Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/228

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Robert the Bruce.

In fact, the King of England had troubles enough at home to justify him in making almost any terms with the King of Scots. The clouds of coming tempest were gathering round him. The honours with which he had loaded his Gascon favourite, Piers Gaveston, had infuriated his English barons, who had refused to allow the King to be crowned, until he would agree to let their demands be submitted to Parliament. The coronation, it is true, had been performed on February 25th, but the dispute remained as violent as before.

There is nothing to show whether the English commanders made overtures to Bruce according to their instructions; though perhaps an undated letter from the Earl of Ross, making excuses for having taken truce from Robert de Brus, may be referred to this period. It is certain that if any proposals were made to him, the King of Scots was far too stern in his purpose to listen to them. No doubt his many friends and kinsmen at the English Court would keep him well informed of Edward's difficulties. Every day brought him fresh adherents. Sir David de Brechin—the same who led the successful reconnaissance against Bruce's entrenchments at Inverurie—had shut himself up in his castle of Brechin after Buchan's defeat at Old Meldrum. David, Earl of Athol, son of the earl executed after the capture of Kildrummie, sat down before it, and succeeded in persuading the knight to surrender and join the national cause. In the south, Sir James Douglas scored a still more important success. He must have found the men of Tweeddale well disposed to Bruce,