King Robert the Bruce’s deadly enemy, John of Lorn,
Joined the English with eight hundred Highlanders one morn,
All strong, hardy, and active fearless mountaineers,
But Bruce’s men attacked them with swords and spears.
And while they were engaged, a new enemy burst upon them,
Like a torrent of water rushing down a rocky glen:
It was John of Lorn and his Highlanders that came upon them,
So the tide of battle was too much for them to stem.
And with savage yells they made the valley ring,
Then made a long circuit, and stole in behind the King,
Whirling their broadswords and Lochaber axes left and right;
And the enemy being thrice their number, they relinquished the fight
Then to a certain house Bruce quickly hied,
And sitting by the door the housewife he spied;
And she asked him who he was, and he said, A wanderer,
Then she said, All wanderers are welcome here, kind sir.
Then the King said, Good dame, tell me the reason why,
How you respect all wanderers that chance to pass by,
And for whose sake you bear such favour to homeless men?
Then she said, King Robert the Bruce, if you want to ken,
The lawful King of this country, whom I hope to see;
Then the Bruce said, My good woman, your King stands before thee;
And she said, Ah! Sire, where are your men gone?
Then the King told her that he’s come alone.
Then she said, Ah, my lawful King, this must not be,
For I have two stout sons, and they shall follow thee,
And fight to the death for your Majesty,
Aye, in faith, my good King, by land or sea.
Then she brought her sons before the King, and thus did say,
Now swear, my sons, to be true to your King without dismay;
Then they knelt and cried, Mother, we’ll do as you desire,
We willingly will fight on behalf of our noble sire.
Who has been hunted like a felon by night and by day,
By foul plotters devising to take his life away;
But God will protect him in the midst of the strife,
And, mother dear, we’ll fight for him during life.
Then the King said, Noble lads, it’s you shall follow me,
And ye shall be near me by land or sea,
And for your loyalty towards me your mother I’ll reward;
When all on a sudden the tramping of horses was heard.
Then the King heard voices he knew full well,
But what had fetched his friends there he couldn’t tell;
‘Twas Edward his brother and Lord Douglas, with one hundred and fifty men,
That had travelled far, to find their King, o’er mountain and glen.
And when they met they conversed on the events of the day,
Then the King unto them quickly did say,
If we knew where the enemy were, we would work them skaith;
Then Lord James said, I’ll lead you where they are, by my faith.
Then they marched on the enemy just as the morning broke,
To a farm-house where they were lodged, and, with one bold stroke,
They, the Scots, rushed in and killed two-thirds of them dead;
And such was the life, alas! King Robert the Bruce led!