Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/198

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Robert the Bruce.

[1306 A.D.-

among the hills, probably by way of Dalmellington and Loch Doon. Bruce, watching his progress from the heights, and retiring before him, nearly fell into the hands of Lorn, who had made a circuit to take him in rear. The King had but three hundred men with him, and, placed as he was between two forces, each greatly larger than his own, it would have been stark madness to show fight. He therefore divided his company into three bands, ordering each to take a different line through the forest, and appointing a place and time for re-assembly.

Now Lorn had brought with him a famous bloodhound, once the property of, and greatly attached to, Bruce. He relied on this dog to settle on the trail of his old master, and he was not disappointed. The hound fastened on the scent of that band which remained with the King, and the pursuit soon became very hot. Bruce directed his followers to scatter and seek safety, each for himself, while he retained with himself none but his foster-brother.

Still the bloodhound stuck to his old master's trail. Lorn, feeling sure he had the right quarry before him, told off five Highlanders, fleet of foot, to run forward. These fellows soon overtook the King. Three of them attacked him, while the other two engaged his attendant. Bruce slew one of his assailants, and, on the others drawing off, turned to help his man, and killed one of the pair that had set upon him. Only three of the five now remained alive. The two Highlanders who had retired before the King came at him again, but he slew them both, while his foster-brother vanquished the fifth.