Once upon a time, the kingdom of Latamia was attacked by an invading army. King Faramond, having only two sons, permitted the elder to accompany him into battle, but commanded his younger son to remain safely at home. The boy, however, eager to prove himself, disobeyed his father's orders. In disguise, he secretly followed the soldiers and joined in the fight.
The battle went hard against the king, and his army was driven back. Moreover, Faramond's worst fears were realized as he saw his elder son fatally wounded at the hand of the enemy. Retreating to a fortified stronghold, the king and his soldiers regrouped, and they laid the body of the prince, the crown prince, in an inner chamber.
Yet, as if the world had not enough sorrow, the soldiers discovered among the dead the body of the king's younger son as well. Placing the young prince beside his brother, soldiers and attendants alike left their king alone to grieve his loss.
(addressing his elder son)
My son, mine eldest child, what fateful day
Hath stol'n from me thy precious life away!
Thou wert mine hope, ere hope from me wast torn;
This crown upon thine head thou shouldst have worn,
And borne upon thine hand this signet ring.
Lo, wouldst thou not have made a goodly king,
My son, and late mine hope, which here hath died?
(turning to his younger son)
And thou! Oh foolish youth, couldst thou not bide?
A king with but twain heirs hath meager wealth,
And greatly needeth each to guard thine health.
In time of war, I could but ill afford
To grant that both my sons should bear the sword!
And did I not advise thee of my mind?
Did I not bid thee, stay, remain behind?
But to my counsel thou would not thee yield,
So eager wast thou then these arms to wield.
With altered visage thou didst take the field,
And bore upon thine arm a plain white shield,
With no heraldic marks to make thee known,
To this intent: that I'd not know mine own
'Til thou had had a chance to prove thy might,
And show thyself to be a worthy knight.
But now! Behold how death hath laid thee low,
And all thy bright ambitions brought to woe!
Oh, cruel fate, which bringeth me this bane:
My liefest treasures all at once are slain!