But the peril was far from past. Lorn's men were drawing near with the sleuth-hound in leash. The King was so greatly exhausted that, descending into a wood, he declared he could go no farther. It was the most critical moment of his whole life. On his foster-brother, did we but know his name, should be bestowed the glory of preserving the monarch—nay, the monarchy itself—of Scotland; for he persuaded the King to make one more effort, otherwise their fates had been sealed.
A stream ran through the wood; the fugitives dropped into it, and, by travelling along its channel for some distance, threw the bloodhound off the scent, and so made good their escape in the forest.
After a short rest, the King and his faithful companion resumed their journey. We know not what harbour they had in view, but it is easy to understand that the wood, though broad and thick, would not conceal them long from hundreds of eager hunters. Leaving it, therefore, they passed out on the wide moor, where they met three armed men, one of whom carried a sheep on his shoulders. These greeted the King, and told him they were seeking Robert de Brus.
"If that be so," said the King, "hold your way, and I will soon let you see him."
By his language and bearing the men suspected they were in the presence of the man they sought. But the King was on his guard. He made the three
- Thus Barbour, lii., liii.; but he adds that some gave a different version of the adventure, namely, that the King went on, while the attendant stayed behind and shot the bloodhound with an arrow.