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 .

One day when he was in the forest of Selkirk with the king a body of fifty men were seen approaching.  Their leader inquired for Sir Archibald Forbes, and presently approached him as he was talking to the king.

“Sir Archibald Forbes,” he said, “I am bidden by my mistress, the lady Mary Kerr, to bring these, a portion of the retainers of her estates in Ayrshire, and to place them in your hands to lead and govern.”

“In my hands!” Archie exclaimed in astonishment.  “The Kerrs are all on the English side, and I am their greatest enemy.  It were strange, indeed, were one of them to choose me to lead their retainers in the cause of Scotland.”

“Our young lord Sir Allan was slain at Methven,” the man said, “and the lady Mary is now our lady and mistress.  She sent to us months ago to say that she willed not that any of her retainers should any longer take part in the struggle, and all who were in the field were summoned home.  Then we heard that no hindrance would be offered by her should any wish to join the Bruce; and now she has sent by a messenger a letter under her hand ordering that a troop of fifty men shall be raised to join the king, and that it shall fight under the leading and order of Sir Archibald Forbes.”

“I had not heard that Sir Allan had fallen,” Archie said to the king as they walked apart from the place where the man was standing; “and in truth I had forgotten that he even had a sister.  She must have been a child when I was a boy at Glen Cairn, and could have been but seldom at the castle —­ which, indeed, was no fit abode for so young a girl, seeing that Sir John’s wife had died some years before I left Glen Cairn.  Perhaps she was with her mother’s relations.  I have heard that Sir John Kerr married a relation of the Comyns of Badenoch. `Tis strange if, being of such bad blood on both sides, she should have grown up a true Scotchwoman —­ still more strange she should send her vassals to fight under the banner of one whom she must regard as the unlawful holder of her father’s lands of Aberfilly.”

“Think you, Sir Archie,” the king said, “that this is a stratagem, and that these men have really come with a design to seize upon you and slay you, or to turn traitors in the first battle?”

Archie was silent.  “Treachery has been so much at work,” he said after a pause, “that it were rash to say that this may not be a traitorous device; but it were hard to think that a girl —­ even a Kerr —­ would lend herself to it.”

“There are bad women as well as bad men,” the king said:  “and if a woman thinks she has grievances she will often stick at nothing to obtain revenge.”

“It is a well appointed troop,” Archie said looking at the men, who were drawn up in order, “and not to be despised.  Their leader looks an honest fellow; and if the lady means honestly it were churlish indeed, to refuse her aid when she ventures to break with her family and to declare for Scotland.  No; methinks that, with your permission, I will run the risk, such as it may be, and will join this band with my own.  I will keep a sharp watch over them at the first fight, and will see that they are so placed that, should they mean treachery, they shall have but small opportunity of doing harm.”

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