Chapter 9 Summary
The Disinherited Knight, having won the tournament's first event, declines to remove his helmet to receive his prize. For reasons of his own, he does not wish to reveal his identity.
Prince John is annoyed with the knight for having beaten his favored champions and has no patience with the man's mysterious pretensions. John's friends and advisers cannot guess the identity of the knight, although Fitzurse suggests that it might be one of those straggling home from the Crusade. John panics at the thought that it might be Richard himself until Fitzurse reminds him that Richard is huge.
The knight is awarded a magnificent war horse, which he proceeds to test ride around the field to the delight of the spectators. He is recalled by John and told that he must now choose the Queen of Love and Beauty, pointing out to the knight the perennial queen—the daughter of Fitzurse.
John shrewdly hopes that the knight will choose someone else, thus alienating the powerful Fitzurse from the popular knight while cultivating for himself the good graces of Fitzurse and, especially, his daughter. Politically maladroit as usual, John only succeeds in offending Fitzurse by highlighting the slight to his daughter when the knight bestows the honor on Rowena. John understands the language of flattery but not the language of chivalry.
When John gallops sulkily over to greet the new queen and invite her to the evening's banquet, Cedric replies that he and Rowena speak only Saxon and would not understand the language spoken at the banquet well enough to participate. She will, however, gladly do her part as queen at the next day's event, and Cedric places the ceremonial coronet on her head.
The Disinherited Knight also pleads fatigue and refuses John's invitation. John retorts that he isn't used to having his invitations turned down, but that "we will endeavor to digest our banquet as we may."
Turning away, John notices the boastful archer who had so annoyed him earlier in the day. Returning John's threats with a smile, the archer expresses a determination to stay and see how the local archers perform. John gives a sideways reply by telling his entourage, "Woe betide him unless his skill should prove some apology for his insolence." Waldemar Fitzurse shrugs at the prince's incomprehension of his own insolence and the corrosive effect it has on his popularity, so necessary for John's ambitions.
It has been an unsatisfying day for Prince John. He and the other attendees leave for their lodgings. Servants tidy up and put away the pavilion furnishings for the night. There is much competition among them for the leftover snacks and half empty bottles. Armorers set up their forges and work the night shift repairing and modifying tomorrow's suits. Men-at-arms take up posts around the lists to keep the night watch.