Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/201

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1307 A.D.]
157
Adventures of the King of Scots.

admiring Barbour; and it must be left to the judgment of each reader to decide how far they are to be admitted as literal history. Of this much we may be well assured, that Bruce owed his life on more than one occasion to his great activity and skill with weapons, and that none of the "gestis" recorded of him approach more nearly to the miraculous, than the plain fact of his escape from pursuit in Glentrool.

Before returning to the solid ground of authentic history, room must be found for one more legendary episode of this stirring time, which has at least the support of heraldry and place-names.

From the eastern shore of lonely Loch Dee—a sheet of water separated from Loch Trool by a mountainous pass—rises a hill called Craigencallie—the old woman's crag. Here, in a solitary cabin, dwelt a widow, the mother of three sons, each by a different husband, and named Murdoch, MacKie, and MacLurg.[1] It was on this hill that the King, when he caused his followers to separate, had told them to re-assemble, and hither he came alone after the loss of his foster-brother.

He asked the old widow for food, of which he stood in sore need. She bade him come in, for that all wayfarers were welcomed for the sake of one.

"And prithee who may that one be?" asked the King.

"I'll tell thee that," quoth the goodwife; "it is none other than King Robert the Bruce, rightful lord

  1. Barbour mentions only two, but local tradition is positive as to three.