King John and Prince Arthur – Part 4

King John and Prince Arthur Continued…

IV. At length Hubert was called away to fight in distant lands; and Arthur was left in the lonely castle, not daring to stir out or to show himself beyond the walls. One day a wicked talebearer who had been entertained and fed at Falaise Castle carried the news to the king that the prince was still alive and well.

King John was furious. “Hubert shall die for this!” he cried. Then he sent men to Falaise to find Arthur’s hiding place. They carried the boy far away to one of the king’s castles on the Seine River. There he was put in charge of a very cruel keeper. He was shut up in a narrow room above the river, where the only sounds to be heard were the lapping of the waves and the sighing of the wind.

One night the prince was wakened from his sleep by his keeper, who told him that friends were waiting for him at the water gate. He hastened to dress himself, and then followed the keeper down the narrow stairway to the door that opened out upon the river. The night was dark; and he wondered if Hubert had come to rescue him from his prison. He could see near the door the dim shadow of a boat with two men in it. They were muffled in long cloaks and were sitting very quietly.

“Step into the boat,” whispered the keeper.

The prince obeyed, and sat down in the stern. Then the man who held the oars pushed the boat off into the stream, and it was soon floating swiftly far away from the castle.

“Is that you, Hubert?” whispered the prince to the man who sat in front of him. The man loosened his cloak and lifted his face. Then, as the moon peeped out from behind a cloud, Arthur saw that it was his uncle and that he held a dagger in his hand.

In the morning while the gray mists were still hanging above the river, King John and his boatman were seen floating down the river towards the place where the king’s army was encamped. But Prince Arthur was not in the boat; nor did any one ever see him again.

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