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Edgar died in 1107 a.d., and as he had no children, he
was succeeded by his brother Alexander.

Alexander I. was called The Fierce, because he
punished the robbers and other wicked men, of whom
there were many in the country.

Edgar had been more loved for his gentleness and
goodness, than feared for his justice and sternness. When
Alexander came to the throne, many of the nobles had
become little better than robbers. They rode through
all the land, burning and destroying, killing and taking
prisoner men, women, and children. These wild nobles
imagined that Alexander would be gentle, as his brother
had been. They thought that he too would be more
interested in building churches and monasteries than
in ruling his kingdom, and that they might still con­
tinue in their wicked ways. But they were mistaken.
Alexander was a good man, but he was a stern and just
king. He made up his mind to punish these wild nobles.
So he gathered his army and went against them. And
so fiercely did he hunt and pursue these robbers, that very
soon the worst of them were put to death. As Alexander
was returning from warring against these wild nobles, he
was met by a poor lady. She was pale and weary, her
dress was torn and dusty, sobbing she threw herself upon
knees beside the King.


68                      SCOTLANDS STORY

‘ A boon, my lord King,’ she cried, ‘ a boon.

What troubles you, lady ? ‘ said the King, looking
down at her kindly. ‘ Tell me, and if your cause is just,
you shall have my aid.’

Sire,’ said the lady, ‘ the lord of Mearns has slain my
husband and my son. He has robbed me of all that I
had. Now I wander about a homeless beggar with none
to help me.’

As the King listened, his face grew dark with anger,
and leaping from his horse he cried, ‘ By the Holy Rood,
I will never more bestride a horse till I see justice done
upon this man.’

Then turning his army, he marched at the head of
it, against the lord of Mearns. Nor did he rest, nor
again mount upon a horse, till he had taken that proud
lord, and hanged him for his wickedness and cruelty to
the poor lady.

Thus the wicked nobles began to be in fear and dread
of King Alexander, and they made up their minds, as
they could not kill him in battle, they must do so by

They bribed the keeper of the King’s bedchamber,
and promised him a great sum of money if he would let
some soldiers into the palace. And the keeper of the
bedchamber, who ought to have guarded the King‘s life
as his own, let these wicked men into the palace, and hid
them in a little room near to the King‘s bedroom.

In the middle of the night, when all was dark, and the
King was peacefully sleeping, these bad men crept softly,
softly into his room. But as they came near the bed the
King awoke suddenly. There was a dim light, and by it
he could faintly see the figures crowding round him.

In a moment Alexander sprang up, and seizing his
sword, which hung at the head of his bed, he slew the

ALEXANDER I., THE FIERCE            69

wicked keeper with one blow. Then right and left he
struck, defending himself manfully. His sword flashed
and fell again and again, till six of the traitors lay dead
upon the floor.

Then, seeing how brave and fierce a king they had to
deal with, the others fled. By this time, however, the
noise of the fight had aroused the King‘s servants and
soldiers. Some poured into his room, others started in
pursuit of the traitors. Many of them were killed and
the rest were taken prisoner and brought before the King.
But Alexander knew that these men had been paid to
kill him, and not they, but their masters, were his real
enemies. So he questioned them until they told the
names of the nobles who had sent them to do this wicked

Then Alexander gathered his army once more, and
marched against these rebellious nobles. When they
heard of the King‘s coming, they too gathered their
soldiers and made ready to fight.

The two armies came in sight of each other and lay
encamped on either side of a river. The rebels thought
that they were safe, for it seemed to them impossible for
an army to cross the river, which was both deep and wide.

But King Alexander, calling his standard-bearer, com­
manded him to cross the river with a company of the
best soldiers.

This the standard-bearer did, and the rebels were so
astonished and afraid at the hardihood and bravery of the
King‘s men, that they had no heart to fight, and were
utterly defeated.

After this there was peace in the land, and when
Alexander had rest from wars he too built monasteries
and churches, as his father and brother had done He
died in 1125 a.d., having reigned seventeen years.

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