ALEXANDER was a good King, and after he had tamed
the Ravens, he spent his time making good laws. He travelled all over his
kingdom to see that justice was done even to the very poor. He reigned for
thirty-seven years, and towards the end of his reign he had many sorrows.
His wife died, his two sons died, and his daughter, who had married the King
of Norway, also died. She left a little daughter called Margaret, and this
little girl was the heir to the throne.
those days it was very unusual for a Queen to rule, so, sad as he was,
Alexander gathered all his nobles together, and made them swear to receive
the little Princess Margaret as their Queen when he died.
Alexander felt it very necessary to do this, for the
King of England, now called Edward I., had again tried to make him own him
as over-lord. But Alexander had again refused. 'To homage for my kingdom of
Scotland no one has any right save God alone, nor do I hold it of any but
God,' he said. 'I do homage to you only for the lands which I hold in
So for the time the King of England
had to be content, but Alexander felt very sure that when he was gone, and
there was only a little girl to withstand him, the King of England would try
once again to make himself master of Scotland. So he charged all the knights
and barons to be true to their Queen and their country.
Not long after this, Alexander had been to Edinburgh
to a great banquet, and after it was over he started to ride back to his
castle at Dunfermline. The night was dark, and his lords prayed him not to
go, as a wise man called Thomas the Rhymer had foretold that there would be
a great storm. But Alexander was determined to go, and be started off in the
He reached the river Forth in
safety, and there the ferryman begged him not to cross, as the night was
dark and the water deep. Still Alexander insisted on going. 'Then will I go
too,' said the man; 'it would. ill become me if I were not willing to die
with thy father's son.'
The river was safely
crossed. On again through the darkness went the King and his little band of
followers. The road led by the river-side. The cliffs were high and steep
and the night so dark that they could not see the narrow path, and they had
to trust to their horses.
But on they went,
the King riding first, quickly and fearlessly. Suddenly his horse stumbled.
'There was a cry in the darkness; the sound of a heavy fall; then silence.
'My lord King,' cried a frightened attendant, 'what
There was no answer, except
the sound of the waves, and the cry of wild birds. Far below, on the rocks
of the sea-shore, the King lay dead.
dawned clear and calm, and the people laughed at Thomas the Rhymer. 'Where
is your storm?' they asked, pointing to the blue sky and bright sunshine.
But even as they spoke a messenger came with the news, 'The King is dead.'
'There,' said Thomas, 'that is the storm of which I
spoke. Never did tempest bring more ill luck to Scotland.'
There was great sorrow at the death of Alexander, for
he had been a good King, and his people loved him.
'Scotland lamented him full sore,
For under him all
his people were
In honour, quiet, and iii peace.
Peaceable King he was.
He loved all men that were virtuous,
loathed and chastised all vanities,
Justice he gave and equity
each man as should be.
'To lords and knights and
That were pleasant of manners,
He was leal, liberal, and
And all virtuous in governing.
our King was dead,
That Scotland led in love and le,
Away was wealth
of ale and bread,
Of wine and wax, of game and glee.
'Our gold was changed into lead—
Christ born into virginity,
Scotland and remedy
Which placed is in perplexity.'
It is more than six hundred years since King Alexander
died, but the place is still called the King's Crag, and there is a monument
there to mark the spot.