Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/224

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[1307 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

strengthened in the north by the adhesion of Simon and Alexander Fraser, came near to ruin towards the end of 1307, by reason of the King's health breaking down. Robert was still a young man in years, being only thirty-three; but, although of a splendid natural constitution and great bodily strength, the hardships he had come through had told upon him terribly. Months of exposure, excessive fatigue, and uncertain diet had reduced him so low that, falling sick at Inverurie, he lay for several weeks in great peril of death. Edward de Brus felt uneasy about the safety of the King in the low country, for Buchan and de Moubray were known to be collecting forces to bring against him, and Edward was unwilling to meet them in battle unless the King were able to lead his men in person. Therefore a move was made to the Sliach, a hilly part of Drumblade parish in north-west Aberdeenshire, whither the King was carried in a litter. Here the hill called Robin's Height is supposed to mark the site of the King's headquarters, and, with the Meet Hillock, to have been put in a state of defence.

Buchan advanced to the attack, but, as it seems, without much spirit. During three days, the country being covered with snow, he "bikkered" the King's men with his archers. Edward de Brus, being badly provisioned, could not hold the position any longer, so the King was again put in his litter and placed in the centre of the column, which marched out in full view of the enemy. For some unknown reason, Buchan, who outnumbered his enemy by