“But I lived for my country, for ye, her children,” he continued, his voice becoming impassioned in its fervor; “lived to redeem this night, to suffer on a while, to be your savior still. Will ye then desert me? will ye despond, because of one defeat—yield to despair, when Scotland yet calls aloud? No, no, it cannot be!” and roused by his earnest, his eloquent appeal, that devoted band sprung from their drooping posture, and kneeling at his feet, renewed their oaths of allegiance to him; the oath that bound them to seek liberty for Scotland. It was then, as one by one advanced, the king for the first time missed his brother Nigel and the heir of Buchan; amidst the overwhelming bitterness of thought which had engrossed him, he had for a brief while forgotten the precarious situation of Alan, and the determination of Nigel to seek and save, or die with him; but now the recollection of both rushed upon him, and the flush which his eloquence had summoned faded at once, and the sudden expression of anguish passing over his features roused the attention of all who stood near him.
“They must have fallen,” he murmured, and for the first time, in a changed and hollow voice. “My brother, my brother, dearest, best! can it be that, in thy young beauty, thou, too, art taken from me?—and Alan, how can I tell his mother—how face her sorrow for her son?”
Time passed, and there was no sound; the visible anxiety of the king hushed into yet deeper stillness the voices hushed before. His meaning was speedily gathered from his broken words, and many mounted the craggy heights to mark if there might not yet be some signs of the missing ones. Time seemed to linger on his flight. The intervening rocks and bushes confined all sounds within a very narrow space; but at length a faint unintelligible noise broke on the stillness, it came nearer, nearer still, a moment more and the tread of horses’ hoofs echoed amongst the rocks—a shout, a joyful shout proclaimed them friends. The king sprung to his feet. Another minute Nigel and Alan pressed around him; with the banner still in his hand, Alan knelt and laid it at his sovereign’s feet.
“From thy hand I received it, to thee I restore it,” he said, but his voice was scarcely articulate; he bowed his head to press Robert’s extended hand to his lips, and sunk senseless at his feet.
Rumors of the fatal issue of the engagement at Methven speedily reached Scone, laden, of course, with, yet more disastrous tidings than had foundation in reality. King Robert, it was said, and all his nobles and knights—nay, his whole army—were cut off to a man; the king, if not taken prisoner, was left dead on the field, and all Scotland lay again crushed and enslaved at the feet of Edward. For four-and-twenty hours did the fair inhabitants of the palace labor under this belief, well-nigh stunned beneath the accumulation