After a time Grahame went to the cave, and putting his hand on Wallace’s shoulder strove to address a few words of consolation to him.
Sir William rose: “I have done with weeping, Grahame, or rather I will put off my weeping until I have time for it. The first thing to think of is vengeance, and vengeance I swear that I will have. This night I will strike the first blow in earnest towards freeing Scotland. It may be that God has willed it that this cruel blow, which has been struck at me, shall be the means of bringing this about. Hitherto, although I have hated the English and have fought against them, it has been but fitfully and without order or method, seeing that other things were in my heart. Henceforth I will live but for vengeance and Scotland. Hitherto the English have regarded me as an outlaw and a brigand. Henceforth they shall view me as an enemy to be dreaded. Sound the signal of assembly at once. Signify that as many as are within reach shall gather below in two hours. There will be but few, for, not dreaming of this, the bands but two days since dispersed. But even were there none but ourselves it would suffice. Tonight we will take Lanark.”
Chapter IV The Capture of Lanark
A low shout of enthusiasm rose from Wallace’s followers, and they repeated his words as though it had been a vow: “Tonight we will take Lanark.” The notes of a bugle rang through the air, and Archie could hear them repeated as by an echo by others far away in the woods.
The next two hours were spent in cooking and eating a meal; then the party on the ledge descended the narrow path, several of their number bearing torches. At a short distance from its foot some other torches were seen, and fifteen men were found gathered together.
In a few words the sad news of what had taken place at Lanark was related to them and the determination which had been arrived at, and then the whole party marched away to the west. Archie’s heart beat with excitement as he felt himself engaged in one of the adventures which had so filled his thoughts and excited his admiration. An adventure, too, far surpassing in magnitude and importance any in which Wallace had hitherto been engaged.
It seemed almost like an act of madness for twenty-five men to attack a city garrisoned by over 500 English troops, defended by strong walls; but Archie never doubted for a moment that success would attend the enterprise, so implicit was his confidence in his leader. When at some little distance from the town they halted, and Wallace ordered a tree to be felled and lopped of its branches. It was some eight inches in diameter at the butt and thirty feet long. A rope had been brought, and this was now cut into lengths of some four feet. Wallace placed ten of his men on each side of the tree, and the cords being placed under it, it was lifted and carried along with them.