Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/66

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Robert the Bruce.

[844 A.D.-

land, died in 1275. Ten years later, he married Joleta, daughter of the Count de Dreux.

On March 16, 1286, the King held a dinner-party in Edinburgh, though it was the season of Lent. After dinner he set out, accompanied by three knights, in a terrible tempest, to visit his young Queen, then residing at Kinghorn in Fife. At Queensferry the boatman tried to dissuade the King from attempting the passage on such an awful night; but he good-humouredly asked the man if he was afraid to face death in such good company. "Not I, sire," quoth the boatman, "it would well become me to perish with your father's son!" The crossing was effected in safety, and the party landed in the dark at Inverkeithing. Here the master of the King's saltworks pressed him not to persevere through the storm, but to deign to accept a bed in his house and proceed in daylight. The King, laughing, refused his hospitality, but asked for a couple of guides on foot; for the road probably was a mere bridle-path through woods and moors. They had not gone above two miles before they lost the track; and in trying to regain it, the King fell from his horse and was killed.[1] He died in the forty-fifth year of his life and the thirty-seventh of his reign.

There were not wanting superstitious critics who viewed his death as a judgment for feasting and visiting his wife in Lent; but Fordun, with loftier view, pronounced this noble elegy on the dead mon-

  1. Lanercost, 115.