Chapter 15 Summary

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Waldemar Fitzurse is a masterful political whip, and he promptly and efficiently rounds up John's faltering followers by renewing promises, passing out money, dismissing Richard's return as highly unlikely, and reminding them of all they stand to gain in standing by John. Richard's position, he argues, is so weak in England that he would not be able to counter a coup even if he did return.

Tired but satisfied, Fitzurse heads to his rooms and runs into De Bracy, who is dressed as a yeoman. Fitzurse is not amused, fearing that now this ally is going off to engage in antics that might undo his hard work. De Bracy counters that they both know John will make a terrible king, serving the ambitions of his advisers: Fitzurse craves power and De Bracy pleasure.

The disguised nobleman reveals that he is going to "get me a wife . . . after the tribe of Benjamin." He relates to Fitzurse a badly mangled Old Testament story he has heard from Prior Aymer in which the Pope anachronistically appears and directs a tribe of ancient Israelites to carry off the ladies of their choice from a convenient tournament. He intends to follow their example and kidnap Rowena.

Fitzurse is horrified. To offend Cedric by abducting his daughter is to alienate the majority of the people in the region and would almost certainly ruin all his plans. De Bracy, however, is determined, and he believes his disguise will prevent the blame from falling on him. It would be natural enough for the Saxons to charge the local outlaws with the crime, especially if the criminals are dressed like the outlaws. De Bracy and his men will carry Rowena off as far as a nearby convent, then De Bracy will appear next day as the proverbial knight in shining armor and "rescue" her from the faux outlaws. He will sweep her off to Front-de-Beouf's castle and marry her before her family can find her. He seems to take her cooperation for granted.

Such a plan is far too complex for De Bracy to have invented, and Fitzurse presses him to admit that Sir Brian was the genius behind it. Sir Brian, in fact, is engaged to help by guarding Rowena at the convent while De Bracy goes home to change from his yeoman's costume into his nobleman's clothes.

Fitzurse wonders how De Bracy expects to retrieve the lady once she is under the Templar's "guardianship." Fitzurse doesn't believe that Sir Brian would dare cast aside his honor as a knight of the Temple and injure Rowena, let alone cheat De Bracy, by such a villainous act.

Fitzurse sends De Bracy on his way, recognizing the futility of trying to stop him. He meditates on the inferior natures of the tools he has to work with, for he uses De Bracy, Sir Brian, and especially Prince John as mere tools.

As he ponders his hold on John and his own bright future as chancellor of England, the Prince calls. Fitzurse takes his hat off in mock humility and goes to receive his orders.

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