Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/263

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1314 A.D.]

The Battle of Bannockburn.


Of far greater interest is another incident of this night, reported by Sir Thomas Gray, from the testimony of his father, then a prisoner in the Scottish camp. He says that the Scottish leaders were satisfied that enough had been gained on that Sunday to justify them in beating a retreat without dishonour, before the overwhelming numbers of the English. They had kept the appointed tryst, met and defeated their foes in the open field, and their King had slain the English champion. The requirements of the chivalrous code had been amply satisfied, and Bruce was free once more to resort to his usual strategy of wasting the country and making it impossible for a hostile army to maintain existence therein. But just as they were on the point of abandoning their lines and marching to the wild district of the Lennox, on the west of Stirling, Sir Alexander de Seton, a Scottish knight in the English service, having deserted King Edward's camp, rode to Bruce's tent in the wood, and told him that if ever he meant to be King of Scotland, now was his time: "for," said he "the English have lost heart and are disconcerted; they are dreading a sudden assault." He described the disposition of their forces, and pledged his life that if Bruce attacked them next morning, he would vanquish them without fail.

Barbour is the sole authority for yet another incident of this eventful Sunday evening. David Earl of Athol owed special ill-will to Edward de Brus, the husband of his sister Isabel, because Edward neglected her in favour of the sister of Sir Walter de Ros, whom he loved "per amouris." Athol, there-