Chapter 34 Summary
Prince John is feasting in the castle of York with his followers, but he is missing a number of his key conspirators. Fitzurse is doing his best to encourage and hold together those who have answered John's call, but Front-de-Beouf, De Bracy, and Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert have not come, and Isaac—John's primary source of funding—has not returned to York either. Fitzurse tells John of the little escapade against Cedric that seems to have resulted in an unfortunate delay, and John ironically rails that if he were king of England, he would hang such unprincipled marauders. Fitzurse reconciles the prince to his marauding knights by suggesting that Saxons such as Cedric would see real advantages in such hangings.
While Fitzurse counsels John, De Bracy arrives with news of the death of Front-de-Beouf and the flight of the Templar. Worse yet, he announces that Richard is in England. De Bracy assures them that he has only a few outlaws behind him and keeps his identity unknown to them. Fitzurse finds this quixotic behavior reason enough to believe it is Richard, who always preferred to be the knight errant than the responsible monarch. De Bracy says that he offered to serve Richard but was refused and that he will move to Flanders. He urges Fitzurse and/or his beautiful daughter to come with him, but Fitzurse has already made other plans. Prince John laughs and reminds them of the obstacles that make their plans impractical. Instead, John proposes that they waylay Richard as he travels alone and send him off to a foreign prison. De Bracy refuses, and Fitzurse believes that John's throne will not be secure while Richard lives.
Fitzurse is unable to convince De Bracy to participate in Richard's assassination, and John begins to whine that his father only had to say that he was "plagued by a factious priest" and his followers couldn't assassinate Thomas Becket fast enough. Taking the hint, Fitzurse takes on the project himself. When he is gone, Prince John disingenuously remarks that he was very clear in his orders to Fitzurse to arrest Richard, and that if the king is harmed, Fitzurse will pay for it. More quietly, he confides to De Bracy that a regicide would never do as a chancellor and that De Bracy might be the right man for the job. When the knight is gone, Prince John calls his spymaster and double-checks to make sure Fitzurse's escort is strong and capable. He tells him to watch De Bracy carefully. He does not trust the knight.