Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/189

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1307 A.D.]
Adventures of the King of Scots.

"That is the King!" cried Douglas, "I know his blast of old."

Again the forest echoed to the notes, and a third time.

"No fear but that is the King!" said Boyd; and once more the devoted band stood together.

Those who know the beautiful isle of Arran must be aware how greatly pleasanter and more secure was the refuge it afforded to the outlawed King than bleak and wind-swept Rachrin. Nearly twenty miles long, and rising into mountains nearly 3000 feet high, its glens and corries, at that time densely clothed with forest, might have enabled the fugitives to set their pursuers at defiance for an indefinite time. But neither the Bruce nor the Black Douglas were of the mould to accept life under such conditions. The King had no tidings of the fate of his wife and child; perhaps he knew the stern Edward well enough to fear the worst. Five and twenty miles to the south-east lay his own earldom of Carrick. From his post in Arran hills he could trace the familiar outlines of the coast round his birthplace at Turnberry; nay, on clear days he might make out the smoke rising out of his own chimneys.

He resolved to send a spy to find out how matters were faring over there, and whether there was any good-will among the people for their absent lord. Accordingly, on a day in early spring, one Cuthbert set out to gather intelligence. If he found the people well disposed and the country fairly safe, he was to kindle a fire on Turnberry Head at an appointed hour.