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 .

With a shout of triumph the Scotch rushed forward and drove the English advance guard back across the stream; then the Scotch leaders led their men back again to the position which they had quitted, and reformed their array.  Douglas, Edward Bruce, Randolph, and Archie Forbes now gathered round the king and remonstrated with him on the rashness of an act which might have proved fatal to the whole army.  The king smiled at such remonstrances from four men who had, above all others, distinguished themselves for their rash and daring exploits, and shrugging his shoulders observed only that it was a pity he had broken the shaft of his favourite axe.  The English array now withdrew to a short distance, and it became evident that the great battle would be delayed till the morrow.  The Scotch army therefore broke its ranks and prepared to pass the night on the spot where it stood.  The king assembled all his principal leaders round him, and after thanking God for so fair a beginning of the fight as had that day been made, he pointed out to them how great an effect the two preliminary skirmishes would have upon the spirits of both armies, and expressed his confidence in the final result.  He urged upon them the necessity for keeping their followers well in hand, and meeting the charges of the enemy’s horse steadily with their spears; and especially warned them, after repulsing a charge, against allowing their men to break their array, either to plunder or take prisoners, so long as the battle lasted, as the whole riches of the English camp would fall into their hands if successful.  He pledged himself that the heirs of all who fell should have the succession of their estates free from the usual feudal burdens on such occasions.

The night passed quietly, and in the morning both armies formed their array for battle.  Bruce, as was customary, conferred the honour of knighthood upon several of his leaders.  Then all proceeded to their allotted places and awaited the onset.  Beyond the stream and extending far away towards the rising ground were the English squadrons in their glittering arms, the first division in line, the others in heavy masses behind them.  Now that the Scotch were fairly drawn up in order of battle, the English could see how small was their number in comparison with their own, and the king in surprise exclaimed to Sir Ingram de Umfraville: 

“What! will yonder Scots fight us?”

“That verily will they,” the knight replied, for he had many a time been engaged in stout conflict with them, and knew how hard it was even for mail clad knights to break through the close lines of Scottish spears.  So high a respect had he for their valour, that he urged the king to pretend to retire suddenly beyond the camp, when the Scots, in spite of their leaders, would be sure to leave their ranks and flock into the camp to plunder, when they might be easily dispersed and cut to pieces.  The king, however, refused to adopt the suggestion, saying, that no one must be able to accuse him of avoiding a battle or of withdrawing his army before such a rabble.  As the armies stood confronting each other in battle array a priest passed along the Scottish front, crucifix in hand, exhorting all to fight to the death for the liberty of their country.  As he passed along the line each company knelt in an attitude of prayer.  King Edward, seeing this, exclaimed to Sir Ingram: 

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