After David and Alan victoriously defend themselves against the marauding sailors in the roundhouse, David feels morally overwhelmed by the two deaths he dealt to the attackers. Alan, a hardened seasoned warrior, throws an embrace around David while sayinmg he now loves David like a brother. His next words are, "O, man, am I no a bonny fighter?" Alan disposes of the four lifeless sailors while humming snatches of a tune. It later turns out that the tune was one that Alan was composing on the spot as a victory ballad heralding his great feat, a ballad that forgot to mention David's role in the victory. David passes this oversight off as the poet's need to attend to rhythm and rhyme and acknowledges that in "prose" Alan always spoke rightly of him.
David's and Alan's reactions show that they couldn't be more dissimilar from each other. David had never been in battle before; Alan is a valiant warrior and "bonny fighter." David is overcome by the moral and religious implications of the enemies he has slain. Alan chases the survivors down the ship, slaying more at every swing of his sword and discards the fallen from the roundhouse while humming. David is humbly modest about his contribution to the needed victory and refrains from insisting on acknowledgment, while Alan is ecstatic over his display of prowess and composes a song in his own honor. Where they are similar however is in their shared convictions of honor and right; though they were in battle, it was a battle of self-defense against seamen who had proven they were no strangers to unjust and merciless brutality.