Scotland's Story - H. E. Marshall

William Wallace—The Black Parliament of Ayr

After this many people gathered round Wallace, so that he was soon at the head of an army of men all eager to drive the English out of Scotland. These men were nearly all of the common people, for most of the great lords were too proud to follow a leader who was only a poor gentleman. Besides, many of the great lords had lands both in England and in Scotland, and it did not seem to them to matter much whether Edward of England ruled over Scotland or not. Indeed, as in any case they had to do homage to him for their lands in England, some of them would have been glad that he should have been King of Scotland also, so that they might have only one master instead of two.

Wallace was clever as well as brave, and in a short time he had driven almost all the English out of the south of Scotland. The people loved him, and men, and women too, were ready to fight and die for him.

At last the English, seeing that they could not conquer Wallace, tried to take him by treachery. They pretended that they wished to make peace, and they invited Wallace and all the Scottish nobles who had joined him, to meet in a council in the town of Ayr.

The meeting was to be held in a large house, built of wood, just outside the town. This place was called the Barns of Ayr.

Glad at the thought of peace, and suspecting no evil, the Scottish knights and nobles agreed to come to the council. So, lightly armed and gaily clad, they rode along by twos and threes to the place of meeting.

All seemed peaceful and quiet. But as each man leapt from his horse and entered the barn he was seized, a rope was flung round his neck, and before he could utter a word he was hanged from the beams of the roof.

Knight after knight entered that awful house. Many went in, but none came out again. The English soldiers stood ready waiting, and silently and quickly did their cruel work.

Knight after knight came, but Wallace, Wallace the chief of all, the man whom they most wished to seize and kill, did not come.

He never came. For a woman, unseen by the soldiers, had crept close up to the barn. Something had warned her that within all was not fair and true. So she watched and waited, and at last she found out what deadly work was being done.

Not a moment did she waste. Fast as feet could carry her she sped away to warn Wallace. As she ran she met him galloping towards the Barns. He knew he was late, but he hoped yet to be in time to help to make peace for his country, so he urged his horse to greater speed.

'Oh hold you, hold you, brave Wallace!' cried the woman, as soon as she saw him. 'Go not near the Barns of Ayr, for there the English have hanged all your best men like dogs.'

Wallace stopped his horse, and as he listened to the woman's tale, he reeled in his saddle, as if he had been struck. Then he turned and went back to his men, his heart brimming over with rage and pain.

That night the English soldiers feasted and rejoiced over their cruel deeds. Then they lay down to sleep. Some of them slept in the very house in which they had killed so many brave and unsuspecting Scotsmen; others lay in houses near.

When all was dark and quiet, the woman who had warned Wallace went through the town. On every house in which the English slept she set a white mark.

Behind the woman came Wallace and his men. Wherever they saw the white mark, they piled up branches of trees and firewood against the house. When all was ready they set light to each pile. The houses were all built of wood, and soon the whole town was filled with the roar and crackle of flames, and the shrieks of the dying.

The English tried in vain to escape, for Wallace and his men stood round ready to kill them or to drive them back again into the flames. They cried for mercy, but the Scots had none. It was a cruel death, but those were cruel times, and the Scots had terrible wrongs to avenge.

In the morning nothing remained but smoking ruins strewn with dead. This was called the Black Parliament of Ayr. Some of the English had been quartered in the monastery near. When the Prior heard of what Wallace was doing he bade all the monks to rise and arm themselves. Then they fell upon the soldiers and put them all to death. The monks were as merciless as Wallace and his men had been, and the people called the slaughter The Friar of Ayr's Blessing.


Front Matter

The Story of Prince Gathelus
A Fight with the Romans
The March of the Romans
The Story of Saint Columba
French and Scot Allies
The Last of the Picts
A Ploughman Wins a Battle
Macbeth and Three Sisters
The Murder of Banquo
Thane of Fife went to England
Birnam Wood at Dunsinane
Malcolm Canmore
Saint Margaret of Scotland
The Story of Pierce-Eye
Donald Bane and Duncan
Alexander I—The Fierce
Battle of the Standard
William I—the Lion
Alexander II
Alexander III is Crowned
The Taming of the Ravens
A Lady and a Brave Knight
How the King Rode Home
The Maid of Norway
The Siege of Berwick
The Last of Toom Tabard
Adventures of William Wallace
The Black Parliament of Ayr
The Battle of Stirling Bridge
The Battle of Falkirk
The Turning of a Loaf
How the Bruce Struck a Blow
How the King was Crowned
If at First you don't Succeed
The King Tries Again
The Fight at the Ford
The Bruce Escapes
The Taking of Perth
How Two Castles Were Won
Castle of Edinburgh is Taken
How de Bohun Met his Death
The Battle of Bannockburn
How the Scots Carried the War
The Heart of the King
The Story of Black Agnes
Battle of Neville's Cross
French/Scots War with England
The Battle of Otterburn
A Fearful Highland Tournament
The Duke of Rothesay
The Battle of Harlaw
The Scots in France
Beautiful Lady of the Garden
The Poet King
The Black Dinner
Fall of the Black Douglases
The Story of the Boyds
How a Mason Became an Earl
The Battle of Sauchieburn
A Great Sea Fight
The Thistle and Rose
Flodden Field
Fall of the Red Douglases
Story of Johnnie Armstrong
The Goodman of Ballengiech
King of the Commons
Mary Queen of Scots
Darnley and Rizzio
Mary and Bothwell
The Queen Made Prisoner
King's Men and Queen's Men
Death of Two Queens
New Scotland
The King and the Covenant
The Soldier Poet
How the Soldier Poet Died
For the Crown
How the King was Restored
The Church among the Hills
A Forlorn Hope
The Battle of Killiecrankie
Glen of Weeping
Fortune's Gilded Sails
How the Union Jack was Made
For the King over the Water
Story of Smugglers
Prince Charles Came Home
Wanderings of Prince Charles
A Greater Conqueror
God Save the King