Describing Bruce’s disastrous return to Scotland to resume his campaign in 1307.
Bruce took to the hills of Carrick and Galloway. Things could hardly be worse and his prospects dimmer. Terrible though many points in the previous six months must have been, at the moment when the death (by beheading) of his younger brothers, Thomas and Alexander, and the failure of their campaign was reported, he would be at a place that cannot be recreated on paper. His grandfather’s claim must have seemed like a curse. The challenge to his mind, to his very sanity even, was beyond the point that cracks even a resolute man. An atom of doubt would lead to the collapse of his campaign, and with it his claim. His companions would have looked at his face and wondered: What now?
At this point supporters would have to see more in Bruce than a righteous cause, a brave man, a capable leader. They would need to feel, without perhaps even being aware of it, greatness. They would need to feel that Bruce’s cause was their duty, and their destiny. In that age of faith, they would need to sense God’s purpose at work. How did Bruce behave inside that confusion and grief with everyone watching? What he could possibly have said to his companions at this point is beyond our knowledge and my imagination. However, it is not just the words that count here; they would have to see something in his eyes that they had not seen before. But whatever it is that they saw when they looked at him, and whatever he said proved enough for their conscience and courage. And they stayed with him.