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Chapter XXII A Prisoner
 After some consultation between the leaders, it was agreed to make an attempt to capture the castle of Knockbawn. It was known to possess a garrison of some sixty men only, and although strong, Archie and Sir James believed that it could be captured by assault. It was arranged that Archie should ride to reconnoitre it, and taking two mounted retainers he started, the force remaining in the forest some eight miles distant. The castle of Knockbawn stood on a rocky promontory, jutting a hundred and fifty yards into the sea. When he neared the neck of the point, which was but some twenty yards wide, Archie bade his followers fall back a short distance.  
"I will ride," he said, "close up to the castle walls. My armour is good, and I care not for arrow or crossbow bolt. It were best you fell back a little, for they may have horses and may sally out in pursuit. I am well mounted and fear not being overtaken, but it were best that you should have a good start."
Archie then rode forward toward the castle. Seeing a knight approaching alone the garrison judged that he was friendly, and it was not until it was seen that instead of approaching the drawbridge he turned aside and rode to the edge of the fosse, that they suspected that he was a foe. Running to the walls they opened fire with arrows upon him, but by this time Archie had seen all that he required. Across the promontory ran a sort of fissure, some ten yards wide and as many deep. From the opposite edge of this the wall rose abruptly. Here assault would be difficult, and it was upon the gateway that an attack must be made. Several arrows had struck his armour and glanced off, and Archie now turned and quietly rode away, his horse being protected by mail like himself. Scarce had he turned when he saw a sight which caused him for a moment to draw rein. Coming at full gallop toward the promontory was a strong body of English horse, flying the banner of Sir Ingram de Umfraville. They were already nearer to the end of the neck than he was. There was no mode of escape, and drawing his sword he galloped at full speed to meet them. As he neared them Sir Ingram himself, one of the doughtiest of Edward's knights, rode out with levelled lance to meet him. At full gallop the knights charged each other. Sir Ingram's spear was pointed at the bars of Archie's helmet, but as the horses met each other Archie with a blow of his sword cut off the head of the lance and dealt a tremendous backhanded blow upon Sir Ingram's helmet as the latter passed him, striking the knight forward on to his horse's neck; then without pausing a moment he dashed into the midst of the English ranks.
The horsemen closed around him, and although he cut down several with his sweeping blows he was unable to break his way through them. Such a conflict could not last long. Archie received a blow from behind which struck him from his horse. Regaining his feet he continued the fight, but the blows rained thick upon him, and he was soon struck senseless to the ground.
When he recovered he was in a room in the keep of the castle. Two knights were sitting at a table near the couch on which he was lying. "Ah!" exclaimed one, on seeing Archie open his eyes and move, "I am glad to see your senses coming back to you, sir prisoner. Truly, sir, I regret that so brave a knight should have fallen into my hands, seeing that in this war we must needs send our prisoners to King Edward, whose treatment of them is not, I must e'en own, gentle; for indeed you fought like any paladin. I deemed not that there was a knight in Scotland, save the Bruce himself, who could have so borne himself; and never did I, Ingram de Umfraville, come nearer to losing my seat than I did from that backhanded blow you dealt me. My head rings with it still. My helmet will never be fit to wear again, and as the leech said when plastering my head, 'had not my skull been of the thickest, you had assuredly cut through it.' May I crave the name of so brave an antagonist?"
"I am Sir Archibald Forbes," Archie replied.
"By St. Jago!" the knight said, "but I am sorry for it, seeing that, save Bruce himself, there is none in the Scottish ranks against whom King Edward is so bitter. In the days of Wallace there was no one whose name was more often on our lips than that of Sir Archibald Forbes, and now, under Bruce, it is ever coming to the front. I had thought to have asked Edward as a boon that I should have kept you as my prisoner until exchanged for one on our side, but being Sir Archibald Forbes I know that it were useless indeed; nevertheless, sir knight, I will send to King Edward, begging him to look mercifully upon your case, seeing how bravely and honourably you have fought."
"Thanks for your good offices, Sir Ingram," Archie replied, "but I shall ask for no mercy for myself. I have never owed or paid him allegiance, but, as a true Scot, have fought for my country against a foreign enemy."
"But King Edward does not hold himself to be a foreign enemy," the knight said, "seeing that Baliol, your king, with Comyn and all your great nobles, did homage to him as Lord Paramount of Scotland."
"It were an easy way," Archie rejoined, "to gain a possession to nominate a puppet from among the nobles already your vassals, and then to get him to do homage. No, sir knight, neither Comyn nor Baliol, nor any other of the Anglo-Norman nobles who hold estate in Scotland, have a right to speak for her, or to barter away her freedom. That is what Wallace and thousands of Scotchmen have fought and died to protest against, and what Scotchmen will do until their country is free."
"It is not a question for me to argue upon," Sir Ingram said surlily. "King Edward bids me fight in Scotland, and as his knight and vassal I put on my harness without question. But I own to you that seeing I have fought beside him in Gascony, when he, as a feudal vassal of the King of France, made war upon his lord, I cannot see that the offence is an unpardonable one when you Scotchmen do the same here. Concerning the lawfulness of his claim to be your lord paramount, I own that I neither know nor care one jot. However, sir, I regret much that you have fallen into my hands, for to Carlisle, where the king has long been lying, as you have doubtless heard, grievously ill, I must forthwith send you. I must leave you here with the governor, for in half an hour I mount and ride away with my troop. He will do his best to make your sojourn here easy until such time as I may have an opportunity of sending you by ship to Carlisle; and now farewell, sir," he said, giving Archie his hand, "I regret that an unkind chance has thrown so gallant a knight into my hands, and that my duty to the king forbids me from letting you go free."
"Thanks, Sir Ingram," Archie replied. "I have ever heard of you as a brave knight, and if this misfortune must fall upon me, would sooner that I should have been captured by you than by one of less fame and honour."
The governor now had a meal with some wine set before Archie, and then left him alone.
"I am not at Carlisle yet," Archie said to himself. "Unless I mistake, we shall have Sir James thundering at the gate before morning. Cluny will assuredly have ridden off at full speed to carry the news when he saw that I was cut off, and e'en now he will be marching towards the castle." As he expected, Archie was roused before morning by a tremendous outburst of noise. Heavy blows were given, followed by a crash, which Archie judged to be the fall of the drawbridge across the fosse. He guessed that some of Douglas's men had crept forward noiselessly, had descended the fosse, and managed to climb up to the gate, and had then suddenly attacked with their axes the chains of the drawbridge.
A prodigious uproa............
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