Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. — Cicero

Ivanhoe Told to the Children - Ethel Lindsay




The Schemes of Prince John

There was general consternation and alarm. Cedric, who had been struck mute on recognising the Disinherited Knight as his banished son, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, now rushed forward as if to separate him from Rowena. But this had been already accomplished by the marshals, who, guessing the cause of Ivanhoe's swoon, had hastened to undo his armour, and found that he was wounded in his side.

The name of Ivanhoe was no sooner pronounced than it flew from mouth to mouth. It was not long ere it reached the ears of Prince John and his circle. The Prince's brow darkened as he heard the news.

"My lords," said he, "I felt the presence of my brother's follower and guessed the Disinherited Knight was he."

"Front-de-Boeuf must prepare to restore the lands which King Richard gave him and which in his absence your Highness generously gave to Front-de-Boeuf," said one, de Bracy.

"Front-de-Boeuf," said John, "is a man much more likely to accept lands than to give them up again."

A noble now returned to the Prince and said, "Ivanhoe is likely to give your Highness little trouble and to leave Front-de-Boeuf undisturbed, for he is severely wounded."

"Whatever becomes of him," said John, "he is victor of the day and must be looked after. Our own physician shall attend him."

As he said this, a stern smile curled the Prince's lip.

"Who is this Queen of Beauty who was so grieved at the victor's wound?" he went on.

"A Saxon heiress of large possessions," replied the Prior Aymer.

"We shall cheer her sorrows then," said Prince John, "by marrying her to a Norman. How sayest thou, de Bracy? What thinkest thou of gaining fair lands by marrying the Saxon?"

"If the lands are to my liking," said de Bracy, "I will, and shall feel grateful to your Highness."

At this moment a small letter was put into the Prince's hand. As he looked at it he turned pale, for he read a strange message which hinted that King Richard was free and on his way to England. He took de Bracy and another noble, Waldemar, on one side and put the message into their hands to read.

"It means," he explained, "that my brother Richard is free."

"It may be a false alarm," said de Bracy.

"At any rate," said Waldemar, "it is time to end these sports and draw our party together at York, if we are to hope to place the crown on your Highness's head. Your Highness must break up this meeting. Let the archers shoot a few rounds," he said, "that the people may not go away discontented."

"We shall, however, hold our banquet tonight as intended," said the Prince. "Let new cares come with to-morrow's new day."

In the course of this festival which closed the tournament, Prince John put aside his anger and received with courtesy the Saxons whom he had invited, including Cedric and Athelstane, for he was determined to do all in his power now to make himself popular with all classes.

In the course of this banquet many occasions were taken to insult Cedric and the other Saxons present, and to make fun of their habits and behavior, so different from the Normans.

At last John rose, and raising his goblet, said: "We drink this beaker to the health of Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the champion of the day. Let all fill to the pledge, especially Cedric of Rotherwood."

"No, my lord," replied Cedric, starting up, "I drink not to this son of mine who despises my commands. He left my home against my orders to mingle at the gay court of your brother, and even accepted the lands as a feudal vassal which rightly belonged freely to his lathers."

At last to the many jests and insults heaped on Cedric he raged with anger and sent back insults at the Normans seated round. At length Prince John rose.

"We have," he said, "drunk to the health of our Saxon guests; now we require thee," he continued, addressing Cedric, "to name some Norman whose health we may drink." At this Cedric rose. "At your Highness's command, I will drink to the health of a Norman. I quaff this goblet to the health of Richard the Lion-hearted!"

Prince John, who had expected his own name, started when that of his injured brother was mentioned. Many of the guests did not know whether to comply with the toast or not, and while hesitating, the outraged Cedric, having enjoyed his triumph for a minute, put down his goblet and left the hall, followed by the other Saxons.

"By the bones of St. Thomas," said John, "the Saxon churls have borne off the beset of the day and retreated in triumph!"

By now the other guests were leaving the hall, with the exception of those immediately attached to the Prince.

Thus," said John angrily, "even at the mention of my brother's name men leave me."

"Have patience, sir," replied Waldemar; "I will go amongst the nobles and offer them fresh bribes on your behalf."

Later many of those who seemed likely to refuse to follow the Prince's cause agreed to attend a meeting at York for the purpose of making arrangements to place the crown immediately on John's head before Richard returned.

The reader cannot have forgotten the Black Knight, whose exertions had decided the tournament in favor of Ivanhoe's party and who left the field so abruptly, taking the short road through the forest.

He paused for the night at a small hostelry off the ordinary route, where he obtained from a wandering minstrel the news of the result of the tourney.

The next morning the knight journeyed on again through the woods till late in the afternoon, and when he was no longer able to decide on the right path to follow, he suddenly heard the tinkle of a little bell which told him he was near some small chapel or hermitage. Following the sound, the knight soon found himself in an opening before an ivy-mantled rock, at the foot of which was a small hut, built chiefly of the trunks of trees. At a little distance a fountain of purest water trickled out of the rock. Beside this fountain were the ruins of a chapel, part of the roof of which had fallen in. As the knight looked on this peaceful scene, he pulled up his horse, then dismounted, and, crossing the smooth turf, knocked at the door of the hut.

"Pass on, whosoever thou art," was the answer given by a deep voice from inside.

"Worthy father," answered the knight, "a poor wanderer seeks hospitality."

"Good brother," replied the inhabitant, "I have no provisions here which even a dog would share."

Richard I and Little John
THE BLACK KNIGHT ENJOYS THE HOSPITALITY OF THE JOVIAL HERMIT.


"Then at least show me my road," said the knight; but on hearing the hermit's description of the dangerous road, he begged once more for shelter, and knocked so hard and angrily at the door, that the hermit let him in. Soon he dragged out some forage for the horse and then threw down some dried ferns for the knight to rest on. He then brought out a large pasty and a leather bottle and drinking cups, and bade the knight sit down to the meal.

"May I crave your name, good father?" asked the knight.

"Thou mayest call me," answered the hermit, "the Clerk of Copmanhurst, for so I am termed in these parts; and now, valiant knight, I pray you for the name of my guest."

"I am called the Black Knight," said the other.

"Then I will drink your health, Sir Black Knight," said the hermit.

The knight raised his wine cup. For long they talked together, while later, the hermit, who proved himself a jovial companion and a good host, reached down his harp and sang to his guest.

The reader will have probably guessed that the jovial hermit was none other than Friar Tuck, a member of Robin Hood's merry men.