In Freedom's Cause : a Story of Wallace and Bruce eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 418 pages of information about In Freedom's Cause .
by Archie, and as he did so stopped suddenly, exclaiming, “Archibald Forbes!” and drawing his broadsword sprang at him.  Archie, who was unarmed save by a long knife, leapt back.  In the man he recognized the leader of the MacDougall’s party, who had captured him near Dunstaffnage.  The conflict would have terminated in an instant had not Hector intervened.  Turning round with a deep growl the great hound sprang full at the throat of the Highlander as with uplifted sword he rushed at Archie.  The impetus of the spring threw the MacDougall on his back, with the fangs of the hound fixed in his throat.  Archie’s first impulse was to pull the dog off, the second thought showed him that, were the man to survive he would at once denounce him.  Accordingly, though he appeared to tug hard at Hector’s chain, he in reality allowed him to have his way.  Pembroke and his knights instantly galloped up.  As they arrived Hector loosed his hold, and with his hair bristly with rage prepared to attack those whom he regarded as fresh enemies.

“Hold in that hound,” Pembroke shouted, “or he will do more damage.  What means all this?” For a minute Archie did not answer, being engaged in pacifying Hector, who, on seeing that no harm was intended, strove to return to his first foe.

“It means,” Archie said, when Hector was at last pacified, “that that Highlander came the other day to our cottage and wanted to carry off a cow without making payment for it.  I withstood him, he drew his sword, but as I had a stout cudgel in my hand I hit him on the wrist ere he could use it, and well nigh broke his arm.  So he made off, cursing and swearing, and vowing that the next time he met me he would have my life.”

“And that he would have done,” Pembroke said, “had it not been for Bruce’s dog, who has turned matters the other way.  He is dead assuredly.  It is John of Lorne’s henchman, who was doubtless on his way with a message from his lord to me.  Could not the fool have postponed his grudge till he had delivered it?  I tell you, Scot, you had best keep out of the MacDougalls’ way, for assuredly they will revenge the death of their clansman upon you if they have the chance, though I can testify that the affair was none of your seeking.  Now let us continue our way.”

“I doubt me, Sir Earl, whether our journey ends not here,” Archie said, “seeing that these hounds, when they taste blood, seem for a time to lose their fineness of scent; but we shall see.”

Archie’s opinion turned out correct.  Do what they would they could not induce Hector again to take up his master’s trail, the hound again and again returning to the spot where the dead Highlander still lay.  Pembroke had the body carried off but the hound tugged at his chain in the direction in which it had gone, and seemed to have lost all remembrance of the track upon which he was going.  At last Pembroke was obliged to acknowledge that it was useless to pursue longer, and, full of disappointment at their failure, the party returned to camp, Pembroke saying:  “Our chase is but postponed.  We are sure to get tidings of Bruce’s hiding place in a day or two, and next time we will have the hound muzzled, lest any hotheaded Highlander should again interfere to mar the sport.”

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In Freedom's Cause : a Story of Wallace and Bruce from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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