Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/347

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1326 A.D.]

end the whole kingdom should come to be lost, he chose the least of two evils and decided that it would be better for the commonalty of both kingdoms that each king should possess his own without homage of any sort, than that such slaughter, conflagration, imprisonments, devastation, and depredation should go on every year."

It was all very well for well armed and well mounted knights to ride forth in search of chivalrous adventure, and then return to their comfortable homes in the south, till the time came for fresh exploits. But de Harcla, during many years in his Border eyrie, had witnessed the heartrending misery brought upon poorer folk, and he was sick of it all. He knew that King Robert was of the same mind, and in going to him he took the only course illumined by a single ray of hope. But of course the fact remains that de Harcla did in the end betray the trust he had discharged so honourably and for so many years, and civil government would become impossible if high officials were left at liberty to shape the national policy according to their private judgment.

King Edward now found himself once more under the necessity of suing for truce. As a preliminary to negotiations and to obliterate inconvenient associations, on March 11th he ordered that the bodies of all traitors, then hanging on the gallows in various places, should be taken down and buried out of sight. His proposals were submitted to the King of Scots at Berwick on March 20th, by the hands of Sir Henri de Sully, the French knight taken at Biland, who was empowered to negotiate the terms. King Robert's reasons for refusing to entertain them were