before darkness had set in, had narrowly examined the edge
of the morass, and had placed three or four men wherever they could
discover the slightest signs of a track. Thus Archie's guides were
obliged to leave the path by which they had previously travelled.
Their progress was slow now, the party only moving for a few yards
at a time, and then halting while the guides searched for ground
solid enough to carry their weight. At last Archie felt the ground
grow firmer under his foot, and a reconnaissance by the guides
having shown them that none of the English were stationed opposite
to them, they left the morass, and noiselessly made their way across
the country until far beyond the English line.

All night they walked, and at daybreak entered another swamp, and
lay down for the day in the long coarse grass growing on a piece of
firm ground deep in its recesses. In the evening one of the guides
stole out and returned with a native of the neighbourhood, who
undertook to show Archie the way on his further journey.

Ten days, or rather nights, of steady journeying brought Archie
again to the rocky shore where he had landed.  Throughout he had
found faithful guides, whom he had rewarded by giving, as was often
the custom of the time, in lieu of money, a link or two of one of
his gold chains. He and Ronald again took refuge in the cave where
they had passed the first night of their landing. It was untenanted

Here they abode for a fortnight, Ronald going up every two or three
days to purchase provisions at the scattered cottages. On Saturday
night they lit a great fire just inside the mouth of the cave, so
that while the flames could be seen far out at sea the light would
be unobserved by the garrison of Dunluce or any straggler on the
cliff above. It had been arranged with Duncan that every Saturday
night, weather permitting, he should sail across and look for
a signal fire. The first Saturday night was wild and stormy, and
although they lit the fire they had but slight idea that Duncan
would put out. The following week, however, the night was calm and
bright, and after piling up the fire high they proceeded to the
causeway, and two hours later saw to their joy a boat approaching.
In a few minutes they were on board, and by the following morning
reached Rathlin.

The king and his companions welcomed Archie's return warmly,
although the report which he made showed that there was no hope of
obtaining any serious diversion of the English attack by a permanent
rising in Ireland; and the king, on hearing Archie's account of
all that had passed, assured him that he felt that, although he had
failed, no one, under the circumstances, could have done otherwise.

Chapter XVII

The King's Blood Hound

The only other event which occurred throughout the winter was the
arrival of a fishing boat with a messenger from one of the king's
adherents, and the news which he brought filled them with sorrow
and dismay.  Kildrummy had been threatened with a siege, and the
queen, Bruce's sisters Christine and Mary, his daughter Marjory,
and the other ladies accompanying them, deemed it prudent to leave
the castle and take refuge in the sanctuary of St. Duthoc, in Ross

The sanctuary was violated by the Earl of Ross and his followers,
and the ladies and their escort delivered up to Edward's lieutenants
and sent to England. The knights and squires who formed the escort
were all executed, and the ladies committed to various places
of confinement, where most of them remained in captivity of the
strictest and most rigorous kind until after the battle of Bannockburn,
eight years later. The Countess of Buchan, who had crowned Bruce
at Scone, and who was one of the party captured at St.  Duthoc,
received even fouler treatment, by Edward's especial orders,
being placed in a cage on one of the turrets of Berwick Castle so
constructed that she could be seen by all who passed; and in this
cruel imprisonment she was kept like a wild beast for seven long
years by a Christian king whom his admirers love to hold up as a
model of chivalry.

Kildrummy had been besieged and taken by treachery.  The king's
brother, Nigel Bruce, was carried to Berwick, and was there hanged
and beheaded. Christopher Seaton and his brother Alexander, the
Earl of Athole, Sir Simon Fraser, Sir Herbert de Moreham, Sir David
Inchmartin, Sir John Somerville, Sir Walter Logan, and many other
Scotchmen of noble degree, had also been captured and executed,
their only offence being that they had fought for their country.

In all the annals of England there is no more disgraceful page than
that which chronicles the savage ferocity with which King Edward
behaved to the Scottish nobles and ladies who fell into his hands.
The news of these murders excited the utmost fury as well as grief
among the party at Rathlin, and only increased their determination
to fight till the death against the power of England.

The spring was now at hand, and Douglas, with Archie Forbes and
a few followers, left in a boat, and landed on the Isle of Arran.
In the bay of Brodick was a castle occupied by Sir John Hastings
and an English garrison. The Scots concealed themselves near the
castle, awaiting an opportunity for an attack. A day or two after
their arrival several vessels arrived with provisions and arms for
the garrison. As these were being landed Douglas and his followers
sallied out and captured the vessels and stores. The garrison of
the castle made a sortie to assist their friends, but were driven
in with slaughter, and the whole of the supplies remained in the
hands of the Scots, causing great rejoicing to the king and the
rest of the party when a few days later they arrived from Rathlin.

Bruce now proposed an immediate descent upon Carrick, there, in the
midst of his family possessions, to set up his banner in Scotland.
The lands had been forfeited by Edward and bestowed upon some of
his own nobles.  Annandale had been given to the Earl of Hereford,
Carrick to Earl Percy, Selkirk to Aymer de Valence. The castle of
Turnberry was occupied by Percy with three hundred men.  Bruce sent
on his cousin Cuthbert to reconnoitre and see whether the people
would be ready to rise, but Cuthbert found the Scots sunk in
despair. All who had taken up arms had perished in the field or
on the scaffold. The country swarmed with the English, and further
resistance seemed hopeless.  Cuthbert had arranged to light a beacon
on a point at Turnberry visible at Lamlash Bay in Arran, where the
king, with his two hundred men and eighty-three boats, awaited the
sight of the smoke which should tell them that circumstances were
favourable for their landing.

Cuthbert, finding that there was no chance of a rising, did not
light the bonfire; but as if fortune was determined that Bruce
should continue a struggle which was to end finally in the freedom
of Scotland, some other person lit a fire on the very spot where
Cuthbert had arranged to show the signal. On seeing the smoke the
king and his party at once got into their boats and rowed across
to the mainland, a distance of seventeen miles. On reaching land
they were met by Cuthbert, who reported that the fire was not of his
kindling, and that the circumstances were altogether unfavourable.
Bruce consulted with his brother Edward, Douglas, Archie, and his
principal friends as to what course had better be pursued.  Edward
declared at once that he for one would not take to sea again; and
this decision settled the matter.

The king without delay led his followers against the village
outside the castle, where a considerable portion of the garrison
were housed. These were assailed so suddenly that all save one
were slain. Those in the castle heard the sounds of the conflict,
but being unaware of the smallness of the assailant's force, did
not venture to sally out to their assistance.

Percy, with his followers, remained shut up in the castle, while
Bruce overran the neighbouring country; but an English force under
Sir Roger St. John, far too powerful to be resisted, advanced to
Turnberry, and Bruce and his followers were obliged to seek refuge
in the hills.  Thomas and Alexander, the king's brothers, with Sir
Reginald Crawford, had gone to the islands to beat up recruits, and
returning in a vessel with a party who had joined them, landed at
Loch Ryan. They were attacked at once by Macdowall, a chieftain
of Galloway, and routed. The king's brothers, with Sir Reginald
Crawford, were carried to Carlisle severely wounded, and delivered
over to King Edward, who at once sent them to the scaffold.

These wholesale and barbarous executions saddened the Scots, and,
as might be expected, soon roused them to severe reprisals. Bruce
himself, however, although deeply stirred by the murder of his
three brothers and many dear friends, and by the captivity and
harsh treatment of his wife and female relatives, never attempted
to take vengeance for them upon those who fell into his hands,
and during the whole of the war in no single instance did he put a
prisoner to death.  He carried magnanimity, indeed, almost to the
extent of impolicy; for had the nobles of England found that those
of their number who fell into Bruce's hands suffered the penalty
of death, which Edward inflicted upon the Scotch prisoners, they
would probably have remonstrated with the king and insisted upon
his conducting the war in a less barbarous and ferocious fashion.

Sir James Douglas was so stirred by the murder of the three Bruces and
so many of his friends and companions, that he resolved henceforth
to wage an exterminating war against the English, and by the recapture
of his own stronghold, known as Castle Douglas, began the series
of desperate deeds which won for him the name of the Black Douglas,
and rendered his name for generations a terror among the English on
the Border. The castle had been conferred by Edward on Sir Robert
de Clifford, and was occupied by an English garrison. Douglas
revealed his intention only to Archie Forbes, who at once agreed
to accompany him. He asked leave from the king to quit their hiding
place for a time, accompanied by Archie, in order to revisit Douglas
Hall, and see how it fared with his tenants and friends. The king
acquiesced with difficulty, as he thought the expedition a dangerous
one, and feared that the youth and impetuosity of Douglas might lead
him into danger; before consenting he strongly urged on Archie to
keep a strict watch over the doings of the young noble.

Accompanied by but one retainer, the friends set out for Douglasdale.
When they arrived there Douglas went to the cottage of an old and
faithful servant named Thomas Dickson, by whom he was joyfully
received. Dickson went out among the retainers and revealed to such
as could be most surely depended upon the secret of their lord's
presence, and one by one took them in to see him. The friends
had already determined upon their course, and the retainers all
promised to take part in the scheme. They were not numerous enough
to assault the castle openly, but they chose the following Sunday
for the assault. This was Palm Sunday and a festival, and most of
the garrison would come to the Church of St. Bride, in the village
of the same name, a short distance from the castle.

Dickson with some of his friends went at the appointed time, with
arms concealed under their clothes, to the church; and after the
service had commenced Douglas and some of his followers gathered
outside.  Unfortunately for the plan, some of those outside set
up the shout, "A Douglas!" prematurely before the whole party had
arrived and were ready to rush into the church. Dickson with his
friends at once drew out their arms and attacked the English; but
being greatly outnumbered and for a time unsupported, most of them,
including their leader, were slain. Sir James and his followers then
fought their way in, and after a desperate fight all the garrison
save ten were killed.

The party then proceeded to the castle, which they captured without
resistance. Douglas and his companions partook of the dinner which
had been prepared for the garrison; then as much money, weapons,
armour, and clothing as they could carry away was taken from the
castle. The whole of the vast stores of provisions were carried
into the cellar, the heads struck out of the ale and wine casks,
the prisoners were slain and their bodies thrown down into the mass,
and the castle was then set on fire. Archie Forbes in vain begged
Douglas to spare the lives of the prisoners, but the latter would
not listen to him. "No, Sir Archie," he exclaimed; "the King of
England held my good father a prisoner in chains until he died;
he has struck off the heads of every one of our friends who have
fallen into his hands; he has wasted Scotland from end to end with
fire and sword, and has slain our people in tens of thousands. So
long as this war continues, so long will I slay every prisoner who
falls into my hands, as King Edward would slay me did I fall into
his; and I will not desist unless this cruel king agrees to show
quarter to such of us as he may capture. I see not why all the
massacreing and bloodshed should be upon one side."

Archie did not urge him further, for he too was half beside himself
with indignation and grief at the murder of the king's brothers
and friends, and at the cruel captivity which, by a violation of
the laws of sanctuary, had fallen upon the ladies with whom he had
spent so many happy hours in the mountains and forests of Athole.

Douglas and Archie now rejoined the king. For months Bruce led
the life of a hunted fugitive. His little following dwindled away
until but sixty men remained in arms. Of these a portion were
with the king's brother in Galloway, and with but a handful of men
Bruce was lying among the fastnesses of Carrick when Sir Ingram
de Umfraville, with a large number of troops sent by the Earl of
Pembroke from Edinburgh, approached. Wholly unable to resist so
large a force, Bruce's little party scattered, and the king himself,
attended only by a page, lay hidden in the cottage of a peasant.
The English in vain searched for him, until a traitorous Scot went
to Umfraville and offered, for a reward of a grant of land to the
value of 40 pounds annually, to slay Bruce.

The offer was accepted, and the traitor and his two sons made their
way to Bruce's place of concealment.  As they approached, Bruce
snatched his bow from his page and shot the traitor through the
eye. One son attacked him with an axe, but was slain with a blow
from the king's sword. The remaining assailant rushed at him with
a spear; but the king with one blow cut off the spearhead, and
before the assailant had time to draw his sword, stretched him
dead at his feet.  After this the king with his adherents eluded
the search of the English and made their way into Galloway. The
people here who were devoted to the English cause determined to hunt
him down, and two hundred men, accompanied by some blood hounds,
set off towards the king's retreat; but Bruce's scouts were on
the watch and brought him news of their coming. The king with his
party retired until they reached a morass, through which flowed a
running stream, while beyond a narrow passage led through a deep

Beyond this point the hunted party lay down to rest, while the
king with two followers returned to the river to keep watch. After
listening for some time they heard the baying of the hounds coming
nearer and nearer, and then, by the light of a bright moon, saw
their enemies approaching.

The king sent his two followers to rouse the band. The enemy,
seeing Bruce alone, pressed forward with all haste; and the king,
knowing that if he retired his followers would be attacked unprepared,
determined alone to defend the narrow path. He retired from the
river bank to the spot where the path was narrowest and the morass
most impassable, and then drew his sword. His pursuers, crossing
the river, rode forward against him; Bruce charged the first, and
with his lance slew him; then with a blow with his mace he stretched
his horse beside him, blocking the narrow passage. One by one his
foes advanced, and five fell beneath his blows, before his companions
ran up from behind. The Galloway men then took to flight, but nine
more were slain before they could cross the ford.

The admiration and confidence of Bruce's followers were greatly
aroused by this new proof of his courage and prowess. Sir James
Douglas, his brother Edward, and others soon afterwards returned
from the expeditions on which they had been sent, and the king
had now 400 men assembled.  This force, however, was powerless to
resist an army of English and Lowland Scots who marched against
him, led by Pembroke in person. This force was accompanied by John,
son of Alexander MacDougall of Lorne, with 800 of his mountaineers.
While the heavy armed troops occupied all the Lowlands, Lorne and
his followers made a circuit in the mountains so as to inclose the
royal fugitive between them.

Bruce, seeing that resistance was impossible, caused his party to
separate into three divisions, and Douglas, Edward Bruce, and Sir
Archibald Forbes were charged to lead their bands, if possible,
through the enemy without fighting. The king tried to escape by a
different route with a handful of men. John of Lorne had obtained
from Turnberry a favourite blood hound belonging to Bruce, and
the hound being put upon the trace persistently followed the king's
party.  Seeing this, Bruce ordered them all to disperse, and,
accompanied only by his foster brother, attempted to escape by

As they sped along the mountain side they were seen by Lorne, who
directed his henchman, with four of his bravest and swiftest men,
to follow him. After a long chase the MacDougalls came up with
Bruce and his foster brother, who drew their swords and stood on the
defence. The henchman, with two of his followers, attacked Bruce,
while the other two fell on his foster brother. The combat was a
desperate one, but one by one the king cut down his three assailants,
and then turned to the assistance of his foster brother, who
was hardly pressed. The king's sword soon rid him of one of his
assailants, and he slew the other.  Having thus disembarrassed
themselves of the whole of their immediate assailants, Bruce and his
companion continued their flight. The main body of their hunters,
with the hound, were but a short distance away, but in a wood the
fugitives came upon a stream, and, marching for some distance down
this, again landed, and continued their flight.

The hound lost their scent at the spot where they had entered the
water, and being unable to recover it, Lorne and his followers
abandoned the chase. Among the king's pursuers on this occasion
was his nephew Randolph, who had been captured at the battle of
Methven, and having again taken the oath of allegiance to Edward
had been restored to that monarch's favour, and was now fighting
among the English ranks.

The search was actively kept up after Bruce, and a party of three
men-at-arms came upon him and his foster brother.  Being afraid to
attack the king, whom they recognized, openly, they pretended they
had come to join him.

The king suspected treachery; and when the five lay down for the
night in a cottage which they came upon he and his companion agreed
to watch alternately. Overcome by fatigue, however, both fell asleep,
and when they were suddenly attacked by the three strangers, the
foster brother was killed before he could offer any resistance.
The king himself, although wounded, managed to struggle to his
feet, and then proved more than a match for his three treacherous
assailants, all of whom, after a desperate struggle, he slew.

The next morning he continued his way, and by nightfall succeeded
in joining the three bands, who had safely reached the rendezvous
he had appointed.

A few hours after this exploit of Bruce, Archie with two or three
of his followers joined him.

"This is indeed a serious matter of the hound," Archie said when
Bruce told him how nearly he had fallen a victim to the affection
of his favourite. "Methinks, sire, so long as he remains in the
English hands your life will never be safe, for the dog will always
lead the searchers to your hiding places; if one could get near
enough to shoot him, the danger would be at an end."

"I would not have him shot, Archie, for a large sum. I have had him
since he was a little pup; he has for years slept across my door,
and would give his life for mine. `Tis but his affection now that
brings danger upon me."

"I should be sorry to see the dog killed myself," Archie said, "for
he is a fine fellow, and he quite admitted me to his friendship
during the time we were together. Still, sire, if it were a question
between their lives and yours, I would not hesitate to kill any
number of dogs. The whole future of Scotland is wrapped up in you;
and as there is not one of your followers but would gladly give
his life for yours, it were no great thing that a hound should do
the same."

"I cannot withstand you in argument, Archie," the king said smiling;
"yet I would fain that my favourite should, if possible, be spared.
But I grant you, should there be no other way, and the hound should
continue to follow me, he must be put to death. But it would grieve
me sorely. I have lost so many and so dear friends in the last
year, that I can ill spare one of the few that are left me."

Archie was himself fond of dogs, and knowing how attached Bruce
was to his faithful hound he could quite understand how reluctant
he was that harm should come to him.  Still, he felt it was necessary
that the dog should, at all hazards, be either killed or taken
from the English, for if he remained in their hands he was almost
certain sooner or later to lead to Bruce's capture. He determined
then to endeavour to avert the danger by abstracting the dog from
the hands of the English, or, failing that, by killing him. To do
this it would be absolutely necessary to enter the English camp.
There was no possibility of carrying out his purpose without running
this risk, for when in pursuit of the king the hound would be held
by a leash, and there would be many men-at-arms close by, so that
the difficulty of shooting him would be extremely great, and Archie
could see no plan save that of boldly entering the camp.

He said nothing of his project to Bruce, who would probably have
refused to allow him to undertake it; but the next morning when
he parted from him--for it was considered advisable that the
fugitives should be divided into the smallest groups, and that only
one or two of his retainers should remain with Bruce--he started
with his own followers in the direction of Pembroke's camp. He
presently changed clothes with one of these, and they then collected
a quantity of firewood and made it into a great faggot. Archie gave
them orders where they should await him, and lifting the faggot on
his shoulders boldly entered the camp. He passed with it near the
pavilion of Pembroke. The earl was standing with some knights at
the entrance.

"Come hither, Scot," he said as Archie passed.

Archie laid his bundle on the ground, and doffing his bonnet strode
with an awkward and abashed air toward the earl.

"I suppose you are one of Bruce's men?" the earl said.

"My father," Archie replied, "as well as all who dwell in these
dales, were his vassals; but seeing that, as they say, his lands
have been forfeit and given to others, I know not whose man I am
at present."

"Dost know Bruce by figure?"

"Surely," Archie said simply, "seeing that I was employed in the
stables at Turnberry, and used to wash that big hound of his, who
was treated as a Christian rather than a dog."

"Oh, you used to tend the hound!" Pembroke said. "Then perhaps
you could manage him now. He is here in camp, and the brute is so
savage and fierce he has already well nigh killed two or three men;
and I would have had him shot but that he may be useful to us. If
he knows you he may be quieter with you than others."

"Doubtless he would know me," Archie said; "but seeing that I have
the croft to look after, as my father is old and infirm, I trust
that you will excuse me the service of looking after the hound."

"Answer me not," Pembroke said angrily. "You may think yourself
lucky, seeing that you are one of Bruce's retainers, that I do not
have you hung from a tree.

"Take the fellow to the hound," he said to one of his retainers,
"and see if the brute recognizes him; if so, put him in charge of
him for the future. And see you Scot, that you attempt no tricks,
for if you try to escape I will hang you without shrift."

Archie followed the earl's retainer to where, behind his pavilion,
the great dog was chained up. He leapt to his feet with a savage
growl on hearing footsteps approaching. His hair bristled and he
tugged at his chain.

"What a savage beast it is!" the man said; "I would sooner face
a whole company of you Scots than get within reach of his jaws.
Dickon," he went on as another soldier, on hearing the growl, issued
from one of the smaller tents which stood in rear of the pavilion,
"the earl has sent this Scot to relieve you of your charge of the
dog; he is to have the care of him in future."

"That is the best turn the earl has done me for a long time," the
man replied. "Never did I have a job I fancied less than the tending
of that evil tempered brute."

"He did not use to be evil tempered," Archie said; "but was a quiet
beast when I had to do with him before.  I suppose the strangeness
of the place and so many strange faces have driven him half wild.
Beside, he is not used to being chained up. Hector, old fellow,"
he said approaching the dog quietly, "don't you know me?"

The great hound recognized the voice and his aspect changed
at once. The bristling hair lay flat on his back; the threatening
jaws closed. He gave a short deep bark of pleasure, and then began
leaping and tugging at his chain to reach his acquaintance. Archie
came close to him now. Hector reared on his hind legs, and placed
his great paws on his shoulders, and licked his face with whines
of joy.

"He knows you, sure enough," the man said; "and maybe we shall get
on better now. At any rate there may be some chance of sleep, for
the brute's howls every night since he has been brought here have
kept the whole camp awake."

"No wonder!" Archie said, "when he has been accustomed to be petted
and cared for; he resents being chained up."

"Would you unchain him?" the man asked.

"That would I," Archie replied; "and I doubt not that he will stay
with me."

"It may be so," the man replied; "but you had best not unchain him
without leave from the earl, for were he to take it into his head
to run away, I would not give a groat for your life. But I will go
and acquaint the earl that the dog knows you, and ask his orders
as to his being unchained."

In two or three minutes he returned.

"The earl says that on no account is he to be let free. He has told
me to have a small tent pitched here for you. The hound is to be
chained to the post, and to share the tent with you. You may, if
you will, walk about the camp with him, but always keeping him in
a chain; but if you do so it will be at your peril, for if he gets
away your life will answer for it."

In a short time two or three soldiers brought a small tent and
erected it close by where the dog was chained up.  Archie unloosed
the chain from the post round which it was fastened, and led
Hector to the tent, the dog keeping close by his side and wagging
his tail gravely, as if to show his appreciation of the change, to
the satisfaction of the men to whom hitherto he had been a terror.
Some heather was brought for a bed, and a supply of food, both
for the dog and his keeper, and the men then left the two friends
alone. Hector was sitting up on his haunches gazing affectionately
at Archie, his tail beating the ground with slow and regular strokes.

"I know what you want to ask, old fellow," Archie said to him; "why
I don't lead you at once to your master? Don't you be impatient,
old fellow, and you shall see him ere long;" and he patted the
hound's head.

Hector, with a great sigh expressive of content and satisfaction,
lay down on the ground by the side of the couch of heather on which
Archie threw himself--his nose between his forepaws, clearly
expressing that he considered his troubles were over, and could now
afford to wait until in due time he should be taken to his master.
That night the camp slept quietly, for Hector was silent. For the
next two days Archie did not go more than a few yards from his tent,
for he feared that he might meet some one who would recognize him.

Chapter XVIII

The Hound Restored

On the third day after his arrival at the camp Archie received
orders to prepare to start with the hound, with the earl and a large
party of men-at-arms, in search of Bruce. A traitor had just come
in and told them where Bruce had slept the night before. Reluctantly
Archie unfastened the chain from the pole, and holding the end in
his hand went round with Hector to the front of the pavilion.  He
was resolved that if under the dog's guidance the party came close
up with Bruce, he would kill the dog and then try to escape by
fleetness of foot, though of this, as there were so many mounted
men in the party, he had but slight hope.  Led by the peasant they
proceeded to the hut, which was five miles away in the hills.  On
reaching it Hector at once became greatly excited. He sniffed
here and there, eagerly hunted up and down the cottage, then made
a circuit round it, and at last, with a loud deep bay he started
off with his nose to the ground, pulling so hard at the chain that
Archie had difficulty in keeping up with him. Pembroke and his
knights rode a little behind, followed by their men-at-arms.

"I pray you, Sir Earl," Archie said, "keep not too close to my
traces, for the sound of the horse's hoofs and the jingling of the
equipments make him all the more impatient to get forward, and even
now it taxes all my strength to hold him in."

The earl reined back his horse and followed at a distance of some
fifty yards. He had no suspicion whatever of any hidden design
on Archie's part. The fact that the hound had recognized him had
appeared to him a sure proof of the truth of his tale, and Archie
had put on an air of such stupid simplicity that the earl deemed
him to have but imperfect possession of his wits. Moreover, in any
case he could overtake him in case he attempted flight.

Archie proceeded at a trot behind the hound, who was with
difficulty restrained at that pace, straining eagerly on the chain
and occasionally sending out his deep bay. Archie anxiously regarded
the country through which he was passing. He was waiting for an
opportunity, and was determined, whenever they passed near a steep
hillside unscaleable by horsemen, he would stab Hector to the heart
and take to flight.  Presently he saw a man, whose attire showed
him to be a Highlander, approaching at a run; he passed close by
Archie, and as he did so stopped suddenly, exclaiming, "Archibald
Forbes!" and drawing his broadsword sprang at him. Archie, who was
unarmed save by a long knife, leapt back. In the man he recognized
the leader of the MacDougall's party, who had captured him near
Dunstaffnage. The conflict would have terminated in an instant had
not Hector intervened. Turning round with a deep growl the great
hound sprang full at the throat of the Highlander as with uplifted
sword he rushed at Archie.  The impetus of the spring threw the
MacDougall on his back, with the fangs of the hound fixed in his
throat. Archie's first impulse was to pull the dog off, the second
thought showed him that, were the man to survive he would at once
denounce him. Accordingly, though he appeared to tug hard at Hector's
chain, he in reality allowed him to have his way. Pembroke and his
knights instantly galloped up. As they arrived Hector loosed his
hold, and with his hair bristly with rage prepared to attack those
whom he regarded as fresh enemies.

"Hold in that hound," Pembroke shouted, "or he will do more damage.
What means all this?" For a minute Archie did not answer, being
engaged in pacifying Hector, who, on seeing that no harm was
intended, strove to return to his first foe.

"It means," Archie said, when Hector was at last pacified, "that
that Highlander came the other day to our cottage and wanted to
carry off a cow without making payment for it.  I withstood him,
he drew his sword, but as I had a stout cudgel in my hand I hit him
on the wrist ere he could use it, and well nigh broke his arm. So
he made off, cursing and swearing, and vowing that the next time
he met me he would have my life."

"And that he would have done," Pembroke said, "had it not been
for Bruce's dog, who has turned matters the other way. He is dead
assuredly. It is John of Lorne's henchman, who was doubtless on
his way with a message from his lord to me. Could not the fool have
postponed his grudge till he had delivered it? I tell you, Scot,
you had best keep out of the MacDougalls' way, for assuredly they
will revenge the death of their clansman upon you if they have
the chance, though I can testify that the affair was none of your
seeking. Now let us continue our way."

"I doubt me, Sir Earl, whether our journey ends not here," Archie
said, "seeing that these hounds, when they taste blood, seem for
a time to lose their fineness of scent; but we shall see."

Archie's opinion turned out correct. Do what they would they could
not induce Hector again to take up his master's trail, the hound
again and again returning to the spot where the dead Highlander
still lay.  Pembroke had the body carried off but the hound tugged
at his chain in the direction in which it had gone, and seemed to
have lost all remembrance of the track upon which he was going.
At last Pembroke was obliged to acknowledge that it was useless to
pursue longer, and, full of disappointment at their failure, the
party returned to camp, Pembroke saying: "Our chase is but postponed.
We are sure to get tidings of Bruce's hiding place in a day or two,
and next time we will have the hound muzzled, lest any hotheaded
Highlander should again interfere to mar the sport."

It was some days before further tidings were obtained of Bruce.
Archie did not leave his tent during this time, giving as a reason
that he was afraid if he went out he should meet some of Lorne's
men, who might take up the quarrel of the man who had been killed.
At length, however, another traitor came in, and Pembroke and his
party set out as before, Hector being this time muzzled by a strap
round his jaw, which would not interfere with his scent, but would
prevent him from widely opening his jaws.

The scent of Bruce was again taken up at a lonely hut in the hills.
The country was far more broken and rough than that through which
they had followed Bruce's trail on the preceding occasion. Again
Archie determined, but most reluctantly, that he would slay the
noble dog; but he determined to postpone the deed to the latest
moment. Several places were passed where he might have succeeded
in effecting his escape after stabbing the hound, but each time his
determination failed him. It would have been of no use to release
the dog and make himself up the hillside, for a blood hound's pace
when on the track is not rapid, and the horsemen could have kept
up with Hector, who would of course have continued his way upon
the trail of the king. Presently two men were seen in the distance;
they had evidently been alarmed by the bay of the hound, and were
going at full speed. A shout of triumph broke from the pursuers,
and some of the more eager would have set spurs to their horses
and passed the hound.

"Rein back, rein back," Pembroke said, "the country is wild and
hilly here, and Bruce may hide himself long before you can overtake
him. Keep steadily in his track till he gains flatter country, where
we can keep him in sight, then we shall have no more occasion for
the hound and can gallop on at full speed."

Archie observed, with satisfaction, that Bruce was making up an
extremely steep hillside, deeming probably that horsemen would be
unable to follow him here, and that he would be able to distance
pursuers on foot. Ten minutes later his pursuers had reached the
foot of the hill. Pembroke at once ordered four knights and ten
men-at-arms to dismount.

"Do you," he said, "with the dog, follow hard upon the traces of
Bruce. When you reach the top signal to us the direction in which
he has gone. Follow ever on his track without stopping; he must at
last take to the low country again.  Some of my men shall remain
here, others a mile further on, and so on round the whole foot of
the hills. Do you, when you see that, thinking he has distanced
you, which he may well do being more lightly armed and flying for
his life, he makes for the low country again, send men in different
directions to give me warning. The baying of the dog will act as
a signal to us."

While the men had been dismounting and Pembroke was giving his
orders Archie had proceeded up the hill with the hound. The path
was exceedingly steep and difficult.

"Do not hurry, sirrah," Pembroke called; "hold in your hound till
the others join you." But Archie paid no attention to the shout,
but kept up the steep path at the top of his speed. Shouts and
threats followed him, but he paused not till he reached the top
of the ascent; then he unfastened Hector's collar, and the dog,
relieved from the chain which had so long restrained him, bounded
away with a deep bay in pursuit of his master, whose scent was now
strong before him.  As Archie looked back, the four knights and
their followers, in single file, were, as yet, scarce halfway up
the ascent. Lying round were numbers of loose boulders, and Archie
at once began to roll these down the hillside. They went but slowly
at first, but as they reached the steeper portion they gathered
speed, and taking great bounds crashed down the hillside. As these
formidable missiles burst down from above the knights paused.

"On!" Pembroke shouted from below; "the Scot is a traitor, and he
and the hound will escape if you seize him not." Again the party
hurried up the hill. Three of them were struck down by the rocks,
and the speed of all was impeded by the pauses made to avoid the
great boulders which bounded down toward them.  When they were
within a few yards of the top Archie turned and bounded off at full
speed. He had no fear of being himself overtaken. Lightly clad and
unarmed, the knights and men-at-arms, who were all in full armour,
and who were already breathed with the exertions they had made,
would have no chance of overtaking him; indeed he could safely have
fled at once when he loosed Hector, but he had stopped to delay the
ascent of his pursuers solely to give the hound as long a start
as possible. He himself could have kept up with the hound; the
men-at-arms could assuredly not do so, but they might for a long
time keep him in sight, and his baying would afterwards indicate
the line the king was taking, and Bruce might yet be cut off by
the mounted men.  The delay which his bombardment had caused had
given a long start to the hound, for it was more than five minutes
from the time when it had been loosed before the pursuers gained
the crest of the hill. Archie, in his flight, took a different
line to that which the dog had followed.  Hector was already out
of sight, and although his deep baying might for a time afford an
index to his direction this would soon cease to act as a guide, as
the animal would rapidly increase his distance from his pursuers,
and would, when he had overtaken the king, cease to emit his warning
note. The pursuers, after a moment's pause for consultation on the
crest of the hill, followed the line taken by the hound.

The men-at-arms paused to throw aside their defensive armour,
breast, back, and leg pieces, and the knights relieved themselves
of some of their iron gear; but the delay, short as it was, caused
by the unbuckling of straps and unlacing of helms, increased the
distance which already existed between them and the hound, whose
deep notes, occasionally raised, grew fainter and fainter. In a
few minutes it ceased altogether, and Archie judged that the hound
had overtaken his master, who, on seeing the animal approaching
alone, would naturally have checked his flight. Archie himself
was now far away from the men-at-arms, and after proceeding until
beyond all reach of pursuit, slackened his pace, and breaking into
a walk continued his course some miles across the hills until he
reached a lonely cottage where he was kindly received, and remained
until next day.

The following morning he set out and journeyed to the spot, where,
on leaving his retainers more than a week before, he had ordered
them to await his coming. It was another week before he obtained
such news as enabled him again to join the king, who was staying at
a woodcutter's hut in Selkirk Forest. Hector came out with a deep
bark of welcome.

"Well, Sir Archie," the king said, following his dog to the door,
"and how has it fared with you since we last parted a fortnight
since? I have been hotly chased, and thought I should have been
taken; but, thanks to the carelessness of the fellow who led my
hound, Hector somehow slipped his collar and joined me, and I was
able to shake off my pursuers, so that danger is over, and without
sacrificing the life of my good dog."

Archie smiled. "Perchance, sir, it was not from any clumsiness that
the hound got free, but that he was loosed by some friendly hand."

"It may be so," the king replied; "but they would scarcely have
intrusted him to a hand friendly to me. Nor would his leader, even
if so disposed, have ventured to slip the hound, seeing that the
horsemen must have been close by at the time, and that such a deed
would cost him his life. It was only because Hector got away, when
the horsemen were unable to follow him, that he escaped, seeing
that, good dog as he is, speed is not his strong point, and that
horsemen could easily gallop alongside of him even were he free.
What are you smiling at, Sir Archie? The hound and you seem on
wondrous friendly terms;" for Hector was now standing up with his
great paws on Archie's shoulder.

"So we should be, sire, seeing that for eight days we have shared
bed and board."

"Ah! is it so?" Bruce exclaimed. "Was it you, then, that loosed
the hound?"

"It was, sir," Archie replied; "and this is the history of it;
and you will see that if I have done you and Hector a service in
bringing you together again the hound has repaid it by saving my

Entering the hut, Archie sat down and related all that had happened,
to the king.

"You have done me great service, Sir Archie," Bruce said when he
concluded his tale, "for assuredly the hound would have wrought my
ruin had he remained in the hands of the English. This is another
of the long list of services you have rendered me. Some day, when
I come to my own, you will find that I am not ungrateful."

The feats which have been related of Bruce, and other personal
adventures in which he distinguished himself, won the hearts of
great numbers of the Scotch people. They recognized now that they
had in him a champion as doughty and as valiant as Wallace himself.
The exploits of the king filled their imaginations, and the way in
which he continued the struggle after the capture of the ladies of
his family and the cruel execution of his brothers and so many of
his adherents, convinced them that he would never desist until he
was dead or a conqueror. Once persuaded of this, larger numbers
gathered round his banner, and his fortunes henceforth began steadily
to rise.

Lord Clifford had rebuilt Douglas Castle, making it larger and
much stronger than before, and had committed it to the charge of
Captain Thirlwall, with a strong garrison. Douglas took a number
of his retainers, who had now joined him in the field, and some
of these, dressing themselves as drovers and concealing their
arms, drove a herd of cattle within sight of the castle toward an
ambuscade in which Douglas and the others were laying in ambush.
The garrison, seeing what they believed a valuable prize within
their grasp, sallied out to seize the cattle. When they reached the
ambuscade the Scots sprang out upon them, and Thirlwall and the
greater portion of his men were slain. Douglas then took and destroyed
the castle and marched away. Clifford again rebuilt it more strongly
than before, and placed it in charge of Sir John Walton. It might
have been thought that after the disasters which had befallen
the garrison they would not have suffered themselves to be again
entrapped. Douglas, however, ordered a number of his men to ride
past within sight of the castle with sacks upon their horses,
apparently filled with grain, but in reality with grass, as if
they were countrymen on their way to the neighbouring market town,
while once more he and his followers placed themselves in ambush.
Headed by their captain, the garrison poured out from the castle,
and followed the apparent countrymen until they had passed the
ambush where Douglas was lying.  Then the drovers threw off their
disguises and attacked them, while Douglas fell upon their rear,
and Walton and his companions were all slain. The castle was then
attacked, and the remainder of the garrison being cowed by the
fate which had befallen their leader and comrades, made but a poor
defence.  The castle was taken, and was again destroyed by its
lord, the walls being, as far as possible, overthrown.

Shortly after the daring adventures of Bruce had begun to rouse
the spirit of the country Archie Forbes found himself at the head
of a larger following than before.  Foreseeing that the war must be
a long one he had called upon his tenants and retainers to furnish
him only with a force one third of that of their total strength.
Thus he was able to maintain sixty men always in the field--all
the older men on the estate being exempted from service unless
summoned to defend the castle.

One day when he was in the forest of Selkirk with the king a body
of fifty men were seen approaching.  Their leader inquired for Sir
Archibald Forbes, and presently approached him as he was talking
to the king.

"Sir Archibald Forbes," he said, "I am bidden by my mistress, the
lady Mary Kerr, to bring these, a portion of the retainers of her
estates in Ayrshire, and to place them in your hands to lead and

"In my hands!" Archie exclaimed in astonishment. "The Kerrs are all
on the English side, and I am their greatest enemy. It were strange,
indeed, were one of them to choose me to lead their retainers in
the cause of Scotland."

"Our young lord Sir Allan was slain at Methven," the man said, "and
the lady Mary is now our lady and mistress.  She sent to us months
ago to say that she willed not that any of her retainers should any
longer take part in the struggle, and all who were in the field
were summoned home. Then we heard that no hindrance would be offered
by her should any wish to join the Bruce; and now she has sent by
a messenger a letter under her hand ordering that a troop of fifty
men shall be raised to join the king, and that it shall fight under
the leading and order of Sir Archibald Forbes."

"I had not heard that Sir Allan had fallen," Archie said to the
king as they walked apart from the place where the man was standing;
"and in truth I had forgotten that he even had a sister. She must
have been a child when I was a boy at Glen Cairn, and could have
been but seldom at the castle--which, indeed, was no fit abode
for so young a girl, seeing that Sir John's wife had died some
years before I left Glen Cairn.  Perhaps she was with her mother's
relations. I have heard that Sir John Kerr married a relation of
the Comyns of Badenoch. `Tis strange if, being of such bad blood
on both sides, she should have grown up a true Scotchwoman--still
more strange she should send her vassals to fight under the banner
of one whom she must regard as the unlawful holder of her father's
lands of Aberfilly."

"Think you, Sir Archie," the king said, "that this is a stratagem,
and that these men have really come with a design to seize upon
you and slay you, or to turn traitors in the first battle?"

Archie was silent. "Treachery has been so much at work," he said
after a pause, "that it were rash to say that this may not be a
traitorous device; but it were hard to think that a girl--even
a Kerr--would lend herself to it."

"There are bad women as well as bad men," the king said: "and if
a woman thinks she has grievances she will often stick at nothing
to obtain revenge."

"It is a well appointed troop," Archie said looking at the men,
who were drawn up in order, "and not to be despised.  Their leader
looks an honest fellow; and if the lady means honestly it were
churlish indeed, to refuse her aid when she ventures to break with
her family and to declare for Scotland. No; methinks that, with
your permission, I will run the risk, such as it may be, and will
join this band with my own. I will keep a sharp watch over them at
the first fight, and will see that they are so placed that, should
they mean treachery, they shall have but small opportunity of doing

Chapter XIX

The Convent of St. Kenneth

Bruce, as the result of his successes, was now able to leave
his fastnesses and establish himself in the districts of Carrick,
Kyle, and Cunningham. Pembroke had established himself at Bothwell
Castle, and sent a challenge to Bruce to meet him with his force at
Loudon Hill.  Although his previous experience of such challenges
was unfortunate, Bruce accepted the offer. He had learned much
since the battle of Methven, and was not likely again to be caught
asleep; on the 9th of May he assembled his forces at Loudon Hill.

It was but a small following. Douglas had brought 100 men
from Douglasdale, and Archie Forbes had as many under his banner.
Bruce's own vassals had gathered 200 strong, and as many more of
the country people had joined; but in all, the Scotch force did
not exceed 600 men, almost entirely on foot and armed with spears.
Bruce at once reconnoitred the ground to discover a spot where his
little force might best withstand the shock of Pembroke's chivalry.
He found that at one place near the hill the road crossed a level
meadow with deep morasses on either side. He strengthened the position
with trenches, and calmly awaited the approach of his enemy.  Upon
the following day Pembroke's army was seen approaching, numbering
3000 knights and mounted men-at-arms, all in complete armour. They
were formed in two divisions. The battle was almost a repetition
of that which had been fought by Wallace near the same spot.  The
English chivalry levelled their spears and charged with proud
confidence of their ability to sweep away the rabble of spearmen
in front of them. Their flanks became entangled in the morasses;
their centre tried in vain to break through the hedge of Scottish
spears, and when they were in confusion, the king, his brother
Edward, Douglas, Archie Forbes, and some twenty other mounted men
dashed through a gap in the spearmen and fell upon them. The second
division, seeing the first broken and in confusion, turned and took
to flight at once, and Pembroke and his attendants rode, without
drawing rein, to Bothwell Castle.

A few days later Bruce encountered and defeated Ralph de Monthermer,
Earl of Gloucester, and compelled him to shut himself up in the
Castle of Ayr.

Archie Forbes was not present at the second battle, for upon the
morning after the fight at Loudon Hill he was aroused by his servant
entering his tent.

"A messenger has just brought this," he said, handing him a small
packet. "He bids me tell you that the sender is a prisoner in the
convent of St. Kenneth, on Loch Leven, and prays your aid."

Archie opened the packet and found within it the ring he had given
to Marjory at Dunstaffnage. Without a moment's delay he hurried
to the king and begged permission to leave him for a short time on
urgent business, taking with him twenty of his retainers.

"What is your urgent business, Sir Archie?" the king asked. "A lady
is in the case, I warrant me. Whenever a young knight has urgent
business, be sure that a lady is in question. Now mind, Sir Archie,
I have, as I have told you, set my heart upon marrying you to
Mistress Mary Kerr, and so at once putting an end to a long feud
and doubling your possessions. Her retainers fought well yesterday,
and the least I can do to reward so splendid a damsel is to bestow
upon her the hand of my bravest knight."

"I fear, sire," Archie said laughing, "that she must be content
with another. There are plenty who will deem themselves well paid
for their services in your cause by the gift of the hand of so rich
an heiress. But I must fain be excused; for as I told you, sire,
when we were together in Rathlin Island, my heart was otherwise

"What! to the niece of that malignant enemy of mine, Alexander of
Lorne?" the king said laughing. "Her friends would rather see you
on the gibbet than at the altar."

"I care nought for her friends," Archie said, "if I can get herself.
My own lands are wide enough, and I need no dowry with my wife."

"I see you are hopeless," the king replied. "Well, go, Archie; but
whatever be your errand, beware of the Lornes.  Remember I have
scarce begun to win Scotland yet, and cannot spare you."

A quarter of an hour later Archie, with twenty picked men, took
his way northward. Avoiding all towns and frequented roads, Archie
marched rapidly north to the point of Renfrew and crossed the Firth
of Clyde by boat; then he kept north round the head of Loch Fyne,
and avoiding Dalmally skirted the head of Loch Etive and the slopes
of Ben Nevis, and so came down on Loch Leven.

The convent stood at the extremity of a promontory jutting into the
lake. The neck was very narrow, and across it were strong walls,
with a gate and flanking towers. Between this wall and the convent
was the garden where the inmates walked and enjoyed the air free
from the sight of men, save, indeed, of fishers who might be passing
in their boats.

Outside the wall, on the shore of the lake, stood a large village;
and here a strong body of the retainers of the convent were always
on guard, for at St. Kenneth were many of the daughters of Scotch
nobles, sent there either to be out of the way during the troubles
or to be educated by the nuns.  Although the terrors of sacrilege
and the ban of the church might well deter any from laying hands
upon the convent, yet even in those days of superstition some were
found so fierce and irreverent as to dare even the anger of the
church to carry out their wishes; and the possession of some of these
heiresses might well enable them to make good terms for themselves
both with the church and the relations of their captives. Therefore a
number of the retainers were always under arms, a guard was placed
on the gate, and lookouts on the flanking towers--their duty
being not only to watch the land side, but to shout orders to keep
at a distance to any fisherman who might approach too closely to
the promontory.

Archie left his party in the forest under the command of William
Orr. He dressed himself as a mountaineer, and, accompanied by Cluny
Campbell, and carrying a buck which they had shot in the forest,
went boldly down into the village.  He soon got into conversation
with an old fisherman, and offered to exchange the deer for dried
fish. The bargain was quickly struck, and then Archie said:

"I have never been out on the lake, and would fain have a view of
the convent from the water. Will you take me and my brother out
for a row?"

The fisherman, who had made a good bargain, at once assented, and
rowed Archie and Cluny far out into the lake.

As they passed along at some distance Archie saw that the shore was
in several places smooth and shelving, and that there would be no
difficulty in effecting a landing. He saw also that there were many
clumps of trees and shrubs in the garden.

"And do the nuns and the ladies at the convent often walk there?"
he asked the fisherman.

"Oh yes," he answered; "of an evening as I come back from fishing
I can see numbers of them walking there. When the vesper bell rings
they all go in. That is the chapel adjoining the convent on this

"It is a strong building," Archie said as when past the end of
the promontory they obtained a full view of it.  "It is more like
a castle than a convent."

"It had need be strong," the old man said; "for some of the
richest heiresses in Scotland are shut up there.  On the land side
I believe there are no windows on the lower storey, and the door
is said to be of solid iron.  The windows on that side are all
strongly barred; and he would have hard work, indeed, who wanted
by force or stratagem to steal one of the pretty birds out of that

Archie had no idea of using force; and although he had been to some
extent concerned in the breach of sanctuary at Dumfries, he would
have shrunk from the idea of violating the sanctuary of St. Kenneth.
But to his mind there was no breach whatever of that sanctuary in
aiding one kept there against her will to make her escape. Having
ascertained all that he wished to know, he bade the boatman return
to shore.

"Keep a lookout for me," he said, "for I may return in a few days
with another buck, and may bring a comrade or two with me who would
like an afternoon's fishing on the lake. I suppose you could lend
me your boat and nets?"

"Assuredly," the fisherman replied. "You will not mind taking into
consideration the hire of the boat in agreeing for the weight of
fish to be given for the stag?"

Archie nodded, secretly amused at the old man's covetousness, for
he knew that the weight of fish he had given him for the stag which
he had brought down was not one fourth the value of the meat.

He then returned with Cluny to the band. Some time before daybreak
he came down to the place again, and, entering the water quietly,
at a distance from the promontory, swam noiselessly out, and landed
at the garden, and there concealed himself in a clump of bushes.
Daylight came. An hour later some of the nuns of the second order,
who belonged to poor families and acted as servants in the convent,
came out into the garden, and busied themselves with the cultivation
of the flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Not till the afternoon did
any of the other inmates appear; but at about four o'clock the
great door of the convent opened, and a number of women and girls
streamed out. The former were all in nuns' attire, as were a few
of the latter, but their garb was somewhat different from that of
the elder sisters; these were the novices.  The greater number,
however, of the girls were dressed in ordinary attire, and were the
pupils of the convent. While the nuns walked quietly up and down
or sat on benches and read, the pupils scattered in groups laughing
and talking merrily together. Among these Archie looked eagerly
for Marjory. He felt sure that her imprisonment could be detention
only, and not rigorous seclusion. Presently he espied her. She
was walking with two of the nuns and three or four of the elder
residents at the convent, for many of these were past the age of
pupildom; and were there simply as a safe place of refuge during
troublous times. The conversation appeared to be an animated one.
It was not for some time that the group passed within hearing of
Archie's place of concealment. Then Archie heard the voice of one
of the nuns raised in anger:

"It is monstrous what you say, and it is presumptuous and wicked
for a young girl of eighteen to form opinions for herself. What
should we come to if every young woman were to venture to think and
judge for herself? Discord and disorder would be wrought in every
family. All your relations and friends are opposed to this sacrilegious
murderer, Robert Bruce. The church has solemnly banned him, and
yet you venture to uphold his cause."

"But the Bishop of Glasgow," Marjory said, "and many other good
prelates of our church side with him, and surely they must be good
judges whether his sins are unpardonable."

"Do not argue with me," the sister said angrily. "I tell you this
obstinacy will be permitted no longer. Had it not been that Alexander
of Lorne begged that we would not be harsh with you, steps would
long since have been taken to bring you to reason; but we can no
longer permit this advocacy of rebellion, and the last unmaidenly
step which you took of setting at defiance your friends and relatives,
and even of sending messages hence, must be punished. The abbess
bade me reason with you and try and turn your obstinate will. Your
cousins of Badenoch here have appealed to you in vain. This can no
longer be tolerated. The lady abbess bids me tell you that she gives
you three days to renounce the rebel opinions you have so frowardly
held, and to accept the husband whom your uncle and guardian has
chosen for you, your cousin John of Lorne, his son. During that
time none will speak to you. If at the end of three days you are
still contumacious you will be confined to your cell on bread and
water until better thoughts come to you."

While the conversation had been going on, the little group had
halted near the bushes, and they now turned away, leaving Marjory
standing by herself. The girl sat down on a bench close to where
she had been standing, exclaiming to herself as she did so, "They
may shut me up as a prisoner for life, but I will never consent to
take sides against the cause of Scotland or to marry John of Lorne.
Oh! who is there?" she exclaimed, starting suddenly to her feet as
a man's voice behind her said:

"Quite right, Mistress Marjory, well and bravely resolved; but pray
sit down again, and assume an attitude of indifference."

"Who is it that speaks?" the girl asked in a tremulous voice,
resuming her seat.

"It is your true knight, lady, Archibald Forbes, who has come to
rescue you from this captivity."

"But how can you rescue me?" the girl asked after a long pause. "Do
you know the consequences if you are found here within the bounds
of the convent?"

"I care nothing for the consequences," Archie said. "I have in the
woods twenty stout followers. I propose tomorrow to be with three
of them on the lake afishing.  If you, when the bell rings for your
return in the evening, will enter that little copse by the side of
the lake, and will show yourself at the water's edge, we will row
straight in and take you off long ere the guards can come hither
to hinder us. The lake is narrow, and we can reach the other side
before any boat can overtake us. There my followers will be awaiting
us, and we can escort you to a place of safety. It is fortunate
that you are ordered to be apart from the rest; none therefore will
mark you as you linger behind when the bell rings for vespers."

Marjory was silent for some time.

"But, Sir Knight," she said, "whither am I to go? for of all my
friends not one, save the good priest, but is leagued against me."

"I can take you either to the Bishop of Glasgow, who is a friend of
the Bruce and whom I know well--he will, I am sure, take charge
of you--or, if you will, lady, I can place you with my mother,
who will receive you as a daughter."

"But what," the girl said hesitatingly, "will people say at my
running away from a convent with a young knight?"

"Let them say what they will," Archie said. "All good Scots, when
they know that you have been in prison here solely from the love
of your country, will applaud the deed; and should you prefer it,
the king will, I know, place you in charge of the wife of one of
the nobles who adheres to him, and will give you his protection
and countenance. Think, lady, if you do not take this opportunity
of gaining your freedom, it may never occur again, for if you are
once shut up in your cell, as I heard threatened, nothing save an
attack by force of arms, which would be sheer sacrilege, can rescue
you from it. Surely," he urged, as the girl still remained silent,
"you can trust yourself with me. Do I not owe my life to you? and
I swear that so long as you remain in my charge I will treat you
as my sister in all honour and respect."

For some minutes the girl made no answer. At length she said,
standing up, and half turning toward the bushes:

"I will trust you, Sir Archie. I know you to be a brave and honourable
knight, and I will trust you. I know `tis a strange step to take,
and the world will blame me; but what can I do? If I refuse your
offer I shall be kept a prisoner here until I consent to marry John
of Lorne, whom I hate, for he is as rough and cruel as his father,
without the kindness of heart, which, save in his angry moments,
the latter has ever had toward me.  All my relations are against
me, and struggle against my fate as I may, I must in the end bend
to their will if I remain here. `Tis a hard choice to make; but
what can I do? Yes, I will trust to your honour; and may God and
all the saints punish you if you are false to the trust! Tomorrow
evening, as the vespers are chiming, I will be at the water's edge,
behind yonder clump of bushes."

Then, with head bent down and slow steps, Marjory returned to
the convent, none addressing her as she passed through the groups
of her companions, the order that she was to be shut out from the
rest having been already issued.  Archie remained in his place of
concealment until the gardens were deserted and night had fallen.
Then he left his hiding place, and, entering the lake, swam quietly
away, and landed far beyond the village. An hour's walk brought
him to the encampment of his comrades.

At daybreak next morning the band, under the command of William
Orr, started for their long march round the head of the lake to
the position which they were to take up on the opposite side facing
the convent, Archie choosing three of the number most accustomed
to the handling of oars to remain with him. With these he set out
on a hunt as soon as the main body had left, and by midday had
succeeded in killing a stag.  With this swung on a pole carried by
his followers Archie proceeded to the village. He speedily found
the fisherman with whom he had before bargained.

"I did not expect you back again so soon," the old man said.

"We killed a buck this morning," Archie said carelessly, "and my
friends thought that the afternoon would be fine for fishing."

"You can try if you like," the fisherman said, "but I fear that
you will have but little sport. The day is too bright and clear,
and the fish will be sulking at the bottom of the lake."

"We will try," Archie said, "nevertheless. Even if the sport is
bad it will be pleasant out on the lake, and if we catch nothing we
will get you to give us some fresh fish instead of dry. The folks
in the hills will be no wiser, and it will not do for us to return
empty handed."

The fisherman assented, and placed the oars and nets in the boat,
and Archie and his companions entering rowed out into the middle
of the lake, and then throwing over the nets busied themselves with

As the old man had predicted, their sport was but small, but this
concerned them little. Thinking that they might be watched, they
continued steadily all the afternoon casting and drawing in the
nets, until the sun neared the horizon.  Then they gathered the
nets into the boat and rowed quietly towards the shore. Just as
they were abreast the end of the promontory the bell of the chapel
began to ring the vespers.  A few more strokes and Archie could
see the clump of bushes.

"Row quietly now," he said, still steering toward the village.

He was about a hundred yards distant from the shore of the convent
garden. Just as he came abreast of the bushes the foliage was parted
and Marjory appeared at the edge of the water. In an instant the
boat's head was turned toward shore, and the three rowers bent to
the oars.

A shout from the watchman on the turret showed that he had been
watching the boat and that this sudden change of its course had
excited his alarm. The shout was repeated again and again as the
boat neared the shore, and just as the keel grated on the sand the
outer gate was opened and some armed men were seen running into the
garden, but they were still two hundred yards away. Marjory leapt
lightly into the boat; the men pushed off, and before the retainers
of the convent reached the spot the boat was speeding away over the
lake. Archie gave up to Marjory his seat in the stern, and himself
took an oar.

Loch Leven, though of considerable length, is narrow, and the boat
was nearly a third of the way across it before two or three craft
were seen putting out from the village in pursuit, and although
these gained somewhat, the fugitives reached the other shore a long
distance in advance. William Orr and his men were at the landing
place, and soon the whole party were hurrying through the wood.
They had no fear of instant pursuit, for even in the fast gathering
gloom those in the boats would have perceived the accession of
force which they had received on landing, and would not venture
to follow. But before morning the news of the evasion would spread
far and wide, and there would be a hot pursuit among the mountains.

Scarce a word had been spoken in the boat. Marjory was pale and
agitated, and Archie thought it best to leave her to herself. On
the way through the wood he kept beside her, assisting her over
rough places, and occasionally saying a few encouraging words. When
darkness had completely set in three or four torches were lit, and
they continued their way until midnight. Several times Archie had
proposed a halt, but Marjory insisted that she was perfectly able
to continue her way for some time longer.

At midnight, however, he halted.

"We will stop here," he said. "My men have been marching ever since
daybreak, and tomorrow we must journey fast and far. I propose that
we keep due east for some time and then along by Loch Rannoch, then
across the Grampians by the pass of Killiecrankie, when we can make
down to Perth, and so to Stirling.  The news of your escape will
fly fast to the south, and the tracks to Tarbert and the Clyde
will all be watched; but if we start at daybreak we shall be far on
our way east before they begin to search the hills here; and even
if they think of our making in this direction, we shall be at
Killiecrankie before they can cut us off."

Chapter XX

The Heiress of the Kerrs

While Archie was speaking Marjory had sat down on a fallen tree. She
had not slept the night before, and had been anxious and agitated
the whole day. The excitement had kept her up; but she now felt
completely worn out, and accepted without protest Archie's decision
that a halt must be made.

The men were already gathering sticks, and a bright fire soon blazed
near the spot where she had seated herself. Ere long some venison
steaks were broiled in the flames. At Archie's earnest request
Marjory tried to eat, but could with difficulty swallow a few
morsels. A bower of green boughs was quickly made for her, and the
ground thickly piled with fresh bracken, and Marjory was in a very
few minutes sound asleep after the fatigue and excitement of the

With the first dawn of morning the men were on their feet. Fresh
sticks were thrown on the fire and breakfast prepared, for the
march would be a long and wearisome one.

"Breakfast is ready, Mistress Marjory," Archie said, approaching
the bower.

"And I am ready too," the girl said blithely as she appeared at
the entrance. "The sleep has done wonders for me, and I feel brave
and fresh again. I fear you must have thought me a terrible coward
yesterday; but it all seemed so dreadful, such a wild and wicked
thing to do, that I felt quite overwhelmed. Today you will find me
ready for anything."

"I could never think you a coward," Archie said, "after you faced
the anger of that terrible uncle of yours for my sake; or rather,"
he added, "for the sake of your word. And now I hope you will eat
something, for we have a long march through the forest and hills
before us."

"Don't fear that I shall tire," she said. "I am half a mountaineer
myself, and, methinks, can keep on my feet as long as any man."

The meal was hastily eaten, and then the party started on their

"I have been wondering," the girl said, as with light steps she
kept pace with Archie's longer strides, "how you came to know that
I was in the convent."

Archie looked surprised.

"How should I know, Mistress Marjory, but through your own messenger?"

"My own messenger!" Marjory exclaimed. "You are jesting, Sir Archie."

"I am not so, fair lady," he said. "Surely you must remember that
you sent a messenger to me, with word that you were captive at St.
Kenneth and needed my aid?"

The girl stopped for a moment in her walk and gazed at her companion
as if to assure herself that he was in earnest.  "You must be surely
dreaming, Sir Archie," she said, as she continued the walk, "for
assuredly I sent you no such message."

"But, lady," Archie said, holding out his hand, "the messenger
brought me as token that he had come from you this ring which I
had given you, vowing that should you call me to your aid I would
come immediately, even from a stricken field."

The blood had rushed into the girl's face as she saw the ring.
Then she turned very pale. "Sir Archibald Forbes," she said in
a low tone, after walking for a minute or two in silence, "I feel
disgraced in your eyes.  How forward and unmaidenly must you have
thought me thus to take advantage of a vow made from the impulse
of sudden gratitude."

"No, indeed, lady," Archie said hotly. "No such thought ever entered
my mind. I should as soon doubt the holy Virgin herself as to deem
you capable of aught but what was sweet and womanly. The matter
seemed to me simple enough.  You had saved my life at great peril
to yourself, and it seemed but natural to me that in your trouble,
having none others to befriend you, your thoughts should turn to
one who had sworn to be to the end of his life your faithful knight
and servant.  But," he went on more lightly, "since you yourself
did not send me the ring and message, what good fairy can have
brought them to me?"

"The good fairy was a very bad one," the girl said shortly, "and I
will rate him soundly when I see him for thus adventuring without
my consent. It is none other than Father Anselm; and yet," she
added, "he has suffered so much on my behalf that I shall have to
forgive him. After your escape my uncle in his passion was well
nigh hanging the good priest in spite of his holy office, and drove
him from the castle. He kept me shut up in my room for many weeks,
and then urged upon me the marriage with his son. When he found
that I would not listen to it he sent me to St. Kenneth, and there
I have remained ever since. Three weeks ago Father Anselm came to
see me. He had been sent for by Alexander of Lorne, who, knowing
the influence he had with me, begged him to undertake the mission
of inducing me to bend to his will. As he knew how much I hated
John of Lorne, the good priest wasted not much time in entreaties;
but he warned me that it had been resolved that unless I gave way
my captivity, which had hitherto been easy and pleasant, would be
made hard and rigorous, and that I would be forced into accepting
John of Lorne as a husband. When he saw that I was determined not
to give in, the good priest certainly hinted" (and here she coloured
again hotly) "that you would, if sent for, do your best to carry
me off. Of course I refused to listen to the idea, and chided him
for suggesting so unmaidenly a course. He urged it no further, and
I thought no more of the matter.  The next day I missed my ring,
which, to avoid notice, I had worn on a little ribbon round my
neck. I thought at the time the ribbon must have broken and the
ring been lost, and for a time I made diligent search in the garden
for it; but I doubt not now that the traitor priest, as I knelt
before him to receive his blessing on parting, must have severed
the ribbon and stolen it."

"God bless him!" Archie said fervently. "Should he ever come to
Aberfilly the warmest corner by the fire, the fattest capon, and
the best stoop of wine from the cellar shall be his so long as
he lives. Why, but for him, Lady Marjory, you might have worn out
months of your life in prison, and have been compelled at last to
wed your cousin. I should have been a miserable man for life."

The girl laughed.

"I would have given you a week, Sir Archie, and no more; that
is the extreme time which a knight in our days can be expected to
mourn for the fairest lady; and now," she went on, changing the
subject, "think you we shall reach the pass across the Grampians
before night?"

"If all goes well, lady, and your feet will carry you so far,
we shall be there by eventide. Unless by some chance encounter we
need have no fear whatever of pursuit.  It will have been daylight
before the news of your flight fairly spread through the country,
though, doubtless, messengers were sent off at once in all directions;
but it would need an army to scour these woods, and as they know
not whether we have gone east, west, north, or south, the chance is
faint indeed of any party meeting us, especially as we have taken
so straight a line that they must march without a pause in exactly
the right direction to come up with us."

At nightfall the party camped again on the slope of the Grampians,
and the following morning crossed by the pass of Killiecrankie and
made toward Perth.

The next night Marjory slept in a peasant's cottage, Archie and his
companions lying down without.  Wishing to avoid attention, Archie
purchased from the peasant the Sunday clothes of his daughter, who
was about the same age and size as Marjory.

When they reached Perth he bought a strong horse, with saddle and
pillion; and with Marjory behind him, and his band accompanying
him on foot, he rode for Stirling. When he neared the town he heard
that the king was in the forest of Falkirk, and having consulted
Marjory as to her wishes rode directly thither.

Bruce, with his followers, had arrived but the day before, and
had taken up his abode at the principal house of a village in the
forest. He came to the door when he heard the trampling of a horse.

"Ah! Sir Archie, is it you safely returned, and, as I half expected,
a lady?"

"This, sire," Archie said, dismounting, "is Mistress Marjory
MacDougall, of whom, as you have heard me say, I am the devoted
knight and servant. She has been put in duress by Alexander of Lorne
because in the first place she was a true Scots woman and favoured
your cause, and because in the second place she refused to espouse his
son John.  I have borne her away from the convent of St. Kenneth,
and as I used no force in doing so no sacrilege has been committed.
I have brought her to you in all honour and courtesy, as I might a
dear sister, and I now pray you to place her under the protection
of the wife of one of your knights, seeing that she has no friends
and natural protectors here. Then, when she has time to think, she
must herself decide upon her future."

The king assisted Marjory to dismount.

"Fair mistress," he said, "Sir Archibald Forbes is one of the bravest
and truest of my knights, and in the hands of none might you more
confidently place your honour. Assuredly I will do as he asks me,
and will place you under the protection of Dame Elizabeth Graham,
who is now within, having ridden hither to see her husband but this
morning.  But I trust," he added, with a meaning smile, "that you
will not long require her protection."

The king entered the house with Marjory, while Archie, with his
band, rejoined the rest of his party, who were still with the king.
After having seen that the wants of those who had accompanied him
had been supplied he returned to the royal quarters. The king met
him at the door, and said, with a merry smile on his face:

"I fear me, Sir Archie, that all my good advice with regard to
Mistress Mary Kerr has been wasted, and that you are resolved to
make this Highland damsel, the niece of my arch enemy Alexander of
Lorne, your wife."

"If she will have me," Archie said stoutly, "such assuredly, is
my intent; but of that I know nothing, seeing that, while she was
under my protection, it would have been dishonourable to have spoken
of love; and I know nought of her sentiments toward me, especially
seeing that she herself did not, as I had hoped, send for me to come
to her aid, and was indeed mightily indignant that another should
have done so in her name."

"Poor Sir Archie!" the king laughed. "Though a man, and a valorous
one in stature and in years, you are truly but a boy yet in these
matters. It needed but half an eye to see by the way she turned
pale and red when you spoke to her that she loves you. Now look
you, Sir Archie," he went on more seriously; "these are troubled
days, and one knows not what a day may bring forth. Graham's tower
is neither strong nor safe, and the sooner this Mistress Marjory
of yours is safely in your stronghold of Aberfilly the better for
both of you, and for me also, for I know that you will be of no
more good to me so long as your brain is running on her. Look you
now, she is no longer under your protection, and your scruples on
that head are therefore removed; best go in at once and ask her
if she will have you. If she says, 'Yes,' we will ride to Glasgow
tomorrow or next day. The bishop shall marry you, and I myself will
give you your bonny bride.  This is no time for wasting weeks with
milliners and mantua makers. What say you?"

"Nothing would more surely suit my wishes, sire," Archie said; "but
I fear she will think me presumptuous."

"Not a bit of it," the king laughed. "Highland lassies are accustomed
to sudden wooing, and I doubt not that when she freed you last
autumn from Dunstaffnage her mind was just as much made up as yours
is as to the state of her heart.  Come along, sir."

So saying, the king passed his arm through that of Archie, and
drew him into the house. In the room which they entered Marjory
was sitting with Lady Graham. Both rose as the king entered.

"My Lady Graham," the king said, "this my good and faithful knight
Sir Archie Forbes, whose person as well as repute is favourably
known to you, desires to speak alone with the young lady under
your protection. I may say he does so at my special begging, seeing
that at times like these the sooner matters are put in a straight
course the better.  Will you let me lead you to the next room while
we leave the young people together?"

"Marjory," Archie said, when he and the girl were alone, "I fear
that you will think my wooing rude and hasty, but the times must
excuse it. I would fain have waited that you might have seen more
of me before I tried my fate; but in these troubled days who can
say where I may be a week hence, or when I can see you again were
I once separated from you!  Therefore, dear, I speak at once. I
love you, Marjory, and since the day when you came like an angel
into my cell at Dunstaffnage I have known that I loved you, and
should I never see you again could love none other. Will you wed
me, love?"

"But the king tells me, Sir Archie," the girl said, looking up with
a half smile, "that he wishes you to wed the Lady Mary Kerr."

"It is a dream of the good king," Archie said, laughing, "and he
is not in earnest about it. He knows that I have never set eyes on
the lady or she on me, and he was but jesting when he said so to
you, having known from me long ago that my heart was wholly yours."

"Besides," the girl said hesitating, "you might have objected to
wed Mistress Kerr because her father was an enemy of yours."

"Why dwell upon it?" Archie said a little impatiently.  "Mistress
Kerr is nothing in the world to me, and I had clean forgotten her
very existence, when by some freak or other she sent her retainers
to fight under my command. She may be a sweet and good lady for what
I know; she may be the reverse. To me she is absolutely nothing;
and now, Marjory, give me my answer. I love you, dear, deeply and
truly; and should you say, 'Yes,' will strive all my life to make
you happy."

"One more question, Archie, and then I will answer yours. Tell me
frankly, had I been Mary Kerr instead of Marjory MacDougall, could
you so far forget the ancient feud between the families as to say
to me, 'I love you.'"

Archie laughed.

"The question is easily answered. Were you your own dear self it
would matter nought to me were your name Kerr, or MacDougall, or
Comyn, or aught else. It is you I love, and your ancestors or your
relations matter to me not one single jot."

"Then I will answer you," the girl said, putting her hand in his.
"Archie Forbes, I love you with my whole heart, and have done
so since I first met you; but," she said, drawing back, as Archie
would have clasped her in his arms, "I must tell you that you have
been mistaken, and that it is not Marjory MacDougall whom you would
wed, but Mary, whom her uncle Alexander always called Marjory,

"Marjory Kerr!" Archie repeated, in astonishment.

"Yes, Archie, Marjory or Mary Kerr. The mistake was none of my
making; it was you called me MacDougall; and knowing that you had
reason to hate my race I did not undeceive you, thinking you might
even refuse the boon of life at the hands of a Kerr. But I believed
that when you thought it over afterwards you would suspect the
truth, seeing that it must assuredly come to your ears if you spoke
of your adventure, even if you did not already know it, that Sir
John Kerr and Alexander of Lorne married twin sisters of the house
of Comyn. You are not angry, I hope, Archie?"

"Angry!" Archie said, taking the girl, who now yielded unresistingly,
in his arms. "It matters nothing to me who you were; and truly I
am glad that the long feud between our houses will come to an end.
My conscience, too, pricked me somewhat when I heard that by the
death of your brother you had succeeded to the estates, and that
it was in despite of a woman, and she a loyal and true hearted
Scotswoman, that I was holding Aberfilly. So it was you sent the
retainers from Ayr to me?"

"Yes," Marjory replied. "Father Anselm carried my orders to them.
I longed to know that they were fighting for Scotland, and was sure
that under none could they be better led."

"And you have told the king who you are?" Archie asked.

"Yes," the girl said, "directly we entered."

"And you agree that we shall be married at once at Glasgow, as the
king has suggested to me?"

"The king said as much to me," Marjory said, colouring; "but oh!
Archie, it seems dreadful, such an unseemly bustle and haste, to
be betrothed one day and married the next!  Whoever heard of such
a thing?"

"But the circumstances, Marjory, are exceptional. We all carry our
lives in our hands, and things must be done which at another time
would seem strange. Besides, what advantage would there be in
waiting? I should be away fighting the English, and you would see
no more of me. You would not get to know me better than you do

"Oh! it is not that, Archie."

"Nor is it anything else," Archie said smiling, "but just surprise.
With the King of Scotland to give you away and the Bishop of Glasgow
to marry you, none can venture to hint that there is anything that
is not in the highest degree orthodox in your marriage. Of course
I shall have to be a great deal away until the war is over and
Scotland freed of her tyrants. But I shall know that you are safe
at Aberfilly, which is quite secure from any sudden attack. You will
have my mother there to pet you and look after you in my absence,
and I hope that good Father Anselm will soon find his way there and
take up his abode. It is the least he can do, seeing that, after
all, he is responsible for our marriage, and having, as it were,
delivered you into my hands, ought to do his best to make you happy
in your captivity."

Marjory raised no further objection. She saw, in truth, that,
having once accepted Archie Forbes as her husband, it was in every
way the best plan for her to marry him without delay, since she had
no natural protectors to go to, and her powerful relations might
stir up the church to view her evasion from the convent as a defiance
of its authority.

Upon the following day the king moved with his force to Glasgow,
which had already been evacuated by the English garrison, and
the next morning Marjory--for Archie through life insisted upon
calling her by the pet name under which he had first known her--was
married to Sir Archibald Forbes. The Bruce gave her away, and
presented her with a splendid necklet of pearls. His brother Edward,
Sir James Douglas, and other companions of Archie in the field also
made the bride handsome presents. Archie's followers from Aberfilly
and the contingent from Marjory's estates in Ayr were also present,
together with a crowd of the townspeople, for Archie Forbes, the
companion of Wallace, was one of the most popular characters in
Scotland, and the good city of Glasgow made a fete of his marriage.

Suddenly as it was arranged, a number of the daughters of the wealthiest
citizens attired in white attended the bride in procession to the
altar. Flowers were strewn and the bride and bridegroom were heartily
cheered by a concourse of people as they left the cathedral.

The party then mounted, and the king, his brother, Sir James Douglas,
and some other knights, together with a strong escort, rode with
them to Aberfilly. Archie had despatched a messenger to his mother
with the news directly the arrangements had been made; and all
was prepared for their coming. The tenants had assembled to give a
hearty welcome to their lord and new mistress. Dame Forbes received
her as she alighted from the pillion on which she had ridden behind
Archie, and embraced her tenderly.

It was the dearest wish of her life that Archie should marry; and
although, when she first heard the news, she regretted in her heart
that he should have chosen a Kerr, still she saw that the union
would put an end to the long feud, and might even, in the event
of the final defeat of Bruce, be the means of safety for Archie
himself and security for his possessions.

She soon, however, learned to love Marjory for herself, and to be
contented every way with her son's choice. There was high feasting
and revelry at Aberfilly that evening. Bonfires were burned in the
castle yard, and the tenants feasted there, while the king and his
knights were entertained in the hall of the castle.

The next morning the king and his companions again mounted and
rode off. Sir James Douglas was going south to harry Galloway and
to revenge the assaults which the people had made upon the king.
There was a strong English force there under Sir Ingram Umfraville
and Sir John de St. John.

"I will give you a week, Sir Archie, to take holiday, but can spare
you no longer. We have as yet scarce begun our work, for well nigh
every fortress in Scotland is in English hands, and we must take as
many of them as we can before Edward moves across the Border again."

"I will not outstay the time," Sir Archie said. "As we arranged
last night, I will march this day week with my retainers to join
Sir James Douglas in Galloway."

Chapter XXI

The Siege of Aberfilly

Punctual to his agreement, Archie Forbes marched south with his
retainers. He was loath, indeed, to leave Marjory, but he knew well
that a long time indeed must elapse before he could hope to settle
down quietly at home, and that it was urgent to hurry on the work
at once before the English made another great effort to stamp out
the movement. Marjory did not attempt to induce him to overstay
his time. She was too proud of his position as one of the foremost
knights of Scotland to say a word to detain him from the field.
So she bade him adieu with a brave face, reserving her tears until
after he had ridden away.

It had been arranged that Archie should operate independently
of Douglas, the two joining their forces only when threatened
by overwhelming numbers or when any great enterprise was to be
undertaken. Archie took with him a hundred and fifty men from his
estates in Lanark and Ayr.  He marched first to Loudon Hill, then
down through Cumnock and the border of Carrick into Galloway. Contrary
to the usual custom, he enjoined his retainers on no account to
burn or harry the villages and granges.

"The people," he said, "are not responsible for the conduct of
their lords, and as I would not see the English harrying the country
round Aberfilly, so I am loath to carry fire and sword among these
poor people. We have come hither to punish their lords and to capture
their castles. If the country people oppose us we must needs fight
them; but beyond what is necessary for our provisions let us take
nothing from them, and show them, by our conduct, that we hold
them to be Scotchmen like ourselves, and that we pity rather than
blame them, inasmuch as by the orders of their lords they are forced
to fight against us."

Archie had not advanced more than a day's march into Galloway when
he heard that Sir John de St. John was marching with four hundred
men-at-arms to meet him.

There were no better soldiers in the following of Bruce than the
retainers of Aberfilly and Glen Cairn. They had now for many years
been frequently under arms, and were thoroughly trained to fight
together. They had the greatest confidence in themselves and their
leader, and having often with their spears withstood the shock
of the English chivalry, Archie knew that he could rely upon them
to the fullest. He therefore took up a position on the banks of
a river where a ford would enable the enemy to cross. Had he been
less confident as to the result he would have defended the ford,
which could be only crossed by two horsemen abreast. He determined,
however, to repeat the maneuver which had proved so successful at
Stirling Bridge, and to let half of the enemy cross before he fell
upon them.

The ground near the river was stony and rough. Great boulders,
which had rolled from the hillside, were thickly scattered about
it, and it would be difficult for cavalry to charge up the somewhat
steeply sloping ground in anything like unbroken order.

With eighty of his men Archie took up a position one hundred yards
back from the stream. With great exertions some of the smaller
boulders were removed, and rocks and stones were piled to make a
wall on either flank of the ground, which, standing two deep, he
occupied. The remaining seventy men he divided equally, placing one
company under the command of each of his two faithful lieutenants,
Andrew Macpherson and William Orr. These took post near the river,
one on each side of the ford, and at a distance of about one hundred
yards therefrom. Orr's company were hidden among some bushes growing
by the river. Macpherson's lay down among the stones and boulders,
and were scarce likely to attract the attention of the English,
which would naturally be fixed upon the little body drawn up to
oppose them in front.  The preparations were scarcely completed
when the English were seen approaching. They made no halt at the
river, but at once commenced crossing at the ford, confident in
their power to overwhelm the little body of Scots, whose number
had, it seemed to them, been exaggerated by the fears of the country
people. As soon as a hundred of the men-at-arms had passed, their
leader marshalled them in line, and with level spears charged up
the slopes against Archie's force. The great boulders broke their
ranks, and it was but in straggling order that they reached the
narrow line of Scottish spears.  These they in vain endeavoured to
break through. Their numbers were of no avail to them, as, being
on horseback, but twenty men at a time could attack the double row
of spearmen. While the conflict was at its height Archie's trumpet
was sounded, for he saw that another hundred men had now crossed
the ford.

At the signal the two hidden parties leapt to their feet, and with
levelled pikes rushed towards the ford. The English had no force
there to resist the attack, for as the men-at-arms had passed, each
had ridden on to join the fray in front. The head of the ford was
therefore seized with but little difficulty. Orr, with twenty men,
remained here to hold it and prevent others from crossing, while
Macpherson, with fifty, ran up the hill and fell upon the rear of
the confused masses of cavalry, who were striving in vain to break
the lines of Archie's spears.

The attack was decisive; the English, surprised and confused by
the sudden attack, were unable to offer any effectual resistance to
Macpherson's pikemen, and at the same moment that these fell upon
the rear, Archie gave the word and his men rushed forward upon the
struggling mass of cavalry. The shock was irresistible; men and
horses fell in numbers under the Scottish spears, and in a few
minutes those who could manage to extricate themselves from the
struggling mass rode off in various directions. These, however, were
few in number, for ninety were killed and seventy taken prisoners.
St. John himself succeeded in cutting his way through the spearmen,
and, swimming the river below the ford, rejoined his followers,
who had in vain endeavoured to force the passage of the ford. With
these he rapidly retired.

A detachment of fifty men were sent off with the prisoners to
Bruce, and Archie, with the main body of his followers, two days
later joined the force under Sir James Douglas.

Upon the following morning a messenger from Aberfilly reached

"My lord," he said, "I bring you a message from the Lady Marjory.
I have spent five days in searching for you, and have never but
once laid down during that time, therefore do not blame me if my
message is long in coming."

"What is it, Evan? nought is wrong there, I trust?"

"The Lady Marjory bade me tell you that news has reached her, that
from each of the garrisons of Ayr, Lanark, Stirling and Bothwell,
a force is marching toward your hold, which the governor of Bothwell
has sworn to destroy. When I left they were expected hourly in
sight, and this is full a week since."

"Aberfilly can hold out for longer than that," Archie said, "against
aught but surprise, and the vassals would have had time to gather."

"Yes," the man replied, "they were flocking in when I came away; the
men of Glen Cairn had already arrived; all the women and children
were taking to the hills, according to the orders which you gave."

"And now, good Evan, do you eat some supper, and then rest. No
wonder you have been so long in finding me, for I have been wandering
without ceasing. I will start at once with my followers here for
Aberfilly; by tomorrow evening we will be there."

Archie hurried to the hut occupied by Douglas, told him the news,
and said he must hurry away to the defence of his castle.

"Go, by all means, Archie," Douglas replied. "If I can gather a
force sufficient to relieve you I will myself march thither; but
at present I fear that the chances of my doing so are small, for
the four garrisons you have named would be able to spare a force
vastly larger than any with which I could meet them in the field,
and the king is no better able to help you."

"I will do my best," Archie said. "The castle can stand a stout
siege; and fortunately I have a secret passage by which we can

"Never mind the castle," Douglas replied. "When better days come
we will rebuild it again for you."

A few notes on a horn brought Archie's little band of followers
together. Telling them the danger which threatened Glen Cairn,
Archie placed himself at their head, and at a rapid step they
marched away. It was five-and-forty miles across the hills, but
before morning they approached it, and made their way to the wood in
which was the entrance to the subterranean passage leading to the
castle. Archie had feared that they might find the massive doors
which closed it, a short distance from the entrance, securely
fastened as usual.  They were shut, indeed, but as they approached
them they heard a challenge from within.

"It is I, Sir Archie Forbes."

The door was opened at once. "Welcome, Sir Archie!" the guard said.
"The Lady Marjory has been expecting you for the last five days,
and a watch has been kept here constantly, to open the doors should
you come."

"The messenger could not find me," Archie said. "Is all well at
the castle?"

"All is well," the man replied. "The English have made two attacks,
but have been beaten back with loss.  This morning some great
machines have arrived from Stirling and have begun battering the
walls. Is it your will that I remain here on guard, now that you
have come?"

"Yes," Archie answered. "It were best that one should be always
stationed here, seeing that the entrance might perchance be
discovered by one wandering in the wood, or they might obtain the
secret of its existence from a prisoner. If footsteps are heard
approaching retire at once with the news.  There is no danger if
we are warned in time, for we can turn the water from the moat into

Archie and his followers now made their way along the passage until
they entered the castle. As they issued out from the entrance a
shout of joy rose from those near, and the news rapidly flew through
the castle that Archie had arrived.  In a moment Marjory ran down
and threw herself into his arms.

"Welcome back, Archie, a thousand times! I have been grievously
anxious as the days went on and you did not return, and had feared
that some evil must have befallen you.  It has been a greater anxiety
to me than the defence of the castle; but I have done my best to
be hopeful and bright, to keep up the spirits of our followers."

"It was no easy task for your messenger to find me, Marjory, for
we are ever on the move. Is my mother here?"

"No, Archie, she went a fortnight since on a visit to Lady Gordon."

"It is well," Archie said, "for if in the end we have to leave the
castle, you, who have proved yourself so strong and brave, can,
if needs be, take to the hills with me; but she could not support
the fatigues of such a life. And now, dear, we have marched all
night and shall be glad of food; while it is preparing I will to
the walls and see what is going on."

As Archie reached the battlement a loud cheer broke from the
defenders gathered there, and Sandy Grahame hurried up to him.

"Welcome back, Sir Archie; glad am I to give up the responsibility
of this post, although, indeed, it is not I who have been in command,
but Lady Marjory. She has been always on the walls, cheering the
men with her words and urging them to deeds of bravery; and, indeed,
she has frightened me sorely by the way in which she exposed herself
where the arrows were flying most thickly, for as I told her over
and over again, if the castle were taken I knew that you would be
sure that I had done my best, but what excuse should I be able to
make to you if I had to bear you the news that she had been killed?"

"And what did she say to that, Sandy?"

"Truth, Sir Archie, she's a woman and wilful, and she just laughed
and said that you would know you could not keep her in order
yourself, and could not therefore expect me to rule her."

"That is so, Sandy," Archie laughed; "but now that I am back I
will for once exert my authority, and will see that she runs into
no further danger. And now, how goes the siege?"

"So far they have done but little damage, Sir Archie; but the
machines which they brought up yesterday will, I fear, play havock
with our walls. They have not yet begun their work, for when they
brought them up yesterday afternoon our men shot so hotly that they
had to fall back again; but in the night they have thrown up high
banks of earth, and have planted the engines under their shelter,
and will, ere long, begin to send their messengers against our
walls. Thrice they assaulted the works beyond the drawbridge and
twice we beat them back; but last night they came on with all their
force. I was myself there, and after fighting for a while and seeing
they were too strong for us, I thought it best to withdraw before
they gained footing in the work, and so had time to draw off the
men and raise the drawbridge."

"Quite right, Sandy! The defenders of the post would only have
been slaughtered, and the assailants might have rushed across the
drawbridge before it could have been raised.  The post is of little
importance save to defend the castle against a sudden surprise, and
would only have been a source of constant anxiety and loss.  How
many do you reckon them?  Judging by their tents there must be
three or four thousand."

"About three thousand, Sir Archie, I make it; and as we had no time
to get the tenants in from my lady's Ayrshire estate, we have but
two hundred men in the castle, and many of these are scarce more
than boys."

"I have brought a hundred and fifty with me, Sandy, so we have as
many as we can use on the walls, though I could wish I had another
hundred or two for sorties."

Half an hour later the great machines began to work, hurling vast
stones with tremendous force against the castle wall. Strongly
as this was built, Archie saw that it would ere many days crumble
before the blows.

"I did not reckon on such machines as these," he said to Sandy.
"Doubtless they are some of the huge machines which King Edward
had constructed for the siege of Stirling, and which have remained
there since the castle was taken. Fortunately we have still the
moat when a breach is made, and it will be hard work to cross that."

All day the great stones thundered against the wall. The defenders
were not idle, but kept up a shower of arrows at the edge of the
mound behind which the machines were hidden; but although many of
those working there were killed, fresh relays came constantly up,
and the machines never ceased their work. By nightfall the face
of the wall was bruised and battered. Many of the stones in front
had fallen from their places.

"Another twenty-four hours," Archie said to Marjory, as he joined
her in the great hall, "and the breach will be begun, forty-eight
and it will be completed. They will go on all night, and we may
expect no rest until the work is done. In an hour's time I shall
sally out from the passage into the wood and beat up their camp.
Expecting no attack from the rear, we shall do them rare damage
ere they can gather to oppose us. As soon as they do so we shall
be off again, and, scattering in various directions, gather again
in the wood and return here."

An hour later Archie, with two hundred men, started.  No sooner had
he left than Marjory called Sandy Grahame and Andrew Macpherson,
whom he had left in joint command during his absence.

"Now," she said, "I am not going to remain quiet here while
Sir Archie does all the fighting, therefore do you gather all the
garrison together, leaving only twenty to hold the gate.  See that
the wheels of the drawbridge are well oiled, and the hinges of the
gate. Directly we see that the attack has begun upon the camp we
will lower the drawbridge quietly, open the gates, and sally out.
There is no great force in the outer work. When we have cleared
that--which, if we are quick, we can do without alarming the
camp, seeing what a confusion and uproar will be going on there--we
will make straight along to the point where the machines are
placed. Let some of the men take axes and cut the ropes, and let
others carry faggots well steeped in oil, we will pile them round
the machines and light them, and thus having ensured their destruction,
we will fall back again."

"But, Lady Marjory--" Sandy began.

"I will have no buts, Sandy; you must just do as I order you, and
I will answer to Sir Archie. I shall myself go forth with you and
see that the work is properly done."

The two men looked doubtfully at each other.

"Now, Andrew," Marjory said briskly, "let us have no hesitation or
talk, the plan is a good one."

"I do not say that it is not a good one," Sandy replied cautiously,
"or that it is not one that Sir Archie might have carried out if
he had been here."

"Very well, Andrew, then that is quite enough. I give you the
orders and I am responsible, and if you and Sandy do not choose to
obey me, I shall call the men together myself and lead them without

As Sandy and Andrew were quite conscious that their lady would be
as good as her word, they at once proceeded to carry her orders into
effect. The wheels of the portcullis and drawbridge were oiled, as
were the bolts and hinges of the gate. The men were formed up in
the courtyard, where presently they were joined by Marjory who had
put on a light steel cap and a shirt of mail, and who had armed herself
with a light sword. The men gathered round her enthusiastically,
and would have burst into cheers had she not held up her hand to
command silence.

"I will to the wall now," she said, "to watch for the signal. The
instant the attack begins and the attention of those in the outwork
is called that way, draw up the portcullis noiselessly and open
the gate, oil the hinges of the drawbridge and have everything
in readiness; then I will join you. Let the drawbridge be lowered
swiftly, and as it falls we will rush across. You have, I suppose,
told off the men who are to remain behind.  Tell them that when
the last of us have crossed they are to raise the drawbridge a few
feet, so that none can cross it until we return."

Then, accompanied by Macpherson, she ascended the walls. All was
quiet in the hostile camp, which was about a quarter of a mile
distant, and only the creaking of the wheels of the machines, the
orders of those directing them, and the dull crash as the great
stones struck the wall, broke the stillness of the night. For half
an hour they watched, and then a sudden uproar was heard in the
camp.  The Scottish war cry pealed out, followed by shouts and
yells, and almost instantly flames were seen to mount up.

"My lord is at work," Marjory said, "it is time for us to be doing
also." So saying she ran down to the courtyard. Sandy Grahame,
Macpherson, and a few picked men took their place around her, then
the drawbridge was suddenly run down, and the Scots dashed across
it. As Marjory had anticipated, the English in the outwork had
gathered on the farther side and were watching the sudden outbreak
in the camp.  Alarmed at the prospect of an attack, perhaps by the
Bruce, in that quarter, they were suddenly startled by the rush
of feet across the drawbridge, and before they had time to recover
from their surprise the Scots were upon them. The latter were
superior in numbers, and the English, already alarmed by the attack
upon their camp, offered but a feeble resistance. Many were cut
down, but the greater part leapt from the wall and fled towards
the camp. The moment resistance ceased the outer gate was thrown
open, and at full speed the Scotch made for the machines. The party
here had suspended their work and were gazing towards the camp,
where the uproar was now great. The wind was blowing briskly and
the fire had spread with immense rapidity, and already half the
camp was in flames. Suddenly from the bank above the Scots poured
down upon them like a torrent. There was scarcely a thought of
resistance. Stricken with dismay and astonishment at this unexpected
attack, the soldiers working the machines fled hastily, only a few
falling beneath the swords of the Scots.  The men with axes at once
fell upon the machines, cutting the ropes and smashing the wheels
and levers which worked them, while those with the faggots piled
them round. In less than two minutes the work was done, lighted
torches were applied to the faggots, and the flames soon shot up

The Scots waited but a minute or two to see that the work was
thoroughly done and that the flames had got fair hold, and then,
keeping in a close body, they retired to the castle. Not a soul
was met with by the way, and leaving Andrew Macpherson with fifty
men to hold the outwork until Archie should return and decide
whether it should be occupied, Marjory, with the rest, re-entered
the castle.

She at once ascended to the walls again, where Sandy also posted
the men to be in readiness to open fire with their arrows should
the English return and endeavour to extinguish the flames round
the machines.  The sound of fighting had ceased at the camp. By the
light of the flames numbers of the English could be seen pulling
down the tents which the fire had not yet reached and endeavouring
to check the conflagration, while a large body of horse and foot
were rapidly advancing toward the castle.

As soon as they came within bowshot range the archers opened fire,
and the English leaders, seeing that it was already too late to
save the machines, which were by this time completely enveloped in
flames, and that men would only be sacrificed to no good purpose,
halted the troops. They then moved towards the outwork, but finding
this in possession of the Scots, they fell back again to the camp
to take council as to the next steps to be adopted.  Archie's attack
had been crowned with complete success. Apprehending no danger
from behind, the English had neglected to place sentries there,
and the Scots were already among the tents before their presence
was discovered. Numbers of the English were cut down and the tents
fired, and as soon as the English recovered from their first surprise
and began to form, Archie gave the word for a retreat. This was
effected without molestation, for the first thought of the English
was to save the camp from total destruction. The reports of the
men who escaped from the castle outwork and the outburst of flames
around the machines added to the confusion which reigned, and the
leaders, who had by the light of the flames ascertained that the
assault upon the camp had been made by a small body of the enemy,
deemed it of the first importance to move at once to save the
machines if it were still possible.

The Scots regained the entrance to the passage without the loss
of a single man, and passing through, soon re-entered the castle.
Marjory had laid aside her warlike trappings and awaited her
husband's return at the inner entrance of the passage.

"We have had good success, Marjory," Archie said as he greeted
her, "as you will have seen from the walls.  The greater part of
the English camp is destroyed; we have killed great numbers, and
have not lost a man."

"That is good news indeed, Archie. We, too, have not been quite
idle while you have been away."

"Why, what have you been doing, Marjory?" Archie asked in surprise.

"Come up to the walls and I will show you."

Archie mounted with her, and gave a start of surprise as he looked
towards the machines. The great body of fire had died down now, but
the beams of the machines stood up red and glowing, while a light
flickering flame played round them.

"You see we have not been idle, Archie. We have destroyed the
machines, and retaken the outwork, which is now held by Andrew
Macpherson with fifty men."

"Why, what magic is this, wife?"

"No magic at all, Sir Knight. We have been carrying out the work
which you, as a wise and skilful commander, should have ordered
before you left. We have taken advantage of the confusion of the
enemy by the fire in their camp, and have made a sortie, and a
successful one, as you see."

"I am delighted, indeed," Archie said; "and the destruction of
those machines is indeed a great work. Still Sandy and Macpherson
should not have undertaken it without orders from me; they might
have been cut off and the castle stormed before I came back."

"They had orders from me, sir, and that was quite sufficient. To
do them justice, they hesitated about obeying me, and I was well
nigh ordering them to the dungeon for disobedience; and they only
gave way at last when I said they could stop at home if they liked,
but that I should lead out the retainers. Of course I went in your
place with armour and sword; but perhaps it was as well that I had
no fighting to do."

"Do you mean, Marjory, that you really led the sortie?"

"I don't think I led it, Archie; but I certainly went out with it,
and very exciting it was. There, dear, don't look troubled.  Of
course, as chatelaine of the castle, I was bound to animate my

"You have done bravely and well, indeed, Marjory, and I am proud
of my wife. Still, dear, I tremble at the thought of the risk you

"No more risk than you are constantly running, Archie; and I am
rather glad you tremble, because in future you will understand my
feelings better, left here all alone while you are risking your
life perpetually with the king."

The success of the sally and the courage and energy shown by Marjory
raised the spirits of the garrison to the highest pitch; and had
Archie given the word they would have sallied out and fallen upon
the besiegers.  Two days later fresh machines arrived from Stirling,
and the attack again commenced, the besiegers keeping a large body
of men near the gate to prevent a repetition of the last sally.
Archie now despatched two or three fleet footed runners through
the passage to find the king, and tell him that the besiegers were
making progress, and to pray him to come to his assistance.  Two
days passed, and the breach was now fairly practicable, but the
moat, fifty feet wide, still barred the way to the besiegers. Archie
had noticed that for two or three days no water had come down from
above, and had no doubt that they had diverted the course of the
river. Upon the day after the breach was completed the besiegers
advanced in great force up the stream from below.

"They are going to try to cut the dam," Archie said to Sandy; "place
every man who can draw a bow on that side of the castle."

As the English approached a rain of arrows was poured into them,
but covering themselves with their shields and with large mantlets
formed of hurdles covered with hides they pressed forward to the
dam. Here those who had brought with them picks and mattocks set
to work upon the dam, the men with mantlets shielding them from
the storm of arrows, while numbers of archers opened fire upon the
defenders.  Very many were killed by the Scottish arrows, but the
work went on. A gap was made through the dam. The water, as it rushed
through, aided the efforts of those at work; and after three hours'
labour and fighting the gap was so far deepened that the water in
the moat had fallen eight feet. Then, finding that this could now
be waded, the assailants desisted, and drew off to their camp.

A council was held that evening in the castle as to whether
the hold should be abandoned at once or whether one attack on the
breach should be withstood. It was finally determined that the
breach should be held. The steep sides of the moat, exposed by the
subsidence of the water, were slippery and difficult. The force in
the castle was amply sufficient at once to man the breach and to
furnish archers for the walls on either side, while in the event
of the worst, were the breach carried by the English, the defenders
might fall back to the central keep, and thence make their way
through the passage. Had it not been for the possibility of an
early arrival of the king to their relief all agreed that it would
be as well to evacuate the castle at once, as this in the end must
fall, and every life spent in its defence would thus be a useless
sacrifice. As, however, troops might at any moment appear, it was
determined to hold the castle until the last.

The next morning a party of knights in full defensive armour
came down to the edge of the moat to see whether passage could be
effected. They were not molested while making their examination,
as the Scottish arrows would only have dropped harmless off their
steel harness. Archie was on the walls.

"How like you the prospect, Sir Knights?" he called out merrily.
"I fear that the sludge and slime will sully your bright armour and
smirch your plumes, for it will be difficult to hold a footing on
those muddy banks."

"It were best for you to yield, Sir Archibald Forbes, without giving
us the trouble of making our way across your moat.  You have made
a stout resistance, and have done enough for honour, and you must
see that sooner or later we must win our way in."

"Then I would rather it should be later," Archie replied.  "I
may have done enough for honour, but it is not for honour that I
am fighting, but for Scotland. Your work is but begun yet, I can
assure you. We are far from being at the end of our resources yet.
It will be time enough to talk about surrendering when you have
won the breach and the outer walls."

The knights retired; and as some hours passed without the besiegers
seeing any preparation for an assault they judged that the report
carried back to camp was not an encouraging one. Large numbers of
men were, however, seen leaving the camp, and these toward sunset
came back staggering under immense loads of brushwood which they
had cut in the forest.

"They intend to fill up the moat," Archie said; "it is their wisest

He at once directed his men to make up large trusses of straw, over
which he poured considerable quantities of oil.  Early the next
morning the English drew out of their camp, and advanced in martial
array. Each man carried a great faggot, and, covering themselves
with these as they came within bowshot, they marched down to the
moat. Each in turn threw in his faggot, and when he had done so
returned to the camp and brought back another. Rapidly the process
of filling up the moat opposite to the breach continued. The besiegers
kept up a rain of arrows and darts, and many of the English were
killed. But the work was continued without intermission until well
nigh across the moat a broad crossway was formed level with the
outer bank, but a narrow gap remained to be filled, and the English
leaders advanced to the front to prevent the Scots on the breach
rushing down to assault those placing the faggots.

Somewhat to the surprise of the English the defenders remained
stationary, contenting themselves with hurling great stones at their
busy enemy. Suddenly there was a movement.  Archie and a party of
his best men dashed down the breach, and, climbing on the causeway,
for a moment drove the workers and their guards back. They were
followed by twenty men carrying great trusses of straw. These were
piled against the faggots forming the end of the causeway. Archie
and his band leapt back as a torch was applied to the straw. In a
moment the hot flames leapt up, causing the knights who had pressed
after the retreating Scots to fall back hastily. A shout of triumph
rose from the garrison and one of dismay from the besiegers.
Saturated with oil, the trusses burnt with fury, and the faggots
were soon alight. A fresh wind was blowing, and the flames crept
rapidly along the causeway.  In a few minutes this was in a blaze
from end to end, and in half an hour nothing remained of the great
pile save charred ashes and the saturated faggots which had been
below the water in the moat, and which now floated upon it.

The besiegers had drawn off when they saw that the flames had
gained a fair hold of the causeway. The smoke had scarcely ceased
to rise when a great outcry arose from the English camp, and the
lookout from the top of the keep perceived a strong force marching
toward it. By the bustle and confusion which reigned in the camp
Archie doubted not that the newcomers were Scots. The garrison were
instantly called to arms.  The gates were thrown open, and leaving
a small body only to hold the gates, he sallied out at the head of
his men and marched toward the English camp.  At the approach of
the Scottish force the English leaders had marched out with their
men to oppose them. Bruce had been able to collect but three hundred
and fifty men, and the English, seeing how small was the number
advancing against them, prepared to receive them boldly. Scarcely
had the combat begun when Archie with his band entered the English
camp, which was almost deserted. They at once fired the tents, and
then advanced in a solid mass with level spears against the rear
of the English. These, dismayed at the destruction of their camp,
and at finding themselves attacked both front and rear, lost heart
and fell into confusion.  Their leaders strove to rally them,
and dashed with their men-at-arms against the spearmen, but their
efforts to break through were in vain, and their defeat increased
the panic of the footmen. Archie's party broke a way through their
disordered line and joined the body commanded by the king, and the
whole rushed so fiercely upon the English that these broke and fled
in all directions, pursued by the triumphant Scots.

"I am but just in time I see, Sir Archie," Bruce said, pointing
to the breach in the wall; "a few hours more and methinks that I
should have been too late."

"We could have held out longer than that, sire," Archie replied.
"We have repulsed an attack this morning and burnt a causeway of
faggots upon which they attempted to cross the moat; still, I am
truly glad that you have arrived, and thank you with all my heart
for coming so speedily to my rescue, for sooner or later the hold
must have fallen; the great machines which they brought with them
from Stirling proved too strong for the wall."

"And how has the Lady Marjory borne her during the siege?" the king

"Right nobly," Archie replied; "ever in good spirits and showing a
brave face to the men; and one night when I made a sortie through
my secret passage, and fell upon the English camp from the other
side, having left the castle in her charge, she headed the garrison
and issuing out, recaptured the outworks, and destroyed the machines
by fire."

"Bravely done," the king said, "and just what I should expect from
your wife. You did well to take my advice in that matter."

"We shall never agree there, sire, for as you know I followed my
own will and wed the bride I had fixed upon for myself."

"Well, well, Sir Archie, as we are both satisfied we will e'en let
it be; and now, I trust that you have still some supplies left,
for to tell you the truth I am hungry as well as weary, and my men
have marched fast and far."

"There is an abundance," Archie replied; "to last them all for a
month, and right willingly is it at their service."

The king remained a week at Aberfilly, his men aiding Archie's
retainers in repairing the gap in the dam and in rebuilding the
wall; and as five hundred men working willingly and well can effect
wonders, by the time Bruce rode away the castle was restored to
its former appearance. Archie marched on the following day, and
rejoined Douglas in Galloway.

Chapter XXII

A Prisoner

After some consultation between the leaders, it was agreed to make
an attempt to capture the castle of Knockbawn. It was known to
possess a garrison of some sixty men only, and although strong,
Archie and Sir James believed that it could be captured by assault.
It was arranged that Archie should ride to reconnoitre it, and
taking two mounted retainers he started, the force remaining in the
forest some eight miles distant. The castle of Knockbawn stood on
a rocky promontory, jutting a hundred and fifty yards into the sea.
When he neared the neck of the point, which was but some twenty
yards wide, Archie bade his followers fall back a short distance.

"I will ride," he said, "close up to the castle walls. My armour
is good, and I care not for arrow or crossbow bolt. It were best
you fell back a little, for they may have horses and may sally out
in pursuit. I am well mounted and fear not being overtaken, but it
were best that you should have a good start."

Archie then rode forward toward the castle. Seeing a knight
approaching alone the garrison judged that he was friendly, and it
was not until it was seen that instead of approaching the drawbridge
he turned aside and rode to the edge of the fosse, that they
suspected that he was a foe. Running to the walls they opened fire
with arrows upon him, but by this time Archie had seen all that
he required. Across the promontory ran a sort of fissure, some ten
yards wide and as many deep. From the opposite edge of this the
wall rose abruptly. Here assault would be difficult, and it was
upon the gateway that an attack must be made. Several arrows had
struck his armour and glanced off, and Archie now turned and quietly
rode away, his horse being protected by mail like himself. Scarce
had he turned when he saw a sight which caused him for a moment
to draw rein. Coming at full gallop toward the promontory was a
strong body of English horse, flying the banner of Sir Ingram de
Umfraville. They were already nearer to the end of the neck than
he was.  There was no mode of escape, and drawing his sword he
galloped at full speed to meet them. As he neared them Sir Ingram
himself, one of the doughtiest of Edward's knights, rode out with
levelled lance to meet him. At full gallop the knights charged
each other. Sir Ingram's spear was pointed at the bars of Archie's
helmet, but as the horses met each other Archie with a blow of his
sword cut off the head of the lance and dealt a tremendous backhanded
blow upon Sir Ingram's helmet as the latter passed him, striking
the knight forward on to his horse's neck; then without pausing a
moment he dashed into the midst of the English ranks.

The horsemen closed around him, and although he cut down several
with his sweeping blows he was unable to break his way through them.
Such a conflict could not last long.  Archie received a blow from
behind which struck him from his horse. Regaining his feet he
continued the fight, but the blows rained thick upon him, and he
was soon struck senseless to the ground.

When he recovered he was in a room in the keep of the castle. Two
knights were sitting at a table near the couch on which he was lying.
"Ah!" exclaimed one, on seeing Archie open his eyes and move, "I
am glad to see your senses coming back to you, sir prisoner. Truly,
sir, I regret that so brave a knight should have fallen into my
hands, seeing that in this war we must needs send our prisoners
to King Edward, whose treatment of them is not, I must e'en own,
gentle; for indeed you fought like any paladin. I deemed not that
there was a knight in Scotland, save the Bruce himself, who could
have so borne himself; and never did I, Ingram de Umfraville, come
nearer to losing my seat than I did from that backhanded blow you
dealt me.  My head rings with it still. My helmet will never be
fit to wear again, and as the leech said when plastering my head,
`had not my skull been of the thickest, you had assuredly cut
through it.' May I crave the name of so brave an antagonist?"

"I am Sir Archibald Forbes," Archie replied.

"By St. Jago!" the knight said, "but I am sorry for it, seeing that,
save Bruce himself, there is none in the Scottish ranks against
whom King Edward is so bitter. In the days of Wallace there was no
one whose name was more often on our lips than that of Sir Archibald
Forbes, and now, under Bruce, it is ever coming to the front. I had
thought to have asked Edward as a boon that I should have kept you
as my prisoner until exchanged for one on our side, but being Sir
Archibald Forbes I know that it were useless indeed; nevertheless,
sir knight, I will send to King Edward, begging him to look mercifully
upon your case, seeing how bravely and honourably you have fought."

"Thanks for your good offices, Sir Ingram," Archie replied, "but
I shall ask for no mercy for myself. I have never owed or paid him
allegiance, but, as a true Scot, have fought for my country against
a foreign enemy."

"But King Edward does not hold himself to be a foreign enemy," the
knight said, "seeing that Baliol, your king, with Comyn and all
your great nobles, did homage to him as Lord Paramount of Scotland."

"It were an easy way," Archie rejoined, "to gain a possession to
nominate a puppet from among the nobles already your vassals, and
then to get him to do homage. No, sir knight, neither Comyn nor
Baliol, nor any other of the Anglo-Norman nobles who hold estate
in Scotland, have a right to speak for her, or to barter away her
freedom. That is what Wallace and thousands of Scotchmen have fought
and died to protest against, and what Scotchmen will do until their
country is free."

"It is not a question for me to argue upon," Sir Ingram said
surlily. "King Edward bids me fight in Scotland, and as his knight
and vassal I put on my harness without question.  But I own to
you that seeing I have fought beside him in Gascony, when he, as
a feudal vassal of the King of France, made war upon his lord, I
cannot see that the offence is an unpardonable one when you Scotchmen
do the same here.  Concerning the lawfulness of his claim to be
your lord paramount, I own that I neither know nor care one jot.
However, sir, I regret much that you have fallen into my hands,
for to Carlisle, where the king has long been lying, as you have
doubtless heard, grievously ill, I must forthwith send you. I must
leave you here with the governor, for in half an hour I mount and
ride away with my troop. He will do his best to make your sojourn
here easy until such time as I may have an opportunity of sending
you by ship to Carlisle; and now farewell, sir," he said, giving
Archie his hand, "I regret that an unkind chance has thrown so
gallant a knight into my hands, and that my duty to the king forbids
me from letting you go free."

"Thanks, Sir Ingram," Archie replied. "I have ever heard of you
as a brave knight, and if this misfortune must fall upon me, would
sooner that I should have been captured by you than by one of less
fame and honour."

The governor now had a meal with some wine set before Archie, and
then left him alone.

"I am not at Carlisle yet," Archie said to himself. "Unless
I mistake, we shall have Sir James thundering at the gate before
morning. Cluny will assuredly have ridden off at full speed to carry
the news when he saw that I was cut off, and e'en now he will be
marching towards the castle." As he expected, Archie was roused
before morning by a tremendous outburst of noise. Heavy blows were
given, followed by a crash, which Archie judged to be the fall of
the drawbridge across the fosse. He guessed that some of Douglas's
men had crept forward noiselessly, had descended the fosse, and
managed to climb up to the gate, and had then suddenly attacked
with their axes the chains of the drawbridge.

A prodigious uproar raged in the castle. Orders were shouted, and
the garrison, aroused from their sleep, snatched up their arms
and hastened to the walls. Outside rose the war cry, "A Douglas! A
Douglas!" mingled with others of, "Glen Cairn to the rescue!" For
a few minutes all was confusion, then a light suddenly burst up
and grew every instant more and more bright.

"Douglas has piled faggots against the gates," Archie said to
himself. "Another quarter of an hour and the castle will be his."

Three or four minutes later the governor with six soldiers, two
of whom bore torches, entered the room.  "You must come along at
once, sir knight," the governor said. "The attack is of the fiercest,
and I know not whether we shall make head against it, but at any
rate I must not risk your being recaptured, and must therefore
place you in a boat and send you off without delay to the castle
at Port Patrick."

It was in vain for Archie to think of resistance, he was unarmed
and helpless. Two of the soldiers laid hands on him and hurried
him along until they reached the lower chambers of the castle. The
governor unlocked a door, and with one of the torch bearers led
the way down some narrow steps.  These were some fifty in number,
and then a level passage ran along for some distance. Another door
was opened, and the fresh breeze blew upon them as they issued
forth. They stood on some rocks at the foot of the promontory on
which the castle stood. A large boat lay close at hand, drawn to
the shore. Archie and the six soldiers entered her; four of the
latter took the oars, and the others seated themselves by their
prisoner, and then the boat rowed away, while the governor returned
to aid in the defence of the castle.

The boat was but a quarter of a mile away when on the night air
came the sound of a wild outburst of triumphant shouts which told
that the Scots had won their way into the castle. With muttered
curses the men bent to their oars and every minute took them further
away from Knockbawn.

Archie was bitterly disappointed. He had reckoned confidently on
the efforts of Douglas to deliver him, and the possibility of his
being sent off by sea had not entered his mind. It seemed to him
now that his fate was sealed. He had noticed on embarking that
there were no other boats lying at the foot of the promontory, and
pursuit would therefore be impossible.

After rowing eight hours the party reached Port Patrick, where Archie
was delivered by the soldiers to the governor with a message from
their commander saying that the prisoner, Sir Archibald Forbes,
was a captive of great importance, and was, by the orders of Sir
Ingram de Umfraville who had captured him, to be sent on to Carlisle
to the king when a ship should be going thither. A fortnight passed
before a vessel sailed. Archie was placed in irons and so securely
guarded in his dungeon that escape was altogether impossible. So
harsh was his confinement that he longed for the time when a vessel
would sail for Carlisle, even though he was sure that the same fate
which had attended so many of Scotland's best and bravest knights
awaited him there.

The winds were contrary, and the vessel was ten days upon the
voyage. Upon reaching Carlisle Archie was handed to the governor
of the castle, and the next morning was conducted to the presence
of the king himself. The aged monarch, in the last extremity of
sickness, lay upon a couch. Several of his nobles stood around him.

"So," he said as the prisoner was brought before him, "this is
Archibald Forbes, the one companion of the traitor Wallace who has
hitherto escaped my vengeance. So, young sir, you have ventured
to brave my anger and to think yourself capable of coping with the
Lion of England."

"I have done my utmost, sir king," Archie said firmly, "such as
it was, for the freedom of my country. No traitor am I, nor was my
leader Wallace. Nor he, nor I, ever took vow of allegiance to you,
maintaining ever that the kings of England had neither claim nor
right over Scotland. He has been murdered, foully and dishonourably,
as you will doubtless murder me, and as you have killed many nobler
knights and gentlemen; but others will take our places, and so the
fight will go on until Scotland is free."

"Scotland will never be free," the king said with angry vehemence.
"Rather than that, she shall cease to exist, and I will slay till
there is not one of Scottish blood, man, woman, or child, to bear
the name. Let him be taken to Berwick," he said; "there let him be
exposed for a week in a cage outside the castle, that the people
may see what sort of a man this is who matches himself against the
might of England. Then let him be hung, drawn, and quartered, his
head sent to London, and his limbs distributed between four Scotch

"I go, sir king," Archie said, as the attendants advanced to seize
him, "and at the end of the week I will meet you before the throne
of God, for you, methinks, will have gone thither before me, and
there will I tax you with all your crimes, with the slaughter of
tens of thousands of Scottish men, women, and children, with cities
destroyed and countries wasted, and with the murder in cold blood
of a score of noble knights whose sole offence was that they fought
for their native country."

With these words Archie turned and walked proudly from the king's
presence. An involuntary murmur of admiration at his fearless bearing
escaped from the knights and nobles assembled round the couch of
the dying monarch.

When, two days later, Archie entered the gates of Berwick Castle
the bells of the city were tolling, for a horseman had just ridden
in with the news that Edward had expired on the evening before,
being the 6th day of July, 1307, just at the moment when he was
on the point of starting with the great army he had assembled to
crush out the insurrection in Scotland.

So deep was his hate for the people who had dared to oppose his will
that when dying he called before him his eldest son, and in the
presence of his barons caused him to swear upon the saints that so
soon as he should be dead his body should be boiled in a cauldron
until the flesh should be separated from the bones, after which the
flesh should be committed to the earth, but the bones preserved,
and that, as often as the people of Scotland rebelled, the military
array of the kingdom should be summoned and the bones carried at
the head of the army into Scotland. His heart he directed should
be conveyed to and deposited in the Holy Land.

So died Edward I, a champion of the Holy Sepulchre, King of England,
Lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine, conqueror of Wales, and would
be conqueror of Scotland. In many respects his reign was a great
and glorious one, for he was more than a great conqueror, he was,
to England, a wise and noble king; and taken altogether he was
perhaps the greatest of the Plantagenets.

Historians have striven to excuse and palliate his conduct toward
Scotland. They have glossed over his crimes and tried to explain
away the records of his deeds of savage atrocity, and to show that
his claims to that kingdom, which had not a shadow of foundation
save from the submission of her Anglo-Norman nobles, almost all of
whom were his own vassals and owned estates in England, were just
and righteous.  Such is not the true function of history. Edward's
sole claim to Scotland was that he was determined to unite under his
rule England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and he failed because
the people of Scotland, deserted as they were by all their natural
leaders, preferred death to such a slavery as that under which
Ireland and Wales helplessly groaned. His dying wishes were not
observed. His body was laid in rest in Westminster Abbey, and on
the tomb was inscribed, "Edward I the mallet of the Scots."

Chapter XXIII

The Escape from Berwick

On entering the castle Archie was at once conducted to a sort of
cage which had been constructed for a previous prisoner. On the
outside of a small cell a framework of stout beams had been erected.
It was seven feet in height, six feet wide, and three feet deep.
The bars were four inches round, and six inches apart.  There was
a door leading into the cell behind. This was closed in the daytime,
so that the prisoner remained in the cage in sight of passersby,
but at night the governor, who was a humane man, allowed the door
to remain unlocked, so that the prisoner could enter the inner cell
and lie down there.

The position of the cage was about twenty-five feet above the
moat. The moat itself was some forty feet wide, and a public path
ran along the other side, and people passing here had a full view
of the prisoner.  There were still many of Scottish birth in the
town in spite of the efforts which Edward had made to convert it
into a complete English colony, and although the English were in
the majority, Archie was subject to but little insult or annoyance.
Although for the present in English possession, Berwick had always
been a Scotch town, and might yet again from the fortune of war
fall into Scottish hands. Therefore even those most hostile to them
felt that it would be prudent to restrain from any demonstrations
against the Scottish prisoners, since in the event of the city
again changing hands a bloody retaliation might be dealt them.
Occasionally a passing boy would shout out an epithet of contempt
or hatred or throw a stone at the prisoner, but such trifles were
unheeded by him. More often men or women passing would stop and
gaze up at him with pitying looks, and would go away wiping their

Archie, after the first careful examination of his cell, at once
abandoned any idea of escape from it. The massive bars would have
defied the strength of twenty men, and he had no instrument of any
sort with which he could cut them.  There was, he felt, nothing
before him but death; and although he feared this little for
himself, he felt sad indeed as he thought of the grief of Marjory
and his mother.

The days passed slowly. Five had gone without an incident, and but
two remained, for he knew that there was no chance of any change
in the sentence which Edward had passed, even were his son more
disposed than he toward merciful measures to the Scots, which Archie
had no warrant for supposing. The new king's time would be too
closely engaged in the affairs entailed by his accession to rank,
the arrangement of his father's funeral, and the details of the
army advancing against Scotland, to give a thought to the prisoner
whose fate had been determined by his father.

Absorbed in his own thoughts Archie seldom looked across the moat,
and paid no heed to those who passed or who paused to look at him.

On the afternoon of the fifth day, however, his eye was caught by
two women who were gazing up at the cage. It was the immobility of
their attitude and the length of time which they continued to gaze
at him, which attracted his attention.

In a moment he started violently and almost gave a cry, for in
one of them he recognized his wife, Marjory.  The instant that the
women saw that he had observed them they turned away and walked
carelessly and slowly along the road.  Archie could hardly believe
that his eyesight had not deceived him. It seemed impossible that
Marjory, whom he deemed a hundred miles away, in his castle at
Aberfilly, should be here in the town of Berwick, and yet when he
thought it over he saw that it might well be so. There was indeed
ample time for her to have made the journey two or three times while
he had been lying in prison at Port Patrick awaiting a ship.  She
would be sure, when the news reached her of his capture, that he
would be taken to Edward at Carlisle, and that he would be either
executed there or at Berwick. It was then by no means impossible,
strange and wondrous as it appeared to him, that Marjory should be
in Berwick.

She was attired in the garment of a peasant woman of the better
class, such as the wife of a small crofter or farmer, and remembering
how she had saved his life before at Dunstaffnage, Archie felt that
she had come hither to try to rescue him.

Archie's heart beat with delight and his eyes filled with tears at
the devotion and courage of Marjory, and for the first time since
he had been hurried into the boat on the night of his capture a
feeling of hope entered his breast.  Momentary as the glance had
been which he had obtained of the face of Marjory's companion,
Archie had perceived that it was in some way familiar to him. In
vain he recalled the features of the various servants at Aberfilly,
and those of the wives and daughters of the retainers of the estate;
he could not recognize the face of the woman accompanying Marjory
as belonging to any of them. His wife might, indeed, have brought
with her some one from the estates at Ayr whom she had known from
a child, but in that case Archie could not account for his knowledge
of her. This, however, did not occupy his mind many minutes; it
was assuredly one whom Marjory trusted, and that was sufficient
for him. Then his thoughts turned wholly to his wife.

Any one who had noticed the prisoner's demeanor for the last few
days would have been struck with the change which had come over
it. Hitherto he had stood often for hours leaning motionless, with
his arms crossed, in the corner of his cage, with head bent down and
listless air, his thoughts only being busy; now he paced restlessly
up and down his narrow limits, two steps each way and then a turn,
like a caged beast; his hands were clenched, his breast heaved,
his breath came fast, his head was thrown back, often he brushed
his hand across his eyes, and rapid words came from his lips.

The sun sank. An hour later a jailer brought his jug of water and
piece of bread, and then, without a word, retired, leaving, as usual,
the door into the cell open, but carefully locking and barring the
inner door.  Archie had a longer walk now, from the front of the
cage to the back of the cell, and for three hours he paced up and
down. Sometimes he paused and listened attentively. The sounds in
the town gradually died away and all became still, save that he
could hear the calls of the warder on the battlement above him.
The night was a very dark one and he could scarcely make out the
gleam of water in the moat below.

Suddenly something struck him a sharp blow on the face and fell at
his feet. He stooped and picked it up, it was an arrow with a wad
of wool fastened round its point to prevent it from making a noise
should it strike the wall or cage; to the other end was attached a
piece of string. Archie drew it in until he felt that it was held
firmly, then after a moment the hold relaxed somewhat, and the
string again yielded as he drew it. It was now, he felt, taut from
the other side of the moat. Presently a stout rope, amply sufficient
to bear his weight, came into his hands. At the point of junction
was attached some object done up in flannel. This he opened, and
found that it was a fine saw and a small bottle containing oil. He
fastened the rope securely to one of the bars and at once commenced
to saw asunder one of the others. In five minutes two cuts had
been noiselessly made, and a portion of the bar five feet long came
away. He now tried the rope and found that it was tightly stretched,
and evidently fixed to some object on the other side of the moat.
He grasped it firmly with his arms and legs and slid rapidly down

In another minute he was grasped by some strong arms which checked
his rapid progress and enabled him to gain his feet without the
slightest noise. As he did so a woman threw her arms round him,
and he exchanged a passionate but silent embrace with Marjory. Then
she took his hand and with noiseless steps they proceeded down the
road. He had before starting removed his shoes and put them in his
pockets.  Marjory and her companion had also removed their shoes,
and even the keenest ears upon the battlements would have heard
no sound as they proceeded along the road. Fifty yards farther and
they were among the houses. Here they stopped a minute and put on
their shoes, and then continued their way. Not a word was spoken
until they had traversed several streets and stopped at the door
of a house in a quiet lane; it yielded to Marjory's touch, she and
Archie entered, and their follower closed and fastened it after

The moment this was done Marjory threw her arms round Archie's neck
with a burst of tears of joy and relief.  While Archie was soothing
her the third person stirred up the embers on the hearth and threw
on a handful of dry wood.

"And who is your companion?" Archie asked, after the first transports
of joy and thankfulness were past.

"What! don't you recognize Cluny?" Marjory asked, laughing through
her tears.

"Cluny! of course," Archie exclaimed, grasping his follower's hand
in his. "I only caught a glimpse of your face and knew that it was
familiar to me, but in vain tried to recall its owner. Why, Cluny,
it is a long time since you went dressed as a girl into Ayr!  And
so it is my good friend who had shared my wife's dangers."

"He has done more than that, Archie," Marjory said, "for it was
to him that I owe my first idea of coming here.  The moment after
the castle was taken and it was found that you had been carried
off in a boat by the English, Cluny started to tell me the news.
Your mother and I were beside ourselves with grief, and Cluny, to
comfort us, said, `Do not despair yet, my lady; my lord shall not
be killed by the English if I can prevent it. The master and I
have been in a good many dangers, and have always come out of them
safe; it shall not be my fault if he does not slip through their
hands yet.'  `Why, what can you do, Cluny?' I said. `I don't know
what I can do yet,' he replied; `that must depend upon circumstances.
My lord is sure to be taken to Carlisle, and I shall go south to
see if I cannot get him out of prison. I have often gone among the
English garrisons disguised as a woman, and no one in Carlisle is
likely to ask me my business there.' It was plain to me at once that
if Cluny could go to your aid, so could I, and I at once told him
that I should accompany him. Cluny raised all sorts of objections,
but to these I would not listen, but brought him to my will by saying,
that if he thought my being with him would add to his difficulties
I would go alone, but that go I certainly would.  So without more
ado we got these dresses and made south.  We had a few narrow
escapes of falling into the hands of parties of English, but at last
we crossed the frontier and made to Carlisle. Three days later we
heard of your arrival, and the next morning all men were talking
about your defiance of the king, and that you had been sent to Berwick
for execution at the end of the week. So we journeyed hither and
got here the day after you arrived. The first step was to find
a Scotchwoman whom we might trust.  This, by great luck, we did,
and Mary Martin, who lives in this house, is a true Scotchwoman,
and will help us to the extent of her power; she is poor, for her
husband, who is an Englishman, had for some time been ill, and died
but yesterday. He was, by what she says, a hard man and cruel, and
his death is no grief to her, and Mary will, if she can, return
with her daughter to Roxburgh, where her relations live, and where
she married her husband, who was a soldier in the English garrison

"But, Marjory," Archie said, "have you thought how we are to escape
hence; though I am free from the castle I am still within the walls
of Berwick, and when, tomorrow, they find that I have escaped, they
will search every nook and corner of the town. I had best without
delay try and make my way over the walls."

"That was the plan Cluny and I first thought of," Marjory replied;
"but owing to the raids of the Douglas on the border, so strict
a watch is kept on the walls that it would be difficult indeed to
pass. Cluny has tried a dozen times each night, but the watch is
so vigilant that he has each time failed to make his way past them,
but has been challenged and has had several arrows discharged at
him. The guard at the gates is extremely strict, and all carts that
pass in and out are searched. Could you have tried to pass before
your escape was known you might no doubt have done so in disguise,
but the alarm will be given before the gates are open in the morning,
and your chance of passing through undetected then would be small
indeed. The death of the man Martin suggested a plan to me.  I
have proposed it to his wife, and she has fallen in with it. I
have promised her a pension for her life should we succeed, but I
believe she would have done it even without reward, for she is a
true Scotchwoman. When she heard who it was that I was trying to
rescue, she said at once she would risk anything to save the life
of one of Scotland's best and bravest champions; while, on the other
hand, she cares not enough for her husband to offer any objection
to my plans for the disposal of his body."

"But what are your plans, Marjory?"

"All the neighbours know that Martin is dead; they believe that Cluny
is Mary's sister and I her niece, and she has told them that she
shall return with us to Roxburgh. Martin was a native of a village
four miles hence, and she is going to bury him with his fathers
there. Now I have proposed to her that Martin shall be buried
beneath the wood store here, and that you shall take his place in
the coffin."

"It is a capital idea, Marjory," Archie said, "and will assuredly
succeed if any plan can do so. The only fear is that the search
will be so hot in the morning that the soldiers may even insist
upon looking into the coffin."

"We have thought of that," Marjory said, "and dare not risk it.
We must expect every house to be searched in the morning, and have
removed some tiles in the attic. At daybreak you must creep out
on the roof, replace the tiles, and remain hidden there until the
search is over.  Martin will be laid in the coffin. Thus, even
should they lift the lid, no harm will come of it. Directly they
have gone, Cluny will bring you down, and you and he dig the grave
in the floor of the woodshed and place Martin there, then you
will take his place in the coffin, which will be placed in a cart
already hired, and Cluny, I, Mrs. Martin, and her daughter will
then set out with it."

Soon after daybreak the quick strokes of the alarm bell at the
castle told the inhabitants of Berwick that a prisoner had escaped.
Archie at once betook himself to his place of concealment on the
roof. He replaced the tiles, and Cluny carefully obliterated all
signs of the place of exit from within.  A great hubbub had by
this time arisen in the street. Trumpets were blowing, and parties
of soldiers moving about in all directions.  The gates remained
unopened, orders being given that none should pass through without
a special order from the governor.

The sentries on the wall were doubled, and then a house to house
search was commenced, every possible place of concealment being
rummaged from basement to attic. Presently the searchers entered the
lane in which Mrs. Martin lived.  The latch was ere long lifted,
and a sergeant and six soldiers burst into the room.  The sight
which they beheld quieted their first noisy exclamations.  Four
women in deep mourning were kneeling by a rough coffin placed on
trestles. One of them gave a faint scream as they entered, and Mary
Martin, rising to her feet, said:

"What means this rough intrusion?"

"It means," the sergeant said, "that a prisoner has escaped from
the castle, one Archibald Forbes, a pestilent Scotch traitor. He
has been aided by friends from without, and as the sentries were
watchful all night, he must be hidden somewhere in the town, and
every house is to be searched."

"You can search if you will," the woman said, resuming the position
on her knees. "As you see, this is a house of mourning, seeing
that my husband is dead, and is today to be buried in his native
village, three miles away."

"He won't be buried today," the sergeant said; "for the gates are
not to be opened save by a special order from the governor. Now,
lads," he went on, turning to the men, "search the place from top
to bottom, examine all the cupboards and sound the floors, turn over
all the wood in the shed, and leave not a single place unsearched
where a mouse could be hid."

The soldiers scattered through the house, and were soon heard
knocking the scanty furniture about and sounding the floors and
walls. At last they returned saying that nothing was to be found.

"And now," the sergeant said, "I must have a look in that coffin.
Who knows but what the traitor Scot may be hid in there!"

Mrs. Martin leaped to her feet.

"You shall not touch the coffin," she said; "I will not have the
remains of my husband disturbed." The sergeant pushed her roughly
aside, and with the end of his pike prised up the lid of the coffin,
while Mrs.  Martin and the other three mourners screamed lustily
and wrung their hands in the greatest grief at this desecration of
the dead.

Just as the sergeant opened the coffin and satisfied himself that
a dead man really lay within, an officer, attracted by the screams,
entered the room.

"What is this, sergeant?" he asked angrily. "The orders were to
search the house, but none were given you to trouble the inmates."

Mrs. Martin began volubly to complain of the conduct of the soldiers
in wrenching open the coffin.

"It was a necessary duty, my good woman," the officer said, "seeing
that a living man might have been carried away instead of a dead
one; however, I see all is right."

"Oh, kind sir!" Mrs. Martin said, sobbing, "is it true what this
man tells me, that there is no passage through the gates today? I
have hired a cart to take away my husband's body; the grave is dug,
and the priest will be waiting. Kind sir, I pray of you to get me
a pass to sally out with it, together with my daughter, sister,
and niece."

"Very well," the officer said kindly, "I will do as you wish.  I
shall be seeing the governor presently to make my report to him;
and as I have myself seen the dead body can vouch that no ruse
is intended. But assuredly no pass will be given for any man to
accompany you; and the Scot, who is a head and shoulders taller
than any of you, would scarcely slip out in a woman's garment. When
will the cart be here?"

"At noon," the woman replied.

"Very well; an hour before that time a soldier will bring out the
pass. Now, sergeant, have you searched the rest of the house?"

"Yes, sir; thoroughly, and nothing suspicious has been found."

"Draw off your men, then, and proceed, with your search elsewhere."

No sooner had the officer and men departed than Cluny ran upstairs,
and removing two of the tiles, whispered to Archie that all was
clear. The hole was soon enlarged, and Archie re-entering, the pair
descended to the woodshed which adjoined the kitchen, and there,
with a spade and mattock which Cluny had purchased on the preceding
day, they set to work to dig a grave. In two hours it was completed.
The body of John Martin was lowered into it, the earth replaced
and trodden down hard, and the wood again piled on to it.

At eleven o'clock a soldier entered with the governor's pass
ordering the soldier at the gate to allow a cart with the body of
John Martin, accompanied by four women, to pass out from the town.

At the appointed time the cart arrived. Archie now took his place
in the coffin. His face was whitened, and a winding sheet wrapped
round him, lest by an evil chance any should insist on again
looking into the coffin. Then some neighbours came in and assisted
in placing the coffin in the cart. The driver took his place beside
it, and the four women, with their hoods drawn over their heads,
fell in behind it weeping bitterly.

When they arrived at the gate the officer in charge carefully read
the order, and then gave the order for the gate to be opened. "But
stop," he said, "this pass says nothing about a driver, and though
this man in no way resembles the description of the doughty Scot,
yet as he is not named in the pass I cannot let him pass." There
was a moment's pause of consternation, and then Cluny said:

"Sister Mary, I will lead the horse. When all is in readiness, and
the priest waits, we cannot turn back on such a slight cause." As
the driver of the cart knew Mary Martin, he offered no objection,
and descended from his seat. Cluny took the reins, and, walking by
the side of the horse's head, led him through the gates as these
were opened, the others following behind. As soon as they were
through, the gate closed behind them, and they were safely out of
the town of Berwick.

So long as they were within sight of the walls they proceeded at
a slow pace without change of position, and although Cluny then
quickened the steps of his horse, no other change was made until two
miles further they reached a wood.  Then Cluny leapt into the cart
and wrenched off the lid of the coffin. It had been but lightly
nailed down, and being but roughly made there were plenty of crevices
through which the air could pass.

"Quick, Sir Archie!" he said, "let us get this thing out of the
cart before any person happen to come along."

The coffin was lifted from the cart, and carried some short
distance into the wood. A few vigorous kicks separated the planks
which composed it. These were taken and thrust separately among
bushes at some little distance from each other. Cluny then unrolled
the bundle which he had brought from the cart, and handed to Archie
a suit of clothes fitted for a farmer. These Archie quickly put
on, then he returned to the cart, which he mounted, and took the
reins. The others got up behind him and seated themselves on the
straw in the bottom of the cart. Then Archie gave the horse a smart
cut with his whip, and the cart proceeded at a steady trot along
the road to the west.

Chapter XXIV

The Progress of the War

A mile or two after leaving Berwick the cart had left the main road
running by the coast through Dunbar to Edinburgh, and had struck
west by a country track.  But few houses were met with, as the
whole of the country within many miles of the sea had been harried
and devastated by the various English armies which had advanced
from Berwick. After proceeding for some miles they came to a point
where the track they had been following terminated at a little hamlet
among the hills. Here they left the cart, making an arrangement with
one of the villagers to drive it back on the morrow into Berwick.
They were now beyond all risk of pursuit, and need fear nothing
further until they reached the great north roads running from
Carlisle to Edinburgh and Stirling. Cluny therefore resumed male
attire. They had no difficulty in purchasing a couple of swords
from the peasants of the village, and armed with these they started
with Marjory and the two women over the hills. It was early autumn
now; the weather was magnificent, and they made the distance in
quiet stages, and crossing the Pentlands came down upon Aberfilly
without meeting with a single danger or obstacle.

It needs not to describe the joy of Archie's mother at his return.
The news spread like lightning among the tenantry, and in an hour
after the wayfarers reached the castle men and women could be seen
flocking over the hills at the top of their speed to express their
delight and enthusiasm at their lord's return. By nightfall every
tenant on the estate, save those prevented by age or illness, had
assembled at the castle, and the rejoicings which had taken place
at the marriage of their lord were but tame and quiet beside the
boisterous enthusiasm which was now exhibited.

Although Marjory had at first been welcomed for the sake of her
husband, the fact that she was a Kerr had excited a deep though
hidden hostility to her in the minds both of those who had been
her father's vassals at Aberfilly, and the old retainers of the
Forbeses at Glen Cairn. The devotion and courage which she had shown
in the defence of the castle and in the enterprise for the rescue
of their lord swept away every vestige of this feeling, and henceforth
Marjory ranked in their affections with Archie himself, and there
was not a man upon the estate but felt that he could die for her
if needs be.

After a week's stay at home Archie rode away and joined the king,
taking, however, but four or five retainers with him.  Bruce received
him with extreme warmth. He had heard of his capture, and the news
that he was condemned to die at Berwick had also reached him, and
he had no doubt but Archie had shared the fate which had befallen
his own brothers and so many of his bravest friends. His pleasure,
therefore, equalled his surprise when his brave follower rode into
his camp. Many of Archie's friends assembled as soon as it was
known that he had arrived; and after the first greetings the king
asked him for a recital of the means by which he had escaped from
the fate decreed him by Edward. Archie related the whole story,
and at its conclusion the king called to his attendants to bring
goblets and wine.

"Sirs," he said, "let us drink to the health of Mistress Marjory
Forbes, one of the bravest and truest of Scotch women. Would to
Heaven that all the men of our country were animated by as noble and
courageous feelings! Our friend, Sir Archibald Forbes, has indeed
won a jewel, and I take no small credit to myself that I was the
first who advised him to make Mistress Kerr his wife."

The toast was given with enthusiasm; but Archie afterwards protested
against the king assuming any credit to himself in the matter, since,
although it was true that he had advised him to marry Mistress Mary
Kerr, he had wished him to abandon, for her sake, Mistress Marjory,
the niece of Alexander MacDougall, who had set him free from her
uncle's hold of Dunstaffnage.

"Now, Archie," the king said, when they were again alone together,
"I suppose, seeing that you have come hither without your following,
that you wish for a time to remain quiet at home, and seeing that
you have suffered severe imprisonment and a grievous risk of death
in my cause, methinks you have well earned the right to rest quiet
for a while with your brave lady. At present I can dispense with
the services of your retainers. Most of the low country is now in
my hands, and the English garrisons dare not venture out of their
strong places. The army that the King of England collected to crush
us has been, I hear, much disorganized by his death, and the barons
will doubtless wring concessions and privileges from his son before
they spread their banners to the wind again.  From all reports the
new king has but little of his father's ability and energy, and
months may elapse before any serious effort is made against us.
I am despatching my brother Edward to join Douglas in subduing
Galloway, and during his absence I shall be content to remain here
in the field with a small following, for the English governors
of the towns will, methinks, stand only on the defensive, until a
strong army marches north from England. When Galloway is subdued
the lowlands will be all in my hands save for the English garrisons,
and I shall on Edward's return set myself to punish the Comyns and
the other traitor nobles of the north, who are well nigh all hand
and glove with the English. So long as Scotland has such powerful
enemies in her midst she cannot hope to cope with the forces which
England can send against her. Alone and united the task is one
which will tax her strength to the utmost, seeing that England is
in wealth and population so far her superior, and Edward disposes
of the force of Ireland, of Wales, and of Gascony; therefore my
first task must be to root out these traitor nobles from among us.
When I move north I shall need your company and your strength; but
until Edward has cleared the English out of Galloway, captured the
strongholds, and reduced it to obedience, you can stop in Aberfilly,
and there at times, when I have no enterprise on hand and can take
a few days, I will come and rest if you will give me hospitality."

So until the following spring Archie Forbes remained quietly and
most happily at home. Several times the king came and stayed a few
days at Aberfilly, where he was safe against surprise and treachery.
Not long after Archie's return home, Father Anselm arrived, to
Archie's satisfaction and the great joy of Marjory, and took up
his abode there.

In the spring Archie, with his retainers, joined the king, who was
gathering his army for his march into the north.  During the winter
Galloway had been subdued, and Douglas being left in the south as
commander there, Edward Bruce joined his brother, around whom also
gathered the Earl of Lennox, Sir Gilbert de la Haye, and others.
The position in Scotland was now singular: the whole of the
country south of the Forth was favourable to Bruce, but the English
held Roxburgh, Jedburgh, Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Bothwell,
Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Stirling, and Dumbarton. North of the Forth
nearly the whole of the country was hostile to the king, and the
fortresses of Perth, Dundee, Forfar, Brechin, Aberdeen, Inverness,
and many smaller holds, were occupied by English garrisons.

The centre of hostility to Bruce, north of the Forth, lay in the two
great earls, the Comyns of Badenoch and Buchan, and their allies.
Between them and Bruce a hatred existed beyond that caused by
their taking opposite sides. Comyn of Badenoch was the son of the
man Bruce had slain at Dumfries, while Buchan hated him even more,
since his wife, the countess, had espoused the cause of Bruce and
had crowned him at Scone, and was now shamefully imprisoned in the
cage at Berwick. It must be supposed that Buchan's anger against
his countess was as deep and implacable as that of Edward himself,
for, as the English king's most powerful ally in Scotland, he could
surely have obtained the pardon and release of his wife had he
desired it. On the other hand, Bruce had a private grudge against
Comyn, for upon him had been conferred Bruce's lordship of Annandale,
and he had entered into possession and even occupied the family
castle of Lochmaben.

The king and his army marched north, and were joined by Alexander
and Simon Frazer, with their followers. They marched to Inverness,
which, with various other castles in the north, they captured. All of
these castles were, when taken, destroyed, as Bruce had determined
to leave no strongholds in the land for the occupation of his
enemies.  He himself could not spare men to hold them, and their
capture was useless if upon his retirement they could again be
occupied by the enemy. Returning southward they were encountered
by an army under Buchan, composed of his own retainers and a party
of English. This force was completely defeated.

To the consternation of his followers Bruce was now attacked by a
wasting illness, which so enfeebled him that he was unable to sit
on his horse; it was the result of the many privations and hardships
which he had undergone since the fight at Methven. His brother,
Lennox, the Frazers, and Archie Forbes held a council and agreed
that rest for some time was absolutely necessary for the king, and
that sea air might be beneficial to him. They therefore resolved
to move eastward to the Castle of Slaines, on the sea coast
near Peterhead. That such a step was attended by great peril they
well knew, for the Comyns would gather the whole strength of the
Highlands, with accessions from the English garrisons, and besiege
them there. The king's health, however, was a paramount consideration;
were he to die, the blow might be fatal to Scotland, accordingly
the little force marched eastward. They reached Slaines without
interruption, and as they expected the castle was soon surrounded and
besieged by the forces of Buchan, who had been joined by Sir John
Mowbray and Sir David de Brechin, nephew of the King of England. For
some time the siege went on, but the assailants gained but little
advantage, and indeed trusted rather to famine than force to reduce
the castle.

Weeks passed on, and although his followers thought that he was
somewhat better, the king's health improved but slowly. Provisions
now began to run very short. When they had come nearly to an end
the Scots determined to sally out and cut their way through the
vastly superior strength of the enemy. The king was placed in a
litter, his mounted knights and followers surrounded him, and round
these the footmen formed a close clump of pikes; the hundred men
from Aberfilly formed the front rank, as these could be best relied
upon to withstand the charge of the English horse. The gates were
thrown open, and in close ranks the garrison sallied out, forming,
as soon as they passed through, in the order arranged. So close
and serried was the hedge of spears, so quiet and determined the
attitude of the men, that, numerous as they were, the men of Buchan
and the English lords shrank from an encounter with such adversaries,
and with the banner of the king and his knights flying in their
centre the little band marched on through the lines of the besiegers
without the latter striking a blow to hinder their way.

Without interruption the royalists proceeded to Strathbogie. The
satisfaction of the king at the daring exploit by which he had been
rescued from such imminent peril did more for him than medicine or
change of air, and to the joy of his followers he began to recover
his strength. He was then moved down to the river Don. Here Buchan
and his English allies made a sudden attack upon his quarters,
killing some of the outposts. This attack roused the spirit and
energy of the king, and he immediately called for his war horse
and armour and ordered his men to prepare for action. His followers
remonstrated with him, but he declared that this attack by his
enemies had cured him more speedily than medicine could have done,
and heading his troops he issued forth and came upon the enemy
near Old Meldrum, where, after a desperate fight, Buchan and his
confederates were defeated with great slaughter on Christmas day,
1307.  Buchan and Mowbray fled into England. Brechin took refuge
in his own castle of Brechin, where he was afterwards besieged and
forced to surrender.

Bruce now marched into the territory of Comyn, where he took a terrible
vengeance for the long adhesion of his hated enemy to England. The
whole country was wasted with fire and sword, the people well nigh
exterminated, and the very forests destroyed. So terrible was the
devastation that for generations afterwards men spoke of the harrying
of Buchan as a terrible and exceptional act of vengeance.

The castle of Aberdeen was next invested. The English made great
efforts for its succour, but the citizens joined Bruce, and a
united attack being made upon the castle it was taken by assault
and razed to the ground. The king and his forces then moved into
Angus. Here the English strongholds were all taken, the castle
of Forfar being assaulted and carried by a leader who was called
Phillip, a forester of Platane.  With the exception of Perth, the
most important fortress north of the Forth, and a few minor holds,
the whole of the north of Scotland, was now in the king's hands.
In the meantime Sir James Douglas, in the south, had again taken
his paternal castle and had razed it to the ground. The forests of
Selkirk and Jedburgh, with the numerous fortresses of the district,
were brought under the king's authority, and the English were several
times defeated. In the course of these adventures Sir James came
across Alexander Stewart, Thomas Randolph, the king's nephew,
who, after being taken prisoner at Methven, had joined the English
party, and Adam O'Gordon. They advanced with a much superior force
to capture him, but were signally defeated.  O'Gordon escaped into
England, but Stewart and Randolph were taken.

This was a fortunate capture, for Randolph afterwards became one of
the king's most valiant knights and the wisest of his counsellors.
After this action Douglas marched north and joined the king. The
latter sternly reproached Randolph for having forsworn his allegiance
and joined the English.  Randolph answered hotly and was committed
by his uncle to solitary confinement, where he presently came to
a determination to renew his allegiance to Bruce, and henceforward
fought faithfully and gallantly under him.

Galloway had risen again, and Edward Bruce, with Sir Archie Forbes,
was detached to reduce it. It was a hard task, for the local
chiefs were supported by Sir Ingram de Umfraville and Sir John de
St. John; these knights, with 1200 followers, met the Scots on the
banks of the Cree, which separates the countries of Kirkcudbright
and Wigton, and although greatly superior in numbers, were completely
defeated by the Scottish pikemen, and compelled to take refuge in
the castle of Butele. Edward Bruce and Archie continued the task
of subjugating the country; but St. John having retired to England,
returned with fifteen hundred men-at-arms, and with this strong force
set out in pursuit of the small body of Scots, of whom he thought
to make an easy capture. Then occurred one of the most singular and
brilliant feats of arms that took place in a war in which deeds of
daring abounded.  Edward Bruce having heard from the country people
of the approach of his adversaries, placed his infantry in a strong
position, and then, with Archie Forbes and the fifty men-at-arms
who constituted his cavalry, went out to reconnoitre the approach
of the English. The morning was thick and misty. Ignorant of each
other's position, the two forces were in close vicinity, when the
fog suddenly lifted, and Edward Bruce and Archie beheld close to
them the overwhelming force of St.  John, within bowshot distance.
It was too late to fly. Edward Bruce exclaimed to Archie:

"There is nothing for it but to charge them."

"Let us charge them," Archie replied.

The two leaders, setting spurs to their horses, and closely followed
by their fifty retainers, dashed like a thunderbolt upon the mass
of the English men-at-arms, before these, taken equally by surprise,
had time to form, and burst clean through them, overthrowing and
slaying many, and causing the greatest confusion and surprise.
Riding but a short distance on, the Scots turned, and again burst
through the English lines.  Numbers of the English were slain,
and many others turned rein. A third time the Scots charged, with
equally fatal effect. The English were completely routed. Many
were killed and many taken prisoners, and the rest rode for England
at their best speed. History scarcely recalls another instance of
50 men routing in fair fight 1500. This extraordinary success was
followed by a victory over Sir Roland of Galloway and Donald of
the Isles on the banks of the Dee, the Lord of the Isles being made
prisoner; and eventually the whole country was reduced to obedience,
with the exception of one or two garrisons, no less than thirteen
castles being captured, in addition to the victories gained in the

Galloway being restored to order, Archie Forbes returned home, and
remained for two or three months with his wife and mother. He was
then summoned by the king to join him again, as he was about to
march to reduce the region over which his deadly foes Alexander
and John of Lorne held sway.  The country into which the royal army
now penetrated was extremely mountainous and difficult, but they
made their way as far as the head of Loch Awe, where Alexander and
John of Lorne, with 2000 men, were gathered to dispute the passage.
The position was an extremely strong one, and the Lornes were
confident that it could not be forced. Immediately to the north
of the head of the lake rises the steep and lofty mountain Ben
Gruachan.  From the head of the lake flows the river Awe connecting
it with Loch Etive, and the level space between the foot of the
mountain and the river is only wide enough for two to ride abreast.
This passage was known as the Pass of Brander, and the Lornes might
well believe that their position was unassailable.

Before advancing into the pass Bruce detached Douglas, with Sir
Alexander Frazer, Sir William Wiseman, and Sir Andrew Grey, with
a body of lightly armed infantry and archers. These, unnoticed by
the enemy, climbed the side of the mountain, and going far up it,
passed along until they got behind and above the enemy. The king
ordered his main body to lay aside all defensive armour so that
they could more easily climb the hill and come to a hand to hand
conflict with the enemy. Then he moved along towards the narrow
pass.  As they approached it the men of Lorne hurled down a torrent
of rocks from the hillside above.

With a few heavy armed men Bruce pushed forward by the water side,
while Archie Forbes led the main body up the hillside. The climb was
stiff and difficult, and many were swept down by the rocks hurled
by the enemy; but at last they came to close quarters with the foe,
and a desperate struggle ensued.

In the meantime Douglas and his party had attacked the defenders
from the other side, at first showering arrows among them, and
then falling upon them with sword and battleaxe. Thus attacked in
front and rear, the men of Lorne lost heart and gave way. On both
sides the royalists pressed them hotly, and at last they broke
from the hillside and fled down to the river, intending to cross
by a wooden bridge and destroy it behind them, but before many had
passed Douglas with his followers arrived upon the spot and seized
the bridge, cutting off their retreat. Great numbers of the men of
Lorne were slain, and the survivors made their escape up the mountain
side again. The Lornes themselves were on board some galleys on
Loch Awe, their intention having been to land in Bruce's rear when
he was fairly entangled in the narrow pass.  On witnessing the utter
discomfiture of their followers they rowed rapidly away, and landed
far down the lake.  Alexander fled to England, where he ended his

Bruce now advanced through the country of Lorne, which, having
never suffered from the English raids that had over and over again
devastated the rest of Scotland, was rich and flourishing, and large
quantities of booty were obtained.  Dunstaffnage was besieged and
captured, and having received hostages from all the minor chiefs
for their good behaviour the king and his army returned to Glasgow.

In the following spring a truce was negotiated by the intervention
of the King of France between the belligerents; but its duration was
but short, for so long as English nobles held estates and occupied
castles in Scotland breaches of the peace would be constantly
occurring. Bruce besieged the castle of Rutherglen, near Glasgow;
but Edward despatched the Earl of Gloucester to raise the siege,
and as Bruce's army was still small he was forced to retire at his

In February, 1309, the clergy of Scotland assembled in a provincial
council at Dundee, and issued a declaration in favour of Bruce
as lawful king of Scotland. In this document they set forth that
although Baliol was made king of Scotland by the King of England,
Bruce, the grandfather of the king, was always recognized by the
people as being nearest in right; and they said: "If any one, on
the contrary, claim right to the aforesaid kingdom in virtue of
letters in time passed sealed, and containing the consent of the
people and the commons, know ye that all this took place in fact
by force and violence, which could not at the time be resisted,
and through multiplied fears, bodily tortures, and various terrors."

This document was sealed by all the bishops, as representing the
clergy. A similar document was drawn up and signed by the estates
of Scotland. Therefore, henceforth Bruce could claim to be the king
not only as crowned and by right, but by the approval and consent
of the clergy and people of Scotland. A few months afterwards James,
the Steward of Scotland, whose course had ever been vacillating, died,
and his son Walter, a loyal Scotsman, succeeded him. He afterwards
married the king's daughter Marjory, and became the founder of the
royal line of Stuart.

Chapter XXV

The Capture of a Stronghold

While Bruce had by his energy and courage been wresting Scotland,
step by step, from the English, no serious effort had been made by
the latter to check his progress. Small bodies of troops had from
time to time been sent from the north; but the king had made no
great efforts, like those of his father, to reduce the country to
obedience by the exercise of the whole strength of England.  Edward
II differed widely from his father in disposition. At times he was
roused to fits of spasmodic energy, but for the most part he was
sunk in sloth and supineness. He angered and irritated his barons
by his fondness for unworthy favourites, and was engaged in constant
broils with them.

So called governors of Scotland were frequently appointed and as
often superseded, but no effectual aid was given them to enable
them to check the ever spreading insurrection.  But Perth was now
threatened by Bruce; and the danger of this, the strongest and most
important northern fortress, roused Edward from his lethargy.  A
fleet was fitted out for the Tay. Troops, under the Earl of Ulster,
were engaged to be transported by an English fleet of forty ships,
supplied by the seaports, and intended to cooperate with John of
Lorne in the west. Edward himself, with a powerful army, accompanied
by the Lords Gloucester, Warrenne, Percy, Clifford, and others,
advanced into Scotland as far as Renfrew.  Bruce could oppose no
effectual resistance in the field to so large a force, but he used
the tactics which Wallace had adopted with such success. The country
through which the English were advancing was wasted. Flocks and
herds were driven off, and all stores of grain burned and destroyed.
His adherents, each with their own retainers, hung upon the skirts
of the English army, cutting off small parties, driving back bodies
going out in search of provisions or forage, making sudden night
attacks, and keeping the English in a state of constant watchfulness
and alarm, but always retiring on the approach of any strong force,
and avoiding every effort of the English to bring on an engagement.

The invaders were soon pressed by want of provisions, and horses
died from lack of forage. The great army was therefore obliged to
fall back to Berwick without having struck a single effective blow.
After this Edward remained inactive at Berwick for eight months,
save that he once again crossed the Border and advanced as far as
Roxburgh, but only to retreat without having accomplished anything.
The Earls of Gloucester and Warrenne reduced the forest of Selkirk
and the district, and restored the English power there; while the
king's favourite, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, went by sea to
Perth and tried to reduce the surrounding country, but the Scotch,
as usual, retired before him, and he, too, after a time, returned
to Berwick. The efforts of the defenders to starve out the invading
armies of England were greatly aided by the fact that at this time
a great famine raged both in England and Scotland, and the people
of both countries were reduced to a condition of want and suffering.
Not only did the harvest fail, but disease swept away vast numbers
of cattle and sheep, and in many places the people were forced to
subsist upon the flesh of horses, dogs, and other animals.

During the years which had elapsed since the battle of Methven,
Bruce had never been enabled to collect a force in any way worthy
of the name of an army. His enterprises had been a succession of
daring feats performed by small bodies of men. Even now, when the
nobles dared no longer openly oppose him, they remained sullenly
aloof, and the captures of the English strongholds were performed
either by the king or his brother Edward, with their retainers from
Annandale and Carrick; by Douglas with the men of Douglasdale; or
by some simple knights like Archie Forbes, the Frazers, Boyle, and
a few others, each leading their own retainers in the field.  The
great mass of the people still held aloof, and neither town nor
country sent their contingents to his aid. This was not to be wondered
at, so fearfully had all suffered from the wholesale vengeance of
Edward after the battle of Falkirk.

Great successes had certainly attended Bruce, but these had been
rendered possible only by the absence of any great effort on the
part of England, and all believed that sooner or later Edward would
arouse himself, and with the whole strength of England, Ireland,
and Wales again crush out the movement, and carry fire and sword
through Scotland. Still the national spirit was rising.

Archie Forbes divided his time pretty equally between the field and
home, never taking with him, when he joined the king, more than a
third of the entire strength of his retainers; thus all had time
to attend to their farms and the wants of their families, and
cheerfully yielded obedience to the call to arms when the time

One day while the king was stopping for a few days' rest at Aberfilly,
a horseman rode in.

"I have great news, sire," he said. "Linlithgow has been captured
from the English."

"That were good news indeed," the king said; "but it can scarce be
possible, seeing that we have no men-at-arms in the neighbourhood."

"It has been done by no men-at-arms, my liege," the messenger said;
"but as Forfar was taken by Phillip the Forester and his mates,
so has Linlithgow been captured by a farmer and his comrades, one
William Bunnock."

It was indeed true. The castle of Linlithgow, forming as it did
a link between the two strongholds of Edinburgh and Stirling, was
a place of great importance and was strongly garrisoned by the
English.  Naturally the whole country round suffered severely from
the oppressions of the garrison, who supplied themselves by force
with such provisions and stores as were needful for them. Payment
was of course made to some extent, as the country otherwise would
speedily have been deserted and the land left untilled; but there
was almost necessarily much oppression and high handedness.  Bunnock,
hearing of the numerous castles which had been captured by the
king and his friends with mere handfuls of followers, determined at
last upon an attempt to expel the garrison of Linlithgow. He went
about among his friends and neighbours, and found many ready to
join his enterprise.  These one night placed themselves in ambush
among some bushes hard by the castle gate. Bunnock himself concealed
eight chosen men with arms in a wagon of hay.  The horses were
driven by a stout peasant with a short hatchet under his belt,
while Bunnock walked carelessly beside the wagon. As he was in the
habit of supplying the garrison with corn and forage, the gate was
readily opened on his approach. As soon as the wagon was exactly
between the gate posts Bunnock gave the signal and struck down the
warder at the gate; the driver with his hatchet cut the traces, the
men leapt up from their concealment in the hay, and the main body
lying in ambush close by rushed up, and, taken wholly by surprise,
unarmed and unprepared, the garrison was speedily overpowered and
the castle taken.

It was in the spring of 1311 that this important capture took place.
Bruce, as usual, had the castle levelled to the ground. Bunnock was
rewarded by a grant of land which still bears his name, softened
into Binney.  Again the English made preparations for a renewed
invasion, but the barons were too much occupied by their private
broils and their quarrels with the king to assemble at his order,
and nothing came of it. Bruce's position at home was so established
that he resolved upon a counter invasion, and accordingly, having
assembled a larger force than had hitherto gathered under his
banner, crossed the Border near the Solway, burnt and plundered the
district round Gilsland, ravaged Tynedale, and after eight days'
havock returned with much booty to Scotland. In the following
month he again entered England, carried fire and sword through the
country as far as Corbridge, swept Tynedale, ravaged Durham, and
after levying contributions for fifteen days returned with much
booty to Scotland.

Although the English made much outcry at this invasion, the English
author of the Chronicle of Lanercost, whose monastery was occupied
by the king during the raid, distinctly states that he slew none
save in actual conflict; and again, that though "all the goods of
the country were carried away, they did not burn houses or slay
men." Thus, though Bruce's wife and daughter were still prisoners
in England, though his brothers had been executed in cold blood,
he conducted his warfare in England in a manner which contrasts
strongly indeed with the conduct of the English in Scotland.

After this Bruce marched north again and laid siege to Perth. For
six weeks he invested the town, but without making any impression.
Then he retired his forces as if abandoning the attempt. At night,
however, he returned, ladders were placed in the ditches against
the walls, and with his knights he led his followers on to the
assault. The garrison were carousing in honour of their successful
defence and the defeat of the enemy, and taken wholly by surprise
were unable to oppose a vigorous resistance, and all were killed
or captured. Some accounts say that the English soldiers were made
prisoners, and the renegade Scots fighting with them were put to
the sword; while others affirm that all who were taken prisoners
were spared.

Another incursion into England followed the fall of Perth. Hexham,
Corbridge, and Durham were destroyed.  Douglas penetrated as far as
Hartlepool and an immense spoil was carried off, until the people
of the bishopric purchased a truce for the sum of 2000 pounds, and
those of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland bought off
the invaders at a like price.

Carlisle was assaulted by Douglas, but unsuccessfully.  He also
attempted to surprise Berwick by a night attack, and had placed his
scaling ladders against the wall, when the garrison was alarmed by
the barking of a dog, and the assailants were repulsed. The Scots
recrossed the frontier laden with an enormous booty.

The king himself now entered Galloway and reduced the four remaining
strongholds held by the English there--the castles of Butele,
Dalswinton, Lochmaben, and Tibbers.  He then proceeded to Dumfries,
which he forced to surrender, and entered it as the victorious King
of Scotland, just seven years after the time when he had commenced
the war by expelling the English justiciary.

Archie Forbes did not accompany the king in this campaign. He
had indeed been summoned, but just before the army started on its
raid into England Bruce was lamenting, in Archie's hearing, that
the continued possession of the strong castle of Dunottar on the
east coast still afforded the English an opportunity for creating
diversions in the north, by landing troops there.

"If you will permit me, sire," Archie said, "I will undertake its
capture with my retainers. It is doubtless too strong to be captured
by open assault with such a strength, but as Douglas has thrice
taken Castle Douglas by stratagem, `tis hard if I cannot find some
way for capturing Dunottar."

"Be it so, Sir Archie," the king said. "If you succeed you will have
done good service indeed; and as I know that though ever ready to
buckle on your armour when I need you, you would yet rather live
quiet at Aberfilly with your fair wife, I promise you that if you
capture Dunottar, for a year and a day you and your retainers shall
have rest, except if the English cross the Border in such force
that the arm of every Scotchman able to wield a sword is needed in
its defence."

Having chosen a hundred of his most active and experienced men
Archie set out for the north.  Crossing the Forth above Stirling,
he marched through Perth and across the Carse of Gowrie through
Forfar on to Montrose. Here he left his band, and taking with him
only William Orr, both being attired in peasants' dress, followed
the coast till he reached Dunottar.

The castle, which was of great strength, stood in a little bay
with a fishing village nestled beside it.  "'Tis a strong place,
William, and, if well provisioned, might hold out against an army
for months, and as supplies could be thrown in by sea it could only
be captured by battering down its solid walls by machines."

"'Tis indeed a strong place, Sir Archie," William Orr replied, "and
it were assuredly better to slip in by the gates than to climb over
the walls; but after the captures of so many of their strongholds
by sudden surprise, we may be sure that a careful watch will be

"Doubtless they are shrewdly on guard against surprise," Archie
said; "but as they know that the king and his host are just now
crossing the Border into Cumberland, they may well think that for
a time they are safe from disturbance. `Tis in that that our best
chance lies."

Entering the village they purchased some fish from the fishermen,
and asking a few careless questions about the garrison, found
that it was composed of 150 men, and that extreme precautions were
taken against surprise. The gates were never opened save to allow
parties to pass in and out, when they were instantly closed and the
drawbridge raised.  Only ten of the garrison at a time were ever
allowed to leave the castle, and these must go out and come in
together, so that the gates should not be opened more than twice a
day.  "They generally come out," the man said, "at eleven o'clock
and go in at four; at eleven o'clock all with corn, wood, and
other stores for the castle must present themselves, so that the
drawbridge need only be lowered at those times.  The governor,
Sir John Morris, swears that he will not be caught asleep as were
those of Linlithgow and Castle Douglas. I fear," he concluded,
"that we of Dunottar will be the last in Scotland to be free from
the English yoke."

"That is as it may be. Other castles have been captured, and maybe
the lion of Scotland may float on those walls ere long."

The man looked keenly at him.

"Methinks there is meaning in your words," he said, "and your
language does not accord with your attire. I ask no questions; but
be sure that should an attempt be made, there are a score of strong
fellows among us who will be ready to strike a blow for freedom."

"Is that so?" Archie replied; "then, man, taking you to be a true
Scot, I will tell you that the attempt will be made, and that
soon, and that, if you will, you can aid the enterprise. I am Sir
Archibald Forbes, of whom, perhaps, you have heard."

"Assuredly," the man said in a tone of deep respect, "every Scotsman
knows the name as that of one of the king's truest and bravest

"My purpose is this," Archie said. "On a dark night some ninety-five
of my men will march hither; I need a faithful friend to meet them
outside the village to lead them in, and to hide them away in the
cottages, having already arranged beforehand with their owners to
receive them. I, myself, with four of my men will come hither in a
fishing boat well laden with fish; we will choose a time when the
wind is blowing, and will seem to have been driven here by stress
of weather and disabled. Then I shall try to sell our cargo for the
use of the garrison. As we carry it in we shall attack the guard,
and at the signal those hidden will rush out and cross the drawbridge."

"The plan is a good one," the fisherman said; "its difficulty mainly
lies in the fact that the drawbridge will be raised the moment you
have crossed it, and long before your followers could arrive it
would be high in the air, and you would be cut off from all aid. It
never remains down for an instant after men have passed over it."

"That adds to the difficulty," Archie said thoughtfully; "but
I must think of some plan to overcome it. Do you quietly go about
among those you can surely trust and arrange for them to be ready
to open their doors and take my men in without the slightest noise
which might attract the sentries on the walls. So long as the wind
is quiet and the sea smooth we shall not come, but the first day
that the wind blows hard you may expect us. Then do you go out on
the south road and wait for my party half a mile from the village.
If they come not by midnight, return home and watch the following

"I understand," the fisherman said, "and will do as you bid me; and
when the time comes you can rely upon twenty stout fellows here in
addition to your own force."

"`Tis nigh eleven," Archie said, looking at the sun, "and we will
be off at once, as the soldiers will soon be coming out, and it
were best the governor did not hear that two strangers were in the
village. Vigilant as he is, a small thing might excite his suspicion
and add to his watchfulness."

Archie and William Orr returned to Montrose, and there the former
made an arrangement with the master of a large fishing boat to keep
his vessel ready to put to sea at any moment.

Three weeks passed without any change in the weather; then the wind
began to rise and the aspect of the sky betokened a storm. William
Orr at once set out with ninety-five men for Dunottar. Archie went
down to the port and purchased a large quantity of fish which had
been brought in that morning in various boats, and had it placed
on board the craft that he had hired. Then he with four of his
followers, the strongest and most determined of his retainers,
dressed as fishermen, went on board and the boat at once put to sea,
having, besides Archie and his men, the master and his two hands.
The main body had started on foot at ten in the morning, but it was
late in the afternoon before the boat put out, as Archie wished to
arrive in broad daylight next morning.

The wind was on the shore, and the boat was sorely tossed and
buffeted. Ere next morning, showing but a rag of sail, she ran into
Dunottar harbour. They had had great difficulty in keeping off the
coast all night, and the play had nigh turned into a tragedy, so
narrow had been their escape of being cast ashore. The bulwarks
were washed away, and the boat was in a sore plight as it drew
alongside the little quay.  Assuredly no suspicion would occur to
any who saw her enter that aught save stress of weather had driven
her in.

It was twelve o'clock in the day when they reached the port. Most
of the inhabitants had come down to the water side to see the
storm beaten craft enter, and among them were some soldiers of the
garrison. Archie bade four of his men remain below, so that the
unusual number of hands should attract no attention. One of the first
to come on board was the fisherman with whom Archie had spoken.

"Your men are all here," he said in a low tone to Archie, "and are
stowed away in the cottages. Everything went well, and there was
not the slightest noise."

Archie now went on shore and entered into conversation with one of
the soldiers.

"Think you," he said, "that the governor would buy my cargo of
fish. I have a great store on board, for I had good luck before
the storm suddenly broke upon me just as I was leaving the fishing
grounds for Montrose.  The gale may last for some days, and my boat
will need repairs before I put to sea, therefore my fish will be
spoiled before I can get them to market, and I will make a good
bargain with the governor if he will take them from me."

"I should think that he will do so gladly," the soldier said, "for
he can salt them down, and they make a pleasant change. How much
have you got?"

"About ten baskets full," Archie replied, "of some hundred pounds

"I will go with you to the castle," the soldier said. "The governor
will lower the drawbridge for no man, but you can speak with the
warder across the moat and he will bear your message to the governor,
and should he agree, you must present yourself with your men with
the fish at four o'clock, at which time the drawbridge will be
lowered for us to return to the castle."

Archie accompanied the soldier to the end of the drawbridge, and
parleyed with the warder. The latter acquainted the governor that
the master of the fishing boat which had been driven in by stress
of weather would fain dispose of his cargo of fish on cheap terms,
and returned for answer that the governor would give sixpence for
each basket of a hundred pounds. Archie grumbled that he should
receive thrice that sum at Montrose; still that as he must sell
them or let them spoil, he accepted the offer, and would be there
with the fish at four o'clock.

He then returned to the boat, his ally, the fisherman, taking word
round to the cottages that at four o'clock all must be in readiness
to sally out on the signal, and that William Orr was to dress half
a dozen of his men in fishermen's clothes and saunter up carelessly
close to the castle, so as to be able to rush forward on the instant.

At the appointed hour Archie, accompanied by his four followers,
each of whom carried on his shoulder a great basket filled with
fish, stepped on to the quay and made their way to the castle. By
the side of the moat facing the drawbridge the ten English soldiers
who had been out on leave for the day were already assembled.

"Are you all there?" the warder asked.

"Yes," Archie said, "but I shall have to make another two trips
down to the boat, seeing that I have ten baskets full and but four
men to carry them."

"Then you must bring another load," the warder said, "when the
drawbridge is lowered tomorrow. You will have to stop in the castle
tonight, and issue out at eleven tomorrow, for the governor will
not have the drawbridge lowered more than twice a day."

"I would fain return to my boat," Archie said, "as I want to be at
work on the repairs; but if that be the rule I must needs submit
to it."

The drawbridge was now lowered. The soldiers at once stepped on to
it. The four pretended fishermen had set down their baskets, and
now raised them on their shoulders again.  One of them apparently
found it a difficult task, for it was not until Archie and his
comrades were half across the drawbridge that he raised it from
the ground. As he did so he stumbled and fell, the basket and its
contents rolling on to the ground.

"You must wait until the morning," the warder called; "you are too
late to enter now."

The man lay for a moment where he had fallen, which was half on the
drawbridge, half on the ground beyond it.  "Now, then," the warder
called sharply, "make haste; I am going to raise the drawbridge."

The man rose to his feet with a shout just as the drawbridge began
to rise. He had not been idle as he lay.  As he fell he had drawn
from underneath his fisherman's frock a stout chain with a hook
at one end and a large ring at the other. This he had passed round
one of the chains by which the drawbridge was raised, then under
the beam on which it rested when down, and had fastened the hook
in the ring.

Surprised at the shout, the warder worked the windlass with extra
speed, but he had scarcely given a turn when he found a sudden
resistance. The chain which the fisherman had fixed round the end
prevented the bridge from rising.  As the man had shouted, Archie
and his three comrades were entering the gate.  Simultaneously they
emptied their baskets before them. Concealed among the fish were
four logs of wood; two were three feet long, the full depth of the
baskets, two were short wedge shaped pieces.  Before the soldiers
in front had time even to turn round, the two long pieces were
placed upright in the grooves down which the portcullis would fall,
while the two wedge shaped pieces were thrust into the jamb of the
gate so as to prevent it from closing.  Then the four men drew long
swords hidden beneath their garments and fell upon the soldiers.

Chapter XXVI


So vigilant was the watch in the castle of Dunottar that the instant
the cry of alarm rose almost simultaneously from the warder above
and the soldiers at the gate, the portcullis came thundering down.
It was caught, however, by the two upright blocks of wood, and
remained suspended three feet above the sill.  The armed guards
at the gate instantly fell upon Archie and his companions, while
others endeavoured in vain to close the gates. Scarcely had the
swords clashed when the man who had chained down the drawbridge
joined Archie, and the five with their heavy broadswords kept at
bay the soldiers who pressed upon them; but for only a minute or
two did they have to bear the brunt of the attack unsupported, for
William Orr and the five men who had been loitering near the moat
dashed across the bridge, and passing under the portcullis joined
the little band.

The alarm had now spread through the castle, and the governor
himself, followed by many of his men, came rushing down to the
spot, shouting furious orders to the warder to raise the drawbridge,
being in ignorance that it was firmly fixed at the outer end.

Archie and his followers were now hotly pressed, but soon a thunder
of steps was heard on the drawbridge, and the whole of the band,
together with some twenty or thirty of the fishermen, passed under
the portcullis and joined them. Archie now took the offensive, and
bearing down all opposition burst with his men into the courtyard.

The combat was desperate but short. The governor with some of his
soldiers fought stoutly, but the suddenness of the surprise and
the fury and vigour with which they were attacked shook the courage
of many of the soldiers.  Some, instead of joining in the fray, at
once threw away their arms and tried to conceal themselves, others
fought feebly and half heartedly, and the cries of "A Forbes!  A
Forbes!  Scotland!  Scotland!" rose louder and louder as the
assailants gradually beat down all resistance. In ten minutes from
the falling of the portcullis all resistance was virtually over.
The governor himself fell by the hand of Archie Forbes, and at
his death those who had hitherto resisted threw down their arms
and called for quarter. This was given, and the following day the
prisoners were marched under a strong guard down to Montrose, there
to be confined until orders for their disposal were received from
the king. For the next fortnight Archie and his retainers, aided by
the whole of the villagers, laboured to dismantle the castle. The
battlements were thrown down into the moat, several wide breaches
were made in the walls, and large quantities of straw and wood piled
up in the keep and turrets. These were then fired, and the Castle
of Dunottar was soon reduced to an empty and gaping shell. Then
Archie marched south, and remained quietly at home until the term
of rest granted him by the king had expired.

Two girls and a son had by this time been born to him, and the
months passed quietly and happily away until Bruce summoned him to
join, with his retainers, the force with which Randolph had sat down
before Edinburgh Castle. Randolph was delighted at this accession
of strength. Between him and Douglas a generous rivalry in gallant
actions continually went on, and Douglas had scored the last
triumph. The castle of Roxburgh had long been a source of trouble
to the Scots.  Standing on a rocky eminence on the margin of the
Teviot, just at its junction with the Tweed and within eight miles
of the Border, it had constituted an open door into Scotland, and
either through it or through Berwick the tides of invasion had ever
flowed.  The castle was very strongly fortified, so much so that
the garrison, deeming themselves perfectly safe from assault, had
grown careless. The commandant was a Burgundian knight, Gillemin
de Fienne. Douglas chose Shrove Tuesday for his attack. Being a
feast day of the church before the long lenten fast the garrison
would be sure to indulge in conviviality and the watch would be
less strict than usual. Douglas and his followers, supplied with
scaling ladders, crept on all fours towards the walls. The night
was still and they could hear the sentries' conversation. They had
noticed the objects advancing, but in the darkness mistook them for
the cattle of a neighbouring farmer. Silently the ladders were
fixed and mounted, and with the dreaded war cry, "A Douglas! A
Douglas!" the assailants burst into the castle, slaying the sentries
and pouring down upon the startled revellers. Fienne and his men
fought gallantly for a time, but at length all surrendered, with
the exception of the governor himself and a few of his immediate
followers, who retired into a tower, where they defended themselves
until the following day; then Fienne being seriously wounded, the
little party also surrendered. As Douglas had no personal quarrel
with the garrison of Roxburgh such as he bore with those who occupied
his ancestral castle, he abstained from any unnecessary cruelties,
and allowed the garrison to withdraw to England, where Fienne soon
afterwards died of his wounds.

The castle was as usual levelled to the ground, and as the stronghold
of Carlaverock soon afterwards surrendered, the districts of Tweeddale
and Galloway were now completely cleared of the English, with the
exception of the Castle of Jedburgh, which they still held.

Randolph had been created Earl of Moray, and after establishing
himself in his new earldom he had returned with his feudal followers
and laid siege to Edinburgh, whose castle was considered all but
impregnable. It had been in the possession of the English ever since
it was captured by Edward I in 1296, and was strongly garrisoned
and well provisioned.

Even when joined by Archie Forbes and his retainers Randolph felt
that the castle could not be captured by force.  The various attempts
which he made were signally foiled, and it was by stratagem only
that he could hope to carry it.  The news of the capture of Roxburgh
by Douglas increased his anxiety to succeed.  Accompanied by Archie
he rode round the foot of the steep rock on which the castle stands,
eagerly scanning its irregularities to see if by any possibility
it could be scaled.

"I would give a brave reward," he said to Archie, "to any who could
show us a way of climbing those rocks, which, methinks, even a goat
could scarcely manage to ascend."

"I can tell you of a way," a Scotch soldier who was standing a few
paces off when he made the remark, said, saluting the earl.  "It
needs a sure foot and a stout heart, but I can lead a score of
men with such qualifications to the foot of yonder walls;" and he
pointed to the castle rising abruptly from the edge of the rocks.

"If you can make good your word, my brave fellow," Randolph said,
"you may ask your own reward, and I pledge you my word, that if it
be aught in reason it shall be granted.  But who are you, and how
did it come that you know of a way where none is supposed to exist?"

"My name is William Francus," the soldier said. "I was at one time,
before the king took up arms, a soldier in the castle there. I had
a sweetheart in the town, and as my turn to go out from the castle
came but slowly I used at night to steal away to visit her. I found
after a great search that on the face of yonder wall where it looks
the steepest, and where in consequence but slight watch is kept,
a man with steady foot and head could make shift to climb up and
down, and thus, if you please, will I guide a party to the top of
the rock."

"It looks impossible," Randolph said, gazing at the precipice;
"but as you tell me that you have done it others can do the same.
I will myself follow your guidance."

"And I," Archie said.

"What, Sir Archie, think you is the smallest number of men with
whom, having once gained footing on the wall, we may fight our way
to the gates and let in our friends."

"I should think," Archie replied, "that with thirty men we might
manage to do so. The confusion in the garrison will be extreme
at so unexpected a surprise, and if we divide in two parties and
press forward by different ways they will think rather of holding
together and defending themselves than of checking our course, and
one or other of the parties should surely be able to make its way
to the gates."

"Thirty let it be then," Randolph said. "Do you choose fifteen
active and vigilant men from among your retainers; I will pick as
many from mine, and as there is no use in delaying let us carry
out the enterprise this very night; of course the rest of our men
must gather near the gates in readiness to rush in when we throw
them open."

As soon as it was dark the little party of adventurers set out
on their way. Francus acted as guide, and under his leading they
climbed with vast difficulty and no little danger up the face of
the precipice until they reached a comparatively easy spot, where
they sat down to recover their breath before they prepared for the
final effort.

They could hear the sentries above speaking to each other, and
they held their breath when one of them, exclaiming suddenly, "I
can see you!" threw down a stone from the battlement, which leapt,
crashing down the face of the rock close beside them. Great was
their relief when a loud laugh from above told them that the sentry
had been in jest, and had but tried to startle his comrade; then
the two sentries, conversing as they went, moved away to another
part of the walls.

The ascent was now continued, and proved even more difficult than
that which they had passed. They were forced continually to halt,
while those in front helped those following them, or were themselves
hoisted up by the men behind.  At last, panting and breathless, they
stood on the summit of the rock, on a narrow ledge, with the castle
wall rising in front of them. They had, with enormous difficulty,
brought up a light ladder with them. This was placed against the
wall. Francus was the first to mount, and was followed by Sir Andrew
Grey, whom Randolph had invited to be of the party, by Archie Forbes,
and by the earl. Just as the latter stepped on to the battlements
the sentries caught sight of them and shouted:

"Treason! treason! to arms!" An instant stir was heard in the
castle. Rapidly the thirty men followed each other up the ladder,
and so soon as the last had gained the battlements they divided in
three bodies, each headed by one of the leaders. One party descended
straight into the castle and there attacked the soldiers who were
hurrying to arms, while the others ran along the wall in opposite
directions, cutting down the sentries and brushing aside all
opposition until together they met at the gate. This was thrown
open, and the Scots outside running up at the top of their speed
poured into the castle. At first Randolph's party, which had
descended into the courtyard, had been hotly pressed, and had with
difficulty defended themselves; but the attention of the startled
garrison was distracted by the shouts upon the walls, which told
that other parties of their assailants had gained footing there.
All sorts of contradictory orders were issued. One commanded them
to cut down the little party opposed to them, another ordered them
to hurry to the walls, a third to seize the gate and see that it
was not opened. The confusion reached its height as the Scots poured
in through the open gate. The garrison, surprised and confounded
as they were at this, to them, almost magical seizure of the castle
by their foes, fought bravely until the governor and many of the
officers were killed. Some of the men threw down their arms, and
others, taking advantage of their knowledge of the castle, made
their way to the gate and escaped into the open country.

The news of the capture was immediately sent to the king, by whose
orders the castle and walls were razed to the ground, and thus
another of the strongholds, by whose possession the English were
enabled to domineer over the whole of the surrounding country, was

While Douglas and Randolph were thus distinguishing themselves
Edward Bruce captured the castle of Rutherglen, and afterwards the
town of Dundee; and now, save Stirling Castle, scarcely a hold in
all Scotland remained in English hands. Thus was Scotland almost
cleared of the invader, not by the efforts of the people at large,
but by a series of the most daring and hazardous adventures by the
king himself and three or four of his knights, aided only by their
personal retainers. For nine years they had continued their career
unchecked, capturing castle by castle and town by town, defeating
such small bodies of troops as took the field against them, England,
under a supine and inactive king, giving itself up to private
broils and quarrels, while Scotland was being torn piecemeal from
her grasp.

After Edward Bruce had captured Dundee he laid siege to Stirling.
As this castle had for many months resisted Edward I backed by the
whole power of England, Bruce could make little impression upon
it with the limited appliances at his disposal. From February till
the 24th of June the investment continued, when the governor, Sir
Philip Mowbray, becoming apprehensive that his provisions would
not much longer hold out, induced Edward Bruce to agree to raise
the siege on condition that if by the 24th of June next, 1314, the
castle was not effectually relieved by an English force, it should
then be surrendered.

No satisfactory explanation has ever been given of the reasons which
induced Edward Bruce to agree to so one sided a bargain.  He had
already invested the place for four months, there was no possibility of
an army being collected in England for its relief for many months
to come, and long ere this could arrive the garrison would have
been starved into surrender. By giving England a year to relieve
the place he virtually challenged that country to put forth all
its strength and held out an inducement to it to make that effort,
which internal dissension had hitherto prevented. The only feasible
explanation is that Edward Bruce was weary of being kept inactive
so long a time before the walls of the fortress which he was unable
to capture, and that he made the arrangement from sheer impatience
and thoughtlessness and without consideration of the storm which he
was bringing upon Scotland. Had it been otherwise he would surely
have consulted the king before entering upon an agreement of such
extreme importance.

Bruce, when he heard of this rash treaty, was highly displeased,
but he nevertheless accepted the terms, and both parties began at
once their preparations for the crowning struggle of the war. The
English saw that now or never must they crush out the movement
which, step by step, had wrested from them all the conquests which
had been won with such vast effort under Edward I; while Bruce saw
that a defeat would entail the loss of all that he had struggled
for and won during so many years.

King Edward issued summonses to the whole of the barons of England
and Wales to meet him at Berwick by the 11th of June with all their
feudal following, while the sheriffs of the various counties and
towns were called upon to supply 27,000 foot soldiers. The English
of the settlements in Ireland were also summoned, besides O'Connor,
Prince of Connaught, and twenty-five other native Irish chiefs,
with their following, all of whom were to be under the command of
Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster.

The Prince Bishop of Constance was requested to furnish a body
of mounted crossbowmen. A royal fleet of twenty-three vessels was
appointed to assemble for the purpose of operating on the east
coast, while the seaports were commanded to fit out another fleet
of thirty vessels. A third fleet was ordered to assemble in the
west, which John of Lorne was appointed to command under the title
of High Admiral of the Western Fleet of England. From Aquitaine
and the French possessions the vassals were called upon to attend
with their men-at-arms, and many knights from France, Gascony, and
Germany took part in the enterprise.

Thus, at the appointed time over 100,000 men assembled at Berwick,
of whom 40,000 were men-at-arms, and the rest archers and pikemen.
For the great armament the most ample arrangements were made in the
way of warlike stores, provisions, tents, and means of transport,
together with the necessary workmen, artificers, and attendants.

This army surpassed both in numbers and equipments any that Edward
I had ever led into Scotland, and is considered to have been the most
numerous and best equipped that ever before or since has gathered
on English ground. Of the whole of the great nobles of England only
four were absent--the Earls of Warrenne, Lancaster, Arundel, and
Warwick--who, however, sent their feudal arrays under the charge
of relations.

Among the leaders of this great army were the Earls of Gloucester,
Pembroke, Hereford, and Angus, Lord Clifford, Sir John Comyn, Sir
Henry Beaumont, Sir John Seagrave, Sir Edmund Morley, Sir Ingram
de Umfraville, Sir Marmaduke de Twenge, and Sir Giles de Argentine,
one of the most famous of the Continental knights.

While this vast army had been preparing, Bruce had made every
effort to meet the storm, and all who were loyal and who were able
to carry weapons were summoned to meet at Torwood, near Stirling,
previous to the 24th of June. Here Edward Bruce, Sir James Douglas,
Randolph, Earl of Moray, Walter the Steward, Angus of Isla, Sir
Archibald Forbes, and a few other knights and barons assembled with
30,000 fighting men, besides camp followers and servants.  It was
a small force indeed to meet the great army which was advancing
against it, and in cavalry in particular it was extremely weak.
The English army crossed the Border, and marched by Linlithgow and
Falkirk toward the Torwood.

Each army had stirring memories to inspire it, for the English in
their march crossed over the field of Falkirk, where sixteen years
before they had crushed the stubborn squares of Wallace; while from
the spot which Bruce selected as his battleground could be seen
the Abbey Craig, overlooking the scene of the Scottish victory of
Stirling Bridge. On the approach of the English the Scotch fell
back from the Torwood to some high ground near Stirling now called
the New Park.  The lower ground, now rich agricultural land called
the Carse, was then wholly swamp. Had it not been so, the position
now taken up by Bruce would have laid the road to Stirling open to
the English.

The Scotch army was divided into four divisions. The centre was
commanded by Randolph. Edward Bruce commanded the second, which
formed the right wing.  Walter the Steward commanded the left wing,
under the guidance of Douglas, while the king himself took command
of the fourth division, which formed the reserve, and was stationed
in rear of the centre in readiness to move to the assistance of
either of the other divisions which might be hard pressed.  The camp
followers, with the baggage and provisions, were stationed behind
the Gillies Hill.

The road by which the English would advance was the old Roman
causeway running nearly north and south. The Bannock Burn was fordable
from a spot near the Park Mill down to the village of Bannockburn.
Above, the banks were too high and steep to be passed; while below,
where ran the Bannock through the carse, the swamps prevented
passage.  The army was therefore drawn up, with its left resting
on the sharp angle of the burn above the Park Mill, and extended
where the villages of Easterton, Borestine, and Braehead now stand
to the spot where the road crosses the river at the village of
Bannockburn. In its front, between it and the river, were two bogs,
known as Halberts Bog and Milton Bog, while, where unprotected by
these bogs, the whole ground was studded with deep pits; in these
stakes were inserted, and they were then covered with branches and
grass. Randolph's centre was at Borestine, Bruce's reserve a little
behind, and the rock in which his flagstaff was placed during the
battle is still to be seen. To Randolph, in addition to his command
of the centre division, was committed the trust of preventing any
body of English from passing along at the edge of the carse, and
so making round to the relief of Stirling.

On the morning of Sunday, the 23d of June, immediately after
sunrise, the Scotch attended mass, and confessed as men who had
devoted themselves to death. The king, having surveyed the field,
caused a proclamation to be made that whosoever felt himself unequal
to take part in the battle was at liberty to withdraw. Then, knowing
from his scouts that the enemy had passed the night at Falkirk, six
or seven miles off, he sent out Sir James Douglas and Sir Robert
Keith with a party of horsemen to reconnoitre the advance.

The knights had not gone far when they saw the great army advancing,
with the sun shining bright on innumerable standards and pennons,
and glistening from lance head, spear, and armour. So grand and
terrible was the appearance of the army that upon receiving the
report of Douglas and Keith the king thought it prudent to conceal
its full extent, and caused it to be bruited abroad that the enemy,
although numerous, was approaching in a disorderly manner.

The experienced generals of King Edward now determined upon making
an attempt to relieve Stirling Castle without fighting a pitched
battle upon ground chosen by the enemy. Had this attempt been
successful, the great army, instead of being obliged to cross
a rapid stream and attack an enemy posted behind morasses, would
have been free to operate as it chose, to have advanced against
the strongholds which had been captured by the Scots, and to force
Bruce to give battle upon ground of their choosing.  Lord Clifford
was therefore despatched with 800 picked men-at-arms to cross the
Bannock beyond the left wing of the Scottish army, to make their
way across the carse, and so to reach Stirling.  The ground was,
indeed, impassable for a large army; but the troops took with
them faggots and beams, by which they could make a passage across
the deeper parts of the swamp and bridge the little streams which
meandered through it.

As there was no prospect of an immediate engagement, Randolph,
Douglas, and the king had left their respective divisions, and had
taken up their positions at the village of St. Ninians, on high
ground behind the army, whence they could have a clear view of the
approaching English army.  Archie Forbes had accompanied Randolph,
to whose division he, with his retainers, was attached.  Randolph
had with him 500 pikemen, whom he had withdrawn from his division
in order to carry out his appointed task of seeing that the English
did not pass along the low ground at the edge of the carse behind
St. Ninians to the relief of Stirling; but so absorbed were knights
and men-at-arms in watching the magnificent array advancing against
the Scottish position that they forgot to keep a watch over the
low ground. Suddenly one of the men, who had straggled away into
the village, ran up with the startling news that a large party of
English horse had crossed the corner of the carse, and had already
reached the low ground beyond the church.

"A rose has fallen from your chaplet, Randolph," the king said

Without a moment's loss of time Randolph and Archie Forbes set off
with the spearmen at a run, and succeeded in heading the horsemen
at the hamlet of Newhouse. The mail clad horsemen, confident in
their numbers, their armour, and horses, laid their lances in rest,
struck spurs into their steeds, and, led by Sir William Daynecourt,
charged down upon the Scotch spearmen. Two hundred of these consisted
of Archie Forbes' retainers, all veterans in war, and who had more
than once, shoulder to shoulder, repelled the onslaught of the
mailed chivalry of England. Animated by the voices of their lord
and Randolph, these, with Moray's own pikemen, threw themselves
into a solid square, and, surrounded by a hedge of spears, steadily
received the furious onslaught of the cavalry. Daynecourt and many
of his men were at the first onslaught unhorsed and slain, and those
who followed were repulsed. Again and again they charged down upon
the pikemen, but the dense array of spears was more than a match
for the lances of the cavalry, and as the horses were wounded and
fell, or their riders were unhorsed, men rushed out from the square,
and with axe and dagger completed the work. Still the English
pressed them hard, and Douglas, from the distance, seeing how hotly
the pikemen were pressed by the cavalry, begged the king to allow
him to go to Randolph's assistance. Bruce, however, would suffer no
change in his position, and said that Randolph must stand or fall
by himself. Douglas, however, urged that he should be allowed to
go forward with the small body of retainers which he had with him.
The king consented, and Douglas set off with his men.

When the English saw him approach they recoiled somewhat from the
square, and Douglas, being now better able to see what was going
on, commanded his followers to halt, saying that Randolph would
speedily prove victorious without their help, and were they now
to take part in the struggle they would only lessen the credit of
those who had already all but won the victory. Seeing the enemy in
some confusion from the appearance of the reinforcement, Randolph
and Archie now gave the word for their men to charge, and these,
rushing on with spear and axe, completed the discomfiture of the
enemy, killed many, and forced the rest to take flight.  Numbers,
however, were taken. Randolph is said to have had but two men killed
in the struggle.

Chapter XXVII


After the complete defeat of the party under Lord Clifford, and the
failure of their attempt to relieve Stirling, Randolph and Douglas
returned together to the king. The news of their success spread
rapidly, and when Randolph rode down from St. Ninians to his
division, loud cheers broke from the whole Scottish army, who were
vastly encouraged at so fair a commencement of their struggle with
the English.

The English army was still advancing slowly, and Bruce and his
leaders rode down to the front of the Scottish line, seeing that
all was in order and encouraging the men with cheering words. When
the English army approached the stream King Edward ordered a halt
to be sounded for the purpose of holding a council, whether it was
best to encamp for the night or at once to advance against the
enemy. The Earls of Gloucester and Hereford, who commanded the
first division, were so far ahead that they did not hear the sound
of the trumpet, and continuing their onward march crossed the Bannock
Burn and moved on toward the Scotch array.  In front of the ranks
of the defenders the king was riding upon a small palfrey, not
having as yet put on his armour for the battle. On his helmet he
wore a purple cap surmounted by a crown. Seeing him thus within
easy reach, Sir Henry de Bohun, cousin of the Earl of Hereford,
laid his lance in rest and spurred down upon the king. Bruce could
have retired within the lines of his soldiers; but confident in his
own prowess, and judging how great an effect a success under such
circumstances would have upon the spirits of his troops, he spurred
forward to meet his assailant armed only with his axe. As the
English knight came thundering down, the king touched his palfrey
with his spur, and the horse, carrying but a light weight, swerved
quickly aside; De Bohun's lance missed his stroke, and before he had
time to draw rein or sword, the king, standing up in his stirrups,
dealt him so tremendous a blow with his axe as he passed, that it
cleft through helmet and brain, and the knight fell dead to the

With a shout of triumph the Scotch rushed forward and drove
the English advance guard back across the stream; then the Scotch
leaders led their men back again to the position which they had
quitted, and reformed their array. Douglas, Edward Bruce, Randolph,
and Archie Forbes now gathered round the king and remonstrated with
him on the rashness of an act which might have proved fatal to the
whole army.  The king smiled at such remonstrances from four men
who had, above all others, distinguished themselves for their rash
and daring exploits, and shrugging his shoulders observed only that
it was a pity he had broken the shaft of his favourite axe.  The
English array now withdrew to a short distance, and it became evident
that the great battle would be delayed till the morrow. The Scotch
army therefore broke its ranks and prepared to pass the night
on the spot where it stood.  The king assembled all his principal
leaders round him, and after thanking God for so fair a beginning
of the fight as had that day been made, he pointed out to them how
great an effect the two preliminary skirmishes would have upon the
spirits of both armies, and expressed his confidence in the final
result. He urged upon them the necessity for keeping their followers
well in hand, and meeting the charges of the enemy's horse steadily
with their spears; and especially warned them, after repulsing
a charge, against allowing their men to break their array, either
to plunder or take prisoners, so long as the battle lasted, as the
whole riches of the English camp would fall into their hands if
successful. He pledged himself that the heirs of all who fell should
have the succession of their estates free from the usual feudal
burdens on such occasions.

The night passed quietly, and in the morning both armies formed
their array for battle. Bruce, as was customary, conferred the
honour of knighthood upon several of his leaders. Then all proceeded
to their allotted places and awaited the onset. Beyond the stream
and extending far away towards the rising ground were the English
squadrons in their glittering arms, the first division in line,
the others in heavy masses behind them. Now that the Scotch were
fairly drawn up in order of battle, the English could see how
small was their number in comparison with their own, and the king
in surprise exclaimed to Sir Ingram de Umfraville:

"What! will yonder Scots fight us?"

"That verily will they," the knight replied, for he had many a
time been engaged in stout conflict with them, and knew how hard
it was even for mail clad knights to break through the close lines
of Scottish spears. So high a respect had he for their valour, that
he urged the king to pretend to retire suddenly beyond the camp,
when the Scots, in spite of their leaders, would be sure to leave
their ranks and flock into the camp to plunder, when they might be
easily dispersed and cut to pieces. The king, however, refused to
adopt the suggestion, saying, that no one must be able to accuse
him of avoiding a battle or of withdrawing his army before such
a rabble.  As the armies stood confronting each other in battle
array a priest passed along the Scottish front, crucifix in hand,
exhorting all to fight to the death for the liberty of their country.
As he passed along the line each company knelt in an attitude of
prayer. King Edward, seeing this, exclaimed to Sir Ingram:

"See yonder folk kneel to ask for mercy!"

"Ay, sire," the knight said, looking earnestly at the Scots, "they
kneel and ask for mercy, but not of you; it is for their sins they
ask mercy of God. I know these men, and have met and fought them,
and I tell you that assuredly they will win or die, and not even
when death looks them in the face will they turn to fly."

"Then if it must be so," said the king, "let us charge."

The trumpet sounded along the line. First the immense body of
English archers crossed the burn and opened the battle by pouring
clouds of arrows into the Scottish ranks.  The Scotch archers, who
were in advance of their spearmen, were speedily driven back to
shelter beyond their line, for not only were the English vastly more
numerous, but they shot much further and more accurately. And now
the knights and men-at-arms, on their steel clad horses, crossed
the burn.  They were aware of the existence of Milton Bog, which
covered the Scottish centre, and they directed their charge upon
the division of Edward Bruce on the Scottish right. The crash as
the mailed horses burst down upon the wood of Scottish spears was
tremendous. Bruce's men held firm, and the English in vain strove
to break through their serried line of spears. It was a repetition
of the fight of the previous day, but on a greater scale. With
lance and battleaxe the chivalry of England strove to break the
ranks of the Scotch, while with serried lines of spears, four deep,
the Scotch held their own. Every horse which, wounded or riderless,
turned and dashed through the ranks of the English, added to the
confusion. This was much further increased by the deep holes into
which the horses were continually falling, and breaking up all order
in their ranks. Those behind pressed forward to reach the front,
and their very numbers added to their difficulty.

The English were divided into ten divisions or "battles," and
these one by one crossed the stream with banners flying, and still
avoiding the centre, followed the line taken by the first, and
pressed forward to take part in the fray.

Randolph now moved with the centre to the support of the hardly
pressed right, and his division, as well as that of Edward Bruce,
seemed to be lost among the multitude of their opponents. Stewart
and Douglas moved their division to the right and threw themselves
into the fray, and the three Scottish divisions were now fighting
side by side, but with a much smaller front than that which they
had originally occupied. For a time the battle raged furiously
without superiority on either side. The Scotch possessed the great
advantage that, standing close together in ranks four deep, every
man was engaged, while of the mounted knights and men-at-arms who
pressed upon them, only the front line was doing efficient service.
Not only, therefore, was the vast numerical superiority of the
English useless to them, but actually a far larger number of the
Scottish than of themselves were using their weapons in the front
rank, while the great proportion of the English remained helplessly
behind their fighting line, unable to take any part whatever in
the fight. But now the English archers came into play again, and
firing high into the air rained their arrows almost perpendicularly
down upon the Scottish ranks.  Had this continued it would have
been as fatal to the Scots at Bannockburn as it was at Falkirk; but
happily the Scottish horse told off for this special service were
here commanded by no traitors, and at the critical moment the king
launched Sir Robert Keith, the mareschal of Scotland, against the
archers with 500 horsemen. These burst suddenly down upon the flank
of the archers and literally swept them before them. Great numbers
were killed, others fell back upon the lines of horsemen who were
ranged behind, impatient to take their share in the battle; these
tried to drive them back again, but the archers were disheartened,
and retreating across the stream took no further part in the battle.
The charge of the Scottish horses should have been foreseen and
provided against by placing strong bodies of men-at-arms on the
flanks of the archers, as these lightly armed troops were wholly
unable to withstand a charge by cavalry.

The Scottish archers, now that their formidable opponents had
left the field, opened a heavy fire over the heads of the pikemen
upon the horsemen surrounding the squares, and when they had shot
away their arrows sallied out and mingled in the confused mass of
the enemy, doing tremendous execution with their axes and knives.
Hitherto the king had kept his reserve in hand; but now that the
English archers were defeated and their horsemen in inextricable
confusion, he moved his division down and joined in the melee, his
men shouting his well known battle cry.

Every Scotch soldier on the field was now engaged. No longer did the
battle cries of the various parties rise in the air. Men had no
breath to waste in shouting, but each fought silently and desperately
with spear or axe, and the sound of clanging blows of weapons, of
mighty crash of sword or battleaxe on steel armour, with the cries
and groans of wounded men were alone heard. Over and over again the
English knights drew back a little so as to gain speed and impetus,
and flung themselves on the Scottish spears, but ever without effect,
while little by little the close ranks of the Scotch pressed forward
until, as the space between their front and the brook narrowed, the
whole of the English divisions became pent up together, more and
more incapable of using their strength to advantage. The slaughter
in their front divisions had already been terrible. Again and
again fresh troops had taken the places of those who had formed the
front ranks, but many of their best and bravest had fallen.  The
confusion was too great for their leaders to be able to direct them
with advantage, and seeing the failure of every effort to break
the Scottish ranks, borne back by the slow advance of the hedge of
spears, harassed by the archers who dived below the horses, stabbing
them in their bellies, or rising suddenly between them to smite
down the riders with their keen, heavy, short handled axes, the
English began to lose heart, and as they wavered the Scotch pressed
forward more eagerly, shouting, "On them! on them! They give way!
they give way!"

At this critical moment the servants, teamsters, and camp followers
who had been left behind Gillies Hill, showed themselves. Some of
their number from the eminence had watched the desperate struggle,
and on hearing how their soldiers were pressed by the surrounding
host of English men-at-arms they could no longer remain inactive.
All men carried arms in those days. They hastily chose one of their
own number as leader, and fastening some sheets to tent poles as
banners, they advanced over the hill in battle array, and moved
down to join their comrades.  The sight of what they deemed a fresh
division advancing to the assistance of the Scotch brought to
a climax the hesitation which had begun to shake the English, and
ensured their discomfiture. Those in rear turned bridle hastily,
and crossing the Bannock Burn, galloped away. The movement so begun
spread rapidly, and although those in front still continued their
desperate efforts to break the line of Scottish spears, the day was
now hopelessly lost. Seeing that this was so, the Earl of Pembroke
seized the king's rein and constrained him to leave the field with
a bodyguard of 500 horse. Sir Giles de Argentine, who had hitherto
remained by the king's side, and who was esteemed the third best
knight in Europe--the Emperor Henry of Luxemberg and Robert
Bruce being reckoned the two best--bade farewell to the king as
he rode off.

"Farewell, sire," he said, "since you must go, but I at least must
return; I have never yet fled from an enemy, and will remain and
die rather than fly and live in disgrace."

So saying, the knight spurred down to the conflict, and charged
against the array of Edward Bruce, and there fell fighting valiantly.
The flight of the king and his attendants was the signal for a
general rout. Great numbers were slain, many men were drowned in
the Forth, and the channel of the Bannock was so choked with the
bodies of dead men and horses that one could pass over dry shod. The
scattered parties of English were still so numerous that Bruce held
his men well in hand until these had yielded themselves prisoners.
Douglas was charged to pursue the king, but he could only muster
sixty horsemen. A short distance from the field he met a Scottish
baron, Sir Laurence Abernethy, with twenty-four men-at-arms,
on his way to join the English, for even as yet but few of the
Scottish nobles were on the side of the king. Upon hearing what had
happened, Sir Laurence, with the easy facility which distinguished
the Scottish nobles of the period, at once changed sides, swore
fealty to Bruce, and joined Douglas in the pursuit of his late
friends.  They overtook the king's party at Linlithgow, but Pembroke
kept his men well together, and while still retiring, showed so
bold an appearance that Douglas did not venture to charge. Finally
the English reached the Castle of Dunbar, where the king and his
immediate attendants were received by his ally, Earl Patrick of
Dunbar. So cowed were the fugitives that they left their horses
outside the castle gate, and these were captured by their pursuers.
The main body of the king's bodyguard continued their way in good
order, and reached Berwick in safety. Edward gained England in
a fishing boat from Dunbar.  Eighteen years had elapsed since his
father had entered Scotland with an army deemed sufficient for its
entire subjugation; had sacked and destroyed the rich and prosperous
town of Berwick, routed the army of Baliol, marched through Scotland,
and, as he believed, permanently settled his conquest.  Now the
son had lost all that his father had won.

Among the fugitive remains of the English army were a considerable
body of Welsh, who, being lightly armed, fled at full speed toward
the Border, but being easily distinguished by their white dresses
and the absence of defensive armour, almost all were slain by
the peasantry. The Earl of Hereford, the Earl of Angus, Sir John
Seagrave, Sir Anthony Lucy, Sir Ingram de Umfraville, with a great
number of knights, 600 men-at-arms, and 1000 infantry, keeping
together, marched south toward Carlisle.

As they passed Bothwell Castle, which was held by the governor for
England, the earls and knights entered the castle, their followers
remaining without; but the governor, on hearing the result of the
battle, closed the gates and took all who had entered prisoners,
and, changing sides, handed them over to Bruce. Their followers
continued their march south, but were for the most part slain or
taken prisoners before they reached the Border.

When all resistance had ceased on the field the victors collected
the spoil. This consisted of the vast camp, the treasures intended
for the payment of the army, the herds of cattle, and stores of
provisions, wine, and forage; the rich wearing apparel and arms
of the knights and nobles killed or made prisoners, many valuable
horses, and the prisoners who would have to be ransomed, among whom
were twenty-two barons and sixty knights.

The spoil was estimated at 200,000 pounds, equal to 3,000,000
pounds of money in these days. The king refused to take any share
in this plunder, dividing it wholly among his troops. 30,000 English
lay dead on the field, including 200 knights and 700 esquires, and
among the most distinguished of the dead were the Earl of Gloucester,
Sir Giles de Argentine, Lord Robert Clifford, Sir Edmund Manley,
seneschal of England, Sir William de Mareschal, Sir Payne Tybtot,
and Sir John Comyn. Sir Marmaduke de Twenge was among the prisoners.

Bruce's conduct to his prisoners was even more honourable to himself
than was the great victory that he had won. In spite of his three
brothers, his brother in law Seaton, his friends Athole and Frazer,
having been executed by the English, and the knowledge that their
mangled remains were still exposed over London Bridge and the
gates of Carlisle and Newcastle--in spite of the barbarous and
lengthened captivity of his wife, his sister and daughter, and his
friend the Countess of Buchan--in spite of the conviction that
had he himself been made prisoner he would at once have been sent
to the scaffold--Bruce behaved with a magnanimity and generosity
of the highest kind. Every honour was paid to the English dead, and
the bodies of the chief among these were sent to their relatives in
England, and the prisoners were all either ransomed or exchanged.
Sir Marmaduke de Twenge was dismissed free of ransom and loaded
with gifts, and even the Scotch nobles, such as Sir Philip Mowbray,
who were taken fighting in the ranks of their country's enemy, were
forgiven.  This noble example exercised but little influence upon
the English. When Edward Bruce was killed four years afterwards
at Dundalk in Ireland, his body was quartered and distributed, and
his head presented to the English king, who bestowed upon Birmingham--who
commanded the English and sent the gift to him--the dignity
of Earl of Louth.

Among the prisoners was Edward's poet laureate, Baston, a Carmelite
friar, who had accompanied the army for the purpose of writing
a poem on the English victory.  His ransom was fixed at a poem on
the Scotch victory at Bannockburn, which the friar was forced to

With Bannockburn ended all hope on the part of the English of
subjugating Scotland; but the war continued fitfully for fourteen
years, the Scotch frequently invading England and levying heavy
contributions from the northern counties and towns, and the English
occasionally retaliating by the same process; but at length peace
was signed at Northampton.

In 1315 a parliament assembled at Ayr for the purpose of regulating
the succession to the throne. It was then agreed that in case of the
king's death without male issue his brother Edward should succeed
to it, and that if Edward left no heirs, the children of Marjory,
the king's daughter, should succeed.  Shortly afterwards Marjory was
married to Walter the Steward. Edward Bruce was killed unmarried.
A son was afterwards born to the king, who reigned as David II,
but having died without issue, the son of Marjory and the Steward
became king. The hereditary title of Steward was used as the surname
for the family, and thus from them descended the royal line of
Stewart or Stuart, through which Queen Victoria at present reigns
over Great Britain, Ireland, and their vast dependencies.

After Bannockburn Archie Forbes went no more to the wars. He was
raised to the dignity of Baron Forbes by the king, and was ever
rewarded by him as one of his most trusty councillors, and his
descendants played a prominent part in the changing and eventful
history of Scotland; but the proudest tradition of the family was
that their ancestor had fought as a patriot by the side of Bruce
and Wallace when scarce a noble of Scotland but was leagued with
the English oppressors of their country.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In Freedom's Cause : A Story of Wallace and Bruce" ***

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