ROBERT the BRUCE

by Eric Ferguson



Copyright © 1995 by Eric Ferguson. All rights reserved.
5732 Bossen Terr.#2
Minneapolis, MN 55417
voice/fax (612) 726-6364
eric@celticfringe.net
http://www.celticfringe.net
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed, Or to victorie!

-- from "Scots Wha Hae" by Robert Burns,
to the tune of "Bruce's Address"


GENRE: Historical drama

SYNOPSIS: This play is about Robert the Bruce, a king of Scotland during the middle ages. The play starts with the beginning of his rebellion against English occupation. His war starts when he kills his rival in a church. He claims the Scottish crown and, after his army is destroyed, carries out a guerrilla campaign against England and his Scottish enemies. After reaching the point of having a small band of men and no territory, he rebuilds his forces and wins control of Scotland. At the battle of Bannockburn, he routs a huge English force and establishes effective Scottish independence. He seeks English recognition of his claim to the crown, and gets it just before his death. During the play, Bruce struggles with his conscience over the killing of his rival and the suffering caused by the war. He also tries to avoid becoming like the cruel English king he went to war against, but he also earns the name "Good King Robert". This play is a universal story of struggle against long odds, heroism, and sacrifice.

CAST: There are 20 characters, but many parts can be combined. Probably the play can be done by one woman and 14 men. Ages range from teens to 70, but the long length of time over which the play takes place makes much fudging possible.

ESTIMATED LENGTH: I estimate around two hours, but there are opportunities for as much stage combat as the producer cares to throw in.

SCENES: There are 26 scenes, but scenic requirements are very simple. Scene changes can be accomplished by moving one or two set pieces or lighting changes. Even merely exits and entrances will change scenes. It need be no more complicated than any simple production of a Shakespeare play.

REQUIREMENTS: Fees are negotiable for productions. I would permit free use for classes, readings and workshops. Artistic requirements: as nice as historically accurate costumes and props would be, the play could be done minimalistically; again, use the same sort of guidelines as producing Shakespeare. Colorblind casting is fine. Dialects are unnecessary as the characters are often not speaking English, and when they are it would be drastically different from modern English, but that can be director's discretion.

NOTES: Robert the Bruce was read at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis on January 4, 1996. It is based on three modern biographies of Robert Bruce and on the 14th century epic poem The Bruce, by John Barbour. Anyone wanting more particular information should contact the playwright.




CHARACTERS: THE BRUCES
Robert Bruce (Bruce), age 30's-50's
Edward Bruce, his brother (Edward), 30's-40's
Thomas Randolph, their nephew (Randolph), 20's-40's
Elizabeth, Bruce's wife (Elizabeth) early 20's-early 40's

THE ENGLISH
King Edward of England (Edward I), early 70's
Prince of Wales, his son, later Edward II (Wales), 30's
Edward III, their son (Edward III), mid 10's
Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke (Pembroke), 30's-50's
Robert Clifford (Clifford)

SCOTTISH LORDS
Ingram de Umfraville (Umfraville)
John Comyn, Earl of Buchan (Buchan)
John Comyn the Red, his cousin (Comyn)
Alexander Seton (Seton)
James Douglas (Douglas), 20's-40's

OTHERS
Christian of Carrick, Bruce's former mistress (Christian)
Ian, soldier in Bruce's army (Ian)
Donald, " " (Donald)
MacIntyre, their sergeant (MacIntyre)
Papal Envoy (Envoy)
Bishop William Lamberton (Lamberton)
assorted soldiers, servants, etc.

PROGRAM NOTES: This play is about the man who is the greatest hero in Scottish history. The story of Robert the Bruce, known to his subjects as Good King Robert, is the story of Scotland's struggle to regain its independence from England.

Scotland's King Alexander III died in 1286, leaving as his heir a granddaughter, known as the Maid of Norway. She died shortly thereafter, leaving no clear claimant to the Scottish throne. To avoid civil war, the Scottish nobles requested the arbitration of King Edward I of England, who had just completed his conquest of Wales. He placed English garrisons in Scotland and heard the various claims.

The two strongest claimants were from the two strongest families in Scotland; the Comyns, represented by an in-law, John Balliol, and the Bruces, represented by Robert Bruce's grandfather, known as Robert Bruce "the competitor". King Edward proclaimed himself Overlord of Scotland, and made both claimants swear fealty to him, which meant they would owe him their loyalty in exchange for their position, before he would hear their cases. Edward then chose the man he thought more manipulable, John Balliol. The Bruces never accepted Balliol as king.

Manipulate Edward did, to such an extent that the Scottish nobles dragged Balliol into rebellion in 1295. The rebellion was quickly crushed. Edward captured the city of Berwick and slaughtered the inhabitants. King John was forced to abdicate. The Bruces (now led by Bruce's father, known as Robert Bruce the Elder), owing fealty to Edward but not to Balliol, held Carlisle against the rebel army. However, Edward chose not to bestow the crown on Bruce's father, nor on anyone else.

In 1296, the rebellion started again when William Wallace and Andrew Moray organized an army of outlawed men. At the battle of Stirling Bridge, Scottish peasants armed with spears defeated the English knights. That such a thing could happen was quite stunning at the time. Moray was killed, but Wallace was knighted and made Guardian, with the power of a king. Both Bruce and John Comyn the Red, leader of the Comyns, joined the rebellion. When Wallace was defeated at Falkirk, Bruce and Comyn became joint Guardians. However, they fell out with each other, fought separate wars, and made separate peaces. Wallace was captured by King Edward in 1305 and cruelly executed. He has since been considered a hero second only to Bruce. Scotland appeared terrorized into pacifity. Our play begins in 1306, about a year after Wallace's execution and the seeming end of the rebellion.

What was the feudal system? During the time being portrayed, landed men were granted their lands by a nobleman or the king. They swore fealty, which meant they promised their loyalty to their lord ("lord" was also a polite term of address) which meant providing soldiers in time of war. The lord, on his part, had to protect his vassal's lands.

Knights devoted themselves to training for war. All nobles and royalty had to earn a knighthood. Knights were an international class, often having land in more than one country (the Bruces held land in Scotland, England, and Ireland) and swearing fealty to different lords. This could result in conflicting loyalties in wartime. Loyalties were personal rather than national. Churchmen, by contrast, tended to spend their lives in one country and were far more nationalistic.

ACT ONE

Scene 1



(Bruce and Bishop Lamberton are waiting to meet the Comyns)

LAMBERTON
Robert, the bishops are of one mind on this---aside from those appointed by King Edward.

BRUCE
Does the Pope support your demands for independence?

LAMBERTON
Probably not. Edward has a lot of influence with him; the best we can hope for is that he will stay out. But, if we present him with an accomplished fact and hope of a another crusade, he'll probably relent.

BRUCE
Why are you so determined to have me lead another rebellion?

LAMBERTON
You're the only candidate left. Not that you're not our best general, you are, and if I have to say that to the Comyns when they arrive, I will; but the relevant point is that you're the only one who can lead.

BRUCE
William, I think you're forgetting how disliked I am by the Comyn faction. If I was in command, they would switch to the English side without a second thought.

LAMBERTON
You would win over many Comyn supporters. They also want independence and will follow whoever can deliver it. Some victories, your personal charm, and they will follow you. Those that don't will be so few in number you will have little trouble to defeat them in the field. The active support of the church will bring you funds and large numbers of recruits. And don't forget your reputation for chivalry, which is sure to bring many foreign knights to your side.

BRUCE
You're a little too optimistic I think. Men will think I fight strictly in my own cause...

LAMBERTON
They know John Balliol to be an empty jacket.

BRUCE
Then there's his son Edward for them to rally around.

LAMBERTON
There's no one ready to fight for King John anymore. He is disgraced, and rightly or wrongly his abdication makes his son's claim questionable.

BRUCE
And what will the Comyns say?

LAMBERTON
Forget the Comyns! They're discredited since surrendering. They couldn't rally anyone but their own vassals, hardly enough for a war.

BRUCE
There is the question of whether the country will rally around anybody! Everyone is exhausted after eight years of war. The country still lies in ruins, Edward has everyone terrified...

LAMBERTON
No Robert, he has them angry. Scared, yes, but angry. They need only a bit of hope to make them rise up again. Perhaps, Robert, you're the one who has grown scared.

BRUCE
When I joined the rebellion I went directly opposite my father's orders, and he had his instructions from King Edward. Nobody can call me "scared". Perhaps I've just grown more sensible.

LAMBERTON
Sensible enough to give up your family's claim to the crown?

BRUCE
Of course not. William, do you think I could forget the promise I made my grandfather? Right after the arbitration was over, and King Edward awarded Scotland's crown to John Balliol, my grandfather made me promise to never cease pursuing our family's claim. Not my father, not an uncle, me.

LAMBERTON
It's your crown now Robert, has been since your father died. It's only waiting for you to claim it.

BRUCE
Now is not the time!

LAMBERTON
Of course not! Edward would squash you, then who knows how badly this country would feel his wrath. But he is old and, as I understand, ill. His death will offer the opportunity we're looking for.

BRUCE
I'll see for myself. I have to attend the English parliament and give homage to Edward. Then I'll know. You're right, his time can't be long in coming. What about the Comyns? I can't just spring this on them when Edward dies, they'll assume I'm attacking them.

LAMBERTON
That's why you must come to some understanding with Red Comyn beforehand. Offer him your crown...

BRUCE
Is that why you arranged this meeting?

LAMBERTON
...in exchange for his land. Or the other way around, contingent of course on you being able to assert your claim.

BRUCE
What if he chooses the crown?

LAMBERTON
You would have all his lands and he would have a crown he can't use. Remember, the claim isn't his personally, it's Balliol's, and no one will rally to Balliol anyway.

(He looks out a window.)

Red Comyn is here. Looks like he brought his black cousin with him. Time to decide.

(Comyn and Buchan enter.)

COMYN
Greetings your grace.

LAMBERTON
Welcome my lords.

COMYN
Bruce.

BRUCE
Comyn.

COMYN
(pause) Well, now that we're done with the small talk, why am I here?

LAMBERTON
The Earl of Carrick has an offer which will end the enmity between your houses, or at least give a final resolution to the dispute over Scotland's crown.

COMYN
What dispute? King John's claim is clear.

(Bruce starts to answer. Lamberton stops him.)

LAMBERTON
The Bruces' claim will be relinquished to you, in exchange for all your lands.

COMYN
Small price for my lands. What do you think I own, a couple shielings and a cow?

LAMBERTON
Or else you relinquish your family's claim to Bruce, and in exchange receive all of his lands.

COMYN
And when would I receive them?

BUCHAN
Cousin...

LAMBERTON
When he is able to assert himself as king, he will grant his lands to you.

COMYN
You can keep the crown. I'll take your lands. Draw up the document.

LAMBERTON
Already done.

(He presents the written agreement.)

And here is some wax. My lords, you need only affix your seals.

(After hesitating, Bruce and Comyn do so.)

BRUCE
I hope, Comyn, that we have bought ourselves peace.

COMYN
I sincerely hope so too.

(Bruce and Lamberton leave.)

BUCHAN
Cousin, tell me it isn't true.

COMYN
Tell you what isn't true?

BUCHAN
All this.

COMYN
All what?

BUCHAN
Your dreadful deal with Bruce.

COMYN
You were right here.

BUCHAN
But I don't want to believe my eyes! I am fairly amazed you have placed such trust in such a man. Couldn't you see how prepared they were for this? What's more, word is bound to get back to King Edward. Do you know what he'll do to you when he hears about this foolish bargain?!

COMYN
It's Bruce who's been the fool, cousin.

BUCHAN
It's both of you, but you more. Edward's been a personal friend of the Bruces', and is known to think highly of the current Earl. He may confiscate his lands and banish him, but you he will surely hang!

COMYN
It's well known Edward is near death; I'm just planning ahead.

BUCHAN
I have it from one just back from Edward's court that he is recovered and quite vigorous for his age.

COMYN
(Thinks)

I must get that document back.

BUCHAN
Your little treaty is already gone! That means word is already out. You better tell Edward before someone else does; or can't you see what a trap has been set for you?

COMYN
I'll write him a letter confessing everything and craving his pardon. I just realized, Bruce will be in his court by the time Edward gets it.

(blackout)


Scene 2



(Edward I's court. The men are getting roaring drunk, especially the king. Bruce is next to him, and senses something is wrong.)

EDWARD I
You know, don't you Bruce?

BRUCE
Know what, your majesty?

EDWARD I
Your father and I were great friends.

BRUCE
Yes sire.

EDWARD I
He's told you stories, I would imagine, about our times together during the last crusade.

BRUCE
Many times.

EDWARD I
He told you about the Syrian woman?

BRUCE
Oh yes.

(forces a laugh)

EDWARD I
You haven't repeated that one to the wife I'll warrant. You know Bruce, there is a certain sense of loyalty between men who live through times like those. You know what I mean?

BRUCE
Yes sire.

EDWARD I
I doubt it. You haven't lived through times like those. It is a shame. A man could wish such loyalty could be passed from father to son, just like land or armor. To often I fear it is not, don't you? I wish it could be drunk like mothers milk. But I fear that, like milk, loyalty sours. And the consequences are dreadful.

BRUCE
Of course sire. If you'll excuse me, the wine I had earlier no longer wishes to be contained.

EDWARD I
If you have to piss just say so. Was it at your mother's knee you picked up these prissy manners?

(Bruce leaves and goes to his private rooms. Lights come up as he enters revealing Elizabeth brushing her hair.)

ELIZABETH
What are you doing back already?

BRUCE
Somehow, as I get older, getting drunk and comparing vomit with other drunks starts to lose its appeal. I thought I'd do some reading. Why aren't you with the other ladies?

ELIZABETH
I complained of an upset stomach.

BRUCE
Something you ate?

ELIZABETH
A sudden reaction to the prospect of another evening of embroidery. The youngest of them is eight years older than me.

BRUCE
Well, I hope being free of their company has made you feel better, because it looks like we have some time alone.

(He starts to embrace her.)

ELIZABETH
Robert, at least let me get the brush out of my hair. You've got it all tangled.

BRUCE
Here, I'll fix that. Where are your scissors?

ELIZABETH
No!

(She jumps up and giggles. They are interrupted by a knock at their door.)

BRUCE
Now what.

(Clifford enters)

CLIFFORD
Bruce, I have to talk to you.

BRUCE
My old friend Robert Clifford. It's good to see you again, but this really is a bad time. I'll see you at tomorrow's hunt.

CLIFFORD
But you'll be the quarry. Listen Bruce, this can't wait! Your life is in imminent danger.

ELIZABETH
What?!

BRUCE
Let's discuss this elsewhere.

ELIZABETH
No, discuss it here.

CLIFFORD
There isn't time for this wrangling. Edward knows about your plot with Red Comyn!

BRUCE
There isn't any plot with any Comyn.

CLIFFORD
Fine then, he thinks you're plotting. When you were out of earshot he started babbling about how you've betrayed his trust and the terrible things he's going to do to you. He intends to arrest you tomorrow in front of the parliament.

BRUCE
We must be gone by then.

CLIFFORD
No, you must go now! Remember, he's drunk; he might decide not to wait until tomorrow. You can't wait.

BRUCE
You're right. Elizabeth, have a groomsman start loading our baggage and leave the carts by the main gate. We'll take two horses and slip out another way. Thank you Robert, I'll never forget this.

CLIFFORD
Let me be clear about one thing; I have warned you out of personal friendship, but I don't like this bargain with Comyn and I think you brought this on yourself. I want you to know I am loyal to my king and I will obey his orders, whether to make war, destroy Scottish homes, whatever, and I'll take any lands he offers me for it.

BRUCE
Fair enough, and I still thank you.

CLIFFORD
Good, now be on your way, I'll try to keep Edward occupied.

(They exit. Blackout)


Scene 3



(The scene is outside Greyfriars church, where Bruce is meeting Comyn. Bruce enters with brother Edward, MacIntyre, and other men.)

EDWARD
Greyfriars kirk? Why are we here?

BRUCE
I've arranged to meet with Red Comyn here. We have much to discuss, and we feel safer from treason inside a church. In my case I might say further treason.

EDWARD
What do you mean?

BRUCE
I have learned it was Comyn told Edward of our arrangement.

(Lights come up revealing Comyn's companions.)

Comyn must be inside.

(Bruce enters church.)

EDWARD
(to the other Bruce men.)

Be alert against an ambush.

(Lights go down on attendants and up on Comyn as Bruce joins him inside the church.)

COMYN
Well, I came. What do you want?

BRUCE
I think that's pretty obvious, even to you.

COMYN
I'll do without the verbal sneers, Bruce. Just state your business.

BRUCE
We had an agreement Comyn and you broke it.

COMYN
I did no such thing. That agreement means nothing with Edward still alive.

BRUCE
That's not what I meant and you know it. You told the king about us, and you wasted little time in doing so.

COMYN
You mean I avoided your trap. You were going to tell Edward yourself in hopes of taking my lands and winning his favor.

BRUCE
I had no such intention.

COMYN
Knave.

BRUCE
Now it's name calling.

COMYN
Tell the truth; you still have hope of gaining the crown for yourself.

BRUCE
Of course I do. That's why I would have kept the bargain.

COMYN
No, you would have told Edward to gain his favor and have him just hand you the crown.

BRUCE
He would hardly have looked favorably on me.

COMYN
He already did! Everyone knows your father was his friend and he liked you. Yes Bruce, it's known far and wide, Bruce is the favorite of the man who ordered the massacre of Berwick and murdered William Wallace.

BRUCE
Let's stick to the point Comyn. Whatever you think I would have done, it was you betrayed me, not the other way around.

COMYN
I sought to protect myself. What of it?

BRUCE
Have you no sense of honor?! You are the one committed treason!

COMYN
I will not have my honor questioned by a man who changes sides as often as he changes clothes.

BRUCE
What does that mean!?

COMYN
While the rest of us were defending Scottish liberty, the Bruces were fighting in the service of our oppressor.

BRUCE
We obeyed our oath of fealty to Edward, the same one Balliol swore. You were the ones who broke it.

COMYN
What would you have had us do? You know how King John was dishonored. Edward ignored the promises he made. The bonds were already broken.

BRUCE
Balliol's bonds were broken, but nothing Edward did freed us from our bonds. When he gave an order we had to obey.

COMYN
What about the loyalty you owed to King John?

BRUCE
We never recognized him as king.

COMYN
And you wonder why we didn't trust you.

BRUCE
Are you forgetting that I did join your side?

COMYN
So now you switch sides and want to be trusted.

BRUCE
I did so because of Berwick and the occupation laid on the country, but I never broke my oath until I felt Edward had behaved dishonorably.

COMYN
But you went back to him! You were troublesome when you were with us and then you switched sides again!

BRUCE
I was troublesome? What was troublesome was your incompetent leadership, that's what drove me out. You were a horrendous choice for a Guardian! Were your family not so powerful...

COMYN
As opposed to you, who got everything on merit? I'll remind you who first made peace with Edward.

BRUCE
And I'll remind you who tried to win his favor by betraying me.

COMYN
How can one betray a traitor?

BRUCE
How could I support a man who has knows nothing of honor or valor?

COMYN
That's the second time you've questioned my honor. Do it again and I'll forget where we are.

BRUCE
Now you threaten me? I'll question your honor, your valor, even your legitimacy.

COMYN
Take that back!

BRUCE
I'll die first!

COMYN
And you will!

(Comyn moves, Bruce thinks he is reaching for a weapon and draws his dagger.)

So that way goes it; that's what you planned all along.

BRUCE
You reached for yours first.

COMYN
No I didn't, but I'm reaching now.

(Comyn draws his dagger and they fight. Bruce stabs Comyn. When Bruce sees Comyn severely wounded he runs out and back to his men.)

BRUCE
I think I've killed Red Comyn!

MACINTYRE
You "think"? I'll make sure.

(MacIntyre enters the church while drawing a weapon.)

BRUCE
Brother, what have I done? I've killed him in a church. I may never be forgiven for this.

EDWARD
Keep calm brother. We must act quickly.

BRUCE
I can never make peace with the Comyns now. Even those who hate the Comyns must turn against me. What will King Edward do? What knight in all Christendom won't think it an honor to kill me?

MACINTYRE
(reentering)

Red Comyn is dead!

(Comyn's men hear this declaration. They and Bruce's men attack each other as Edward tries to calm Bruce. The Comyn men are all killed, Bruce and his survivors exit.)

BRUCE
I am at war with the whole world! (blackout)


Scene 4



(King Edward's court. Present are King Edward, Pembroke, Clifford, the Prince of Wales, Umfraville, Buchan, and Seton.)

EDWARD I
Lords, I have raised a viper at my breast! This foul knave who enjoyed my company, my friendship to himself and his father, who has spent considerable time in my court, has turned upon me in a most treasonous manner. He has claimed a crown that is mine to bestow, broken all vows of fealty, and committed sacrilege by the killing of his rival in a church. When I am done he will think I punished Wallace lightly.

WALES
Let me lead the attack father.

EDWARD I
Not yet. Summon my levies, it's time for another campaign.

WALES
Father, let me have the army. I'll crush this rebellion.

EDWARD I
You have shown yourself a worthy soldier, but you are not yet a general.

WALES
A king must prove himself a general. How can I do this if I don't get the chance?

EDWARD I
You are not king yet boy; you will have your chance when I say so.

WALES
You are not up to the rigors of a campaign at your age.

EDWARD I
There's nothing like a war to reinvigorate a man.

WALES
Father...

EDWARD I
Do not argue with me! You know better than to anger me when I am in a temper.

WALES
I also have your temper; let me prove it!

EDWARD I
All right, I'll give you your own division, make the most of it. Now my lords, I always suspected Bruce, but when I had proof he slithered away. How did he find out?

PEMBROKE
Perhaps some of our Scottish lords are not as loyal as they seem.

EDWARD I
Is this true my lords?

UMFRAVILLE
Sire, the murdered Comyn was my best friend in the whole world, and there has long been enmity between myself and the Bruces.

BUCHAN
Red Comyn was my dear cousin Sire. Why would I help his murderer?

SETON
The Bruces have no sense of honor. God damn me if I ever help them.

EDWARD I
A little girl can speak brave words. Let your blood prove your loyalty. Raise your levies. I will see you next at Berwick castle, and my epitaph will say I was "The Hammer of the Scots".

(blackout)


Scene 5



(Lights dim as clergy and lords assemble for the coronation. When the lights come back up, Lamberton places the crown on Bruce's and Elizabeth's heads.)

LAMBERTON
Let all be witness that I declare King Robert to have been absolved of all his sins, including the death of John Comyn. Robert Bruce takes his place as Scotland's king with the blessing of the holy mother church. Those who fight in his cause against the English invader serve the will of God as surely as if they joined a crusade to the Holy Land.

BRUCE
Lords, ladies, clergymen, my loyal subjects. I begin my reign under difficult circumstances. Most of our country lies occupied. Scottish taxes are sent to England's treasury. Our commerce has been stopped up, and I must acknowledge that many in our own country oppose me and will help our enemies. But I ask all to bear witness to the presence here of almost all of Scotland's bishops and abbots, the presence of several earls, and many barons besides. And bear witness to the careful observances of Scottish tradition. We go into the coming war with confidence in the rightness of our cause, a determination to meet the enemy with honor and valor, and we humbly crave the blessing of the almighty on our enterprise.

(All kneel as Bruce and Elizabeth start to exit.)

ELIZABETH
(to Bruce)

I fear we are but king and queen of the May.

(lights fade to black.)


Scene 6



(The castle at Perth. Sounds of preparation for battle. Pembroke is speaking with Buchan.)

BUCHAN
Bruce gave a brave speech I've been told, but then, as he and Queen Elizabeth, as she now styles herself, were leaving the coronation, she was overheard to say, "Husband, I fear we are but king and queen of the May."

(They laugh)

PEMBROKE
Perhaps we should have him hanged from a maypole.

BUCHAN
And instead of swinging ribbons around it we can swing Bruce corpses.

(Umfraville enters)

PEMBROKE
What do you want Sir Ingram.

UMFRAVILLE
To win the battle Sir Aymer.

PEMBROKE
We outnumber Bruce's rabble a good three to one. I don't think that's much of a concern.

UMFRAVILLE
He's not renowned as one of the ablest commanders around for nothing. Even if you win, you will have to fight him again----unless you use a stratagem I have for you.

PEMBROKE
What's that?

UMFRAVILLE
Parley with Bruce; tell him it's too late in the day for a proper battle, but if he'll return to the field tomorrow morning you'll meet him in open combat.

PEMBROKE
What's the point of putting it off until tomorrow?

UMFRAVILLE
You don't wait for tomorrow. When his army is camped for the night you launch a surprise attack. The combination of surprise and superior numbers should completely destroy his army.

PEMBROKE
Why, Sir Ingram, I'm amazed to hear such an idea put forth by such an advocate of chivalry as yourself.

UMFRAVILLE
It's what Bruce deserves. He is foreign to any notion of chivalry.

PEMBROKE
Then why will he trust us? (Umfraville is speechless.)

Yet I think you're right. I'll try it. Come, let's go lie to the devil.

(They exit, blackout.)


Scene 7



(Bruce's tent at Methven. Night before the expected battle. Bruce, Edward, Lamberton, and Randolph are relaxing, chatting, and drinking.)

RANDOLPH
...then the priest says "it takes more than poison to stop a sinner going to Paris."

(All laugh except Edward.)

BRUCE
Come on brother, try to relax.

EDWARD
What? Sorry, I can't help feeling a little tense.

(He raises his cup.)

To whatever it was you were just toasting.

(All laugh)

LAMBERTON
Randolph was telling a joke Edward. Now we'll start chuckling whenever you're around and you'll always wonder why.

EDWARD
Forgive me my lords, or my bishops, or anything else that's sitting around. In truth gentlemen, I feel uneasy about putting off the battle.

BRUCE
Nonsense Edward, delaying until morning is a fine suggestion. It will do our reputations much more good to fight a day-long battle to its proper conclusion than to break it off at suppertime. We would look like foolish squire boys then.

EDWARD
But you trust them?

BRUCE
Why not? They used the straightforward language that becomes a knight.

EDWARD
There's a sound in the language that speaks deceit.

BRUCE
Edward, you were always the suspicious one.

EDWARD
I suppose you're right. My lords, here's to my elder brother, who will soon be recognized by the whole world as king, even by King Edward and the Pope. Soon that jackass will say "call me a Saracen if I ever excommunicate you again".

(all laugh)

(Elizabeth enters)

ELIZABETH
And soon I'll say, "Call me a lonely wife if I don't get my husband to myself for a while."

(All laugh)

BRUCE
She's right as usual my lords. It's late already, and I have always been with my lady before a tournament.

EDWARD
(whispered to Randolph)

Or whatever lady was available.

(They chuckle discretely. Bruce hears but has no idea what the joke was.)

BRUCE
Come on, time enough for laughing after we win. Good night.

(Bruce ushers out Edward, Randolph, and Lamberton, who stop a moment outside the tent. They are talking amongst themselves while Bruce and Elizabeth are talking.)

ELIZABETH
Robert, how many of them are there?

BRUCE
How many what?

ELIZABETH
How many soldiers against us?

BRUCE
No more than a couple thousand.

ELIZABETH
And how many are we?

BRUCE
Fewer. You really shouldn't worry about it.

ELIZABETH
I can't help it. Something seems wrong.

BRUCE
Leave me to worry about it. Maybe after the battle, if I take the castle, I'll give it to you to do with as please.

ELIZABETH
(She chuckles)

What am I going to do with a castle?

BRUCE
You'll build the world's biggest closet, with so many queenly gowns that you'll have to change into a different one every hour in order to wear them all.

ELIZABETH
Then I'll cover the whole castle wall with the world's biggest embroidery.

BRUCE
You can't do that. You'll want to show off the wall after you knock it down and replace the stones with blocks of gold.

ELIZABETH
No no, we'll just cover the stones with gold leaf.

BRUCE
Why?

ELIZABETH
Because it's cheaper. We are Scots after all.

(Their laughter is interrupted by MacIntyre's entrance.)

MACINTYRE
Ambush!

(The lords react with disbelief, some think it's a joke.)

Sire, they're assaulting us on all sides!

BRUCE
To your tents, arm yourselves quickly!

(Sounds of battle. The lords dash for their tents. Bruce is just reaching for his arms when Buchan reaches him.)

BUCHAN
Come quick, I have the new-made king!

(Buchan tries to grapple Bruce. Bruce fights his way clear before help arrives and exits. Lights come down as the stage clears. Bruce reenters with Edward and MacIntyre.)

BRUCE
Where's Lamberton?!

MACINTYRE
Captured sire.

EDWARD
We can account for the captured later!

BRUCE
Sergeant, you know that wood a few miles from here? Take what survivors you can and hide there, I'll join you shortly. We'll wait a couple days to pick up stragglers. Edward, find our brother Neil, have him take the women and children to Kildrummy castle and fortify it as best he can. I'll send reinforcements if I'm able. I'll seek out more of our men. Hurry!

(They exit, Blackout.)


Scene 8



(Bruce's camp. Bruce enters with footsoldiers. Several months have passed.)

BRUCE
We'll make camp here. Sergeant, do we have any tents left?

MACINTYRE
We have one two-man tent left sire.

BRUCE
Give it to the men who carried the cooking gear. They did the most work. The rest of you find a space around the fire. I'll retire in that cave. When supper's over I'll read to you while the light lasts.

SOLDIERS

Yes, your majesty.

MACINTYRE
Sire, there's a woman approaching with a band of mounted men.

(The soldiers rush to their arms.)

BRUCE
It's all right, I know her.

(Enter Christian of Carrick)

Christian?

CHRISTIAN
Robert.

BRUCE
Is that really you?

CHRISTIAN
Indeed it is. Or perhaps I should say indeed it is Your Majesty. You've moved up in the world since last I saw you.

BRUCE
If you call this moving up.

CHRISTIAN
Won't you ask me to sit down?

BRUCE
Of course, won't you step into my throne room?

(They sit on stumps or rocks.)

CHRISTIAN
Thank You my lord.

BRUCE
I think in this private space...relatively private...you may call me Robert.

CHRISTIAN
Ah, such familiarity with a king!

BRUCE
Some king. I rule the ground I stand on, and even that is precarious.

CHRISTIAN
Then I bring you good news. I have brought you 15 men; from the looks of things that almost doubles your forces. Perhaps more important I have brought you blankets and food.

BRUCE
My dear Christian, you must be sent by God himself.

CHRISTIAN
I guess God hasn't heard about the Pope's interdict.

BRUCE
You've heard of it. I suppose the whole country has by now.

CHRISTIAN
Robert, most of the clergy have been telling the people that the interdict is meaningless, and that you're God's instrument to deliver us from the English.

BRUCE
God should keep his instruments better tuned. I'm sorry, I know I sound morose. I am moved by their support. In fact, I am always touched when I think of the sacrifices people have made on my behalf.

CHRISTIAN
Well, Robert, this might sound strange coming from a former mistress, but I'm truly sorry to hear about the queen.

BRUCE
What's happened to the queen?

CHRISTIAN
You haven't heard?

BRUCE
I've done little more than hide these last few months. In fact, I've had no news at all since Methven.

CHRISTIAN
I guess I have a sad mission to perform. I wish there was an easy way to tell you. Elizabeth tried taking the women and children to the Orkneys when it became clear Kildrummy would be surrounded. They were captured shortly after the castle fell. They were taken to England, and your wife and some other women have been imprisoned in cages and put on public display at various castles. Your daughter is a prisoner in London Tower.

BRUCE
Dear God in heaven, can Edward hate me that much? What about my brother?

CHRISTIAN
He was besieged by the Prince of Wales. The garrison held off at least two assaults, but a traitor burned their food supplies. After they surrendered, the garrison were hanged and beheaded.

BRUCE
Neil's dead?

CHRISTIAN
Yes. I'm so sorry.

BRUCE
Have you heard anything of my brothers Thomas and Alexander? They were attempting a landing in Galloway.

CHRISTIAN
The MacDougals captured them. I believe they were executed like Wallace. Robert, I grieve for you, I honestly do.

BRUCE
Grieve for someone who deserves it, not for a man who destroyed his friends and family.

CHRISTIAN
Robert...

BRUCE
What a monster I must be! What has this war accomplished? The death and ruin of everyone I know. Look at these soldiers; not even a tent to keep the rain off when they could have stayed home. I must be insane, taking on England with this little army! I can't stay here.

CHRISTIAN
What are you talking about?

BRUCE
This war is hopeless. I should go into exile. No, I have lifetimes of penance. I should go to the Holy Land and fight the Saracens, perhaps that would make the Pope lift my excommunication. Maybe he would even intercede for my family's release. This is punishment for Red Comyn's death. God will not give victory to a murderer!

CHRISTIAN
You're not a murderer, the church has said so. God has forgiven you; you must forgive yourself. Listen to me! All those who have fought in your behalf have done so willingly. They see you as Scotland's last hope for liberty. If you want their sacrifices to mean something you must keep fighting. Robert, are you listening to me?

BRUCE
Yes. Look, I'm not very good company right now. I need to be alone. You're welcome to stay the night. I'll have an escort party arranged to see you home tomorrow. Good night.

(starts to exit)

I'll think about what you said.

(He exits to his cave. Lights dim on Christian who looks after him as he leaves. Lights come up on soldiers sitting around their campfire. Ian is grinding leaves. Donald is watching him.)

DONALD
What are you doing?

IAN
Mixing up some medicine for my stomach.

DONALD
What's wrong with it?

IAN
It's been bothering me all day. I think it's just indigestion.

DONALD
You shouldn't take that right after a meal, should you?

IAN
That's the best time I think.

DONALD
What are you using?

IAN
I don't remember what it's called, but the leaves are shaped like a stomach.

DONALD
What's that got to do with anything?

IAN
The shape of the leaf tells you what the plant is good for.

DONALD
I've never heard that.

IAN
That's what my mother always said.

DONALD
Wait a minute, this isn't shaped like a stomach.

IAN
Yes it is.

DONALD
This looks more like an oval.

IAN
A stomach is shaped like an oval.

DONALD
No it's not. You've got one tube where the food goes in, and there's another where it goes out, so it's shaped more like a foot.

IAN
Your stomach is shaped like your foot?

DONALD
Yes.

IAN
If a plant was shaped like a foot you'd use it on your foot, not on your stomach.

DONALD
You know, it's only a lack of oats that stops me using you for haggis. Look, herbs match up to the four humors. You've heard of those I suppose, or are you completely ignorant?

IAN
Yes, I've heard of the four humors, but



(keeping his voice down)

don't they have something to do with witchcraft?

DONALD
No, this is the arts of medicine, a perfectly godly thing. The four humors are these four fluids in your body that are supposed to balance each other. Let's see, there's blood, bile, phlegm, and, um, sweat.

IAN
What's phlegm?

DONALD
It's like snot.

IAN
So the four humors are blood, bile, sweat and snot?

DONALD
Right, and then there's two of those that are hot and wet, and two are hot and dry, and you look for herbs that match.

IAN
They're all of them wet, and they're all hot if they've been listening to you for too long.

DONALD
Am I making you angry?

IAN
You're making my snot boil.

(They stare at each other a moment, then they break down and start laughing. MacIntyre enters.)

MACINTYRE
What on Earth are you two talking about?

IAN
Boiling snot.

MACINTYRE
(Sits himself by the fire.) Remind me to never put you lads on a cooking detail.

DONALD
Did you get the Lady Christian all tucked in?

MACINTYRE
Yes, then I told her a story and kissed her good night.

DONALD
I would've thought the king would do that himself.

MACINTYRE
I'd give a lot to know what they were talking about.

IAN
Why?

MACINTYRE
The woman was on the edge of tears. She never once looked at me while I was getting her fire started.

IAN
Did she say anything to you?

MACINTYRE
Yes, but it was all in English so I didn't understand a word. And the king himself looked just beaten when he entered the cave. He wouldn't have anyone enter.

DONALD
I feel sorry for him, I really do. He's not used to hardship.

MACINTYRE
Come on, do you know how many campaigns he's been on before?

DONALD
But sleeping on the bare ground was just an adventure for him. Now he looks utterly alone. The whole world's turned against him. He's just trying to still be alive tomorrow. No, he's the one knight in the world I would not trade places with.

MACINTYRE
Me neither. I can't imagine what it's like to have so much and lose it all.

IAN
Save some of the pity for ourselves. We're as hunted as he is. We're brought as low, even if we started close to here. And at least he has his armor; we face the world with a ragged tunic and a rusty spear.

MACINTYRE
You shouldn't speak so ill of a man you've fought so long with.

IAN
I love the king as dearly as you do, but if the king might be sad for himself, permit me too to be sad. I have no idea where my family is or if they're alive. Do you?

MACINTYRE
I saw my house burnt down. And I can't help thinking of my mother, who hoped I would never have to be a soldier.

DONALD
My mother was real sick when I left home. I think she was starving herself so the rest of us might get through the winter.

MACINTYRE
The crops failed?

DONALD
Yes. Some thought it was witchcraft. Others said it was God's wrath for the king's killing of Red Comyn in a church. The priest said we might win God's grace by fighting in King Robert's cause. I pray every night that I'll get to go home again.

MACINTYRE
It's a sad night for all of us I guess. Try to get some sleep lads or you'll be drowsy during your watch later tonight.

(They lay down. All is quiet for a few moments. Bruce dashes on stage and rouses everyone.)

BRUCE
Wake up! I've got something to tell you, wake up!

CHRISTIAN
Robert, what is it?

BRUCE
I must tell you what I've seen, I feel positively inspired. Come on lads, up!

MACINTYRE
Are we under attack?!

BRUCE
No no, gather everyone, bring those sleepers here. Listen; as I was laying on my limestone mattress, feeling completely sorry for myself, wishing I had been strangled at birth, I saw a spider spinning its web. It was swinging from one rock to another. It couldn't quite reach the next rock but it kept trying, swinging back and forth to build up enough momentum to reach its goal. Seven times it tried, and on that seventh try it made it. I saw this and thought to myself, if a spider can try seven times just to spin a web, how many times can I try to win a kingdom? Arm yourselves everyone, we're going out now to find and attack our enemy. Come lads, the MacDowalls have been hunting for us. Let's make it easy for them!

MACINTYRE
Shouldn't we wait until morning? The men are exhausted.

BRUCE
They'll never be expecting us now sergeant.

CHRISTIAN
They won't be expecting you in the morning either. And you haven't eaten anything. Rest for a night and hit them fresh in the morning.

BRUCE
You lads really do need some rest, don't you. How long would you guess before dawn?

MACINTYRE
A few more hours.

BRUCE
A few long hours. All right, get a bit more sleep. We'll hit them right before dawn. Capture their supplies and you'll have three meals today.

MACINTYRE
Sire, I think I speak for all the men when I say I'm glad you've chosen to continue the war.

BRUCE
I'm not continuing the war, I'm beginning it. Good night lads.

(All wish him good night. Bruce exits. Christian goes back to sleep. Ian and Donald start to lie down.)

MACINTYRE
Ian, Donald, haven't you forgotten something?

BOTH

What?

MACINTYRE
It's your turn at the watch. No grumbling, go on.

(Ian and Donald exit grumbling. MacIntyre lies down. Blackout.)


Scene 9



(Somewhere in Carrick. Douglas enters looking about him warily. Edward Bruce comes up behind him. Douglas turns and sees him.)

EDWARD
Identify yourself.

DOUGLAS
I am James Douglas, and you should learn to be quieter if you're going to be sneaking up on people.

EDWARD
Fortunately I have several men who are more quiet than me.

(MacIntyre, Ian, and Donald enter.)

What is your business here?

DOUGLAS
I will be polite and answer you honestly. After all, I would hate to set a bad example for the men accompanying me. They're hidden all around with arrows pointed at you.

EDWARD
What do you want?

DOUGLAS
I have come to join the Bruce in his war against the English. Are you one of the king's men?

EDWARD
I am Sir Edward Bruce, his brother.

DOUGLAS
It's an honor to meet you sir. Where's the king? (Bruce enters)

BRUCE
That's me.

DOUGLAS
I am James Douglas, son of Sir William Douglas.

BRUCE
A highly renowned knight. What do you want from me?

DOUGLAS
Permission to join your army. I have brought more men with me, and I'll gladly add them to yours. In fact, I dare to say they'll become your elite soldiers.

BRUCE
And yourself?

DOUGLAS
I will be one of your first commanders.

EDWARD
Cocky, isn't he.

BRUCE
He should be in familiar company around here. Sir James, why do you wish to join my cause?

DOUGLAS
Haven't you heard about my father?

BRUCE
We don't get much news out here.

DOUGLAS
He's dead my lord.

BRUCE
I'm truly sorry to hear it.

DOUGLAS
He died in an English prison. That's no way for a knight to die. I'm a son seeking revenge for a dead father. Is there a better cause than that?

BRUCE
It's a good cause sir.

DOUGLAS
Your Majesty, I humbly request to be allowed to join your army, and God grant that I may revenge my father and reclaim my father's lands.

BRUCE
You are welcome here, Sir James.

DOUGLAS
Thank you Your Majesty and, if I may, to show I'm not just a braggart, I have already brought you a prize.

BRUCE
That's fast. What is it?

DOUGLAS
It's a nephew sire, yours, Sir Thomas Randolph. (to his men)

Bring him here!

(Two of Douglas's men bring in Randolph.)

BRUCE
Where did you find him?

DOUGLAS
Fighting with your enemies. He was captured at Methven and switched sides.

BRUCE
Thomas, ... why have you done this?

RANDOLPH
For honor, Uncle. Something you have forgotten.

BRUCE
What do you mean by that?

RANDOLPH
Skulking in shadows is no way for a knight to comport himself.

DOUGLAS
I'll remind you, Sir Thomas, that your uncle is the king, and you must speak to him with the proper respect on both accounts.

RANDOLPH
You fight for your father; shouldn't I fight for my family honor? What he does as my uncle, as the head of the Bruces, and in his proclaimed title of "king" all reflect on me. Have I no say? Have I any obligation greater than to recover my honor?

BRUCE
Leave him with me. Edward, set up the camp. Everyone else go with him. I'll be all right.

(All exit except Bruce and Randolph.)

BRUCE
You are cold to me Nephew. (Randolph gives Bruce a hard look.)

Nor, I see, do you appreciate understatement.

RANDOLPH
No charm, no subtlety; how are you going to punish me?

BRUCE
For joining my enemies? I'm not inclined to punish you just for changing sides. I've done that myself. You may have had your reasons, just as I did.

RANDOLPH
Yes, I do have my reasons.

BRUCE
I think highly of you Thomas, I always did. Before Methven I thought you would become one of my generals.

RANDOLPH
Why do you bother flattering me?

BRUCE
You may not believe this, but I'm telling you the truth. In fact, I still hope to win you back to my side.

RANDOLPH
Do you think I could fight like this?

BRUCE
Like what? You may speak your mind, not that you've done otherwise.

RANDOLPH
Knights aren't supposed to hide and fight in ambushes. Chivalry demands open combat.

BRUCE
This isn't a tournament. We don't charge our horses and turn around for another charge. You don't get to rearm yourself when your lance breaks. This is war. It's a war between enemies that have no respect for each other.

RANDOLPH
Why should your enemies respect you when you won't engage in open combat?

BRUCE
Have you forgotten Methven?! I did agree to open combat, and with a smaller force no less, and my honorable opponent attacked me at night. That's what brought me to this state.

RANDOLPH
Then why haven't you fortified a castle?

BRUCE
(Starting to lose his patience.) With what? With so few men? With no food, no hope of relief? And what would I do with a castle; it would just be taken from me. I might as well surrender now and get it over with. In fact, I might as well have myself hanged and quartered so as to save King Edward the trouble. I'm trying to survive, nephew, and this is the only way. To fight any way other than this would be suicide.

RANDOLPH
What's life without honor?

BRUCE
Without honor? Do you know what happened to your uncles and other knights who have fallen into English hands since your capture? They have been executed, some in Wallace's manner. Douglas must have told you his father died in an English prison. Where was the honor in that?

RANDOLPH
Is your enemy's dishonor an excuse for your own?

BRUCE
You exasperate me nephew. No, their dishonor is not an excuse for mine; their dishonor is the necessity that forces me to take these tactics. I must content my honor with personal bravery, persistence, and my treatment of individuals. It is my policy to treat captives humanely. I've even let them go, though I'm taking a chance that they'll fight me again. I take care of the rights of my subjects, not that I've had much opportunity to wrong them; but time will prove me honest or a liar.

RANDOLPH
These are good words, but as you say, time will tell.

BRUCE
You'll believe it when you see it; you're certainly your mother's son.

RANDOLPH
I didn't think you knew my mother well.

BRUCE
Actually we got along quite well, considering we were siblings. She married when I was just a boy so I didn't see her often, which probably is why we got along. Thomas, will you stay with us tonight?

RANDOLPH
I don't have a choice, do I?

BRUCE
No. But if you'll promise, on your honor, to stay with us tonight, I'll leave you unguarded and release you when you wish. I just ask you to give me a fair chance to show you I'm telling the truth.

RANDOLPH
That is a generous offer uncle. I will give you this test.

BRUCE
Good. Go get something to eat. (Randolph starts to leave, turns and bows, then exits. Douglas enters.)

DOUGLAS
Are you sure you can trust him sire?

BRUCE
I sure hope so. I'm about to create him Earl of Moray. Come Douglas, we also need to see about making you master of Douglasdale.

(They exit, blackout.)


Scene 10



(Loudon Hill. Pembroke enters with Buchan, Seton, and Umfraville.)

PEMBROKE
This is our opportunity to finally finish off Bruce. Let's make the most of it.

SETON
Why has he suddenly agreed to an open fight?

PEMBROKE
Who cares. We've been trying to lure him into the open for a long time; let's just accept our good fortune.

BUCHAN
I share Sir Alexander's doubts my lord. Bruce can't be this stupid.

PEMBROKE
Why not? He was this stupid at Methven. Perhaps he thought he could recruit more soldiers. Maybe my public invitation to fight was more than his honor could refuse. Look, it doesn't matter.

UMFRAVILLE
It does matter if he's planning something. It was foolish to give him control of the ground so long before the battle.

PEMBROKE
He said he would fight when and where I wanted. I chose this spot Sir Ingram, and our scouts say there are only a few hundred rebels opposing us. We will make short work of them. Assemble the men for the attack.

(They exit. Bruce enters with Randolph, Edward, and Douglas.)

RANDOLPH
The English are drawing up their forces for an attack.

BRUCE
Right where we planned for them. It's a shame for poor Pembroke he doesn't have the subtlety in war he has in politics. Advance our spearmen into position by the trenches. Set out the cavalry and archers to protect our flanks. Remind the spearmen to hold their positions no matter what happens. We'll break them like waves on rocks.

(They exit. Battle scene. Enter Pembroke.)

PEMBROKE
Umfraville, what's going on over here?

UMFRAVILLE
(Entering)

We had to slow our charge to get around the trenches they dug. When we reached them our first ranks fell apart.

PEMBROKE
So continue the attack!

UMFRAVILLE
The men are bunching together, and the riderless horses are making things worse. We must regroup.

PEMBROKE
No, press on the attack!

UMFRAVILLE
The cavalry can't maneuver! Where are the archers?

PEMBROKE
Do you want archers to win your battle for you?

BUCHAN
(Entering with Seton)

Sir Aymer, the cavalry are broken, send in the archers. I don't care how we win a battle, just send in the archers!

SETON
It's too late for that my lords, we must pull out our troops and retreat to a defensible position.

PEMBROKE
I'll do as you ask my lords, but it's you, not me, who has some explaining to do to the king. All right, retreat.

(They exit. Bruce enters with Douglas, Randolph, and Edward.)

EDWARD
Let us go after them brother!

BRUCE
No! If we go on open ground, they can turn right around and attack again. They still outnumber us greatly.

EDWARD
Send the cavalry to harass their rear.

BRUCE
I'll do that, but no more. Tell the men to hold their positions. This battle has already done what it was meant to do.

DOUGLAS
What do you mean?

BRUCE
We've embarrassed the English. That will draw more men to our side----maybe even make King Edward drop dead from apoplexy.

(Blackout)


Scene 11



(Lanercost abbey. Pembroke, Clifford, Umfraville and other lords are assembled outside King Edward's quarters.)

UMFRAVILLE
All your politicking isn't worth much when you've been bested in the field.

PEMBROKE
Your jealousy does not become you Sir Ingram.

CLIFFORD
What is there to be jealous of? Bruce finally agrees to an open battle, and you let him beat you with a much smaller force.

PEMBROKE
He had ample time to prepare the ground to his liking.

CLIFFORD
You chose it.

PEMBROKE
I didn't choose the Scots. They're worthless when it comes time to stop boasting and start fighting. Give me an English army and I would win. (indicating Clifford) And I wouldn't need the help of this friend of the Bruce. No wonder the younger Edward distrusts you.

CLIFFORD
You encourage the petty jealousy he feels because I have several times beaten him in tournaments. What makes it worse is he keeps beating you. No wonder you poison his ears against me.

PEMBROKE
You want to poison his ears against me, and persuade him this is all my failure.

UMFRAVILLE
You'll avoid blame for this debacle like your army avoided Bruce's spears, by running away.

WALES

(Entering)

There's plenty of blame to go around Umfraville.

(They bow and greet him.)

I'm well aware of what fell out at Loudon Hill. I am sorely displeased, and I suspect the part of your conversation I missed would have been quite interesting. I did hear you two criticizing Sir Aymer, and I can't help remembering that Bruce dodged you for several months Sir Ingram, and now sits quite comfortably in Turnberry castle. In fact, he chased you out of Carrick. You, Clifford, were sent fleeing from Douglas castle by a small band of outlaws. Black Douglas made his name at your expense.

CLIFFORD
My lord, you weren't there.

WALES
Wasn't I? I led a campaign too, remember? I succeeded in defeating one Bruce, and even the MacDougals have two Bruce heads for trophies. What have you done?

UMFRAVILLE
We don't deserve to be spoken to this way.

WALES
I know I'm not king yet, but understand, my lords, I am actually being gentle with you out of respect for my father who lies dying inside.

PEMBROKE
He may die at any minute, that's why you were sent for.

(Wales turns and enters Edward's chamber. The rest follow him. Edward is in bed, attended by a bishop and a servant.)

EDWARD I
Gather around my lords, I have a very short time left.

WALES
Father, the campaign against Bruce has gone very poorly.

EDWARD I
My son, your timing is as atrocious as ever. That's not what I wanted to hear. Forgive me my lords for leaving you like this, I thought I had one more campaign in me. It looks like I'm wrong.

CLIFFORD
You may yet recover your health your majesty.

EDWARD I
No I won't. I'm leaving my work unfinished. Edward, I want you to promise you will carry on the war until these Scottish bastards are broken and begging for mercy. Then deny it to them.

WALES
I will father, even if it kills me.

EDWARD I
How much different things might have been if my wife had lived. I became a hard man when she died.

(He dies.)

CLIFFORD
God have mercy on his soul.

PEMBROKE
My condolences my lord.

WALES
Thank you. Clifford, arrange my father's funeral. When that is done we'll depart for London.

CLIFFORD
London?

WALES
Yes, London. There are a lot of ambitious men who will try to take advantage of the passing of the crown. The war will have to wait.

CLIFFORD
You just promised to carry on the campaign against the Scots.

UMFRAVILLE
Surely we can't rest while...

WALES
Are you going to argue with me with my father's soul still hovering above us?! Do as I tell you.

ALL

Yes, your majesty.

(blackout)


Scene 12



(Bruce enters accompanied by Edward, Randolph, and Douglas. Buchan enters with Seton, and Umfraville.)

BUCHAN
Why have you asked for this parley, Bruce?

BRUCE
Because I would sooner add your army to mine than destroy it.

BUCHAN
I'm not terribly worried about that.

BRUCE
You should be. The English army ran home, the English garrisons don't want to leave their castles, and most Scottish lords have accepted my mercy. You're the last resistance outside the southeast.

BUCHAN
Then there's that much more honor for me in beating you.

BRUCE
Except you're not going to beat me. I think you know that.

BUCHAN
I know you're in for a bit of a surprise.

SETON
What a bunch of silly chatter. Let's leave here and get on with it.

EDWARD
Brave words from a man with no land left.

BRUCE
A bit of patience, please gentlemen. If we fight, a lot of men will be killed, a lot of women will be widowed, a lot of children orphaned. If we fight, the division in our country might never be healed.

BUCHAN
Who started this war Bruce? Scotland wears a crown of thorns for the sake of your crown of gold. Scotland was united under King John.

BRUCE
I fought alongside you for Scotland's sake, remember? But you can't expect me to accept him as king when my family had that right. Tell the truth----Balliol was the choice of the king of England, and look what's happened.

BUCHAN
Yes, I see you making war upon your supposed subjects.

BRUCE
The whole purpose of this meeting is to prevent that from being necessary. Make peace with me Comyn.

BUCHAN
My cause is King John.

BRUCE
King John has abdicated his throne. It was waiting there to be sat in.

BUCHAN
But not by you! The legitimate king is John's son, Edward.

BRUCE
Who would be an "empty jacket", like his father.

BUCHAN
Seton is right. We're just talking in circles.

BRUCE
All right then Comyn, I'll ask you straight out for your final answer. Will you make peace with me?

BUCHAN
With my cousin's murderer? You must be insane.

BRUCE
It was a fair fight!

BUCHAN
You're the only witness.

BRUCE
My sin was fighting with him in a church, and the church has forgiven me for that!

BUCHAN
Your lackeys among the clergy have forgiven you. The Pope has excommunicated you and placed our country under interdict.

BRUCE
That's only to please King Edward. The Scottish church has held me up before the whole country and said that I have been forgiven.

BUCHAN
So let the church forgive you, the Comyns do not.

BRUCE
He would have been as guilty as me had he lived! Comyn, I want you on my side; I have come to offer you mercy!

BUCHAN
Mercy! It is you who should be begging for mercy, with your dying breath and a noose around you neck! Do you really think I have so little honor as to make peace with my cousin's murderer? Do you think the memory of the Red Comyn means so little? Let your bishops forgive you, the Comyns will not. Let the Pope forgive you. Let Jesus Christ himself come down to Earth and pronounce you blessed, and we will still not forgive you. I will take revenge on you, and if I spend eternity chasing you through Hell to gain it, I will consider it eternity well spent!

BRUCE
Then consider your worldly possessions Comyn, because when I have beaten you, I will ravage your lands so thoroughly that you will never collect a penny of rent from them again, even if you send the English army to collect it. You'll think old Edward has risen from his grave.

BUCHAN
And may he haunt you.

(All exit. Battle scene. Bruce enters with Douglas, Randolph, and Edward.)

BRUCE
I meant what I said. Tell the men to take everything they can and destroy the rest. Burn every crop, pull down every house, slaughter all the livestock we can't take with us.

EDWARD
With our enemies beaten here, it's time to give the English a bellyfull of the same rotten meat.

RANDOLPH
We should get the English garrisons out of the country.

BRUCE
We will. And we'll pay for it with revenues from northern England.

(Blackout.)


ACT TWO

Scene 1



(Edward II's office. Elizabeth is standing in the middle of the room. Edward is at the door.)

EDWARD II

(to guard)

Wait outside. I'll call you when I need you.

(to Elizabeth)

Welcome Madame.

(She doesn't reply.)

Welcome Lady Elizabeth.

(She still doesn't reply.)

Or should I call you Lady Bruce? I'm a soldier, not a courtier; I can never keep these things straight. Well, why don't you answer?

ELIZABETH
Were you talking to me, sir? I'm sorry if I had trouble hearing you, my health isn't what it used to be. That happens when you've lived in a cage.

EDWARD II
You're out of your cage now, Madame.

ELIZABETH
You know, I think I did hear you, but I didn't think you were talking to me.

EDWARD II
Who else is in the room?

ELIZABETH
I thought you were talking to some Lady Elizabeth.

EDWARD II
Isn't that you?

ELIZABETH
No sir, I am Queen Elizabeth, and the proper form of address is "your majesty", though I will settle for "my lady".

EDWARD II
No shrewishness please Madame, I get enough of that from my wife. I hoped a Scot would have simpler manners.

ELIZABETH
Actually, I'm from Ulster. In fact sir, I'm the daughter of the Earl of Ulster.

EDWARD II
You say that like I'm supposed to be impressed.

ELIZABETH
You are, sir. He is a powerful lord...

EDWARD II
who knows what his title would be worth if he rebelled against me. And will you stop calling me "sir".

ELIZABETH
No, sir, I will not while you refuse to recognize my royalty.

EDWARD II
All right, I will address you as "my lady", but the title means nothing other than I don't like playing games.

ELIZABETH
Very well, my lord.

(pause)

Why have you had me brought here, my lord?

EDWARD II
You have put me off my purpose mada...my lady. All right, the reason I sent for you is to offer you a chance for freedom.

ELIZABETH
Under what terms?

EDWARD II
I want you to convince your husband to make peace.

ELIZABETH
What sort of peace?

EDWARD II
I will recognize him as king. In return, he must pay reparations for costs of the war and pay homage to me as his overlord.

ELIZABETH
I'd laugh if I could laugh anymore. Another effect of being in a cage.

EDWARD II
God's blood Madame, that was my father's doing, not mine.

ELIZABETH
You captured me, and I don't recall you interceding on my behalf. If you were so concerned for my welfare, you could have released me before now.

EDWARD II
I haven't released you yet. You should show the humility that goes with being a captive.

ELIZABETH
What if I say "no"?

EDWARD II
Then you'll remain a prisoner. But think of the good you could do both countries. I would be grateful to you, and in time so would your husband. I'm sure as fetching a woman as you could charm him into peace in a short time.

ELIZABETH
I see you're new at giving compliments.

EDWARD II
Just give me a straight answer. Will you do it?

ELIZABETH
What's to stop me staying with my husband and remaining free?

EDWARD II
You will not be going to your husband's court. I will find some neutral location and allow him to bring only a small party while you remain heavily guarded. I expect you to bring back the treaty with his seal on it. Then I'll give you your final release. If you do escape, I will eventually defeat your husband and capture you again, and believe me I can find much harsher conditions for your punishment.

ELIZABETH
My husband will not agree, and he would disown me if I brought this to him. Besides, you must be in trouble if you're even making this offer.

EDWARD II
Can't you just believe I prefer peace? The language of my offer is simple enough.

ELIZABETH
No. Take me back to my prison. I need more hardening.

EDWARD II
Fine. I'll just find somebody else.

(lights fade)

Guard, take her back.

(blackout as Elizabeth exits.)


Scene 2



(Bruce's office. Bruce is attending to paperwork. There's a knock at the door.)

BRUCE
Yes?

EDWARD
It's your brother.

BRUCE
Come in. I'll be right with you, I just want to finish this. I was always slow at math.

(Bruce finishes working and while talking to Edward he melts wax on the document and places his seal on it.)

Now, what is it?

EDWARD
I have some good news from Stirling.

BRUCE
You took the castle?

EDWARD
No.

BRUCE
Then what are you doing here?

EDWARD
The castle will soon be ours.

BRUCE
How so?

EDWARD
I have arranged a truce with the castle governor.

BRUCE
A truce?

EDWARD
Yes, a truce. We've done it before.

BRUCE
For how long?

EDWARD
Patience brother, as you're always counseling me, I'm telling you. King Edward must send an army to relieve the castle within one year's time. If he doesn't, the governor will surrender the castle to us.

BRUCE
A year?!

EDWARD
By midsummer's day next year.

BRUCE
You fool! You complete and utter fool!

EDWARD
What?

BRUCE
Don't you have any idea of what you've done? You've brought a disaster upon us!

EDWARD
I am no fool and this is no disaster. Edward will not be able to relieve Stirling.

BRUCE
And what makes you so sure?

EDWARD
He won't resolve his problems with his barons in time to mount another invasion. If he tries, it will be so weak that it will peter out like the last one.

BRUCE
On the contrary, this is just what he needs to rally his barons to his side. A lesser castle he might ignore, a truce of a few months would be too short, but a year? For the most important castle in Scotland, the castle he has to hold for a successful invasion? Brother, what you've done is challenged him to single combat in front of the whole world! He can't ignore that, nor can even his most rebellious barons. They will have to flock to his side or bear this insult to the whole country. In a year's time he can raise every levy in England and Wales, he'll have soldiers from Ireland and his dominions in France, plus every freelance knight in Europe.

EDWARD
You overstate things.

BRUCE
Overstate! How are we supposed to repel an army like that? We'll be hiding in the hills again. We're betting this whole war, the whole kingdom, on one roll of the dice!

EDWARD
Good, let's have one open battle and decide the matter. I have no patience for sieges and ambushes.

BRUCE
So I've noticed.

EDWARD
One roll of the dice suits me fine.

BRUCE
But his dice have higher numbers than ours.

(blackout)


Scene 3



(The Scottish spearmen are being trained to fight in a ring formation called a schiltron. MacIntyre, Ian, Donald, and other soldiers enter marching in formation.)

MACINTYRE
Squad halt. Most of you men are new at this, so I want you to pay close attention. When the English come, the training stops, regardless of how far along you are. Now, this is going to be a different sort of fighting from anything you've done before...

DONALD
Sergeant, why am I here? I've been doing this for years.

MACINTYRE
You know what else you've been doing for years? You've been slow to get up in the morning, straggling during marches, showing up late for watches, and you were even born late I'll warrant! Of more immediate importance, you were caught drinking during your watch last night! That's why you get to do some extra marching today.

IAN
Why am I here?

MACINTYRE
Because anything he was doing, you must have been doing it too! Now, the first rule is never break your ranks, no matter what happens. Your lives and the lives of the men next to you depend upon you staying right where you are. I don't care how thick the arrows are or how many knights come charging at you; if you don't hold your lines you are dead. If you run away, the enemy cavalry will hunt you down. If your enemy runs and you go after him, all he has to do is turn around, and all of a sudden there's you with your little spear against an archer that's flinging arrows at you, or maybe you're facing an armored knight on his horse, which can seem awe-inspiringly big right at that moment. In short, you can't fight a man on a horse when you're on foot. I also guarantee you'll never catch an archer, leave him for our cavalry to cut down. What you can do is stay in your formation. Horses hate running onto spears and will usually turn back. You block the paths of advancing units and provide shelter for our own cavalry and archers.

IAN
Why can't they bring their own tents? (soldiers laugh)

MACINTYRE
Ian, step forward please. Face the other men. Now, please demonstrate how we prepare to meet a cavalry charge.

(Ian takes one step forward with his left foot, turns his right foot sideways, places the butt of his spear in his right instep, leans forward, places his left elbow on his left knee and holds the spear at an angle to spear a horse in the chest.)

MACINTYRE
I want all you men to observe this. The spear is aimed at the horse, not the rider. When a horse runs onto the spear, that will be enough to throw the rider, who will then be easily killed. That spear gets heavy after a while, doesn't it Ian?

IAN
Yes sergeant.

MACINTYRE
We usually go into this position only when the enemy charges because you can't hold this position a long time. Isn't that true, Ian?

IAN
Yes sergeant.

MACINTYRE
Would you like to get up?

IAN
Thank you sergeant.

MACINTYRE
Not yet. I want all you men to study his position. Take a good, long look.

(All look at Ian, whose arm is starting to shake.)

All right, fall back into line.

(Ian does so.)

All of you, prepare to receive cavalry.

(They assume Ian's former position.)

That's all right for a first time, you'll have to get much faster at it. Stand up. We'll try it again. Prepare to receive cavalry.

(Randolph and Douglas enter.)

RANDOLPH
Sergeant MacIntyre...

MACINTYRE
Yes my lord. (to soldiers) Stand up.

RANDOLPH
How goes the training?

MACINTYRE
These men are raw my lord, but I think they'll work out.

RANDOLPH
Time is shorter than we thought. The king wants us to clear the English out of the southern castles before the invasion.

MACINTYRE
They'll be ready my lord.

RANDOLPH
Good. Where are they now?

MACINTYRE
They're learning to receive cavalry.

DOUGLAS
Sir Thomas, if I may...let me see them do it.

MACINTYRE
Yes my lord. Prepare to receive cavalry!

(Douglas draws his sword and moves a short distance away.)

DOUGLAS
Again sergeant.

MACINTYRE
Stand. Prepare to receive cavalry.

(Douglas yells and charges the line. Soldiers scatter and Douglas goes between them.)

DOUGLAS
That was slow! When your enemies are ready to charge they're not going to wait for you, and you might not have anymore time than that. And for the love of God the last thing you do is move aside! Stand your ground and get your spears in place in time and no one will dare do what I just did.

(to Randolph)

Forgive my presumption Sir Thomas, I've always found that to be effective when training my own men.

RANDOLPH
Not at all Sir James. Carry on sergeant.

(Randolph and Douglas exit.)

MACINTYRE
Yes my lord. Prepare to receive cavalry.

(blackout as training continues.)


Scene 4



(Enter King Edward, Pembroke, Clifford, Seton and Umfraville.)

CLIFFORD
Our first need sire is to water the horses.

EDWARD II
Our soldiers are desperate for rest Sir Robert.

PEMBROKE
We're in urgent need of both, but the dawn comes very early this time of year.

UMFRAVILLE
The Bannock Burn is the only source for water. I've already instructed my men to lay planks across the marshes so our horses can get to it.

CLIFFORD
We'll have to do that for all the horses and oxen.

EDWARD II
You're right. Have the soldiers start on this project at once. Sir Alexander, I want Bruce's position scouted. See if we can attack him from the rear. As for the rest of us, we might as well keep our armor on.

(Lights fade on King Edward et al and rise on Bruce, Douglas, Randolph, and Edward Bruce.)

BRUCE
Such a clear sky my lords, the sun is starting to feel hot already. Douglas, what did your scouts report? Is King Edward ready to attack today?

DOUGLAS
No your majesty, he still has baggage arriving. In fact, they had never seen such a huge train.

RANDOLPH
Their army seems quite active.

EDWARD
I think they're only arranging their divisions. They may do some skirmishing, I expect that's all.

BRUCE
I thought I ordered pits to be dug.

EDWARD
They were, deep enough to trip a charging horse.

BRUCE
The men hid them well, I can't find any.

EDWARD
Try riding over them.

BRUCE
I'll take your word for it. Nephew, I believe a rose has fallen from your chaplet.

RANDOLPH
What do you mean?

BRUCE
The road your division is supposed to be watching currently contains a troop of English cavalry trying to reach the castle.

RANDOLPH
God's blood!

(He dashes off, the rest chuckle as lights fade. Lights come back up as the Scottish soldiers march on with their spears.)

MACINTYRE
Don't dawdle, this isn't a dance!

RANDOLPH
Halt the men here sergeant.

MACINTYRE
Halt!

RANDOLPH
You're about to get your first test lads, make them regret they ever crossed the border. Form circle! Here they come lads. First rank, prepare to receive cavalry! Second rank, stand at the charge! If any riders fall, skewer them!

(First rank place their spears as before. Second rank point their spears straight ahead. Lights focus tightly on Randolph and spearmen. Lights come up on another part of the stage to show Edward II, Umfraville, Seton, and Pembroke.)

PEMBROKE
Your majesty, come quickly, Clifford's cavalry is about to smash into a Scottish schiltron.

EDWARD II
He should go through them without a lot of trouble.

(Lights come up on a third area to reveal Bruce, Douglas, and Edward.)

BRUCE
Now we'll see how well the training's gone.

(We hear yells and screams. We occasionally see spearmen lunging at attackers.)

DOUGLAS
They held off the first charge.

EDWARD II
Don't break off the attack!

UMFRAVILLE
Clifford's just regrouping his men for another charge.

PEMBROKE
He shouldn't need another charge.

DOUGLAS
Sire, let me go to Randolph's aid.

BRUCE
This might be just a feint before a real attack. We're too heavily outnumbered to commit anymore men. He'll have to hold.

EDWARD
They're charging again!

RANDOLPH
They've done their worst lads, hold your ranks!

(They fend off another charge.)

DOUGLAS
Please sire, let me go to his aid.

BRUCE
No! He's still holding his own. We can't risk a bigger engagement yet.

SETON
I have to admit, Bruce prepared them properly.

UMFRAVILLE
What's he doing now?

PEMBROKE
They're circling around the schiltron looking for weak spots.

EDWARD
They must be getting exhausted by now, standing in that heat and dust.

DOUGLAS
My lord I beg you, let me go to his relief!

BRUCE
All right. Go ahead.

(Douglas exits)

RANDOLPH
Steady lads, they're as tired as we are.

(Randolph ducks)

What was that? A mace?

MACINTYRE
They're throwing their weapons at us my lord.

RANDOLPH
They're frustrated. We'll collect all the booty we want just standing still!

EDWARD II
They're breaking off the attack! Look, they're in complete disorder.

BRUCE
Our nephew has won, Edward.

EDWARD
A lot of arrogance just got humbled.

DOUGLAS
(entering) With your permission sire, I'll let Randolph finish them. If I go in I'll just steal the glory.

(lights fade on Bruce, Douglas, Edward.)

RANDOLPH
All right lads, now we have a surprise in store for them. Remember, stay in your ranks. Advance!

(Soldiers charge their spears and advance out of the light.)

SETON
Look at that, cavalry are being charged by infantry!

PEMBROKE
Clifford may never live this down!

EDWARD II
Stifle yourself. Or at least insult him to his face. No, don't; I'm in no mood to listen to your bickering.

(He exits, Seton, Pembroke and Umfraville follow. Randolph, Edward, and Douglas enter.)

EDWARD
Congratulations Thomas.

RANDOLPH
Thank you uncle.

DOUGLAS
I have to admit Thomas, after this display you are my equal. Almost.

RANDOLPH
Where's the king?

EDWARD
Over there, inspecting our preparations.

RANDOLPH
He has something else to worry about. Look.

EDWARD
They're sending another troop of cavalry.

DOUGLAS
One knight just dashed ahead of the rest.

EDWARD
Perhaps the idiot is thinking he's going to challenge the king to single combat.

DOUGLAS
That is what he thinks, he's lowering his lance and charging!

RANDOLPH
Your majesty, behind you!

EDWARD
Robert, get behind the lines!

DOUGLAS
What's he doing? He's facing him!

EDWARD
Robert, get behind the lines! You can't fight on that pony! Robert!

RANDOLPH
Your majesty! God save him, he's armed with only an ax. Uncle!

(Shouting is heard from all sides. Suddenly there is silence.)

DOUGLAS
He killed him. He dodged the lance and cleaved his head in two.

(Shouts from offstage of "Bruce,Bruce". The shouts die down as Bruce enters. His ax handle is broken. Edward, Douglas, and Randolph speak at once.)

EDWARD
Brother, what did you think you were doing?! As often as you've admonished me for a lack of caution...

DOUGLAS
He's right. What would have happened if you were killed so foolishly, the army might have disintegrated...

RANDOLPH
You were very lucky uncle, you have no right to jeopardize yourself like that...

BRUCE
Lords...(he quiets them and holds up his ax. The handle is cracked.)

I fear I have broken my ax.

(Douglas, Randolph, and Edward look at each other in disbelief. Exuberant shouts are heard from Bruce's soldiers offstage as the lights fade out.)


Scene 5



(The English camp. Edward II is studying a map and discussing strategy with Clifford, Seton, Umfraville, and Pembroke. They are exhausted and demoralized.)

EDWARD II
What if we go this way?

UMFRAVILLE
That's all marsh. The horses will never get through it.

EDWARD II
How about these woods?

UMFRAVILLE
The cavalry will be too vulnerable to ambushes.

CLIFFORD
Use the archers to hold the woods, that's what they're here for.

UMFRAVILLE
No, we need them for the main attack.

PEMBROKE
Quite so; it's unwise to send cavalry out without archers to weaken the schiltrons.

CLIFFORD
What's that supposed to mean?

PEMBROKE
It means I'm tired of having to be polite to you.

CLIFFORD
Don't try to dishonor me unless you're ready to defend yourself.

PEMBROKE
I've just been looking for the chance!

SETON
Lords, try to remember who the enemy is.

CLIFFORD
Tell that to Pembroke's Welsh levies that are on the edge of mutiny.

PEMBROKE
That's a lie!

CLIFFORD
The whole army knows that's so!

EDWARD II
You squabble like a bunch of old hags who are sick of life! If you argue like this amongst yourselves tonight, what does this bode for tomorrow?

CLIFFORD
Sire, I urge you again to take the advice of the castle governor.

SETON
What advice was that?

CLIFFORD
He advised the king to turn back.

SETON
He can't be serious.

CLIFFORD
As he pointed out, quite correctly, we have advanced far enough to fulfill the terms of the truce. Bruce must now break off the siege. We should resupply the garrison and be on our way.

SETON
What he recommends is complete folly.

CLIFFORD
Look at the state of our army Seton, our men and animals are desperate for rest. Our supplies are thin, and this day's events have left the men completely demoralized. And I would hope, Sir Alexander, that you have observed how carefully Bruce has chosen and prepared his ground. The circumstances are all wrong for a fight.

EDWARD II
I assure you Sir Alexander that I will not turn back under any circumstances.

CLIFFORD
Sire...

EDWARD II
However, maybe we should reconsider whether tomorrow is the day to fight. Perhaps we should seek another place.

SETON
Sire, we can't turn back now. Think of the dishonor, the damage to our reputations! The foreign knights will dismiss this campaign as a fiasco and leave, soldiers will be deserting left and right. We can't let today's events discourage us.

PEMBROKE
If you were English, you would realize there is more than our personal honors to be concerned with.

SETON
I sense no resolve here at all. (exits)

EDWARD II
Leave me alone to think. Go do...I don't care, just go.

(They leave Edward alone as lights fade.)


Scene 6



(The Scottish camp. Present are Bruce, Edward, Douglas, and Randolph.)

DOUGLAS
We have to fight tomorrow. The men will never be in higher spirits than they are right now.

RANDOLPH
A devastating loss will change that quickly.

DOUGLAS
Come on Randolph, you were in the thick of it, you know how ready they are to fight.

RANDOLPH
I agree with you, they are ready to fight, but consider how outnumbered we are. Maybe we can wait until the English are weakened further by hardship and desertion.

EDWARD
We can grow weaker too. Meanwhile, we are on ground which we have picked and know much better than our enemy. Edward doesn't know all the pitfalls that wait for him.

BRUCE
My own inclination is to wait until our numbers are more equal.

DOUGLAS
You realize that means leaving Stirling in English hands.

RANDOLPH
Not if we force Edward to go elsewhere.

EDWARD
But he'll come back nonetheless, and with a safe base here, it will be easy for him to go anywhere in Scotland. Our country will be cut in half.

BRUCE
Douglas, what did your scouts report?

DOUGLAS
I admit their report isn't encouraging. They said the English forces stretched for miles along the road leading here. The army was so large they couldn't count it all. They estimated their numbers to be about four times ours.

BRUCE
With a large number of knights?

DOUGLAS
Yes, but also with a lot of baggage.

BRUCE
To be sure, I don't want the men to know how badly we're outnumbered. Let them think the odds are better. It also occurs to me that Edward will choose to attack tomorrow, and I would rather not let him catch us in a less defensible position. We will plan to fight tomorrow but it will be a defensive fight. If Edward chooses not to give battle, I'm quite willing to let him leave.

(Yelling offstage.)

SETON
I have come here voluntarily!

MACINTYRE
We'll see about that. Keep your hands on your head.

(MacIntyre and Seton enter.)

Your majesty, we caught this man prowling around our camp.

BRUCE
So Seton, you've been reduced to a scout.

SETON
I was not scouting. I came to see you.

BRUCE
You may leave him here sergeant. (MacIntyre exits)

Please put your hands down. Last I recall, you were a staunch ally of the Comyns.

SETON
I was, and I fought with King Edward, but now I wish to come into your peace.

BRUCE
Why the sudden change of heart?

SETON
The English are in a complete panic. In the face of adversity they are showing cowardice. They're actually considering going back to England. Their camps are filled with disorder and rumors of mutinies. King Edward and his commanders are showing no sense of honor. I'm here because I fear being dishonored with them.

EDWARD
You've come to join the winning side?

SETON
Sir Edward, you're much too badly outnumbered for anyone to think you the winning side.

BRUCE
You bring good news Sir Alexander. If The English want to leave, we may be spared battle tomorrow.

SETON
No my lord, you must attack tomorrow. They are ready to cave in. Those cowards tremble in fear of you already. Just the sight of your army in array will panic half of them. If you fight tomorrow you will win. I guarantee it.

RANDOLPH
What good are your guarantees if you're wrong...or lying?

SETON
Take my head my lord, cut it off if your attack fails tomorrow. The English are ready to collapse!

DOUGLAS
He's an honorable man sire; I say we take him at his word.

EDWARD
He's right brother, we must attack tomorrow!

BRUCE
All right then, tomorrow we attack. Be mindful Seton, any treachery on your part and I won't wait until after the battle to sever your head. Look carefully my lords, here is the plan for the morning. We'll lure them into the areas we already have prepared. Randolph's division here, Edward's here, Douglas's here, and my own on the right.

RANDOLPH
We should place the cavalry here to protect our flanks from archers.

BRUCE
Right. I'm putting the baggage and the newly arrived Highlanders out of the way. There hasn't been time to train them.

EDWARD
If we confine the English in this area, they won't be able to bring their full force against us. We might be able to trap them against the burn when the tide comes in.

BRUCE
Exactly. We're going to try to bottle them up in this area. Also fly every banner we have, we want to look as large as possible.

DOUGLAS
When do we hold mass?

BRUCE
Get all units assembled on the field first. I want the church's blessing to be as public as possible. To be sure, I want the English to see it, it may dishearten them more. We'll have mass right before dawn.

DOUGLAS
Will you address the men before the battle?

BRUCE
I've already been working on one, just in case. I'll finish when we're done. Lords, the dawn comes early this time of year. Go to your own tents and get everything prepared. May God have mercy on us.

(All exit save Bruce. He reads his address.)

Men of Scotland; the events of yesterday have shown that God is on our side, and will send his blessings to those who fight in a righteous cause. It is true our foes greatly outnumber us, but what do they have to fight with? They have armor and warhorses, levies from several countries and knights from all over Europe. But we have faith and courage, and the knowledge we fight for our homes and our liberty. Let there be no doubts in our hearts that we fight in a cause as holy as any crusade to free Jerusalem. Today is the birthday of John the Baptist, and as we go into battle, he and St.Andrew and the other saints of Scotland will be alongside us. I ask you now to show the courage your fathers did when they fought alongside Wallace a short distance from here at Stirling bridge. Remember your homes that have been destroyed and your kinsmen who have been killed. Our foe comes to bring more destruction and a new slavery upon us, therefore look for no mercy if we are beaten. Remember my brothers who were cruelly executed, our clergy languishing in English prisons, the blood that has been spilled by families of all classes. Remember the bravery of our martyrs, and let this strengthen your courage. Show the English you know what honor is. Let those who still tremble with fear feel free to leave. I want no cowards here, nor any who doubt my cause. Men of Scotland, will you suffer the shame of slavery, or will you fight beside your king?

(blackout)


Scene 7



(Drums beat. Offstage there are sounds of soldiers assembling, sergeants yelling orders, etc. The lights come up as Edward II and Umfraville enter.)

EDWARD II
No Sir Ingram, I am determined to attack.

UMFRAVILLE
Delay the battle one more day, the men need the time to rest.

EDWARD II
They can rest when they've won.

UMFRAVILLE
Then at least make a false retreat and lure Bruce onto better ground.

EDWARD II
You fool, I've already won. Look, the Scots kneel, begging me for mercy.

UMFRAVILLE
It's not you they beg mercy from. War is a better missionary than a priest.

EDWARD II
(momentarily flustered) I refuse to believe a bunch of peasants can stand against the finest collection of knights Christendom has seen since the last crusade. We go forward and that's that!

(exit)

UMFRAVILLE
(to himself) May God save some of that mercy for us.

(UMFRAVILLE exits. Scottish soldiers enter and form their line. Randolph enters.)

IAN
You know something Donald?

DONALD
What?

IAN
I've been through this several times before, but I find myself feeling nervous.

DONALD
Me too. I'm glad I took a piss right before we fell in.

IAN
Look, Donald, this broach I'm wearing----I got it from my father. It's the only fancy thing I own. I want you to have it if I die.

DONALD
Ian...

IAN
At least don't let some foreign invader take it off my corpse.

DONALD
In a few hours we're each going to have our own coat of mail, and a broadsword to go with it. Here they come!

RANDOLPH
Charge your spears! Advance!

(Battle scene. Noise continues throughout the scene. Douglas enters.)

DOUGLAS
The pits have stopped their charge. Push them back lads, push them against the burn!

(exits)

EDWARD
(entering) Steady lads, fill the gaps, they're giving way.

(exit)

(King Edward enters with Pembroke and Clifford.)

EDWARD II
Pembroke, where are those longbows?

PEMBROKE
Between the Scots' cavalry and the bogs the only way they can reach the Scots is by shooting over our own forces.

EDWARD II
Then do it.

PEMBROKE
I've been trying, but the cavalry broke and ran through the archers and forced them back, they're out of range.

EDWARD II
Bring up the infantry!

CLIFFORD
They're backed up behind the cavalry. The ground is too narrow and the burn is too deep in most places. They have to fall back to give the cavalry a chance to regroup.

EDWARD II
If we fall back we'll be routed. Keep pressing the attack.

(they exit, Bruce enters)

BRUCE
They're starting to panic, bring up the Highlanders. Fly every rag that looks like a banner. If they think we have another division they'll give up and run!

(More fighting, Bruce exits. Edward II enters with Clifford and Pembroke.)

EDWARD II
We have to rally them, come on!

CLIFFORD
It's too late for that, we've lost; you must get to safety.

EDWARD II
No, not while I'm still able to wield this sword!

CLIFFORD
Sire, the infantry have scattered in all directions. You must leave! Pembroke, take whoever you have left and get him away from here. I'll try to hold off the Scots a while longer.

PEMBROKE
We're going to try to reach the castle.

(They lead Edward II offstage. Bruce enters with Edward, Douglas, Randolph, and Edward.)

EDWARD
Robert, it's a rout. The burn is so thick with drowned men and horses you can walk across without getting wet.

RANDOLPH
The flower of English chivalry have their petals strewn all over the ground.

BRUCE
Pursue the surviving knights, they'll bring a heavy ransom.

EDWARD
We should attack the castle.

BRUCE
No, that's where they'll rally, and they still outnumber us even with this slaughter. The castle will surrender in short order anyway.

DOUGLAS
Let me go hunting for King Edward.

BRUCE
He'll be too well protected.

DOUGLAS
It's still worth taking a chance. If we capture him you can dictate peace terms.

BRUCE
You're right, go.

(They exit, battle dies down, the stage is quiet. Edward II enters with Pembroke.)

EDWARD II
What, won't the governor let me in?

PEMBROKE
He will if you desire it, but he reminds your majesty that he is obligated to surrender the castle under the terms of truce.

EDWARD II
So what?

PEMBROKE
He intends to keep his agreement. He says you may have refuge, but you will surely be captured if you stay. He advises you to get back to England, and so do I.

EDWARD II
Where's Clifford?

PEMBROKE
Dead.

EDWARD II
Dead. How did things come to this?

(blackout)


Scene 8



(A church near the battlefield. Bruce is holding vigil by a corpse. There are the sounds of music and celebrating offstage. Edward enters and kneels before the altar, not seeing Bruce.)

BRUCE
Edward, what are you doing here? Why aren't you joining in the celebrations?

EDWARD
I can ask the same of you. Why are you here?

BRUCE
This corpse was Sir Robert Clifford. I think you had only met him, but he and I were good friends. I still mourn for him, even though he fought against us today. I'm holding a vigil here tonight to honor him.

EDWARD
No Robert, I didn't know him well, but I knew he was a good man. I'm heartily sorry for it.

BRUCE
You still haven't told me why you're here.

EDWARD
We lost very few today, but one we lost was Sir Walter of Ross. He was the best friend I had in this world. So help me Robert, I would rather have lost the battle, my earldom, everything, than lose Sir Walter! Brother, what's wrong with us? We've just destroyed an invading army. Men will talk of us as the greatest knights in Christendom. By God Robert, today Scotland became a nation! Why are we fighting back tears?

BRUCE
It occurs to me, we've never had time to grieve before. Let's do that now Edward; let's grieve for our friends, and kinsmen, and our brothers who were butchered. Let's grieve the people who suffered in our cause. I think the most important thing we won today is the time to grieve what we lost. It's just us brother, we can weep if we care to.

(They hold each other. Light shifts to Donald and Ian. Ian was killed in the battle.)

DONALD
Like I predicted Ian, I have a nice collection of weapons now, and we must have the best equipped peasants in history. I kept my promise, no one took your broach.

(He takes the broach off Ian.)

I'm going to give it to your son when I tell him he's an orphan. I'll tell him what a great man his father was. God in Heaven Ian, killed by some foreign knight who just wanted to slaughter a bunch of peasants and cover himself in chivalry when he got home. I hope he drowned in the burn. I hope he died painfully wounded, held face down in the mud by the weight of other such knights dying on top of him.

(blackout.)


Scene 9



(Bruce's office. Bruce and Edward are arguing.)

EDWARD
Haven't I been fighting as long as you have?!

BRUCE
Yes, of course you have.

EDWARD
And haven't I undergone all your privations, taken as many risks, won as much honor in battle as you?

BRUCE
I know all this...

EDWARD
I have been by your side every moment since you escaped from England.

BRUCE
What are getting at? Didn't I give you my Earldom of Carrick? I made you one of my top generals.

EDWARD
One of your top generals, how impressive.

BRUCE
What more do you want?

EDWARD
How about my own kingdom? My blood is as royal as yours.

BRUCE
The parliament recognized you as my heir, isn't that good enough?

EDWARD
And if I die first, what did I have?

BRUCE
Will you stop playing catch-up.

EDWARD
What?

BRUCE
As long as I can remember you've been jealous, wanting anything I had, having to do everything I did...

EDWARD
You're going to dredge up everything since childhood?

BRUCE
It's only gotten worse as the years have passed. It's an accident of birth that I'm older and I got to be our father's heir and inherit all the titles. Every family is in that situation.

EDWARD
But we're royalty and that's different. You keep talking about "your" cause. By God, it's ours!

BRUCE
What do you want now, a piece of the kingdom?

EDWARD
I think half should be about right.

BRUCE
(stunned)

You're serious.

EDWARD
Of course I'm serious.

BRUCE
The kingdom is not divisible.

EDWARD
Certainly it is. You can give me the southern half and let me fight the English. Or you can keep the ports and give me the highlands.

BRUCE
How about Ireland?

EDWARD
What do you mean?

BRUCE
How would you like Ireland? Would that be enough?

EDWARD
Is it yours to give?

BRUCE
Actually it is.

EDWARD
How so?

BRUCE
I have here a letter from the chieftain of the O'Neills of Ulster. He offers to give to you his hereditary claim to be High King of Ireland. I don't know that the title's meant anything since Brian Boru, but he's willing to give you that chance.

EDWARD
What prompts him to this?

BRUCE
He hopes one Bruce can do for Ireland what another did for Scotland and chase out the English. I don't know if you can do it, but at least you should be a great distraction for the king of England. Enough trouble in Ireland and maybe he'll leave us be.

EDWARD
This wasn't your idea?

BRUCE
I didn't think of making you king, but I did go fishing and send this bait. It's a letter to the Irish kings, bishops and so on reminding them of our common language and culture, suggesting an alliance to help them recover their own independence...well, here, you can read it yourself. Apparently, some decided they wanted a Bruce of their own. Well, there it is brother, your own kingdom, provided you're able to win it. It won't be just handed to you, you'll have to fight another war for it.

EDWARD
Fine, I'd rather have it that way. Why didn't you just tell me about this when I walked in?

BRUCE
Because you blundered in here and started arguing with me, and I let you draw me into it and get me angry. I'll give you Randolph and an army. You'll land near Carrickfergus and meet your allies there. I'll bring reinforcements when and if I can.

EDWARD
Edward Bruce, High King of Ireland. I apologize for my earlier tone. I behaved like an ass.

BRUCE
I'll concede you that point.

EDWARD
Forgive me Robert.

BRUCE
I forgive you, your majesty.

EDWARD
Thank you, your majesty. (blackout)


Scene 10



(The Scottish lords are assembled in parliament at Arbroath. Lamberton is reading the final draft of a letter to the Pope. While he does this, MacIntyre whispers to Bruce who then goes to another part of the stage where he meets the Papal Envoy.)

LAMBERTON
My lords, come to order please, we are ready for the final reading of the letter to the Pope.

(reading)

The nobles and prelates of Scotland, assembled in parliament at Arbroath this day, April 6, 1320, send greetings to His Holiness Pope John XXII. Our nation lived in freedom and quietness until Edward, King of England, under color of friendship and alliance, attacked us, all unsuspecting, when we had neither King nor Head and our people were unacquainted with wars and invasions.

BRUCE
Greetings your grace. Has his holiness seen fit to lift my excommunication?

ENVOY
Sir Robert, his holiness sends this letter to you.

BRUCE
I can't read someone else's letter.

ENVOY
This is your letter my lord.

BRUCE
This letter is addressed only to "Robert Bruce". There are several men in this kingdom with that name. I can't open a letter that might be for one of them.

ENVOY
I assure you this is for you.

BRUCE
Have you broken the seal?

ENVOY
Of course not.

BRUCE
Then how do you know it's for me?

ENVOY
If I may be so bold, Sir Robert, I will change the address to read "Robert Bruce, acting as King of Scots".

BRUCE
I'm not acting as king, I am king. Sorry, I still can't accept that letter.

(lights switch back to the parliament.)

LAMBERTON
At length it pleased God who alone can heal after wounds to restore us to liberty by our most serene prince, King and Lord, Robert, who for the delivering of his people and his own rightful inheritance from the enemy's hand did most cheerfully undergo all manner of toil, fatigue, hardship and hazard. The Divine providence, the right of succession by the laws and customs of the Kingdom, and the due and lawful consent and assent of all the people made him our King and prince. But, after all, if this prince shall leave these principles he has so nobly pursued and consent that we of our Kingdom be subjected to the King or people of England, we will immediately endeavor to expel him as our enemy and as the subverter both of his own and our rights and will make another King who will defend our liberties: for so long as there shall be but one hundred of us remain alive we will never give consent to subject ourselves to the dominion of the English. For it is not glory, it is not riches, neither is it honor, but it is freedom alone that we fight and contend for, which no honest man will lose but with his life.

(lights switch back to Bruce and the envoy.)

ENVOY
The safest course for you is to accept this letter.

BRUCE
I will not do so until it is addressed to the King of Scotland.

ENVOY
Sir Robert, it is not seemly to refuse a letter from the Pope and leave his representative waiting. You will make him angry.

BRUCE
And what will he do, excommunicate me? He's done that already. He's placed my kingdom under interdict, released my subjects from their loyalty to me, and encouraged my enemy. Perhaps you should tell him that I, too, am angry. If he wants my cooperation, he must recognize my title and tell the English to leave us in peace.

ENVOY
That would anger King Edward. Now, if you had to choose between angering little Scotland or powerful England, which would you choose?

BRUCE
I would do what is right. Isn't teaching right and wrong exactly what the church is for?

ENVOY
You know the Pope is anxious for another crusade. England's participation is necessary, and the war with you is holding that up.

BRUCE
Tell his holiness that I have no greater desire than to take part in a crusade, but I can't do so with my kingdom under constant attack by a big neighbor. And before you dismiss little Scotland, I should tell you that Edward's last invasion barely got across the border, while my army raids northern England at will.

ENVOY
And just what would you have me do with this letter?

BRUCE
Take it back and say the person to whom it is addressed does not exist, or can't be determined. Please yourself. Just tell him what I require.

(Bruce stalks out as lights switch back to the parliament.)

LAMBERTON
It is time, my lords and bishops, to affix our seals to the letter. Bring out the wax.

(Lights fade as they affix their seals to the letter.)


Scene 11



(Bruce's office. Umfraville is heard outside.)

UMFRAVILLE
I don't need to make an appointment! Get out of my way!

(enters)

BRUCE
Why this rude interruption, Sir Ingram?

UMFRAVILLE
Ruder things have been done lately my lord.

BRUCE
What do you want? I'm busy.

UMFRAVILLE
More writs of execution?

BRUCE
What do you want?

UMFRAVILLE
You have executed a good friend of mine.

BRUCE
David Brechin? The parliament condemned him to death.

UMFRAVILLE
The parliament. Couldn't you have heard his appeal!?

BRUCE
I did. He conspired to assassinate me.

UMFRAVILLE
The great Bruce, so well renowned for his mercy, has killed the flower of chivalry.

BRUCE
This flower had some thorns. He broke his oath to me at least twice.

UMFRAVILLE
He wasn't involved in the con...

BRUCE
He knew and didn't tell me! That's enough. He deserved it.

UMFRAVILLE
Who are you, Good King Robert or old King Edward? I can't tell anymore.

BRUCE
So go run back to the new King Edward!

UMFRAVILLE
I have done good service in the parliament! But I won't stay here and endure this!

BRUCE
And what do you have to endure? I have permitted former enemies to come home and even keep their lands. I have endured hardships and privations. I have chased every last English garrison out of the country. Our people are secure for the first time in over thirty years. Why would anyone try to kill me? How can there be anyone still so bitter as to kill me by stealth? God's blood, will Comyn's followers hunt me to my grave!? My patience has run out! Leave if it pleases you.

(Umfraville starts to exit.)

Umfraville, you can stay for your friend's funeral.

(Randolph enters as Umfraville exits.)

RANDOLPH
Your majesty, the Queen is asking for you.

(They exit)


Scene 12



(Lights fall on Bruce's office and rise on Elizabeth, who is lying in bed. She is near death.)

BRUCE
(to servants, while still outside)

Leave us be.

(Bruce enters and looks at Elizabeth but can't manage to say anything.)

ELIZABETH
Robert...

BRUCE
Do you want to sit up?

ELIZABETH
No, I'm too weak.

BRUCE
Dear God. I should go get the children.

(He tries to leave.)

ELIZABETH
No, just stay here a bit. I'm not sure I want their last memory of me to be this. They won't remember me at all Robert, they're so young!

BRUCE
I won't let them forget you.

ELIZABETH
My only son only an infant, and I've never been able to nurse him myself.

BRUCE
I know, I know. Just try to rest.

ELIZABETH
(trying to put herself in a better humor)

But I did give you a male heir.

BRUCE
That you did.

ELIZABETH
And I think I must have been the oldest mother since John the Baptist was born. The birth alone grayed whatever dark hairs I had left.

BRUCE
Nonsense. You're as pretty as the day I married you.

ELIZABETH
And you have the same charming, mischievous tongue you had the day I married you. Good thing our fathers arranged it.

(They try to laugh, but the best either can do is a quick chuckle which dies quickly.)

ELIZABETH
What else is it troubles you?

BRUCE
Don't worry yourself.

ELIZABETH
There's something.

BRUCE
My dying wife.

ELIZABETH
There's more. You can't keep anything from me.

BRUCE
Edward's dead.

ELIZABETH
How?

BRUCE
In battle. As he wanted.

(pause)

Elizabeth, do you think I've turned into a bitter old man?

ELIZABETH
What?

BRUCE
I just wonder if I'm becoming cruel as I get older. Ever since the conspirators were sentenced...

ELIZABETH
What else could you have done? They wanted to kill you. Mercy has limits.

BRUCE
I'm wondering if I'm becoming like the old king Edward we ran from.

ELIZABETH
Have you captured any towns and ordered all the inhabitants slaughtered?

BRUCE
Of course not!

ELIZABETH
Then I don't think you have anything to worry about. Just sit awhile with me Robert.

(They sit silently. Blackout.)


Scene 13



(York. Bruce, Lamberton and Randolph enter. Bruce has a coughing fit.)

RANDOLPH
Uncle, I told you that you should have stayed in bed today.

BRUCE
Nonsense, my health is much better. This is just a cold or something. But to tell truth, I think this is my last campaign.

LAMBERTON
Age catches up to all of us.

BRUCE
My grandfather lived into his eighties. Do you know anything about this young English king?

LAMBERTON
He was just a little boy when I was there. From what I hear he hasn't matured with age.

BRUCE
With a mother like Queen Isabella that's no surprise. I would have given a lot to have seen mother and son sent scampering during Douglas's raid.

LAMBERTON
I can't believe she could do that to her own husband.

BRUCE
I think he died of natural causes.

LAMBERTON
What?!

BRUCE
Of course, that assumes a lot of Englishmen have hot pokers up their rumps.

(They laugh like they've heard a nasty joke that is best kept secret. They quiet down as Pembroke enters with Edward III.)

PEMBROKE
Greetings to you Sir Robert, Sir Thomas, your grace.

BRUCE
Your greeting says everything Sir Aymer. You still refuse to recognize me as king.

PEMBROKE
The regents are not yet ready to concede that part of your offer. We do however agree to the second and the sixth points. The other points will have to be negotiated another time.

(Hands Bruce the document.)

BRUCE
You agree that my son will marry your king's sister, and that I will pay you £20,000. This is an insult my lord. First you broke the truce I had with the boy's father, then after your mighty army got spanked by a glorified foraging party, you fled here at the mere word that I was coming.

(He hurls down the document.)

The first point calls for recognition of my claim to the throne. If you don't grant that we have nothing to talk about.

EDWARD III
Mind your tone. I am Scotland's overlord, and I expect you to address my ministers with the proper respect.

BRUCE
So you'll assert that, will you?

EDWARD III
Like my father and my grandfather. I will be the next Hammer of the Scots.

BRUCE
Pembroke, can't you keep your whelp under control? His leash needs tightening.

PEMBROKE
Sir Robert, I'm sure that...

BRUCE
Listen boy, and listen carefully. At my age I don't have to tolerate bad manners from anybody. You must learn that even a king can't always speak out of turn. Even a king has to learn to show respect. He also has to earn it. As for you, I have come to offer you peace. Your father was either too proud or too stupid to accept earlier offers and better terms, and it may be you that suffers for it, because I am ready right now to seize a portion of your kingdom. Where you're sitting could end up being the border. When you learn not to speak to your elders with such rudeness you may find you get farther in life. You may get so far that you have the luxury of lecturing kings. For now, I expect you to keep silent.

PEMBROKE
With respect Sir Robert, if your position is so strong why are you offering us money?

BRUCE
Because it's the custom, and I have learned to value tradition. I'm also offering you a way to save face. Don't worry about me finding the money----Douglas is running around Northumbria collecting it.

PEMBROKE
You're stealing it from English subjects.

BRUCE
You should have thought of that before going to war. What is your answer Sir Aymer, will you accept my terms for peace?

PEMBROKE
Yes, your majesty.

EDWARD III
Pembroke!

PEMBROKE
We're stuck, your majesty. (blackout)


Scene 14



(Bruce's bedchamber at Cardross. Bruce is dying. The Scottish lords and prelates are gathered. Lamberton is administering last rites.)

BRUCE
My pilgrimages these last months have done me no good; my health has only grown worse. In a way this is a relief my lords. I've been lonely these last few years since Elizabeth died. I had hoped we might grow old together in a country at peace, but God has decided otherwise. I regret leaving behind three small children who never knew their mother and hardly know their father.

LAMBERTON
Your children will never cease to hear about you my lord. From the stories they hear they will know you to be the greatest king in history.

BRUCE
I hope they have the good sense to see through some exaggeration.

(Bruce groans)

Forgive me, the physicians can't do anything for the pain anymore. I think this is God's punishment for my sins.

LAMBERTON
I assure you Sire you have been absolved of everything.

BRUCE
Have I? Was I right to go to war to win a crown? Will all the widows and orphans forgive me? I fear there's a lot of blood on my hands.

RANDOLPH
You mustn't think that uncle. Already people of every rank are weeping at your death. You must believe you were right.

BRUCE
When I first committed the sin of killing Red Comyn in a church, I promised God that if he would forgive me and grant me victory, I would lead a crusade to free the Holy Land. God did not see fit to grant me the health to keep my promise. Douglas, I have a last request of you. Since my body can't do what my heart wills, I want you to cut out my heart and carry it into battle against the Saracens. When you reach the Holy Land, bury it in Jerusalem, then I may yet fulfill my promise. Can you do this for me?

DOUGLAS
Even if it means my life.

BRUCE
Thank you James. My lords, I ask you all to swear loyalty to my son David, and should he die without issue give your loyalty to my grandson Robert Stewart. Do you so swear?

(They all respond in the affirmative.)

During my son's minority, it is my will that Randolph serve as regent. Is this agreeable to you?

(All answer that it is.)

Nephew, will you do this for me?

RANDOLPH
Yes uncle.

BRUCE
Good. Sirs, there is nothing left for me now except to face death without fear, as all men must. I thank God for giving me time to repent of all the deaths I've caused, and I accept my pain as penance. I thank God for these few months of peace our country has had and I pray it may continue.

(He dies. Lamberton feels for his breath.)

LAMBERTON
The king is dead. May God have mercy on his soul.

RANDOLPH
My lords, I fear we have broken our ax.

(Lights fade on Bruce's bedchamber and rise on Edward III, who is reading a proclamation.)

EDWARD III
I, Edward, the third of that name, King of England, France, and Ireland, Overlord of Scotland, do issue this proclamation. The treaty signed between myself and Robert de Brus of Scotland was signed when I was underage to rule in my own right. Now that I have reached my majority the aforesaid treaty is invalid. I hereby recognize Edward Balliol, son of King John of Scotland, as the rightful heir to the Scottish throne and will help him to his throne with all means in my power.

(He rolls up the document.)

The war is on again.

(Lights fade on Edward III. End of play.)
Go back to plays.

Go to The Declaration of Arbroath.

Go to How Accurate was "Braveheart".

Go back to home.