Scotland's History, Legends, Wildlife and Hunting Practices...because the past lives in us and guides our footsteps.



Soon after this, the King‘s enemies got possession of a
bloodhound which, at one time, had belonged to Bruce
himself. The hound had been very fond of his master,
and now, not knowing that he was being used by enemies
to betray his master, eagerly followed his trail. But
Bruce was warned in time and fled away with one faithful
follower. Hungry and tired, for they had walked many
weary miles, they at last reached a wood through which
ran a brook. ‘ Here is safety,’ said Bruce. ‘ Let us
wade down this stream a great way, so that my poor
hound may lose the scent.’

This they did, and thus, once more, Bruce escaped
from his enemies.

But the danger was not over. Having rested in the
wood for a short time, Bruce and his follower set off in
search of something to eat, for they were very hungry.
On and on they walked, hoping to find some cottage, but
no cottage could they see, nor indeed any sign of a living

At last, in the very thickest part of the wood, they saw
three men coming towards them, one of whom carried
a sheep upon his shoulder. These men seemed rough,
and they looked more like robbers than like honest


‘ Where are you going, my good men ? ’ asked King

‘ We are looking for Robert the Bruce,’ replied they.
‘ Do you know where he is, for we wish to join him ? ’

Now King Robert was not sure if these were friends
or foes, so he answered, ‘ If you come with me I will take
you to the King.’

But something in his way of speaking, made one of
the men guess that it was the King himself to whom he
was talking. Robert, who was watching him sharply,
knew by the look which came into his eyes, that he had
guessed the truth. But neither the man nor the King
wished to show that they knew.

‘ My good friends,’ said Bruce quietly, ‘ I will take
you to the King. But, as we are not well acquainted with
each other, do you go on first, and we will follow.’

‘ You have no reason to think evil of us,’ said one of
the men sulkily.

‘ Neither do I,’ said Bruce, ‘ but I choose to travel in
this way.’

And seeing that there was nothing for it, the men did
as they were told, and went on first, the King and his man

For some time they walked in silence, and at length
they came to a ruined and deserted cottage. Here the
three men stopped, and proposed to kill the sheep and
roast some of it for supper.

The King was near fainting with hunger and fatigue,
so he gladly agreed. ‘ But,’ he said, ‘ we will not eat
together. You must sit at one end of the cottage, while
my friend and I sit at the other.’ With evil looks and
much grumbling, the men did as they were ordered. The
sheep was killed and cut up, and some of it was roasted,
and at last they all sat down to supper. They had neither

154                    SCOTLANDS STORY

bread nor salt, nothing indeed except the newly killed and
hastily cooked mutton, yet to the hungry King and his
man it seemed delicious.

Having eaten a large supper, the King began to feel
very sleepy. He tried for some time to keep awake, for
he did not trust the three men. But, at last, do what he
would, he could no longer keep his eyes open. So, begging
his man to watch while he took a short rest, he lay down
on the hard floor, and immediately fell asleep.

The King’s man was very tired too ; he had promised
to watch, and he tried his best to keep his promise. But
very soon his head fell forward on his breast, and in a
few minutes, the ruffians at the other end of the room
knew by his breathing that he, too, was fast asleep.

Now was their time.

Rising quietly, they drew their swords, and softly
crept towards the sleeping King. They were quite near,
when suddenly he awoke. It was growing dark within
the cottage, but by the light of the fire which they had
made, he saw the three men creeping towards him with
their swords in their hands. Springing up, he drew his
sword, at the same time giving his man a great push with
his foot to awake him. But, before the man could rise to
his feet, one of the villains pierced him to the heart So
the King was left alone to battle against the three. It
was one weary man to three who were rested and fresh,
but Robert the Bruce was such a brave and skilful fighter,
that very soon all three lay dead at his feet Then, griev­
ing for the loss of his faithful follower, he left the cottage
and went on his way alone.

The next day, weary and hungry, the King knocked at
the door of a farmhouse to beg for food and rest ‘Come
in,’ said the old woman who opened the door, ‘ come in,
all travellers are welcome here for the sake of one.’


‘ And who is he for whose sake you make all travellers
welcome ? ‘ asked the King, as he entered the house.

‘ It is our lawful King, Robert the Bruce,’ replied the
woman. ‘ He is now chased about from place to place,
and hunted with hounds like a wild animal, but I hope to
live to see him yet King over all Scotland, for he alone is
our rightful lord.’

‘ Since you love him so well, good wife,’ said the King,
‘ let me tell you that he is now standing before you. I
am Robert the Bruce.’

‘ You,’ cried the woman, as, surprised and delighted,
she fell upon her knees to kiss his hand. ‘ But where are
all your men ? Why are you thus alone ? ’

‘ My men are scattered far and wide,’ said Bruce sadly.
‘ At this moment there is no man that I can call mine, so
I must go alone.’

‘ That shall not be,’ cried the old woman, ‘ for I have
three tall sons, and they shall be your men.’ And hasten­
ing away she called her sons, and there and then they
knelt to the King, and swore to be his men, and to fight
for him to the death.

The King then asked his new men to shoot, that he
might see what they could do. So they fetched their
bows and arrows, and shot before the King. The first son
saw two ravens sitting upon a rock some way off, and,
taking aim, he shot them both with one arrow.

The second saw another raven flying high above his
head. He shot, and the bird fell dead, with the arrow
through his heart.

The third son, seeing his brothers shoot so cleverly,
aimed at a raven still further off, but although he was a
good archer, the shot was too difficult for him, and he

The King was well pleased with his new men, and

156                    SCOTLAND’S STORY

they proved to be good and faithful soldiers, and afte
wards served him in many ways. And when at last the
wars were over, and King Robert sat safely upon the
throne, he did not forget the old woman who had helped
him when he was alone and in trouble. One day she was
told that the King wished to speak to her. When she
came before him, ‘ Good wife,’ he said, ‘ you helped me
when I was in sore need and trouble. What can I do for
you now in return ? ’

‘Oh,’ said she, ‘just gie me that wee bit hassock o’
land atween Palnure and Penkiln.’

The ‘ wee bit hassock o‘ land ‘ as she called it, stretched
over many miles, but the King gave it to her willingly.
The old woman divided the land between her three sons,
and so founded three noble families. And the eldest son,
when he became a knight, took for his device or picture,
which he had painted upon his shield, two ravens shot
through with one arrow, in memory of the day when he
first became one of the King‘s men.

But meantime, while the sons were shooting and their
mother preparing a meal for the King, they heard the
tramp of horses. At first they feared that it might be the
enemy, and the King went into the house to hide. But
soon to his great joy he heard the voices of his brother
Edward, and of his dear friend Lord James the Douglas.

Right glad were they to meet again after so many
dangers past, and when the King saw that they were
followed by a hundred and fifty men, he forgot all about
being tired and hungry, and felt ready to fight at once.

‘ We have just passed a village where two hundred
English are quartered,’ said Douglas. ‘ They are keeping
no watch, for they think that your army is utterly
scattered. If we hurry we can take them by surprise
and beat them.’


That was good news indeed. So without more ado
the King mounted and rode away at the head of his little

It was as Douglas had said. The English were keep­
ing no watch, and when the Scots swooped down upon
them, they were taken by surprise and utterly defeated.

From that time, more and more men gathered to the
standard of Bruce. He gained victory after victory, until
the English would no longer come out to fight him, but
shut themselves up in the castles and towns of which they
had taken possession, hoping that King Edward would
soon send them help.

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