Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/200

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[1306 A.D.
Robert the Bruce.

strangers march before him and his foster-brother, till they came to a deserted hut. There the sheep was killed, a fire kindled, and preparations were made for a much-needed meal and night's rest. But the King insisted that he and his comrade should have a separate fire at one end of the hut, to which the strangers consented with a bad grace. The famished fugitives ate their fill of broiled mutton, which made the desire for sleep almost invincible. But for the King and his man to sleep at the same time meant that neither of them should ever waken, for by this time they had little doubt of the intentions of their new acquaintances. Through part of the night they relieved each other in watching, but, so great was their weariness that at last both were overcome with sleep. Bruce, waking suddenly, heard his companion, whose watch it was, snoring soundly, and, at the same time, by the uncertain light of the embers, perceived the three fellows coming towards him from the other fire. He knew there must be mischief afoot, so, rousing his foster-brother with a hearty kick, he sprang to his feet sword in hand.

His companion staggered up, dazed with sleep, only to be struck down mortally wounded. It was three to one now; three fresh men, moreover, against one "fortravalit"[1]; but such was the King's prowess as a swordsman that all three of his assailants fell before him.

Such, and many others like them, were the daily adventures of the Bruce, as recounted by the

  1. Wearied, worn out.