MALCOLM CANMORE—HOW THE KING OVERCAME
Prince Malcolm was now set upon the throne. He was
crowned at Scone with great ceremony, sitting upon the
Stone of Destiny, or the Stone of Hope as it was some
This stone, it was said, was the stone which Jacob had
used as a pillow when he slept in the wilderness and saw
the vision of angels going up and down upon a ladder set
up from earth to heaven. Prince Gathelus had brought
it with him from Egypt, and from that time it had always
been in the possession of the Kings of Scotland, for it was
said that wherever this stone was the Scots should reign.
‘ Except old saws do fail,
And wizards’ wits be blind,
The Scots in place shall reign
Where they this stone shall find.’
When Kenneth Macalpine became King over the
whole land, he brought the Stone to Scone, and there it
remained for hundreds of years, and the Kings of Scotland
always sat upon it when they were crowned.
Malcolm did not forget his promise to Macduff, and
as soon as he was King he rewarded him greatly, making
him second only to himself in power.
Macduff was now called the Earl of Fife, for Malcolm
THE KING OVERCOMES A TRAITOR 51
having lived so long in England had learned many English
ways and words, and he brought this Saxon title into use
To the Earl of Fife was given the honour of placing
the crown upon the King‘s head at his coronation. He
was also chosen to be leader of the army, and over the
people of his own country of Fife he was given power
equal to that of the King.
Malcolm was not allowed to take possession of his
kingdom without a struggle. A few nobles still refused
to acknowledge him as King, and they set Lulath, Mac-
beth‘s cousin, upon the throne. But Malcolm, hearing of
this, sent an army against him. In the battle that followed,
Lulath was killed and all his soldiers scattered.
For ten years after this the land had peace. Malcolm
Canmore was a good King and ruled well. We are told
that he was a King very humble in heart, bold in spirit,
exceedingly strong in bodily strength, daring though not
rash, and having many other good qualities.
One day a courtier came to King Malcolm to tell him
that one of his greatest nobles had agreed with his enemies
to kill him. But the King bade the courtier be silent, and
would not listen to him. Shortly after, the traitor came
to court, followed by a great company of soldiers. The
King greeted him kindly, and did not let him see that
he knew what wicked thoughts were hid deep in his
That night there was a fine supper, and the King
ordered a great hunting-party for next day. Very early
in the morning every one was astir. Huntsmen and dogs
were gathered, and with a great noise and clatter they
The King arranged in which direction each man was to
go, and he himself rode off, attended only by one knight.
This knight was the wicked traitor who wished to kill
Side by side they rode through the wood—the King
and the murderer. On and on they went, riding farther
and farther away from the others. The noise of jingling
harness, the voices of men, the baying of dogs, grew
fainter and fainter in the distance. At last they were
heard no more. Darker and denser grew the wood, but
still the King rode on. At last, bursting through a ring
of trees, they came to a clear open space.
Then the King turned and looking sternly at the
traitor, said, ‘ Here we are, you and I, man to man.
There is none to stand by me, King though I be, and
none to help you ; nor can any man see or hear us. So
now if you can, if you dare, if your courage fails you not,
do the deed which you have in your heart. Fulfil your
promise to my foes. If you think to slay me, when
better ? When more safely ? When more freely ? When,
in short, could you do it in a more manly way ? Have
you poison ready for me ? Would you slay me in my
sleep ? Have you a dagger hidden with which to strike
me unawares ? All would say that were a murderer’s, not
a knight’s part. Act rather like a knight, not like a
traitor ; act like a man. Meet me as man to man. Then
your treachery may at least be free from meanness, for
from disloyalty it can never be free.’
On foot at liking thou mayest fight,
Or on horse if thou wilt be,
As thou thinkest best. Now choose thee
Horsed and armed as well
As I am thou art every whit
Thy weapons are more sharp and ready
Than any that unto this stead have I.
Target, spear, knife, and sword,
Between us now deal we the weird.
THE KING OVERCOMES A TRAITOR 58
Here is best now to begin
Thy purpose, if thou wilt honour win.
Here is none that may us see,
None, help may either me or thee,
Therefore try now with all thy might
To do thy purpose as a knight.
Since thou hast failed in loyalty
Do this deed yet with honesty,
If now thou may or dare or will,
Hesitate not to fulfil
Thy promise, thy purpose, and thine oath.
Do forth thy deed and be not loth.
If thou thinkest to slay me,
What time than now may better be,
With freedom or with manhood ?
Forth thee ! do as should a knight.
Go we together. God deal the right,
With our four hands and no more
Thereon must all the game go.’
All the time that the King was speaking, the wretched
traitor sat upon his horse with bowed head. He was
ashamed to look up, and the King‘s words fell upon his
heart like the strokes of a hammer upon an anvil. He
cursed himself for his evil thoughts. The weight of
shame seemed more than he could bear.
The King ceased speaking, and the traitor springing
from his horse threw away his shield and spear. With
trembling hands he unbuckled his sword and flinging that
too away, he knelt at the King‘s feet, unarmed. His face
was pale and tears were in his eyes ; ‘ My Lord and King,’
he cried, ‘ forgive me. Out of your kingly grace forgive
me this once. Whatever evil was in my heart, whatever
wicked thought was mine shall be blotted out. I swear
before God that in the future I shall be more faithful to
you than any man.’
‘ Fear not, my friend,’ replied the King, raising him
54 SCOTLAND’S STORY
up, ‘ you shall suffer no evil from me or through me on
‘ The King then all his action
Forgave this knight there quietly,
And took him all to his mercy ;
And there he became his man
More leal than he was before then.
And the King that was his lord
Let no man know of their discord
Till the knight himself this case
Told, and all that happened was.’
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