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




Edinburgh castle stands upon a high, steep rock, up
which it is almost impossible to clamber. Randolph,
Earl of Moray, who was now fighting valiantly for the
King, was very anxious to get possession of this castle.
But how to do it he did not know. At length a gentle­
man named William Francis came to tell him that he
knew of a way. Many years before Francis had been a
soldier in Edinburgh castle He had loved a lady who
lived in the town, and because he was not allowed to visit
her openly, he had found a way by which he could clamber
up and down the steep rock in secret. He still remem­
bered the path, and he offered to lead Randolph and his
men by it. It was a very dangerous plan, for only one
could go at a time, and should the sentry see them every
man would certainly be killed. Still, it was worth trying,
and Randolph resolved to try.

So one dark, moonless night, a little band of thirty
brave men gathered at the foot of the castle hill. Francis
led the way, and one by one they followed him up the
rocky path. It was a fearful climb and besides being
fully armed, they had to carry ladders with them, with
which to scale the walls. On and on they went in silence,
gripping the rock with hands and knees, clambering
round boulders or up the face of cliffs, where there was


168                    SCOTLAND’S STORY

scarcely the smallest foothold. Not a word was spoken.
If a stone slipped or a twig crackled, their hearts seemed
to stand still. On and on they went, till hot and breath­
less, but unseen and unheard, they neared the top.

When they were almost at the top they heard the
watchmen going their rounds on the wall above. As
they clanked along so close above, each man pressed
himself against the face of the rock, keeping as still as
possible, scarcely daring even to breathe.

Suddenly the guards stopped and looked over the
wall. One of them, thinking to have a jest with his
comrades, picked up a loose stone, and throwing it over
the cliff, cried out, ‘ Aha, I see you well I

For one horrible moment, Randolph believed himself
to be discovered, but not a man moved. The stone
crashed down and down, bounding from rock to rock, till
it reached the bottom far below. Then all was still again,
and with a laugh the sentry moved on. He had had his
jest, he had frightened his companions for a moment.
But he little knew how fast he had made thirty hearts
beat. He little knew that just below him thirty men
clung motionless to the rock, every moment expecting
discovery and death.

As soon as the sentries moved away, the men began
their climb again, and a few minutes later the top was
reached. The ladders were quickly fixed, and the men
sprang over the wall. Except for the watchmen, the
whole garrison were asleep, and before they had time to
rise and arm themselves, the castle was taken.

Thus in one way or another, castle after castle fell into
the hands of Bruce. From town after town the English
were driven out, until hardly one remained to them, ex­
cept Stirling, and that was sore beset by Edward Bruce.

At last the Governor of Stirling, seeing that he could


not hold out much longer, made a bargain with him. He
promised to yield the castle, if by midsummer the King of
England did not come to his aid.

To this Edward Bruce agreed. But King Robert was
angry when he heard what bargain his brother had made.
To fight a great battle against the whole force of the
English army was just what he did not want to do, and
to give Edward of England nearly a year in which to
make ready seemed to Bruce, true knight though he was,
to allow the enemy too great an advantage.

‘ Let Edward bring every man he has,’ said Edward
Bruce, ‘and we will fight them, ay even if they were

So be it, brother,’ said King Robert. ‘ Since so we
must, we will manfully abide battle, and let us gather all
who love us and greatly care for the freedom of Scotland,
to come and fight against Edward.’

Edward II. was a weak and changeable king, not wise
and brave as his father had been. How changeable he
was, you may know from the fact that he appointed six
different governors for Scotland in one year,not that it
was much use appointing governors at all over a country
which refused to acknowledge them.

Edward II. was weak, and he was easily led by
favourites. He often quarrelled with his barons and
nobles, but now they and their men gladly joined him
against Scotland. Never, even in the gallant days of
Edward I., had such a knightly army poured over the
Border. From all his dominions Edward called his
followers,from France, from Wales, from Ireland

‘ Many a worthy man and wight,
And many an armour gaily dight,
And many a sturdy champing steed,
Arrayed well
in richest weed,

170                    SCOTLANDS STORY

Many helmets and halbergeons,

Shields and spears and pennons,

And so many a comely knight

That it seemed that in the fight

They should vanquish the world all whole.

Why should I make so long my tale ?

‘ The sun was bright and shining clear,
And armou
rs that all burnished were
So shone in the sun
s beam
That all the land was in a flame.
rs right fairly glowing,
And pennons to the wind were flowing.

On they marched through a deserted country, watched
only by sad-eyed women, who, as they saw the mighty
host roll on, prayed and trembled for their husbands and
brothers and fathers who were gathered at Stirling to
oppose the foe.

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