Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/431

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1332 A.D.]
361
Death of Douglas.

claimed Douglas, "I have always had hands to protect my head."

On August 25, 1330, the Spanish host was drawn up near Theba on the frontier of Andalusia: opposite to them, on the territory of Granada, lay the Moors. King Alfonso ordered a forward movement, which Douglas, who rode with his Scottish squadron, on one of his flanks, mistook for a general attack. He carried the silver casket containing the heart of the Bruce slung round his neck, and, being thus distinguished, his zeal for the foremost place overbore the cool prudence with which he had saved so many fields. "A Douglas! a Douglas!" he cried, and made his trumpets sound the charge. Away went the Scottish squadron, determined to be the first to draw blood, and believing that the Spanish men-at-arms were charging too. But, unknown to Douglas, these had been ordered to halt, while the Scots rode on.

Now on the face of God's earth there were no more dangerous fighters than the Moslem cavalry. Many a time had Douglas's battle fury and sinewy arm turned the scale against tremendous odds, but these lithe Saracens swarmed around him like wasps. The little company of Scots were engulfed among them; weaker and weaker sounded the well-known battle-cry, "A Douglas!" It is said that Douglas might have made good his escape but that, seeing Sir William de St. Clair hardly pressed, he spurred to his rescue. Douglas fell, and with him many of his brothers in arms.

In the above brief recital of the death of Robert