The Hunted King The Hunted King
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Robert Bruce by Edmund Leighton

A long time ago, there was a man in Scotland named Robert the Bruce. He was the rightful king of Scotland. He had fought a battle with his enemies, the English. His little army had been beaten and scattered. Many of his best friends had been killed or taken prisoner. The king himself had to hide in the wild woods. His enemies hunted for him with dogs.

For many days he wandered through rough and dangerous places. He crossed rivers and climbed mountains. Sometimes two or three faithful friends were with him. Sometimes he was alone. Sometimes his enemies were very close upon him.

Late one evening he came to a little farm house in a lonely valley. He walked in without knocking. A woman was sitting alone by the fire.

“May a poor man find rest and shelter here for the night?” he asked.

The woman answered, “All men are welcome except for one. You are welcome.”

“Who is that one?” asked the king.

“That is Robert the Bruce,” said the woman. “He is the rightful lord of this country. He is now being hunted with dogs. But I hope soon to see him king over all Scotland.”

“Since you love him so well,” said the king, “I will tell you something. I am Robert the Bruce.”

“You!” cried the woman. She was surprised. “Are you the Bruce, and are you all alone?”

“My men have been scattered,” said the king. “There is no one with me.”

“That is not right,” said the brave woman. “I have two sons who are strong and loyal. They will go with you and serve you.”

So she called her two sons. They were tall and brave young men. They gladly promised to go with the king and help him.

The king sat down by the fire. The woman hurried to get things ready for supper. The two young men got down their bows and arrows. Everyone were busy making plans for the next day.

Suddenly a great noise was heard outside. They listened. They heard the sound of horses and the voices of many men.

“The English! The English!” said the young men. They were filled with fear.

“Be brave, and defend your king with your lives,” said their mother. Her sons knew they could not win against so many men. They were certain they would die that night.

“Go, my king,” one of them said. “There is a window in the back of the house. The forest is close by. You can still escape. We will fight and keep the English here for as long as we can.”

The king was sad. He did not want to bring harm to this family. They had been kind and loyal. But he had no choice.

“I thank you for your courage,” he said. “You will not be forgotten.”

The king was about to leave. Then someone outside called loudly, “Have you seen King Robert the Bruce pass this way?”

“That is my brother Edward’s voice,” said the king. “These are friends, not enemies.”

The door was thrown open. He saw a hundred brave men, all ready to give him help. He forgot his hunger. He felt full of strength. He began to ask about his enemies. He asked if the English were still hunting for him.

“I saw two hundred of them in the village below us,” said one of his officers. “They are resting there for the night. They have no fear of danger from us. If you are ready to go, we might surprise them.”

“Then let us take the horses and ride,” said the king.

The next minute they were off. They rushed suddenly into the village. They defeated the king’s enemies and scattered them.

Robert the Bruce never again had to hide in the woods. He never had to run from hunting dogs. Soon he became the real king and ruler of all Scotland.

This story is adapted from Fifty Famous People by James Baldwin.

I read this story! Honestly!