Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/197

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1307 A.D.]

Adventures of the King of Scots.


draw from his men for a space every morning, generally alone, but sometimes accompanied by a page.[1] This was well known to the Carrick ruffian, who plotted with his two sons to waylay the King one morning.

Bruce, we are told, had been warned against this man; so when he spied him coming with his sons through the wood to meet him, he was not slow to smell treason, especially as they were all three armed. Turning to his page, who most luckily was with him that day, the King snatched the bow out of his hand and a single arrow, and called on the three to stand. The father affected surprise.

"Bethink you, sire!" he cried, "who should be nearer your person than I?"

The King repeated his command that they should stand where they were, but the one-eyed rascal continued to remonstrate, all the time drawing nearer with his sons. Bruce, a practised hunter, drew bow on him; the arrow pierced his solitary eye. It was the only arrow the page carried, but the King never moved without his sword. With this he clove the skull of one of the sons who rushed on him with a hand-axe, and turned to meet the other who came at him with a spear. With one stroke of his sword Bruce shore the spear-shaft in twain, with another he smote the assassin to the earth.

After this, Douglas rejoined the King, fresh from the raid on his own lands. De Valence now advanced

  1. My readers should turn to Canto xlv. of Barbour's poem. It is exceedingly thrilling, though unfortunately all the details are not such as may be repeated by a modern writer.