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Blind Harry's Wallace

The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace,
General and Governour of Scotland
by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield

Book XII, Chapter IV (Continued)
How WALLACE came again to Scotland, and The Battle of Elchock Park.

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Five Bloody Rascals boldly with one Breath
Had bound themselves under the pain of Death,
To take the Wallace wight, dead or alive,
Which prov'd their Ruin, for Old Nick did drive.
Three of the base Assassins, English were,
Scottish vile Villains were the other Pair.
Three Days before, they travell'd had about
Like bloody Hounds to find the Hero out.
With them a Boy that us'd to carry Meat,
Among the Hills and Rocky Mountains great.
When Wallace did retire from his brave Men,
The Rogues most privat'ly were lurking then.
Saw his Departure, dog'd him in his Way,
And knew the Place exactly where he lay.
In Covert of the Rocks they pass and peep,
And plainly did perceive him fall asleep.

Near to his Person then the Rogues aproach,
Thinking they had him fast within their Lotch,
And then the Blood-Hounds put it to the Vote,
To take alive, or kill him on the Spot.
One said, "Could we get him but safe to Perth,
It were our greatest Honour upon Earth.
His Sword and Bow no Safety more affords;
Then let us tye and bind him fast with Cords.
This we may do, I'm sure at our own will,
And lead him by the backside of yon Hill,
So that his Men shall nothing thereof know,"
"Content," said they, then all to work they go.
And thought thro' Force, him Prisoner to make,
But brought to Bed soon of a grand Mistake:
For when they gripp'd him, a sour Face he made,
"What is the Matter?" then he boldly said.

About he turn'd him, out his Arms he threw,
And with his Fists made them both Black and Blue.
The fiercest and the stoutest Man took he,
And dash'd his Brains all out against a Tree.
Then with unparalleled Strength arose,
In spite of his Four other bloody Foes,
And boldly seized the dead Fellow's Sword,
Wherewith he made sound Payment, on my Word.
Another South'ron at a single Stroak,
He hewed down before he left the Oak.
The other Three sought, but full soon were glad,
To take them to their Heels, and so they fled.
But tho' to escape they all in vain did strive,
None could do so on Foot, from him alive.
Then following fast, their nimble speed he try'd,
Gave them their mortal Wound, whereof they dy'd.

As he returned from the Rogues with Joy,
He met with, and said to the Servant Boy,
"What does thou here?" Who, with a Pale dead Face,
Fell on his Knees, and humbly asked Grace.
"I little have to do indeed," said he,
"I lately hired was for Meat and Fee,
With yon Five Men, had I known their Design,
Such Service ne'er had entered in my Mind."
"What's that thou carriest, Boy?" "Sir, it is Meat."
"Then come along with me; it's Time to eat.
Meat at this Time is better far than Gold,
Its Worth at present cannot well be told."

Then with a cheerfull merry Heart and glad,
Went to his Men, who all were quickly fed,
With good rost Meat, plenty of Bread and Cheese,
And did their Strength recover by Degrees.
Thus Fifty-Four refresh'd were, who before,
Had fasted full Three Days and somewhat more.

O mighty Miracle to see (GOD knows)
A sleeping Man surrounded by his Foes,
Ly open to their Fury on the Field,
All Weaponless, no Helmet, Sword nor Shield;
Exposed thus unto their bar'brous will,
And yet for all their Wrath no Pow'r to kill.
Fifty and Four with Hunger almost starv'd,
And yet from Sword and Famine both preserv'd.
When all had fully ate and drank also,
"How came this Meat," said they, "pray, let us know."

Then where the bloody Rogues all dead did ly,
He led them, and disclos'd the Mystery.
"Fy, Sir," said they, "a Chieftain should beware,
And not expose himself by half so far."
To which he answer'd in a merry Mood,
"No Matter, since the Success has been good.
But now," said he, "let us consider soon,
What is the proper Thing next to be done.
Since we are blest with such Deliv'rance great,
From starving Hunger in our pinching Strait,
And I from the deceitfull, bloody Foe,
Let's thank good Fate and to the Lowlands go.
Mean Time, pray, little Boy, does thou know where,
We'll get Provisions till we once come there?"
To which he meekly answered again,
"No Sir, untill we come to Rannach Plain.
There with that Lord great plenty you shall find,
He serves King Edward, tho' against his Mind."
"Then I'll be Guide," said Wallace "to the Shiell.
I know the Place my self exactly well."

Thro' that wild Land he led them brave and right,
And to the Rannach brought them safe at Night.
Where they the Watch did seize, that was a Scot,
On which account, they spar'd and kill'd him not.
Who told them the Condition of the Place,
Which they commanded in a little Space.
The Gate they won, for Castle they had none,
But a thick Mud-Wall without Lime or Stone.
Wallace in hast struck up the Chamber Door,
Made it in Pieces lye upon the Floor.
Then all in fear, from sleep start suddenly,
The Lord gets up and does for Mercy cry.
But when he knew that it was Wallace wight
Most heartily he thank'd the GOD of Might.

"I was a true Man all my Life untill
I vanquish'd was by South'ron, 'gainst my will.
All Scots we are, that now before you stand,
And ready to obey what you command.
Since for this Land such great Things you have done,
What Scots Man dare hold his Face to the Sun,
And yet resist you in so good a Cause,
Defending of our Liberty and Laws?
If any one be found that is so bad,
I'm very sure, that Fellow's worse than Mad."

Then all did promise with uplifted Hands,
Most frankly to obey his just Commands.
And the more fully to confirm the Thing,
Did swear Allegiance to their righteous King.
Then merrily went all to Meat, I trow,
No wonder, for the Case was alter'd now.

Next page: Book XII, Chapter IV (Continued)

The ballad, The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace, General and Governour of Scotland, by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, 1722, is in the public domain.