Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/204

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[1306 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

From what this woman told the King, he was led to expect attack from the south, where Glentrool broadens into the valley of the Cree. The King's seat is pointed out to this day, a lofty ledge on the face of Craigmin, whence he is said to have watched for and viewed the English advance. The mountains descend at this place sharply into the lake, leaving but a narrow foothold on either shore, where men may pass in single file. Disposing his men in ambush on the heights guarding this defile, which goes by the name of the Steps of Trool, Bruce took up his post on Craigmin, whence he should give the signal for attack.

It is not known if de Valence himself was actually present with the expedition he had organised, but at any rate de Clifford, or de Waus, or both of them, marched up the Cree with 1500 men. Leaving their horses at the Borgan farm, where the Minnick joins the Cree (for beyond that point the land was impassable for cavalry), the party ascended on foot past Brigton and Minniwick, where shreds of the ancient forest of oak and birch still remain, and entered the glen about six miles above Borgan. Everything was silent and apparently deserted as they pressed on, till, arriving at the Steps of Trool, military formation had to be abandoned, and the soldiers clambered painfully along the steep shores of the lake. They were well within the jaws of the trap before they perceived any sign of the foe. Suddenly, far up on the side of Craigmin, a bugle sounded shrill. It was the King's, and as the notes died away, the hill-men sprang from their lair: