Saint George and Saint Andrew were the last of all the Seven Champions who remained together, rivalling each other in gallant deeds of arms.
Where breathes the Scotchman who does not desire, when his life's work seems almost done, to return once more to scent the air of his own free heathery hills, to climb their rocky heights, and to wander around their fertile vales? Strongly did the desire to turn homeward seize the heart of Scotland's Champion. He, however, did not lay aside his spear and sword; but old as he was, still clad in his armour, bestriding his war-horse, and followed by the faithful Murdoch, he kept steadily travelling on, day by day, towards the north.
Thus should the true knight do. Life is a battle from the beginning to the end -- as the brave Saint Andrew well knew; and never should the armour, the shield, or sword, be laid aside till death strikes the knell which summons the warrior from the world.
Many were the adventures he and the faithful Murdoch met with on their journey. More than one giant was slain, numbers of unhappy people released from slavery, and many districts cleared of wild beasts, before the aged Knight and his faithful Squire reached the fair shores of Scotia.
The fame of their deeds had gone before them, and all the nobility of the realm, and a vast concourse of people, assembled to do them honour. It was a proud day for the aged Saint Andrew, when, clothed in his well-worn suit of armour, with Murdoch McAlpine of that ilk carrying his spear by his side, he rode through the streets of auld Reekie, with the shouts of the delighted populace sounding in his ears and singing his praises.
|Long live Saint Andrew! Long live Saint Andrew! Wherever the Scottish name is known there will we Scotchmen boast of our own Saint Andrew -- of the gallant deeds he has done -- of the name and of the fame he has won!|
Such were the cries which from far and near saluted his ears.
A grand tournament was also given in Saint Andrew's honour, at which the aged Knight sat as umpire, though he wisely refrained from running a tilt, much as his heart tempted him to put on armour for the occasion.
Soon after this, being assured that feats of arms were no longer suited to him, he resolved to instruct his countrymen in certain important branches of knowledge which he had acquired in his foreign travels. To prepare himself for this new work he retired to a hermitage he had built high up on the side of a mountain. Thither, however, in a short time, resorted to him all the youths of aspiring minds who desired to acquire information, and to receive instruction from the sage. Thus, in process of time, the rude hut became a spot celebrated for learning and piety.
There, happily and usefully employed, the old warrior spent many years of his declining life.
But, alas! what virtue, what piety, can enable a man to escape from the snares of enemies and detractors? Accused of witchcraft, and other malpractices, the aged Saint was brought before some stern judges, who forthwith condemned him to death. Scarcely, however, had his head been cut off than his innocence was discovered, and a church was raised to his memory; and he has ever since been held in honourable recollection by all Scotchmen as the Champion of whom his country should be proud -- a knight sans peur et sans reproche.
Such, however, is the way of the world.