Scotland's Story Chapter XII. Malcolm Canmore—How the King overcame a
PRINCE MALCOLM was now set upon the throne. He was
crowned at Scone with great ceremony, sitting upon the Stone of Destiny, or
the Stone of Hope as it was sometimes called.
This stone, it was said, was the stone which Jacob had
used as a pillow when he slept in the wilderness and saw the vision of
angels going up and down upon a ladder set up from earth to heaven. Prince
Gathelus had brought it with him from Egypt, and from that time it had
always been in the possession of the Kings of Scotland, for it was said that
wherever this stone was the Scots should reign.
'Except old saws do fail, And wizards wits be blind, The Scots in place
shall reign Where they this stone shall find.
When Kenneth Macalpine became King over the whole
land, he brought the Stone to Scone, and there it remained for hundreds of
years, and the Kings of Scotland always sat upon it when they were crowned.
Malcolm did not forget his promise to Macduff, and as
soon as he was King he rewarded him greatly, making him second only to
himself in power.
Macduff was now called the
Earl of Fife, for Malcolm having lived so long in England had learned many
English ways and words, and he brought this Saxon title into use in
To the Earl of Fife was given the
honour of placing the crown upon the King's head at his coronation. He was
also chosen to be leader of the army, and over the people of his own country
of Fife he was given power equal to that of the King.
Malcolm was not allowed to take possession of his
kingdom without a struggle. A few nobles still refused to acknowledge him as
King, and they set Lulath, Macbeth's cousin, upon the throne. But Malcolm,
hearing of this, sent an army against him. In the battle that followed,
Lulath was killed and all his soldiers scattered.
For ten years after this the land had peace. Malcolm
Canmore was a good King and ruled well. We are told that he was a King very
humble in heart, bold in spirit, exceedingly strong in bodily strength,
daring though not rash, and having many other good qualities.
One day a courtier came to King Malcolm to tell him
that one of his greatest nobles had agreed with his enemies to kill him. But
the King bade the courtier be silent, and would not listen to him. Shortly
after, the traitor came to court, followed by a great company of soldiers.
The King greeted him kindly, and did not let him see that he knew what
wicked thoughts were hid deep in his heart.
That night there was a fine supper, and the King ordered a great
hunting-party for next day. Very early in the morning every one was astir.
Huntsmen and dogs were gathered, and with a great noise and clatter they set
The King arranged in which direction
each man was to go, and he himself rode off, attended only by one knight
This knight was the wicked traitor who wished to kill the King.
Side by side they rode through the wood—the King and
the murderer. On and on they went, riding farther and farther away from the
others. The noise of jingling harness, the voices of men, the baying of
dogs, grew fainter and fainter in the distance. At last they were heard no
more. Darker and denser grew the wood, but still the King rode on.. At last,
bursting through a ring of trees, they came to a clear open space.
Then the King turned and looking sternly at the
traitor, said, 'Here we are, you and I, man to man. There is none to stand
by me, King though I be, and none to help you; nor can any man see or hear
us. So now if you can, if you dare, if your courage fails you not, do the
deed which you have in your heart. Fulfil your promise to my foes. If you
think to slay me, when better? When more safely? When more freely? When, in
short, could you do it in a more manly way? Have you poison ready for me?
Would you slay me in my sleep? Have you a dagger hidden with which to strike
me unawares? All would say that were a murderer's, not a knight's part. Act
rather like a knight, not like a traitor; act like a man. Meet me as man to
man. Then your treachery may at least be free from meanness, for from
disloyalty it can never be free.'
On foot at liking thou rnayest fight, Or on horse
if thou wilt be, As thou thinkest best. Now choose thee Horsed and
armed as well M I am thou art every whit. Thy weapons are more sharp
and ready Than any that unto this stead have I. Target, spear,
knife, and sword, Between us now deal we the weird. Here is best now
to begin Thy purpose, if thou wilt honour win. Here is none that may
us see, None, help may either me or thee, Therefore try now with all
thy might To do thy purpose as a knight. Since thou ha-,t failed in
loyalty Do this deed yet with honesty, If now thou may or dare or
will, Hesitate not to fulfil Thy promise, thy purpose, and thine oatk
Do forth thy deed and be not loth. If thou thinkest to slay me,
What time than now may better be, With freedom or with manhood?
Forth thee! do as should a knight. Go we together. God deal the right,
With our four hands and no more Thereon must all the game go.
AU the time that the King was speaking, the wretched
traitor sat upon his horse with bowed head. He was ashamed to look up, and
the King's words fell upon his heart like the strokes of a hammer upon an
anvil. He cursed himself for his evil thoughts. The weight of shame seemed
more than he could bear.
The King ceased
speaking, and the traitor springing from his horse threw away his shield and
spear. With trembling hands he unbuckled his sword and flinging that too
away, he knelt at the King's feet, unarmed. His face was pale and tears were
in his eyes; 'liy Lord and King,' he cried, 'forgive me. Out of your kingly
grace forgive me this once. Whatever evil was in my heart, whatever wicked
thought was mine shall be blotted out. I swear before God that in the future
I shall be more faithful to you than any man.'
'Fear not, my friend,' replied the King, raising him
up, 'you shall suffer no evil from me or through me on this account'
The King then all his action Forgave this knight
there quietly, And took him all to his mercy; And there he became
his man More leal than be was before then. And the King that was his
lord Let no wan know of their discord Till the knight himself this
case Told, and all that happened war.
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