Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/188

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[1306 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

stantial statement of Barbour. He says that Douglas, fretting at being mewed up in Rachrin, and pitying the poor islanders who had to maintain so large a party, obtained the King's leave to make a reconnaissance in Arran. Taking with him Sir Robert Boyd, he crossed to Cantyre, and, making his crew row under the land by night, landed at daybreak in Arran. The galley was drawn ashore; the oars and tackle were hidden, and, wet, weary, and hungry, the party crept at daybreak into ambush near Brodick Castle.

This fortress was in the keeping of Sir John de Hastings, who had a number of guests with him. Three vessels, laden with stores of clothing, arms, wine, and victual for the castle, had arrived overnight and lay in the bay. Douglas from his hiding-place watched them discharging their cargo, till, choosing a moment when the garrison and sailors were toiling up to the castle laden with stores, he rushed upon them with his men, slew some, put the rest to flight, and seized the spoil. Strange to say, those within the castle did not venture to the rescue of their comrades, but closed the gates, and allowed Douglas to get clear off with his booty. Needless to say how welcome were the supplies of arms, food, and clothing secured in this lucky exploit.

Douglas must have sent word of his success to the King, and advised him to come to Arran; for in ten days' time Bruce arrived with thirty-three small galleys. A woman led him to the mouth of "ane woddy glen," where Douglas and his band harboured. The King blew his horn.