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Dear little baby day by day
We nursed it on our knees all day,
F. T. Palgrave.
6.-THE TAKING OF ROXBURGH CASTLE.
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Perhaps you may be tired, my dear child, of such stories; yet I will tell you how the great and important castle of Roxburgh was taken from the English. You must know Roxburgh was then a very large castle,
situated near where two fine rivers, the Tweed and the Teviot, join each other. Being within five or six miles of England, the English wanted very much to keep it, and the Scots wanted very much to take it. I will tell you how it was taken.
It was upon the night of what is called Shrovetide, a holiday to which Roman Catholics paid great respect, and kept with much mirth and feasting. Most of the garrison of Roxburgh Castle were drinking and making merry, but still they had set watchers on the battlements of the castle, in case of any sudden attack; for as the Scots had succeeded in so many attempts of the kind, and as Douglas was known to be near them, they felt that they must keep a very strict guard.
An English woman, the wife of one of the officers, was sitting on the battlements with her child in her arms, and looking out on the fields below, she saw some black objects, like a herd of cattle, straggling near the foot of the wall, and coming up to the ditch or moat of the castle. She pointed them out to the sentinel or watchman and asked him what they were. “Pooh, pooh," said the soldier, “it is Farmer Such-aone's cattle” (naming a man whose farm lay near the castle)," the good man is keeping a jolly Shrovetide, and has forgot to shut up his bullocks in their yard; but if the Douglas comes across them before morning, he will be very sorry for the mistake he has made." Now these creeping objects which they saw from the castle-wall, were no real cattle, but Douglas himself and his soldiers, who had put black cloaks above their armour, and were creeping about on hands and feet, in order, without being seen, to get so near to the foot of the castle wall as to be able to set ladders to it. The poor woman, who knew nothing of this, sat quietly on the wall, and began to sing to her child. You must know that the name of Douglas had become so terrible to the English, that the women used to frighten their children with it, and say to them when they behaved ill, that they “ would make the Black Douglas take them.” And this soldier's wife was singing to her child—
“You are not so sure of that,” said a voice close beside her. She felt at the same time a heavy hand, with an iron glove, laid on her shoulder, and when she looked round, she saw the very Black Douglas she had been singing about, standing close beside her, a
a tall, swarthy, strong man. At the same time, another Scotsman was seen ascending the walls, near to the sentinel. The soldier gave the alarm, and rushed at the Scotsman, whose name was Simon Ledehouse, with his lance; but Simon parried the stroke, and closing with the sentinel, struck him a deadly blow with his dagger. The rest of the Scots followed up to help Douglas and Ledehouse, and the castle was taken. Many of the soldiers were put to death, but Douglas protected the woman and the child. I dare say she made no more songs about the Black Douglas.
Sir Walter Scott.