Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/207

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

stones and arrows rained upon the invaders, and great boulders crashed down among them. Then Bruce's men rushed down the steep, and a hand-to-hand fight began. The superior numbers of the English availed them not at all, for the narrowness of the path prevented those in front and those behind from supporting their comrades. There was a great slaughter; some being cut down or killed with stones, others being driven into the lake and drowned. Only those in rear of the column could take to flight, and thus escape from this dreadful glen.

The shepherds still point out a narrow strip of meadow land at the head of Loch Trool, bright green between the brown mountains and the dark waters of the lake, which they call the Soldiers' Holm; for there, it is said, the Englishmen were buried who fell in this affair.

Barbour's romantic poem receives remarkable confirmation at this point from the prosaic source of the Chancery records. The poet tells how, after the defeat in Glentrool, de Valence had "in his hart gret angir," because he found the people of Ayrshire showing signs of disaffection to their English rulers, and beginning to favour the national cause. This was, in truth, the turning-point in Bruce's fortunes and that of Scottish independence. A letter written from Forfar on May 15, 1307, by one in the English interest whose name has not been preserved, announced to some one at King Edward's Court that Robert de Brus had never before possessed so large a degree of good-will, either