Chapter 1 The Boy
The year was 1276. In a quiet, sunny Scottish valley, a group of Scottish nobles rode towards a farm. The nobles rode handsome horses and wore rich clothes. Each noble had a boy with him. But they carried no weapons because this was a meeting of truce.
Scotland had no king. The old king died without a son or daughter. The English king, Edward I, wanted to choose a new king for Scotland. The Scottish nobles wanted to choose their ruler. So there was war. The fighting went on and things were difficult — there was no food because the farmers were fighting for the nobles. Edward I — 'Longshanks' they called him because he -had long legs — called a truce. The bravest nobles came, leaving their weapons behind. They came to the meet¬ing place — a large farm building that belonged to a farmer called MacAndrews. They tied their horses outside and went in.
One of the neighboring farmers was a man called Malcolm Wallace. He was a strong, brave man who wanted Scots to rule Scotland. He had two sons, John, who was eighteen, and William, then only seven. William had his father’s blue eyes. Malcolms wife died when William was born.
Later that same day, Malcolm and John rode off to the MacAndrews' farm, carrying farm tools with them as weapons. William watched them. He loved his father and wanted to be like him. He ran to his horse and rode after them.
They stopped on the hill above the farm.
'Stay here,' Malcolm said to William.
When Malcolm and John arrived at the farm building every¬thing was quiet. No people, no horses. They held their weapons ready and pushed open the door. They looked up and their hearts stopped. Thirty nobles and thirty boys. And one farmer. All dead. Tied by the neck. They heard a sound behind them and quickly turned. William stood there, looking up at the bodies.
' William! Get out of here!' shouted John.
At first William did not think the bodies were real. Then he touched one and realized. He shut his eyes to the terrible picture and ran this way and that, knocking into bodies. Malcolm caught William and held him.
'English murderers!' he said.
That night a group of local men met at the Wallace farm. William listened from the door.
'The nobles who wanted to fight are dead,' said Malcolm. 'So
we have to show the English that we won't lie down and serve
them. We're not dogs but men!'
They rode off the next day to attack the English. William stayed at home and fought the English in a game with his friend, Hamish. Night came. William watched through a window. His father and brother did not return. But they returned the next morning — Old Campbell, Hamish's father, brought their bodies.
'William… Come here, my boy,' said Old Campbell kindly. William looked away and shut his eyes. He looked back, but the bodies of his father and brother were still there.
William stood at the graves and the neighbours looked at the
boy. What would happen to him now? A little girl of five with long red hair came towards him. She handed William a flower — the purple flower of Scotland. Their eyes met and then the girl walked back to her mother.
A tall, dark man rode towards the crowd who stood near the graves. William looked at him.
'Uncle Argyle?' William said.
That night the boy and his uncle sat together at the table. Argyle had no wife or children but he would take the boy home with him. Malcolm's sword lay on the table. William tried to lift it.