Prince Johns face flushed with the pride of a spoilt child, who has undergone what it conceives to be an insult.
By the face of God! he said, Waldemar Fitzurse, much hast thou taken upon thee! and over malapert thou wert to cause trumpet to blow, or banner to be raised, in a town where ourselves were in presence, without our express command.
I crave your Graces pardon, said Fitzurse, internally cursing the idle vanity of his patron; but when time pressed, and even the loss of minutes might be fatal, I judged it best to take this much burden upon me, in a matter of such importance to your Graces interest.
Thou art pardoned, Fitzurse, said the Prince gravely; thy purpose hath atoned for thy hasty rashness.But whom have we here?De Bracy himself, by the rood! and in strange guise doth he come before us.
It was indeed De Bracybloody with spurring, fiery red with speed. His armour bore all the marks of the late obstinate fray, being broken, defaced, and stained with blood in many places, and covered with clay and dust from the crest to the spur. Undoing his helmet, he placed it on the table, and stood a moment as if to collect himself before he told his news.
De Bracy, said Prince John, what means this?Speak, I charge thee!Are the Saxons in rebellion?
Speak, De Bracy, said Fitzurse, almost in the same moment with his master; thou wert wont to be a man.Where is the Templar?where Front-de-Buf?
The Templar is fled, said De Bracy; Front-de-Buf you will never see more. He has found a red grave among the blazing rafters of his own castle, and I alone am escaped to tell you.
Cold news, said Waldemar, to us, though you speak of fire and conflagration.
The worst news is not yet said, answered De Bracy; and, coming up to Prince John, he uttered in a low and emphatic toneRichard is in EnglandI have seen and spoken with him.
Prince John turned pale, tottered, and caught at the back of an oaken bench to support himselfmuch like to a man who receives an arrow in his bosom.
Thou ravest, De Bracy, said Fitzurse, it cannot be.
It is as true as truth itself, said De Bracy; I was his prisoner, and spoke with him.
With Richard Plantagenet, sayest thou? continued Fitzurse.
With Richard Plantagenet, replied De Bracywith Richard Cur-de-Lionwith Richard of England.
And thou wert his prisoner? said Waldemar; he is then at the head of a power?
Noonly a few outlawed yeomen were around him, and to these his person is unknown. I heard him say he was about to depart from them. He joined them only to assist at the storming of Torquilstone.
Ay, said Fitzurse, such is indeed the fashion of Richarda true knight-errant he, and will wander in wild adventure, trusting the prowess of his single arm, like any Sir Guy or Sir Bevis, while the weighty affairs of his kingdom slumber, and his own safety is endangered. What dost thou propose to do, De Bracy?
I?I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them.I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find
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