Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/323

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1322 A.D.]

Invasion and Counter-Invasion.


fellow, he would break him on the wheel.[1] To the Scots, however, he proved the means of saving Berwick. The English employed themselves in constructing a huge engine called the Sow, moving, like a modern fire-escape, on wheels, and devised to land a storming party on the top of the walls and at the same time as it conveyed a mining party to the bottom. To match this, Crab made a crane—a kind of catapult—also on wheels, by means of which not only heavy stones but burning faggots could be discharged on the Sow.

At dawn on September 13th the English trumpets sounded the advance; the mighty Sow crawled forward to the walls, the protecting crane rolled along the ramparts to meet it, while storming parties clambered the defences at different points.

It was a moment of critical anxiety.

Crab was warned that if he failed to disable the Sow he should be put to death instantly. Thus set on his mettle, the crafty Fleming caused a large stone to be put in his engine. Taking a careful aim, he touched the trigger, releasing the missile, which flew hurtling over the Sow, and fell harmlessly behind it.[2] The enemy inside the monster loudly

  1. Bain, iii., 126. This must be the same individual mentioned in Scalacronica as having been taken and killed by the elder Gray between Norham and Berwick. "Thomas de Gray fist tuer en le Yarforde, Cryn, vn Flemyng, vn amirail de la mere, vn robbour, qi grant meistre estoit od Robert de Bruys."
  2. "In hy he gert draw the cleket
    And smertly swappit out the stane,
    That even out our the Sow is gane,
    And behind hir ane litil we
    It fell."
    The Brus, cxxx., 86.