Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/324

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Robert the Bruce.

[1319 A.D.-

cheered. The Sow continued to approach. Crab's next shot fell short, and the Sow was touching the wall before a third could be made ready. This time the engineer took better aim. The great stone crashed into the frame-work of the machine; the inmates tumbled out in confusion. It was the turn of the Scots to cheer now. "Your Sow has farrowed!" they cried, and Crab piled blazing material on the disabled engine, whereby it was soon reduced to ashes.

No sooner had that danger been disposed of than need arose for Crab's crane at another part of the defences. An English ship, with her fortified tops full of men, drew close under the wall; but a well directed shot from the crane brought down her top hamper, and with it all the sharp-shooters posted therein.

All this time Sir Walter the Steward was riding about from point to point, superintending the defence. Of his bodyguard, originally one hundred strong, only one man-at-arms remained with him: the rest had been detached for service on the ramparts as occasion arose. Word was brought to Sir Walter that the English had forced a barricade outside the Mary Gate, and were about to fire the gate itself. He called out the reserve from the castle, where there had been no fighting, and drew them up behind the threatened gate. Then, causing the gate to be thrown open suddenly, he and his men dashed through the fire and fell upon the English with such fury that they gave way. Night came at last, to put an end to a long day of hard fighting, the Scots having made good their defence.