Day 88

King John and Prince Arthur…

While Prince Arthur and his knights were besieging the castle and trying to find some way to get inside of it, King John himself came to the rescue with an army many times larger than the prince’s.

What could the prince do? Some of his men turned against him and went over to the king’s army. With the rest he shut himself up in the town, and there, for several days, he defended himself like a young hero. But one night, when a dreadful storm was raging, a number of the king’s soldiers climbed over the walls and got into the town. Before the alarm could be given, they were masters of the place. The prince was seized upon while he was in bed. Some of his knights were killed while trying to defend him. Others were made prisoners and afterwards thrown into dark dungeons, where they died.

“Come to my arms, my dear nephew,” said King John when Arthur was led before him. “Right glad I am to hold your hand again. You have played a lively game with your loving uncle, and your uncle will reward you as you deserve.” And with that he sent the prince to the castle of Falaise, to be kept there until further orders.

“I’ll tell you what, Hubert,” said he to his head officer, “that boy is the very bane of my life. I can do nothing, think of nothing, but that he is always in my way. Do you understand me, Hubert? You are his keeper.”

“Yes,” said Hubert, “and I’ll keep him so well that he shall never trouble you again.”

But Hubert was a gentle knight and had no intention of doing the boy any harm. He gave him the best room in the castle of Falaise and treated him as tenderly as though he were his own son. The prince, however, was very unhappy. He spent much of his time looking out of the narrow windows of his prison and wishing that he could once more see his dear old home in Brittany.

III.  The king had hoped that Hubert would find means to put Arthur to death, and when he learned that the lad was still alive he was more troubled than before. He called some of his friends together—men who were as wicked and worthless as himself—and asked their advice.

“What shall we do with that boy?” he asked. “He is the torment of my life. So long as he is alive there will be men to plot and plan to make him king. How shall we be rid of him?”

“Put his eyes out,” said one.

“Send some one with a dagger to visit him,” said another.

“Throw him into the river to be king of the fishes,” said a third.

King John liked the idea of the dagger. He told William de Bray, a Norman knight, that if he would stab the young prince he should be richly rewarded with lands and gold. But Sir William turned on his heel and left the king, saying, “I am a gentleman and not a murderer.”