Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/376

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


Robert the Bruce.

[1327 A.D.-

to risk in such an adventure. Then Moray began to urge Douglas once more to consent to a pitched battle. What follows in Barbour's poem may not, indeed, be an unvarnished record of the facts, but it is too lively to be passed over in silence. Douglas advised his chief to treat the English as a fox treated a certain fisherman. Returning one night from his nets, this fisherman found that a fox had entered his cottage and was eating a salmon. Placing himself in the doorway the man drew a sword to kill the thief withal. The fox, perceiving that the door was the only outlet, was perplexed what to do. The fisherman's cloak lay on the bed; the cunning beast seized it and drew it across the fire, whereupon the owner, when he saw his good cloak burning, ran forward to save it, leaving the door unguarded, of which the fox took advantage to make his escape.

"Now," said Douglas, "we Scots are the fox and the King of England is the fisherman. He stands in the door and will not let us return to our own land. But not only did the fisherman lose his salmon: his mantle was burnt and the fox escaped. I have caused a way of escape to be spied out for us; even if it be somewhat wet, we shall not lose so much as a single page in taking it."

All next day, Aug. 4th,[1] a great show of preparation was kept up in the Scottish camp. A Scottish

  1. I have altered the dates given by Lord Hailes in conformity with King Edward's movements as attested in the Records, to which Lord Hailes had not access. But it is possible that Edward betook himself to Durham immediately after the camisade, leaving his army in their camp at Stanhope.