JOHN BALIOI—THE LAST OF TOOM TABARD
Berwick was taken, but instead of yielding, the people
made Baliol send a letter to Edward saying he would not
come to do homage, as he was ordered to do.
‘Ah, the foolish traitor,’ cried Edward when he read
the letter, ‘what folly is this ? Since he will not come
to us, we will go to him.’
And so he went, fighting battles and taking towns all
the way. Town after town, castle after castle, fell before
Edward and his victorious army. The great lords and
barons knelt to him as their master. There seemed no
help for it. They must yield, or die.
At last, at Montrose, Edward and Baliol met again.
And there Baliol, forgetting his proud words, came to
Edward, begging for pardon. With no crown upon his
head, with no royal robes about his shoulders, with neither
sword nor sceptre, but clad in a plain dark dress like a
penitent, and carrying a white wand in his hand, he came.
Standing before his master he confessed that he had been
led away by evil counsels, he gave up his right to the
throne of Scotland, and put himself into the hands of
Edward, strong and stern, and filled with contempt
for so weak a man, sent both Baliol and his son prisoner to
England. A few years later Baliol was allowed to go to
France. There, on his own lands, he lived quietly till he
THE LAST OF TOOM TABARD 109
died. In Scotland’s story we have no more to do with
this weak-spirited King. His own people called him
Toom Tabard, which means empty coat, because he
looked rather fine in his splendid robes, but there was
neither courage nor manhood in him. And for many
years to come Scotland suffered for his weakness and
Now that Baliol was no longer king, Robert Bruce
thought that the time for which he had hoped had come.
He thought that he should now be king. But Edward
had no mind to give up what he had won. ‘Have we
nothing, think you, to do, but to conquer kingdoms and
give them to you ? ‘ he asked scornfully, and Robert
Bruce went back to his own lands sad and angry.
Edward placed English governors over Scotland, filled
the Scottish castles with English soldiers ; then, thinking
that he had subdued the people, he went home.
He took with him many things which were dear and
sacred to the hearts of Scotsmen. Among these was the
Stone of Destiny, which has remained in England ever
since. It is now in Westminster, and it is used whenever
a British King is crowned. It is said too that Edward
caused to be taken away and destroyed many old books
and records of Scotland. He did this so that the people
might be made the more easily to forget their ancient
freedom and become his willing subjects.
But all these things he did in vain.
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