King John and Prince Arthur Continued…
II. It was a proud day for Arthur when he rode out at the head of his little army and marched away to fight for the crown of which he had been so wrongfully deprived. It was a foolish undertaking, and hopeless from the start; and the men who were with the little prince ought to have told him so. But, no doubt, they had their own selfish ends to gain, and were willing that he should be deceived.
He had never been happier than when he rode through the meadows that morning, the sunlight flashing from his bright armor, the tall grass rustling in the breeze, the birds singing by the roadside. Alas, he was never to be so happy again.
The people did not join him on the road as he expected, and King Philip seemed to be in no hurry to send him help. But the little prince was brave and hopeful, and he led his army straight across the country to a small town where King John’s mother was staying.
“If you can capture the king’s mother,” said some of his advisers, “the king will give up everything for her sake.” But he ought to have known that John had no such love as that for anybody.
The town was easily captured by the prince’s followers; but all the great people shut themselves up in the castle that stood close by, and dared their enemies to come near them.
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.