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The Good Sir James sails for Jerusalem

At this time died King Robert of Scotland, at a good old age. When he saw his end approaching, he summoned together all the chiefs and barons in whom he most confided, and, after having told them that he should never get the better of this sickness, commanded them, upon their honour and loyalty, to keep and preserve faithfully and entire the kingdom for his son David, and to obey him ; also to crown him king when he was of a proper age, and to marry him with a lady suitable to his station.
After this he called the gallant Lord James Douglas, and said to him, in presence of the others, " My dear friend, Lord James Douglas, you know that I have had much to do, and have suffered many troubles, during life, to support the rights of my crown. At the time that I was most occupied, I made a vow, the non-accomplishment of which gives me much uneasiness : I vowed that, if I could finish my wars in such a manner that I might have quiet to govern peaceably, I would go and make war against the enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ and the adversaries of the Christian faith. To this point my heart has always leaned ; but our Lord was not willing to gratify my desire, and gave me so much to do in my lifetime and this late expedition has lasted so long, followed by this heavy sickness that, since my body cannot accomplish what my heart wishes, I will send my heart instead of my body to fulfil my vow. And, as I do not know any knight so gallant or enterprising as yourself, or better formed to complete my intentions ; I beg and entreat of you, dear and special friend, as earnestly as I can, that you will have the goodness to undertake this expedition for the love of me, and to acquit my soul to our Lord and Saviour ; for I have that opinion of your nobleness and loyalty, that, if you undertake it, it cannot fail of success : and I shall die contented. But it must be executed as follows :-
" I will that, as soon as I shall be dead, you take my heart from my body, and have it well embalmed; you will also take as much money from my treasury as shall appear to you sufficient to perform your journey, as well as for all those whom you may choose to take with you in your train ; you will then deposit your charge, at the Holy Sepulchre where our Lord was buried. You will not be sparing- of expense, but will provide yourself with such company and such things as may be suitable to your rank ; and wherever you pass, you will let it be known that you bear the heart of King Robert of Scotland, which you are carrying beyond seas by his command, since his body cannot go thither.'
All present began bewailing bitterly ; and when the Lord James could speak, he said, " Gallant and noble king, I return you a thousand thanks for the great honour you do me, and for the valuable and dear treasure with which you entrust me ; I will most willingly do all that you command me with the utmost loyalty in my power ; never doubt it, however I may feel myself unworthy of such a high distinction. ' : The king replied, 'Gallant knight, I thank you you promise it me, then?" ' Certainly, sir, most willingly," answered the knight. He then gave his promise upon his knighthood. The king said, " Thanks be to God ! for I shall now die in peace, since I know that the most valiant and accomplished knight of my kingdom will perform that for me which I am unable to do for myself." Soon afterwards, the valiant Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, departed this life, on the 7th of November, 1337. His heart was embalmed, and his body buried in the monastery of Dunfermline. Shortly after died also the noble Earl of Moray, who was one of the most powerful princes in Scotland : he bore for arms, argent, three pillows gules.
Early in the spring, the Lord James Douglas, having provided himself with everything that was proper for his expedition, embarked at the port of Montrose, and sailed directly for Sluys, in Flanders, where he diligently inquired if any one were going beyond the sea to Jerusalem, in order that he might join their company. He remained off Sluys twelve days, and would not set his foot on shore, but staid the whole time on board, where he kept a magnificent table, with music of trumpets and drums, as if he had been the King of Scotland. His company consisted of one knight-banneret, and seven others of the most valiant knights of Scotland, without counting the rest of his household. His plate was of gold and silver, consisting of pots, basins, porringers, cups, bottles, barrels, and other such things. He had likewise twenty-six young and gallant esquires, of the best families in Scotland, to wait upon him ; and all those who came to visit him were handsomely served with two sorts of wine, and two sorts of spices I mean those of a certain rank. At last, after staying at Sluys twelve days, the Lord James heard that Alphonso, King of Spain, was waging war against the Saracen King of Granada. He considered that if he should go thither, he should employ his time and journey according to the late king's wishes; and when he should have finished there, he would proceed further to complete that with which he was charged. He therefore made sail towards Spain, and landed at Valencia; thence he went straight to the King of Spain, who was with his army on the frontiers, very near the Saracen King of Granada.
Extracted from "Chronicles of England, France, Spain, etc."

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