| Fifty Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|Includes fifty legendary tales depicting certain romantic episodes in the lives of well-known heroes and famous men, or in the history of a people. Children naturally take a deep interest in such stories. The reading of them will not only give pleasure but will lay the foundation for broader literary studies, as nearly all are the subjects of frequent allusions in poetry and prose. Ages 6-9 |
THE BLACK DOUGLAS
IN Scotland, in the time of King Robert Bruce, there lived
a brave man whose name was
Douglas. 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 strongest
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 children, when they were naughty, that the
Black Douglas would get them; and this would make them very
quiet and good.
There was a large castle in Scotland which the English had
taken early in the war. The Scottish 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
holiday, and most of the English soldiers in the
castle were eating and drinking and having a merry time.
But they had left watchmen on the wall to see that the
Scottish soldiers did not come upon them
unawares; and so they felt quite safe.
In the evening, 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
"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
enjoying the holiday, and he has forgotten to bring them in. If the
Douglas should happen this way before morning, he will be
sorry for his carelessness."
 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 darkening twilight 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."
All at once a gruff voice was heard behind her, saying,
"Don't be so sure about that!"
"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 Douglas
 and his men were the masters of the castle, which by right
belonged 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 tell.
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