It was a strange life that Bruce, his queen, and his little court led. Sleeping in rough arbours formed of boughs, the party supported themselves by hunting and fishing.
Gins and traps were set in the streams, and Douglas and Archie were specially active in this pursuit; Archie’s boyish experience at Glen Cairn serving him in good stead. Between him and Sir James Douglas a warm friendship had sprung up. Douglas was four years his junior. As a young boy he had heard much of Archie’s feats with Wallace, and his father had often named him to him as conspicuous for his bravery, as well as his youth. The young Douglas therefore entertained the highest admiration for him, and had from the time of his joining Bruce become his constant companion.
Bruce himself was the life and soul of the party. He was ever hopeful and in high spirits, cheering his followers by his gaiety, and wiling away the long evenings by tales of adventure and chivalry, told when they were gathered round the fire.
Gradually the party made their way westward along Loch Tay and Glen Dochart until they reached the head of Strathfillan; here, as they were riding along a narrow pass, they were suddenly attacked by Alexander MacDougall with a large gathering of his clansmen. Several of the royal party were cut down at once, but Bruce with his knights fought desperately. Archie Forbes with a few of the others rallied round the queen with her ladies, and repelled every effort of the wild clansmen to break through, and continued to draw off gradually down the glen. Bruce, with Douglas, De la Haye, and some others, formed the rearguard and kept back the mass of their opponents. De la Haye and Douglas were both wounded, but the little party continued to show a face to their foes until they reached a spot where the path lay between a steep hill on one side and the lake on the other. Then Bruce sent his followers ahead, and himself covered the rear. Suddenly three of the MacDougalls, who had climbed the hillside, made a spring upon him from above. One leapt on to the horse behind the king, and attempted to hold his arms, another seized his bridle rein, while the third thrust his hand between Bruce’s leg and the saddle to hurl him from his horse. The path was too narrow for Bruce to turn his horse, and spurring forward he pressed his leg so close to the saddle that he imprisoned the arm of the assailant beneath it and dragged him along with him, while with a blow of his sword he smote off the arm of him who grasped the rein. Then, turning in his saddle, he seized his assailant who was behind him and by main strength wrenched him round to the pommel of the saddle and there slew him. Then he turned and having cut down the man whose arm he held beneath his leg, he rode on and joined his friends.
In the course of the struggle the brooch which fastened his cloak was lost. This was found by the MacDougalls and carried home as a trophy, and has been preserved by the family ever since, with apparently as much pride as if it had been proof of the fidelity and patriotism of their ancestors, instead of being a memento of the time when, as false and disloyal Scotchmen, they fought with England against Scotland’s king and deliverer.