King John and Prince Arthur…
Then the king thought of putting out the boy’s eyes. He found two ruffians who were willing to do the deed for pay, and sent them down to Falaise. They took with them the king’s order, which they gave to Hubert:—
“You are commanded to burn the boy’s eyes out with red-hot irons. See that you fail not. The men who carry this to you will do your bidding in the matter.”
Hubert read it and then showed it to the prince.
“Arthur,” he said, “I have a message from you uncle. I pray you look it over and tell me what you think of it;” and then he turned away while the prince read.
“Hubert!” said Arthur.
“Well, my prince!”
“Shall I tell you what I think of it? I think that you will not burn out my eyes.”
“But the king commands, and I must obey. He will take my life if I refuse.”
“Then do it, dear Hubert, to save yourself. But how can you? These eyes never harmed you. They never so much as frowned upon you, nor never shall they. Is there no other way?”
Hubert made no answer, but motioned to the ruffians to come in. They came, with the red-hot irons in their hands. The prince ran to Hubert and clasped him about the knees.
“Oh, save me, Hubert! save me!” he cried, “If it must be done, do it yourself; but send these men away. I promise that I will be very still. I will not flinch when the iron burns me; I will not cry out. But do it yourself, kind Hubert.”
The child’s distress and terror were more than the tender-hearted Hubert could endure. He sent the ruffians away. “Give me the irons,” he said, “I will do it myself.” And they, to tell the truth, were glad enough to be off without doing the barbarous deed.
Hubert led Arthur to another part of the castle, into a room that was seldom visited. “I would not harm your eyes for all the treasure that your uncle owns,” he said. “But no one must know that I have saved you. The men must carry back false reports, and you must stay here in hiding. I have taken great risks in disobeying your uncle.”
When the ruffians went back to the king and said that his orders had been carried out, he was very much pleased. He felt sure now that the prince was out of the way and would give him no more trouble; and for a time all went well with him.