The queen and her companions were conveyed in detachments from the palace and town of Scone, the Bruce believing, with justice, they would thus attract less notice, and be better able to reach the mountains in safety. The Countess of Buchan, her friend Lady Mary, Agnes, and Isoline, attended by Sir Nigel, were the first to depart, for though she spoke it not, deep anxiety was on the mother’s heart for the fate of her boy. They mostly left Scone at different hours of the night; and the second day from the king’s arrival, the palace was untenanted, all signs of the gallant court, which for a brief space had shed such lustre, such rays of hope on the old town, were gone, and sorrowfully and dispiritedly the burghers and citizens went about their several occupations, for their hearts yet throbbed in loyalty and patriotism, though hope they deemed was wholly at an end. Still they burned with indignation at every intelligence of new desertions to Edward, and though the power of Pembroke compelled them to bend unwillingly to the yoke, it was as a bow too tightly strung, which would snap rather than use its strength in the cause of Edward.
A few weeks’ good nursing from his mother and sister, attended as it was by the kindness and warm friendship of the sovereign he adored, and the constant care of Nigel, speedily restored the heir of Buchan, if not entirely to his usual strength, at least with sufficient to enable him to accompany the royal wanderers wherever they pitched their tent, and by degrees join in the adventurous excursions of his young companions to supply them with provender, for on success in hunting entirely depended their subsistence.
It was in itself a strange romance, the life they led. Frequently the blue sky was their only covering, the purple heath their only bed; nor would the king fare better than his followers. Eagerly, indeed, the young men ever exerted themselves to form tents or booths of brushwood, branches of trees, curiously and tastefully interwoven with the wild flowers that so luxuriantly adorned the rocks, for the accommodation