“Your new possessions, Archie, will, as you know, be held on doubtful tenure. If we conquer, and Scotland is freed, I doubt in no way that the king, whoever he may be, will confirm my grant. If the English win, your land is lost, be it an acre or a county. And now let me be the first to congratulate you on having won by your sword and your patriotism the lands of your father, and on having repaid upon your family’s enemies the measure which they meted to you. But you will still have to beware of the Kerrs. They are a powerful family, being connected by marriage with the Comyns of Badenoch, and other noble houses. Their lands in Ayr are as extensive as those in Lanark, even with your father’s lands added to their own. However, if Scotland win the day the good work that you have done should well outweigh all the influence which they might bring to bear against you.
“And now, Archie, I can, for a time, release you. Ere long Edward’s army will be pouring across the Border, and then I shall need every good Scotchman’s sword. Till then you had best retire to your new estates, and spend the time in preparing your vassals to follow you in the field, and in putting one or other of your castles in the best state of defence you may. Methinks that the Kerr’s hold may more easily be made to withstand a lengthened siege than Glen Cairn, seeing that the latter is commanded by the hill beside it. Kerr’s castle, too, is much larger and more strongly fortified. I need no thanks,” he continued, as Archie was about to express his warm gratitude; “it is the Warden of Scotland who rewards your services to the country; but Sir William Wallace will not forget how you have twice stood beside him against overwhelming odds, and how yesterday, in Stirling, it was your watchful care and thoughtful precaution which alone saved his life.”
Archie’s friends all congratulated him warmly, and the next morning, with his own band, he started for Glen Cairn. Here the news that he was once more their lawful chief caused the greatest delight. It was evening when he reached the village, and soon great bonfires blazed in the street, and as the news spread burned up from many an outlying farm. Before night all the vassals of the estate came in, and Glen Cairn and the village was a scene of great enthusiasm.
Much as Archie regretted that he could not establish himself in the hold of his father, he felt that Wallace’s suggestion was the right one. Glen Cairn was a mere shell, and could in no case be made capable of a prolonged resistance by a powerful force. Whereas, the castle of the Kerrs was very strong. It was a disappointment to his retainers when they heard that he could not at once return among them; but they saw the force of his reasons, and he promised that if Scotland was freed and peace restored, he would again make Glen Cairn habitable, and pass some of his time there.