Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/305

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1319 A.D.]

Continued Success.


could engage with Douglas on equal terms, and the English knight paid for his daring with his life. The English, disheartened by the loss of their gallant leader, broke and fled. The usual slaughter followed, and Neville's three brothers, Sir Alexander, Ralph and John, were among the prisoners taken. They were held to ransom for 2000 marks each.[1]

About the time that these events were taking place on the Border, the English landed in force near Inverkeithing, in Fife. The Earl of Fife and King Robert's sheriff, after vainly attempting to prevent them landing, retired before superior numbers, their retreat, according to Barbour's showing, being of the nature of sauve-qui-peut. In the nick of time came on the scene a stout prelate, William Sinclair, Bishop of Dunkeld, with a troop of sixty horse—

"Himself was armit jolely
And rad apon ane stalward sted."

He asked the earl why he and his men were riding so fast, and, on the reason being explained to him, rounded on him in a tone which none but an ecclesiastic would have dared to use towards a powerful baron. He charged him flatly with cowardice, and declared that, if the Earl got his deserts, the King should order the gilt spurs to be hewn off his craven heels. Then, throwing off his priestly cloak, the Bishop appeared in full armour, and called on the

  1. None of the chroniclers, so far as I know, mention the capture of Neville's brothers, but it is attested by their petition for ransom. Ralph begged King Edward to give him some rich ward or marriage, which he might sell in order to raise funds.—Bain, iii., 101.