Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/208

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[1306-7 A.D.
Robert the Bruce.

among his own followers or with the people at large, as he did at that moment. "It now first appears," says the writer in Norman French, "that he has the right, and God is openly for him." He adds that a prophecy of Merlin has been discovered, to the effect that, after the death of Le Roi Coueytous, the Scots and the Bretons shall league together, have the sovereign hand, and live in accord to the world's end.[1] Doubtless the writer had heard the news of the battle of Loudon on May 10th, for he speaks of the English army being in retreat, not to return; but some marked change in public opinion must have taken place in April to make that battle possible. Notwithstanding the manner in which Bruce was hemmed in on all sides by disciplined troops under experienced knights, every pass from the hills being strictly guarded, he managed to give them all the slip, and, passing along the moors by Dalmellington to Muirkirk, appeared early in May in the north of Ayrshire. That he should have accomplished this alone, or attended by a handful of adherents, would have been surprising in itself, even for one so prompt, so active, and so well trained in woodcraft. But the astonishing thing was, and still remains, that he was able to take the field with a sufficient force to accept de Valence's challenge to open battle.

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  1. Bain, ii., 513.