A new scene idea:
The Bruce comes upon two young boys (the oldest about nine, the youngest, about seven) carrying between them a hand-woven short-handled basket. Inside the basket, the Bruce observes a coarse burlap satchel which appears to be writhing and squirming on its own. He learns from the brothers that the sack contains a litter of newborn puppies. The two have been given the grim task of transporting their unwitting charges to the river to drown them. Times being hard for everyone, especially the common folk, have left the lads’ father little choice. Feeding his wife and sons, as well as his livestock, take priority over a passel of unruly pups.
The Bruce cannot bear the suffering of small children or animals, so upon hearing the brothers’ woeful tale, he offers to take the puppies with him back to Narberth where they are sure to find homes among the village-folk. The youngsters pour out their gratitude to the kind stranger, crying “God bless you, sir,” again and again as he gallops away over the hills, basket and pups safely secured to his horse’s bridle straps.
The moment he arrives back at the fortress gates, the Bruce’s first thoughts are of his sorrowing friend. Upon determining Robyn’s whereabouts (the stables) he sets down the basket of squealing whelps and quietly slips away, leaving Robyn to acquaint himself with the litter and choose one for himself.
Having stumbled through the days since Ciaran’s departure in a grief-stricken trance, Robyn has yet to shed a single tear. His prime focus has been to numb the pain in a bottle or, if that fails, to distract himself with reckless gambling and fornication. But he finds himself surprisingly moved by the sincerity and simplicity of the Bruce’s gesture.
Sitting on his knees in a pile of straw with five barely weaned, panting, wet-nosed, tail-wagging, exuberant pups climbing all over him, licking his face, pawing at his hair, Robyn’s heart cracks open as if struck by a well-aimed arrow. Suddenly he finds himself sobbing like a babe, the floodgates thrown wide loosing a torrent of pent-up emotion.