Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/372

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
[1327 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

was set free, and told to make haste and tell his master that Moray and Douglas had been waiting eight days for him, and were eager to do battle. Rokeby guided his friends to the Scottish position, a steep hill on the further or south bank of the Wear.[1]

When the two armies were near each other, Moray sent out Douglas to reconnoitre, remaining himself in command of the camp. Douglas brought back word that the English were in great strength, and were advancing in seven divisions.

"We shall give them battle," exclaimed Moray, "though they were many times as strong."

"Praised be God!" replied Douglas, "that we have such a daring commander, but, by St. Bride! if you follow my advice, you will not engage unless we have the advantage. There is no dishonour in stratagem, seeing we are so few against so many."

Luckily the Earl of Moray, who held the chief command in virtue of his kinship to the King of Scots, was not so hot-headed as to overrule the counsel of his experienced lieutenant. Throughout the long story of the War of Independence, there is never a trace of anything but generous knightly rivalry between these two great soldiers—the right and left hands of their King.

The English sent forth heralds, offering to allow the Scots to cross the river unmolested, so as to do

  1. Barbour distinctly says the Scots were on the north bank and the English on the opposite side of the river. But the dates of Edward's correspondence show that he was at Stanhope, on the north bank, on August 3d (Bain, iii., 168).