Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/268

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[1314 A.D.
Robert the Bruce.

ragged rabble, and well was it for Bruce that his troops were spared this trial to their steadiness.

"See!" cried King Edward, "am I not right? they kneel for mercy." For at that moment the Abbot of Inchaffray was moving along the front of the Scottish lines, bearing aloft the crucifix, and each division knelt as he passed.

"You speak sooth now, Sire!" said Sir Ingelram, gravely, "they crave mercy, but not from you. It is God's mercy they implore. Those men will never fly: they will win all or die."

"Now be it so!" quoth Edward, who, after all was the son of Malleus Scottorum; "we shall see."

Then he bade the trumpets sound "Advance!"

Now became apparent the sagacity shown by the King of Scots in his choice of position. The ground near Caldan Hill being impracticable, the main advance of the English had to be directed between Parkmill and Charters Hall. A body of 500 men-at-arms under the Earl of Gloucester rode before the nine English divisions, and led the attack on the Scottish right. But owing to the cramped nature of the ground, they could not attempt to deploy, until they were actually on the Scottish line. Moreover, as Sir Thomas de la More mentions, they were thrown into great disarray by the covered pits with which the King of Scots had protected the right of his line. In spite, however, of these difficulties, the English horsemen pressed on, their advance being covered by a cloud of archers, who made their way where the heavy cavalry could not pass. The Scots, ever greatly inferior to the Eng-