The Black Douglas by James Baldwin
In Scotland, in the time of King Robert Bruce, there lived a brave man
whose name was Doug-las. His hair and beard were black and long, and
his face was tanned and dark; and for this reason people nicknamed him
the Black Douglas. He was a good friend of the king, and one of his
In the war with the English, who were trying to drive Bruce from
Scotland, the Black Douglas did many brave deeds; and the English
people became very much afraid of him. By and by the fear of him
spread all through the land. Nothing could frighten an English lad
more than to tell him that the Black Douglas was not far away. Women
would tell their chil-dren, when they were naughty, that the Black
Douglas would get them; and this would make them very quiet and good.
There was a large cas-tle in Scotland which the English had taken
early in the war. The Scot-tish soldiers wanted very much to take it
again, and the Black Douglas and his men went one day to see what they
could do. It happened to be a hol-i-day, and most of the English
soldiers in the cas-tle were eating and drinking and having a merry
time. But they had left watch-men on the wall to see that the Scottish
soldiers did not come upon them un-a-wares; and so they felt quite
In the e-ven-ing, when it was growing dark, the wife of one of the
soldiers went up on the wall with her child in her arms. As she looked
over into the fields below the castle, she saw some dark objects
moving toward the foot of the wall. In the dusk she could not make out
what they were, and so she pointed them out to one of the watch-men.
"Pooh, pooh!" said the watchman. "Those are nothing to frighten us.
They are the farmer's cattle, trying to find their way home. The
farmer himself is en-joy-ing the hol-i-day, and he has forgotten to
bring them in. If the Douglas should happen this way before morning,
he will be sorry for his care-less-ness."
But the dark objects were not cattle. They were the Black Douglas and
his men, creeping on hands and feet toward the foot of the castle
wall. Some of them were dragging ladders behind them through the
grass. They would soon be climbing to the top of the wall. None of the
English soldiers dreamed that they were within many miles of the
The woman watched them until the last one had passed around a corner
out of sight. She was not afraid, for in the dark-en-ing twi-light
they looked indeed like cattle. After a little while she began to sing
to her child:—
"Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye,
Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,
The Black Douglas shall not get ye."
"Don't be so sure about that!"
All at once a gruff voice was heard behind her, saying, "Don't be so
sure about that!"
She looked around, and there stood the Black Douglas himself. At the
same moment a Scottish soldier climbed off a ladder and leaped upon
the wall; and then there came another and another and another, until
the wall was covered with them. Soon there was hot fighting in every
part of the castle. But the English were so taken by surprise that
they could not do much. Many of them were killed, and in a little
while the Black Douglasand his men were the masters of the castle,
which by right be-longed to them.
As for the woman and her child, the Black Douglas would not suffer any
one to harm them. After a while they went back to England; and whether
the mother made up any more songs about the Black Douglas I cannot